Friday, July 29, 2005

The Newest Chapter

By Deana Nall

The Baytown Sun

Published July 27, 2005

I entered a new chapter of my mommyhood last week. I signed up my oldest child for soccer.

I’m guessing this will make me a “soccer mom.” I have yet to understand this term. You don’t really hear about “T-ball moms,” “swim team moms” or “chess club moms.” But soccer moms abound. I think they may be the ones who drive SUVs with stickers bearing their kids’ names and activities plastered across the back window.

Hey, I can be one of them. As long as my 10-year-old Suburban qualifies as an SUV. And as long as I can get the battery in said Suburban jumped by Aug. 15 so I can drive Julia to her first practice in it.

At least I’ve completed the official soccer mom initiation rite. That would be filling out the registration form.

First, they wanted to know — on a one-to-ten scale — how aggressive a soccer player my child might be. Julia is a good runner. But she is a bit fearful. You know those little yippy dogs that look like overgrown rats on leashes? She’s afraid of those. I mean screaming-and-crying, “I’ll-be-in-therapy-for-this-as-an-adult” kind of afraid. Bless her heart. I circled “Not Very Aggressive.”

Second, would I be interested in volunteering as a “team mom?” I must have had a brain convulsion because I circled “yes.” Since soccer moms are supposed to already know these things, I didn’t ask what being a team mom might entail. Do I have to act as though I gave birth to the entire team? Do I have to bake them cookies? Do I have to tie all their little soccer shoes? Do I have to put them through college? I guess I’ll figure it out.

One reason Julia’s involvement in sports will be such a different experience for me is that I didn’t play sports much as a kid. My brother Brian played Little League, but back then — at least where we lived — Little League was only for boys.

As a result, while Brian was honing his pitching and batting skills, I was hanging out at the concession stand. At the end of the season, Brian got to go to his awards ceremony. I got to go to the dentist.

I did experience a burst of athleticism in second grade. That’s when 40-lb. Deana was inexplicably picked to be captain of the kickball team. As team captain, I was expected to pitch. I was so afraid of getting hit by the ball that I would pitch the ball and then throw myself to the ground and take cover just in case the kicker launched the ball straight at my head.

We did win some games, and I never got hit, so my technique must have worked.

That same year, I played goalie during our P.E. soccer games. Remember, I weighed 40 pounds. An effective goalie, I was not.

The next year, the boys in my class discovered dodgeball. This game is not typically popular with 40-lb. girls. I went back to the concession stand. My career in sports was over.

So I’m glad Julia will be getting some positive sports experience early in life. And I’m sure she’ll do great. Who knows? She could be the next Mia Hamm. And I’ll be behind her all the way. Or at least nearby. Wherever the concession stand is.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is

Friday, July 22, 2005

Killing a Rumor

I've heard from two different people that we are moving. A few weeks ago my neighbor saw me outside and said, "I can't believe you didn't tell me you're moving!" That was news to me. Then yesterday a friend at church came up to me and said "When are y'all leaving?" I said, "Well, Chad's taking the junior high on a mission trip next week." She said "Well, I heard you were moving to College Station." Both women heard it from a woman who goes to our church. Apparently, she got us mixed up with another family -- Chad and Kara Dennis -- who just moved to College Station.

So, for the record, we are NOT moving.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

End summer with a few good books

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published July 20, 2005

With less than four weeks to go before school starts, you might be wondering what to do with the rest of your summer.

Well, I’m here to help. I know where you are right now. You already drained most of your life savings by taking the kids to Sea-Walt-Schlitter-World in June. Then there was that Astros game in July, where you had to take out another mortgage just to get a large Coke. Now you’ve got 27 days left before the kids go back to school. You don’t need cheap. You need free.

I feel your pain. My husband and I started out the summer ordering appetizers, iced tea and dessert at Johnny Carino’s. Now we’re ordering ice water and napkins. Hey, there are worse ways to get your fiber.

So where can you find a no-cost way to fill the rest of the summer? Personally, I’m a big fan of reading. And thanks to Sterling Municipal Library, you can check out all the books you want at no cost — as long as you get them in on time. Or you can borrow books from other people. Try to borrow books from people who already owe you favors. Then if you lose their books or damage them in some way, the guilt factor will be eliminated, or at least somewhat lessened.

Anyway, to help you through these last 648 hours of summer (but who’s counting?), I’d like to offer you my carefully crafted Summer Reading List.

1) Any biography. I love stories about other peoples’ lives. I could say I like to glean important life lessons from them, but that’s not true. I just like knowing peoples’ personal business. If you want to feel extremely normal and well adjusted, read some movie star auto-biographies. I’ve read Katharine Hepburn’s, Vivien Leigh’s and Ava Gardner’s. Those were some pretty messed-up people. I feel like I needed a shower after that last one. I also once had a goal of reading biographies of every former First Lady. That was before Pat Nixon’s put me to sleep on page three. Barbara Bush’s was great, though. Would you believe that woman is hilarious?

2) “Homegrown Democrat” by Garrison Keillor. Democrats can be funny, too.

3) “The Frantic Woman’s Guide to Life” by Mary Jo Rulnick. This sounded like a good book, but I never found time to read it. I’m not kidding. If you get through it, let me know what you thought.

4) Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies” and Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz.” If you’re sick to death of “just-be-a-Christian-and-your-life-will-be-hunky-dory”-type of Christian literature (like I’ve been for quite some time), I highly recommend these two books, which show a little more realistic perspective.

5) People magazine. You’re at the beach. Want to fry your mind as well as your skin? Pick up a copy of the most popular celebrity gossip rag. Oh, you’re not as above it as you think. If you’re like me and wondering if J.Lo is jealous of Ben Affleck’s marriage to Jennifer Garner, or you’re praying for Britney Spears to get stretch marks, People is for you. Slip it inside a Wall Street Journal if you’re that concerned about image.

Well, there you go. Don’t start calling me Oprah just yet, but my summer reading list should be enough to get you through the remaining 38,880 minutes of summer.

But who’s counting?

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This just in!

Julia, our 6-year-old, attended KidQuest at ACU last week. She was interviewed by the Abilene Reporter-News on the last day. The story came out today. You can read it at Her quote is at the very end.

True Confession #2

Here goes...

One of my favorite things to eat is sliced beets right out of the can. Hey, don't knock it til you've tried it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Home again

Kadesh was great as usual! I'd never done this year's curriculum (Hope) as a leader -- just as a camper about 100 years ago. This year our group was really fun (and they laughed at most of my jokes.)

I seem to go through the same cycle every year at Kadesh:

Sunday: We're here at Kadesh! I'm so excited!
Monday: We have the BEST group!
Tuesday: Wow -- some of these kids are really hurting.
Wednesday: It's hard to watch people so young struggling with such big stuff. I feel so useless when I can't really do anything to help them. Maybe I'll take a break from Kadesh next year.
Thursday: Wow! It's not all up to me, anyway! It's great to see God moving in these kids' lives. I'm doing Kadesh every year until I die!
Friday: I love you guys! Bye!

This year was extra good for me -- I even feel better about the death of my friend Jennifer (a year ago last Sat.) I have always dwelled on that Friday afternoon at San Jacinto Hospital -- Jennifer fighting it, her husband ordering a shot of Methadone which relaxed her enough so she could quietly slip away in his arms...him having to go tell their two young girls.

But I hadn't really thought about the glory she woke up in just a few moments later...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Off again

Tomorrow we are leaving for Kadesh at ACU, which is my favorite thing we do with the HS kids. I look forward to it all year! If you can't live without my Wednesday column this week, you can go to, click on "opinion" and select my name from the list of columnists.

This week at Kadesh we'll be talking about hope, which was the theme the first time I went to Kadesh as a camper in 1988. Back then, we had evening devos on the Ad Building steps because THERE WAS NO BIBLE BUILDING. That's how ancient I am.

Kadesh is very challenging on a spiritual level. We work with kids from other churches (we don't see much of our own youth group that week.) We have dealt with some pretty heavy stuff in the past. By Friday night, I am always emotionally and physically drained. But nothing we do is more rewarding.

Oh -- you should have seen me doing Kadesh last year SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT. My ankles swelled up like softballs from all the heat and walking. I called my doctor crying and saying, "I have old lady legs!" Traumatic at the time, but they're back to normal now.

Have a great week...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Love, Alaskan style & reindeer for breakfast

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published July 06, 2005

“You’re from WHERE?” I asked the cute-ish freshman I had just met in the campus cafeteria.

I started dating the guy, and, before I knew it, my Alaskan adventure had begun.

(I’ve chosen to skip the part about how I thought he was a dork for an entire year, and how he kept asking me out anyway, and how my roommates and I laughed at him behind his back, and how I eventually agreed to go out with him (just this once!), and how I decided he was actually kind of cute. Now we’ve been married almost 12 years and I’ve given birth to his two children. Go figure.)

The first time Chad told me he was from Alaska, I figured he had grown up in an Arctic wasteland where his dad trapped seals for dinner.

Then I went there.

In reality, Chad and his family lived 10 miles outside the town of Kenai on the Kenai Peninsula, which is south of Anchorage. They lived on a large wooded lot and moose often ventured into the yard looking for food. As remote as that may seem, a quick drive in the car would take you to anything you could possibly need, such as a post office, a grocery store, and, most importantly, Taco Bell.

This was quite an education for a Beaumont girl. Whenever I wanted to experience some elevation while I was growing up, I stood on top of a crawdad mound in my yard.

Alaska is full of natural spectacles of which I had never dreamed. Blue, blue rivers wind through mountain-lined, spruce-studded valleys. Eagles circle overhead. In the summer, you can get up at 5 a.m. and go to bed at midnight and never need the headlights on your car. You can even shoot a bear and eat it. (Although I do recommend a little cooking time.)

Chad did have to break some shocking news to me my first trip up there. That image you have in your head of brown-eyed reindeer decked out in jingle bells and dutifully whisking Santa around the world on Christmas Eve?

Forget it. Reindeer, which are domesticated caribou, are raised in Alaska for nothing other than to be made into sausage. Now you know how Santa got so fat. (“Blitzen! It’s What’s for Breakfast!”)

Reindeer meat notwithstanding (truthfully, it’s quite tasty), I came to love Alaska. I loved pulling huge, flopping fish out of salmon-packed rivers in the summers. I loved ice-skating on frozen lakes in the winters. I even loved watching volcanic ash flutter out of the sky for days following a nearby eruption. Alaska is an amazing place.

Chad and I even kissed on top of a mountain. No wonder I fell in love with the guy.

In 1994, my in-laws moved out of Alaska and our visits there stopped. Last week, Chad finally got to go back after 11 years. He hiked, fished and drove around his hometown. He spent time with old friends and visited the grave of his sister, the victim of a 1992 car accident.

Next summer, we hope all four of us can go to Alaska. Texas is the only home our girls have known, but Alaska is a big part of who they are.

Until then, we’ll be standing on crawdad mounds in our backyard.

Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is


Please pray for the family of Shawna Lambright, who died under mysterious circumstances yesterday morning. Chad and I knew her from when she attended our church a few years ago. Here is the news story about her death:

Woman dies after fall from Baker Road bridge

From staff reports
Baytown Sun

Published July 06, 2005

The family of Shawna Lambright want answers from Baytown police after the 20-year-old Baytown woman died Tuesday morning.

Lambright apparently died when she fell into Goose Creek from a bridge in the 3100 block of West Baker Road.

San Jacinto Methodist hospital officials told family members the girl jumped from the bridge.

“I don’t believe that for a minute,” said Billie Lambright about her granddaughter who attended Sterling High School in 2000 and lived in Baytown her entire life.

“She was a beautiful girl,” Lambright said. “She was struggling with some problems, but she had dedicated her life to God and was trying to get her life straightened out.”

Shawna’s grandparents, Billie and Louis Lambright of Baytown, have been her guardians and raised her since infancy. Her mother lives in Sheldon, but was a part of Shawna’s life.

Hospital officials alerted Shawna’s mother because she was listed as a contact from a previous hospital stay.

At the Baker Road site, the creek is very shallow and bordered by large rocks.

Lambright says Baytown police have yet to contact the family about Shawna’s death.

Baytown police Sgt. Lisa Rynearson said Shawna Lambright and two friends, a man and a woman, accepted a ride home from a stranger sometime after 1 a.m. Tuesday. Police said the driver said after he dropped the man off, the two women asked him to stop his gray Ford pickup truck at the bridge on West Baker. He said Lambright and the other woman got out of the truck.

Rynearson said the driver said he heard a splash and left his vehicle to check on the women. He jumped into Goose Creek, recovered Lambright’s body and started administering CPR.

Paramedics were called, but Lambright was pronounced dead at San Jacinto Methodist Memorial Hospital around 2:20 a.m.

Baytown police have refused to identify the other people involved in the case.

Other questions that remain unanswered include: who called EMS, what’s the cause of death and when did police get involved.

Rynearson said investigators are questioning the driver and the other woman.

An autopsy is under way.

The Lambrights are angered by the Baytown Police Department’s decision not to talk to them or visit them at their home in Lakewood after the death.

Lambright said after Shawna’s mother made funeral arrangements Tuesday afternoon, she went to the police station to inquire about the investigation around 4 p.m. and was told the investigator had gone home. An officer said she could come back today at 9 a.m., but to call first.

Lambright says she is troubled because no officer has called or scheduled an interview.

Reached at his home at about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Police Chief Byron Jones said he didn’t know all the details of the case and didn’t know why an investigator had not contacted the family. He said an investigator would call them Tuesday night.

At press time, no one had called the family, Lambright said.

Furthermore, Lambright also questions if the scene has even been investigated.

She said her daughter (Shawna’s mother) and son-in-law went to the bridge Tuesday afternoon and found EMS equipment still on the rocks under the bridge.

They even found Shawna’s ankle bracelet that they picked up and gave to Lambright.

“I wonder if any officer has been out there at all,” Lambright said.

Shawna’s grandmother said the young woman was in the process of getting her GED so she could join the military.

“I just want this to be a reminder to young people about the friends they choose and to try and live a good Christian life,”Lambright said.

As a teenager, Shawna was an avid softball player. She pitched for Team U.S.A. in Highlands that won a pair of state and national titles in 1999 and 2000, Lambright said.

A billboard at the Highlands Sports Complex still bears Shawna’s name, along with her teammates, for those accomplishments.

Visitation services for Lambright are scheduled on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sterling White Chapel in the Highlands. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Sterling White Chapel.

“A lot of unanswered questions remain,” Lambright said of her granddaughter’s death. “When we get through this funeral, we are going to get them answered.”

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Baby Naming

I've been at my parents' house this week, and the other day we were talking about the Native American custom of mothers naming their children the first thing they saw after giving birth. (Running Deer, etc.) If I had followed this custom, my kids would have names like "Operating Room Ceiling," "Face of Anesthesiologist," and "Husband Passed Out Cold on Floor."

OK, that last one never happened. So what would your kids' names be?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

True Confession

I thought this would be a good place to announce to the world things about me that my closest friends may not even know. So here goes:

True Confession #1:

You know those Precious Moments figurines that people collect?


I don't understand why anyone would want statues of a bunch of creepy-looking bug-eyed kids in their house. And the money people spend on these things! Why??

Julia has a Precious Moments book that has a picture in it of two Precious Moments kids getting married. Am I the only one who thinks this is weird? They are KIDS! Getting married! Where is this legal??

Yes, JCP, I know you had Precious Moments people on top of your wedding cake. It's OK. I've come to terms with it.

I'll post more TRUE CONFESSIONS as soon as I think of any.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Mountain Man

Chad is in Alaska this week. You can read about his adventures on his blog.