Archives for October 2008

The worst part of traveling

It’s Friday, family movie night. I’m snuggled into the loveseat next to my husband, with my head on his chest and his arm curved around me. The living room looks like a mosh pit, with kids everywhere on chairs and beanbags and sprawled out on the floor. The closing credits are rolling for tonight’s movie, Meet the Robinsons, a movie that manages the right mix of humor and action to be pleasing to the majority of us.

For much of the movie, my 3 year old curled her sweet self into me, contentedly gobbling Halloween candy. Now, as the music plays, suffused with sugar, she is moved to dance in the small popcorn-strewn space that is empty in the center of the room.

“This is how [10 yr old sister] dances!” she calls out while pumping her arms forward and back in a hip-hop style, imitating her sister convincingly enough that there is recognition and laughter around the room.

“How does [20 yr old] dance?” I call out.

The three year old obligingly does graceful ballerina spins around the room, wrists tilted exactly right.

“How about [10 year old brother]?” someone else calls.

The three year old hesitates, but the 6 year old jumps in with a convincing marionette-like dance that sends laughter rustling around the room again. My 13 year old daughter catches my eye and grins, then says something in a voice that sounds suddenly to me like an older girl’s. Growing up, she is.

Our 16 year old son asks his dad a question. John’s voice rumbles under my ear, and I snuggle in deeper. The day is almost done and morning is coming fast. But I want to reside here in this evening a little longer, surrounded by my loved ones.

In the morning come goodbyes.

In the morning I leave for the Dominican Republic.

Our conference call briefing on Thursday left me jazzed, ready. My fellow travelers seem friendly and fun, and the Compassion staff is impressively organized. Our only job there is to experience the work they do and write about it. Compassion takes care of every other detail, right down to bottled water and first aid kits.

I want to go, really I do. I love to travel. I am so eager to see Compassion’s work first hand. I want to experience the country and hug the kids and meet the folks who care for them.

But leaving my family stinks, plain and simple. And tonight that thought is heavy on my heart.

So I’ll sit here a little longer, savoring the feel of my family around me. And I’ll hope that the week goes quickly and smoothly for them, and I’ll pray for safety for all of us. And I’ll pray for the purpose of this trip: to shine a light on the needs of children in the Dominican Republic, and to encourage people to step out on faith and be a part of the solution for kids who need nothing more than a chance.

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My travel buddies:
Melanie
Tim
Marlboro Man
Jennifer
Brian
Shaun

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Thanks for your prayers and good wishes and for your willingness to spread the word about this trip on your blog. We appreciate your partnership.

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Chex Basket Winners

The Random Integer Generator has spoken:

“Here are your random numbers:

49 257 41

Timestamp: 2008-10-31 06:22:43 UTC”

The winners are:

–Melissa of One Day at A Time

–Katrina of Callapidder Days

— Leona P.

If the three winners will email your names and street addresses to owlhaven at aol dot com , I will contact the Chex people so that they can mail you your prizes. Congrats!

Our Love Story: Fairy-Tale Wonderful

Part 1 | Part 2 |Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

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August 23, 1986.

I spent the morning with my family and my best friend Nicole. I was thrilled she’d been able to fly from Florida to be in my wedding. We ate breakfast, gathered things together to bring to the church, and fussed endlessly with our hair, an operation that involved curling irons and copious amounts of hairspray.

I imagined John spending lots of time getting ready too, but found out later that he’d actually spent the entire morning washing his car to gleaming perfection. His car, it seems, was much higher maintenance than he.

My bridesmaids and I waited to dress til we got to church. We were giddy with excitement. Looking back I can’t believe how young we all were. Every person in that 12-person wedding party was 20 or younger. And it truly was a party. It was a glorious day.

In the really momentous times of my life, I always find myself fighting unbelief, wondering if this thing could really be happening to me.

I remember wondering that when my mother and I looked at each other in the mirror after we finally got my headpiece on straight.

I remember thinking that when I stood at the back of the church, holding onto my dad’s arm, waiting for the music that was our cue to begin the walk into the church.

I remember thinking that as I listened to the bridal rustle, the movement made by a roomful of people turning in unison to watch the bride– me?!?- walk up that aisle.

But when my eyes met John’s as he watched me coming up that aisle, there was no unbelief, no wondering. Because I knew that look in his eyes. His look of love was fairy-tale wonderful, but it was real. It was what had carried me to my wedding day –and through it –and up that aisle and into his arms. And by God’s grace it carries me through my days even now, 22 years later.

Up at the front of the church, we were all nerves and excitement. The church was hot. The service was long. Sweat ran down my spine. Partway through the message John and I got restless and started playing thumbsies with our joined hands. I wonder now what our poor pastor thought– probably that we were a couple of crazy 19 year olds.

But when it was time for the vows, we were serious. My voice broke as I promised John my life, and his eyes were intent and solemn as he promised his right back.

A kiss and a jubilant walk back down the aisle, and it was done. We shook a hundred hands and smiled a thousand smiles, and at some point a couple hours later sat down and shared a slice of cake before racing off on the grand adventure that was our lives.

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From high school sweethearts to happily ever after.

By God’s grace.

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You can read John’s story at Duct Tape and Baling Twine. If you are sharing your story, leave a direct link in comments, below. And thanks to everyone who has shared their story this month. I have so much enjoyed reading each one.

Because one jumbo can of ravioli isn’t going to cut it.

See that countdown in the sidebar? Subtract about 16 hours from that, and you have my actual departure time. Holy cow— I leave Saturday morning. Eek.

Today I looked at the one can of ravioli in the pantry and it finally hit me. I’m leaving really soon. And among many other things I’ve got to put together some food for my family to eat while I’m gone. Granted, I’ve got enough big people around that they COULD cook on their own. But tossing a few casseroles into the freezer seems like the least I can do, considering I am leaving my people at home for a week while I go gallivanting.

This afternoon I made two pans of pork chops in mushroom sauce (to be served over rice), 2 tater tot casseroles, and a big pot of bean and ham soup. Besides that we’ve got hamburgers, fish sticks, burritos, and tater tots in the freezer, and fixings for sandwiches (tuna, ham and peanut butter) and breakfasts (oatmeal, pancakes, cereal) in the cupboards.

Oh, and that jumbo can of ravioli.

I think they’re set for the week. (Actually, they could probably eat for two weeks).

This afternoon after I’d made a whirlwind of a mess in the kitchen, I proceeded to do the exact same thing in my bedroom, except with heaps of clothing. Must pick exactly the right things to wear, you know. The heaps still sit there now, at 1 AM. I’ll have to scoot them over when I go to bed so as not to trip myself in the night.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually get the packing pulled together. I am still puzzled as to which closed-toe tootsie-protective comfy walking shoes I can wear that will not look hideous with a khaki skirt. No sandals, said the Compassion packing guide. But tennis shoes and a skirt? I refuse.

I’m hyper-aware of the triviality of the decisions I’m obsessing over. My trip is much bigger than ravioli and tennis shoes. I’m wanting to get things pulled together for everyone at home, needing devotion time, and quality moments to chat and play with various children before I leave.

But the suitcase calls. And children sass. And there are bills to pay. And I need a haircut. And some cash for the trip. And a bunch of other stuff I probably haven’t even remembered yet. I’m drowning in details.

This is when I start wondering if I was crazy to plan this, crazy to hassle my family by leaving them for a week. And yet I have to remind myself that I truly believe what I told my 10 year old daughter the other day when she was unhappy about me leaving.

There are kids out there that people should know about. Kids who with a little extra boost from a Compassion sponsor could have a chance at a decent life. What if a week of my life could mean a lifetime a difference for a kid? What if one person or two or ten, saw the need and stepped forward and partnered with me to make a difference for a child?

My family and I will miss each other. But we’re praying great things for this trip, great things for these kids who need a hand. Will you partner with me in prayer? If you are so inclined, will you also mention the Compassion trip on your blog? I truly believe that together we can release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Product Review: Lemi Shine

Awhile back on Pioneer Woman I read about a dishwasher detergent called Lemi-Shine. I emailed the company to ask for a trial size to see if it might be the answer in our battle against hard water spotting on our glasses. This was back when we were having all our dishwasher woes, and by the time the sample arrived (thanks, Envirocon!) my dishwasher was truly broken. Then it took awhile before we bit the bullet and bought a new one. But finally we’ve had the chance to try the Lemi-Shine.

Granted, we are using it with a brand new, very nice dishwasher, so maybe it is not as tough a trial as it would have been with the old one. But it does seem to work extremely well. According to the literature, it is supposed to prevent hard water buildup in your dishwasher, and I am hopeful that it will help extend the life of the dishwasher because of that. If you are having issues with your dishwasher and hard water, you might want to check it out too.

Our Love Story: A Ring and a Date

(Scroll down to enter the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival)
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Part 1 | Part 2 |Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

The problem with waiting 22-1/2 years to tell a story is that….ummm…some of the details get a little fuzzy.  So here is what I know for a fact.   We definitely got engaged in February.  I had a ring at some point after then, but before the wedding.   I know that we went ring shopping right after we got engaged, but the sticker shock was a little much for us, so being broke college students, we opted to wait a bit for the ring.   I don’t remember exactly how long….

But I do remember getting the ring. I was working at both a nursing home and at McDonald’s at the time, and John was also working two jobs. (I think this must have been after our first year of school was done, because I don’t know how we would have managed two jobs each PLUS school.)

Between our four combined jobs, it was challenging to find time together.  The day that he proposed, I had half an hour between my shift at McDonald’s and the nursing home.   John met me at the nursing home in the employee parking lot, and I hopped into his car to chat for a few minutes before I had to go inside and start my shift.

He told me to open the glove compartment.  Inside was a sweet note as well as a small box, which I knew right away contained my ring.  He asked me (again!) and I said yes (again!), and we kissed.  I was over the moon, admiring my lovely ring.  But all too soon it was time to go inside and get to work.  It wasn’t till I got out of the car that I realized that the love of my life had proposed to me next to…..a dumpster.

I tease him greatly about that now, but you know what?  It didn’t really matter to me then, and it doesn’t really matter to me now.  The important thing was that he has my heart and I have his.  A romantic locale for a proposal is sweet (and would make great blog fodder) but it is not at all essential to a happy marriage.

Once I had my ring, it seemed even sillier to wait longer. Back in February our original inclination had been to get married in August. Thanks to his parents’ concern, our plan had been sidelined for awhile. But by June, that original plan started making more and more sense. We’d been dating long enough now to know that we weren’t going to be changing our minds about each other. We’d been engaged since February. We barely saw each other between our four jobs. At least if we were married, we’d see each other at the beginning and end of the day. Why not do it?

In early July, we abruptly decided that now was the time. Six weeks from now, to be exact. August 23rd. Bride magazine listed planning timelines anywhere from 3 months to 12 months. I cared not one whit. How hard could it be to pull together a wedding?

Looking back, my wonderful mother in law, who likes everything done decently and in order, must have been in a panic. But within a couple weeks we’d ordered cake, invitations and fabric for bridesmaid dresses, and had all sorts of other details well on the way to completion. A neighbor was helping us make lovely bouquets with silk flowers mounted on fans.

We found a professional photographer that friends of ours had used. His twist was unusual, but amazingly affordable. He took the pictures, and handed the bride and groom the undeveloped rolls of film. His fee? $100. A few weeks later friends of our would get married and pay several thousand dollars for pictures alone.

I chose to wear my mother’s wedding dress– it fit beautifully and had a sleek classic design. My mother in law gave me the headpiece that she had worn at her own wedding, and I bought yards of tulle at the fabric store for a veil.

Ready or not, we were getting married….

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My darlin’ man will have his version of this story up on his blog very soon, so go check it out. (Say hi to him too, because he’s wonderful and adorable, even if he did propose behind a dumpster.) And if you have more of your own love story, leave a comment below sharing the exact link to your blog post, OK?

Sunday

James 1:23-25

One week from today…

… I am scheduled to be on a plane bound for the Dominican Republic.

There’s a suitcase in the corner of my bedroom, which so far holds only a few things.  One of those things is a soccer ball for a little boy who I’ll get to meet next week for maybe an hour or maybe an afternoon.

Five times through the miracle of adoption I’ve traveled to another country and come home with a child, a new member of our family.  This trip is the same.  But different.

This time I’ll hug a child and meet his grandmother and see his house and hand him a soccer ball and chat with him and pray over him.  And then I’ll say goodbye and move on, and eventually get on a plane and come back home. And I’ll carry him with me, but only in my heart.

And yet through the work that Compassion International does, that child will become an honorary member of our family. The relationship that I begin with that child next week will Lord-willing be one that lasts for years, through letters and pictures and prayers.  And the support that child will get through his Compassion project and through us will let him attend school and be properly fed and have a chance at a bright future.

I’m looking forward to seeing the work done by Compassion there, and I hope that while I am there you will consider sponsoring a child of your own. Click here if you'd like to sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

gratitude

I want to always see the love notes all around me.

And perhaps here is why we’ve been so much enjoying reading each other’s love stories.

Thanks, Ann, for the wonderful reminders.

Our Love Story: Be My Valentine. Forever

Part One | Part Two |Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

By Christmas of our first year of college, John had moved back home and I had moved out of the dorms and found an apartment with a friend.  We were both working, both going to school, and we now lived 45 minutes apart. By February the crazy schedule was really getting old.  We’d been together more than a year now, and basically we wanted to spend all our free time together.

My roomie was getting used to John hanging out with us til rather late most evenings.  But no matter how late he hung out to chat, it was always painful to say goodbye.  Finally on Valentine’s Day John asked me to marry him.  We weren’t entirely sure about the date.  (Maybe August?) But it felt right to be planning a future than would put an end to the goodbyes at the end of every day.

A few days later we went to tell our folks.   Mine were delighted.  Their congratulations couldn’t have  been more sincere, despite the fact that we were only 18 and 19 years old.

But John’s folks….

They welcomed us in with smiles, but when they heard our news, there came a gravity across their faces that drained the ebullience right out of me.

I remember sitting at their kitchen table, seeing the concern on their faces. Their words were kind and careful.  They reassured us that they liked me, and I believed them.  But they just didn’t see how we would be able to get through school if we got married so soon.

We told them we were thinking of August.  They thought we were making it unnecessarily hard on ourselves by rushing into this.   Why not wait until the following June?   Or if we were really anxious to get married, even Christmas?

Ten months til Christmas felt like an eternity.  But we agreed to think about it.