A Big Day At Our House

Today was a big day at our house.    Upon arrival of my morning run, Addy greets me at the door jumping up and down because a butterfly had emerged from its chrysalis.  We greeted our new little friend and inspected the beautiful wings that were drying.  

I told the kids to get ready for the day because we needed to go get flowers for the bottom of the butterfly net.   In the hour that it took us to get ready for the day, we had two more butterflies come out of their chrysalises.   We have spent the rest of the day observing the butterflies in the various stages of opening and drying their wings, and to our surprise, they have a beautiful orange and black coloring on the top of their wings. 

As if the day could not get any better, I came home to four letters from our Compassion children in our mailbox!   I absolutely love these cream colored envelopes that are slipped in among the other mail.  They are our connection to a life in another part of the world.   A life that we are praying for and have come to love.  

It is always interesting to read what the kids have found to write to us about.   Sometimes it is just about the weather.   Other times, we get more information about them, and these are the letters I treasure close to my heart.  

Our little girl in Honduras asks Mark about his birthday and how he celebrated his "completion" of another year.   She asks about E and Addy's swimming classes because she wishes she could take a class like that.   She has received a diploma of honor for good marks in her class.   Asking about my uncle who has cancer, she says she has been praying for him daily and cannot wait for the letter saying that he has been healed by God.  (Which he has come through his treatments and is doing well.)  She continues to pray that God will make her dream come true, her dream that she can see us in person and give us a hug.   She knows that we have one dream in common. 

Our young man from India is a faithful writer with letters in our mailbox about once a month.  This month we got a letter and a thank you note from him.   He continues to pray for us daily and thanks us for the birthday money we sent him in January because he used it to buy clothes and bathing soap.  This makes him happy because he didn't have any.   My heart cries out for this young man and my prayers continue to go up for him as he is doing well in school despite the poverty.   I pray that he can beat the odds and make a life for himself. 

Our newest young lady in the Philippines writes to thank us for the letter of introduction and information about our family.   She asks us to thank the kids for their pictures they drew and to let them know that she thinks they are very cute. 

These letters bring a connection for me.   I know how much I look forward to reading them and to having them in my hands.   I am so glad that God has brought the seven young people into our lives.   Perhaps in the future we will make it to the six countries that they all live in so that I can personally give each of them a hug and let them know how much they are loved. 



Waiting.   Patience.  Neither of which I am good at.   I will often tell people I do not pray for patience.   I don't know that I am ready for the test of patience that God would bring my way should I pray for an increase of patience, a thought that truly scares me.

As I travel along the road of life, I know I have learned patience.   I see it in the way I now interact with my children.   Perhaps it is just getting older, perhaps is that I am s-l-o-w-l-y learning patience.  With patience, in my mind, is waiting.   I do not excel in this area either.   I find that as soon as I put my mind to something, I dive in and get it done.    It is just who I am.  You can ask Mark, the two times I was pregnant and had to wait for the baby to come,  those were eighteen of the hardest months of my life.   Bless him for staying with me during that time.   I didn't have a lot of the pregnancy symptoms that many women feel thankfully, rather it was a time in my life where my agenda did not matter.  The baby was going to come when the baby was going to come and it did not matter if I wanted it to happen on a specific date or time, I was not in control. 

Currently we are watching the life cycle of a butterfly in our home.   Mark's aunt gave the kids a butterfly kit with all of the tools needed to grow butterflies.   They have books, a container, and received the food and caterpillars last week.  This is the second time we have done this project, but it is one that I am just fascinated with.   Upon emerging from the egg, the caterpillar eats and grows so quickly, you can almost see the growth daily.   Then, as happened Saturday and Sunday for our caterpillars, they go into their chrysalis stage.  This is the part that intrigues me.  While in this stage, the caterpillar becomes a whole new creature.   The legs change, the eyes, change, the body changes, wings form.   They transform from the ugly (in my opinion) caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly.  

I have had the kids journal about the changes they see each day with the caterpillars.  Monday, Addy asked me what we journal this week while the caterpillars are in their chrysalis stage.   My response to her was "We just wait."

I have been thinking about my response to her because it is so easy for me to say to her "We just wait" because I know in seven to ten days we will have five beautiful butterflies to look at.   But I wonder, why I cannot convince myself to "just wait" while God is working in my life.  I don't want to be the ugly caterpillar that crawls around with limited opportunities.   I want to be the beautiful butterfly flying peacefully through God's beautiful creation.   Perhaps it is harder for me to wait because I don't know how long my transformation will last.   Life is a journey and I will always be changing and growing, but how long will it be for the beautiful butterfly to emerge?   Perhaps it won't be here on earth.  Perhaps it will.   Until then, I just wait.   Changing and hopefully listening to Him.


A Quiet Start

Like my gardens absorbing the morning rain, I am soaking up the calm that the rain brings to my soul.   While E and Addy play together, sounds of laughter coming from their side of the room, Pix is curled up beside me.   My book, within reach is today's agenda.   I am thankful for the quiet Monday morning. 


Cherished Moments

Yesterday my boss sent his son off to boot camp.   The pain that it caused him was evident on his face.   He has been talking about this day for three months, knowing how much he would miss his son.   This man has invested greatly into his children which is evident from the stories that he tells and the places that his children are now at.    When he walked into the office yesterday, he commented that it was a hard morning at their house and said, "He is gone."  Next he looked at me and said, "Spend every moment you can with your children, the time comes so fast when they leave."  

This is not the first time that I have heard these words, but yesterday was a fresh reminder.   God has given us a gift in our children.   As a parent, my responsibility is to love my children, teach them life lessons that will prepare them for the future.   Through the ups and downs of my children growing up, I have come to embrace each moment.   The struggles and the bumps build the relationship just as much as the fun and goofy moments.   I understand that now, even though it is not always easy.  There are so many times where I find myself in a moment with my children where I want to soak up the moment and never forget it.   I pray that there are many more moments like this in the future. 

As I think about these words, I am reminded that each person in my life is a gift.   There is no guarantee for tomorrow.    As I start my day today, I am thanking God for the loved ones in my life.  


One More Run At It

The third week is here.   Already.  I said I needed three weeks, and my how they have flown by.  It is hard for me to believe that two and a half weeks ago, I was crossing the finish line feeling excited, exhausted, overwhelmed, and many other things.   Things that I don't know if I will ever be able to put into words.   What caught me most by surprise was the let down the next day.   I had thought the feeling of accomplishment would be huge on Monday.   I expected to feel proud of crossing my first finish line.   What greeted me Monday morning when I opened my eyes were tears.   Why tears?   As a multitude of feelings washed over me, I had so much to think about and to process.   All of the hard work and energy in preparing were not in vain.   I felt ready for the run.   It wasn't that I was not pleased with the results.   Rather, the preparation, anticipation, and run were done.  The feelings of "Now What?" resonated so loudly within me.  

In the days that followed the run, a common question was "Are you going to run a marathon?" to which I can honestly answer, that at this point, I have no desire to run a full marathon.  Another question was "Are you going to run another race?"  That question didn't have an answer.   I promised myself that I would take the three weeks of "recovery" to process my feelings, put my running shoes on again, and see how everything "feels" again. 

Those three weeks are nearly up and in this time, I have found that I have a lot more confidence in myself.   During training, I would cut a run short because I didn't think I could make it one step further.  Now, I know the truth, there is nothing in the training that I cannot do because I ran 13.1 miles.    I am becoming comfortable running by myself.   During my training, I was blessed to have my dad by my side for most of the time.   He was a constant source of encouragement whether we were out for 30 minutes or for 10 miles.   Since the run, I have taken some time to run on my own and get inside my own head and now know that I can do these shorter distances on my own and I am building confidence in myself.  I faced the fear on Sunday night that I could stop running and training without a blink of an eye, or at least that is what I felt that particular night.   Monday morning found me running hills, listening to podcasts, and glad that I had taken the time to run.   Can I just give it up?   I don't know.   I like how I felt when I was running, I liked that I was doing something good for my body.

To back track a little, on Sunday night, my mom brought a book back to me that I had given her to read.   It is a very inspiring book about a young man who has accomplished much in his life so far.   With many Olympic medals to mark his achievements, he wrote a book about his training and his inspirations.   His book is titled "Zero Regrets" as that is his thought process when he is training.   When the training gets difficult, he reminds himself that he wants to complete the trainings and do his best so that when he lays down to sleep at night, he can look back over his day with no regrets.   I kept reminding myself about his book when I was preparing for my run.   This book found its way back to my desk.   I have not put the book away yet as I keep pondering "zero regrets."

I ask myself, if I didn't run again, would I regret it?   If I didn't give running another chance, would I wonder what it would feel like to run a race when I knew I could do it.   The answer to both of those questions, I found out this morning, is yes.   My dad mentioned to me in April that there were a couple of options for another half marathon run at the end of the summer.   At the time running was hard, I wasn't sure I enjoyed it, but somewhere deep inside me, I knew at that moment, I would most likely be running another race at the end of the summer. 

Today the decision has been made.   The date is on my calendar again, and I am going to run another half marathon.  I think.  I say I think because it feels so new, and I wonder if perhaps I may change my mind.   This morning I had the same butterflies in the tummy feeling as when I committed to the first run.   With a few tears in my eyes, I called my support group and asked them if they would be there at the finish line.    With a resounding yes, the decision has been made and I am going to run again.   I have heard that the training will be harder this time but that the run will be easier.   So, with a nervous excitement, I look at the calendar with anticipation of what the next nine and a half weeks will hold for me.


Our Back Yard Project

When we began tearing out bushes in our back yard, I had no idea that it would take us almost two years to finish the project.    Now, we are nearly finished, just putting some finishing touches.   We have promised each other that we would not purchase a lot to fill the patio until we see how it lives, so there will still be more additions, but for now, we are excited about the results and wanted to share them with you.

Here is the progression starting in July 2009:



September 2010, the first day of 4th and 1st grade.  

June 2011.   End of 4th and 1st grade. 

I look at these two pictures taken nine months apart and see tremendous growth in my children.   Not only physically have they grown up, but they have made huge accomplishments this year.  

E, by recommendation from his teacher, explored different genres of books and actually (to his surprise) enjoyed some of the books that he read this year.    He also completed his commitment to the crossing patrol even in the middle of winter with the sub-zero wind chills, and has put his name in to be a patrol captain for next year.   With perfect attendance, E navigated the waters of friendship ups and downs, learning what makes good friends and deciding when someone was not a good influence in his life.   His teacher, along with Mom and Dad, saw the potential in him, challenged him, and he held up to the challenge.   He played flag football and master diving in swimming lessons.  I could not be more proud of my "little man" than I am today. 

Addy stepped into going to school all day without a hitch.   She loved being at school all day and the ability to eat lunch at school.   She made some new friends and worked through some of the difficult situations of playground happenings well.   Her attitude towards homework and reading were stellar this year and it shows in her improvement to a third grade reading level and as her teacher said to me last week, "a head for numbers."  Addy's handwriting is excellent and she even challenged herself to learn cursive even though according to E, "you don't even learn it until the end of 2nd grade."  In swimming lessons she greatly improved from being afraid to put her head under water to swimming in the deep in without a life jacket.  Addy is motivated and pushes herself to learn, I am so proud of her and what she has accomplished in nine months. 

Both of the kids have done well this year with my work schedules as it created changes in their lives too.   I was not as free to help at the school in their classrooms as I have been in the past.   I have missed a lot of the end of year activities and field trips, which is the first year that has happened.   With positive attitudes and understanding, they have been troopers through the year of transition for our family.   I am so thankful for them and cherish them.   They are great kids and becoming great friends. 


To Just Be

It is mid afternoon now as I sit here with a Diet Pepsi in one hand and the love of my life sitting next to me.   I have been in the same spot now for almost six hours when he asks me what I am thinking about.  

As I look out over my gardens, I am able to honestly say that there is not a thought running through my mind at the moment.  Sure I have said that in the past three months, but perhaps it was something I was thinking that was not ready to be shared, or perhaps there wasn't enough time to have the conversation.   Today, however, there is nothing running through my mind, it is calm.  

The noise of the past three months which consisted of statistics, schedules, training-both work and marathon, and the kids' school, have for the most part gone away.    As of Friday I am again working only two jobs, which is a much better balance for our schedule.   The kids are done with their tests and homework because the final week of school consists of mainly fun days, as it should.   One week ago today, I completed something I never thought I would be able to do.   

Those noises are fading, being replaced with the sounds that are like a healing balm to my soul.   The wind blowing in the trees causing my new wind chime to create a beautiful melody.  Birds joyfully singing as they splash in the newly cleaned bird bath.   A baseball is being caught in a leather glove at the park behind our house.   

Today is the first time in a long time that I have been able to just sit.  Sit, without the nagging feeling that I need to be doing something or going somewhere.  Sit, without having to say anything, think anything, process anything.  Today I was able to sit and just be.