Monday, July 27, 2009

Home Again!

Jim is home! Home for good now- what a relief. After a long month of waiting for everything to be finished up in Dubai we finally picked him up at the airport Friday night. Our weekend has been sometimes busy, sometimes relaxing, but altogether wonderful. Though he is again searching for a job, that is fine by us, we have him home again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Isaac at Camp

Our baby is off to Summer Scout Camp. For a full week he will be sleeping in a tent and enjoying the great outdoors with his buddies as they all learn from their Leaders and advance in the acquisition of Merit Badges. For the past two Summers he has gone to the day camp, sleeping over maybe one or two nights at a time- and with Jim there too. This is his first full week away for any reason. He was so excited, and so very meticulous about packing for the trip in his new foot locker, for the week before he left, Camp was the only thing on his mind.

The badges he hopes to earn include fishing, for which he needs to catch two fish, one to release and one to eat. Upon learning that he was expected to actually eat a fish he was immediately grossed out. Eat something that he had caught alive?! He declared that he would be fine with that if it was a Salmon- which I highly doubt he will pull out of the lake at the camp...

Friday I'll carpool up with some of the Moms and we will have a chicken dinner with the campers and get a peek at all they are doing up there. Then we will come home without the guys, picking them up on Saturday from the meeting point. We have been sternly warned to not bring our Scout home on Friday night. Leaving early spoils the bond built all week at camp and few who do so continue in Scouting. We certainly want him to continue. Scouting itself is character building for a growing boy who is otherwise surrounded by influences that would tear him down, and this group in particular is just a great bunch, from the kids to the Leaders.

When I took him on Sunday to send him off with the group there was some bit of flurry as last minute forms were filled out and his trunk was loaded. But I was given a spontaneous hug and "I love you Mom" from him before I left. Dear words indeed.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

How Common

I'm not one to be star-struck over celebrities in the entertainment world. (theologians and authors are a different matter...) And yet I , as with many my age, have memories that run to a soundtrack of Michael Jackson songs. I was in High School when Thriller came out and most Saturday nights found me at the Roller Skating Rink where I awkwardly attempted to look cool skating/dancing to the music without falling down. Jackson's music and moves inspired those of my friends who actually could skate and dance. Watching MTV in the early to mid-80's guaranteed seeing Michael the superstar almost daily.

As the years passed Michael seemed to go from the "King of Pop" to the king of weird. His changing visage and pigment and the scandals that surrounded him made it easy to stand from a distance and despise him. Who needs this anyway? I'm a serious adult, mother and wife, and I have a life that keeps me too busy to concern myself with such things. Yet Michael was always an easy target for recreational derision. Then, last week the startling news breaks that he has died suddenly and a circus erupts as the world seems to go stark-raving nuts over the loss of a Pop Star. Can we just see some Real News please? Must we have wall to wall coverage of this one man's life and speculations over his death?

And yet.

I caught a clip on the News this morning of yesterday's Memorial Service. They showed his daughter crying as she told the world that she loved her Daddy and misses him with all her heart.

Suddenly I'm not so superior with my judgments from afar. Suddenly it all comes down to children who have lost a Daddy. Sure, he may have led a bizarre life and made some, well, a lot, of bad choices. But here is the cost, again, of living in a fallen world. Our sin-soaked existence leads us in all the wrong directions, though all of creation points us to our Creator. We are given gifts and talents and we clumsily misuse them. We have the blessings of families who love us, yet their very closeness makes them easy targets when our sinful choices splash over the rims of our own cups.

Michael was given talent and a loving family. Now he has died and his children are grieving the loss of their Daddy. Such pain is common to us all.

May I learn humility and clear wisdom from the Lord that I may not squander the gifts and talents that he has given me. May I learn to cherish those in my life who love me. And may I never take for granted the love that God Himself has lavished upon me in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, by whose life, death, and resurrection I am saved and given hope. And may I stay gently sensitive to the pain of those around me who suffer from the fallenness of this world in which we yet live.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. -Philippians 2:3-4

Monday, July 06, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Hearken back, if you will, to New Year's Eve, which we spent with Jim's cousins. These same family members also have a Fourth of July party to which we were invited. Glad to have the opportunity to see them again, we packed up our bunch and headed out Saturday for another family gathering. Our poor children have been deprived of such gatherings for most of their lives since we have moved around so much and have not been very communicative beyond Christmas cards. What a treat to re-connect with Jim's family now; better late than never! To explain the relationship connections I should probably create a chart of some kind…

(So it's not exactly clear... sorry)

{I know that I am forgetting names, do forgive me please. I am actually rather impressed with how many names that I have remembered here, given that there is another family altogether unrelated in the mix as well. Mark Nelson with his wife and children live with Ginger and their extended family has been at each of the parties as well. Being a train wreck of confusion for my memory, the faces are becoming familiar, but the names will take some more practice!}

All this said, we spent Saturday at Ginger's with the family and friends. The girls and I were able to jump right into the food preparations happening in the kitchen as there were pasta salad, potato salad, and hundreds of deviled eggs to be made. Guy introduced us to his Sweetheart, Angela, and her son, Austin, about whom we'd heard when we saw him last at the New Year's party. The pool was open for swimmers; bocce, airsoft gun battles, and fireworks kept the kids (large and small) busy. Visiting and eating were almost constant as we continued to get to know these people who we would gladly have as friends if we weren't related. The weather was lovely so we enjoyed the outdoors the entire day.

Gladys and one of her sweet granddaughters.

Gladys, Erin, Kate, Isaac, Rebekah, Ginger

Ending with fireworks was a treat for the kids, and Isaac was able to help with the setting up and lighting. The best of the fireworks though, was when Guy got down on one knee and proposed to Angela. She said yes through her tears, to the delight and applause of her new family. I was impressed with how close and loving this family is, that such a moment would so naturally be shared with them. I am so glad that we live close enough to see them on a regular basis now.

Angela and Guy

Sunday was again warm and bright. After church we took a brief break at home before heading to the Noble's for a relaxing afternoon of food and fellowship. Their farm sits down in a fishbowl of a valley and is simply beautiful with the green pastures and red buildings, horses and alpacas. Russell and Darlene Roeder were there as well as the Tuschers and Ross's parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Darlene brought her wonderful potato salad and Russell was helping out at the grill, turning out chicken and lovely roasted veggies. Going to the Nobles always includes a tour of the barn and seeing the newest born baby alpacas. With the Noble girls, Roeder boys and our kids, the energy was hopping and there was no lack of activity, even when they were sitting still, which was rare!

The Gang

There isn't room in the blog to show all of the photos we took, but follow these links to see the photo albums posted and captioned on Facebook. Enjoy!

July 4th

July 5th

Birthday, New Friends, Driver’s License, Oh My!

What a busy week and weekend we have had! Kate celebrated her 20th birthday on Tuesday… Twenty years old! We took her out to dinner and the hilarity and laughter, fortunately, did not get us kicked out of the restaurant! After dinner we returned home for cake- chocolate- and gifts. The kids delighted in finding special things for their sister and we all enjoyed watching Kate open her presents.

On Wednesday morning, Rebekah passed her Driving test on the first try! She was somewhat nervous since many of her friends had taken the test twice before passing. Once she successfully parallel parked, the rest was easy. But then, that's Bekah; determined, methodical, cool as a cucumber. Give her a task and she sets her mind to get it done. Once licensed, Bekah dropped me off at home then drove out to the Noble's farm to show off her precious piece of plastic.

Wednesday afternoon Erin, Isaac and I went to our new friends' house for a visit and a dip in the pool. I met Doreen through a convoluted method only possible through the working of the Lord. A friend of mine in another state knows her sister, and the rest is confusing, so I'll just say that we eventually became friends on Facebook, a couple of weeks later we had lunch, and an instant connection was made between our hearts. Doreen is a gardener with "mad skills"- her yard is amazing to see and clearly a work of love. While the kids swam Doreen and I talked about everything under the sun, circling around throughout our conversation to the working of the Lord in our lives and His mercy and grace. God's steadfast faithfulness to His Word and His loving care of His children is a theme that never grows old and I pray that I may always be ready to declare His praises in every situation I find myself.

I feel sure that I'm forgetting something, but these are the high points- and high points they are indeed! Add in yard work here and there, transplanting flowers and assessing our landscaping chores ahead and that's about it. The weekend will take a different post, being so full, but this covers most of the activity of the week.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vessel of Clay

I've been pondering lately how the Lord brings people into our lives. Some folks come in one door and soon leave through another. Some quietly move in to stay. And then there are those who come crashing in through a window, leave a mess, and relief that they've gone. And yet, they have all entered our life for a reason, and as long as memory endures, a part of them will remain.

Years ago there was a girl who came crashing into our lives, and I have lately found myself remembering and wondering how she is doing. April showed up on the doorstep of our church one Sunday evening just as the service had ended and folks were wrapping up their visiting in the lobby. She lived in the neighborhood next to the church and had seen the cross on the steeple for weeks. This night she had made up her mind to come and had walked the streets in the dark, hopping a fence or two, in hopes of catching a service.

Living a long way from home, South Florida had gone from being an escape to becoming a prison for her. Raised in a church-going family, April had been the wild child of the family. A teenage pregnancy had established her as a bad girl in her own mind and she assumed there was no going back. Her Mother cared for her daughter as April moved to Florida to live with some friends who promised her sanctuary and a chance for a fresh start. But the sanctuary that this cute, young, vibrant girl found living with this particular pair of angry Lesbian women was a fragile illusion.

The home in which she found herself was comfortable at first and she got along with her friends just fine so long as she pursued their interests. They were open minded as long as she went along to the clubs and parties of their choosing. But when she began to look for straight friends and perhaps even a boyfriend, that was crossing a line. She had gotten a job at the local Lowes but depended on her housemates for transportation. Driving her to work was alright, but not always convenient. Driving her to a Christian church was out of the question.

The night she showed up at church I was standing right outside the door. God put me right in the path of this lost and wandering lamb as she was beginning to long for the comfort that she remembered from her childhood. April couldn't express what she was feeling in concise doctrinal statements, all she knew was that she needed to be in a church, and was desperate for someone to talk to about topics that were taboo in the house in which she now lived. God was calling this lost child home.

And there I stood.

The next few weeks went by in a blur, and my memory is not sufficient to sort it all out. What I remember clearly is her achingly raw need for Christ as her new friends abandoned her- actually turned on her with a vicious attack that took Jim and another couple of men from the church to sort out. There were sleepless nights, early morning phone calls and driving to pick her up after a night out partying with the wrong people. April slept on our couch, wore my clothes for a couple of days, and gave me cause for anxieties that I'd never dreamed of. We helped talk to her supervisor at work who arranged a transfer to a store near her home- her real home up North. Phone calls with her Mom and a bus ticket bought and she was on her way back from her wandering to rejoin the family who awaited her with open arms and tears of joy.

There was not one single aspect of our interlude with April that was at all convenient. She blew through our tidy routine like a hurricane. But then, Florida is where hurricanes happen, and a life submitted to Christ is not tidy or routine in the least. I spent most of that time feeling as if I were one gulp away from drowning in the tide. There were no neat, carefully thought-out explanations of, well, anything. April was afraid, well aware of her sin, and she needed Jesus. And Jesus used the common clay vessel that was closest to the door the night April came looking for Him.

We later heard from April's Mom that she was doing rather well. Going back to school, taking care of her daughter, looking to the future; most importantly, she was actively participating in a church, growing in her knowledge of and service to the Lord. Now that we have moved away from Florida I doubt that we will ever hear from them again, and I don't feel that we need to.

But there are times that I do wonder about that night. If I hadn't been standing outside the church door I might have missed the turbulent, sleepless, inconvenient, even scary, next few weeks. And I would have missed the unbelievable blessing of watching the Lord reclaim one of his lost sheep.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Thank you Lord.