Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Precious....4 for the last time.

This little North Carolina Peach turns five tomorrow.  Five.  Woah.  She's such a vivacious child.....the energy around her prickles.  When she's gone for a day we all notice it.  Precious Maryn.....happy last day being four.  You played hard today and we had your hair braided tonight and you did awesome.  You are beautiful and smart and mysterious and complex. 

 I am so grateful that I get to be your mama.....I would be less....and the world would be less without you in it.  You are a blessing and a challenge and a gift.  Thank you, Lord, for Precious Maryn and breathing life into her 5 years ago.  Thank you, birth mom, for choosing us to be her family.  You made a good choice.  She is a perfect daughter to us.
Tomorrow we get to celebrate this little fire cracker all day long.  Face paint, and all.  She has friends joining her for a party and grandparents coming for pizza later.....and a really big barbie doll house that is too big to wrap that we bought from someone in a town nearby whose children outgrew it.....shhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Claire headed for high school......what?!

Claire starts high school tomorrow.  Wow.....she's nervous and excited and ready and dreading it.  We had orientation tonight at her school and the principal talked about the attributes of God, and that being the theme for the year.  OK.  I can do this.  I can send her every day because the theme is knowing God better.  Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  She's going tomorrow whether I"m ready or not.  I have made her ready.  She is ready.  She'll be fine.  I will too.  This is the place that will prepare her for life in the world.  They have 4 years to do it.  I have to release her to it.....she's ready.  She is.  Lord....go before her.  She is more yours than mine.....but God.....she is my first.  Have mercy on me as I cheer her onward and upward....when I really just want to keep her home in the nest and remember her as a baby.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

examining me

Earlier this summer, our preacher preached a sermon that has stuck with me.  I don't even know what the topic or point of it was, but the gist of it was a comparison between spiritual health and physical health.  He spoke about what it looks like to be spiritually healthy.  Spiritually healthy people are reading the bible, and praying, and living in a relationship with the living Lord.  They have deep faith and peace because they trust the One who is in control.  They put God first and all else after.  Physically healthy people can sometimes put too much emphasis on their health.  Their time, money, energy and passion all go into this physical health to the point that their health is the most important thing in their becomes an idol to be worshiped.  Physical health can be more damaging that spiritual illness.......

It's a good concept to consider.  Where am I spending my time and money and resources?  What gives me joy and what makes me feel bad?  Is it the things of the Lord or the things of the world?  It is important to take care of myself, but if I make choices in the vanity of my physical body and cut corners with my soul......what then?

Three times in the past 24 hours, I had to face off with this conflict.  Three different women who are my friends have been challenged and suffered life-threatening conditions and I have come face to face with their fear, their sorrow, their pain.......but in all three, there is strong spirituality.....spiritual training.....spiritual hardiness......and their spiritual health is stellar.

It is more important to be spiritually healthy than physically healthy.  I need to work out and stop eating chips every day.  I do.  I need to take better care of my body.  But my SOUL is what the Lord sees!  My soul is where he puts his stethoscope, and feels for my pulse and takes my temperature and measures my weight.  My soul is where he speaks and loves and ministers and teaches and reveals all the wonders of the universe and more.....and he cannot get to my soul if it is not healthy.

Prayer.  Worship.  Scripture.  Christian fellowship.  Service.  Missions.  Silence.  Taking deeper breaths and listening.......that is the work-out and physical examination of my soul.  My physical body may need to take in less, but my spiritual one needs more of all of that to be healthy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

vacation and looking ahead....

Last week, at this time, we were finishing up our week at the lake.  Vacation is so, so, so awesome....and important.  We enjoyed people and nature and food....and the television was hardly on at all.  We laughed.  Alot.  We noticed......more.  Of Everything.  I would love to go back and do it all over again but I cannot because the fruits of this labor....the results of this rest....are directly before me.  School and sports and lessons and and casseroles and raking leaves and sweatshirts.....its all just around the bend.  And so we bend.  Lean into it and not resist it.  Resisting is pointless....leaning in is permissive and expectant.  So I choose to lean in to the future and smile at what is just behind me.  It's the moving that matters, don't you think?  Back and forth....leaning and yearning.....I will purpose myself to keep moving.  Will you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a letter to the violin teacher....who better not read my blog....

Dear violin teacher, thank you for not kicking us out of your studio.  I am sorry I forgot Claire's lesson today.  We were up multiple times in the night with our youngest 2 kids and when I woke up I was tired and determined to do my work day no matter what.  I forgot.  I forgot last time too.  Drivers Ed and sports camps and vacation.....a flood of emails regarding school and dance and sports and work.....and I dropped the ball.  Again.  Please, please don't kick us out.  She needs a few more years of violin private lessons and orchestra will be more enjoyable for her.....and dear violin are the best.  We don't deserve you.  You take students who put violin first, not last.  Your students excel.  They are the gifted and bright ones...and tho Claire is all of that, violin is not her priority.  She enjoys it.  She is talented.  It is not her first love.   Dear violin teacher.....perhaps you could help her love it more?

I pulled my exhausted self up and slurped down enough coffee to move this morning.  I did public health work with moms of twins, teen moms, grandmas of teen moms, depressed moms, and parents on the verge of losing their homes and children.  I fought for the ability to see more at-risk moms and babies.....I ate in my car.  I sat way too long.  I drove Claire an extra 45 minutes so that she could rejoin her Alaska group for one last night of mission experience tonight....and I delt with several tantrums and fixed teriyaki chicken stir fry in my wok.  I went to get some dresses for Claire to try on.  She has pictures tomorrow with her dance team.  It matters when you are an in-coming freshman......we borrowed them from a petite, fashionable friend.  Thanks, Kelly.

Dear violin teacher.....I'm sorry I messed up your day today and put you in an "akward position" because we haven't met our 6 lesson requirement to hold our spot in the studio.  I know it matters.....but my dilemma tonight is how much exactly does it matter.  I sent you an email and apologized....and we will try once more to get a few more lessons in so that your policy requirements are maintained.......but seriously.  I've had a day.  

Monday, August 11, 2014


I stood in the sand for 7 days straight and I took deep breaths.  I watched my children playing in the water and on the beach and I watched the sun and the moon and the clouds....and with every deep breath I rested a bit more.  It is so important to take deep breaths and listen to birds and feel the breeze and watch the clouds.  It matters more than we think.  Feel the sand in your toes.....

Friday, August 8, 2014

vacation does that....

Well its Friday night at the lake.  We made it our full vacation week and we leave tomorrow.  When we wake up we have to clean and pack up and off we go back home.  Home is good.  Home is familiar and comfy.  We miss our dog, and our beds and our stuff...but the just so......wonderful.  Some like the ocean, some like rivers.....but give me a lake.

It was an awesome week.  We sat in the sun and enjoyed good food and the kids all spent lots of time on the water behind the boat and on jet-ski......My little ones played in the sand a lot and Precious is a convert for all things water/fast/windy/sandy/hot.....she's a summer girl.  I got one of those lucky weeks where there were  no major catastrophes or fights or conflicts or such.....thank you, Lord.

Josiah threw fits but thats what toddlers do....and someone could always take him for a lullaby stroller walk or something.  Next  year he will be two-going on three.....and hopefully he will sleep a bit better.

My big kids were happy and present and even  helpful when asked.  I'm so proud of them.  Tonight Claire took me on my first-ever ride on a jet-ski and it was amazing to ride with her and see her be so confident and bold.  

I'm ending vacation very grateful....and tired.  I'm ready to go home since its time.  If we had another week here I'd be ready for that too but we don't.  We are headed home tomorrow and there is a full schedule on the horizon to deal with.  It's ok.  We are rested and we are ready for the next season.  Vacation does that.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014


We arrived today to this place...second year in a row.  My parents and brother and his family and us.  We get a week here.  We hope to come every year if possible.  Because of the ages of my kiddos.....every year brings new challenges.  Last year Joe was barely standing up and this year he is building sand castles and counting to 10 and wants to run on the dock.  The big kids are fishing and jet-skiing and tubing and kayaking and paddle-boating.....and I'm just trying to count out 5 kids every hour to make sure I know where we are!

vacation is my ah-ha moment.  I get the reward of the daily grind here.  We will swim and eat and laugh and play and rest for a week.  Here.  I'm hoping to stay off social media for the week.  We'll see how that goes.  I'd like to take a good clean break from it but I love to post stuff about my kids.  Maybe I can just save it all for later.....I want to be present and here in these moments and not feel so plugged-in to the rest of the world.  I'm sure gonna try to avoid it all......

Friday, August 1, 2014

Josiah lured me onto the tramp tonight.  The rest of the family went to a ball game and it was just he an I tonight...packing for vacation and cleaning.  I don't jump on the tramp much.  I'm old and heavy....but he was sweet and he was persistent so I climbed onto the tramp and we played.  I chased him....crawling on all fours as he ran....and we laughed.  We held hands and jumped together until I was breathless....

I could almost see his birth mom, Heidi....smiling from Heaven.  She would be happy to watch us playing on the tramp on a friday night together.  She would love to hear Joe's giggles and squeals....and she would be proud of me for crawling around on hands and knees to chase him and make him laugh.  She might even say that this is why she knew she could hand him over to me to be his mama.....and know with certainty that he would be happy and loved.  I believe she might say just that if she were still here.

He's sleeping now, thank goodness.  I'm trying to make sure that we are ready for vacation.  It's tough to move 7 people to a different place for 7 days even if its for vacation.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I hear him crying....mommy, mommy, mommy....and even tho his daddy is with him, he is just not settling in.  Its been an hour.  He's smart and articulate.  Articulate.  He says what he means.  He wants mommy.  Precious is now I can get up off her floor and close my computer....take my last sip of wine....and go to him.

Dad will stay the course because he is steadfast and hearty.....but I can do it.  I can go from her floor to his bed.  I signed up for this.  I said "yes" to the call of the fatherless.....God gave me passion for them.  I can do it and I will do it.  Every night.  Occasionally I get a break.....for a few hours....and I am so grateful.

It's time to move.  Goodnight, all.  Little man is sobbing for mom.  That's me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

deep breaths

I wish summer could last longer.  I'm not ready for it to end.  The kids sleep longer in the mornings because they can.  I can wake up the big kids to watch the little ones so I can take a shower and get ready for work.  We swim a lot.  We grill.  There are free movies downtown and there is lots of frisbee golf at the park on bikes.  I have loved this summer.  Loved it.  Roger golfs and I sip coffee in the porch and wine in the evening by the pool and enjoy the backyard birds and butterflies and lawn mowers buzzing around the neighborhood and kids on the trampoline.  

I wish summer could last longer.  Two months more at that we could go on more hikes and do more backyard parties and maybe have more weekend kids are at such fun ages.....and summer brings out their best.  I have not taken enough photographs, or planned enough fun events.  I wish I could turn back time and start June all over again.  Summer rocks.  

In about 3 deep breaths we are looking at the end of summer.....because the emails are starting to come in regarding school registration and activities and music lessons and sports....and our schedule will again lock down with all of it and that will be good too....because it is what the kids want to be doing with their time....and we will be cheering and supporting and helping them do it all......but its just not summer.  It's just not walking into the backyard with a pan of bars or a bowl of fruit and having it devoured by hungry swimmers.  It's not bonfire s'mores after dark......its not fireflies and sweaty kids.  Fall is just not summer.  

We have a wee bit of summer left.  We go on vacation in a few days.  We can swim and fish and boat and eat and nap and play for a week at the lake.  Thank goodness that is still ahead of me!  Once home, I will put my big girl pants on and step into the end of summer and welcome the fall stuff....butfor now I'm taking those last deep breaths....of summer. 

Friday, July 25, 2014


In one week we will be heading back here for vacation.  Battle Lake, Minnesota.....absolutely cannot wait for all of this again this year.  One week.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

...and family

Jellyfish.  Beautiful, mysterious, complex and other-worldly.  There are so many things I don't understand in this life.  Jellyfish among them.  They sting ya know, if you swim by them.  They zap you.  What the heck?  So beautiful and yet so dangerous.  

God has created many wonderful, living things that are beautiful, mysterious and complex.  For me, families are the most so.  Families are all of this and more....I see mommies and babies every day and learn their stories and wonder at their journey to be where they are.  Teen moms, women with severe mental illness, kids with disabilities....typical families and families with more going on....and like my own family....I find them beautiful, mysterious and complex....and sometimes other-worldly.

In about 10 days I get to go on vacation with my family.  I can't get lost in social media or work or extra stuff.  I will be with my people for a week.  I can't wait, really.  I can't wait to marvel at the beauty of the jellyfish among them....and I am bracing for the moments I get stung by the talons....because in family it just happens.  I know I will be freshly inspired and awed by them, by how the Lord created us.....and I know that I will be better because we swam in the fish tank together.  Family.  Good and bad and always together.  I would love to be invisible and snap photos of all the things that matter most but I probably cannot be I will hope to just remember those moments and savor them and be thankful to God for them.  

Vacation will be awesome.  It will allow me to connect with my family, my people....and with myself....and like the jellyfish.....I expect it to be beautiful.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Well, we sent her.  2 of my friends who are deeply connected to me in spiritual ways asked me today how I was.  I am good.  I am great, actually.  My firstborn got on a plane today to go serve the poor and needy in inner-city Ancorage, Alaska today.  She was excited and ready.  I am proud of her, and excited for what God will show her and how she will advance His kingdom.

Back home, things were kinda rocky.  That's how these things go when God is thrilled and the devil is unhappy with our choices.  It just is.  It's how it has always been for me.  Last night Isaac got hurt at a park near the church.  Jeremiah came running into our meeting breathless...."Isaac is hurt!  You have to come!" the past, that meant bones almost poking through skin so I dashed out and ran/walked/ran to my son because I am so, so, so out of shape.  doggon it.  I got to him about the same time Roger did via car, and we ran to him....he was sitting up but very pale and grey and crying.  Isaac doesn't cry.  It was his knee......but thank goodness and thank you Lord, it wasn't broken.  Bruised.  Hurting for sure, but he could move his legs and he could bear weight.  No trip to the ER.  Phew.  We met up with our friends in Sioux Falls whose daughter Micah was going to Alaska with Claire.  (It's actually their fault.  Their church youth group was going and Micah invited Claire.)  I'm thinking they should have paid for the frozen yogurt snack....but anyway.....we all went for fro-yo...   and then Claire went home with them and we did a bit of Target  shopping.  We didn't leave Sioux Falls until after 9:30 and by then I was is just plain miserable to get my littles home that late.

20 minutes into our drive, Josiah began his siren wail for mom.  I was driving cuz dad was tired.  I knew it would just get worse and worse as the miles went on and my ears were already ringing.....little man wants mama at night.  I stopped in a little town and we switched drivers.  I got him milk and snuggled him  out of the car seat.  sh.  because it was late.  sh.  and we were all emotionally and physically exhausted.  SH!

Shortly thereafter, Josiah decided to vomit.....multiple times....all over me in the back seat of our expedition.  And the seat.  And the floor.  Multiple times.  Multiple.          Times.     We got home after 10:30 and I needed to shower and I put little sleeping man on a towel in his bed.

Today, Precious had a bad, bad, bad......bad, bad day in her head and her behavior and her coping.  That is just how these days go.  Josiah was whiney for awhile but then straightened out.  We did a lot of backyard weeding and cleaning.....and dad and the boys went golfing tonight.

Claire is in Alaska, hopefully sleeping and getting ready to be a blessing.  I'm sure she will be blessed...but please, Lord, let her be a blessing.  Let her pray for people and love on children and impart the love of Jesus for the coming week  I'm not worried about her or anxious for her to come home.  I'm excited for her and very proud of her.  You go, Claire.

For now, my mission is here at home.   At 275 8th St. NE Sioux Center Iowa.  There is much to do here.