Thursday, May 29, 2008

God's Will

It looks like we're facing another set back on our road to Bear Paw. I have to admit the obstacles are getting a little old. When I was sharing with someone that our move date is tentatively June 7th but, due to circumstances, we might have to change that, their response was to wonder if maybe it wasn't God's plan for us to buy the camp. I answered that the door wasn't shut and we'd face this challenge head on just like the other challenges we've faced. Those words, asking such an obvious question, unintentionally sliced doubt to the core of my heart. How can I know for sure if this is God's will? My first thought was of the Israelites wandering 40 years in the desert as they waited to enter the promised land. I didn't like that example because it was due to the fact that they turned their hearts from God and set up idols that they had to wait so long. I don't think we have any obvious idols we're depending on to save us. I'll keep an open mind and examine that thought more.

Next, I thought of Abraham and Sarah, the barren couple who God had promised he would make the father of many nations. In other words, give them lots of descendants, which means children! They waited and waited for their promise to be fulfilled, getting older and less fertile each month and year that passed. Abraham is known for his great faith but it took some training for that faith to grow to the level God desired it to be. Abraham failed many times; taking matters into his own hands, lying to protect his own tail feathers, following advice that was contrary to God's plan (albeit from his wife whom I'm sure was normally a great source of wisdom!). When I was sharing all this with Andrew he said, "Abraham should have stayed focused. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Seriously, how many months went by where they wondered, "Is this the month?" How many times was Sarah a few days late and starting to get excited, only to be disappointed again. That had to be difficult, yet still they had God's promise, regardless of how things looked to the outside world.

Why do I keep questioning God when he's confirmed to me that he does have a plan and will reveal it bit by bit? If you've followed my blog, you'll notice an amazing thing. Each time I have a day of confirmation, blessing, or complete trust, it is followed, almost immediately, by a day of testing, trial, and confusion. A time where all the earthly "signs" are stripped away and I'm left with the question, "Do you trust me?" My faith is so weak, but each time I say, "Yes, Lord," no matter if it's whispered, I am met with great strength and peace. Through these ups and downs it's become almost a habit to say "Yes" to God. Each time he's met me, each time I'm blessed. That is what I call training! I'm being transformed. This lump of clay, in the potter's hands, may someday be a useful bowl or vase or mug.

If you've never said "Yes" to Jesus, I want to encourage you to trust him with your life. He created you, he loves you, he died for you, paying the price for your sin. Say, "Yes" to Jesus. If you've accepted God's grace already I want to encourage you to let him lead you. When trials come allow him to mold you through the process. Open your eyes to where God is moving and join him.

"Jesus, thank you for dying for me. I am imperfect, unable to enter heaven because of my sin. Thank you for paying the debt for my sin with your own life, and giving me eternal life in heaven and relationship with you right now. Use me for your glory. Grow me into who you designed me to be. Help me to stay on the potter's wheel even when it's spinning fast, you're pressing hard, or I'm being stretched. I want to be a useful vessel."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

God's Provision

Praise the Lord! I had my appointment with my "second choice," "at-least-they-accept-self-pay" doctor yesterday. Knock my socks off!! The new office building had been designed with women in mind. It is the Salem WOMEN'S Clinic after all. There was beautiful wood work on the walls, pillars, a fancy coved ceiling with stain glass inset, a built in little play house for the kids, and lovely music playing. That was a great first impression. Then the actual exam room was like a mini hotel room. Instead of the normal doctor's table/bed thing they had a chaise lounge and antique furniture. Nice. The physicians assistant I met with was easy to talk to and patient with me as I occasionally redirected the girls. Mia was climbing all over trying to get the best view of what she was writing down. The P.A. was thorough in her questionnaire and, despite the fact that they know I'll only be there for two visits, I got a ton of free stuff!! A diaper bag, free samples, etc. When she was asking me about the stressors in my life I was a little embarrassed by all the "high" answers I had. "How would you describe the level of stress in your living environment? Low, moderate, or high?" HIGH!! "How is the stress in your relationships with friends?" "Uh, I'm having to say goodbye to all of them!! High stress!" "Do you have any big changes coming?" So, I got to tell her about buying a Christian camp and following God's leading. Well, I have to give her credit, she was reading from a standard form they always use and finally she just started nodding and smiling at me after each question. Ya, it's an intense time, but most of the time I still feel pretty peaceful. I just can't look too much at the whole picture. I'm also under strict instructions to tell people when I'm hitting the wall emotionally. That's a big remedy for me in the battle against depression and anxiety.

Next she asked me about my visit with my previous doctor to find out what tests she had already done. Nada!! I told her the story and that I felt God was severing those ties because He wants me to move on. She nodded.

So, the next part of intake was reviewing previous pregnancies and deliveries. We start right off with Faith of course. I told her again how we chose to carry her to full term and how God still uses her life to bless other people including our kids. She looked at me and said, "I'm a Christian, too, and we had a baby that was born a month early and lived for 3 months." She shared with me how his little life was used for God's glory as well. There is a special bond between people who've walked the same road. That time was a blessing.

Then it was time to hear the heart beat. There was so much tension as she searched around for that tiny heart. I kept hearing my heart beat, it's slower and louder, then all the general body noises it picks up. Then finally, faintly at first, we hear it, that fast little heart beat. Then she readjusts and there it is, so strong and steady. Music to my ears. Had the girls not been there I'd have let my guard down and cried. It was beautiful. This is my fifth time hearing that precious sound and it's never been less of a miracle. I tried to help the girls understand what they were hearing but I'm not sure they did.

The girls did really well considering how much waiting was involved. It was a little awkward when I had to pee in a cup. On one hand I didn't want the girls in there because I don't want them copying me or sharing the experience with their friends. On the other hand, what am I gonna do with them. So, in they came, and as they stood wide eyed, I explained, "Do not try this at home!" In fact it was extra special because I had to collect one "sample" then stop mid-stream and collect another in a different cup. Phew! Talk about stressful.

Then they got to watch me get my blood drawn, 9 viles full. Thankfully only one poke. I was surprised by brave little Mia's sickened face. When the doctor asked if she'd like to take blood when she grows up she definitively said, "NO!" Sierra didn't really know what was going on but they were both interested in my bandaid and owie after it was all said and done.

The whole visit took about 2 hours and was pushing into lunch time. Since the parking situation is so bad over there we had walked to the appointment and needed to walk home, so I decided we would stop by the snack bar for some sustenance on the way out. The girls each got Doritos and I had a scone. Then we made the trek back home through beautiful Bush Park. I kept thinking what a wonderful experience for the girls to hear their baby brother or sister's heartbeat. They must really feel special about that.

"So," I asked them, "What was your favorite part of my Dr.'s appointment?" "The Dorito's!" they shouted. The Dorito's! After all that, they liked the junk food the best. "Well, I liked watching you try to go potty in the cup" Mia followed up. Great, glad I could provide that experience for you. Then again at bed time, when I asked them what their highs and lows were for the day, sure enough, Mia mentioned the cup thing again. Well, at least she learned something about the health care system.

The whole experience was really a testimony to me of how well God can take care of me. I feel much more confident that I will find someone wonderful to deliver this baby in Washington.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Andrew and I visited our old Sunday morning shepherding group today and we had an interesting speaker. I scratched down notes as quickly as I could because I thought he had some great perspectives and I wish we would have had more time with him.

The first subject that caught my attention was that of pain. He says that one thing that sets America apart from most other cultures is our pursuit of a pain free society. I let my mind wander a bit trying to decide if I thought that was true or not. I thought about the natural laboring that women do around the world, the miles of walking in no shoes, cooking over a hot fire, etc. When I was in Mongolia the balance that the missionaries wanted to have was that they help with physical needs and meet people in their practical pain but also that they don't lose their focus of meeting the underlying bigger need of Jesus. Our speaker suggested that God uses pain to direct us where to go and when we only seek to alleviate that pain we've eliminated a drive in our lives.

So I thought about my own pain. I've learned so much from the pain I've walked through. I didn't take anything away from the pain I ran away from. Short term I was more comfortable, but long term I was left weaker because going through my pain actually made me stronger. Let's take a sports analogy; had my coaches taken away the pain of the training that took place in practice and in the weight room I never would have had the strength to compete in the games or been able to experience success on the court. My trial and error in practice, and the repetition of doing things the right way prepared me to have the right reactions in the game.

The speaker, who works in recovery ministries, stressed the long term importance of not stepping in to ease people's pain but to walk beside them through it. I missed some of the next part but he said as they are coming through their pain our role should be to be committed to the truth, both the truth of God's word and telling the truth. There's no point in putting frosting on a pile of dog poo, it's still dog poo at the core. Let's not pretend that everything's the proverbial "Fine. How are you?" all the time, and let's not allow others to do that either. The vital part of truth is grace. We all know our own biggest failings and faults in painful detail but the rest of the story is that Jesus Christ already paid the high price for those sins. Our acknowledgment of our own "badness" can only be matched by our recognition of God's immense love for us. He paid the price, it's a balanced scale. If we spent as much time reflecting on the greatness of God's love and forgiveness each time we fail as we do beating ourselves up I think we have a much clearer view of who God is.

Finally I'll just give you some of my notes as food for thought:
- Embrace your own limitations, we're not God.
- Relationship and accountability are proportionate. Seek out relationships and pursue depth in them so that you can create accountability for each other.
- The opposite of anger is patience.
- To change you need new information or new ideas (the old way is not working), time, and you need others (we were designed for relationship).
- My emotions or thoughts are mine and yours are yours. Don't try to cross those God given boundaries to try to change people's thoughts or feelings.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Down, One to Go

Mia's last day of school was Friday. Our darling little girl decided she did want to wear her pretty dress and I was so pleased, right up until the point where she started lifting up her skirt and flashing everybody. I thought ahead and made sure her undies were a great match to her dress so it would be less noticeable if she didn't sit quite right or something but there's no hiding your undies when your dress is up to your eyeballs! Here's Sierra enjoying the show. Throughout the program there were lots of distractions besides the underware. One boy asked after every song, "Now are we done?" and, of course there were the usual funny faces, squirmy bodies and animated singers as well. The teachers really had their hands full this year. There were only 4 girls in the class of 16 and most of the boys were very high energy, test-the-teacher kind of boys, and some of the girls were, too, actually. The teachers were so gracious and loving and they must have been very determined as well. I was sure they'd be done by winter but they finished the year and even signed up for another one next year. Anyway, it was fun to hear the kids sing their sweet songs and proudly show off some of their artwork. It was a nice time to get some last pictures of Mia with some of her classmates, too. I can't believe this year has come to an end for her and only two more weeks for Josiah. After her program we all went out to Red Robin to celebrate.

There is still so much to do to move and then to prepare before our first campers arrive. I'm trying not to think too far down the road but there's a lot even on this block! Today at church the worship was fantastic. We sang, "Take My Life" and I love that song as I've mentioned before. It was wonderful to sing that song to the Lord and fully trust him with all that that means. We haven't sung that song in a very long time and it's timing today was quite a blessing.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fight Against ALS, part 2

May is ALS Awareness month. Our friend, Jim Culveyhouse is doing everything he can to raise awareness of and support for the fight against ALS. See this video of his life and help him reach his goal of raising $1,000,000! Also, visit his site and learn more about ALS or Lou Gerhig's disease.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Closed Doors

Yesterday was my first doctors appointment. 11 weeks along and I was ready to hear that little heartbeat and have some confirmation that things were going along smoothly. After waiting for 45 minutes, I did not get to see my doctor. The doctor that I have highly recommended to all my friends and family. The doctor that delivered Mia and Sierra. The wonderful doctor that last time allowed me to come to her despite the fact that we had no insurance. This time, though, is different. She wants to enforce her policy of mandatory insurance coverage. She would not see me yesterday; no heartbeat confirmation, no blood tests, no urinalysis. Even if I quickly got insurance there were no appointments available for over 2 weeks. I cried.

I really feel like I've had the best doctor and now I'm forced to look for someone else, someone, presumably, that is less than the best. It was quite a hit to my already hormonal, emotional state. Even while I was working on cooling down my red puffy eyes before I left the doctors office, the thought hit me that this tie was being severed so I could let it go and commit myself to Newport and whatever doctor God has for me there. After talking to my dear, wise friend, who I'm glad will always be only a phone call away, I was reminded that I have been praying for doors to close according to God's will. That's true, only my thought was, if they were to close, they would be closing in Newport not in Salem. Not only did this door close in Salem but a few doors opened in Washington. The first one was insurance. Given our tight budget in buying the camp, I was concerned about adding the costs of having another baby and trying to get insurance while I'm already pregnant. With our income to expense ratio at the camp, I learned that we should quite easily qualify for Washington's First Steps program, a state insurance program that will cover all my prenatal and delivery expenses and covers the baby for the first year, too. I was also encouraged that there are several general practitioners in Newport that deliver babies and the hospital has decent delivery rooms with jacuzzi tubs, or I can choose go to Spokane for an OB/GYN. That gives me some things to think about anyway.

Well, through all this, the thing Andrew wanted me to take away is that it's time to start saying "Goodbye" and plan on leaving in just a few days (16 to be exact!). All things have been saying, "Yes we're going" and if something changes we'll cross that bridge then. I cried again. It's been hurry up and wait for so long, I can't believe it's just around the corner and I keep thinking that something is going to happen to take it all away. Another friend said it's like, by not looking forward to and planning on the move, I'm trying to protect myself from getting disappointed if it doesn't happen. Oh me of little faith.

Well, I guess there's plenty of work to do, both on my heart and on the house so I should wrap this up. By the way, God has provided an alternative doctor here in Salem who accepts self pay patients. I'll be able to see her twice before I leave, and yes, I'll get to listen for the heartbeat next week! Also, they only see patients up to 24 weeks so I can't put down any roots with them.

Please remember us in your prayers as there is a lot to do and a lot going on and I don't want to rush through the last moments here in Salem. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sierra's Schwinn

Gramma Linda bought Sierra a Schwinn trike. Daddy decided right before bed to go ahead and put it together. So the kids, clad in their jammies, tested out Sierra's new bike last night. It's a great size, not to big but not small, and it's so stylish. Sierra may hold the title of best bike in the family right now. Being the third child she doesn't get too many new things, not that she cares at this age, but still, I'm happy for her. Not only that, but she is the first one in the family to have a bell on her bike. She is already very adept at ringing it, too. The trike has a nice step on the back over the wheels where her siblings can ride and help her go faster as well as get the steering part down. She's also been very generous in letting the big kids have a turn driving, too.

Thanks Gramma!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

On the Road & Back Again

We headed back up to Bear Paw this past Friday during the record setting temperatures. I'm so thankful we have air conditioning in the van. I'm also thankful that my mom bought the kids a portable dvd player a couple of years ago. It takes us about 4 movies to make it up there if we watch nearly back to back. Of course we also have books to read and snacks to tide us over, but it's helpful to have a few favorite movies along for the all day long trip. Mia was in charge of making sure everyone could see, she just didn't want to hear this part of the movie... too scary.

We went up there because it was a clean up weekend at the camp and 50 some volunteers from the camp's largest group, a group that runs a diabetes camp for kids, came to do all kinds of projects. We wanted to meet the volunteers and learn more about this group as well as get our hands dirty working on the camp. I have to admit that, after such a long drive, arriving at the untouched camp was a little disappointing. All I could see was work that needed to be done and repairs that needed attention and all I could think about was how little time we'll have to do it. But, we all rolled up our sleeves and got to work right after breakfast on Saturday morning. Andrew helped repair some sheet rock, build a shed, and put together a basketball hoop. Actually a group of teenagers were supposed to put the hoop together but after working on it until about 2pm they called in the big guns and Andrew and another guy wrapped it up in just a few minutes. I raked, then I raked, then I raked some more. By the end of the day I could barely hold Sierra's hand as we walked up to dinner because my hands were so sore. We were raking up pine needles, twigs, branches and pine cones over probably 6 acres of the camp. The kids picked up pine cones by the boat load, too, and got to witness first hand how old ashes can reignite and start a big bonfire! Getting all that debris off the ground and then mowing the grass really made a huge difference in the look of camp so, when it was all over, I was tired but inspired.

At the end the owners, having noticed that I was pregnant, approached us with some worst case scenarios and really painted a very negative picture of running a camp. They wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into and were being realistic given the amount of work involved and the number of kids we will have. I don't think a person can ever really know what they are getting into, unless they've already gotten into it. It was good to go up for the weekend and do some of the work and see other things that needed to get done. It's good to review the finances and be realistic about what we'll be able to go in and do immediately. It's also important to remember that on both those points we won't be able to go this alone.

I had a vision as we were driving up to the camp. I was half in and half out of sleep and in my dream state could see myself lying on the floor, consumed with all that needed to be done yet completely unable to move to do it. Honestly this is how I feel when I'm experiencing bouts of depression so it wasn't unfamiliar territory. Then in my vision, I realized that God had approached me and I was embarrassed by my state but unable to change anything, except to look up at him and cry, "It's too much for me, I can't do it." Then he reached out his hand and kindly said, "Get up" and amazingly I was able to get up. It was like I was the cripple who Jesus healed. I guess I realized that it's ok when I can't do it, but he will provide a way and the power I need to do it all: raise four kids, move away from the familiar, take care of a home and a camp, meet new friends and stay connected with the old ones, and take care of myself physically and emotionally. So I'm proceeding under his power right now, and trusting him to not give us more than we can handle. I know that he desires to bless our family and use us so he wouldn't allow us to enter into something that would hinder that. If we are still able to buy the camp, it is his will, if not, it is his will. I can stand on that.

Here's the verses that were in my Proverbs31 devotional today:

Psalm 62:6 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” (KJV)

Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (NIV)

Psalm 145:15-16, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (NIV)

Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (NIV)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Remodelers Life

We've been working on this old house for a couple of years now, 2 1/2 actually. It's always been a diamond in the rough but it's starting to really take it's shape now. Andrew has had some help these last two days and has been knocking out the last of the mudding. When you do mudding it means you also have to do sanding in order to blend between the mud and the drywall or plaster. Sanded mud is a bear to clean up and it gets absolutely everywhere. Since most of the work is being done on the upstairs bedrooms we've cleared them out and are again practicing flexibility. It's always been an ongoing joke that in this house we've all lived in every bedroom and with a variety of different "roommates". So just to chronicle our journey, here's the bedroom shuffle from the beginning!

1st: Andrew, Christy and 6 week old Sierra (who slept in the stroller since neither her crib nor her pack-n-play would fit in the room) slept in what I eventually wanted to be the media room. Josiah and Mia were in the big bedroom upstairs, which was to be for the girls in the long run.

2nd: Andrew and Christy still in the "media room". Josiah in the smaller upstairs room. Mia and Sierra in the bigger room.

3rd: Andrew, Christy, Mia, and Sierra in the upstairs big room. Josiah in the smaller room.

4th: Andrew and Christy in the big room. Josiah, Mia and Sierra in the smaller room.

5th: Andrew and Christy in the smaller room. Josiah, Mia and Sierra in the larger room.

Tonight is our 6th arrangement: Josiah, Mia and Sierra are on the floor in the would be media room. Sierra is in the closet, don't worry it's a big one. Andrew and I still have mud sandings all over our room and the bed (I use that term lightly since it's now only a mattress on the floor) is still under wraps. I'm beat and it's only 9:00pm. I may make due with the couch tonight and I have no idea what Andrew might do.

P.S. Just to let you know how fried my brain is I have to tell you about this dumb little thing that just happened. When I went to spell check this blog it actually highlighted my name! So I looked up it's suggestions and, of course, it had Christ. I don't mind that because sometimes I do run my words together incorrectly and make new words with different meanings. Like if I meant to type "Christ your Savior" but accidentally typed "Christy our Savior", I'd like the spell check to ask me about that just to save the embarassment or any misunderstanding. But the spell check also offered Christa, Christi, Christye, and Christie. Now, I've been a Christy all my life and I've run across many different spellings and variations of my name, but Christye??? Even Christie and Christi aren't very common and most Christa's are with a "K". Christy with a "Ch" and a "y" or a "K" and an "i" or "ie" are the ones I see most often. Anyway, just had to share. I think I was with the kids too much today. I feel like I've got all these words built up in my system. You mix that with fatigue and I could go on and on!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Not Just About Me

As I said before, I'm trying to blog through the ups and downs of limbo land. I think I've also mentioned that it's not a comfortable place to dwell. At least it's uncomfortable like a splinter, a hang nail, or a paper cut. I'm thankful we're not dealing with the kind of pain that is like a broken bone or severe vomiting. Nice picture, huh? I keep looking for the lessons that I can learn. Obviously trusting the Lord, his plan, and his timing is on the top of that list. Growing the fruit of peace in my life has been huge as well. Peace in peaceful times is easy. Peace in turbulence is true peace. That kind of peace is actually growing in me. Hurray! I've also been made aware, specifically on two occasions, that sometimes our trials are for the benefit of others, that they might know God better or be introduced to him through what is happening to us. So even though I might see God's work in my life and think, "Surely this work is done", or "I get it, let's move on" (which even as I type that seems absurd to proclaim), there may still be the rest of the plan that is unfolding in someone else's life. Once again I'm faced with the reality that life is not all about me. Many of you have encouraged me that you are praying for us and this situation. I greatly appreciate your prayers. I've decided that I'm going to start praying for you through this situation now, too. What can you learn from my limbo land, where the soil is fertile for growing peace, though not without some tilling from the Gardener? Where will I find the verse that will encourage your soul as well as mine? I've expressed many of my questions, fears, and doubts. Have I asked the question that your heart wrestles with? Has God met you there in the depths as He has met me? Have you dared to soar with the Lord, taking a leap of faith and being met there by your Creator and Savior? I can tell you what I see, but how much better for you to see with your own eyes.

So, I'm praying for you! I hope I can hear what God is doing in your life, I'm sure I can learn from it, too.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Naming

The kids are very into the baby on board. Mia tells me everyday that she's been wanting another baby and is so happy. She also prays at every meal and at night, "Thank you God that mom is pregnant. Please help the baby to grow up to be a man or woman of God." Josiah prays for the baby to be healthy and Sierra just prays, "Thank you for the baby in mamma's tummy." So cute! What a wonderful environment to be born into. This baby is very blessed!

The kids of course have some ideas of whether it is a boy or a girl. Josiah is routing for a boy so that things will be evened out. Mia is routing for another girl, just because. Sierra doesn't seem to have an opinion. With that in mind they are beginning to suggest some baby names for us to consider. I'm always excited to hear what the kids might say because you never know, they might hit on a really good one and what a great story that would be!

Right from the beginning Josiah has been suggesting Jake. For a couple of years now he has had an imaginary brother named Jake. He and Jake have grand adventures together, living in caves and hunting for dinner. He really thinks that is a great choice. I do like the sound of Jake but I'm big on the meaning of names and Jake is a derivative of Jacob which means grasping the heal. Remember Jacob was grasping at Esau's heal when they were delivered. Being an oldest child though, I always hated how Jacob stole the birthright from his older brother. I know this was all a part of God's plan, but it just never sat right with me. So, for now, I'm reminding Josiah that imaginary Jake is his age but the baby won't be able to go on an adventure for quite some time, even if it is named Jake.

Then tonight, when I was tucking Mia in and she was again telling me how much she's been wanting a baby, she told me she had a name for the baby. "What is it Mia?" I asked. She looked right into my eyes with the greatest sincerity and clearly said, "Cherry."

"Cherry?" I asked.

"Ya!" she said.

I tried to formulate a good response, one that encouraged her love of this new sibling and desire to connect with the baby by choosing a name. Unfortunately my brain is so flooded with hormones right now, it is just hard to think sometimes. I sat there another moment and, try as I might, I just couldn't keep it together... I burst out laughing. Finally, I was able to pull it back together enough to say, "That's a beautiful name, Mia, very happy, and I like the color red. Um... maybe we should wait until we know if it's a boy or girl first and then we can start thinking about what to name it. Or, maybe you can use that name for one of your babies."

Well, I just had to share those two stories! I think names are so awesome! I put a great deal of thought into the names we've chosen for the kids and there meanings and namesakes. It helps that we pick 3 names for each of the kids, not just two. It's such a wonderful discovery figuring out a child's name and it's always been awesome to see how perfectly named each one is. I can't wait to learn who this new one will be.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day I first want to send a special note of love to the women who long to be a mother but who have not received that blessing, or who want more kids and for years that has not happened, or the women who are grieving the loss of their child this year. I do not take lightly the gift that my children are. I know too many of you who may feel disappointed that this year wasn't the year you get to celebrate Mother's Day as a mother. I remember the first Mother's Day after Faith had died, I was so sensitive. Are they going to have the mother's stand up? Do I count? What if they hand out the carnations? Should I take one? It could have been a more difficult day but there were several people that took the time to specifically remember me and honor me as Faith's mother. I'm guessing it was hard for them to decide if they should do anything or not. There was probably fear that they would bring up sadness or maybe make me cry. But quite the opposite was true, well not on the crying part but that couldn't be helped! The cards I received were such a blessing, simply because I was remembered.

So, inspired by the memory of those loving gestures, I want to hold my glass up to the women who are mother's at heart and to those who have been asked over and over again, "When are you going to have another one?" and have to try to respond graciously and to those who were expecting to bring a child home this year and it didn't happen.

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Thank you for sharing with me your pain and disappointment and, though you carry this burden in your heart, it does not define your life and that is an inspiration.

I do want to honor my mother, my grandmother, and my mother-in-law today, too!
Our last "generational picture" taken in the spring of 2005. Phyliss, Linda, Christy, Mia & Sierra "in the oven".

Thank you mom for teaching me early on the importance of transparency, the depth of God's grace, the ability to change old patterns of behaviors, and the power to transform a mistake into an opportunity for growth just by asking for forgiveness. These tools have been invaluable to me in my parenting. Thank you for the millions of things you do to help me, support me, and encourage me. I'm glad we have a close relationship.

My Mom and Grandma at the Oregon coast in 2005.

Grandma, thank you for desiring to know us more and have a strong connection despite the miles we've always had between us. I still remember the summers visiting you guys, swimming in the pool, getting to give you your insulin shots, and being the star attraction when you showed us around to your phone company coworkers! The family meals together when the "Galeazzi girls" got together were the beginnings of my attraction to large families. Even more so when we visited Iron Mountain and hung out with all the extended relatives. I love it! Thank you for singing for the "old folks" and for caring for Auntie Ann and Uncle John. Your example of honoring and caring for our elders is much needed in our society.

My Mother-in-law Joan, last summer in Ione.

And, Joan this Easter, leading the kids in Resurrection Eggs.

Joan, thank you for including me in the family immediately. I've loved the family reunions and get togethers since before I was even family! Thank you for your example of sacrificial love and service. You're also a great example of being flexible, going with the flow, and making the most of the moment. From you I've learned to make a good plan but always be prepared to re-plan. Also, I must take a moment to acknowledge your ability to make the best sandwiches, salads, and cookies and to resourcefully use those leftovers!

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bringing Up a Boy

Josiah's creative abilities have always impressed me. He has always been fully in costume for whatever role he's played. In the above picture he was leading an expedition to Bush Park and I asked the kids to pose in the field of pretty purple flowers. He needed it to be a hunting pose.

Here he is at 3 1/2 as a Rescue Hero, complete with yellow rubber boots which you can't quite see, saving a puppy!
I had kind of a natural looking display on top of the entertainment center (don't mind the dust!). Josiah thought it would be best to add his hunting Warrior figurine to complete the picture. He was so thrilled with the idea that I had to allow it.

It's just funny how uniquely different boys are than girls. I'm so glad God gave us a boy and I love the big brother that he is to the girls.
Just now he asked me if he could take the walkie talkies outside. He is in full camo gear, head to toe, and is "hunting" from up in the apple tree.
"Who are you going to walkie, talkie to?" I asked.
"No one!" he said enthusiastically. "It's just to throw people off my trail. They'll hear me talking over there, but really it's just the other walkie talkie, and they'll never know where I really am."
"Well, of course you can use the walkie talkies. It sounds like you really need them."
Unfortunately my camera battery died so I don't have a picture of the hunter, undercover, scouting for prey. He thought it was probably better not to waste a picture because he is so camouflaged that people would think it's just a picture of the tree. He's probably right.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Mia, whose own hair is falling in her face, took it upon herself to straighten out Sierra's mop. She got out the squirt bottle and completely dowsed her, brushed through the rats, then let her pick out her favorite pony tail holders and got to work. Sierra sat patiently through the whole ordeal, enjoying the attention from her big sister I'm sure, and Mia was so gentle, I was really impressed. It's moments like these that I'm so glad my girls have each other as sisters.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Still Wrestling

I may have touched on this before and maybe it's just more depth into the realization for me, but I feel the need to confess some fears and doubts. I find power in confession. What I keep in secret Satan is able to use as a toe hold in my life and a beat me over the head stick. Too quickly, when I keep things a secret that God has revealed to me, I lose sight of the revelation. Well, on with it.

In 1998 & 99, when I was pregnant with Faith, I initially felt that things were what they were. I was dealt the "extra-chromosome-incompatible-with-life" card. How I dealt with it was where my faith had the opportunity to grow. I really wrestled with praying for healing because it wasn't an illness to recover from, so my response was to just trust God's outcome and leave it in his hands. I was then approached by a woman who increased my vision of who God was and how awesome his capabilities were. God was knitting Faith together, he could remove that strand of extra chromosomes throughout her body. But I felt like it was like praying for someone who's already died. Yes, Jesus rose from the dead and while he was on earth he raised a few people from the dead. Does he still raise people from the dead? That was where I was challenged to go. That God is who He was. That thought was incomprehensible, but I walked in it anyway and was blessed for it. So when Faith died and I saw her imperfect body, I knew the answer to my "Will you fix her, Lord?" was, "No." What I sometimes wonder is, was that just part of God's plan, something greater that I'll understand later? Was it a result of a sin laden, imperfect world? Or, did I lack faith? Was there too much doubt in my pleadings to God? Did I hold him back at arms reach and say, "Ok, do what you can."

I know there were times I had great faith, and there were times I was consumed by doubt. I really related to Peter, walking on water and then nearly drowning, within minutes of each other.

I guess my confession is that I still don't fully trust God to move us to the camp and wrap up all the details in the sale of the business and bring a buyer for our house. It's crazy, but these things seem impossible and I'm afraid to hope for such an awesome ministry and a great lifestyle to raise our children in. Beyond that, I even tend to doubt that if we get there we'll even be able to make if financially! On a more personal note, I doubt I'll find a doctor as wonderful as Dr. Morgan, and how can I deliver a baby without my mom and Vicki cheering me on. How could we find a church as great as Salem Alliance?

I think doubts and fears are normal but as we mature and keep giving them to God we experience him meeting us over and over in the midst of them. The more we know him, the less power they have. This is where Satan comes in to slow down our faith growth. He adds weight to the doubts and fears and clouds our picture of who God is.

So, here is my perspective now. God said, "No" to our raising Faith at every step of the pregnancy. From the first ultrasound, to the in depth ultrasound at Emmanuel Lutheran Hospital, to the amniocentesis results, to the very low estimated birth weight, to the heart that had stopped beating, and finally to her lifeless body. Being before God asking for healing and searching the Bible for direction allowed me a new depth of understanding and a close walk with God during that time. Though the answer was "No" I benefited greatly.

Now with the camp, God has actually continued to say, "Yes" at each turn. From the accepted offer, to the loan for the camp, to the buyer found for the business, to the acceptance with American Missionary Fellowship, and even down to the encouragement and support from friends and family. I am still before God asking for his favor and searching the Bible for direction, but Satan constantly reminds me of the possibility that all this could go away, and our sale and deal are still not 100%. Honestly, each time I gain confidence, a new obstacle comes that really sets me back, but we've never faced a closed door. Satan tells me, "This is just like when you had Faith and look at that outcome!" I see how different this is than that. I don't believe this is purely another learning experience, though there has been tons of that! I also know I will see it all more clearly in a couple of months. I believe we are being prepared for action and I'm trusting God for the many details that I can't control.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

We've had a few more nice days lately and the kids and I have gotten outside to enjoy it! Sierra really enjoys the swing and Josiah and Mia play all kinds of make believe games. I've been able to get out and pick some weeds and try to spruce things up a bit. At the Ag Fest a couple of weekends ago we were given a living necklace which consisted of a kidney bean wrapped in a water soaked cotton ball and sealed in a tiny ziplock bag then strung on some yarn. We waited the necessary 5 days and then planted them in a pot. Well it's been warm enough for them to begin to sprout, which was a very exciting moment for all of us. We're using a squirt bottle to water the little sprouts so the kids don't drown them. Mia's comment was the best though, "Well, it looks like it's gonna be broccoli." I told her we'd have to wait and see.
The kids continue to find bugs around the yard and I keep encouraging them that their homes are outside and they'd be sad if we brought them in to live with us. It's also important that we let the lady bugs do their jobs of eating the bad bugs so our plants will be healthier. Reluctantly they've left them outside... at least as far as I know!

We also got to see a unique phenomenon at the local Lowe's store. As we were leaving the store Josiah informed me that he knew what all that caution tape was for. I didn't even know what caution tape he was talking about, but as he continued to tell me something about some bees an adult overheard and filled in the story. I guess it was just warm enough for the bees to start coming out begin working on a hive, but this crazy weather caused it to cool again so they stopped their work, and clustered together to keep warm and survive until the next warm up. Originally they were on the bar-b-que's, which was not good for business I'm sure, but then they moved to a tree branch in the parking lot. The Lowe's people just roped off the area around that tree and thankfully the bee guy is coming out today to take care of them. I assume that means move them to a new location where everyone will be safe and sound. After all, aren't we supposed to be worried about the bees well being this year and how it affects our crops?

FAIR WARNING: The following is not for the super faint of heart, nor lovers of turkey's in general.

It is with regret that I must inform you all that a turkey has finally lost it's life at the hand of my brother. He informed us he had a "full proof" plan, I had to clarify that he meant to say "fool proof", just to be sure. Upon scrutinizing the plan I decided that it did fall into the former category but, since I was not invited along nor was I expected to fulfill any roles, I decided that he and my dad would have to figure out how to make the plan fully fool proof without my help. The plan was for my brother to camp out and keep quiet with the gun poised and ready to shoot while my dad went around the backside of the gaggle (is that what they call a group of turkey's... or is that geese? ...anyway!) and he was to chase them up toward my brother to meet their pending demise. Walking towards a loaded, aimed gun?? That doesn't sound like the safest, most fool proof plan I've ever heard. Strangely my dad didn't seem to have a problem with it. Well, his plan did finally come together at the end of the day and although my dad had quite a work out chasing down the foul at least he didn't get shot which was my biggest concern.

Thoughtful Uncle David brought the carcass by for the kids to examine. They were so excited I could hardly keep them from gouging the eye out of the socket and Josiah is convinced he wants to shoot a turkey now, too. They all begged for feathers as souvenirs and Uncle David said he would save some for them.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

2008 Awesome 3000

The Awesome 3000 is a city wide race for kids that raises money for grants that Salem-Keizer educators can apply for. When it started there were 380 some participants. This year there were 2960!! We had two strong runners from our family compete, as well as many friends from church and school. It's a fun event with many high school students volunteering to warm up the kids and run along side them during the race. Grandpa Davis and Grandma Linda came to cheer on the kids and help keep the ones not running entertained!

Josiah ran very well and finished in the top 10 along with his good friend Boston. Just like last year, he really looked like he was having fun, which is the best part of the whole thing!

Mia started running her race with dad but then left him in the dust part way through. He says he wanted her to have the satisfaction of finishing by herself. He walked in. She declared herself the winner.

Sierra enjoyed riding on Grandpa's neck and playing with rocks during the races, but afterwards she ran all the way home, even up derby hill! We cheered for her, too.

I was proud as a peacock of my kids but there were some other kids there that really stole the show. The special needs group ran the leg right before Mia's and I bawled through the whole run. A teenage boy pushed another boy in a wheel chair, he may have had cerebral palsy, and they had a blast poppin' wheelies and just going as fast as they could. I'm not sure they were related, but in my mind they were brothers that had found something fun they could do together, and do well. They were the first ones across the finish line. Then there was a little girl who looked like she may have had down syndrome and she was running so fast and high fiving all the volunteers. She even ran off course to give one guy a hug. Her smile was the biggest and I knew she was having a blast.

The last boy to cross the finish line had a walker that he was strapped into from behind and it kept him upright with his arms and legs free to run. He was determined to do this race fully by himself although he had his team of volunteers and family surrounding him and cheering him the whole way. His effort was amazing considering how difficult it was for his feet to get a grip and actually propel him straight forward. Occasionally someone from his group would straighten out his wheels so he'd keep heading in the right direction. He was in last place by a long shot but his smile was so huge as he approached the finish line. It was a big goal he'd set and he did it, all by himself, no one ever gave him even the slightest push. It would have been easier to quit or to never begin, instead he took the challenge and met it. At the end they were pointing at the finish line and telling him "You did it!! You did it!!". The lady that placed his medal around his neck, knelt down and honored him like a hero. And he was.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Guess What?

Lately I've been blogging my way through some pretty intense emotions, trying to share with you as I'm right in the midst of struggle. We've all heard testimonies from the perspective of the other side of the trial. That perspective is helpful in reminding us that all things will work together for good, one way or another, because we can hear how God has blessed them after it's all said and done. It's true that once we're through the trial our perspective is much clearer, often we can see God's plan as we look back, something that's impossible when we're trying to look forward and guess how things will work out. I've found that God is much closer and speaks much clearer when I'm in the midst of a trial. The truth of his word penetrates much deeper into my heart. It's not like the plan is revealed but the instructions for the moment are to trust, remember who God is, and to allow his peace to settle in my heart rather than worry and fear.

So, recently we've had some more news that we couldn't have predicted or planned.

We've wanted more kids for a while now, but the timing just hasn't seemed right with all the change we'll be going through. Believe me we're very happy but, I have to admit, we're also shaking our heads wondering, "Can we handle this?" God says, "My grace is sufficient for you." Good! Because I'm sure I'll need it. :) This baby is expected to arrive mid-December. Merry Christmas to me!!!

The kids are just thrilled! It's been fun to pray with them for our newest Nordstrom. They are very passionate about praying for the baby's health and that it would be born alive. They know that things were not like that when Faith was born. It's so fun to hear our prayers for them mimicked in their prayers for their sibling. Josiah prayed that the baby would grow to be a man (or woman) of God, something we've prayed often for them. Of course, he is praying for a boy, but always adds that he will take a girl, too, just that it would be healthy.

Thank you Lord Jesus for giving us the desire of our hearts despite our circumstances. I can't wait to meet this new person! I pray along with the kids that this baby would be healthy and strong, smart and beautiful, and that he or she would come to know you early in their life and be used for your glory. Thank you for Faith and the place she'll always have in our hearts. Thank you for Josiah, Mia and Sierra and how colorful and beautiful they make our family. Thank you that you will sustain us through the long nights and tired days, and strengthen us for all that tomorrow holds.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff