September 28, 2010

virtual coffee (tea again...)

The family is scattered tonight... one already tucked in, another finishing up his homework, and someone else tuned into the tv. And then there is me, ready for a cup of tea to soothe this kinda sore throat. While the quiet is kind of nice after this seemingly long day, I am always up for a visit with friends.

If we were really meeting for coffee tonight I'd let you know first off that it is not strep throat, not contagious. It is sinus... again. I went to the doctor last week to head it off at the pass, but apparently I wasn't sick enough yet. Oh well, I am getting there.

If we were really meeting for coffee... I'd let you know that Laura looked beautiful in her homecoming dress, and had a great time with her friends. And while she was {not} dancing, Cam & I ran out to do a couple of errands and had a quick dinner together, just the two of us. I'm so glad he is content to spend the time with me.

If we were really meeting for coffee... I'd tell you that we have a free weekend coming up. Free, as in no band or concession commitments. I am going to try to get my fall decorations out... and finally stash the Easter ones away (they are not on display, just in a pile in the sewing room.) Truly though, I wish it was just a little cooler... so we could run away to some state park and camp under the stars. Hopefully it won't be too much longer.

If we were really meeting for coffee today... I might just gush a little over how my son was rockin' in his drum lesson today. It was cool. But then I'd probably get a little teary-eyed and tell you that I've been trying to work on his Africa post... and the words won't come. I suppose they will, in their own sweet time.

One thing I am sure of... that over coffee, there would be laughter, and living.
Because it is what friends do.
join me for coffee!


no matter what you're wearing...

It was a week full fun.
The kind of crazy high school fun that makes you reminisce and wander back to those days. Each day with its own madness... celebrating decades, tackiness and school spirit. And realizing that yes, she is a junior. Yikes.

But what I loved most of all...
was that no matter what she was wearing, from Wacky Tacky to Homecoming splendor, it was who she is that shone through and through.
Linking up to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky... because a smiling girl who knows who she is, is one of the best gifts a mother can celebrate.

September 26, 2010

waiting all year

I had expectations.
Blue sky, gentle breeze, family, friends... and the band.
Eric told me it was going to rain, but I refused to believe it. With each prayer I offered up on Friday, I included one for no rain. And I believed it.
I think I often walk a fine line between the two. But not for one minute was I going to doubt that my expectations would not be met. I couldn't... I had waited all year for this night.

Sometimes He meets you where you are... and sometimes I think He makes a way to meet me where I want to be. Because it was... the perfect night.
Hot and sticky, I climbed up the bleachers and found my seat, focusing on the very small patches of blue that peeked from behind angry gray. Leaning back, I felt it kick up... and saw the flag begin to wave in the breeze. That same breeze... it forced the gray off to the west. And I could breathe... and praise.
It would have been nice if the football team had won the homecoming game... or if the three bouts of rainy mist had stayed away. But my every expectation had already been met...
and if the sky had opened up and poured down after half-time, I would have just danced in the rain.

September 22, 2010

laura... in africa

She figured it out just a few bites into her dinner on that long ago candlelit evening... and her smile has been just a little brighter ever since. She loves animals, all of them... and is always up for an adventure. And this adventure, with her was... beautiful.

On our first game drive I remembered something I wish I had not forgotten... Laura's vision. Using the binoculars was tough at first, and while we could see most of the wildlife without them, I was always amazed at the detail I could enjoy with them. And so my Mom trained her... to use the binoculars. Covering her left eye blocked out the blurry distraction and she held the lenses steady with the other hand... affording her the views of a lifetime. My heart swelled at her accomplishment, and brought tears to my eyes when we saw that very first cat. And a leopard at that! And my despair over what she couldn't see became thankfulness over what she could. (I did have a breakdown temper tantrum in the Ngorongoro Crater over her sight again, but in just a few minutes it became incredibly apparent that God was holding us right in the palm of His mighty hand!)

Laura, in Africa, was a photographer. I loved watching her crouch and snap with a steady hand. I expected her to video away her trip, but instead she found her place, eye to the lens. She was the one... who gave me courage to get out of that jeep in the Maasai village, she and her camera.  There she was, surrounded by dark faces and dusty hands... and the beauty I saw in that moment,  these little children and her shining heart, encouraged me to break free... and eventually dance.  Coming home and seeing her photographs, Africa through her eyes, was incredible.  Her photos were breathtaking, at times, outshining both her Mother and Grandmother.

My girl headed to Africa with a hundred sheets of origami paper... and came back with just a few. At Shanga she shyly exchanged one for a beaded bracelet, and she continued folding almost everywhere we stopped. She tells me she has a running total of paper cranes, but I am guessing she has well exceeded her 1,000 goal. But why stop there? She folded for the little ones at Mama Anna's... and the kids were fascinated It filled my heart to see her hands whipping that colorful paper around, using her leg as a table to make the creases crisp. And the little ones! They clutched their new treasure tightly in the hand, toddling around and keeping it close to their own heart, and away from siblings hands.

Paper cranes continued at the Bashay Primary School in Karatu... and Laura, she was the shining star. She took on a teaching role, students and adults gathered around the desk and tried to mimic her swift hands. Laura would set her crane aside and catch us up when we got behind... and after I completed my first, I just enjoyed watching her. Her bright eyes and the love and care that shone from them. The principal came over and spoke with her... he too, was fascinated with her craft. Laura chose to leave her origami paper, at least the rest of what she had in her backpack, at the school, and we are getting ready to mail him the book... Sadaku and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

My girl, in Africa was... more beautiful than ever, beautiful to her very core. Though I kept her close to me, her independence was so apparent, along with her heart. When we were half-way through our adventure, she became quite chatty with our new tour friends... and it made us all laugh... truly comfortable, and alive... in this place that stole all our hearts. Every parent dreams of giving their children the world... and while this trip was a gift from grandparents... I am ever grateful for her to now have this bit of the world in her heart.
And to have experienced it right by her side, brings me quite far past tears... 


September 21, 2010

virtual coffee (or tea!)

Amy at Lucky Number 13 has invited us for coffee again...
If we were really going to meet for coffee today, I'd ask you to swing on by... the sun is glinting through the trees in the backyard and the sight always brings me joy. The breeze is kicking up, and even though it hit 90 degrees today, I think the humidity is down 1/2 a percent... kind of like the promise of fall.
Today, it is tea for me. I have scrounged the cabinets for something to satisfy the hunger created by this prescription of steroids (really swollen sinuses) and after the stale oreos, tea sounded sweet and delicious. And it is... especially out of this mug I picked up in the Amsterdam airport. Oh, I fell in love with the tulips and the blue delft in the first few minutes of the ten hours we were there!
If we were meeting up today, I'd tell you how I started on Laura's homecoming dress... and it is looking beautiful! I am almost done, and I hope to finish it before Saturday... you know, when the dance is. I am hoping against hope that the fiasco of a football field will be approved for Friday night's game... it has been a strange marching band season so far... but I never tire of hearing that cadence and watching them take the field. And most of all, I am looking forward to sitting with my Mom in the stands... because I am missing her like crazy.

Today I'd tell you that I watched Dancing with the Stars last night with the lowest of expectations... and I ended up loving it, texting back & forth with a friend... laughing the whole time. Perhaps this season will be better than the last... but truly it is more about the fun of sharing notes with a far-away-friend than the dancing. Thank goodness for Tivo... that cute little guy helps me keep up on my tv obsessions.

If we were really meeting for coffee today... I might remind you to really live in every moment with your kiddos... the time is flying right on by and I am noticing that my baby is almost as tall as I am. I wonder if I even have til our December birthdays before I'll be looking up at him. I am so thankful he is still willing to hug me everyday...
Till next week, friends... thanks Amy, for inviting us for coffee (or tea!) and sharing this real life together.

the spinning thoughts

I often consider that life is a puzzle... each piece has such a purpose, connecting one part to another, creating a beautiful story. My thoughts have been spinning... in just such a way that pieces I didn't know I had spread on the table began to fall into place. Knowledge, answers... faith. Most of all, the pictures that are appearing have me amazed, and gasping for a bit of air to breathe... not sure I would even be here in this place if I had not listened to His urging and started the 24over24 challenge. As I have created a routine of readings... from a few different sources, I have found beauty and a new layer of faith working in me. Only God could run these books together, words that could be part of one larger piece, spread through...

On the day I gave in to my fear of joining this challenge, Dawn wrote about being still... but she also wrote about the Israelites being led out of Egypt, through the Red Sea. And what hit my heart? Their hopelessness and despair, and how the despair continued even as God was making a way. A big thought... for this small heart. So how do I realize that and make it not so in my own life? Answers poured out... and I am learning to thank God in advance for answers that I cannot yet see. I praise Him now for what I cannot see and by faith, thank Him in advance because I know He is trustworthy. Pieces... fitting together.

Like so many, I have followed Ann Voskamp through Guatemala, and through rivers of tears, all the while with a tug at my heart. The miracles, the living quarters, the situations... our God at work in such corners of the earth. Seeing less... and letting it work in my own heart. And Kristen's project for Africa... and how it is changing her family's life, how He is changing them. And my own, very different trip to Africa, knowing that my heart will never be the same.   I see myself in the mirror... and recall that freedom I felt while I was there.  Free from a closet full of clothes, or a pile of shoes to choose from... free from caring about my hair, instead loving the rush of air that whipped in into a fury... His breath.  It is hard to bring that home... now surrounded, again,  with so much.

And all of a sudden I know. I know the reason I didn't want to take the 24over24 challenge... what caused the fear to bubble up inside me and make my heart shiver, just at the thought of spending time with God.  I'm afraid... that giving Him a larger part of my day will have consequences.  I'm afraid... that He might call me to do something big. Something I might not want to hear and won't want to do, something that might make me uncomfortable beyond belief, or cause me to grow. Honestly? I'm pretty comfortable right where I am. Even though I have seen such changes in myself over the last few years, I have not come through those growing times without first fighting it tooth and nail. How many times, I have just chosen to shut out His voice?  But now I wonder... how much longer can I sit and pretend not to hear?

Kay commented the other day that she loves everything about Kristen's story... and mine. So amazing how God works so many things together into One Story. The tears came again, and I can feel it all piecing itself together, this one story, His story. So I spend my time with the God of the Universe... and try to listen for his voice with more than half my heart. Hoping and praying that His plan for me will start out small, that I can do something in small way... but accepting that he just might have another plan.

The spinning thoughts... they have slowed, but not retreated. 

September 17, 2010

the africa necklace

I have worn it every day... I find myself reaching for it, feeling the hammered surface and the shape of the cross under my fingers and it brings my heart back there.  Nakumpenda, or nakupenda... I love you.  Yes, Africa.  I love you.  And Mom... I love you, too. 
It all started while we were talking to a German woman at the beautiful Tloma Lodge. She was just beginning her African adventure, and we grasping tightly to the last few hours of ours. I noticed she had Africa around her neck… and I couldn't keep my eyes from it.  The thought of having Africa around my neck made me smile, and I hoped that I might find something similar. 

Once we arrived home and I was catching up on this and that… I saw something my friend Wendi had posted…

I was instantly in love, and began digging all over Kristen's blog, because what were the chances of Wendi actually winning? I had already read some of Kristen’s trip to Africa, but I had not seen the necklace that her husband had created for her in honor of Valentine’s Day and her own trip to Africa. After finding out all I could, and waiting a few days to see if Wendi had won, I contacted Kristen… It's so funny that you would ask about those necklaces! This is still a secret, but our family is partnering with Maureen, a Compassion Leadership graduate, to open a maternity home for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. We just formed a 501c3 and are making the necklaces to benefit the home.

I ordered two… one for my Mom, and one for me.
Kristen's husband made them and they were shipped faster than I imagined.  And in the waiting, I could barely talk to my Mom… wanting to shout it out and keep it a secret all at once. But then… the necklaces were here, and I was hanging mine around my neck and admiring it in the mirror and knowing what I had really known all along… that when my Mom opened her gift she would cry rivers of tears.

Tucking mine away in my pocket, I shouted hello from her door and then fell into her arms, relieved that I could place this gift into her hands… knowing that it was such a small thank you for the adventure of a lifetime. She pulled the ribbon and it unfurled gently onto the counter, then lifted the turquoise lid and then the cotton batting… without a clue to what might be waiting beneath. Seeing the chain first, she lifted it from the layers and then she saw Africa… and crumbled. The tears did not sparkle in her eyes and she did not smile at the gift… rather, there was a heart-wrenching sob that came from deep within, that kind that takes your breath away because your heart is filled with so much love that it actually hurts a little, and tears that ran rivers from her chin. I love it.

I knew she would.
Later than night, there was an email...
 I more than love my necklace........I'm going to have to find something to go with it when Laura and Cam get married.
And then I had rivers of my very own…


September 16, 2010

so much

Cinnamon overcomes my senses as I walk in the door and I know... that he has been to Publix and brought home my favorite it-must-be-fall treat. The cinnamon broom. I follow my nose and seek out corners until it appears, and quickly send him a text You are the best husband ever. And he is... to me. Such a simple gesture and he probably can't even fathom how much it means to me... this week especially.

This week has found me on the brink of tears more than once. More than a few times. There is so much on the inside... and the thoughts are getting mixed in my mind. I want to grasp each thought as it spins on through... hoping not to send even one off to neverland, because while they are big and deep thoughts, they are mine... and I think that there is a purpose to their spinning. I scribble and sort, and sigh with relief when the phone rings, setting me free from my own self, and it is good to focus on something else... someone else.

I will get to where I need to be... I will sort and organize my mind... but oh, it seems a bit easier when the scent of cinnamon fills my senses.

linking up to Dayle's Simple Pleasures today... because it is the little things in life that make me smile, help me to breathe just a bit easier.

September 15, 2010

the building

It has been ages since the sight of a backhoe or bulldozer could elicit excitement from the passengers in my car.  There was a time when eyes were glued to the scenery just hoping that those earth movers would appear... and once one was spotted, it would be announced with glee...
Mulch maker!
But those days... they have passed.  Or so I thought...
After years worth of months have passed, permits have been pulled, panther studies have been completed... and our church is building.  And just like that... the little boy excitement over tractors and such has come full circle and spilled over all of us.  Land has begun being cleared, outbuildings have been demolished... and with each driving by of the property, we squeal with excitement and wonder at the progress. 
This past Sunday we celebrated the Ground Breaking, and as golden shovels full of dirt were turned, the church sang and prayed and praised God.  The visions of what is to come is overwhelming... and beautiful.
We have built the church... a community of people who have come together over almost six years.
And now... we will build our place of worship.

All who follow Jesus all around the world!
Yes, we're the church together!
The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple
The church is not a resting place, the church is a people!
And when the people gather there's singing and there's praying,
There's laughing and there's crying sometimes, all of it saying:
I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!


September 14, 2010

virtual coffee

If we were really meeting for coffee today...
I'd offer you some of my cake (although, it is a good thing you are not really here, because the cake is... gone!)  You would have to listen to me babble on and on about how I got to making this cake in the first place, and that it was supposed to be pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting... and how Publix hasn't received their pumpkin yet.  Thanks to Corinne, and my dear husband who happened to buy apples this week, I was still able to create a touch of fall here in still-very-warm-and-muggy Florida.  I could tell you that the cake is supposed to look like this... but you can tell from Corinne's version that is isn't.  Oh well, she & I texted and laughed over it for a bit... and her recommendation to make the glaze really thick was brilliant!  But I got carried away with the almond extract. 

Oh, you noticed my necklace?
I love having Africa in arms reach, and just over my heart, which is still overflowing with my journey. I want to tell you more about it... and how I really bought two, but I need to save that story for another day... when the emotions won't totally overwhelm me.  What I can tell you is that by purchasing the necklaces, I supported Kristen's new project, Love Mercy.  She & I have both been touched by Africa... and God has called her to do something big.  She & her family have started a maternity home in Kenya (and part 2.)   If your heart feels called to help, she has some really pretty things for sale, not all in the shape of my heart.

I would tell you that this Marching Band season is already taking a toll on me- but through the exhaustion, I love it.  Bring on the band, and the concession stand and the chaperoning and the making of healthy snacks.  Oh, and the football.  I guess you can tell where my passion is!  Even as I am loving this year and trying not to wish it away, I am really looking forward to next year... when both Laura & Camden will march together! 

I really need to go to the grocery store.  I'm pretty sure that I never made it last week, except to look for the pumpkin.  My husband had picked up dinner stuff over the weekend, so on the nights we were actually home, we did cook and eat.  But lunches?  It was pretty slim pickin'.  Laura usually heats up some rice or noodles and brings them to school, and Cam buys school lunch every day (ick)... but I like a really good lunch.  At work, lunch is a big celebration, or as big as it can get with just four of us.  But today it was pb&j for me... and I was surprised that it was actually quite tasty.  If I don't make it to the store tonight, I guess I know what tomorrow's lunch will be. 

Amy, thank you for this time to chat and share... coffee with friends is such a nice way to spend the afternoon!
join me for coffee!.


the same page

The weekend was full of weariness. Late nights that were unavoidable, days that were brimming with activity. All important, nothing that could have been set aside for another day. I wish I could have set aside some of the words that spouted from my own mouth...
Mothers and daughters... not always the easiest of relationships. Sometimes it is really good, and sometimes... oh sometimes, I wish we could just avoid each other and be happy about it. But I pushed her this weekend. I pushed her to accomplish tasks that were far from her desiring, and far too long overdue for my liking. And she pushed back... like a real teenager is apt to do.
Sometimes I think my kids are not real teenagers, but there are days when I receive my reality check.
But yesterday was a new day. Almost. At least it was a new day after the sun came up. Before that? I just might have had some words left in me that I should have kept to myself.
So yesterday afternoon was a new day... and as she & I sat together in the bathroom ready to fancy-up her hair for her high school open house and her first chorus performance, we smiled together.
How do you want your hair?
Just regular.
Or... I kinda miss my...
Spiky hair?
I was thinking I kinda missed it too.
And there we were, giggling over finishing each other's thoughts, and being on the same page. And it felt good, after a weekend that was dashed with struggles. The giggling continued, along with the little details of her day... and I could not help but linger in the goodness of us, mother and daughter.
It is an everyday gift... a gift that might have been overlooked, if not for the uneasiness that prefaced.
 A Tuesday kind of gift.
And thankfulness abounds.


September 10, 2010

this sentimental girl

Tucked away, safe in a miniature cedar chest... there are treasures from another life. Treasures that speak of the girl I was then, and the dreams she held for tomorrow. Golden graduation tassel, Class Day program, concert ticket stubs, a high school journalism award... and a ring.
She came home with the ring packet... excitement wrapped around her face, already putting her style to work on the pages of the catalog. These rings are not inexpensive... but we had already put her off one year. And a Mama's heart wants to give her everything she can. Delving deeper into the price list, I notice addd-ons galore... but I tell her to pick out her dream ring... and then we'd go from there, perhaps cutting off options to make it a bit more affordable. She smiles back agreeable, and I am thankful. The price is still a bit mind-boggling... and I wish I could tell her someday some beautiful man is going to bless her with another kind of ring, and this one will be tucked away, a treasure from another day. But I won't. Because that is not fair to a sixteen year old's fantasies.

After inquiring about a friend's idea, I found out that the company will recycle a gold class ring... for a fairly significant amount. So I dig into this box that contains memories and slide that gold over my finger one more time. I loved it then... and I kinda love it now. But I know... that the chances of me donning it every day, or ever again, are so slim. And wouldn't I give so much more than this to make her smile?

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