Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Kindergarten to College

It always seems that bedtime brings out the best of conversations with my kids. Perhaps it is their refusal of sleep or their secret desire to drag bedtime on into infinity with “just one more thing, Mom.” I prefer to think of it as a special time when each child has a moment of Mom’s undivided attention. Bedtime can be stressful at times and like so many other moms, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world those special “clicks” on the mental camera for me to treasure.

This particular bedtime conversation came after a very typical Sunday...nothing special happened but the conversation brought a tear to my eye at the thoughts coming out of my sweet 5-year old girl, all the while leaving a knot the size of Texas in my throat and the flashes of my mental camera feverishly clicking away.

Seeming to mustering up all the courage in her body, my Addi stated:

“Mommy, I am worried about going to college.”

Did this really just come out of her mouth?

Zillion of things surged through my mind. Just the other day I so proudly walked her into her first day of Kindergarten. And years of life’s little moments yet to be had flickered illusionary visions. Practicing with her for endless days before her first dance recital, all dressed in her favorite color, pink. Late night study sessions before her big calculus test. Listening for hours to her excitement about the boy who paid her a compliment in homeroom. Warning her, as only a mother can, about all the woes boys can bring while watching her and her sister roll their eyes and giggle at the thoughts. Hugging her endlessly after her first broken heart, hurting deeply myself because I know it won’t be her last.

Then we jumped to college?!?!?

Why, Addi?

I think I will miss you too much. I will want to come home and see you all the time and go to our church on Sunday.

Trying to sound as convincing as I can to her while I desperately attempt to convince myself, I say:

That’s fine, Addi. You can come home whenever you want and I can come visit you all the time when you are away at college.

With tears streaming down her face, she replies:

But I won’t be able to hug you and snuggle you whenever I want.

I am quickly loosing my battle with the growing lump in my throat.

It’s ok, Addi. You know Mommy loves you SO much and I will miss you a bunch too but we can talk on the phone, see each other on the computer and visit each other all the time.

But it won’t be the same, Mommy.

There it went...That tear I had been holding back slipped over the rim of my eyelid.

College is a long time away, Addi, and I am sure by the time it gets here, you will be ready to go.

I am not so sure I will be ready for her to go.

I am not so sure, Mommy.

Clearly there is work to be done in the next thirteen years to get us
both ready.

Honey, going to Kindergarten was a big step for you and after you went, you were really glad you did because you really like it, right?

Yeah, but college is different. It is really far away and I won’t see you much.

Yep, another tear. There it went.

Seeming to have found her logic, she states:

Mommy, do you know who will go to college before me?

Who, sweetheart?

Jaykob does! So I guess I can see what it’s all about then.

Addi, would you like to pray about college and tell God about your worries?

Matter of factly, she replies:

Nope. We can pray about it when I go.

I knew the financial preparations required for college needed to be in place now, but I was certain I would have a good eight - ten years before I would need to tackle the mental side of college preparation.

Sweetheart, you can bet your bottom dollar Mommy will be on her knees praying.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts at the Bottom of the Beanstalk

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand-new backpack.

Even though his friends in the neighborhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack's first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.

Early in the morning, she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment, they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing up at the beanstalk. To Jack, it seemed much bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big too. She swallowed.

Jack's mother straightened his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing. Jack didn't say a word.

He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balanced there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf, then to the third and soon he vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backward glance at his mother.

She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.

"Sometimes," she thought, "it's harder to be he one that waves good-bye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk."

She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little kids sometimes act silly when they felt unsure? She fought down an urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peek at how he was doing.

"I'd better not. What if he saw me?" She knew Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that, after all this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind but had outstanding qualifications.

"It's not so much that I'm worried about him," she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. "It's just that he's growing up and I'm going to miss him."

Jack's mother turned to leave. "Jack's going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life," she told herself. "Today's the day he starts practicing for them... And today's the day I start practicing something too: cheering him on and waving good-bye."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't tell Tony, but I let someone steal my heart today!

Ahhhhh... God's Amazing Grace.

I am stumped for words....

I saw my God today. I looked into His eyes today as I looked into the the sweet eyes of Claudia. Claudia has no life outside of the twin bed she shares with a plethora of her stuffed animals. Cerebral palsy has stolen her movement. Claudia can not speak. Cerebral palsy has stolen her voice. With no ability to speak, Claudia sang (grunted) of God's Amazing Grace. Claudia was a beautiful depiction of the joy my Savior can give to someone with no hope. Claudia is Jesus.

I saw my God today. I looked into His eyes today as I looked into the spunky eyes of Kevon. Kevon can not speak. Cerebral palsy has seized his voice too. In fact, cerebral palsy has seized nearly every muscle in his body. Cerebral palsy cannot seize his smile. Cerebral palsy can not seize his humor. Cerebral palsy cannot seize his praise! Cerebral palsy may be able to seize this young man, but cerebral palsy cannot touch my Jesus that lives in Kevon!

I saw my God today in the lives of our team members that looked beyond the mang
led mess of adult diapers, slobber and wretchedly twisted bones.

My expectations going into the day could not be farther from reality... nor could the pictures I took depict the power of God's Amazing Grace.

What precious precious precious people! Yes, my heart broke for them and I cry for their situation as I type this. Cerebral palsy has stolen the movement and the ability to speak but their joy will not be silenced!

Of our 15 people on the trip, 8 are returning and had experienced the orphanage last year. Six were unsure of what to expect (myself included) and Derek, our third adult sponsor, is a seasoned veteran with special needs (Derek works for SnugSeat, a company that builds and special fits wheelchairs for disabled children).

God's providence is in no way accidental. Derek was able to measure each person at the orphanage for a special fit wheel chair to be shipped back before the new year!

Oh their joy despite their heartbreaking circumstance!

Oh their gladness despite being bedridden in a hopeless environment.

Oh their sweet spirits!

Oh I fell in love! I fell in love today... Claudia stole my heart. Kevon stole my heart. Jesus stole my heart.

FYI.. Don't call them "kids" here in Antigua!

Uncertain... that is simply how I can put into words what we were walking into.

VBS started this morning and riding to the church, we were just uncertain.

Uncertain if our hard work canvassing the local neighborhoods (and I use that term
"neighborhoods" extremely loosely) would pay off. (It did!)

Uncertain if the kids that offered me my first opportunity to eat "goosenberries" would honor their promise to show up? (I didn't eat...They didn't show. I wonder if there is a correlation?)

Uncertain if what we prepared so hard for would culturally translate? Welllllllll.... After referring to them as "kids" and the appalling look we received nearly immediately, we were told with all the goats on the island, we were basically calling them goats! Oops! Looks like apologies are in order for tomorrow!

VBS nutshell: Day #1 was fun! Although we were uncertain in our expectations, we met the challenge with enthusiasm and had a BLAST playing with the kids. We are all looking forward to VBS Day #2! I am not sure if the strength of my voice will last through the week, but I will go down trying!

After sharing lunch with our new Antiguan friends provided to us by some ladies in the church (Antiguan hot dogs are not quite the same... but the fries were pretty good), we loaded up the vans for Amazing Grace Orphanage.

Uncertain how I will combine the two events (VBS & Amazing Grace Orphanage)...I will close for now and write about AG in a bit...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

"We are experiencing technical difficulties."

This announcement greeted us aboard Flight 1203 with non-stop service from Charlotte to

"But everything had been going so smoothly!!!!" While I made every attempt to remain calm (you know, for the sake of morale for the troops), I have visions of Jet Blue's NINE hour delay with stranded passengers held hostage on the plane while the gate was within eyesight danced through my head. My blood pressure began to rise and I was doing my best to keep my claustrophobia in check. Meanwhile, US Airways took good care of us while grounded and two hours later, we took off for an uneventful flight for Antigua.

Needless to say, all is well... we are tired and ready for some sleep... but more importantly, ready for our adventure! Bring it on, God! We are ready!

Ready or not... Here I come!

I know it looks like a horribly rough place to go on a missions trip, but people need Jesus all over the world and let me be the first to sign up to spread Jesus to the island of Antigua!!! Tony and I head out tomorrow on a 8-day trip to the BEAUTIFUL island nestled in the Caribbean. Tagging along on the ride will be 13 teenagers and one other adult.
Allow me to be honest for a minute... I am really looking forward to this trip (this will be Tony's third trip to the island for missions work and my first). No really, I am looking forward to it.

Yes, this is partially my mind trying to convince myself that I am excited and partially my mind reminding myself that before me lies the adventure of a lifetime with my God as my tour guide!

I am at the juncture when anticipation meets reality.

For months I have been anticipating this trip. For months I have spiritually, physically, and mentally been preparing for this trip. However, here I am on the precipice of this adventure and I look ahead with reservation. Fear?

I am not sure exactly what I am feeling.

It has hit me this week... I am leaving my babies!!! I am by no means a "helicopter mom". I am truly raising my kids (the best I know how) to eventually be self-sufficient, self-reliant and self-confident. But apparently here is my first test! Yikes!!!

Are they ready?


I have no other choice.

This is the mission my Tour Guide has laid before me and far better to obey your Tour Guide while in a foreign country than make any attempts otherwise!

So God, with Your help and Your help alone... I will go.

Jaykob, Addi and Ella- I love you with ALL that is in me...EVERY last drop of me loves you and Mommy and Daddy will see you soon!

Luke 9:61 & 62 (The Message)- "Then another said, 'I am ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.' Jesus said, 'No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's Kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.' "


Friday, June 18, 2010

I will choose

It has been a long time since I blogged. I promise not to go so long again. I could say “busyness” has been my excuse for the lack of blogs but that is only partially the truth. I sit down to blog and nearly get overwhelmed.

*Overwhelmed that my children are so active.

*Overwhelmed that for so many people, I choose to wear so many different hats as Mom, Wife, Supporter, Nurturer, Counselor, Mentor, Chief Boo-Boo Kisser, Bodyguard, Bouncer, Boss, Coach, Referee, Enforcer, Chef, Maid, Taxi Driver, well, you get the idea....

*Overwhelmed that my children are growing so fast and how can I put into words the changes

*Overwhelmed that since my last blog, we have celebrated Thanksgiving at the Beach, Christmas, 5 birthdays, 1 ten year anniversary (wow!), installed a trampoline, been on a missions trip with our family, survived several youth group trips, lost a first tooth and had two tooth fairy visits for two of the three kids, and sat through the first of years and years of sporting events.

*Overwhelmed that I have millions of mundane moments day in and day out with my three kids and fabulous husband and overwhelmed with grief for our friends who don’t get any more of those mundane moments with their sweet Annie Jane.

I have literally sat down dozens of times to blog but keep coming back to our friends. How can I share with the world the happenings of our normal/crazy family when their world has been rocked to the very core of their foundation? Don’t hear me say that I have put life on hold. I guess I have simply put “bragging” about my “normal” life on hold. Have our friends? No. They grieve everyday for their sweet baby girl but live life for their other two.

Why? We live in a world rocked with tragedy all the time. Why has this affected me like this? Peter & Sarah are dear friends of ours. Our lives are mirror images of each other in so many ways. Both living the life of pastors in a community that is unique and yet foreign to us with three children, nearly equal distant in age and the exact same gender and birth order.

In early fall, the process began and ended rather quickly. Of course, it didn’t really end. The process, no doubt continues for them. For all of us just on completely different levels. I will spare you the details of what happened, but will link you to their page.

How can I celebrate with the blogging world a tooth lost when little Annie will never get her first tooth?

How can I celebrate with the blogging world a birthday of my baby girl Ella when Baby Annie will never taste the joy of her first cake?

How can I celebrate with the blogging world the mundane childhood of my three kids when Annie has been prematurely robbed of nearly every mundane moment her parents could have hoped for her?

I will choose to.

I will choose to celebrate with the blogging world the birthday of my children because my children are worth celebrating. Annie is worth celebrating, too. So are Annie’s brother and sister, William and Kate.

I will choose to celebrate with the blogging world the end of a successful school year because my children worked hard. Knowing Annie’s parents, Annie would have been required to work hard in school, just as my children are required to do.

I will choose to live this day forward before the blogging world because my children have friends and family that miss hearing about the funny things they do and celebrating the crazy, mundane, normal things of our life.

I will choose to celebrate the short life of a beautiful little girl that fought hard to make everyday of her short six months count for those around her.

I will choose to celebrate the testimony of the glory and grace our Savior has bestowed on a family that has chosen to serve Him
no matter what.

I will choose to honor my God by bragging on the gifts He has chosen to give me for the duration they are under my care with a new respect for the fact that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

I will choose.