19 December 2012

But Emmanuel...

"I want to dream about kitties...and puppies...and butterflies."

What is that poem? Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of?  Amelie's description of what she wants to dream about fulfills all that you might imagine for a sweet little girl.  I can't remember the last time I thought for more than a few seconds about kitties and puppies and butterflies, let alone had a desire for dreams about them. 

But really I can't put a value on this innocence and wonder in the world's beauty.  Her sweet mind has no blackness when it stops and thinks.  Past hurts, bitterness, unforgiveness, knowledge of atrocities in the world, none of this clouds her mind.  She loves and dreams freely without any comprehension of bad guys in this world.

I pray for the students in Newton who had this sweet innocence sucked away in moments.  Those survivors now know bad at a level beyond the scariest Disney movie they've ever seen.  Adults know evil at a new level perhaps greater than we could imagine. 

I am still horrified. Each day is a new morning and there is a brief time between when I wake up and when my mind reminds me of the past days happenings. And then... heaviness sets in again.  For the families and friends of those lost last Friday I doubt they have even that moment of oblivion. I can't imagine they have been able to shake the reality since the moment it happened.

And now Christmas is next week.  The biggest celebration of the year is almost here. Although I am  far removed, that cloud of sadness hangs low and evil regularly threatens to steal away the season.
We sang this verse from the familiar song, O Come O Come Emmanuel at church on Sunday:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel

Never before during a Christmas season have I resonated so intimately with the hatred of evil and the celebration of God's power to defeat it. 

The birth of Jesus kicked off the death march of our enemy. 
Jesus was born into this world to defeat evil. 
His birth brought victory over Satan's tyranny. 

Even though the world has been shaken by an awful display of evil's ugliness, there is good news that evil doesn't win.

The pain is real, unimaginable, and really too much to bear.  I almost hesitate to say a "but," because I don't want to minimize any of the suffering. 

BUT Emmanuel has come and that is the only hope I find any peace in.

O come, Thou Day-Spring
Come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel

12 December 2012


Last night my boy stayed up until "midnight."  And I am so delighted!

There would be no delight if these words described my littlest boy, but when Asher tells me he stayed up until "midnight" reading, that thrills me and stirs something giddy inside.

Still a boy at six and a half, but Asher regularly reminds me of his progress to maturity.  Now granted the Captain Underpants series is hardly the highest in literature nor what my idealistic imagination saw him reading for his first solo books, but I couldn't be happier that he is falling in love with reading.

I might be slightly biased because of my own passion for reading and writing and everything related, but this joy of seeing him discover the worlds available inside a book could be my best Christmas gift (although I am open to challengers!).  From the time of his conception, I read to my boy hoping he would become a ravenous reader. I don't know if he is quite there yet, but the way his toothless smile lit up his face when he described his late night adventures has me believing he might just be hooked.

Earlier this fall, I watched Asher discover a love of swinging.  Maybe he is getting a bit old to delight so openly in the freedom of soaring into the sky, but I simply couldn't get enough of watching him swing as high as he possibly could from my kitchen window.  Even in the dark of night, he would ask to go swing.  I know he felt like he was touching the stars and that feeling of being able to touch the stars is what I want him to always know.

Although I remember loving to read and constantly devouring books, I can't remember my own discovery of reading to myself.  This discovering of new good things that we love spreads out further and further as we get older.  But I am realizing that possibly even greater than discovering for myself is watching the wonder and excitement in my kids as they discover things they love.  Daily I lead them to places I want them to love on their own and when it clicks, when they show that they get it, my job is a success. 

This opportunity to witness when they "get it" is possibly one of the best side benefits of parenting. 

I wonder if this is a piece of how God receives the glory He deserves.  Watching His children discover what He is leading them to must bring joy to Him. Does He feel as giddy as I do when we finally "get it," when we stop and wonder at how perfectly His plan fits together?   If this discovery does bring Him honor then I pray for great discoveries into more and more of His character and the hope He promises to us -- especially this Christmas season.

27 November 2012


Have you ever planned a full-blown celebration?

My wedding was the biggest party I've ever planned and oh my goodness did that require a lot of preparation!  Some of the planning was so much fun as we picked out invitations and registered for gifts. Other jobs were more tedious but even monotonous work like assembling programs didn't seem quite as bad when I remembered what I was preparing for.

It was going to be a celebration of a lifetime and with that attitude even the busyness was fun.

In recent years as my responsibilities for Christmas preparation have multiplied, I find it nearly impossible to get to the point of having time to remember that this is all about the birth of Jesus, Savior.  As much as I want to eliminate the stress, busyness, and unfocused craziness, there are some traditions I'm simply not ready to let go and often my attitude goes down with it.

So this year I'm wondering if maybe I need to work with the flow of life rather than wasting so much thought on trying to fight it.  I need to find another way to get to the peace and joy and meditation on what it means that Jesus was born into this messed up world.  And so this year I hope to continue to work on minimizing and not adding too much to my lists, but in the middle of it all while I'm wrapping and baking and adventing and I hope to remember the CELEBRATION.

My responsible self often chants "Get your work done first and then play," but in recent years I never get around to this playing - or celebrating.  And so this year the preparation is going to be part of the celebration.

After all there is nothing more worthy of celebrating than Christmas.  The birth of Jesus represents God's promise fulfilled. When He arrived in the world God affirmed that all He has promised is true.  He does have a plan to save the world and that hope deserves the biggest celebration ever!


01 November 2012

A Halloween Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess named Snow White.

Snow White lived with her impatient step mother who always hurried her along to get dressed, brush her hair, eat her food, and always to get her seat belt buckled.

A dwarf also lived in the house with Snow White.

Most days he vacillated between Happy, Grumpy, Doc (the one in charge!), but this day he was Sneezy. Complete with runny nose and droopy eyes. Snow White loved her dwarf and the mother couldn't imagine another six dwarfs running around the cottage so they enjoyed the seven personalities of this one dwarf. The dwarf gave Snow White someone to mother. She took off his shoes and coat when he arrived home, brought him his blanket when he turned grumpy, and generally hovered over him ready to meet his every need.  If he did not have a current need, Snow White took away a toy or gave him a big squeeze until the dwarf screeched with a new problem.  Yes, Snow White and the Dwarf lived happily together on most days.

Then one day a handsome prince ninja decided to come play at the cottage.

He wanted Snow White's attention but was not prepared to love on the dwarf as Snow White did.  A charming ninja he was and simply with focused attention he easily enticed Snow White to join him for a time of building their own castles in the lower cottage. Without a backward glance at the Dwarf, Snow White followed the ninja with dreamy eyes and proclamations that she would help the ninja in any way he asked.

After their fortresses were secure, the ninja decided they needed to validate the strength of their walls.  For this he remembered the dwarf. Luring the dwarf near the fortress proved to be no challenge when he turned his charming attention towards the dwarf with a sweet voice and the promise of a ball.

The moment the dwarf arrived in the lower cottage, the ninja's charming facade disappeared and he dashed away behind the fortresses walls. Snow White appeared and the dwarf once again felt safe remembering the fun the two of them shared.

As in all true fairy tales, the story suddenly turned ugly.  From under her beautiful dress, Snow White pulled out a light saber and proceeded to attack the surprised dwarf with bonks and jabs. The impatient mother bounded down to the lower cottage and rescued the dwarf with kisses and admonishments of the ninja and Snow White. 

She reminded them of the prospect of trick-or-treating and everyone quickly reconciled. The dwarf agreed to wear his hat and everyone lived happily ever after, ringing door bells, gathering Reese's Peanut Butter cups, and ending the evening by watching It's a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. 

Yes, all fairy tales do have a happy ending.

23 October 2012

Life's best

The end of October and the sun shines in my window like it did in July. But now the leaves of the Ash tree out my left window lie on the ground and the tree out my right window sways with yellow and red leaves.

Hand me a bottle so I can capture this brilliance. 

If this sun were the one of March or April - filled with hope of much more to come I wouldn't be so nostalgic to see it.  But this is the sun of October meaning this appearance must be one of her last for the season.

Life's best always seem even better when they are about to end.

On Labor Day weekend, we soak and splash in the pool like it was the first time.

In the middle of August, we sleep as long as possible (well I do anyway) and plan hours of nothing before hectic schedules begin.

We stay up late talking on the last night because there will never be another night like this one.

And really isn't the last bite of pie the best one?

I held Asa early this morning before we turned the lights on and felt the weight of his body bearing on my arm. At 18 months, Buddy Boo really can't be called a baby anymore. His legs spilled off of my lap and I could just barely bring back the feeling of holding his teeny tiny body for the first time. We sat while I watched Asher and Amelie scamper back and forth in the hallway between their rooms. Watched Amelie dress herself. Watched Asher actually initiate inviting Amelie into his room. 

There is no end in sight for this busy hands on stage of parenting, but everyday marks the end of one phase or another.


10 October 2012

Thank you for success!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I am so thankful for everyone who participated in Supply Ziway by donating school supplies for kids in Ethiopian schools. This past week the bags of supplies were passed out to each student in Ziway and Adami Tulu Ethiopia!! 

Looking at their happy faces assures me that the effort to get the supplies there was absolutely worth it.  Who doesn't love a new box of sharp crayons? Just looking at the color choices inspires even me, a professing craft failure to want to draw. For these Ethiopian students, they get to experience this probably for the first time in their lives. What a joy!

And I am thrilled that they get to have those moments of joy and happiness.

But what I really hope the bag of supplies shows to the students is more than excitement over new crayons.

I hope they realize there are people who care about them.  We live far away and can't reach out and physically hug them or change their tough life experiences.  But we care. We pray for them asking most of all that they will feel Jesus' love but also that He will provide for their basic needs.

Within these little bags, I hope the students also understand the value of the education they are receiving.  I can't send enough money to build them all nice homes or feed them nutritious meals, but I want them to know that if they continue persevering in their studies they can find a way to make a better life for themselves and their families through education.  Reading, writing, learning English and math skills, all of these will be their ticket for a good future.

These deeper truths will last long after the pencils and crayons become nubs.

Thank you so much for joining me in expressing love and hope to Ethiopian students!

25 September 2012

Mad Letter

"Mom, are you going to write my teacher a mad letter?"

A mad letter? Why yes, I'm sure I have quite a few mad letters in me just waiting to come out!

Most likely he was thinking of my conversation with Walter after picking up a pizza on Sunday.  I will not name the pizza establishment because we love it and will continue going there...and I reserve my right to continue to complain about this one issue every week. But I will say at this particular place, they make the pizza in front of you and you take it home to bake (got it?).

Allow me a chance to vent the frustration we have with this pizza place. 

Our kids only eat pepperoni pizza (maybe cheese, but that would get plenty of grumbles). Asher has been known to refuse to eat a pepperoni pizza because his slice had a half piece of pepperoni from where I had cut the pie in pieces. This is a ridiculous approach to pizza, but we accept it because the idea is for us to have one grumble free meal a week, which is pizza on Sunday evenings while watching a show.

I can tell this post is going to get way long, I apologize, but I'm going to explain my story!

So I call ahead to order our pizza when we leave church so it will be ready for pick up by the time we get across town to run in and get it on our way home. When I call, the kind PM employee will state the special pizza of the day and I will often choose that. But I will ask for half to be pepperoni and half to be the magnificent combo of sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, mushrooms and whatever else they include in the on sale combination of the week.

Sometimes they state they intend to charge me extra for half to be just pepperoni and the other half to be sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, mushrooms... In this case, I usually choose to get all pepperoni and forget the sale sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, and mushrooms.  But sometimes there is no mention of charging me extra so I go ahead with my half pepperoni/half sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, and mushrooms request.

This inconsistency in sometimes charging me for the substitution and sometimes not charging me drives me crazy in itself. Not to mention that they want to charge me more for actually taking less toppings (rather than having a whole pizza of sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, and mushrooms, I am asking for them to only give me half of those yummy toppings and half just plain pepperoni).

But this week, I ordered the pizza with half sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, and mushrooms, and half pepperoni and there was no mention of extra charge.  When I arrived to pay for the pizza, the PM employee informed me she was going to charge me extra because I had an extra topping.  We both looked at my pizza and I saw half of it with sausage, deli pepperoni, Parmesan, red onions, and mushrooms, and the other half with sad looking plain pepperoni and I laughed at the idea that the side with just pepperoni was going to cost me more because it was an "extra" ingredient.

She must have understood the ridiculousness and without further argument took off the extra charge.

Still! I arrived back to my family in the van ranting about the crazy logic and inconsistency of sometimes wanting to charge me for this "extra topping" and sometimes not. And how crazy they are for wanting to charge me more for taking less ingredients!  I proclaimed that I was going to write a letter to the company describing my problem.  My only hold back was explaining this all on paper in a respectful succinct way.  (And you might agree I do need some work on explaining this problem after reading this post.)

Asher heard all of my expressions to Walter and obviously internalized this idea of writing a "mad letter."

So when I began getting frustrated over not understanding why he urgently needed headphones for school which he has not yet used, he suggested I write a letter to his teacher wondering why she was "wanting all of the moms to go out and waste money."

In fact, he finished his meal, asked to be dismissed, and immediately went to work writing this mad letter for me.

So now all we need to do is get a stamp on that envelope and send it on its way.

And all I need to do is copy and paste this pizza frustration into a new mad letter document and send it on its way too!

22 September 2012

staying for now

Seriously? It's the end of September and I am just returning to you, oh faithful blog friend?  I think about you all of the time and what I want to say on you, but somehow those ideas remain ideas and I wonder if I should give up this whole blogging and writing thing for this season or if once I stop I'll never return?

I've stopped before and when I come back I can't believe I ever stopped writing. There's an energy that comes out in this process that my brain forgets when it's not experiencing it.

Like running. I haven't ran in over a year, really? that long! In fact I don't even have good running shoes right now. I fondly remember that feeling of release when I get out there for a good run. Once I start I think I'll never stop again.  But I do. I have.

I believe someday something will click. Maybe my love of being yelled at during bootcamp will end. I might pick out some expensive new running shoes or maybe the lure of fresh air and alone time will entice me to get out there again.

Something like that could happen with writing. That super cute bird journal in my newest favorite color might persuade me to pick up a pen again. One of the kids could say something adorable that I must remember, or God might fill my heart with an insight I would be a fool to allow myself to forget.

Or I might simply have to force myself to do it. When it becomes work does that mean I need a break? Should I let it go when I have to force make myself to sit down and not get up until something productive happens (productive does not equal browsing recipes I hope to make or finding craft projects I only dream of doing).

What do you do when there is not enough time to be creative? Is it worth forcing through the block or would it be better just to take a break?

Not sure, but I think I will miss you if I let you go...so for now you will stay.


05 September 2012

Preschool here and there

Amelie hung up her bag on her hook and enthusiastically talked about playing at the sand table. Wearing her new bubble skirt and coordinating striped shirt with flowers, her headband matched one of those blue flowers. Adorable and so excited she didn't look back for a second.

Because she attends preschool at our church the classrooms are ones she frequents on Sundays.  The same yet different. Different kids, different teachers, activities reserved just for preschool fill the room. Asher met one of his best friends his first year of preschool and I wonder which of the five classmates will be that special friend for Amelie.

Nerves and excitement are running high here, but one thing we aren't nervous about is the opportunity for her education. 

My mind boggles considering the number of preschools in town.  With classtimes available to fit any schedule and meet whatever religious or secular choice I want, there are many many possibilities to choose from.

My mom told me today of the preschool registration she participated in this week.

On the other side of the world, hundreds of moms lined up in the muddy rain hoping to secure a spot for their child to attend preschool.  For them, preschool isn't about sandtables, gym time, and snacks.  Instead it marks the beginning of a child's opportunity...or not.  Being registered and having a spot in a quality school where fees are affordable and two nutritious meals a day are served means their child has opportunity and hope that others don't have. 

Hearts are broken, tears are shed, parents get angry.
The stakes are high.
The number of available chairs simply can't match the number of kids who want to come.

I wish I could fill the extra spots in Amelie's preschool with Ethiopian boys and girls.  I wish the opportunities could spread around just like that. 

I wish everyone had access to a first day of preschool.

Thankful today for the gift of education for my children.

25 August 2012

Walking now!

Asa ran away from me at the library today and I was so excited!

After months of cruising and even taking a couple of steps in between people he is finally walking all over and seems to have forgotten how to crawl. This happened on his 16 month birthday as if to say, "You prayed for me to not learn to walk while you were in Ethiopia, so I held off for 4 extra months, but now it is time to do it." Just a week ago, I felt embarrassed to leave him in the "walking well" Sunday school room of my sister's church knowing he wouldn't take a single step for them. And now you couldn't stop him.

He walks around so much, he wore himself out to the point of sleeping on Daddy.

As a parent I want to decide when my kids will do something. They should walk before they are one, be done with the pacifier and move into a big kid bed before turning two, and potty train by the time they are three. This is what the books and the parents who have well adjusted children have told me and I like to keep life on a schedule.

But really it is not about my schedule and as sad as I am to admit it, the control has never been in my hands. In fact God regularly reminds me that the plans I write on the calendar are erasable.

His schedule is written in black permanent marker that never fades. Nothing will happen a minute earlier or later than the scheduled moment and I love that Someone who cares for my best has that all figured out.

And because I do not need to plan out the events of the world, I have more time to chase after my Buddy Boo, something I would a million times more rather do.


14 August 2012

School starts

School starts next week.

I'm feeling the bittersweet passage of time thinking about Asher going back to school as a 1st grader.
Summer felt like summer this year. We spent lazy days sleeping in, large chunks of mornings in pajamas, and generally did not have a lot on our "to do," "to go," or "to be" list.

That turned out to be good.

When Asher was born I made a rule that I needed to get out of the house at least once everyday. In part I didn't want to feel trapped by these four walls but I also like to be reminded that there are people and busyness going on out there somewhere. 

This summer we regularly broke that rule. Maybe because leaving the house with three kids is more of a challenge than it was to leave a house with a baby in a carrier or because our window of time between waking up, lunchtime, and naptime is small. We learned to love to be here and the side bonus is that Asher and Amelie learned to play together.

They built forts, played with legos, initiated secret clubs, but the favorite game has become the one of battling Asa. Hmm... did I just admit to the world that my older children delight in stalking and attacking my sweet one year old?  The truth is when they ask me to send Asa down to the basement to play, they aren't wanting to cuddle or play his favorite game of catch.  When I peek down the stairs, I see Asher waving a sword above an oblivious toddler dancing and perfecting tae kwon do "hi-ya" shrieks. Amelie stands guard in the background holding her sword and ready to follow the moment Asher yells the signal to retreat. 

They retreat back to the couch forts.  These lie behind the barricade wall of toys they regularly reinforce to keep Asa from wandering into their portion of the basement.

Meanwhile my sweet Asa sits unfazed and happily goes about his business of throwing balls and generally exploring among the toys.  Really he just giggles over the thrill of being in the middle of what the bigger kids are doing.

These battles have been the mainstay of our summer.

And so how did this nostalgic post about school starting turn into the one that reveals the battles in our basement?

Maybe this oddity that has become normal represents what I will miss about this summer. I will miss overhearing their interactions and the time they spend together.  Watching them create the bonds and memories that make them brothers and sister gives me hope that their relationships will be the kind that support each other through life, just like those I cherish with my own sister and brother.

Play will change. With Asher back in school and Amelie the one dictating our play, we will return to her being the mommy and me being the sister who always carries the brother (Asa) around.

School starts next week and we will soon move on from this summer of homebodiness. The time has been good and the lazy days exactly as a summer should be.

03 August 2012

Holding his own

Let me tell you about my Asa.

At 15 months, he is less of a baby than what I think of him as. Maybe it's because he is just starting to get the hang of the whole walking thing. When you can crawl faster than a blink why bother standing up to walk? What those of us who walk on two legs carry with our hands, Asa simply sticks in his mouth and away he goes. Yes just like a mother kitten.
One of his early words is light saber.  He can hold his own in a good family battle, but he is most happiest with a ball. Throwing, chasing, fetching, slamming, he is the boy who lights up at any round object, including the round bollards outside of Target that really do look like giant bouncy balls.

You can't go wrong to feed Buddy Boo macaroni and cheese and there is no doubt when he is done eating.  He is the kid who smashes and swishes every last piece of remaining food all over the high chair and chucks the sippy cup onto the floor. A little destructive? Yes, but it does get the point across.

My cuddly boy loves his blanket and those two fingers automatically head into his mouth any time he needs comfort. We begin each morning with kisses, "MMM - AAA," to each of the Ethiopian giraffes in his room and then we kiss them again before and after naptime and bedtime. Those giraffes get some serious love!

With two older siblings, he fights hard to hold his own - to not be left out of snacktime, getting a turn petting the kitty, and being included in whatever game of chase or wrestling is happening at the moment.

So many things about my boy that I don't want to forget , thanks for letting me share them here with you.

25 July 2012

Supply Ziway

I can't resist new school supplies!
Notebooks covered in the latest colors and designs.
Unsharpened pencils with full erasers.
Crayon boxes with pointy tips and every single color in the box.
Pencil boxes just waiting to be organized so everything fits in a perfect spot.

Really isn't school supply shopping one of the highlights of the summer? After going years without a need to shop for supplies, I love taking my kids to the store and deliberating over the Star Wars or Angry Birds pencils. Maybe it's a tangible part of imagining possibilities and anticipating the things they will learn.

This year in addition to school supplies for my own kids, I'm collecting supplies for the kids at the Misgana Ministries schools I visited in Ethiopia.  They don't need a lot, just the basics of crayons, glue, pencils, pens, and erasers. I plan to have them delivered in ziploc bags which can be left in the classroom rather than carried back and forth between home and school risking getting lost or ruined.

Would you like to help?

Join me in imagining the excitement of Ethiopian kids get fresh supplies and also pray for God to use the education they are receiving for His good.

09 July 2012


Have you ever seen an injustice happening and been unable to stop it?

I have before, but none has stuck with me so much as what I saw in Ethiopia. 

Yes there is the extreme poverty. Only one child in a family of many gets to go to school. Orphans pick up the slack and do the dirty work for extended families in exchange for a place to sleep. The sick have no access to basic medical care.  A pastor and his family sleep together in a tiny one room home in the backyard of a property.

One of these stories alone is enough to make you want to ask why? Why are they there and I am here? What in God's sovereignty made the decision to allow me the abundance?

But this one injustice I had never seen before. I have read about it, seen documentaries about it, and signed petitions to try to stop it, but never saw it happening as I did when I stood in line at the Addis Ababa airport.

My mom warned me of what I would see. She said it doesn't matter what night, what month, what year, the guarantee is they will be there.  I prepared to see what before I had only read about, but it still surprised me to see so many.

As I stood waiting to check into the flight back to my family, in front and behind me stood young Ethiopian girls shrouded in black abayas that only allowed me to see their faces.  These young teens traveled in groups led by a Middle Eastern guide.  Dozens of these girls carried only a backpack but embarked on a journey to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or some other country with the plan to work in a home and send money back to their families.

Having read what I've read and seen what I've seen, I can't believe this intent would actually happen. I guess in the best of cases, they would be hired by a kind family who would treat them with respect and pay them a fair wage. The young women could send their money back home to Ethiopian villages and improve the lifestyle of their parents and siblings. After a few years of working they may earn enough money and be able to move back home and reunite with their families. 

Maybe I am too much of a skeptic to believe that is what actually happens.  A booming sex trade, domestic slavery, harsh abuse, those are the images and scenarios I saw when I watched them walk through security and head for those airplanes bound for a life that could be their worst nightmare.

As I stood in line, I tried to talk with the nervous girl standing in front of me, but she claimed not to speak any English.   I wished I could send her off with some hope - to give her a phone number to call if she found herself in trouble, give her a Bible or a message of the hope of Jesus, a few hundred dollars that she could use in an emergency.  Something!  But under the watchful eyes of the guides, I couldn't physically do anything.

I prayed a lot.  

The injustice is so big but as I think of those girls I stood in line with, the problem is so individual.

I still imagine her face and pray.

I pray for kind treatment and I pray for someone to be available if they need help.

What more can we do?

25 June 2012

Ethiopia 2012

I hadn't visited Ethiopia for more than seven years and much had changed. Modernized buildings and roads in Addis Ababa impressed me and so did the many trendy coffee shops. Stopping for machiatto became the norm of every day. That alone might be enough to compel me to come back!

Since my last visit, my parents have founded Misgana Ministries. The ministry's first project in Ziway produced a bridge that villagers now walk across everyday to access the school and market. Before the bridge, they had to balance across logs or wade through muddy swift flowing water to get across.

Hundreds of students now receive an outstanding education at three school campuses. While at school, each student receives breakfast and lunch.  The school buildings are clean and bright. When I visited a government run school, the contrast of dark dusty rooms with broken desks shocked me.

The stories of children who don't have a mom, dad, or both would break your heart into tiny pieces if you could handle listening to them all. Some are cared for by family friends or grandparents, but many live on streets selling gum, shining shoes, or simply begging as a way to survive.  With the desire to do something to help as many children as they could, my parents began a group home.  Orphaned boys and girls now have a home with houseparents who love and care for them.

My mind boggled as I saw the construction projects underway as well as the sites where current dreams will one day become reality. Additional school sites, expansions, vocational programs...wouldn't you love to meet every one's need?

Many outstanding Ethiopians who also have big hearts to serve God assist with managing daily operations. They work hard, my parents work hard, teams work hard, and yet much more waits to be done.

Lives are being changed every day because of opportunities that weren't available to them before. I wish you could see it. I wish we could snap our fingers together and start the programs and open enough classrooms for everyone who wants to attend.

It was good for me to go and I hope to do more.

18 June 2012

He changed!

I don't know where to start.

The first year of Kindergarten is long over.
Grandma passed away and I missed her funeral.
I've been to the other side of the world and back.
My dad's cancer was diagnosed and prayerfully completely removed.
Swimming, tae kwon do, and baseball are in full swing.
Mother's Day, Father's Day.
Asher's first lost tooth.

I've had deep thoughts, encouraging words, insights into life that I've thought about sharing. But this...this is the thing I am inspired to get out here first.

Please don't judge me to be shallow. I've never been enamored with kids walking dogs and am having trouble thinking of a great inspiring thought to add to this. Maybe my inspired thought is that kids can change!!

Asher has long had a severe dislike of dogs. No Dogs is the first sign he posted on the porch. On our walks on the Constitution Trail and at the Farmers Market, he would walk along shouting at any dog we passed that it should not be there. When we saw one from afar, he stopped dead in his tracks and started yelling wondering "What is that creature up there with its tongue hanging out?" While most kids wanted to pet a dog at the park, Asher wanted to loudly talk about how much he did not like them.

But this weekend, he delighted in walking my aunt and uncle's dog. After the visit at their home, he even stated that he would in fact like a dog!

I'm in shock and excited about all of the things that can change!

15 May 2012


He never had pulled mint, parsley, and almonds from any one's skin before.
That's what the Prompt Care doctor told me after I tried to blend my finger. 

I've been trying to think of a more clever way to describe my dumb mistake, but haven't thought of anything that doesn't make my stomach queasy whenever I say it.  Anyone who has been around while I've cooked knows I love my immersion blender and use it multiple times a day. I make babyfood, smoothies, creamy soups, and in this case, pesto. Now I've used it to mangle my finger.

I tried not to be wimpy, but really that's what I am when it comes to blood. I pass out and screech before you even touch my wound. When my kids forget and attempt to grab my hand, I jump back like a wounded tiger and I'm amazed at such intense instincts to protect my body.

I've kept a list of things index fingers are really good at.
- serving up cookie dough for a little taste taste
- scooping mystery objects out of little mouths
- wiping yogurt off of baby's faces
- tying a bow
- holding down squirmy babies during diaper changes
- providing a handle to hold during learning how to walk practice
- typing on a keyboard

I'm getting my stitches out today so I'm hoping to ditch the bandaids and rubber gloves and get back to using this finger for its regular duties. 

Those duties will no longer include cleaning an immersion blender while blending.

Here's to novel advive of unplugging appliances before cleaning them!

23 April 2012

Now he is one.

Happy Birthday Buddy Boo!

Asa's tight lipped smile lights up his whole face. This same smile has wished me many good-nights as I've tucked blankets over his little body. A sweet smile and then the two fingers quickly find their way into his mouth. The contentment of a sleeping baby.

Whenever he spots a ball, the smile reappears.  He babbles "Ba ba ba" and I can not resist finding yet another type of ball to put into his chubby little hands.

This year of cuddling and carrying and yes many moments of crying is transitioning into exploration, enjoying and even less times of crying. Not a baby but a toddler, how does it go so fast?

He is a sweet gift and today we celebrate our first year with Buddy Boo.

05 April 2012

Amelia Island

Sunrise from our deck.
I want to share a hundred pictures with you. From these pictures I'd love for the sun, relaxation, and giggles to ooze out and fill you with joy the way we were filled last week.

Mostly of beach scenes, running down the boardwalk, crabs, clams, herons, turtles, and even a striped snake, these pictures reflect a spot of time very well lived.

The pictures are of my sweet family and their unique ways of spending days with no agendas other than enjoy.
Of Asher karate chopping at waves, yelling at them to stay back.
Of Amelie clinging to Daddy in complete trust of his ability to keep her safe.
Of Asa stepping in sand for the first time and his fasincation with the swirling water at our feet.
Of Walter and his delight in spending time with the kids on the sand and in the water.
Of me living in time minus a list - knitting, reading, having an opportunity to enjoy my own children.

I can't share them all with you, but these are a few.

Our only family picture of the trip! Yummy gourmet cupcakes we made 6 last over 4 nights.

Kids on the beach before sunrise the first day! They couldn't wait (neither could I!) 
Love introducing babies to sand!
A rare moment of Asa sitting on the sand.
Daddy loving his kids.

19 March 2012


And she is Three.

I love her words, endless words. Words describing friends and imaginary happenings. Talk about Bunny Foofoo who is coming soon for a sleepover. Admiring words of Asher and the great feats he can accomplish. Adoring words of our Baby Asa or sometimes the one we call Buddy Boo.

The ensembles she chooses for the day make me smile. Scarves in 70 degree weather. Sunglasses on the darkest dreariest winter day, always bracelets, necklaces and a "headfan," "owl feathers," or a "kitty tail" in her hair. Today for her birthday, she chose two sets of sunglasses on her head.

A day can bring a moment of complete joy over hot chocolate and then a second later a meltdown over applesauce instead of yogurt for lunch.

She loves to be close, to be touching, and just to hang out with mommy. Mommy-daughter fun has been more fun than I thought and I'm so thankful for my sweet three year old AMELIE!

03 March 2012


Now he is six.

Asher the Rockstar who became Asher the Knight who became Asher the Sheriff who became Asher the Kindergartner who loves all things Lego especially Ninjago.

When I first looked into his brilliant blue eyes, there was no way I could have anticipated the battles we would have. Battles that span from eating food to wearing jeans and challenging him to simply show a little emotion.

But there was also no way I could have anticipated the thoughtful sweetness, cut and dry rule following, or creative artistic expressions.

His dealings with the things life throws his way challenge me to find a good response. There have been times I've never wanted to hurt someone more than when they have hurt my boy. But more often, I've never wanted more to set a good example of trusting God and treating people kindly.

He brings out my worst moments of impatience and angry outbursts, but I hope I've also practiced forgiveness and selfless love more than before.

Never dull and always an adventure I'm so thankful for Asher, my six year old boy.

16 February 2012

Things that make me smile

I'm back and hoping to be back more frequently, but life is life and I'm embracing what it is and at this time not what my vision for it would be.

I've accumulated a image gallery of things that have made me smile in the past few weeks and I'll share them here with you.

Proof that my little girl is bookended by two smaller boys and one boyish daddy. Wielding a sword before her first birthday and regularly requesting her brother to fight with her, I love that my little sweetie does maintain girlish loves as well. And so it is no surprise and yet completely shocking to see this T-Rex serving as a holder for her Hello Kitty necklace.
My Superbowl contribution! I didn't invent this tasty cupcake, I found it somewhere here online with all the inspirations I intend to do someday!  I love the smile it gave to everyone who saw it and I loved even more the tastiness of buffalo flavor, blue cheese, and hot sauce infused cake.  My new Superbowl staple!

And finally these chairs. I don't ever want to forget these chairs.

You might wonder what is out of the ordinary, but I will point out that the closeness of the two is no accident. I usually sit on the left chair and Amelie sits on the right.  I start off breakfast or lunch a reasonable distance away from  my girl, but as soon as she realizes where she is, she hops off her chair and pushes her stool into mine until they are lined up and touching all along the seat.

It actually drives me crazy since she often wiggles herself onto my chair entirely and being a right handed eater, I have little room to feed myself or reach for a drink.
In the moment I get annoyed. But in the big scheme, I love it. Love that she wants to be "right next to you."
These are the things. The things that make me smile today!
Take a look around. Be a stranger in your home and find the ordinary to you but unusual to the world things that make you smile.

19 January 2012

2012 Intentional soaking

Am I too late for 2012 resolutions?  One month into the year and although I've been thinking about this for weeks, I'm finally finding time to get my hopes and plans down.

I'm not a big resolution person, but for the past two years, I've loved writing a story for the year. Maybe it's more of setting the scene for the year and dreaming of the setting I'd like to be living in next December.

Last year I planned for a year of quiet purpose. I wanted to write and read much. Honestly those stacks of journals I had hoped to fill still have many blank pages. The writing books I planned to read were carried around with me for a few days and then other reading priorities replaced them.
My bookshelves did get decorated and the weed boxes in our backyard produced radishes, peas, tomatoes, and one fantastic green pepper. And so I completed the practical.

At this stage of life, the practical usually rises to the top of the pile as the urgent and the dreaming, the planning, the reflection sinks lower and lower on the priority list.

In the middle of the practical, I did lots of snuggling, soaked in the sweetness of my newborn, and tried to take a mental snapshot of those precious times.

For 2012 then, I look forward to more of the same. I hope to write. Not just the assignments or hoped submissions, but write to write. The way I always have in a small cute notebook where my thoughts jump and wander.

As I think of a friend, one I've wanted to know deeper, who is facing a scary health issue, my thoughts have been wondering what she would be doing in her moments when uncertainty about the future is so real. Would she be finishing one last kitchen chore or reading a book with her preschooler? I imagine there is much intentionality.

In 2012, I want to frequently ask myself those questions about the best use of my time and more often than not choose the thing that will not always be the option.

When December 31 2012 arrives, I hope to roll my eyes over the number of words I've written on a page wondering when I'll ever read them again and what purpose they will serve in all practicality. The setting in my house still won't be perfect or as cute as I'd want it to be, but I would like to have our office transformed into a well-used working space. As Asa gets older and we figure out what works in getting us out of the house, I hope we have chosen to geocache, be outside, get the table messy, and soak in the time.
Although it's well into 2012, I take this time to say goodbye to 2011 the year of quiet purpose and welcome 2012 the year of intentional soaking.

Here's to a year of soaking it all in!

08 January 2012


We haven't had a lot of snow yet this year and my kids are so anxious to do all the snow things.  They have great memories from all of the angels, forts, and snowball fights they had with all of the snow last year and are getting desperate to experience that fun again. So when it snowed (dusted) last week, they were out the door and getting their fill. 

I've wanted things that bad. I know how they feel.
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

03 January 2012


On this last day of Christmas break, I pushed the snooze button, reset my alarm, and justified to myself that I would still get some quiet time in because the kids would probably sleep in. After all I had reminded them before turning out the lights last night that it would be their last chance to have a lazy morning.

Actually, I meant to say, this is mommy's last chance to sleep in, so please don't wake up early!

And so why am I surprised that I had companions on both sides of me this morning while I tried to have a quiet time alone? We've already had a fight over pillows, a meltdown about wanting me to retrieve a blanket, and spilled coffee two times and it's not yet 8 o'clock.

So yeah, no pain no gain. If I had pushed through my sleepiness and rolled out of bed when my alarm buzzed, I would have had a quiet hour alone but I didn't take the pain and I missed out on the gain of time spent alone receiving from God.

I hate to say it, but doing hard things often gets the best results.

I've been squatting, lunging, sprinting, and planking at bootcamp twice a week for almost six months.  While those workouts leave me exhausted and believing I will not be able to hold my baby for the rest of the day, I am seeing great results. (Thanks Emily!)

I also see results of facing family difficulties head-on.  Amelie is almost potty-trained. Asher is kind to his siblings. Asa is still nursing even though I thought we would not make it this long. Getting the kids to embrace behaviors that seemed like mountains to climb hasn't been easy, but that pain has also been worth the gain.

Living life as a bootcamp isn't what I'm advocating.  But I am suggesting that pushing through the hard things we don't want to do might just be worth it.

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