A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tom Davis is at it again!

I love Tom Davis's work. He has written Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless, to name two off the top of my head. Now he has also written a novel. I am in the middle of birthing goats (literally, we are watching one in the process of labor - so much for my plans to settle down and write comfortably tonight) so I am going to be not very creative, but get the info out.

Author and activist Tom Davis has released Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World. It tells a true-to-life story of West-meets-global south; a compelling and all-too-likely scenario of orphan children in Swaziland and across the African continent, with a tantalizingly-possible (and hope-filled) conclusion. It’s a page-turner, and the perfect summer read.

ScaredFreePDfScared’s copyright is secure, but Davis and his publisher, David C. Cook, are tapping into the viral spirit of In His Steps: from now until July 10, you may download an full-length copy of Scared, free of charge, if you share the free download news with three friends.

[Your three friends will get a one-time email inviting them to also download & share; their email addresses are not stored and they will not receive further communication if they do not download the book. ]

I am so excited to read this book, I have been waiting to get it until funds weren't tied up in the adoption, but now it is on my computer! I do plan on buying one or more as soon as I can - I own several copies of his other books and hand them out regularly (if you want to borrow one, I certainly have them!). I subscribe to Tom's blog and he is constantly doing things around the world that really challenge us all to see how we can step up to the plate and be a part of changing things.

In addition to being a terrific read, Davis’s nonprofit, Children’s HopeChest, is raising $1 million to support educational projects in Swaziland. They are also running a contest for Swazi orphans! The grand prize? A university scholarship. Your purchase will help this effort.

But first – give Scared a free read and tell your friends! You can do both right here. And if you’d like, you can also spread the word on Facebook via Scared’s just-minted Fan page.

So, check it out. Who can turn down a free book from a proven author, and you never know where it might take you! And we can all go out and support what Children's HopeChest does. I always end up wishing I could do more. I don't think that feeling ever ends.

Anyway, I promised to pull on my boots, change into true farm clothes, and get back out there. In all honesty, it could be HOURS! But the kids are insistent - this is one of our oldest goats, it was not a planned breeding (bucks broke down the wall between stalls in the winter), and of course none of us want anything to go wrong. At least I am not working tomorrow! It is always an adventure. Hopefully all goes well and I will have photos of the new baby/babies to put up tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In the blink of an eye...

Long night at our house last night, and parts really shook me to my core. There are all sorts of attitudes and thoughts that you just carry with you throughout life, carried over from childhood and life experiences, that you often just don't really take time to think about.

Last night one of my worst fears felt like it was coming true.

I got a phone call from the stage manager of the musical that my husband is in rehearsal for. She was calling because Steve was in severe pain and I needed to get there to him as he could not drive. He had been fine all day, I had talked to him at 5:30 and he was getting ready to leave the house for rehearsal.

We live 30 minutes away from where he was. It was 10PM and I had only at 9:30 gotten the kids to bed. What was I going to do?

And I found that panic set in. I got to speak to my shining knight briefly and in all the years I have known him, through many injuries, I have never heard him in so much pain and so panicked. I knew it was bad. And I was too far away.

Now, you have to step aside for some past history here.

Currently I am 39 years old. For another month.

My mother was widowed at 38, when I was 12.

My grandmother raised her children alone and was widowed when my mom was 11, so grandma was also likely in her 30s.

My great grandmother raised her children in alone, in a day when that just wasn't done.

So, I have seen or heard of three direct generations of women in my family raising their children alone. I have seen the effects of death in the family.

My dad was 44 when he died. Both my brother and I discuss that we have the feeling that there is much to do, because somewhere deep inside us, if we make it past 44 we will then be living on borrowed time.

I have always had it in my heart that the year my husband is 44 will be a very difficult one for me.

My oldest daughter is 12, the same age I was when my dad died.

So, given that, the phone call last night threw me into all sorts of deep seated reactions based on not only the moment, but also all that internal past history.

All I could think was that I had to get to him, to see him. They were waiting for me. I had urged them to call the ambulance if they needed to, not to wait, just to call me on my cell and I would meet him at the hospital. I had to go, I had to get there NOW and not get arrested in the process.

I called the kids down, intending to let them know, and settle them down. Yeah, fat chance. In our typical family style, if something is happening with one of us, the rest need to be there. Now, Steve had taken the big van, because I was running late at work. So I just had our little car. And five kids. Oh, well, get shoes on and get in the car. In my heart I feared the worst and having them where I could talk to them and not leave them alone was just fine.

I think that was the fastest trip ever. On the country roads I know that I did WAY over the speed limit - no tractors out at night, so I could go faster! We beat the ambulance to the hospital - the stage manager had called within ten minutes of the first call letting me know that they had called the rescue squad. She sounded about as shook up as I was. Steve couldn't even talk to me at that point anymore.

Something about abdominal pain, came on suddenly.

Now you have to understand, I have seen my husband through knee surgery, lots of injuries, and even tangling with the lawn mower and losing part of a finger (the most painful injury to that date). Panic ensued in my heart.

As we drove I tried to pray, but no words would come beyond "please". It ran through my head that I could lose him, that it could be something awful, that I could be widowed that night. I would raise the five kids alone. Would I be able to complete the adoption on the kids that are waiting on us? Would we all be stranded without our rock? How would I do all this? How would I tell my kids that their dad died? (I vividly remember my mom telling me at my junior high school the day my dad died. I have always been amazed at her strength, could I do the same?) Lots of random visceral panic and no way to check on things. It was a long drive and a very short drive.

And then to be there before the ambulance was a surprise. I paced and paced. The kids have been to this emergency room several times so were perfectly comfortable changing the TV channel, getting hot chocolate and knew where the bathroom was.

We kept an eye out for the ambulance coming in. It did finally come in, without lights and not rushing, so hopefully a good sign. Then they had to roll him in and didn't want me back there right away - I just about threw a fit about that, but decided that in reality it was very reasonable to give them about three minutes before I went back. Thankfully that is only how long they asked me to wait.

They did ask that the kids not go back (not enough room back there for one thing) - I had not planned on that at that point. I had prepped the kids that I would go back and when I knew something I would come out and tell them. First of all, I didn't want them to see him and be scared, especially as I knew that I needed to face whatever was happening, deal with it a little myself, before I worked the kids through it.

I have never seen my husband in so much pain, ever. The doctor initially was fairly sure that it was a kidney stone - but Steve has had two before and they were nothing like this. I just wanted to make them run! They did give him tons of pain meds that helped, but then he drifted off to sleep and his sleep apnea set in!!! I wanted him to rest, to not be in pain, but had to keep poking him to keep him breathing! Scared me to death. They did testing, scans and what not.

Long waits. Silence, and a very nice nurse, who it turns out lives less than two miles away from us - I have to send her a thank you note!

Turns out it is a kidney stone - not horrible like a burst appendix or aneurysm or all those other awful things I was thinking of. Tons of pain meds, meds to help with the passing, and otherwise a clean bill of health, and we took a very loopy husband home.

I have not been so scared in a long time. Ugh.

Talk about facing your fears. I think I need to work through all this a bit more. My way of dealing with things is to plan out contingencies. What if... If I have a plan, I know that I can get through, even though likely I won't do the particular plan I have in mind. It gives me some comfort.

I know that I got my degree exactly because I watched my mom raise us alone and I always wanted the security that I could care for myself and my family if I was alone. I didn't want to raise my kids by waitressing and trying to get by, not if I had another choice. I have kept working to some degree, even while being a stay at home mom, so I am always prepared to do whatever might need to be done. I do know that my mom did a smart thing by not remarrying until my brother and I were grown - it is something that I would do as I would want to keep my focus on the kids in my care and not be distracted a bit as they would have lots to deal with if we were to be left without their father. I know that we both have life insurance to hope to allow whichever of us might be left to raise the kids as we have always planned to do it. It isn't huge, but it would be enough to give us some options or at least some time.

I don't think I want to think any further about what it might be like, because hopefully and prayerfully this will never be something we will need to address.

But I have to admit, I will be a bit relieved when Steve gets to 45 and then when I do. Superstitious I know, but there it is.

I know that God is in control, I know that he sees the entire plan and tapestry, and that he loves my husband, myself and our children more than he can imagine.

And I am thankful that what appeared last night to be terrifying turned out to be something that will "pass" if you will ignore the pun. At one point, before the pain meds kicked in, wonderful hubby said "if this is what childbirth is like, honey, I am so sorry". Have to admit that somewhere deep inside I had a satisfied smirk waiting to come out when it was safe to do so! LOL! Funny, I would do it again in a heart beat too. How crazy is that - maybe it is good that only women can give birth - what is that saying? That if men gave birth, families would only have one child? LOL. Not to minimize what he went through - it did look like the pain I remember at active labor - but at least in labor, the contractions came and went, kidney stones, it is constant with no relief without HUGE narcotics.

So, now I have a very large sleeping giant, but that is good. I am trying to keep the water going into him, the pain meds to stay on top of things and slowly getting tired kids up. We are praying for a quiet day and for the process to finish.

Wouldn't you know, one of the worries of the night last night was that if this was something he needed surgery for, he would then be out of the musical, and opening night is just three weeks away, and Steve plays not a small role. Dumb thing that we both thought of in the middle of crisis. But, it looks like he should be in good shape shortly and I will be researching kidney stones and visiting health food stores and whatever I can think of to keep him from going through this again. If anyone has any suggestions I will gladly listen!!!

I better call that poor stage manager and let her know how things are. She sounded very upset last night. I know what it was like for me, they all watched it happen and him go from fine to WAY NOT FINE. Thankfully there actually WAS a doctor there at the time. Praise God!

Praise God that last night is done too.

Now I guess I have my issues to work through.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aren't they all our children?

Found this on a blog that I follow - one of the many. Puts some things into words. I hope that everyone that can reach out to another person - child, teenager, adult, elderly person will do so. It takes parents to raise a child, but we all live in this world and have the ability to send ripples into the pond of our portion of the world.

There are few things in this life more difficult to experience than the loss of one's child. Jim Wallis tells about a sad and terrifying incident that occurred during the tragic war in Sarajevo not too many years back.

A reporter who was covering the violence in the middle of the city saw a little girl fatally shot by a sniper.

The reporter threw down his pad and pencil and rushed to the aid of a man who was now holding the child. He helped them both into his car and sped off to a hospital.

"Hurry, my friend," the man urged, "my child is still alive."

A moment or two later he pleaded, "Hurry, my friend, my child is still breathing."

A little later he said, "Hurry, my friend, my child is still warm."

When they got to the hospital, the young girl was gone.

"This is a terrible task for me," the distraught man said to the reporter. "I must go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken."

The reporter was amazed. He looked at the grieving man and said, "I thought she was YOUR child."

The man replied, "No, but aren't they all our children?"

I think that is one of the great questions of our age.

Aren't they all our children?

It is a question that deserves an answer.

Aren't they all our children?

Those who live under our roof and those who reside with another family?
Those to whom we are related as well as those whom we have never known?

Aren't they all our children?

Those on our side of the border as well as those on the other side?
Those of our nation no more or less than those of another?

Aren't they all our children?

Those who worship like us and those who worship differently? Those who look like us and those who do not?

Aren't they all our children?

The well-educated and the under-educated?
The well-fed and the under-fed?
Those who are secure and those who are at risk?

Aren't they all our children?

The highly valued and highly esteemed as well as the castaways and the lost?

Aren't they all our children?

Aren't they all our responsibility?

ALL of them?
Ours to nurture?
Ours to protect?
Ours to love?

I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that the survival of our world hinges on the answer to that question.

To say they are NOT all our children is to condemn the world to more struggle
– family against family,
- group against group,
- nation against nation.

Aren't they all our children?

If we say yes, can we ever again pit them against each other?

"If we have no peace," said Mother Teresa, "it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

Aren't they all our children?

There may be no greater question for our generation.

And how we answer that question will determine the shape of our world for years to come.

Friday, June 12, 2009

10 honest things about me...

I was tagged by a friend from her blog to do this and it sounded like fun - I will be tagging a couple other blogs too! Thank you Lori at Common Sense Homesteading!

I was nominated for a 10 Honest Things About Me Award! What fun! Never tried this before. Thank you Lori from Common Sense Homesteading for nominating me!

So, here goes:

10 Honest Things About Yourself:

1) I cannot decide if I feel most like myself with short hair or with long hair. So, I seem to go from one extreme to another - which seems to benefit the wig makers for folks with cancer, one benefit of me not being able to decide.

2) I have too many interests to get done in this lifetime. I know it, I just generally won't admit it. Oh, well, sleep is optional, isn't it?

3) I rarely can fall asleep at night unless I have a book in my hand. I have to read to settle my brain down, or just to distract it long enough so sleep can sneak up on it!

4) I want to exercise daily, but quite often end up deciding that whatever housework I did must count as exercise. Not very helpful, but I am trying - so far I am up to real exercise twice a week. An improvement but not great.

5) I don't sit still well. It usually makes me crazy. A boyfriend in college tried to teach me to meditate, insisting that it would be good for me and lower my stress, but it just REALLY stressed me out. I did much better puttering around.

6) My kids call my enormous white van "The Monster", and as I look at all the pinpoints of rust from flying rocks, I think when I work on those I will make it a giant dot-to-dot art project. Colorful handprints would make it look like a daycare bus (and enough people in public already think we are a daycare or a school or a club or something - nope folks, just a family), and I know that I am not up for an entire paint job on my van that hauls kids, groceries, soccer stuff, goats and chickens, animal feed and whatever else fits in it.

7) I played rugby for two years in college. My mom says it was to get out some anger after my divorce (bet you didn't know that either! I was married at 18 and divorced right after my 20th birthday. Drugs just didn't fit with my marriage plans. Lots of regrets, but mostly that I didn't pay attention ahead of time!!!). I think that it taught me a lot of inner strength and gave me some pretty strong role models my age, that I really needed at that point in time. I loved it, I was the "hook" because I was generally the smallest one on my team. After two years and only two injuries that I had to recuperate from, I decided that it was time to hang up my cleats and avoid surgery or permanent issues.

8) I can never say something briefly. I don't know if this has to do with all my training and work as a speech therapist, or if it is innate. Probably both. People hate the messages I leave on answering machines. I just can't keep it short. As you can tell by now.

9) Someday I would love to be a published author. That, of course, would require getting to work at it much more than I am at this point in my life.

10) I can draw fairly well, and love to sketch. My kids were blown away when I began to teach them, they had no idea I could do that. Shows how much I have had a chance to do it! Since the oldest is 14, that also tells you it has been a long time. But it sure is fun - it is almost my favorite homeschooling class because I get to do it too!

Okay, that was ten! Now, Okay! Here are my seven blogging friends that I picked to give this Award to:

PJ Academy
His Hands - His Feet
Anne's Adventures
Chickens in the Road

Here are the Rules of the award
1. Thank the one that gave it to you.
2. list 10 honest things about yourself.
3. Give to 7 other blogger friends.
4. Place the picture at the top of your post.

I look forward to reading everyone's lists!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quick update - good news!!!!

Hi all!
Hubby called me - he was working from home and the kids got the mail -

Our USCIS (Immigration) approval was in the mail!!!! Remember we went on the 20th to get our fingerprinting done - well that was a fast approval!!!! So, we are cleared to go to court now!!!! That (and $2700) is all that we need!

I get paid on Monday so we hope to make a huge dent in that amount.

If you could pray for our rummage sale this weekend, we would so appreciate it! Everyone worked hard and decluttered and we have lots ready! Please pray first of all that it just goes - it isn't coming back HERE, and second of all, that needed funds are raised! We were blessed with a loan that got us to this point and we are hoping to not use the credit card for the last little bit - but we are going to get the kids to court one way or the other. The blessing would be that we could raise whatever is needed so we can plan for slowing down soon. I will work outside the house until the loan is repaid (maybe one of the grants we applied for might come through?) and then will cut down to very little work outside the house. There certainly is enough work at home for anyone!!! LOL!

But, it is a small price to pay for three lives. A very small price, small inconvenience. Everyone in the family has pitched in to make this possible. Every single person - the kids have been amazing and really understand what we are doing and why. God is so good!

Well, off to finish preparations for the rummage sale! The girls are going to help Grandma with it tomorrow, as I have to be at work, and then we will all be there on Saturday!

Have a blessed day and weekend! Just had to share the good news! Miracles continue to happen. Our agency was dubious that we could get approval before the end of June, and yet here we are! Thank you God for simple blessings like fast paperwork!

Monday, June 1, 2009

When you have achieved a dream....

I was sent the following link and it was really amazing, in many ways.
Walk On

I found it very inspiring in many ways.

First of all, to watch a man who was predicted to be able to do so little, to see him do so much. To see him inspire so many people.

Second of all, to see someone overcome.

And third, to see someone achieve a dream.

At this point in our journey, we are working to achieve our dream. Our dream of a large family, of doing something meaningful with our lives and with our passion for children and family. We aren't there yet. We are $7809 away from achieving what is required to complete that. Much closer than my last posting. And actually, at least $100 closer than that even. Silly to think that such a thing as the paper we call money can mean so much. It is just paper. That is all. But, we are close. We got word today that our dossier is in the hands of the adoption agency in Ethiopia and has been sent on for translation! Once that is done, once we have all the funds, we will be able to apply for a court date. We started this the end of January. I believe January 23rd is the date, but I would have to actually look on the calendar, but that is the date that is stuck in my mind. So that puts it a little more than four months since we made the commitment and began this portion of our life journey. I hadn't really counted it out, it seems like it has been longer. There is the potential that we could have a court date before the end of the month. That would make it five months. And then it would be waiting on an embassy appointment to get visas. That could be five to eight weeks. That could make this complete in seven months only. Only God can do that!

The other point I was left with after watching the video clip I posted, was the reminder that once we achieve the goal, there is a natural feeling of letdown and "what now?" even as we embark on the next stage of the journey. I remember after Zeri and Solly got home, we settled in, got our life established, and then there was almost a letdown. We had worked so hard, and now we were where we had wanted to be. It was almost strange to not be working to get to that point anymore. It was sort of like switching gears. Our work then was the transition, creating a new family. It took a little bit of realizing that our mission had changed, into the dream we had wanted it to be, and that we were now embarked on that work.

As we are working on this journey now, it is with a bit more knowledge. We know that we are working to climb that mountain, but that one day we will get to that top and then live out the dream we had worked so hard for (a job in and of itself). Where will God take us next? I don't know. I know the change in our journey will be completely engaging in and of itself. I know that our lives will change in ways we can only imagine. But I also know that feeling of "wow, we really did it. Now what do we do?". Not like there won't be enough to do with eight kids in the house!!!

So, my thought provoking question to pose out there is: what do you do when you have achieved what you set out to do, done the nearly impossible, or what once seemed impossible? I know my experience is that there is a time of emotional let down, a time of intense emotions, a time of re-evaluating life and goals. What do you do once you have done what you set out to do? I see lots of people setting goals and working to achieve them, and then trying to figure out what to do next once they have gotten there. When someone finally gets to retirement. When the long awaited baby is born. When you are married. When you complete your degree. When you get your first house. When you finally get well/beat cancer/etc.

My personality is that I need something to be working on. Of course, I tend to try to do too many things. I like to do lots and lots. And I am better able to limit things than I used to be able to, but I also am willing to sacrifice or prioritize to get done really important things. To take on more than I normally would in order to achieve something. That is where I am right now. But I also know that once all the fees are paid, I am going to cut down. And when I do, I will be faced with that same feeling. "I got it done, now what?" Even though I will be busy with all those things I so long to do now - get my house in better order, keep up with laundry, wash dishes more often, do those housekeeping things that have gone by the wayside, as well as just enjoy being with my kids again more like I am used to. I so look forward to all those daily things that right now I am not there for. But I also know that there will be a bit of a "now what?" kind of feeling - even though I will be preparing for the arrival of three more children, prepping for more homeschooling and all of that. It is hard to shift gears, and takes adjustment. But that is life.

Maybe is this why we all leave some dreams alone? Because what if we achieved them? What then? I have to admit that I have a particular dream that several people in my life really encourage me to pursue and I have a hard time doing it. Not because I cannot, not entirely because of fear, but as much because of "what if I did do it?". What do you do when you have accomplished what you always dreamed of? I just want to encourage some thought processes. I don't know where I am going with this, just that it really struck me tonight. I have seen our family do more than we ever dreamed could be done. I am continually amazed with the blessings and with God's provision far beyond what we could imagine. God gives us dreams for a purpose and will provide for all that He has designed for us if we can walk in His path. His path may not be what we thought it was, but it is always good, though it may not feel good at the time. I have to tell you, right now, this path doesn't feel so good. But this one, I can see the purpose and the reward and know that the temporary discomfort will pass and the goal will exist.

I think I have emptied my tired brain. I hope it made some sort of sense to someone beyond me. Go for your dream!!!! And then dream up another one!!!! And keep going!!!!!

Love ya!