Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good Point!

We went out to dinner with a friend tonight and for convenience we just picked him up and rode together. As we were leaving the restaurant, Mia grabbed Daddy's hand and then grabbed our friend's hand and began to swing between them. She decided to take it one notch further and just hung, bunched up like a little hedgehog getting carried to the van. Our friend mentioned to her that she was sure getting a fun ride and then said, "Haven't you heard there's no such thing as a free ride?" "Well," she said, "You're getting a free ride from us." Hmmm, touche! Thankfully our friend has a good sense of humor and got a chuckle out of her comment, too. And, no, we didn't charge him for the ride home!!

It's funny the things that kids remember or come up with, the way that they connect the dots with their innocent logic. I love that Jesus welcomes that innocence and isn't offended by it's possible interpretations. Even more I love that he desires us to come to him that way as well; without predetermined conclusions or a perfect plan all laid out. He desires us to be real and honest and open. He saw through the Pharisees pretenses and trickery and spent no time in their spiritual games. Those that came to him openly he answered directly and blessed regardless of who they were, what they'd done or even the ugly label they might have been wearing in that society: tax collector, town slut, leaper, demon possessed. He loves us, not who we pretend to be or aspire to be, but inside who we really are. And, He wants to lead us to maturity and confidence through a real relationship with him.

"Lord, you know me, the real me, even when I try to conceal some of the ugliest parts. I'd like to come to you presentable, but that's not what you require. It's not what you desire. You desire me, all of me. Forgive me for my daily sin Jesus and thank you that you died for it already. The price has been paid! I desire to follow you and be trained by you so that I may be a blessing to other people and bring your light into the world to people who've never known the truth. When that training gets hard, when it seems unbearable, help me Lord to cling to you even tighter and to never let go and miss out on the end of the journey. And, when life here is uncomfortable, help me to praise you for the fact that I am prepared more and more for my forever home in heaven. Even as I mature, may my faith in you always be child like in the way that I trust you and in my openness with you. Lord, protect me, my family, and my friends from the false doctrine that surrounds us. It is confusing,
sometimes it even sounds like it could be right. Help us all to keep our Bibles open so that we may know the truth so intimately that we can not be fooled. Thank you for the freedom we have to read our Bibles and worship openly in Churches with other believers. In Jesus name, Amen"

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Your Mark... Again.

Details are being ironed out, solutions reached, walls painted, repairs made at the house, etc. etc. It feels like once again we are really close to closing on the business and can focus all our efforts on getting up to camp. There's a lot less loose ends to wrap up here in Salem now. I have to confess though that from time to time (and this is one of those times) I just want to run out and buy a lottery ticket and make everything happen according to my schedule. I would love to eliminate the risk and the impending struggle. When it boils down to it, I guess I'd prefer to walk by sight, it's so much easier that way.

Ironically, this week there has been a group doing a training right in our neighborhood. They are sighted people learning how to use a blind person's cane (I'm sure there's a more eloquent way to say that). My assumption is that they aspire to one day teach blind people how to safely navigate the world with their cane. At this point we haven't heard the instructor say anything to the students. All the instructing has been done before. Now, the students just put into practice the things they've been taught earlier: like feeling the edge of sidewalk and the grid pattern when it slants down to the road so they know where to stop and listen for cars, or feeling the grass versus the drop of the curb so they can stay centered. They've been all over our walk way and even taken a wrong turn into the driveway. It's all very fascinating and since I can see quite well I'm sure it looks easier than it is. What is a bit humorous is that, unbeknownst to the students, the kids are lined up right by the sidewalk and could reach out and touch them as they pass by.

The instructor never stops the students from their wrong turns and doesn't even help them when they are obviously confused by our off centered curbs as we have a boulevard on one side but not on the other. But, she's always right by them for safety. They started out just circling the four corners of our block right in front of the house. Now, they are walking the whole neighborhood and taking random turns here and there. I have to say, I can see a marked difference from their first few ventures to now. In fact I was moved to applaud one man who had gone from looking lost and timid, to looking confident and focused.

I can't help but relate this cane training to our spiritual training. We start out with smaller tasks and ventures but as we become comfortable with those we are able to venture further which adds further challenges as well as blessings. It was harder when they went further, but they could hear different sounds and reach different destinations. They'd been given freedom but with it came occasional struggle. Each time I obey God's instructions I've noticed it becomes easier the next time. Eventually it becomes even natural. But, I've also noticed that there is always another step of faith to take. Each step carries with it a blessing but is also a challenge.

Also like the students, we've been given the instructions we need, and our leader has never left us either. Sometimes God lets us figure out the best way to go and rely on past teaching to guide us. For that we have both our own experience but more importantly, God's word. Again it was enforced to me that it's better to remain calm and keep thinking through the challenging parts than to get frustrated or fearful. The students were very calm, obviously aware that the instructor was near and determined to learn how to overcome the challenge and grow. It was a great picture of faith in God.

Finally, just as these students were being watched by my three kids and myself, we too are surrounded by witnesses who can be blessed by our growth and even the struggles. I think we all learned a little bit about how to properly use a cane, of course we'd learn more by personal experience but still we learned some.

So, I'm not going out to buy a lottery ticket. Though I feel I'm hearing again the "On Your Mark..." I'm waiting for the call of the Lord to say, "Get Set... GO!!" I am confident that his timing is best and that he will provide for us. I'm also confident that by allowing him to be in charge of the timing and details he will get the glory in this which is our ultimate goal anyway.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Calendar's Clear but We're Keepin' Busy

I really enjoy looking forward to things, really, that's half the thrill of even having an event on the calendar. It's not just the event, it's the anticipation. Well, I've been pleasantly surprised this summer with the fun things that I've thoroughly enjoyed even though I didn't have any time to look forward to them.

Grandpa Davis took the kids up to the mountains... twice.

We rode the carousel... three times.

The family went to a Volcanoes game......where we got to see Daddy's "exclusive membership letterman's jacket" on display. He has entered the digitizing of that logo into a contest. It does look very nice.

We walked up to the duck park and fed the ducks nutritious bird seed.

We got to see a local airshow with WWII fighter planes.

We rode the tractor pulled hay ride to the strawberry fields at the French Prairie Gardens in St. Paul...

...and picked four buckets full with our friend Micah, his mom, Leslie, cousin Mackenzie, and her mom, Aunt Cheryl, and Grandma Linda, who was the highest quality picker in our group.

We watched dad lead a crew in pouring a large cement slab down at the shop...

...and made sure we left our mark forever.

We prepared for our Pounce Party and Kite Flying Demonstration...

...but when the kite got stolen and mom couldn't figure out how to download the video in time, it became just a Pounce Party. But, we enjoyed it and were glad to be joined by Grandpa Davis, Gramma Linda, and Uncle David, who even biked to the event. The kids actually earned $6 a piece!! (Gramma is extra generous.)

On the weekend we were sad that we weren't entertaining campers at Bear Paw, we had the privilege of hosting backyard campers here in Salem when cousin Leif stopped by with his parents, Uncle Tim and Aunt Ellen...

...and their dogs, Porter and Lucy (shown below with a VERY happy Mia).

Daddy got out the bubbles for some mid morning fun...

...and Lucy provided the best entertainment with her bubble acrobatics!

We went on our annual Faith Hike. Here the kids are at the 1 mile marker, which is where I first took a picture while I was pregnant with Faith, and have since gone back every year and taken family pictures by. This means the kids hiked 2 miles. Even Sierra was only on Daddy's neck for the last little part of the hike.

On the hike, we took the time to pray as a family, both to praise God for his provision in the past, like when I was pregnant with Faith, and for the present as we wait to move to Bear Paw, and for the future and all that it holds. Shortly after that prayer Sierra wanted to stop and pray again and it was so sweet to hear her reiterate some of the same things I had just prayed.

It was a beautiful hike and the perfect day, especially for Mia who was greeted, not only by two beautiful horses, one of which was slightly albino, only on his face, and therefore had clear blue eyes...

...but also by husky dogs, who also happen to have the clear blue eyes.

Oh, and let's not forget the baby that is growing and growing while all this life is going on "on the outs". Here's momma at 14 weeks pregnant!

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memory of Faith

It's hard to believe that 9 years ago I was bravely proceeding through so much newness and pain. The day before I had learned that Faith did not have a heart beat and that we would begin inducing her delivery the next day. So there I was, in the hospital, filling out loads of papers, explaining over and over that the baby would be still born, arranging my recovery to be in the medical wing rather than in maternity so I wouldn't have to hear everyone else' s babies crying. All in all, I was well cared for. When the anesthesiologist came to give me an epidural he said he intended to make me as comfortable as possible, unfortunately the medication only worked on one side and one sided labor is just as bad as the full shebang! You can imagine his disappointment as he came back and had to fix things. He gave me plenty of medication after that; I couldn't feel my legs for quite some time. Then there was the nurse who didn't realize my situation. When I expressed my fear of her drawing blood she told me to be brave, that it would all be over in a little bit and soon I'd be a mommy. She ran back into the room several minutes later and embraced me and apologized for her mistake.
Andrew and my mom were with me through the whole thing, and my dad, Andrew's mom, and my brother waited all day long in the lobby of the hospital. Sadly, when it was all said and done I was almost too scared to let them come in the room, thankfully my mom helped me refocus and everyone had a chance to come in. My grandparents wanted to be there but it was too late at night, they came up first thing in the morning to visit us. It was so hard to leave the hospital with empty arms and such an empty feeling inside me where she had been for more than 9 months. It's true what they say about women who've lost babies experiencing empty arms syndrome, it is a real and painful feeling, a longing and ache. I clutched pillows and blankets and teddy bears, and eventually it subsided. It really helped me that so many people were willing to talk about Faith and our experience. I'm sure it was painful for our friends, too, but they were so open and loving. They even brought us meals and helped me with cleaning the house and other mundane things that seemed too normal for the grief I was experiencing. Their approach really helped in the healing process, it helped me regain my footing in life. Relatives and friends sent flowers and gifts, made blankets, quilts, and even purchased a star in memory of Faith. I was also blessed to meet up with a newly formed group for women who'd lost babies and walking with others who'd been down the same road was very helpful.
Just a few months after I delivered Faith I had to muster all my strength and attend the baby shower of a friend. By the end I was sad and tired. A friend ran after me as I was leaving and said she had something for me. She had made an angel night light as a gift for the new baby and had made one in memory of Faith as well. I was astounded that someone had been so thoughtful.

I look forward to entering heaven one day and, after praising and thanking my Savior, embracing my daughter and seeing her in her perfect body, healed and healthy. I don't think there will be any words, just emotions and connection and joy. At least that's how I imagine it. I remember worrying if I would forget Faith, or stop loving her as much when I had other children to care for. Nothing could be further from that. I appreciate my tears for her, 9 years later, as evidence of never ending love.

I'm so grateful that I walked though the healing process in a very healthy way. I feel like I learned as much as I could and I grew as much as I could. Looking back at myself as just 23 years old at the time, I am so proud.

To Faith:

Your beautiful, fragrant rose has bloomed again, reminding me that you are fully in your glory now, too. I can't wait to see you again, baby girl, you have my heart. I look forward to meeting you in your heavenly body and just being close to you again. Through you, your brother and sisters have an appreciation and greater understanding of heaven and death and the fact that earth is not our forever place. They know they will meet you one day. Because of you I was able to experience complete dependence on God and trust of his plan. I got to see how well he would care for me and over and over you have been a bridge that has allowed me to tell people about God's love. Happy Birthday. Love, Momma

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Year of Change

This weekend marks one year since we first toured Bear Paw Camp. Most of the pictures on the blog are from that weekend. It was beautiful and the camp was full of the leadership and counselors for the middle school camp that was coming in. It was so exciting to see all the organization unfolding into what would become a wonderful memory and potentially a life changing week for a group of middle school students. They had loads of food, boxes of sweatshirts and t-shirts, and huge smiles as they were all geared up and coming off good sleep, something I knew would change in just a few days.

I love camp for the impact it can have in such a short time. When you live with people, even for just a week, you really get to know them and it's such an opportunity to talk about important root issues. Today's young people deal with so much uncertainty, what a privilege to be able to introduce them to the certainty of salvation through Jesus Christ. I'm praying for the group this week, it's actually the same church as last year but it's their high school group this time. I'm praying that the Holy Spirit will be amongst them, that counselors and leadership will be prepared to have an answer for all the questions, hurts, or even anger that comes up for their campers. I'm also praying that in the beauty of that part of the world these young people will meet their Creator, some of them for the first time. I wish I was there to witness it and to help create that environment where it can take place. It's getting harder and harder to be patient. I definitely feel like we're missing out and I'm acutely aware of the daily financial impact that our not being there has. It's a double edged sword that cuts me on the emotional side as well as the practical side. Still, God has not changed, he will provide for us. He has not forsaken us, and we trust his plan.

In this past year, we have changed immensely. So much work has been done on the house, in the business, and on the building. I have much to be grateful for. Today I will rejoice in those things and wait for tomorrow to become today before I deal with it. Praise the Lord!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Road to Bear Paw, part 5

I've been avoiding an update for a while now. I honestly thought, when I wrote "part 1" on my first "Road to Bear Paw" post, that there would only be 2 parts. But, here we are. Things are still up in the air really. Everyday the bank is ready to fund in 2 days, then, SIKE, we need this, that, or the other thing still, or somebody wants to change something on the agreement. I think I've grown callused to the sike outs, I no longer "flinch" with the sharp switching of emotions, from excitement to disappointment, that has been our journey these past few months and has only intensified as we reach what I hope is the end. Rather than callused, I hope that what has developed in me is a peace and patience to just wait until everything is 100% done, and then to celebrate and celebrate big. I worry that I may have shut off my emotions entirely (some may wonder if this is possible for me) and will I even be able to celebrate at all when the time comes. I'll trust God for that part.

We are closer to funding than we ever have been. Who knew you could be this close and not be done! We are disappointed that at this point we will not have time to get settled before campers arrive for the first camp this coming weekend. We are concerned that it may turn out that we could arrive at camp the same day they do, or that we may not even be there at all for their arrival, or even the worst case scenario that we would miss a whole group all together. Financially, each week we miss is a significant hit as our only camp income is in the 10 weeks of summer at this point. Plus we don't want to miss out on the opportunity to meet the groups and find out what other camps or retreats they might be interested in or what they'd like to see at camp next year, etc. How does that saying go... "Out of the frying pan; into the fire."

I'm grateful for the things that are getting wrapped up here in Salem in this extra time we've been "given". I am optimistic that this will allow us to focus more fully on the camp as we won't have to worry about as many unfinished details back in in Salem. I'm also glad that our house hasn't sold yet. As much as we'll need the money when we move out, I so thankful that we don't have the pressure of a timeline on this end as well.

My devotions this morning were, again, very poignant to this situation, particularly the verses they chose. I looked up the passages on Bible Gateway. I hope you are encouraged by them also.

Hebrews 12:1-13

1 Timothy 1:1-12

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!!

I remember how excited Andrew was the first time we found out I was pregnant. We made sweatshirts for my parents that said "Grandpa" and "Grandma", that was our way of telling them that our family was growing!! I also remember when Andrew went to the funeral home to pick up Faith's ashes. He said as he sat with the little box beside him in the car that years of missed memories ran through his mind: first steps, first words, first day of school, church programs, teaching her to drive, graduation, marriage, grandkids... Though we didn't raise Faith, our hearts were changed and Andrew truly was a father from that moment on.

With JosiahWith Mia
With Josiah and Sierra

Andrew's always wanted lots of kids. He announced to our college homecoming crowd that, among other things, one of his life's ambitions was to have 8 kids! We had a good laugh about that, once we clarified things. He loves each of our three kids and is excited for the one on the way (secretly hoping that there are two). He's the kind of father that likes to include the kids in what he's doing, even if it means it will take longer to get it done. He's also willing to let them try things out or risk a bit in order to help them strengthen their wings of independence.

This Father's Day I'd also like to express how much I appreciate our father's and the support they've been to us through the years.

My dad has always lived closer to us and, since he chose to retire early, has made himself very available to help with all kinds of projects and to be very involved with the kids. He's taken them all to the mountains, on snow trips, to the Ranger Station, and fishing. He's also read hundreds of books and told countless stories to them. In fact, as soon as he enters the house, the girls go running for their favorite books. He's watched countless games and practices and attended all sorts of programs and functions.

Andrew's dad has been 9 hours away our whole married life. When he retired, several years ago, he began to visit more often. He has also helped us with many, many projects: building a storage shed, roof repairs, building a bathroom, electrical work, and tons of finish work. Phew! When the kids bring him books to read he likes to make up a more interesting story. He also really enjoys the wild animals around his home and often calls to tell the kids what their up to.

My Grandpa Davis, affectionately known as "Poppy", has always lived close and, though he's pretty quiet and doesn't like big crowds, he's always been loving to me, Andrew and the kids. He's devoted to his little dog Jet and is working diligently on improving and now producing his pressure switches. He and my dad meet for breakfast or lunch at least once a week

My Grandpa Galeazzi has always lived further away. First in California, which meant when we visited we got to go to Disneyland, then in Michigan which meant time at the lake and bbq's. He is a breakfast maker, a fisherman, and a woodworker. He and my Grandma go and sing to the old people and support my cousins, who are in high school there, in all their endeavors. I'm sure retirement for them is just as busy as working life but they're doing things that really feed into other people's lives, both the older generation and the younger.

Happy Father's Day everybody!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prayer Requests

For those of you who have been following this blog and our journey to Bear Paw Camp for a while, you know that this has been a long and drawn out emotional journey. There have been many obstacles and frustrating situations. I'd like to ask for your prayers of protection over our family as I feel Satan beginning to send in fiery arrows in an effort to derail our focus and intentions. Please pray for our health: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Pray for our marriage as there is nothing that would hinder our ministry more than a broken marriage relationship. And for our parenting, that we would be a blessing to our children as we guide them towards adulthood. Pray with us in advance for our financial situation. We are walking into a deficit situation and will need wisdom as to how to use our savings most effectively in order to build up the camp and increase revenue while at the same balancing our efforts towards other income sources in order to make ends meet. Along those lines, we really should begin raising support soon, so pray for us as we begin seeking out who would like to be apart of the camp through financial support. Also, pray for the direction of the camp. One of our biggest jobs this first year will be to determine what ministry is going on already, what needs there are in the area, and how God wants to use Bear Paw in the future. Pray for discernment and that we would obey God's leading. Finally, pray for us to be controlled by the Holy Spirit not fear. Satan is picking and picking at my heart in the fear department. On one hand it makes me feel more confident that he doesn't want this ministry to get going. On the other hand it's hard to deal with those battles on top of everything else.

We're still praying for the close on our sale of the business. Everyday we're just 1 or 2 details short of being completed and everyday there are 1 or 2 more details added to the list. I have given up my time line expectations and am trusting that God is working out these important details so that we can confidently leave Salem without any unfinished business. Praise the Lord that the house hasn't sold or I'd have the pressure of that deadline weighing on me, too. Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perspective and Peace

Peace came to my heart yesterday. It took a new perspective to finally get my anxious heart to settle down. I realized I was actually adding my own stress to the situation by putting a time line on when things need to happen by. From my perspective this time line was a wonderful and appropriate goal. There were many things that justified this goal: camps start the 21st, we should be there, I need time to get settled, if we don't finish this up maybe someone else will step in and buy the camp, etc. What I'm seeing today is that there are some other important things that may take longer than my self imposed time line: like having things wrapped up here with the business and the house so that when we do move we can focus solely on the camp. I operate much better with a timeline but perhaps this new direction our lives are going requires stronger faith and I'm being given some extra training so that I'm prepared for the journey ahead. Who knows! But it has been so helpful to widen my perspective on our situation. For now, we will continue to do everything we can to help the process along, for the most part it's out of our control, and we'll work hard to enjoy our summer, on a day by day basis, right now, where we are. Worst case scenario, if we do lose this camp opportunity, I will have to grieve the loss and then continue looking for where God desires to use us. For now, as I've said so many times, we wait.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Letting Him Lead, part 2

After a sleepless night I woke up this morning to my Proverbs 31 email devotional titled "The Weight of Waiting". If you want to read it, scroll down this blog, on the right side there is a list of Sites to Visit, Proverbs 31 Devotionals is one of them. This perfectly timed devotional spoke clearly to me that I am loved. I am blessed. It is all too obvious that my creator knows me personally and cares deeply about me. In my fatigue I was met by these verses:

Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; …I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (NIV)

Isaiah 49:23 b, “Those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” (ESV)

Romans 15:4, “…the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” (NLT)

Intrigued by the verse in Isaiah I looked up the whole chapter and was deeply encouraged and reminded of who God is and how he can use us. We're still waiting on the Lord, may he display his splendor and change lives through our trial.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Letting Him Lead

It's late at night but I felt compelled to give you a bit of an update on the camp situation. Honestly I've been avoiding blogging because we're still in limbo land and those blogs are getting more painful to write. We've been waiting so long for things to fall into place so that we can close our deal on the camp and move on up there. These emotions are overwhelming as we wait and wait to see how God's plan will unfold. It's like the time after a medical test when you're waiting for your life changing results. Or each month, when you've been trying to get pregnant for years, and you wonder, "Is this the month our lives change forever?" Or when you've interviewed for your dream job, given it your best shot and then you wait and wait for that call back. It's agonizing, painful, powerless. I think the powerlessness is the hardest part. At the root of everything, I want to be in control. I had to confess to God tonight, that rather than following him, right now, I'm trying to get behind him and force him down the road that I see as the best choice. Following is a weak position to be in. There is no control and most of the time it's hard to even see the path because mostly I just see my leader. Oh, but isn't that the point! Because when I am weak, then I am strong. Strong because I'm following a powerful leader, my steps can be sure. Strong because my mind doesn't have to work so hard, I just have to focus on the leader. Strong because my heart can be confident that this is the best route, my leader has proven himself over and over throughout history and in my own life.

What a blessing that I know these things. When life gets crazy and the trail a bit rough, I have truth to hang onto. In these moments where I am powerless the truth starts flooding back to my mind through songs and old hymns, Bible verses and testimonies. Sometimes God whispers the truth to me in beautiful pictures in my mind and if I focus on him and allow him to get my attention I can even hear the truth more clearly.
God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He's so
good to me.

He is so good to me. He has my best in mind.

When peace like a river attendeth my soul. When sorrows like sea
billows roll. Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, "It is
well. It is well with my soul."

You have taught me Jesus. Let your peace flow over my anxious soul. Whatever my lot dear Lord, whatever you have planned.

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future."

Yes, Lord, your plans are good and you've known them forever! I trust your plans for us.

I long to tell you amazing news of what God is doing in our lives outwardly, but for now we continue on waiting to see what that is. I can tell you he is doing mighty works in our lives inwardly. Though I know that's not as dramatic a story to tell, it is the critical piece of his puzzle.

My prayer is that you know the truth. Life is far too confusing to try to navigate it alone. Not only that but we have an enemy who's desire is to get us off track, keep our eyes off our leader, and fill our hearts with lies.

Happy Birthday Andrew!

My friends always tell me how quiet and reserved Andrew is. They've never seen him with his hat on sideways as he does the "wedgie walk" across the room. Or heard his dual meaning jokes that go just above the kids' heads, but cause me to blush and say, "Andrew!" in that mock offended tone of voice.
I love Andrew's "get 'er done" attitude" and that he can switch gears from work to fun at the drop of a hat. I love that he loves his kids and will wrestle with the girls just as much as with Josiah. I've known him for 15 years and he's still unpredictable. Our relationship will never be dull.
Cowboy shooting and long motorcycle rides may not be how I would normally spend an open afternoon but I like that Andrew still wants me to be there with him.

There are some things that are quite predictable about Andrew: his rocking chair and baseball hat, for example, or the fact that he doesn't like chocolate or cake of all the crazy things.

Happy birthday Andrew! I love you. I hope today is one of your best birthdays ever.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer Break Really Has Started!!

I stole a little nap the other afternoon, Josiah's half day. The older kids were playing in the backyard and Sierra was napping, too, so I felt pretty good about it. At one point I thought I heard some water running outside but in my grog it didn't register. When Sierra woke I up I finally came to enough to go check on things outside. The kids were working diligently together, digging and transferring mud from a whole in the ground to our wagon. The team work could have brought tears to my eyes, the mud covered bodies did!
Yes! Summer is here and these kids are made for outside activities. I have to say that the way they are wired has been one of my strongest convictions for moving to the camp environment. They love it!!
Well, all good things must come to an end and that end usually follows mom's appearance on the scene. Hey! What can I say, it's my job. So, I hosed them off in the front yard to get the worst of the mud off their clothes, shoes, and skin, then I had them strip down on the back deck while I held up a towel and they made a mad dash to the tub. They loved the whole thing!!

Sierra had a wonderful time watching the whole thing unfold from the warmth and "safety" of the porch.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Last Day of School

Today is Josiah's last day of school. It's just a half day and they are watching a movie and having root beer floats to celebrate. Josiah was already claiming that the day was going to be a bad one because he feels he will never see his teacher and some of his friends again when we move. I assured him we would come visit and could stop by the school and say hello to everyone. I also told him to enjoy this last day rather than being consumed with what is coming next. As I left him there in the classroom he seemed to be taking that advice to heart and having fun.

A few days ago they held an awards banquet for the kids. Some of the awards Josiah received were things he earned: memorizing the books of the Bible and his weekly Bible verses, reading 100 books, exercising his way "across Oregon", passing the national fitness test, etc. A couple of his awards were directed at who he is and I was very proud that others have noticed some of the same things I have noticed in this child of God. The first award was a P.E. award. He was chosen as the Most Improved Athlete. This award is near and dear to my heart as I received it 4 times in basketball and 3 times in soccer. I think it speaks to a person's effort and dedication and that others recognize how those have paid off in physical improvements. When I heard they were giving out P.E. awards I secretly hoped he would get that one.
The second award was based on character. The teacher did a really great job of awarding each student according to their personalities. Josiah's award was for creativity and the note she added said, "Josiah displays great creativity. He sees things from more than one perspective. He is great at finding the fun in life." He learns the majority of those great qualities from his dad. I tend to be fairly black and white and pretty serious at times, too.

I have really enjoyed Josiah's creative writing this year. I think it's a perfect example of his different perspectives on life. For example, he was given four words and the assignment was to write a story using those words. So the words were: airplane, sky, fly, and high. Ok, pretty straight forward if you ask me. The airplane will fly high in the sky. Josiah's story went something like this. "I rode the airplane up in the sky. I heard a buzzing fly. It made us crash from way up high." I think fly; flap, flap. He thinks fly; buzz, buzz. Funny. Anyway, I'm so proud of what he's learned this year reading, writing, 'rythmetic, even public speaking!I'm also glad that through all this training at school he hasn't lost who he is; a creative, energetic boy. Here he is with the other boys in the class, he's wearing the green shirt.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two Blessings and a Major Battle

Today I was blessed in a special way on two occasions. The first came as I was sorting through and packing up some special keepsakes. This might be a fairly short process for many, but for me, the keeper of all things sentimental, it is a painstakingly lengthy process. I have old cards from friends and family, cute little pictures from the kids, the tags off of special animals, stubs from a movie we saw on a date night, parking tags from a hike at Silver Creek Falls, notes from a particularly moving sermon... I know, it's an illness! At any rate all of those things do tend to wash the sentimental feelings through my body and it was just a nice journey. I try not to think too much about the fact that I've filled a whole box with these treasures.
I also found a magazine that made it's way in to the midst of these things I was sorting. It was a recently misplaced copy of Charisma and as I was pillaging through everything it slipped to the ground and fell open to the article entitled "Don't Run From Your Giants: Most of us would do anything to avoid life's trials. But, God always brings good out of the hard times we endure." Intriguing to say the least. Here are some snippets from the article written by Judy Jacobs:

As soon as Jesus was baptized by John, He had to face temptation in the
wilderness (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1)

(God) did promise, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow you." (Isaiah 43:2)

Is your promised land occupied by giants at the moment? Do they have names
such as "insecurity," "insignificance," "unemployment," "deficiency," or
"sickness"? Who could possibly conquer territory that's being held by giants?
Are you tempted, like the Israelites, to hold back and stay safe? You should
know that if you do that, your giants will only get bigger. They're not going
anywhere unless God drives them out with His mighty right hand. As a matter of
fact, those giants are supposed to be there. They are letting you know you are
about to come into your greatness and into your promised land- if you will stand
up and fight.

Opposition and adversity, even the fiercest kinds, are never completely bad.
In fact, God always turns around what seems to be meant for evil into something
good (Romans 8:28). It's always worth it. You can say that with two black eyes.
You can whisper it with bleeding (nostrils). You can give thanks from the bottom
of a pit.

Sometimes you have to step out on nothing and watch God turn it into
something. You have to trust Him to take what the devil meant for bad and turn
it into good. You have to stop running from your giants, stand strong and watch
God defeat them.

I was blessed by that article to stand our ground on some issues with the sale of the business and trust that God will wrap this up in the perfect way. I'm not saying we have any earthly enemies per say, but we definitely fight a spiritual enemy. Some of the giants I am facing our fear and anxiety, finances, and the details that need to be wrapped up in this chapter of our lives. I'm grabbing the belt of truth, breast plate of righteousness, my feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, I have the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, and I'm heading into battle.

The second blessing I got today was flowers from my husband! We've been so busy with the intensity of all the details that have needed our attention that some of the little things have been set aside for a while. Flowers seem so impractical and unnecessary when we're dealing with major life changing issues. Not to mention I packed up all the vases! But what a blessing I received to get to stop and enjoy these bountiful blooms today, even if they are being held by a large, ugly mug. I love that Andrew went out of his way to get them, in the midst of all the other things he's got to do, because he knows how wonderful they make me feel. Thank you Andrew!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Set, ...Green Beans!

I really feel like we've been in the starting blocks of this new adventure for 4 months now! It's like we're down on our mark, poised and set to start running, waiting for the word "Go!" and it just hasn't come. It's tiring to have that adrenaline building and building, yet not being able to burst off the starting line and begin this race. For our family and friends who are encouraging us and waiting to cheer us on, I'm sure their stomachs have been in knots as they long to see how this race turns out. They have great expectations, just as we do, and are anxious to celebrate with us in the outcome.

At this point, we are so close to starting that it's not about pre-race butterflies anymore. Really, it's like some clown has called out, "On your mark, get set, beans!" So close, yet not the word, "Go!" that we're waiting for. It made our hearts beat faster, our minds focus on the details of starting properly, and our muscles tense in anticipation. So, it takes a few moments to shake off the frustration of the false start and prepare again to be ready to react to the word "Go!" I distracted myself for a few days with an Anne of Green Gables marathon. The girls even got into it. But now it's time again to focus, to listen, to prepare. I am gun shy because of the last close call, but this situation must be handled in a mind over matter fashion. Really, mind over feelings, would be a more accurate description.

I praise the Lord for the faithful supporters who have prayed for us for these many months and have mustered encouraging words over and over. We are running this race for the Lord but I hope we run in a way that is a blessing to those who are watching as well.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Being Vulnerable

Saturday night we got to hear a testimony from a new friend we've found in our Saturday night shepherding group at church. First I must say that this shepherding group has been a refreshing change. The goal of the group is to put our faith in action and tell people about the love of Jesus. It's been so nice to focus on others rather than our own personal growth, parenting skills, or marriage relationship. Even though all these are very important, I believe God's design for us is to be in a community of believers who are others focused and concerned about eternal matters, yet support each other in the personal matters. Anyway, one tradition they have is beginning the group time with a testimony from someone within the group. Whoever wants to volunteer shares a little bit about their life before Christ, how they became a Christian, their life after Christ, and what God is doing in their lives currently.

Last night a single man from the group shared his life story. He set a powerful tone in speaking very honestly about his childhood growing up without his father and the impact of missing out on all those father/son experiences that every young boy is designed for. I remembered reading some of Andrew's "Wild At Heart" book years ago and thinking how devastating it would be to have the leadership in that area missing. No one stepped in for this young man; no mentors, no teachers, no Sunday School teachers or youth leaders, no one filled that gap. He went on to share of his later struggle with homosexuality. As he open himself up like book, an amazing thing happened, the man who was confessing his weakness, even some of his failures, quickly became the most powerful man in the room, not because of what he'd done or who he was, but because of the power of Jesus Christ in his life. His honesty took away the power that Satan could have had in his life. No longer could Satan say to him "You are unacceptable" or "No one will like you." He chose to test Satan's lies, and test the truth of Jesus that tells him he is wonderfully made and deeply loved. God met him through several men who came along side him as true friends. Though they didn't understand his temptations they had temptations of their own. These men shared that his honesty paved the way for them to become more vulnerable with those different struggles in their own lives and becoming more vulnerable unleashed the power of God. No longer did their temptations have to be battled alone, so when Satan whispered his confusing lies there were several others ready to shout the truth. It's the perfect picture of the how God designed the body of Christ, the church, to operate.

Though specific sin is different in everyone's life, Jesus died for all of it. It isn't easy to lay your "ugliness" out in front of other people, but this man led the way for all of us to begin to question Satan's lies, to remember we're not the only one who have had failure, and to experience the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers us. His example inspired me to "keep the mask off" of my life and allow others to know my struggles in order to display the greatness of Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff