Sunday, July 27, 2008

Little Rascals

"...he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

I am a very fortunate girl. I grew up with one great brother and with two great cousins. My cousins flank me in age, Kim, the elder is 23 months older and Lisa, is 11 months younger. My poor brother, older than us all was seriously outnumbered. He would have liked hanging out with us a lot, had he had a thing for Barbies, Donny & Marie and sleepovers, but alas, he was all boy and enjoyed muscle cars and boating.

I think, as we have aged, the relationship I have with my cousins has matured right along with us. We were in each others' weddings, planned baby showers and watched as each precious child entered our lives. We have discussed parenting as only family can, and have had plenty of heart-to-hearts about marriage, Jesus and the state of the world. We have prayed with one another, for one another and for friends and family we love.

We share memories. Every holiday. Every birthday. Priceless little gems we shared. Our mothers took turns making exceptional meals, hosting event upon event. We were blessed to live close and to share each others' lives. Now that we are grown and have children of our own, those gatherings are fewer, more space in between. It does not make a difference. We pick up right where we left off and now, our children enjoy the company of each other. We have never had a fight, not one. We can disagree, we can offer our viewpoints, we respect each other as women, mothers, friends. When I can dig up some pictures of us, little rascals that we were, I will post them. Until then, our little rascals will have to do.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Salted or Roasted - A Few Peanuts for You

"Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For, if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Our good friend Kim closed down her blog due to absolutely inappropriate comments. Kim introduced me to the blogging world and I must say, as skeptical as I was, I do believe that really good things happen here. I get good ideas. I have made some very dear friends that time and space would have never allowed except here in good ol' virtual land. I have often considered going private as well, and may still do that. I don't get the traffic that some other blogs get, so it has been easy to remain this quiet entity that folks visit for an uplifting scripture, a glimpse at the blessing of our children, a meditation perhaps, or just following the stream of consciousness that I care to jot down in a place where it feels safe to do so. I have had the blessing of praying for people all over the globe and this honor would never have come to me, if I were not here in bloggityville, so that initial urging from Kim, " should start a blog" is very much appreciated.

Kim and I share a special bond. We each remained home with one of our children while our husbands and one of her sons did the unimaginable task of travelling to China to bring home our babies. When I think back to those initial conversations, I think of how much I have grown as a human (honestly:) and as a mother. I reflect back and am grateful I had another mommy in a similar situation to share that walk with. At the time, I don't believe I valued it enough and now, with time, as our relationship grows, I see all too clearly the importance of this union. My faith has grown because of this, my life is enriched as a result and I pray that the reverse is true.

And I suppose, it is much bigger than that. I see how different people, from different walks of life and with varying life experiences can be brought together through one single choice and that amazes me. It confirms for me that God's plan is purposeful, meaningful and that the Red Thread is far stronger than any of us might have imagined.

We had an opportunity this weekend to be with our friends. We had a great time. We are two very fortunate families, for this I am grateful. It makes my heart happy that our journey did not end as our daughters were placed in our arms; that was just the beginning for us all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Out of School and In the Pool!

Little did we know what God was doing many years ago, when I met Gerry. Gerry was a home therapist for Ray before I ever even happened upon the scene. In fact, Gerry's daughter Brie was one of the first to work with Ray. Gerry is a woman whom you just want to be around. She is a true servant, a wonderful mother and grandmother, one of the finest hostesses ever and a faithful, faithful friend. Her faith needs no explanation, she and Jim live it every single day of their lives.

As many of you recall, Jim accompanied Rob to China (these two men had only met once when they boarded that plane for Beijing). He is a man of honor. His dedication to his wife, family and his remarkably difficult job is endless and his devotion to God even more amazing. Jim is recovering from a bone marrow donation that took place last week. As if travelling around the world to help a friend receive their baby doesn't earn him sainthood, I believe the donation just might:)

We spent some time with Gerry, Jim, Brie and Josh this week and needless to say a good time was had by all.

Aunt Gerry

Sometimes Emily takes my very breath away

Brie and Emily racing (check out Emily's arm, girlfriend is trying to win!)

They shared a lot of giggles; Brie and her husband are teachers, when she broke out the Hannah Montana and Camp Rock tunes, Emily placed her somewhere in the realm of perfect!

I love watching Jim's reactions to Hannah - he was one of the first to hold her, talk with her, get her to smile and he still has a way with her - she was grinning up at us in this picture

To Infinity...

And Beyond!!

Little Waterbaby!(splashing Daddy:)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thankful Thursday (on Friday:)

I have been thinking a lot lately. Good thoughts, happy ones. Contentment. It is not a first for me to be content, but as I view the world, I realize how many people are discontent. I have a friend who once told me, "there are no happy marriages."

I disagree. I think there are no perfect marriages. But quite conversely, I think many are happy. We are approaching our seventh wedding anniversary. Nope, no itches. Does he make me crazy? Some days. Do I make him crazy? Some days. Even with the uncertainties life hands us and the moments that bring out the ugly monster in all of us, I can honestly say that I am grateful. Happy. Content.

I am thoroughly enjoying the time I get to spend with the girls. Their personalities, so different, always changing, forever beautiful in my eyes, their mother. I remember hoping, praying believing I would be a mother...someday. It felt like someday took forever to roll around, yet on this side of it, I don't quite recall the lonely years, the wondering if it would be my turn. It is my turn and I don't want to miss any of it.

I am thankful for new friends. This has been a year of newness, for all of us. Through adoption and other avenues, I have stumbled upon some pretty amazing families. I know these people were purposely placed in our lives and I cherish each one, looking forward to what is in store for us and how our relationships will grow. One will be visiting this fall and I cannot wait to share a long awaited hug with her. One has slowly entered our lives, revealing each time we are together a new reason we belong in each others' lives. There are others, each special.

I am thankful that God stretches us, changes us, molds us. I am a mere shadow of the punctual, Franklin Planner packing, desperately stylish woman I once thought I had to be. Now, I wear sweats (GASP) to the grocery store (okay, they are cute sweats), I don't stress when I have to change a diaper just as we step out the door, I skip the vacuuming to swing and take Emily to Bible Study. While on vacation, I had visions...two polar opposites, running on the beach, white dresses salt licked from the ocean and hair wildly flying in the wind, they are smiling, posing, loving that I am pointing the blasted camera at them once again. Their vision was different. They wanted to wear sweats so they could "play" in the sand and fly kites and well, stay warm:) And though they did not ban the camera, they wanted me to fly kites with them, alongside, without the pressure of the perfect smile. I conceded. We all won.

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Every Grain of Sand

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Usually, we take our vacation in September, rounding out the summer perfectly. Now that Emily is school age and Hannah is not far behind, we scheduled our vacation for June. So we spent a wonderful week at the beach and I must admit, I am still mourning the end of vacation. There is no where nearer to God for me than by the sea. I could roam the shores for hours, looking for shells, breathing in the briny air and thinking. It is the one place in this world where my thoughts seem to line up and make sense. I am anxious to get back to the beach and we are hoping for at least one more trip to our favorite destination before the summer waves it's final goodbye.

These are a few of my favorite sunshine shots...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Party Animals

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all...

This spring, Emily approached me and asked if she could have a kid party. We always have a family party. Why was she asking me about a kid party? The deal was that she could have her friends each year she was in preschool and then she'd take a break and have one when she was a little older. least that is what I thought the deal was:)

So, I accost the poor child with my typical diatribe about the excess kids live with these days and "what the deal was" and on and on. To which she replies, with her blue eyes blinking wildly, "I don't need presents, Mommy. I just want to do something fun with my friends." Oh.

To further put Mommy quite in my place, she says, "I'll give my presents to the animals. I'd like to save the animals." Oh.

Not being one to ever shy from a true challenge, I took it and ran with it. How do we have a kid-friendly, economical, philanthropic birthday party fit for six year olds?? Weeellll, we began by calling our local animal rescue center, appropriately named Aark (yes, totally cute). We requested a wish list of items they could use. It just so happens the timing was perfect because they are being forced to move from their current home of thirty-five years to a new location. They sounded shocked and amazed that we would do this and must have asked me ten times, "how old is your daughter?"

As I spoke with the director, who was busily feeding animals and assisting other staff, I became a bit intrigued myself at this completely non-profit organization solely devoted to saving wildlife and the question of the day popped right out of my mouth. "Do you do presentations?" Mmmm hmmm, yes, they do! So, I did what any self-respecting mother planning on not having a party for her child would do, I booked 'em, right there, on the spot. I would surprise Miss Em.

The invites went out for the day after school let out (I have done this before and it always ends up being a great way to end the year) and indicated "no presents", just donations for the Aark. I also indicated there would be a presentation by an Aark volunteer, toting three animals to show the children. Sure, that day came and there were water balloons, cake and a bouncer we bought long before Em could walk, but the real joy came when the children got up close and personal with three different wild animals being saved by this fabulous foundation. The gentleman, a retired school teacher with an affinity as wide and broad as Emily's for those precious animals, spent thirty-five minutes answering questions and showing off his caged friends. It was six-year-old Heaven. They sat rapt with attention, even the mommies enjoyed the presentation. It was a wonderful, albeit very hot, June morning and Emily helped educate others about animal rescue.

The Friday before we left for the beach, Emily,Hannah and I visited Aark to deliver the donations from our family and all of Emily's friends. We could not take pictures inside the facility, but she got to see two baby raccoons, both girls got to help feed the baby and hurt birds, they saw a bunny in a "feel better" box and we met the neighborly peacock and guinea hens. Emily loved it there and was so excited to give them what we collected. As we drove out, this sign bid us goodbye

Emily said, "Look, Mom, they know how much we care!"

Leopold the Peacock (Hannah yelled, "Hiiii Peeetot!")

I'm not so concerned if they know she cares, I am so happy her heart is called to service by how much she cares.


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