One to Remember

Summer is winding down and school is just around the corner.  For the first time in years, I will be returning to school with the kids.   Honestly, I have never been excited for the start of school, I love the time with the kids and the relaxed schedule.  This summer has been different though.   As Mark put it, it is one that if possible, I would put it in a bottle and keep it on the shelf, never to forget.   Our summer was full, like most every summer, but it was a different kind of full.

Full of Family.   We focused on family time this summer, with a family vacation, Mark taking many days off of work, and I was able to be home everyday with the kids this summer.   Mark and I had a week together while the kids were at camp, it was like a second honeymoon.   The time has been good and much needed coming off a busy school year last year.

Full of Relaxation.   There was no agenda this summer.   As much as I tried to put myself on one at the beginning of the summer, it just didn't happen.   I realize now, I needed it, deep down at a soul level I was parched and exhausted.    I feel rested, revived, and truthfully I am seeing the difference it is making in my life. 

Full of Books.   I have spent the summer reading.   I have read a record number of books this summer, taking me to different places, learning about different people.   It has been a fun way for me to relax.  Perhaps I will have to share about some of the books that changed my life in another post.

Full of Change.   I ended my ten year career as a piano teacher, one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.   We are getting ready for middle school, years that scare me, not because of who my son is, but just because of what those years are in a young person's life.   We have a young daughter who desperately needs to be stimulated and challenged, which is proving to be a challenge for this mom, but I am excited about some new opportunities for her.   Mark continues with school, and we are looking at that addition of busyness to the normal busy schedule that reigns during the school year. 

The summer is over, and yet, I am not depressed.   It has been a very, very good summer.   A gift of time and family.   A time of relaxation and rest.


Blogging For Compassion

As you know, I am very passionate about the children we sponsor through Compassion.  In the month of September, I will be joining other Compassion Bloggers as we blog about Compassion International and the sponsorship program on a sponsorship push.   The goal is to get as many children sponsored between September 1 and September 30th.

There are three ways you could help during the month of September.

First, if you have been considering sponsorship and you take the opportunity this month to sponsor a child, please do so through my blog.    There is a prize for the blogger who brings in the most sponsorships,  spot on one of the 2013 Blogger trips.   This has been a prayer of mine for a couple of years now, and I would love to join other bloggers, visit a Compassion Development Center and see Compassion working up close and personal.

Second, if you sponsor a child and have a blog, consider joining us as we blog for children in need.  

Join the Compassion Blogger Network

Third, please pray for the children who are waiting for sponsors.   The children waiting for sponsor constantly pray for a sponsor.   I hope and pray that this month the prayers of many children will be answered through the blogging community as we share the mission and vision of Compassion and child sponsorship. 


For the Love of Music

There is a new obsession in our house. Well, to say new, I should say that it is new within the past year. When the obsession first popped up, I wondered if this was another passing fad, but alas, it is not a fad.   It doesn't surprise me, as he is following in his Father's footsteps.

I knew from the first day that I met Mark that the love of music ran deep. I first met him at a music event at work, and the first time we worked together, he was playing air guitar to Jars of Clay. Who could deny ,that this guy, who ran the music department at the store we worked at knew his music. I was always amazed when customers would walk in and the following conversation would happen:

Customer: "I heard a song on the radio and I would like to buy the CD with that song on it."
Mark: "Sure, do you know the name of the song or the band?"
Customer: "No.... But one of the lines was ....(insert random line from a chorus here)."

This conversation happened many times and almost always Mark would help a satisfied customer walk out of the store with the song they had heard on the radio. His music knowledge to this day still amazes me.

While he has a love of music, and when I say he can listen to most anything, he truly can. His music collection carries a little something in each genre. But his ultimate love, when it comes to music is a band he has followed since he was a young adult. He knows the band members, their likes/dislikes, and the story behind each person. He knows the stories behind the songs, the meanings of the lyrics, why the song was written, etc. He has seen them in concert two times, one of which I was lucky enough to attend with him. The band: U2.

E, following in similar footsteps has introduced another band into our house. He is learning the stories, the songs, the band members. There is a small picture of the band on the wall by his bed, and he is anxiously anticipating the release of their new album later this year. This is not a new band, I know some of their songs from when I was in school growing up.

I heard one of their songs on the radio one day last week. I quickly quizzed E on the song, playing him just a short clip from the song, which was released in 1994. Within just a moment, he had the band and the name of the song in just five short seconds... Basket Case by Green Day. Just like his dad.

On any given day when E thinks I am not within earshot he has Green Day music blaring from his iPod. If he is sitting in his room playing music, it is Green Day. While listening to music at top volumes is not always my favorite thing to do, and I often ask him to turn it down or grab earbuds, I know that he honestly can't help it, the love of music runs deep.

For E's birthday he received drumsticks with Tre Cool's signature on them.
(For those who don't know, he is the drummer for Green Day.)


When Becasue Doesn't Cut It

At three years old and his favorite word was, as is with most three year old children,  "Why?"  He used to ask that so many times that I would run out of answers and finally just have to say, "because" or "I don't know."  At eleven, his ever inquisitive mind is still asking questions.  The questions, still "Why," now have more thought and more words.  These whys require more than a one word answer, an answer with more thought and explanation.

The answer "Because" does not work in our house.   Not only does it frustrate the inquiring minds who would like to know more, it does not give them the skills to take a question or situation, gather information, analyze it, and come to a solution.   Because, when used alone as an answer, is often a conversation-is-over answer.   I don't want our children to be satisfied with just taking my answer.   I want them to ask questions, wrestle with different view points, and come up with their own understanding of the topic on hand.

Jason Mraz says in one of his songs:

Don’t dress up your children like dolls from your past
Or They’ll run from you madly, they'll never look back
And when they grow older, they’ll do just the same
The world’s a reflection of how children play

Failure to offer my children the chance to explore the world, expecting them to believe only what I believe and to understand everything and I understand it, creates a world of limitations and restraints.  I want to be open to discussions with my children.  Discussions where we both wrestle with and gain new knowledge.   Discussions that may end with all parties in agreement, but also with the possibility where there will be disagreement as the end result.

If I can create this environment in our home, where it is safe to come to different conclusions, then I feel we have succeeded.  Home is supposed to be the safe place where we can test out our thoughts and opinions because it is a safe place.   A place where love reigns. 
If you agree with me, you are loved.
If you disagree with me, you are loved. 
If you just don't know, you are still thinking about it, you are loved.
No matter what, you are loved.

Loving my children with open arms won't always be easy.   There will be days when it is easy to love, when life is going smoothly, and everyone is happy.   But there will also be days when it is hard to love, days when we don't understand each other.   Either way, if my children know that they can practice making their own decisions in a safe place, one where mistakes are acceptable and even expected,  and to think different thoughts, then they will be able to better make sense of the world around them.


Letter Writing Exercise

The summer has been pretty quite for us as far as letters from our Compassion family, but last week we received two letters from two of our children. One was from Citlali who is set to graduate from the program next year. I was watching the calendar sad that the time is so quickly approaching. As it appears, I was not the only one watching that, she mentions the completion in her letters as well. This letter is full of answers to the questions I have been asking. I am both sad and encouraged by this letter. Three years of corresponding and it finally feels like a relationship is building which is very encouraging but sad as the year will go quickly. I know she will do great things with her life. She has a heart for God and loves to share the good news with younger children. She constantly write about working in Sunday school classes or summer camps with children. She is reading Second Timothy and "wish(es) we could read it together."

In a letter from Mary Grace, she writes about how proud of E and Addy she is as they do well "in their studies." Continued thanks for the love that she says she feels, she says that we "inspire" her. Again, I feel the relationship forming with this young life across the world. While we celebrated our thirteenth anniversary yesterday, she celebrated her thirteenth birthday. It was a special day for both of us.

I haven't had and/or taken the time to pull a packet together for our children in a while. I have been writing faithfully and sending a picture here or there, but not like what I used to do. So yesterday, the kids and I sat down and got busy creating a fun mailing. I wanted the kids to share about their experience at camp. I asked each of them to write a letter about their week.

I assembled a craft project for the girls and baseball cards and notepads for the boys. E bought each of the kids, my mom's two included, a postcard from camp. I was so touched that he thought to remember them while away. Addy drew a picture. The packets are almost ready for mailing, I just have to write a letter to go with them.

As a side note, I watched both of my children struggle with sharing their week at camp in writing. E got very frustrated when his note was not what he though it should or could be and Addy finally chose a picture to express her week. As I watched these struggles, I have more appreciation for what our Compassion children go through, especially the younger ones when it comes time for them to write their letters to us. I imagine that the excitement of receiving a letter is far more fun and exciting than when they are asked to sit and write a letter to us. I am convinced this is a good exercise or practice for the kids. Definitely something I think we will do again.


The Gift of Time

Today Mark and I celebrate thirteen years of marriage.  To celebrate, we did something a little different than in years past. While the kids were away at camp, Mark took some time off of work and we spent seven days together, without kids. There was no schedule, we got to choose what we wanted to do each day. We played card games, went shopping for the kids' birthday presents, went to a party with friends, and watched movies.

The one constant this week was conversation.  We spent a lot of time just talking, connecting, and enjoying each others company without a lot of distractions. In a way, it was like a second honeymoon for us. 

This year our gift to each other was not something that was purchased or even made. I have a feeling though that it will be one of my favorite gifts we gave each other, the gift of time. 

 Happy Anniversary, My Love.   My life is so much better because of you.


Celebrating Another Year

Today we celebrate you and what you bring to our family. You have a tender heart always ready to love, to forgive, to accept. Your laughter is infectious, often bringing the rest of us to laugh with you, reminding us what it is to laugh often, deeply, and freely. You bring so much joy to our family.

Your passion for life and for learning is never ending. Inquisitive and curious, you are not afriad to dig in and learn something new. You keep me guessing as to what your next new endeavor will be and I love that about you. Your creativity and originality knows no limits. I hope you never loose that.

Happy Birthday to you, my son.


Church Camp

They are on their way.   This is the first year that either of them have gone to church camp.  The week was filled with preparations, many trips to the store, much excitement, and a little anxiety thrown in the mix.  

They left this morning, one is all smiles ready for a week away, one is a little hesitant. The house will be quiet this week without their laughter and bubbly personalities.  But I am praying that they will make new friends, come to know God on a deeper level, and have a great week away. 

As for Mark and I.  We have a week of vacation time with just the two of us, and I am excited about that as well.