Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Week in Bullet Points

  • First off, sometimes I really dislike blogger ...the formatting is CRAZY for this post, despite doing it in pages first...and I don't have time to fix it.  So here it is anyway, the not pretty version.
  • Now we say, "Check your blood sugars!"  Everything is plural now.  We cling to truth.  Actually, we don't cling, we hold onto it confidently...most of the time.  We have had our moments, but they have been fleeting and at times of tiredness.  Christian, like Ethan, has been given the gift of his Heavenly Father's strength and grace flowing like a river.   This morning, after a day of rigorously tracking BGs and carbs and fielding highs and lows, God's Word refreshed me, a most refreshing, sweet, pure time that infused me with life and promise.   William and I prayed together, receiving the strength of Jesus and renewal of our minds, rooted in the deep love of God.  We do not receive this unwelcome visitor called Type 1 diabetes! 




  • So...tracking everything our boys eat and drink is a good thing.  I am determined to have accurate information for Christian's appt. for the endo tomorrow.  We learned this morning that my chocolate chip pancakes are actually not 15 carbs/pancake.  More like 25.  Oops and oh, well.









    •  My wonderful sisters-in-law stepped up to host Christmas Eve, for which we were very thankful. Wm's brother and family were in from New Jersey.  So good to be together.  Our nieces and nephews have grown up before our very eyes...wow, where did the time go?  The girls give us a serious pose and the siblings pose with Grandpa and Grandpa:

    • Me and my daughter on Christmas morn.  My daughter.  Wow.

    • Christian was delighted when Ethan opened up his very teeny tiny gift...in a very large box!

    • She's walking!  The boys gave her Kleenex and pacifiers...her favorite things!
    • Our very dead tree was returned a couple days before Christmas, and the boys brought home the best tree we've ever had.   We do not like dead things in our house, whether it be trees or pancreases.





    • The blessing in the dead tree was this:  As I took off the ornaments one by one, I saw how richly blessed we have been as a family.  The ornaments are markers of God's faithfulness, markers of change, love, children and joy.  This year we also added a stocking to the mantle!


















    Father, you know this has been a week filled with the promise of your birth, a joyous time, yet it has been laced with sad things, with some homesickness on my part.  Thank you for showing me your unfailing, crazy love.  Thank you for my husband, who lifted me up when I was drowning.  Thank you for my boys and their optimism, strength and courage.  Thank you for my life.   In Jesus' powerful, powerful name, Amen!!!


    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Healing in His Wings


    Christian's friends came up to the hospital to visit today...so awesome!
    A year ago Ethan was diagnosed with Type 1.  Now Christian joins him and we are perplexed and sad, yet  at peace and glad we know.   Yesterday I would have never imagined in a million years that I would be writing this today.  A year ago I would have never guessed we would be on this path with Ethan.  
    There is a comfort in knowing what something is, what you're supposed to do.  It moves you past the shock and into a mindset that moves forward.  We rest today in the peace of Jesus.  Last night, as we were alone in the dark sterile hospital room, our minds processing this unwelcome visitor, Christian said, "It is amazing how peaceful I feel.  Last year when this happened to Ethan, I thought that if it happened to me, I would be so scared.  But here I am and the Lord is giving me peace.  Amazing."  We watched Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, and Christian sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing right along with Snoopy and the gang.  The movie ended, and he kept singing through the verses, sure and strong.   The last verse:
    Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
    Hail the Son of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all He brings
    Ris'n with healing in His wings
    Mild He lays His glory by
    Born that man no more may die
    Born to raise the sons of earth
    Born to give them second birth
    Hark! The herald angels sing
    "Glory to the newborn King!"
    So we give Him glory today.  He is good all the time.   We do not need to understand why because we are held and loved by the Most High.  
    Yes, it really is sad.  It will be hard.  But we are so thankful we serve a God that brings beauty out of ashes...every time.  
    And for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who earnestly lift us up in prayer, we are so very thankful.  

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    14 Months!

    Sweet G is 14 months.  She's a busy girl and oh, so different from the boys when they were that small!  I just remember chasing the boys everywhere.  They were busy, busy, busy.  She's just busy.  13 steps is her record so far, and I don't think she has many plans to break it!  Why walk when you can get carried and crawling works just fine!  We had fun with the camera today.  She wears her heart on her sleeve now, which is just awesome.  She's come a long way from the solemn little baby we held 6 months ago!

    Pouty G.  Why in the world can't I chew on chemicals?!


    Tired G.  Oh, please just stop, mom, taking pictures!

    I mean it!


    Peek-a-boo G.  Peekaboo is my very favorite game!

    Thoughtful G.  Hmmm, I wonder what that dog is up to now?

    Dancing G.  I dance through life!  (She really does.  Any music, however faint, and the booty, shoulders, tummy and head, sometimes just one, sometimes all, can't help but wiggle to the beat!)

    We love you, precious one!  You are sunshine and spice, all wrapped up into one beloved little girl! 

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    You Amaze Me

    Tonight was Re:new's Christmas party.   We prayed for this night, that it would be something special, something meaningful.   
    (Here's where I would insert a meaningful picture if I would have remembered my camera battery, or if the CF card in my other camera --yes, I brought two--would have worked.)
    The day was a busy one.  The boys were AMAZING today with their sweet servant hearts.  I was two steps behind all day, still am, dishes piled in the sink as I write.  With four dozen cookies to bake, three kids to feed and shuttle about town, multiple things on the to-do list and Wm somewhere in Canada, I was feeling less than enthusiastic about putting lipstick on and socializing for the evening.   While I baked at a rather furious pace, barking orders for one of the boys to throw in baking powder and another to whisk GENTLY, please, the ingredients, Gia and Shiloh manned the floor, eagerly lapping up any errant bits of cookie dough.  Sweet girls, they will eat anything.  Anything.  Thankfully, this is the only category in which the baby and the dog are lumped together.
    Later, while I was still baking, Christian built a pillow fort for Gia, and Ethan offered to walk home from swim practice, saving me a trip.  I could have kissed them both a million times.  
    So back to the party.  I was slightly late, cookies and two useless cameras in tow.  And, wow, so many people came!!!   I think all of our regular students came and so many of the teachers too!  It was a great gathering.  The ladies brought their yummy rice and vegetables and chapati and a rice pudding sort of thing...all soo good.  Martha came up with a two-minute craft of ribbons and bells on a stick that you wave around.  Supposed to be the rage at weddings?  I haven't been to a wedding in years, so I wouldn't know.  Whatever the case, it was a hit, the gals dancing around and...well, you had to be there.
    THEN all was quiet.  The Word of God does that.  Matthew was read, the story of Christmas.  It was read tenderly and beautifully, and I could have wept.  Here we were, Muslims and Christians breaking bread together, laughing and celebrating the semester, silenced and still before God.   Joseph, Mary and Jesus.  Yusef, Maryam and Isa al Masih.  Two ordinary people in a dying world and one Holy God-became-baby to save us all.   As my friend said later, the applause after the story was unforgettable.   And now I will stop telling about this night and get to my dishes, because the rest is not so important.  We love Muslims.  God loves Muslims.   They just don't know it yet.  Did their hearts feel a twinge of that love tonight?  I know so.  He was Immanuel, God with Us.
    As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven, 
    and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower
    and bread for the eater,
    so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
    It will not return to my empty,
    but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
    Isaiah 55:10-11
    Father, You amaze me.  In those moments we fear, you demolish fear and cast light.  Amen and hallelujah that you are WITH US! 

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Advent and Today



    I'm peeking out the window.  It's dark outside, fresh-fallen snow crackling as William and Ethan back out of the driveway.  They're headed to a swim meet, and I sit here with my coffee and a silent house.  I love mornings.  I love the promise of a new start, and I am always grabbing onto the glorious truth that God's mercies are new every morning, GREAT is His faithfulness.    He has me thinking a lot about Jesus lately. As I read Gia her Jesus Bible Story Book and as we do our Jesse Tree for Advent (skipping days, playing catch-up, yet so grateful when we all settle into our family room and listen to the Word of God, how every story points to Jesus, points to the cross) I am overwhelmingly grateful that I am a believer, that God opened my eyes and pulled me toward himself long ago, was patient with me as I went my own way and then came back, yearning to hang tight with Him.  When Ethan was a baby, I thought I'd better get serious with God.  Really, I thought, it's time.   I went to a Bible study led by a woman who changed my life.  Her intimacy with Jesus was beautiful, her joy contagious.  I wanted that.  And God gave it to me, His gift, Jesus.  The cross.  The resurrection.  Heaven here on earth.   Immanuel, God with us.  


    We went to a Christmas party last night, and I stood there and thought about all these people, so different from one another, so many stories and paths represented amongst us.   I gathered with a different group of people to pray yesterday morning and thought the same thing.  We are all so unique.   But God ties us together with threads of His love and grace, bringing us together in community and inviting us to share in one another's lives, the good times and hard ones.  He is a God who delights in being with us.  I imagine heaven will be an amazing party.   For years I would think about heaven in really odd pictures.  I would see everyone sitting in their own big mansion, alone, and every once in a while God would drop by and say hi.  How weird is that?  No, it will be togetherness and joy and laughter and intimacy with each other and with God, feasting on life as we've never known it.  So during Advent we not only wait for Christmas, we also wait for Jesus' return.   

    I have written for 16 minutes, and the house is still quiet.  My heart is bursting with hope and joy for this day.  Today is a new day.   It is one day closer to Christmas.  One day closer to heaven.   So thankful His kingdom is here on earth too, His grace waking me up with hope.  My failings are being constantly covered like the fresh-fallen snow covers the tire tracks in the driveway.   God looks at me and He is pleased.  Because of Jesus, I stand before Him with boldness and sit here and rest in His love.  What will this day bring?   I do not know, but God walks before me and lights my path.  I will fall down, and He will pick me up and remind me that I am His child, His beloved.  Encountering Jesus.  That's why I love Advent.   So many reminders of Him, truth ringing loudly throughout the earth and in my heart.

    Father, I love you.   Bring on the day.   Today help me to pursue peace, see joy in the simplest things and see others as You see them.   May I lay down my agenda and pick up yours.  May I lay down pride, selfishness, defeat, the I-don't-feel-like-its, and pick up YOU!  For only through You do I live and move and have my being.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Happy Birthday, Gia!

    One Year Old!  We love you, sweet girl!  You are AMAZING!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Almost One!

    She's almost one.  The G-ster, as Christian calls her, was quite a mess this morning.  I wish I would have taken a picture.  She's decided that she wants to feed herself.  So, spoon in hand, she shovels in her green cereal (I mix part of my green smoothie in there) or grabs some with her fingers and then touches her hair, ears and everything else.  We've given up our nighttime baths.  After-breakfast baths are key!  Unless we have pasta with red sauce for dinner, and then it's a dunk in the tub before bed.   I had forgotten about this stage.  Does it last long?  I can't remember.   I was horrified to find a big chunk of dried food in my hair yesterday...wayyy after messy breakfast time, after I had been gone for much of the day at Re:new.  No one said a thing!  
    Yesterday we took advantage of the warmth and spent some time on the back porch.   I love my sweet G.  





    Monday, October 4, 2010

    What God Does

    A year ago a group of women got together and wrestled through The Hole in the Gospel.  I say wrestle because it's not cozy feel-good type of book.  It challenges your thinking!   And it challenges your priorities even more.  I have not kept up with many of the women.  I would love to have a reunion to see how our lives have changed since we were challenged to live differently.   But for the group of women I have stayed in contact with, God has accomplished much!  
    One friend is leaving for Uganda this week to finalize the adoption of a sweet little girl with a great smile!  Wow, what a journey.  Life is never boring when you follow Jesus.  He definitely keeps life spicy.  I remember sitting around her table (was it in winter?) and talking about her desire to adopt again.    (We were still in the process of adopting our little Gia.)  Let me tell you, the plan had nothing to do with Uganda, HIV, a toddler, etc.   But here she is, months later, over the moon with excitement and anxious to get her daughter home!  From Uganda!  HIV positive!  Toddler!   Many prayers have been lifted for this precious little girl.  Our Father in heaven has placed her into a new home, hallelujah!  As I look back over my friend's blog, I am thankful for her transparency over these last months.  I am thankful she asked for many to join her in prayer.  I am amazed.  God has answered in mighty ways!  You can read about her journey here.  
    Another dear friend from the group is pursuing a domestic adoption.  They are now waiting for that phone call.  Two other women are praying over older child adoptions.  The obstacles are many.   God's plan at times seems murky.  And yet He will unfold His plan in His perfect timing.   And in January, radiant  Ela came home.  She's now in school, the surgery for her club foot now thankfully in her past, loved and secure in her family.   
    Look what God does!  And that's just on the adoption front.  We all prayed that our hearts would break for the things that break God's heart.  These things like poverty, AIDS, famine, and war are uncomfortable things to think about.   They're too inconvenient to actually do anything about.  So we do nothing.  Until God opens our eyes.  Many of us have no idea what it's like to have NO medicine, NO money, NO job prospects, NO food, NO peace, NO parents.  Yet God is turning the heart of many believers.   The American Dream is losing its seduction.  There are more important things.  Personally, I have a long way to go.  The good stuff of life still pulls me.  I mean, I really like my $150 jeans.  They fit really great and last forever.   But when I realize that that same money could give 7 people clean water for an entire year, well...ugh.   It’s one of those inconvenient thoughts.
    Lord, thank you for GRACE!!!!   Your wisdom is so pure.  Especially when it comes to all these hard things.  Give us Your wisdom!  You wisely have placed children into families this past year and provided all these families have needed...I am not alone in giving you the glory for all you have accomplished!!!  Your blessings are rich and overflowing.  You walk with us through our struggles and guide us along the right paths, even when those paths are narrow and rocky and we’re stubbornly holding on to the morsels of this world!  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.  In Jesus‘ name, Amen.   

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Aug/Sept Randomness

    I sometimes go for a long time without blogging.  I did this last fall and regretted having that gaping hole in the year.  A lot went on during that time, and I did very little journaling or blogging.

    This time, I have journaled...almost daily...but not here.  I am enjoying it, but you can't put pictures in a journal.  In my blog-to-book at the end of the year, I don't want to have an absence of pictures, so here we go...

    Football Season:  Christian played in a very special game sponsored by Nike and ESPN.  The boys got to play under the lights at Wheaton South...a super cool thing for a bunch of 10-year-olds.







































    Our nephew Dominic presented Christian with a Tigers game jersey, a special time for us!

    First day of middle school for Ethan and 5th grade for Christian:
    Here we go again...another school year.  We're easing into it.  The weather has been beautiful, and it's so hard to take school seriously when it's still summer-like outside!

    We celebrated my birthday on a lazy Saturday.   I'm excited about my new Kindle  -- if it ever gets here! My birthday will always be a reminder of God's good plans for our family, since we made the decision to adopt last year on my birthday.  We could not have imagined a year ago how our amazing daughter would change our lives.  We are so thankful!

    Re:new is back in session, and it is so good to be a part of it.   God provided an awesome sitter for Gia while I am there.  At the 11th hour, a friend told me about another mom who was interested in babysitting.  Five minutes later I was on the phone with her and the deal was sealed.  I actually was in a Bible study group with her over four years ago.  She has a heart for Gia, and I am so thankful that she is able to care for our sweet baby girl during this season!

    Giana is 11 months old today and quite the little traveler.  She's pulling up on everything and cruising, crawling towards anything remotely interesting.  Yesterday she had her very first session of "feet-first" training on the stairs.  She still eats anything, has learned to whine (girl thing, perhaps?), and still refuses to say "mama."  She adores daddy and claps and squeals when he walks in the room.  Mrs. E came over yesterday for Gia's every-other-week mani/pedi.  She loves Mrs. E.

    And now to the heart of these last few months.   We've wrestled through some tough family decisions these last few weeks and readjusted some of our priorities.   William and I have resolved to do some things differently and be more intentional with our family time and our couple time too.  One thing I have noticed about myself is that I would be happy to stay behind with Gia while the boys go do their thing.  It would be all too easy to go our separate ways.  So instead of giving in to that feeling, we're packing up Gia and taking her to football games, the Air Show downtown, the rooftop Cubs game, etc.  She's a trooper and has learned to be pretty flexible.

    There are many things tugging at our thoughts these days.  When I am overwhelmed by the Stuff of Life, God reminds me that He is Emmanuel, "God with Us."  John 15 reminds me that He abides in me and I in Him.  We do not walk alone through life.   He bears our burdens and puts a song in our hearts.

    William's aunt passed away this week, and we are reminded again that our homes are not here, but in heaven.  Our eternal hope is only in Jesus, who had a plan long, long ago to save us.   He desires not only to save us, but to walk with us, teach us, and illuminate our path.  My prayer this school year is that He would show us a deeper understanding of who we are in light of who He is.  The more we understand His character and person, the more our hearts are driven to Him throughout our day.   His Word becomes the joy and delight of our heart and we depend on our communion with Him, because we know that we can do nothing worthwhile, beautiful, or good apart from Him.

    Thank you, Lord, for this season, full of all sorts of everyday stuff with the exciting and hard all thrown in too.  You help us in every way to love, serve, and extend grace.   You redeem the time we have wasted with negativity and selfishness, bringing beauty from ashes.   I am forever grateful for the covering of Jesus' blood over our family, making us clean and white as snow and in sweet relationship with you.  In Jesus' name, Amen

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    A Refugee's Heart

    "There is war everywhere, " the Somali woman mused.  She is right.  War is everywhere.

    It was an exciting day yesterday.  Re:new opened its doors for the fall term, and I walked in the door on light feet, taking in the sea of colorful fabrics, the smiles of the other women and admiring the very cool things the women had sewn over the summer.  But as we settled into knitting class and the words started to flow, the talk turned to war.  "Do you know what has happened in Sudan?" a refugee student asked a teacher.   We waited for her to tell us because, of course, even if you know what's happened in Sudan, we were not there.  We could not know.  "I left because there is always war.  I did not want to take part in the war, so I had to leave."  The Somali woman nodded her head in agreement.  As the knitting needles lumbered along (yes, we're lumbering right now, not flying),  each woman gave us a small glimpse of their sweet hearts, hearts familiar with anguish and loss.


    My heart is in anguish within me,
    And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
    Fear and trembling come upon me,
    And horror has overwhelmed me.
    I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest.
    Behold, I would wander far away,
    I would lodge in the wilderness.
    I would hasten to my place of refuge
    From the stormy wind and tempest."
    Psalms 55:4-8



    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    10 Months...Already?


    My baby girl’s growing so fast, I can hardly keep up.  
    10 months.  2 teeth.  A love for fuzz on the floor and fans on the ceiling.   Makes brothers laugh.  Eats anything (Oh, please, please, please can that last?).   Does not sleep in cars longer than 15 minutes.  Makes faces, the first one being her latest and favorite:




    Army crawls.  Today found 2 Airsoft gun pellets, one pen, several pieces of not-sure-what, the dog's ear, and a baseball.  And that's with a clean house.



    It's time for this mama to childproof.  *sigh*  Babies grow up way too fast.
    Father, thank you for the gift of Gia.  She blesses us in so many ways and brings joy amidst sometimes rainy days.  Please help me to find all the Airsoft pellets before she does, really.   In Jesus' Name, Amen!

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Almost a Teenager!

    We celebrated Ethan's 12th birthday this week!  Where has the time gone?  He commented that in one more year he'll be a teenager and get the "crazies."  He said it with a mischievous grin.  Yikes.  I'd better get on my knees!
    We started the morning with presents, first thing after rolling out of bed.  
    Favorite thing:




    William had to go to work, so the boys and I and little G went putt-putt golfing. Such a beautiful day.  A light breeze with sunshine: summertime perfection.  
    Ethan loves Domo 77.  We went there last year for his birthday, and I cannot help but think about the stuff-that-was-to-come that we didn't know was coming.  But God did.  He knew everything, and every bump in the road, every hard, life-changing day was overarched with blessing.  Ethan will never forget being 11 years old.  But he is moving on to 12, that mischievous grin filled with the promise of life.






    And tonight we celebrated his birthday at the Gryna's.  The kids had fun swimming, and we topped the night off with coconut cream pie.  Yum.






    Happy Birthday, Ethan!!!  You are LOVED!!!



    Thank you, Jesus, for my awesome son.  He is such a gift to us.  May you bless his year with a tender heart towards You, his Firm Foundation for the years to come.  Lead him by your truth and teach him, for you are the God who saves him.  All day long, may he put his hope in you (Psalm 25:5) In Your Name, Amen

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