A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fair papers are in!!!

Whoo-hoo!!! If you a 4H parent, you know what I am talking about! If not, let me tell you! All five of our kids are active in 4H, and it is something that they all do year round. Well, fair is coming in July and every thing the kids will enter (or might enter) has to be registered so they can enter it. If they don't write it on their fair papers, then they cannot enter it, even if it is something they finish between now and then.

So, we spent four hours last night going through their papers, the fair program and everything to get it all listed. Whew. Two of the children's papers were two to three pages long, listing everything they have been working on or will be finishing up. And of course that means that we have a list of things now that have to completed between now and fair time!!!

All the entered animals have had the required shots, have been registered, have their tags or whatever. They are being worked with regularly, will be trimmed up as the time gets closer, and I think all is sort of beginning to get going! So, drawings are being done, paintings being done, and posters made. I insisted that the kids all do an educational project, so they are researching.

I am just relieved that things are now all turned in!!!! Yay, it is all out of my hands and that large job done!

Quote to remember

"In the end, the battle against oppression stands or falls on the battlefied of hope....[Oppression] knows that the primary reason we do nothing is because we have lost any hope of making a difference. It is not that we lack power, compassion, courage or knowledge. Rather, we lack a sense of hope that allows us to take what we have into the fray....our lack of hope keeps us from the front lines of engagement. And our absence makes [oppression] look stronger, compounding our own despair and that of those who might otherwise be prepared to fight....it is hope, more than anything else, that we need."

- Gary Haugen (Good News About Injustice)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial day!

Today is a day to remember those who have served our country, those who have gone before us, also. Well, I didn't visit my dad's grave today.

Let the collective gasp subside.

I loved my dad. He was and is my prince. My husband is very similar to him, and I am sure that this is no chance of fate. I obviously sought (finally) a good and safe and reliable and strong man, and then I married the poor guy!!! I am grateful every day for the example my dad set of what a husband and a father should be. I see it in my husband and am grateful for that too.

But, no one can ever live up to the man that my dad was. Fair or unfair, that is the way it is. You know how you are at 12, as a girl? Your dad is still superman, he is still Daddy, and you are still his princess. Well, that is the age I was when my daddy died. So, for me, he is forever that man. I never got to know him in his full dimension as I would have if he lived. I never lived through the times of only seeing his mistakes, of feeling like he was old-fashioned or didn't understand me. But on the other hand, I never got to know him fully, as the real human being he really was. So, how can anyone live up to what I have in my memory. They can't and it has taken me years to understand that, and that what I remember is not the total reality. But, that said, he was an amazing man.

My dad came from a family with five children, he was in the middle somewhere. His mother died when he was 17 and his father remarried a woman with five children, so that makes ten. They were a farming family, they raised chickens, and they had a feed mill. I do know that. So, there was hard work and lots of it. I know that my dad got into some sort of trouble as a teenager, which he overcame. I know that my dad entered the military and traveled far from the small town of Seymour Wisconsin. I know that he was a supply seargent - but am not totally sure what that means except that he had to be responsible. I know that he served between the Korean and Vietnam wars so did not see action (thank God). I know he was in Italy for a time. I know that he came back and entered college, the first of his family to do so. I don't know if they understood why he wanted to do that. I know that my parents married following my dad's graduation, and that my mother also graduated. I know that my dad was concerned about being able to provide for his family, and at that time the pill had just come out or he would not have married. I know that my parents went out to Arizona to live so my dad could get his doctorate. That was totally unheard of in his family. I don't believe that any of his immediate siblings attended college (the five bio children, I am not sure about the step-siblings). I know that my grandfather was very proud of him, and that my dad loved his family fiercely. I know that my dad was a devoted father and husband and took great care and pride in his family. I know that he loved me no matter what, and wanted the best for me.

So, why didn't I go to his grave today?

Not because it is far to drive, though it is about an hour from where we live.

Not because I didn't think of him often, because I did.

Not because I don't still love him and still miss him, because I do.

But, you know what? He isn't there.

He is not there under that ground, even though his earthly remains are. He is gone to heaven to be with our Lord. I know that for certain. I know that at that place, at the cemetery, the only thing there is the headstone with his name on it, and I don't have to see it to remember him.

I could go there to show respect, but would it matter? I don't think so. He never wanted to be buried, to have that headstone, to think of his family coming to such a place. But, at the time of his early death at 44, it was too painful for his father to think of cremation or no burial. And my mother understood that, and knew that all those things at the cemetery were for the living, and my grandfather needed that. It didn't matter to my dad anymore, and he would understand anyway.

I know that every action I take plays out my dad's legacy. I am his legacy, and is my brother, my mom, my children and my brother's children. I do try to live out life as he would have been proud of. I think he would look at what I have done, and while not approving of everything (not like I approve of everything I have done either!!!), I think he would be pleased. I think he would be happy. That is his legacy: that I follow my Lord, that I love my husband and children, that I strive to make a difference however I can, big or small or whether anyone sees or not. I think that lives on for him.

So, today, to remember him, I lived my life. I loved my husband and children, I made meals, I washed laundry, I laughed with the kids, I helped Zeri fly his kite, I applauded Kiley's accomplishments, I snuggled a tired Solly after a hard day of play, I tried to speak to Alex's character, I laughed with Faith as she played in the water. I spoke kindly to my husband, tried to make him laugh, worked alongside him, and prayed throughout the day.

That is my memorial for my dad.

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman titled "With Hope". I linked the song with a tribute to his daughter who was killed in an accident this last week, but it also speaks hugely to how we grieve with hope. As Christians, we know that we will see our loved ones again. We grieve with hope. And it is such an amazing song, I need to get the cd it is on.

So, With Hope, we continue to move on, and remember our loved ones.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Please pray

Please pray for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. Word is just now getting around that his youngest child was killed in her own driveway, her older brother was backing up and didn't see her. I am just heartbroken for the entire family. They are such advocates for adoption and the Christian community, and have an organization Shoahanna's Hope, (I don't know if I got the spelling correct), that assists families to adopt through grants. They gave us a grant that helped with some of the expenses of our adoption, as they have done for many other families. Please, please keep them all in your prayers, I cannot even begin to comprehend the agony they are all going through at this point.
Thank you,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

blah, blah...

I am hoping to truly settle my brain down and write some tonight, but at the moment I just want to vent my feelings. For once, generally in a good way! What a gorgeous day it has been, and it has been just wonderful. Zeri is now another year older and we had such a fun time for his first birthday in the US. It was fairly low-key, but he really enjoyed it. We had his favorite foods - the chicken for sandwiches is cooking along with Dad's famous fried potatoes! He got fun presents, unfortunately we were not able to find anything from the soccer team Arsenal, but we got two posters of his favorite players, so I think that made up for it. Maybe I just didn't know where to look, I am totally clueless about this! It was low-key, but Dad even stayed home from choir and was able to work from home, so we have had a real family day!

I got to sit with my littlest one, Faith, for a while and that was a real joy. She is so easy going, so gentle and so easily pleased that I don't often get to love on her as she is usually in demand by someone! I love being a mom. I love being a mom to my kids!! What a great job!

Well, off to dinner, though Steve is cooking most of it! He has to do some computer work tonight, so if I am still awake, I hope to write, but this sinus infection has truly kicked my butt and I may be down for the count again! LOL!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An amazing one...

I wanted to post this blog that someone just did. It is amazing.
http://gillispiefam.blogspot.com/2008/05/adoption-heart-of-gospel.html Take a look at it, and read it through. It puts into words what it means, both on an eternal perspective and a simple perspective.

I have been struggling to put into words why I have such a passion for adoption and why I do feel that it is so very biblical, and even got into trouble last night when I frustrated someone with this very same conversation. I was not able to be very clear and was way to emotional to make much sense or be terribly logical. But in the end, this person said, "When it is enough?" and my response was, "Never!".

I do truly believe that. Until I am dead, it is never enough. There must be one more thing I can do, one more life I can touch, one more thing I can do to share the love of our God. It is never over. I do want to end my life exhausted, sliding in to the end, saying "Wow, what a ride!". I am more worried about how I feel about the chances I had to do something, and didn't. I am reading "The Waiting Child" by Cindy Champnella (which is amazing by the way, and I highly recommend. And if you do read it, be prepared to sob or want to throughout the book, but it is so wonderful!).

Anyway, she stated it clearly, "I'd come to realize lately that the real regrets I had about my life so far were not about all the bad things that had happened but all the good things I could have made happen and didn't."

We have so much. So very very much. It is wasteful and sad and wonderful. And today I enjoyed my children enjoying life and each other. All five of them. Had you had your eyes closed and not been able to hear the accents or language differences, you would never have known that they have been siblings for only nine months. The love that I feel for all my children is unique to each one, as each one is so very unique. But it is so strong, whether they grew under my heart or in it. Today was wonderful in that I got to really enjoy being with them. Through mundane things, I was still their mother. When the sweet Chinese waitress at the buffet (we all love Chinese) asked if I was mother to them all, I was able to proudly say "yes". She asked if they were all my babies. I know what she was trying to ask (she is learning English too), but yes, they are all my babies, even if I did not have the privilege of holding all of them as babies. I know that their birth families loved them, I can tell that by the exuberance in which my children love me. And all my children do. It is amazing what God has weaved in this tapestry, and I wouldn't have missed a moment. Not a breath, even at the most frustrating.

For that is what love is, that is what family is. No matter how it is made.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

What a strange Mother's Day it is indeed, here at our house.

My mom is in the air on the way home from Arizona, finally, thank God! And my step dad and dearest Grandma Jean too! But they won't be in until late today, so no Mom visit. We hope to make up for that tomorrow, but today, my oldest daughter, Kiley is ill.

With diabetes on board that makes for an even wilder ride than the usual vomiting and what not. So, I have spent the night on the couch with her (it is getting harder now that she is older), not sleeping much, but watching her, dozing, checking blood sugars, making sure she wasn't too hot or too cold, in general fussing over her. Following sanitizing the floor that was liberally "blessed". Thank God also for hardwood floors - people think I am crazy for not wanting carpeting - believe me, that was something that would NEVER have come out of carpeting. This way I know that it is disinfected and all cleaned up with not a trace left!!! LOL!

So, the rest of the crew is off at church which did allow Kiley and I to rest some, a nice bonus and I didn't have to worry about entertaining anyone or working to keep things quiet so Kiley could rest. They will be back after a couple errands after church, along with Ethiopian food!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!! That is a big celebration here! Thank you so much Anna for thinking of asking us if we wanted anything when you went to Milwaukee - which has the nearest Ethiopian restaurant!!! I understand my husband is loaded down. We will soon be in a state of gorged delirium after consuming that wonderful treat. Zeri and Solly don't generally miss it, they love basically most foods, but what a treat it is! I truly am planning on learning to cook some of the items, and need to order the spices and stuff. The hardest part is the pan to make injera, but if we ever get to Chicago I hope to buy one. That will be priceless. I love the stuff.

Take a look at this blog and post for today it is priceless: http://gillispiefam.blogspot.com/2008/05/happy-mothers-day.html.

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Changes to the blog!!!

Hi again,
I was looking at the blog and realized that the links I put up could not be fully seen, so could not be accessed as the ends of the addresses were not on the screen! So, I changed the template, and it seems to be better! You know me, too many words! Let me know what you think, if anyone reads this!!!

HIV orphans

Hi again,
After that informative post previously on HIV - that I copied to pass around - with permission, I found this great blog and have subscribed to her newsletter. Here you go!


You know, some of us have been talking about the need to minister to the "least of these" and while some people believe that I have "rescued" my adopted sons, I have found that I have been so very blessed, beyond the measure that I have invested. What are we called to do? How are we held back by fear? How much fear is real? What are we called as Christians to do? How do we be the hands and feet of Christ? And we are all each different parts of the body. Hmmmm.....

Anyway, check out this great blog - they are trying to work to help HIV+ orphans be adopted into loving homes and to raise the level of education regarding children with HIV. In all honesty, one of my sons was orphaned by AIDS according to what we have been told. There are many many children in the world who are in the situation he was in. Most do not have HIV, but because of the stigma in their home countries, they live on the fringes. It makes me sad. It makes me sad that there are so many children without parents, and so many families that would love to raise them, but the great costs of adoption stand in the way. It is ridiculous, but it is what it is. Can we come together to remove these barriers? What can we do? What part can you play in this? I challenge you - somehow see what part you can play, even if it is praying or befriending families who have adopted or are adopting. Or coming alongside children in need wherever they are.

Loving homeschooling and adventure!!

Today is a great day - after a week of a lot of busyness, we are home all day today! Lots of the basics of household care to catch up on, but time for us to slow down a bit and not "cram" everything in! I will have to take a photo of our new schedule board - it had to be something that could have lots of changes, as our life always seems to. So we made this great board (thank you so much dear hubby!) with clear pockets so I can move our little cards around for what we are doing! Today, it is a lot of schoolwork, but laying out our "goals" really helps us! I keep my chores going as we do things too, since of course laundry can be going while I am teaching. And it gives everyone a break to go out and hang laundry!!! LOL! No one complains!

I also posted a new ad, we love notebooking, each child creates something that is meaningful to them, and it is unique to each child. I love the website that I listed as it really gives me good ideas.

You know, I just have to really give thanks right now. I have had the experience of looking back this last week and seeing how far we have come, how many things that had seemed to be just dreams are now realities. There are so many things to be grateful for: my big van (hooray, finally!!! It seats 15, but we took out the last seat - still gives us 11 seats and we have room to haul backpacks, books, musical instruments, animal feed - right now there is a spinning wheel back there!!!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!), my noisy crew of five kids - at times I just cannot believe that they are all here, that I am honored to be their mother!, my wonderful husband who is patient and kind and puts up with my and all my crazy ideas, our country acreage - we dreamed of land and a country home for so long, and now we have been here nearly two years and are nearly true farmers with the animals (dairy goats, pygmy goats, sheep, horses, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits) planting new pastures and expanding current pastures for our animals. Not too long ago all of this seemed to be a dream only. A wild hope that maybe someday we could do this! I was so afraid that our kids would be grown before we could move out of town. And now they are learning so much and growing out here so well.

God has been so good to us. He very clearly states that we must ask. I am not at all good with that - He's God, he should know the desires of my heart, shouldn't he? Of course, but like any good parent, usually we wait until our children ask before we unleash some of our blessings upon them. There is something special about the asking.

He also has our best interests in mind, even when we don't see that. He can see the big picture, we only see a tiny part. He can see the dangers that might come if something particular happened. I have been struggling again over something that happened about sixteen years ago at a difficult time in my life. It was stupid, made no difference, but I was turned down for a plum job that I thought was mine, because the interviewer remembered me wearing jeans to the interview! Let me tell you, I DID NOT wear JEANS to the interview!!! I had a very nice and fancy pleated skirt and matching blouse, new shoes and all, things that I could not afford at that point in time. The added insult to injury was that a girl in my grad school, who came from a very wealthy family, got the job! I have been mad and hurt about that for years, even though I got a job working in the schools, doing great things, and it led to several job offers after graduation. But I was so hurt about the injustice of it! I finally last week begged God to help me to let it go!!!! I just wanted to be done with it. Wellllllllll, following finally asking God to take it from me, I found my thoughts going to all the things that might have happened had I gotten that job. I might have stayed there in Washington DC following graduation, which would mean that I wouldn't have my eldest son most likely, I would most likely not have returned to Wisconsin, in which case I would not have become reacquainted with the man I am so blessed to call Husband. And that means I would not have my two daughters, or most likely my adopted sons, or my wonderful home and life, and maybe not my strength of faith. Funny, but while the hurt is not totally gone, it is pretty minuscule, it no longer brings me to rages of anger and frustration, it doesn't lower how I feel about myself. It still seems unfair, and unfair that it hurt me for so long, but I have come to believe that I have gained so very much by not taking that particular path. Did God put those thoughts into my head? I believe so. But, however He did it, he has given me peace about it after so long. And for that I am grateful. So, maybe I need to ask Him more often. Why did he wait so long to help me? He could have done this at any time. The difference is that I did not ask. When I asked, He released the peace I asked for. Hmmm...... We do not receive because we do not ask???? Perhaps.....

Love to everyone, enjoy these great days of spring!