July 30, 2010

then. now. still.

A few weeks ago I shared one of my favorite books. After I wrote, I lingered in the pages of happiness. Items I starred or marked with a smile... little notes jotted as a way to remember. As I leafed through, I saw... that the girl who wrote in this book then has grown up. Twenty years, and all that comes with those years, will do that for a girl. There are things that made me happy then, that make me laugh and think you didn't know anything.
Making a tape of favorite songs. Silly putty. Hope chests. Spinning pennies. Shooting a whole roll of film in one day. Collages. Glass slippers.
And there are entries I skipped over that must not have meant a thing to that oh-so-young heart.
Thumbprint art. Proudly wearing a wedding band. Saying grace. Kids' imaginations. The head-for-the-beach-anyway plan. Camden soup. Teaching by example.
And still. Oh, there is a lot of that girl still in me. That makes me smile and know... that I am still a dreamer.
Beach scenes. Accepting a compliment. Handwriting. Someone who looks right at your eyes and smiles a huge sweet smile. Rainbows. Those moments that go beyond words...
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July 28, 2010

see you soon!

I have saved up a few words, to post while I am away... so that you might remember me while I am venturing off to be a world traveler for the very first time. I finally decided that I am leaving the computer home... as much as I would like to be able to send you instant stories. Reality is... I know I am going to need time to process it all, and I am hoping the long flight home will provide the time I need! When my heart and mind are so full... the words oftentimes tangle themselves into knots. But... I will be scribbling in my notebook, capturing moments so I can share it all with you when I come home.   And Suz suggested I take a photo or two...

Tina... I love you. You are brave to let us go... have faith that we will be home before you can blink.
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July 27, 2010

one

With one day to go, I'm not quite sure why I said I would go to work today... but I guess I will. For a little bit at least. It will keep me from packing and repacking. And tossing in just a few more things. And wondering if I should re-think not bringing the computer.  Since we have been home from New Orleans, my living room has been all about packing four duffle bags for Africa.   I keep staring at them... a bit overwhelmed. 
But I know... my camera is ready for the trip... a stack of memory cards and a few pounds of batteries keeping it company for the journey.  And a fresh notebook... blank pages waiting for memories to be recorded.  Nothing fancy... I just want to be able to scribble down thoughts as they stampede through my head.   I want to remember every minute we are there.  Every minute. 
My mind can't quite grasp the fact that we are one day away from the trip of our lifetime... eleven months flew right on by.  I'm not quite sure where the time went... but I am so excited that the time is now

The time has come.
The time is now.

I said GO and GO I meant...
The time had come.
SO...
Marvin WENT.
-Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss

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July 26, 2010

the love for this city

Perhaps there are not many who say I love New Orleans.  But it is truly one of my favorite cities.  The wild side of the city, Bourbon Street and all that happens there, is a mystery to me... and maybe what I know (and love) of the city, is a mystery to most everyone else.  But I see its heart, have felt it beat.  I have seen it take in mobs of teens, and watched the city be covered in the love of Jesus through those young hands.  New Orleans reaching for love, receiving it... and returning it.    The city was honored to host our group, and so thankful for 25,000 lime green backpack toting teens... who put their heart into 90 different service projects.  On the last morning of the Gathering, the mayor stood up before us and was overwhelmed by the standing ovation he received... perhaps not realizing that New Orleans had given as much as it had received. 
I loved sharing the city... with my daughter... and seeing her faith blossom here,  just as mine had.  And the precious gift that Jesus gave to me... the gift of sharing something so powerful with my girl.  Not just the gift of growing faith, but also the memories of the where
For us two, New Orleans oozes the sweetness of Jesus...   

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true beauty

I was grumbling as we headed out for our Servant Event, knowing that what I really needed was an attitude adjustment. After two days of the walking and the heat, my body was tired and longed to be in the chilly air of the Convention Center. And then... our bus was an extra mile away. I could have cried.
We arrived at a beautiful park just north of the city... and although I felt embarrassed that our bus driver mentioned that he could not afford to live in this particular area, I was relieved that our project really was landscaping. Attitude adjusted, we set to work.  Digging out and adding dirt... smoothing the surface and the pine straw.

Whenit was announced that the plants had arrived, Laura escaped the dirt and thought she'd help over at the truck.  My daughter is not necessarily known for her hard work... but there she was, with a couple of boys, unloading a million camellia bushes and some crepe myrtle from the back of the truck. With a smile on her face. She just kept on dragging those plants down the bed of the truck and going back for a few more, and I was quite impressed with her effort and the commitment she felt to the project.  This is why I came. 
After three hours... and a gallon or so of sweat, Eric & Laura were by far the dirtiest of the bunch. And all I could see was the beauty of their hearts shining through the muck and glistening beneath the sweat.


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July 23, 2010

by my side


Knowing that I had built up my expectations for the Youth Gathering so high, I tried to knock them down a bit. But with my daughter by my side, it was nearly impossible... and she was the best part of the gathering for me. The way her pen scribbled across the page during the bible study... trying to jot down every bit of Jesus she could manage. The way she danced with me during praise & worship... raising up our arms together, for joy and to praise His glorious name. The friend she was... to our group and anyone else that we came in contact with.   Seeing her faith in action.

It was my dream to share this once-in-her-lifetime event with her... and for the dream to become reality? Oh, God is so good. And now... that the dream has past... I hold the sweet memories in my heart. Forever.


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July 16, 2010

a day early

I can hear the water rushing into the tub... and he has disappeared with a diet coke and a bag of gummy colas. His birthday bath... a day early, he declared. And I laugh... because oh, I love him.
I am so thankful for the man he is... the way he cracks me up and provides for me. The way he loves me around the world and back... even when I am less than pleasant. The way he loves this family we have created. At almost 41 he has, with God's guidance, made a life that he loves.
And we can't help but to love him right back. 

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart...
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July 15, 2010

time to breathe

Rushing around, adding to the piles, checking the lists... I can feel the breath slipping away from me and the craziness settling in. With the afternoon storms predicted early, I mentioned to Eric that I'd love a trip to the beach... just for the sunset. And this good man, who doesn't love the beach, and perhaps saw the desperation in my eyes, made it happen.
Walking up over the boardwalk I caught the scent of the salty air, and felt the cool breeze that doesn't seem to exist here from June through October. The sparkling blue sea came into view and together with the breeze, coached my breathing along with the waves. But I know who spun the breeze and I know who controls the tide.   Sand between my toes, sea foam splashing up around my ankles... and the breath of God all around me. Such a combination draws the craziness from me, and casts it where it belongs... away.


Cam played at the shore with me while the other half of us stretched out in the sand with their books. Seeing them up there, seemingly content, the compromise is right before my eyes, and I am thankful for the way he indulges me.   The way he knows what I need, and finds it in himself to provide it. 

Forty minutes... just beyond lot three... and it seems... I can breathe again.

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July 13, 2010

we believe

Saturday we will meet before the sun shows its face... and journey to New Orleans. Eric and I are bringing four youth from our church to the the LCMS National Youth Gathering. Nine years ago we took four other teens, and my life was changed forever. Since then, I have had this bit of a dream tucked into the corner of my heart... that I would someday accompany my own children to this amazing event. It was just a flicker of a thought and I didn't quite dare to believe that it might come to pass. But God reminds me again and again that no dream is too big, too outrageous for Him to give life to. And here we are, packing for this trip with our daughter.
As we have prepared for this trip, I have held back my heart just a bit. What if I set my expectations too high? What if this trip doesn't begin to compare to what was? I don't want to be disappointed. And then... I remember who leads me, who loves me, who longs to make my every dream come true, who wants to banish my fears.
I don't expect this experience to be the same, and I'm not even sure it can be better... but I am looking forward to whatever God has in store for me. Not for a moment do I doubt that He has something amazing waiting just for me, just as He has for each person who will gather in the city for the event. I remind myself that in order to get the most out of something, you have to put all you possess into it... so I break the hold that doubt has placed in my heart, and lift my hopes way up high.
I might as well meet Him half-way.
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July 12, 2010

a visit... overdue

I suppose it wasn’t enough that I had to make two round trips to camp last week, equaling over 16 hours in the car, because then…. we drove to the Florida Keys.  Eight more hours… just for fun. It was really beautiful, driving along… the sky just seemed to melt into the sea, leaving me wondering where one left off and the other began. If we had had all the time in the world, I would’ve asked Eric to pull off the road so I could dip my toes into the beautiful blue… but I just wanted to get there, and stopping along the way would've been time out of our visit. Because we didn’t go just for fun… we went for family, too. Eric’s cousin Pam and her girls were on vacation. I say Eric’s cousin, because she is… and I feel funny calling her my cousin, because the connection we have is so much more than that. She is a friend… a very special and dear friend. One I would drive to the ends of the earth for.
The summer visits started ten years ago. That just brings tears to my eyes. Ten. Wow.
Summer would mean meeting up for some kind of adventure...  giving the kids time to play, and the Moms time to catch up and visit.  But the past couple of years we have missed out on a summer visit, for one reason or another.  Last weeks’ was short on time, but not on laughter or love. We had to marvel at how the girls had grown… taller than their Moms since the last time we stood all together. We had to laugh about temper tantrums, and take time to be thankful that those years have passed us by... and of course, just when we needed it, the Free Bag was nowhere in sight.   It was good... just being together and seeing for ourselves that God has us just where He needs us to be, and that everyone is a-okay.  The hours flew... and just before the sun set, we headed for home.  There might have been a tear or two when we said goodbye... but our hug seemed to promise that there wouldn't be so much time separating this visit from the next. 

What is the Free Bag? Perhaps a story for another day…

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July 10, 2010

full.

The house is full. Tonight when I close my eyes, I will fall asleep knowing... that everyone is right where they are supposed to be. Adventure Boy is home, all in one piece... all tanned up and perhaps an inch taller. From growing? Or from just being on his own, knowing he's got it all together? Maybe both.
My Mom said that my blog has been emotional the past few weeks, and two people I love think it is my mission to make the tears roll. Maybe. But the fact is, my heart is full to overflowing. I think of my kids and all that sumer has already brought them... and I get teary. My mind can't help but race to what summer has left in store for us... and the tears can't seem to keep their hold. I reflect on the love that comes my way, again and again... and those tears never had a chance, eyes too full to keep them back.
Full.
Life, heart... home.
I couldn't ask for more.
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July 09, 2010

while you were sleeping

I peeked back, as we raced on forward, world whipping by at 75 miles an hour, and there you were... sound asleep. I was thankful your eyes had given up the scenery for rest... and couldn't resist dragging the camera from my purse. Sleeping boys make Mamas think. And dream. And remember.
The scar on your cheek, that has been there since day 2. I thought it would fade.  But it hasn't... not in four thousand nine hundred-something days.  And speaking of a million days... five thousand days ago?  I wasn't sure how I would love a boy... a son.  But from the instant I held you, I knew that God had taken care of all of those fears.  All those, and more.
While you were sleeping, my mind raced through the last few summers.  The days we've spent apart... the adventures you've experienced on your own... how much you have grown.  Oh, you have grown.  From stocky little boy to a stretched out young man... and with every inch your body has grown, so has my love. 
Four thousand nine hundred-something days later... and I wonder how I could have ever wondered how to love a boy... and I'm so thankful you've taught me things I never knew I never knew.
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July 08, 2010

reunited

I'm not even sure why he brought them to camp. And I can't for the life of me figure out how he forgot them in someone else's truck after the key scene/almost fiasco we had at the gas station... but he did. So the keys to his patrol car went to Seaworld... while we came home, which made it a tad tough to go to work. But luckily the sheriff had a back-up plan...

Cool, huh?

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July 07, 2010

a visit

This weekend, while we were so far from home, we decided to push ourselves a little more and take a peek into the future. It seemed silly not to, being only an hour and a half away... and the visit would need to be made at some point. Might as well go the hour and a half today rather than make the whole five hour drive on a separate occasion. And so we found ourselves on the campus of Santa Fe College... at the teaching zoo. We sat in the car as the rain poured down and my insides squirmed at the thought of how quickly two years will fly by. But excitement, and the crowing of peacocks, pushed the uneasiness aside with the rain.
Our zoo guide, armed with her book of facts, led us through their little zoo and gave us just the appropriate time to ooo and ahhh over the animals. We asked her questions about the zoo program and she happily answered and shared how much she was enjoying it and how afraid she was to enter Section "D"... reptiles, snakes and alligators.
I have a feeling we'll visit again, maybe officially.  If Laura wasn't already in love with the prospect of zoo college, which she kind of is, the ocelots just may have clinched it.
Driving away, the sky opened up again... and we were thankful for the dry hour and the peek into what might be.
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July 06, 2010

two gifts wrapped in one week

Typically, summer means that the kids are off on a little trip with Eric's parents... and Eric & I have a week or two, just for us. This time, Eric & Cam were the ones away... gone to camp, and it is was just us girls.  It was a week I will never forget. A week I always want to remember. While I try not to focus on the time that is slipping through my fingers, the fact that I cannot halt it, or even slow it a bit, never wanders too far from mind. And so this week, during which we played and worked together in harmony, has been a gift. A true and beautiful gift. 
Another gift wrapped up in last week?  Having the privledge of watching my daughter interact with the kids at the horse therapy camp where she is working.  Each day she comes home covered in paint and dust... and totally exhausted, her heart overflowing with joy.  I can see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice... she is the one receiving the gift, though the time she gives is a gift to the program.  My own heart feels so full... so happy that she gets it.   It may be better to give than to receive... but when it comes to giving your time, your energy and your heart... the gift you give fades from sight and the gift you receive is all that matters. 
One week... two gifts.   Beautiful, beautiful.
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Linking up to Emily's Chatting at the Sky on the Tuesday...

July 05, 2010

the weekend

We logged 647 miles in the car this weekend. If we had a choice of how to spend a holiday weekend, this would not have been our first choice. Or even a close second. But it was the only way to bring him from here...

to here. Week two of Cam's summer camp adventure.

Maybe it wasn't our first or second choice... but the only choice we would want to choose. It gave us almost 24 hours of being together, the four of us.  We heard the stories of Boy Scout camp and white water rafting and four merit badges earned (if there had been fish in that lake, he might have earned 5!)  Just being four again was worth the miles.  Add in the two giant hugs from my son?  I might have driven 'round the world and back...
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July 01, 2010

verbs

We stepped in the door just moments before the sky opened up and the storm began raging... and we watched through the window as the streets filled up and puddles grew deep. Inside, safe and dry... there was quiet chatter and the whisper of glaze-laden brushes scraping over bisque. Thinking. Creating. Spending time with my girl. And now we each have a new vessel for tea.

It is now my new favorite mug... full of verbs. A to-do list of sorts.
Dream. Smile. Give. Believe. Pray. Encourage. Kiss. Love.

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