Thursday, July 28, 2011

don't just see what you think you see

Years ago,
 when I was a younger girl
finding my way with a pencil and brush,
I was inspired by the words of my artist teacher:

"Don't just see what you think you see. 
Look out that window...see it...that grass isn't green!

She was right. 
The grass outside that window reflected golds in the light and cool blues in the shadows.

My eyes were opened--forever changed.

~ ~ ~

I have found an unexpected gift in writing

It helps me see

It stops me in my busy tracks and somehow  

slows down time 

just enough for me to see it a little longer 

and find the good gifts in what might otherwise seem

an ordinary mess of a day.

And so today, 

every day,

I will carve out a moment from the madness 

and sit where I can tune out the busy and tune in the daily grace.

And I think maybe my eyes are being opened -- forever changed -- again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

what not to do when it's hot outside

Last week offered the kind of hot humidity that induces insta-sweat without even twitching your baby finger. 

So what did we do?

1. Horse camp.

Of course she loved it. Every steaming hot minute of it. LOVED. IT.

2. Carnival rides.

Of course they loved it. Me? Not so much. All was well until the stomachs started churning.

3. A minor league baseball game with first baseline seats baking in the sun.
 Some of us loved this more than others.  Of course he loved it.  Not everyday you get to hear your name announced and run on the field for the national anthem with a minor league team. 

4. Ran a race. (not me)

A first timer.  No jitters.  Just joy.  And popsicles.  I loved this. Good job, buddy!

5. And finally, to finish off the madness, a partly rainy parade. 

Some of the family was in the parade (not Ronald McDonald) and the rest of us watched. Who cares if it's hot and you had to lug your 4 chairs, 4 full water bottles, 3 umbrellas, and 1 very heavy bag a few blocks with 3 less than thrilled helpers. I love small town parades. Love em!

A busy week it was!

I was not at the top of my game with the heat 

and the constant stream of events.

 I'll be the first to admit I don't always appreciate the busy, the messy, the ugly.

But somehow I have to believe it's all good.

It's not always good like riding your brand new bicycle out the door of your favorite store.

Sometimes it's the ugly good--a never tidy house, the daily bickering, rarely a complete thought, never a moment alone, another meal to make--things that are the way they are because of the six wonderful people who live and learn together in this cozy little house.

This kind of good is harder to see, 

but I'm looking.

~ ~ ~

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Slide: For my Family

This one's for the boys!  Wheels, wheels, wheels!

I have not been very faithful to my Sunday Slide presentations, so to make up for it, I'm posting three, yes, three blasts from the past.

Jeff, you look very Huck Finn-ish here. I love it. And I can't help but notice that Dad was not the only one with a fondness for plaid pants.  Is that a spear?  Was that legal? Where were you fishing?  And is that a neighbor friend?

Joel, is this your blonde shaggy "do"?  Again, the plaid pants run in the family.  Funny, I thought you were older when you got a unicycle.  I guess in a little sister's eyes, you were OLD.  Any idea what that little sign in the grass was for?  What about the box--tools, tackle, or lunch?

Okay, looking a little older here. You graduated from banana seats to four wheelers. And the Zipper!

So where did you go this day with cousin Mark and how did you get all three on the truck?  And was is cool to pull one's jeans up to one's rib cage?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Leave a comment...share a memory!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

how to love camping when you really don't

My kids love camping.  

I love that they love camping. I love that we have dear friends that introduced my kids to camping and continue to take them camping every summer.  I love that these same wonderful people loan us their camper for our very own camping adventure every summer. But do I love camping?  Ummm...well...

As a girl who personally enjoys the comforts of having one's very own toilet and shower and privacy and personal space, camping does not come naturally for me.  You know it's bad when you barely survive three days and three nights in a fancy 5th wheel just a block off Lake Michigan.  I probably shouldn't mention the camper has a full kitchen, air conditioning, couch, recliners, gas fireplace, master bedroom, and pop-up big screen tv. Some wouldn't call that camping, but it's as close as I come to rustic.

Seeing my family's love for camping makes every moment out of my comfort zone worthwhile.  How can you complain when your six year old wistfully sighs for at least the second time that first day, saying...

"I just love camping. 
I love the way it smells.
I love all the different kinds of campers.
I love the pretty camper lights."  

So maybe I won't ever share her deep appreciation of all things cramping camping, but I can sure appreciate her joy.  I'm learning that I can love the camping experience too, when I love it through the eyes of my children.

After all, once I get accustomed to the over population of campers and tents, the startling half clothed bodies, the multitude of little busy biking-blading-scooter-skating people zipping around me, the 24 hour non-stop campfire smoke inhalation, the sand in and on everything and everyone, the fear of the strange smell occasionally wafting from the bathroom, and the awkward waiting in line with complete strangers for a much needed shower only to have other peoples' children banging on your door to come in--there are some things I actually appreciate.

I'll let the pictures do the talking...



Most of all, 
I appreciate the memories,
gathered up like the treasures they found on the beach.

~ ~ ~

*Special thanks to Charlie and Melanie, our camping sponsors!

We owe you:
3 cans of diet caffeine free coke 
2 cans of dr. pepper
traverse city cherry flavored coffee
one box of Capri-sun
several bottles of water
half a bag of potato chips
a handful of cashews
a handful of very yummy trail mix
at least a few snack packs of keebler cookies
a few tablespoons of peanut butter and jelly
four slices of bread
a delicious glass of orange juice
so much more than words can say!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

quit your whining

I have a recent date night confession.

It had been an stressful week, and we hadn't had much time alone.
On the way to the restaurant we had 30 minutes in the car together.

I vented all the way there.

Poor guy.
He had no where to run; nowhere to hide.
I had a captive audience for all my misery.

Sad thing happened as I vented and he drove...
we ran over a little bird.

What's up with that?
Birds are smarter than that.
They always escape the path of an oncoming car.
I don't know about you, but I don't usually worry about hitting birds.

But it didn't phase me.  I kept right on dumping.

Dinner was lovely.
I was on my best behavior the whole time,
I promise.

But back in the van...

I stooped to new lows and threw myself a pity party all the way home.

I know. It's shameful.

And you know what's worse...

I brought my husband into my muck
 and soon he was right there with me, slinging the mud around.

We were a pitiful, pitiful sight.


 right after I said something along the lines of,

"If only my parents ..."


from out of nowhere.


I don't know.

But the immediate message was this:

"Quit your whining...

~ ~ ~

I'm not suggesting that God throws birds at me,

but I didn't say much after that.

I'd hate for another innocent bird to lose his life on account of

 my ungrateful heart.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

an Iowa love story

 See that pretty young lady on the far right?

 That's Mathilda.  That's my Mom.

I  treasure the stories of my mother's youth.

In Iowa, we heard new old stories about first dates and pick-up lines.
 Sunday nights after church was courting time.

If you were the courting kind,
you took long walks around the main drag.
If you took long walks around the main drag,
you just might have caught someone's eye.
If you caught someone's eye,
you might have caught a ride,
and later...
you might have caught their heart.

Sounds a little dangerous to me,
but it worked like a charm for some of these folks. 

Oh, it was good stuff, I tell ya.
Good old fashioned Iowa love stories.

~ ~ ~
There is something extra special about these aunts and uncles.
Seeing them and being there reminds me of what it must be like
to go home and be loved.

 I never got the chance to "go home."
Home was packed up and sold when Mom and Dad died.
I had to move away, before I was ready to say goodbye.

My husband never knew my parents.
My children never will, at least not in this lifetime.
Very few of my friends do.

That's what makes going to Iowa so special..

They are more than just aunts and uncles to me.
They are Mathilda's brothers and sisters.

 (Mom and brothers at the piano, years ago)

They love her like I do.
They miss her like I do.

They are the ones
whose faces light up when they see you,
like they're seeing so much more.

When I see them, I see her.

And I think maybe for them, seeing us "kids" is like seeing Mom and Dad.

There are not necessarily many words expressed when we are together. 

We are the quiet type. 

But my heart hears much more-- 
the unspoken words well up as tears in our eyes.

As we were leaving and saying our goodbyes,
Uncle Clarence said to me,

"You sure do look like your mother."

I think we all do.

I'll treasure those few simple words for the rest of my life.

~ ~ ~

I think I could write an Iowa love story.
 Because here is where I find the kind of love 
that just cannot be found in any other faces or embraces,
but for the ones who knew Mathilda and loved her best.

I have never lived in Iowa, but it sure feels like home.

Friday, July 1, 2011

paper prayers and goosebumps

Please pray for our papers.

I know that sounds strange, 
but we have very important adoption papers about to travel
around the country and around the world.  
It is so important that they get where they need to be.
So many little things could go wrong and little things cause big delays.

I'm trying my best to go with the flow.
Roll with the punches.
Ride the waves.

I trust.
I really do.
God's timing always works.

Perfect example:
Yesterday I took the "littles" to the pool
while the big kids were at a Tiger's game.
Thanks to our recent road trip,
the "littles" have resurrected an old favorite pastime,
 back-seat bickering.
"Raise your hand if you think bickering is 
mind-numbing ear pollution!!!"
Sorry, the "raise your hand" game is also very popular around here. 

on the way to the pool,
I kindly suggested that if the bickering did not stop, 
we would turn around and go back home.
The bickering did not stop.
The van turned around and we went home.
One must stick to their guns in parenting.

The Bickersons were given 10 minutes of solitude 
and the promise of a second try.
I was given 10 minutes of random free time to check out one of my
favorite blogs.

The point of my somewhat random story???
During those 10 minutes of bickering-induced solitude, the phone rang.  
It was Todd -- with a question.
Could I please run to his work and sign an adoption paper 
that we somehow missed?
(He is my paperwork hero!)

"Raise your hand if you think that God is clever and awesome!!!!"
Because I was home, and not at the pool, the paper was signed as needed.
Surely there is much more of this clever coordination going on than we will ever know or see.

Small little story, 
but it gives me goosebumps whenever God sheds a little light 
on His goodness and love.

So yes, pray for our papers.
And then pray for our boy.
And then pray for his foster family.
And then pray for his birth mom and dad.
And then pray for the people and places that make this process work.

And then praise God for giving this momma goosebumps.

Many of you have asked for an adoption update.
It has had many delays along the way, but the homestudy is officially approved. We have just turned in another stack of important documents and most of these will be sent to South Korea. From this point in time, we can expect to wait four to eight months for our travel call. Pray for the four month mark! In the meantime, we will be filling out grant applications and working to raise the remaining funds. Pray for the remaining funds!  Thank you!