Sunday, August 31, 2008

August update

Yes, here it is.  The update from our orphanage.  It's great to get these updates, but it's always a reminder that we are sooooo far away, and so much happens that we don't have a clue about.  Probably never will.  In addition to mentioning a song that Peterson just loves, we also got this...

Gaëlle got a bite of some sort, I am guessing a spider, and what a trooper she was. She can be at times a bit of a diva as I am sure you have kind of picked up on. Wanting her way, teasing that she is not going to listen, etc. So with a bite and the extra attention it got I figured she'd milk it up a lot. BUT she surprised me and we really bonded over the issue. She hardly complained about it, just came to remind me each morning, noon, and night that she was "malad" and would point to her bite and smile. However I don't think she realized that her face was so swollen that I could have a mile away and still seen that she was "malad":). She was so cute about it all, she took her medicine for me each time, came up and laid on the couch to watch movies (one of the many benefits of being sick at Joyce and Molly's), the only thing she didn't like was the warm compresses. But she could comforted through it especially if Peterson was by her side. I think he was more hurt by it all than she was. One day right after lunch I was walking into the girls' house and heard a big kid crying. I looked over and Peterson was huddled down in a squatting position by the door. When I asked him what was wrong he could barely choke out that Gaëlle had a sore and it hurt her, and she didn't even want to come out to play she only wanted to go lay in her bed. I think it took more for Joyce and I to comfort him and reassure him that she was okay and it would go away than to comfort Gaëlle. It's been over a week now and compresses are done, antibiotics are finished, and Peterson is much more at peace, Gaëlle has a little mark still that needs to heal over, but she had enough attention I guess and doesn't even feel the need to tell me about it anymore.

I'm comforted that the God who loves us more than I can ever imagine, knows exactly what is happening in their lives and is watching over them.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who's talking now?

This week I was reminded of a powerful truth... my kids all open up in different ways and different places.  My son talks my ear off in the car.  Just put him in the front seat and the floodgates open.  Whenever I go on long trips, I don't mind with Josh along.  He just keeps the conversation going.  I learn more about the bass and bass pedals than a mom cares to know.  I also get caught up on his thoughts and plans.

My youngest will never be called a motor mouth.  However, we have had great talks when we're walking her dog.  It just seems to be a release for her.  This past week, we were taking Snickers for a long walk and she brought up one of her fears about our latest move.  Quite honestly I don't think she would have been so open without the open air and the dog at her heals.

Then there's Emily.  She talks but she doesn't always share.  But late at night when Robin and I are just relaxing in the living room, she plops down and away she goes.  Sometimes I think she says things to shock me, but we often have really good discussions.  The give and take of "What do you believe?" and "Why?"

I love all of these moments and this week with Kaylin was just a reminder to put myself in those situations more and to just be open to talk.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another goodbye

For one of my kids, the summer has come and gone.  And he's gone.  Back for his 2nd year of college.  We'll miss him but I know that he's enjoying his time at school.  Not just the social but also the academics and the spiritual.  I love to hear him say that he's looking forward to certain classes.  

But for now he's gone from this...

and this...


to this.

Study hard.  Stay strong.  Be focused.  God Bless.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rejecting my favorites

I love books.  And I love to share my favorite books with others.  It's been a huge delight to offer up beloved books to my children and have them fall in love.  Like Little Women... A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  These were my favorites and now my daughter loves them and recommends them to her friends.

But there have been duds.  Which have broken my heart.  Sad but true.  None of my kids could stomach Little House on the Prairie.  I know, what's with that?  I was not fortunate enough to have my own copies as a child, but I borrowed them all from the library and I loved, loved, loved them.  Now I can understand Josh being bored with Farmer Boy.  "All they do is eat.  Who cares about oatmeal?"  But how could my girls not like Laura, and Mary, and Ma & Pa?  They even had their own copies, to read and love forever.  But neither one of them wanted to read through the entire series.  Crushing.

I've also shared my special books with a few select friends.  My favorite Christian author is Francine Rivers and I love her novel, Redeeming Love.  Shared with a good friend and avid reader, who did not like it.  She actually criticized it.  It felt like a criticism of me.  After all, this is one of my favorites.  I relunctantly shared another book, not a beloved one, just one I liked, and she criticized that too.  Another arrow in my heart.  So, I've not shared another book with her.  

Which brings me to The Shack.  I've seen all the blog buttons.  I've heard the gushing and the life changing stories.  So I picked it up.  Actually bought it.  Expected to be up all night reading it.  Because that's what I do.  I become so immersed that I completely neglect everything else, stay up way too late, and then suffer the next day.  But it did not happen.  I picked it up, read a bit, and put it down.  Repeated the process the next day.  Just waiting to become engrossed.  Didn't happen.  In fact, I still haven't finished it, but I'm sure I will.  I just don't know why it leaves me cold.  I almost feel unspiritual, like what is wrong with me, that this powerful, absorbing masterpiece doesn't captivate me?  I'm just glad this wasn't handed to me by a good friend.  I'm afraid I would be piercing her heart with my lack of enthusiasm.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Love Thursday

We were able to stop off on our way home and see my new nephew for the first time.  It is just too much fun to hold a 10 day old baby.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Random hits and misses

Our entire trip was a lot of fun and a lot of work.  There were some things we did and things we experienced that were a big hit... with us and the kids.  Needless to say, we had some misses too.  Here are a few in no particular order.

MISS.  Healthy snacks.  At least half of the kids wouldn't even eat the carrots and dip.  

HIT.  Parachute with water balloons.  The squeals of delight as the water balloons soared in the air always brought a smile to my face.

MISS.  Adult chaperones who don't know enough to limit their coffee consumption when driving for 20 hours, thus making the entire group stop every hour for bathroom breaks, thus making the trip much longer.

BIG HIT.  Our monster puppet.  We call him Fizzywig.  He was beloved by all.  Highly recommend this puppet site and these puppets.

BIG HIT.  Lots of hugs and loving.  Nobody was shy about coming up with arms outstretched to get a hug.  And our teens were all too willing to meet them with a big hug.

HIT.  The dedicated teens who were focused on ministry and put aside their own desires to sightsee when plans didn't match up with the reality.

HIT.  Bible memory buddies by Group Publishing to go along with "The Power Lab" VBS.  These were collected each day and had the days' Bible verse on them.  I couldn't believe all the kids that brought them back each day as they added another one.  Even the older kids really enjoyed them.

MISS.  Making a hovercraft.  The kids enjoyed it, but most left it behind and popped their balloon on purpose.

Overall, though, we had many more hits than misses.  And I can only give a big THANKS to all who came with us and helped us pull this off.  And a big thanks to God who covered our faults with His grace.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Help or hindrance?

We just got back from a youth mission trip.  We took 11 teens and 5 adults from our previous church on a puppet mission trip to Newark, NJ.  Yeah... once we save all those puppets from Newark, we'll go on a nation wide tour.

We ran 2 Bible clubs every day and we performed 2 outdoor puppet shows in the projects of Newark.  We worked with a great ministry, World Impact, and we had a blast.  Really, really had fun, almost every minute of the day.  

But at the end of the day, Robin and I would sit around and discuss the age old question, "Who is benefitting from this?"  
"Is this just a chance for us to feel good and pat ourselves on the back because of all our hard work?"  
"Do the missionaries even want us or are we just in their way?"  
"Are we kind of like the benevolent grandparents, spoiling the kids, and once we leave, the parents will have to work hard to get those kids back on a routine?"  
"Are we doing any good in the lives of these children?"
"Should we just take the money we've raised and donate it to the mission?"

Obviously, I believe in the value of these trips or I wouldn't keep organizing them.  But for all of the time, money, work, and travel involved, what exactly is the point?

We had a great discussion with our own teen girls at the end of the week.  Emily has gone on several mission trips, not just with us but with other groups.  She also has a good friend who spent several weeks in Haiti, thinking that God was calling her to be a missionary, but she came back totally disillusioned.  She felt hopeless.  And my daughter has also felt that despair after these trips, but to a lesser degree.

The reality is that we probably didn't change anybody's life in those short 6 days.  Hopefully we made positive contact with some new kids and the missionaries will be able to develop relationships with those children and their families.  Hopefully we provided a fun break for some kids who don't have a lot of fun in their lives.  Hopefully the power of the gospel will resonate with some of the kids.  It will be a spark that stays with them.  

The pat answer is that our own lives were touched.  Emily wants to know what that looks like.  She looks cynically at us as a group and more personally as a family, and wants to know what has changed for us.  She doesn't beat around the bush.  It's so easy to be "touched" but then to just as easily forget what exactly we felt.  

I know that I was "touched" by the dedication and love of the missionaries we worked with in the children's program.  I will encourage them with a note this week.  I will pray for them weekly.  I will be more aware of compassion and less concerned with efficiency when putting together a program.

I was "touched" by the older kids who faithfully came to our Bible club.  They did not have to be there.  Nobody forced them to come.  If they came, it was on their own, or with younger family members.  Yet, as the week progressed, I could see their aloofness come down and their enthusiasm shine.  I was "touched" as they joyfully participated in the songs.  I will tear down some of my own walls and joyfully worship my God.

I was "touched" by the kids at the projects.  They were full of life.  They loved the puppets and they let us know.  Every time I go by that big old cemetary on the Garden State Parkway in East Orange, I will remember and pray for those children who are just on the other side.  

Wow, I could go on by how I was "touched".  I pray that each of our group will allow themselves to feel their emotions.  They will allow God's power to work through them.  Lives will be changed.  Definitely their own, maybe others.

Monday, August 4, 2008

July update

Our update photos came and it was great to see our status listed as PARQUET.  Woohoo! We'll see how fast we get through this step.  In the mean time, we'll just enjoy our photos.