Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Baby Girl.....

Dear Daughter,

As I write this, you will be turning 16 years old in just a matter of days. Your dad and I are so excited for you. We know you have been looking forward to this milestone and we celebrate the joy of you.

And yet, we find ourselves wondering how the time could have gone by so quickly. It seems it was only yesterday that we cuddled you in our arms and danced in awe at the idea of being entrusted to the care and nurturing of you.

The “job” of being your parents was one that we readily embraced. We soon learned that it was so much more than what a regular type of title can hold. The “job” of parenting comes without a black and white rule book. The “job” requirements have nothing to do with previous experience and expertise. The rules are only that you love, nurture, and guide with a listening ear and generously share a heart brimming with love and acceptance.

Your gentle nature and precious spirit make this the best and most amazing “job” in the world. Seeing the world through your eyes causes us to challenge our own thinking and desires. The way you so freely embrace the things that God calls for you is inspiring and is an example that encourages us to dare to do the same.

As you step into this new year of being you, we wanted to give you a special symbol of just how greatly you are cherished and loved. It is a combination of beauty and representation. The gold and rose colored leaves remind us of how your dad and I are on either side of you, cherishing you, cheering you on, and always loving you in all ways. The two hearts together make us think of the relationship between you and Daddy God. They are intertwined because God is always with you and they shine of beauty because God’s light in you is always apparent. It is a promise ring. It symbolizes the promise that God has written destiny and purpose for you that belongs to no one else but you.

Sweet and wonderful Darling, you are an amazing creation, a princess to be celebrated and honored. In the days and years to come as you experience life’s changes and you shape more and more into God’s promise, know this; you are a blessing to us and so many countless others. People that you have touched in the past, present, and in the times yet to come are all blessed by you, your character, and your heart. The things that have yet to be revealed to your heart are going to be so amazing because they will fit the perfect creation that God made you to be.
We thank God for you every day.
We love you so very much.
Puddin' is 16 now. Wow I can't believe how quickly time goes by.

She asked to have an open house party this year. So with our house open from 4-10pm the kids all had fun eating, hiking, eating, costume competition, eating, twister marathon, movie watching and making a ton of memories. I think when it was all said and done there were 25 youth running in and out of the house. They are such a good bunch and they made it so special for her.

Everyone had great costumes and super creativity but I have to admit
that the comedy of this particular outfit still leaves me in stitches.

Here is a group shot of some of the gang.

Puddin' we love you so much!

Monday, October 26, 2009

October Days....

(Reader Warning: I let myself write and write until all the words left me. Grab some coffee and a snack before you settle in.)

It is a wonderfully rainy day today.
I love the rain and the beautiful grey skies of fall.
That must sound ridiculous to some, but it is the truth.

I love the smells and sights of autumn; the crackle of leaves, the smells of wood stoves warming, and the wind and rain dancing through the trees. I feel excitement at bringing out the sweaters from storage and throwing the mink blanket on the bed.

It has definitely been a month. Though the month is not up yet, I wanted to sit today and play some catchup with the thoughts rolling around in my head. The girls are all busy right now doing school or running errands for me so it is the perfect time for me to have the computer to myself.

Come take a stroll with me through October.

College Bound

Our church has just begun offering a college study program and I enrolled. Actually everyone in this house enrolled. We are so excited. It is a two year program that will take us on a journey of seeing more and more of what God calls us to be and do. We are plowing through the ideas of religion and how it relates to the Bible. In all actuality, it is shaped to look less like the typical bible college type of programs and more like a self growing and character building lifestyle change. Right now it is so hard for me to describe but let me just give a mind blowing example that I recently experienced here in hopes of relating what this program is like........

I have always read about the miracles in the Bible that Jesus did and thought general things about them. I mean, they were great and amazing. I have never walked on water, calmed a storm, or even raised someone from the dead. Jesus did them and it deserves the "Wow!" from the entire world.....but after all it was Jesus that did them. Of course they were miracles. It was Jesus, you know, the Son of God. Of course He could do them.
(I hope you can hear me in this. I don't mean anything bad in saying that.)

One of our study books is titled When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson. When I got into that book I realized that my understanding and thinking had been off in so many ways.
Here is what I am wrapping my brain around now......

  • When Jesus came to walk the earth and became man, He gave up His power and became completely human. Okay I have heard that for some 20 years now.

  • If Jesus gave up His power and became just like me then how did He do all of those miracles? Jesus did those amazing things because of His faith and belief in His Heavenly Father.

So when Jesus said "and greater than these you can do too......and with the faith of a mustard seed......." And when I know that He wrestled with all things human just like me......well this just puts it all into such a mind shift for me.

  • That means that Jesus had to cast away fear, summon up his courage, and dare to believe that God declares good for His children, hears our prayers, and will act on our behalf.

  • That means that it is so much more attainable for me to believe that little ole' me can make a difference, that my prayers are spiritual weapons when coupled with belief and faith.

20 Years and Counting

October 14th was our 20 year anniversary.

It feels nothing like what I envisioned it would feel like to get to this point.
Why do I say that? Of course we have had our ups and downs like everyone else but we are happy. I think that when we look ahead and imagine a place we haven't stepped into yet, we simply don't picture the other things around it. I guess that is why I had a surreal moment when looking at the calendar.

The reality is that life happens every day and we are living in the middle of it and loving each step.

Our night on the town.......
Years ago, we had been blessed with a sizable gift certificate for a fancy steak house here in town. I had placed them in a safe place and .....yeah....couldn't find them until now. That is okay. It was the perfect way to celebrate. This restaurant is actually one of the top 10 in the nation and has so many awards that I gave up counting them.

The atmosphere was heavenly. the fireplace crackled as it's warm fingered images danced on wine glasses. It was quite a cozy setting. All of the staff wore tux attire and when we were seated, the waiter unfolded our linens and placed them in our laps for us. I know a statement like that must greatly show how much I don't hob-nob but I have only seen a gesture like that in the movies.

We both ordered Cesar salads which came out in a decorative presentation.........

Hubby ordered a steak....his favorite. I ordered the Herb Crusted Chicken with a baked potato.

It was all so amazingly tasty.

For dessert, I had the peach and blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and Hubby had a chocolate silk pie. Both were heavenly and we gorged ourselves with all the goodness.

Angel's Wings

Angel-girl and my sister-in-law came to visit me a few days ago. It was such a treat!

That little niece of mine is now already 2 1/2 months old. she is holding her head up and trying so hard to coo. Her smiles make me warm all over and I simply cannot bear to put her down when she is in my arms.

The Corn Maze Craze

Amongst all of the fall festivities, one that brings me tons of smiles is to take our youth group on our annual maze craze. There is a huge farm here in town that makes a challenging maze. They change it every year with new themes, twists, and surprises. Here is this year's maze......

The corn stands higher than the tallest man and is the perfect place to have races and man hunts. Our group went through once to get a feel for the huge maze and then they came over to the table I had set up for snacks and cocoa.

Already covered in mud from a week of rain, they began to plan strategies on how to best one another as the sun went down. If you asked them, they would be quick to tell you that the best way to enjoy a maze is to try and find your way through it after dark.

They played well into the evening and were so filled with mud (and fun memories) that they weren't allowed in our vehicles until they covered themselves in plastic bags.

What I Believe

A few night's ago, I received a call from my daddy. He asked how we were doing and I began a run down on all of our happenings. Shortly into the conversation though, I could tell that was not his purpose for calling and I asked him what was wrong.

He spun a story of not feeling right the past few months and various doctor visits that ended with a diagnosis....esophageal cancer. I asked my questions, put my best foot forward in saying positive things and getting information on what steps will happen over the next few months, and we said we would be talking soon. Then I crumpled after hanging up the phone.

Half of me wanted to stand firm and yell in the devil's face and shake my fist at him to let him know he would not play here. I actually envisioned myself standing over my dad, straddling my territory and declaring war. But then the other half of me was a little girl curled up under the table and holding an imaginary pillow. I fought back the panic of knowing we have only just begun to build our relationship and there is so much more for us to enjoy with each other.

Then I would scold myself for thinking dark thoughts and stand to fight again.

The seesaw went back and forth as I called my mom, my brother, and then our prayer circle.

My brother and I numbly shared our thoughts with one another about the mortality of our parents. It is such a hard concept that the most well intentioned shoulders of comfort can only imagine until actually wearing those very shoes. I know. I've been there. As with just about every one else on the planet, I have had friends and family who have had some sort of experience with death and with cancer, and good grief how we have been taught to shrink back at that very word....the dreaded C word.

Friends who have battled and won over cancer talk about our society's quirks with cancer. You can mention any other sickness in the world and people are fine but if you say you have cancer.....they shrink back as if you are already dead and they might contract it if they accidentally touch you. I know one girl that tells people her cancer scar was a shark bite simply because she feels bad for people in the torture they put themselves through.

It is a disease that can be fought and won just like anything else. And millions of people are victorious over that battle. And yet there I sat already thinking of my dad with one foot in the grave.

I told myself that I had seen miracles, been part of miracles, and experienced miracles. As I had been learning in my class studies, I thought about God's goodness and about my right to pray, to declare victory. But then the thought would creep in....what if I haven't learned enough? What if I don't pray right? If he dies then I failed.

Oh how our thoughts can lie to us.

It has taken me a few days to get my head on straight, but here is what I now know........

  • I am a fixer.

  • I can't fix this.

  • It is my right to pray.

  • It is my duty to pray.

  • It is God's job to heal.

I keep thinking about something I experienced years ago when my youngest step son was in the hospital. He had been born with many physical challenges and had the first of many surgeries when he was only 4 days old. Not expected to live to the age of 2 years....there we sat nearing his 15th birthday and it seemed his body was finally giving up the fight. We had all been through years of ups and downs, battles with the ex-wife, the drama of this little boy's body being strong and then back tracking 5 steps.

Our pastor was with us and I dared to ask.....When is it okay to not contend? How can we even know what to pray anymore? Is it fair to pray healing? What is God's will?
For years since then PJ's answer has encouraged me through so many different types of situations.

He sighed that painful sigh that I thought was reminiscent of the hard burdens of counsel and pastor must bear. Then he said, "I know it is hard and we can't even pretend to know God's will. But here is what we do know. Since God is in control of all things and since for the moment God is choosing for this boy to breathe....then that is our signal that we are to contend. If things change and he passes on then that is our signal to change our prayers to that of thanksgiving. But as long as God shows opportunity of hope then we contend and press forward no matter what."

So here I am standing and pressing forward. I have a renewed hope. I am assured that my Heavenly Father sees and knows and hears and has a plan for victory.

Blessings to you and your day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coughing and Hacking......

Don't get too close to your computer screen. I wouldn't want to breathe my cold germs on you. It has been a week and a half now and I am so ready for it to be gone. Last week Sunday I felt that faint familiar tickle in my throat. It is that torturous warning that comes right before I lose my voice. I do this twice a year and you'd think 'd be a pro at it by now. I always say, or whisper actually, that it must just be allergies from the seasons changing because my sinuses are fine, nose is fine, head is fine, no fever. I just lose my voice and everyone finds great sport in asking complicated questions so that they can hear my Chip and Dale answer.

I ended up seeing the doctor yesterday when the blisters became too much to bear. I didn't even know I had a fever but the clinic thermometer read 101 degrees. A strep test came back negative and the doctor proclaimed that is it just a strong virus to ride out. She gave me a huge bottle of cough syrup with codeine in it which brings me great relief. I just wish it tasted more like something decent instead of the lingering old rotten plastic taste that waifs around my mouth long after I swallow.

Funny how tastes can bring up pictures. It really does taste like that. Though why in the world my brain would associate it with decomposing I even know what that tastes like?

I am so grateful for my girls. They all have been pitching in around the house with chores and giving walks to lil' Kekoa boy. Last night they made a great batch of chicken noodle soup with occasional directions from me. Pippin and Rixxi have been driving Puddin' to and from school so that I don't have to be out in the weather. I am spoiled.

In the midst of all that, there are two events that I want to share here that happened recently to leave an indelible mark on my memory.

Event #1
Some dear friends of ours are expecting their second baby in a few months. Everything seemed to be going quite smooth and normal until a recent ultrasound brought up red flags for the doctors. During a routine ultrasound, it is always very easy to see a baby swallowing, filling his stomach with fluid and then emptying it. It is an important 24 hour cycle that happens during the pregnancy. The problem for our friends was that after several ultrasounds and specialists......their baby's tummy was not filling and barely functioning. The doctors said it was due to possibly a twist in the baby's throat or a blockage, both of which could be fixed with post delivery surgery. The other option was that of chromosomal default and that meant the possibility of their baby being born with severe handicaps.

As a church we began to pray hard for the healing of this little baby. He had already been given the name Micah which means "Who is like our God". We prayed for his tiny little cells and every ounce of his body to line up in perfect function and design. We prayed for him to be a proclamation of God's hand and purpose, to be a living testimony before he even breathes air.

A few days ago, the parents went in for another scheduled ultrasound and subsequent appointment with yet another specialist. But that appointment got canceled. It got canceled because the ultrasound showed little Micah swallowing happily and FILLING up his belly just like any other normal baby!
They have now been told that they can see regular doctors for the rest of the pregnancy and no more special appointments are needed.

God is so amazing!

Event #2
My second story is about lil' Kekoa, or as I sometimes refer to him....Mr. Fuzzy Butt.

He is now 9 months old. He brings us all so much joy on a daily basis. He lavishes everyone with kisses and makes sure that everyone has the same amount of ball throwing time. The goofball always has to have a chew toy close by to torment and interrogate. that is where this story begins.

Amongst his many toys that fill his personal basket, he has some knotted yarn ropes. One is large and measures about 12" while the other one was a left over from his baby puppy days and measured about 4". On Saturday he was having fun with the small one. He had it laying in the middle of the floor in perfect position so that he could do a GI Joe Commando recon on it and throw it up in the air in complete ambush over and over again. He was having so much fun and I smiled at his banter from my recliner. But then all of a sudden he stopped his play and looked at me with panic and fear on his little face. I didn't see the yarn toy anywhere. He had thrown the toy into the air and caught it perfectly to lodge down his throat.

Kekoa started pacing and moving his neck to and fro in odd gestures. He repeatedly climbed into my lap for comfort and then would get back down when it didn't help. I kept trying to pry open his jaws to see if I could pull out the toy but his muscles were locked. (Even though he is quite strong, I never knew that I couldn't over power him when necessary.)

All the things that I know to do intellectually went out the window. I couldn't think. My hubby had him outside hoping that walking around would stimulate his gag reflex while I started looking online for 24 hour vet services (like that would really help with his choking). We were both so scared.

Hubby was right though. The walking around was what he needed. It wasn't too long until they came in the house with that evil toy expelled from Kekoa's throat. Kekoa jumped into my arms and did his signature hug around my neck that first drew us together when he was 9 weeks old. He held onto me for well over an hour before I was able to put him down.

That same day I went thru all of his toys throwing out everything from his puppy days. It never occurred to me that they could cause trouble and be dangerous. Boy did I learn a lesson.
Praying you have a blessed and wonderful day.