Five Minute Friday

I have been following Lisa-Jo, on her blog for awhile now and have been intrigued by her Five Minute Friday.   She gives a topic, of which you write five minutes on, without editing or over thinking.

Hesitant to give it a try, here is my first attempt. 

On Friends



You have been there from the start, and how lucky I am that you are in my life.   I do not take for granted that not only are you my mom, you are one of my best friends.  As I have grown up and become an adult, you allowed me to become my own person.   I am the person I am today because of your love, support, and friendship.   I appreciate your help as I navigate the stages of motherhood, thank you for being the example for me that you did not have. 

To my sister, I remember the nights we would lie awake in bed, sharing secrets, joys, hurts, and struggles.   I remember holding hands as we would fall asleep each night.  We are grown up now and despite the ups and downs in life, we can still share secrets, joys, hurts, and struggles.

 To you both, I hope and pray that this continues as our journey in life continues.    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship.  I love you both.


If you would like to join in with me visit here.  

At A Loss For Words

I open the mail box, flipping through the mail before pulling it out of the box. I am delighted to find the cream colored envelope, blue text on the front, bringing news from our friends around the world. While opening the envelope, the guessing game begins, which little life do we get to learn more about today? Does this letter contain pictures, or perhaps a bible verse?

The envelope is open, the suspense is over.... Ahh, I was just thinking about this one. I scan the letter first, look at the beautiful drawing, then read it again a second time, absorbing the words on the page. The routine is always the same. I read a third time, not wanting to put the letter down as it is my connection to this life, this child. So much joy floods into my day on "Compassion Letter Day."

Yesterday, it was different. The correspondence from a far away country brought news that Mother and Father had split. The child and Mother are now living with the grandmother.

"Please pray for strength for me and my mother
as we now live with my grandmother.....
My brother is good. I miss my Father."

My heart is breaking as I hold the letter close to my heart. How I long to wrap my arms around our child, to whisper in the ear of the love that I have inside for this hurting one.

Mark asked me what I am going write in the next letter,.... I just hope that the words come soon and that I can put them into a letter that will cross country lines, cross cultures, and translate while still expressing my deep sorrow at the new life circumstances and that no matter what...

"I love you."


Another Destination

Rome, Paris, London, you name it, I am ready! My bags are packed!

It is my desire to travel the world someday, to experience and see different places and cultures. Mark and I have talked about visiting Italy and the food and architecture. I would love to go back to Switzerland, taking Mark with me, to see the majesty of the Alps against the blue sky. To experience an African safari, seeing the animal that I have grown up seeing in zoos, running in the open is mind blowing. We have also talked about visiting our Compassion children which would take us to countries like Indonesia, Philippines, and Honduras.

I don't know if our life will ever allow us to travel to the places that we dream about, however, there is one more place that has been added to my wish list of destinations.... Mexico. I would love to see the migration of the monarch butterflies to Mexico.

One morning this week, while on the treadmill, there was a documentary on the television about this migration. I was not listening to it, rather looking at pictures as they flashed across the screen. The life of a butterfly intrigues me as I have written about a little here. For me the transformation from the caterpillar to the butterfly is such an amazing metamorphosis. From "ugly" caterpillar, to colorful butterfly, or, being confined to the ground, perhaps even one plant, to a few weeks later having the ability to fly across the continent seems to be one of the ultimate transformations to me.

The closest I have come to this experience was a couple of summers ago when the Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo had the butterfly garden exhibit. Yes, I did go to both!

To walk into a habitat built just for the butterflies, was so peaceful and soothing to my soul. It didn't matter that there were forty to fifty other people in the exhibit at the time, I didn't even notice. I was transported to a different realm, one where it was just the butterflies and myself. Butterflies floating through the air, resting on shoulders, hats, bags, even hands. It was like a little peace of heaven on earth for me.

When I saw the video of hikers visiting the areas of Mexico where the Monarch Butterflies migrate, I knew, in that moment, that Mexico was added to my list of places to visit. Image so many butterflies filling the air, flying together, meeting up at the end of a great journey to warmer climates. I imagine is an awesome view and a place filled with peace.

Photo from http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/2007/june/news_11893.html

Photo from http://idiosynchrony.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/the-butterfly-clock/

Photo from http://standeyo.com/NEWS/10_Animals/100330.butterflies.battered.html by Chip Taylor


Allowing Creativity to Flow

Today I found something that has caused me to pause, think, and ponder.   My thoughts are not all pulled together yet, which is usually when I blog about something.   But today the thoughts are not settling as easily as other days, so I thought I would put this out there and see what you think.  

In one of the blogs I was reading this morning the author talks about her confession as a Type A mother trying to raise her daughter who is not programmed the same way she is.   Rather than my summarizing her story which she has so eloquently told, please see her post here

I find that I relate to her story of the schedules, asking her daughter to get everything done before play time, in fact from the moment they get home from school, there is a "to do" list.   Even if I am teaching piano, they know the list, or I leave a note with everything that needs to be done.   This is how I live my life, I am a planner, a task oriented, finish one thing-move to the next, type person.  

But I wonder if I am pushing my children into a personality style that they are not.   Both are very creative.   If there is down time, Addy is drawing, painting, making clay models, or in some imaginary world that she has created with her dolls and stuffed animals.  E is programming, inventing, creating, and dreaming up computer programs or videos.    When they have their own time, I am amazed at the things that come from their creativity!  

I wonder though, where the balance of getting homework, music practice, chores comes in and letting them have "their" time.   In past experience if I haven't reminded, left lists, etc, things don't get done.   Is that because they know I am there always reminding, always talking, sounding like clanging cymbals?  If they had their own time, would it all happen as this blog author talks about? 

This is the balance I am contemplating today.   I doubt I can or that it will change overnight, or even this week.   But for today, it has given me food for thought.  

How do I maintain life where tasks are accomplished as they should be while letting my children have the space to get them done with the creativity that they have? 

If you have thoughts, I would love to hear them. 



Long before the alarm was set to begin our day, I find myself awake.   The house is quiet and peaceful, nothing out of the ordinary in that realm.   Rather, a deep sense of gratitude and awe has pulled me from my sleep.   

Before the sun has even begun its climb in the eastern sky, I am on my knees attempting to put into words the feelings that are overflowing inside of me, but they fail.  Words cannot describe the feelings.   I take comfort in the fact that He does not need them anyway.   He knows. 

The tears sliding down my cheeks in the quiet morning hours could have so easily been tears of grief but, because of Him,  they are tears of relief.   Had any of the circumstances changed just a little, it could have been a very different situation.   This time, I do not believe it was chance or luck, rather it was His protection, and for that I cannot say "Thank You" enough.


Putting Up Walls

One of the chapters we read for small group this week is about plans and whether it is easy or difficult to stick to plans or agendas.   My first gut reaction is, "I love plans!"  I am a task oriented person who thrives on plans.    Give me a goal or an objective, I will create a plan to accomplish that.



What's next? 

But wait.  

There is more to that question isn't there?  What happens when the goal or the objective is not something I am all that excited about fixing?  Oh, that goal. 

Well..., then that is a different story all together.   If the goal is something I am not excited about fixing, then the cover up begins.  What if upon examining my life, I find God pointing to something I really don't want to work on?

But God, don't you see that I am working on this....

And over here, God, I am making huge progress on this issue right now! 

I am too busy working on these other things, (these things I want to be working on) that I can't work on this right now.   Maybe the next goal or agenda we can work on that together ok?
This morning I had a conversation with one of my children about being receptive to help, especially when they have asked for the help.  Putting up walls when need for improvement is pointed out, is not asking for help.  After a very pointed five minute conversation that ended with "something for you think about today," with backpack on, the trek to the playground begins the school day.

I don't like to send my children off to school that way, it doesn't make me feel good, and I know it probably doesn't make them feel good.  But unfortunately, those mornings happen.

I headed home with many thoughts spinning around in my head.

Did I say the right things?

Did it make sense?

Did I say too much?  Too little? 

In the middle of the processing, loud and clear, was the question, "What about you?

Why is it when I have been struggling with something for a long time and keep asking for advice, upon receiving the advice completely ignore it?   For seven years!!!   For seven years, I have struggled, prayed, asked for advice, never changing my responses. 

Last week in a conversation with my Dad, and me asking for his advice AGAIN, he looked me in the eye and told me enough was enough.   It is time to change.  It was direct, it was to the point, and the message was loud and clear. 

Because I was STILL balking at the idea of change, I asked my mom, "Do you think Dad is right."



This morning, I realize I have been doing the same thing as my child whom I was talking to this morning.    I keep asking for advice, receiving help, and putting up walls. 

Why?  Because the change is hard.   It is unlearning habits that have formed and refocusing the energy in a positive way.

It doesn't matter that I am working on other things to improve my life that I want to work on, now I have to work on something that God has been telling me for years, through my parents and even through Mark, that I need to work on. 

As I type, I think back to the one walking to the playground with a little less bounce in the step, and I now understand.   It is not easy to change something that we don't want to change or that comes naturally, but we have been requested to change,

and the journey begins today.


Little One

You have made your appearance...  
With Little hands...

Little feet...

And So Beautiful.

I knew you would be perfect because you are a gift from Him.
How fortunate we are that He chose us to love you. 



We are waiting, bated breath, for your debut. 

Anxious to hold you, love you, know you.  


An Easier Way To Connect

If you know me at all, you know that I am very passionate about our family around the world.   My children reside not only in my home in Minnesota, but also in Honduras, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Mexico, and Kenya.   These children are in my prayers each day and I love communicating with them.  

I was just telling Mark this weekend that our two children from Mexico had, after two years of correspondence, finally asked us a question about our lives.   I have heard over and over again that this takes time because in different cultures, children may not feel comfortable asking questions of adults, or perhaps they don't feel they know you yet, and are hesitant to ask a question.   We finally received a question from each of them, and being so delighted in these questions, I responded right away to their letters.

The first question we received from our 15 year old young lady in Mexico asked how God had/has transformed my life.  Wow!   What a question to answer!  This young lady has a heart for God and longs for all of her friends to know God.   In each letter she asks us to pray for her friends that don't yet know God.  

My answer to her question, which is at points tested quite a bit, is inner peace.   I am learning what it is to have inner peace.   It is easy to say I have that peace when everything is going along just as I had planned, but when something is brought into my life that I didn't anticipate, or that I didn't want to happen in that way, then that peace is at times tested, but each day, I look to God and continually ask for that peace. 

Our second question was what does our rainy season look like.   Our almost 12 year old young man in Mexico has been going through the rainy season, but he is glad that his house is safe from the waters and he does not have to worry about the waters reaching his house.  However, he has to "take care that he does not get sick."   I love the tidbits of information I gather about his life in a question like this.   The bond that I have with him has just become stronger. 

I explain our winters here, of which I don't know that he can comprehend, and about the flu season that we also take precautions to not get sick.   I explain our "rainy" season is in the spring when the grass and trees come out of dormancy and begin to show life again, which is one of my favorite times of the year.  

With each letter that I write to our children, I try to include a picture of our family so that the kids have an idea of what is going on in our lives at the time of the letter writing.  I have received many letters thanking me for these photos, more than the small items I send with the letters at times.  

To my friends who are Compassion sponsors, I don't know if you have seen this yet or not, but communicating with our children just became easier!   I logged onto the Compassion site this morning and found that e-mailing your child has become so much nicer.   We can now choose a stationary to send with our letter

And also, (my favorite part) add a photo!!

I cannot wait to write a letter with these new tools!   I hope you feel the same! 


A Birthday Celebration

We celebrate another year of joy and smiles as our darling Addy is about to embark upon the eighth year of her life.   This year the theme was fashion. 

We started with a fancy hair do.......

We traveled to Andover for a special dinner and the celebration.  

After opening presents, there was of course a fashion show.

The cake.... decorate your own cupcake.

There of course was a lot of fun and playing with cousins.

Despite all of the attention on the birthday girl, there is another special person that we celebrated this weekend....

How lucky I am that I get to call him Dad and that my children have him as their Apa.  

To my special birthday people, I love you both!


First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Bleary eyed, before my first cup of coffee, I am opening facebook this morning to see what is, as Mark says, going on in the world of facebook.   As I scan through the status updates of friends from the night and very early morning.   I pause at what is more of a question than a status update as a friend ask on this Fall-like morning, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life, what are you going to do for Christ's sake?" 

An initial thought popped into my head and I almost responded to this friend with that response, but as I had not yet had my coffee and it was only six in the morning, I wanted to wait to answer until I was fully awake and ready to commit to what I might say I would do for Christ's sake today.  

Our morning routine took me away from my computer and away from facebook, but the question was hanging around in my mind as I was getting ready for the day.   In our rush out the door this morning for a before school errand, we jumped in the car and took off.   As is our custom, I hurry hurry hurried in order to complete my errand with time to spare, so we sat at the school for twenty minutes before the kids could be at school, not needed to be at school, but could BE at school. 

E asks, "What are we going to do now?" 

I know, I know son, I have caused you to hurry and now we have to wait...Again....Thank you for being patient with me, I think to myself.  

What I did during that time was to share with them something I had read yesterday morning that I didn't get a chance to share with them yesterday:

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.   I'm an open book to you; 
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.   
You know when I leave and when I get back; 
I'm never out of your sight.   
You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence.  
 I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead 
and you're there, too-your reassuring presence, coming and going.   
This is too much, too wonderful-I can't take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?
   If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there!   
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon,  
You'd find me in a minute-you're already there waiting!   
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! 
At night I'm immersed in the light!"  
 It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, 
darkness and light, they're all the same to you. 
(Psalm 139:1-12 Message) 

And then I read this to them: 

Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.
Thank the miracle-working God, His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos, His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations, His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light, His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day, His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night, His love never quits.
God remembered us when we were down, His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot, His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need. His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all! His love never quits! 
(Psalm 136: 1-9, 23-26 Message)

I looked up from the reading and said to both of my children, "You are loved."  

Addy responds, "And His love never quits."   

Of course this brings a smile to my face.   

I told them they were loved by God, by Daddy, by Mommy, and by grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and friends..... they are loved and deeply loved.   

If you have seen the movie The Help, you will understand the reference point of my next statement to E and Addy.   Looking at their beautiful faces, I said: 

You are loved
You are smart
You are important

Aibileen tells Mae Mobley that she is kind, she is smart, and she is important.   Living in a house where her mother is preoccupied with her social life, Aibileen tries to instill a sense of purpose in Mae Mobley.   

If today is the first day of the rest of my life, for Christ's sake... My response has not changed from my first six a.m., pre-coffee, throught...

If today is the first day of the rest of my life, for Christ's sake, I want my children to know that they are loved, deeply.  Not only by Mark and I, and their extended family and friends...

I want them to know that they are deeply loved by a God who created them, and loves them so much that He is everywhere they are and that he won't let them be alone for a minute.  


Another Season

Fall is here, and I am reminded that it was just last year that I truly came to appreciate this season with its juicy peaches, delicious apples, and the beautiful colors in the foliage.  This year they are predicting it to be one of the best years for color, and I cannot wait! 

It has been two months since I have been here, and I have missed blogging and writing about thoughts and events going on.  However, I spent most of the summer enjoying my children on a whole new level.  I have to say, I think this is the first year that I was not ready for them to go back to school. 

This summer, E explored film making, programming, magic tricks, and working in a CAD program.  He is exploring and learning things way beyond my comprehension, of which I am totally thrilled about.  Addy, E's ever loyal assistant, was filming, watching E practice magic.   When she was not at his side, she was learning logic puzzles - of which I cannot keep enough in front of her, and building with LEGOS.   They both spent the summer immersed in books and have read though a record number of books.  Overall, it was a summer filled with discovery and learning!

I intended to run another half marathon in August, but the heat in July along with a busy schedule got the best of me and I ended up not running.   I feel OK about it though as I managed to still get some decent runs in for the summer.   I am back to exercising at the gym and as I tend to do, have a new goal in place.

With the start of school and our fall schedules, I am excited to hopefully have a little more time to blog as we have a big year ahead of us with a new baby coming anytime and a wedding in May!