Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Colorblind



I am sitting in the pitch dark in a hotel room in Moline, Illinois. I have the girls and Dw is next door with the boys. Elizabeth has been sleeping with me and my goodness, was she ever akickin' last night! I finally got up and decided to visit some bloggy friends and type out some thoughts.



I realized that this trip is really the first time we have traveled as a family since we brought the babies home from Uganda. And it's kind of funny. I remember as a young woman when we first brought Tyler home. People would stare. Big.time. I couldn't figure it out (at first). I used to think, "What in the world are they staring at?" Seriously. It probably took me six months to finally think, "Oh! They are probably wondering what this caucasion woman with a caucasion daughter is doing with a Korean son?" Adoption was not all that common in 1986!
But I had longed and longed for an Asian child from the time I was about 10 years old, so Tyler's arrival was just a fulfillment of an almost lifelong longing....so to me, he was mine through and through. I swear to me, he looks like me. I just can't see the difference. I still stare at him sometimes and think, "Come on! He really doesn't look like me?? Are you kidding me???" Cause to this day, to me, he seriously does.
So on this trip, when people have stared, my initial thought is: "Oh they are not used to seeing a good-sized family?!!" To me, all of my kids look like me, so what else would they be staring at? You know what I mean??
But in St. Louis on our way East we were leaving a gas station where we had made a potty stop too. I was loading little ones into the car and a woman came dashing out of the gas station. She came up to me running (literally) and calling, "Hey! Are these all your foster kids?" I smiled and said, "No! They are all mine!" I went on to say, "We like to think that our family looks a little bit like God's heart because the God of the Universe is Colorblind!" She was grinning from ear to ear and wanted to know what church we attend?? I told her that we were just passing through, but that my husband pastors a church in Colorado.
Then yesterday we were having lunch at a Cracker Barrel south of Chicago. While there eating I was completely unaware of people sitting at tables around us. Dw had left to pay the bill and taken some kids with him. A man was leaving and stopped and said to me, "Ma'am, I just have to tell you that I have totally enjoyed watching your family. They are all so beautiful." I thanked him and told him that we liked to think that our family looks like God's heart because our God is colorblind. He asked me what church we go to. He went on to say, "I just said to my co-worker who I was having lunch with...I wonder what church they go to, cause if the church is accepting of them, I think its a church I would like to be part of."
Both the lady at the gas station and the man in the Cracker Barrel who commented were African-American. I loved telling them that my God is colorblind. When we were pastoring in the Southeast we found it completely revolting to see the reality of prejudice.
I went on talking for a moment to the man in the Cracker Barrel. I apologized to him for the people in his lifetime who had been prejudiced against him. He was very gracious and kind-hearted. He said that seeing our family had made his day. Meeting these two precious people, in two different cities were part of the highlights of our trip.
On the flipside, there were a couple comments on the trip as well, made by people we know. They have angered me. They bring out the mama bear in me -and trust me - she ain't pretty - she ain't even sort of pretty!!
I am biting my tongue (for the moment) and praying about what to do. And yeah, if I bite too long I will most certainly be able to put a tongue ring through.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Memorial Box Monday - Forgiveness


I am so thankful that some sweet bloggy friends are now doing Memorial Box Monday posts. If you are in need of encouragement, here are the links to some who did them this past Monday.......and one day soon we will have the sidebar thingy and the Mr. Linky thingy working too. But until then I am thrilled that these friends joined the ranks and are doing some Memorial Box Monday posts...........Tina.., Rett, Sarah, Karin and Shelly. If you are doing Memorial Box Monday posts and would like to be listed, please drop me a comment and I would be thrilled to do so.
I promised the story of Quinton when I wished Autumn a Happy Birthday back on the 20th of September. Today seems like a great day to tell part I.
As we travel about life, there are certain Biblical principles that we must cling to. It was because of God's great and powerful goodness and grace that watched one of those principles unfold a few years ago.
A few years back Autumn was dating a young boy named Quinton. She had met him at youth group and they fell quickly head over heals for each other. It was interesting to watch them together and listen to them talk. Most of their time was spent talking to one another on the phone and so I would overhear Autumn's conversations with Quinton. They sounded so mature as they talked, it actually struck me as odd. Often it seems that young 'love' is giddy and silly. But Autumn and Quinton's conversation were not that normal silliness. They talked about life, what they thought about appropriately mature things and how life affected them.
Maybe that doesn't make sense, but really, it struck me everytime I heard them talk. They got along so well. From day one, there didn't seem to be any awkward moments. They just meshed together very sweetly as a young couple.
Well it was near the 4th of July that year and we always had a giant 4th of July bash at our home. Friends came to swim and have a big picnic and later fireworks. We were going to be out of town on the 4th so we had an early party. Quinton came too. Something happened and he and Autumn were not happy with one another. He left upset.
The very next morning Dw left with the kids and drove to NY to spend the 4th of July with his parents. Tyler and I, on the other hand, left and drove to Charlotte, NC to fly to Canada for a long-planned and happily awaited fishing trip. Just mom and son.
Tyler and I got to Canada and Dw and the kids got to Western New York and to his parents home. On Saturday the 6th of July, my father-in-love became very sick. His chest was also hurting and since he had had a massive heart attack years before, this could be very serious. An ambulance was called and Dw rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital.
Autumn was home with the younger kids while Grandpa and Daddy went to the hospital. A family friend took Grandma in the car to the hospital. With Autumn home with the kids, she noticed that Daddy had forgot his cell phone. At the time she did not have one. She had been thinking about Quinton alot and had not talked to him since they had been upset with each other three days before, on the 3rd of July.
One thing I have to say is that Autumn does not stay mad at anyone. She just doesn't have it in her DNA. So while they were all at the hospital, Autumn took and called Quinton on Daddy's cell. They talked and they each asked the other to forgive each other. Just before hanging up they had told each other that they loved each other.
Little did either Autumn or Quinton know that just 16 hours later Quinton would be killed in a tragic car accident on his way to baseball practice.
I look back on that horrible time and think about God's grace. God's grace that Dw left his cell phone at home. God's grace that Autumn wanted to talk to Quinton. God's grace that she called. God's grace that Quinton was home for the call. God's grace that they both wanted to make things right. God's grace that they both talked for a long while. God's grace that they both told each other that they loved each other. God's grace that forgiveness is Autumn's last memory of Quinton.
Being in Canada with Tyler and finding out that Quinton had been killed, all I could scream and cry were two things: Did Quinton know Jesus? AND How could Autumn go on when they had parted ways upset with each other? Little did I know, that our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God had been working behind the scenes prompting Autumn to call Quinton and get things right........how we praise His name in the midst of deep pain!
I wish I had a photo of Quinton and Autumn to post, but they were all lost in the fire. He was a very handsome young man with a sweet, sweet smile, exuding from his sweet spirit.
The other questions: Did Quinton know Jesus personally? That part of the story I will save for next week.
But for now, let me challenge you. Are there people that you have not forgiven? People that you are holding something against. It's not worth it. Give it up. It has been said: "Holding unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Get things right. You never know when a life will be snuffed out. You never know what the future holds, but guarantee - there is nothing worth keeping unforgiveness. Nothing.at.all. xo

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grandma & Uncle Mark's Home

After a total of 2,146 miles (included 200 extra miles just to go get the rental) we arrived at Dw's childhood home where Grandma and Uncle Mark still live. Dw's mom is 94 and as you guys know, Uncle Mark is 70. One day, Uncle Mark will come to live with us. He is a treasure and we are having lots of fun with him. As I am typing this Elizabeth was climbing all over him. And yes, I am noticing that I think my camera has a focus problem. Arggh. I need to get it fixed before I go to Ch*na for Miss Jubilee (keep praying, the paperwork should be in Beijing today).

****************


Uncle Mark was wearing his sweatshirt we made him years ago...."Best Uncle in Town- Hands Down" with the kids handprints all over it. He couldn't be happier having "his kid" home.
Elizabeth was a hoot - she said, "LOOK MAMA! Grandma has a kitchen!"



Grandma's beautiful hands......94 years of cooking, canning, cleaning, writing letters, holding the hand of the man she loved all her life (they were married 70 years just before he died)....rocking four sons, writing in her diary (she has kept one her entire life), turning the pages of her Bible...........

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Precious Stops Along the Way - Bloggy Friends & Josh's Parents

Being as we had all that car trouble we were driving with a purpose!! We were supposed to be at Rett's by afternoon, but we didn't get there till midnight. So my man was driven!! We did take turns driving and I would sleep some, and he would sleep some.

The famous arch.....ummmm, not sure what the significance of it is, but hey, it makes for a sweet photo.....With over 900 miles in just one day, and a total of 2146 one way (because we had to turn around and go get the rental) - that's lots of driving and really, all the kids did great! (Yeah, I know Abi - it's blurry...hey, I'm not a professional - I can't help it.) Elijah has started this thing....when I go to take a picture he shuts his eyes and grins.....kind of funny....We stopped for some Starbucks and found a Papa John's deal - $5.00 pizza! Oh yeah! The kids liked the sign to play under as much as they liked the pizza....
We got to Rett's home....crashed....and then Sarah and family came over in the morning....so fun to meet sweet bloggy friends in person!!
The kids loved playing together...and the balls were a total hit! (literally)
Rett suggested we take the harmonica with us - ummm, how thoughtful of her, but we declined!! Then we had the privilege of going through Columbus where Josh's parents, Shelley & Rand live. This was, no doubt, pre-planned by the Lord, since it had only been less than 2 weeks! As I mentioned before, that day we spent with them as the searchers searched we developed an extra special tight bond.....as only walking through a tragedy together can do. They were thrilled that we were 'swinging by'. Here is a barn (or maybe it's a house, I actually forgot to ask) in their neighborhood.....gorgeous!!Shelley and I.....we are friends for life. Shelley & Rand loved meeting our kids that were with us. Tears are never far away, although they smile and have fun too. We had lunch together at their home and the kids played and the four of us adults sat in their family room and talked about that day, Josh, their kids, etc. They showed us the cards many of you had sent. We cried together. We talked about what they are feeling and eventually we knelt together and prayed for a long while. They ask for your continued prayers as they continue to process the loss of Josh and all that that means. And as far as the special request I shared a few days ago....please keep praying!!!! I will keep you posted - promise!! =)Rand wanted a picture of all of us together.....now you have to peak....do you see the dog that Rand is holding? Liberty is holding Nelly. But Rand is holding Baxter (Josh's dog)....well let me tell you...Nelly Belly and Baxter were fast friends....they ran throughout their house the entire time. And unbeknownst to me, Baxter has not been neutered yet....and due to the fire Nelly had not been spayed yet. Well the kids said that the two dogs had been...ummm, you know....yeah, uh-huh. So who knows....maybe little Bax/Nel pups will be running around one day. LOL.....And after we left their house.....here is what Nelly did for hours.....for real - she did not even move....poor girl was plum-tuckered out by that Baxter guy....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cottage Pictures

Before things completely fell apart.....

Graham and Liberty were snuggling in a seat, listening to worship music on his Ipod....Just absolutely love my kids being buddies....and no they had no clue that I was taking pictures......
He is drumming....(a drummer through and through)....So when things fell apart....and after the RV had been repaired for the second time in just 5 miles (and six hours).......we were debating our options (and praying like crazy)......"do we head to NY in the cottage?" or "do we turn around and go home?" or "do we go 100 miles back to Colorado Springs and get a rental car?" .....And. frankly, when life gets tough and you can't figure out what to do.....candy makes it all better..... especially chocolate for this chick.........

Gummy worms......
Lots and lots of gummy worms...........

True confessions: After the candy feast we decided to head to NY in the RV....Dw wanted to soooo bad and I wanted to make him happy. But everything inside me was screaming, "NOOOOOOO!" Dw said he turned as he was driving and looked at my face and he didn't see fear - he saw sheer TERROR!
Yes, it's true, I became terrified of just what our short-lived beloved RV would do with 1500 miles in front of us....Heaven help us!! So when Dw turned to me, up the road about 8 miles (about the same place we broke down and had to be towed) and said, "Shouldn't we just go back to the Springs and get a rental?" I jumped on it and more true confessions - It was one of the happier moments in my life....and for real......in that short amount of time, my hair coloring was no longer working...the gray was popping out all over the place (no joke!)....and guess what I'm going to buy? A box of Light Golden Brown to cover the RV, I mean, the gray. xo

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Cottage in Pictures Before It Went South (and we were headin' East)

The Trip started out well.....and trust me, it was all downhill from there.....Road work



We have laughed and laughed about how we must have lost our minds buying a 26 year old RV to drive across the country without any mechanical know-how. What were we thinkin? (Obviously we weren't!)
So throwing all caution to the wind....and as long as we were out of our minds, we thought......




Let's just relax and let Elijah and Elizabeth ride where they want
(on the dashboard at the moment)

And why not let Graham drive?? After all, he's 14....
Dw and I went and took a nap in the back....LOL
So before you all have a heart attack....and send nasty emails.....
*******JUST KIDDING*****
that's what they did while we were sitting inside the auto repair shop.....

And Emma gave Liberty a make-over...and then I got a make-over .....



Then, of course, we started off again..... and about 5 miles down Route I70E we heard that loud bang.....the kind that makes ya' think the thing is gonna' burst into flames (and frankly I've seen enough flames to last a stinkin' lifetime).....and I was scrambling out from under the blanket and unsnapping my seatbelt and standing up in a New York minute to start to unbuckle all the little guys and run for cover.......and then of course it wouldn't start again....and we were in the middle of nowhere.............
I said to Dw, "How are WE going to get back to the auto repair shop?" He asked the tow truck driver. He said, "Just stay inside." Ummm, okay. Yeah, I'm sure that was legal...
So incase you ever wondered what it's like to ride in a broken RV being towed by a tow truck down I-70E...here's a birds eye view....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Columbus, Ohio

Yesterday we drove some 900+ miles from Hays, Kansas to east of Indianapolis to bloggy friend Rett's home. Only a true friend would allow eight people she didn't know to crash at her house sometime just before midnight!! We were welcomed with open arms. This morning, sweet bloggy friend Sarah and her kids came over and we all had alot of fun together. Pictures will have to follow.


Okay, so I just went on to Sarah's sight to get her hyperlink and she already has pictures posted! No fair!!


I am typing this from a Tim Horton parking lot. Emma has been begging for donuts and finally we found one!!


We just were at Rand & Shelley's home for lunch. We had such a precious time with them. They showed me a pile of cards from you bloggy friends and they were so touched. It is not too late to send one - their address is a few posts ago. They continue to need much prayer - so should they cross your mind, please pray!! Thank you so much!!


The boss man is ready to pull out. It's drizzling and I have the door open to pull in the wifi signal - so I better pack it up or I'll be falling out of the car. Mapquest says 6 hours and 14 minutes to grandma's house!! Uncle Mark will be waiting on the porch I'm sure!!


Will post pics soon. Thank you for your prayers. We are having a blast!! So glad we ditched that RV.....xo

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The "Vacation" Continues

Short and sweet. I am updating Twitter (lower right hand column) as we go.


They found the problem. Hit the road. Heard thunking. Maybe it was our heads banging on the side saying, "What were we thunking? What were we thunking?"


Decided to turn around and go back to Colorado Springs. Rented a Yukon. Threw some of our stuff in the Yukon (which is very cozy) and headed back toward NY. We now just spent a few hours sleep in Hays, Kansas.


Are ready to roll toward some sweet bloggy friends home in Indiana.



Last night as we drove I burst out laughing. We had had a great laugh as we waited for the RV to be fixed too. We had found a Pizza Hut (Limon has not much so thrilled that we could walk in the freezing, driving rain about 1/2 mile to the Pizza Hut). We often play this game, "What would you do if such-n-such or where would you go if so-n-so?" Out of the blue Graham said, "What's your favorite part of the trip so far? When we had to keep stopping on Wolf Creek and it felt like the RV was going to roll backwards down the mountain? Was it when the RV was thumping? Was it when it wouldn't start at our house the morning of take-off? Was it..." We laughed and laughed and laughed. Yes, we have had some great laughs on the way. No exactly like we had planned (or anything at all like we planned)....but....we are making memories.....


Keep praying for us. Good to be in a car. More details later. And lots of pics....


You'll hear from twitter if you are interested......


xo

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The "Vacation" Continues

Well just when we thought the struggles were all behind us......


Yesterday morning when we were taking off I told Dw that I could smell gas. He thought it was just me. Last night when we pulled in the KOA the lady said to Dw, "Wow, sure can smell gas!" She then said, "I'd get it checked out if I were you."


So first thing this AM we went to the mechanics. They found a lose spark plug or something. We were on the road in about an hour. We got right on 70 heading East and about 5 miles up the road there was a huge explosion sound that about sent me over the edge. Dw pulled it over as fast as he could. I was trying to get out from under my blanket where I was sitting at the little dining table with Elijah, Elizabeth and Isaiah. I was thinking it just might burst into flames and I could not get out up fast enough to yank the kids out of their car seats.


Dw couldn't turn it over for anything. So we had to call the same mechanic who we had just paid to fix the spark plug to come back and tow it for us. We road in it as he towed it. I took some fun pictures, but am unable to download them at the moment, because my computer won't work, so I'm doing this from Graham's.


It has now been about 3-1/2 hours and they still can't find what's wrong with it. We are wondering what we should do. Vacation days are ticking away. We are in the middle of nowhere, 400 miles from home. We could drive our Expedition, but it's 400 miles away, and how to get there?


Really, I was unable to contain it anymore. I just got over sitting and bawling my eyes out. What do grown up old people do when they don't know what to do and God seems silent? We wish Dw's dad was still alive. He would give us an idea.


We are vascillating....just go home and forget the vacation. Go back to Denver (2 hours) and try to rent a van. Pray for us to have wisdom. We feel like ninnies for buying an RV that was 26 years old. What were we thinkin??

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Trip Begins.....

I had great expectations of typing a Memorial Box Monday post as we drove. I obviously was out of my mind.


Since we bought the RV Dw has worked on getting ready for this trip. He had a mechanic work on it, replace a few things and check all the systems. Then another mechanic did some stuff. Then he replaced some of the tires. He wants us to be safe and to have a blast.


So imagine the fun when last night Dw went to go get gas and the thing wouldn’t start. Wouldn’t even turn over. Wouldn't even click. Dw often has said about himself, "I had a mechanical bypass and it was successful." Poor guy! So incredibly talented at so many things (including woodwork, music, etc.,) but not a lick of mechanical know how!



This past week Dw had the mechanic replace the battery, the alternator and some corroded wires. So like, what the heck? Thank you Jesus, the sympathetic RV repairman came right to the house this morning and found that the brand new alternator wasn’t working at all. He replaced it and although we weren’t on the road at our desired 7am, we were off at about 10am.



About an hour and a half into the ride we head up a mountain pass. It’s called Wolf Creek. Infact Dw said yesterday morning as he was preaching, “We’re just praying we get up and over Wolf Creek and then it’s all down hill to NY from there. LOL Yeah, well bless this little RV, but it just didn’t want to go up Wolf Creek. At. All. Dw could not get it to go over about 25 mph and then it was acting like it was dying. I thought Dw was pressing on the gas and lifting off. He wasn’t. Then it was overheating and so we had to keep stopping to let it cool off. In car years, this ol’ girl is probably pushing her limits and she was screamin’ like a naked lady, “Leave me alone you crazy people!”


After finally getting down out of the pass we encountered high winds. Really high winds. I thought I was going to throw up as she was shaking and bobbling along. My dear friend JoJo and her husband Dave had a Winnebago once upon a time. They were on I-70 outside Denver and the high winds just picked it up and flipped it on its side. It’s a true miracle none of them were killed. So that kept going over and over in my head as I prayed.


Then the snow started. There is snow on the ground and it has been coming down really hard. Dw informed me that we are averaging 30 mph so we should get to NY in about 60 hours of drive time. Perfect. =)



The kids are having fun. Dw and some of his friends helped him install seat belts and bucket seats from an old van at the junk yard. I felt like a stewardess serving everyone snacks and lunch while bouncing around the ol’ girl.



I will, Lord willing, work on my Memorial Box Monday post tomorrow. Thank you for all the prayers going up on our behalf. We are at a campground - Dw made sure it had wireless before he checked in. Bless his heart. I think I'll let him sleep in the RV with us tonight. xo

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Autumn - Our Blue-Eyed Baby Girl

Emma, Autumn & Polly (Autumn's beloved dog)
Twenty years ago today we got the long-awaited phone call from Aunt Beulah - the birth mom Aunt Beulah had introduced us to had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. We were beside ourselves with joy. It was the first day of Autumn on September 20th, 1989 and how could God's timing be anymore perfect as we had already chosen the name (if the baby was a girl)
Autumn Elizabeth.


Being the only blue-eyed one of the bunch, she rightfully holds the name, "our blue-eyed baby girl" and today we celebrate her!! Such a gift from God for us!!


I told her story as part of Memorial Box Monday a few months ago. The most miraculous story of how God brought her to us and then in a sequel I shared the God-sized miracle of how my milk came in and I was able to nurse her - such a joy!


Autumn has always been the one to live life with reckless abandon. As a little girl she was the kid who would wear two different shoes, or a shoe and a boot and run like crazy, all lopsided from the shoe mismatch, but come on: who has time to find matching anything, when play is waiting?
Abi, Tyler, Autumn, Emma & Graham were outside playing one day when they were all little. They were giving stroller rides down a really steep hill we had beside our home. Autumn is the kid who rode down the hill in our stroller and put her foot in the wheel to stop it. She hobbled for a few days, not saying a word. Finally I called the doctor and asked what she thought. The doc said, "Linn how is the stroller?" I said, "OH! The stroller? Why its broken and bent out of shape!" She said, "Well Linn, the general rule is: if the stroller is all broken up, then probably her foot is too." Hmmmm, okay. A few x-rays later revealed that the doc's rule of thumb is pretty right on.
Then there was the time that there was an emergency out of town and I had to leave quickly. Autumn had gone sledding with friends, so I drove to town to find her to tell her that I would be gone for a few days and to tell her how much I loved her. I found her on the sledding hill barefoot, except for a pair of flip flops. No coat, or hat or scarf. Yes, that would be our girl.

Autumn brings such joy to our lives. She is the most forgiving person I have ever met. Ever. Hands. Down. It doesn't matter what someone has done, she instantly forgives and forgets. If only the world were more like her!!
Autumn graduated early from high school and went to do a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) in LosAngeles. She spent her outreach on a 2 week prayer trek in the Himalayans between Nepal and India, and later spent a month ministering in the orphanages of New Delhi, India. Her heart was broken for the people of India and she talks of returning there one day.



Life hasn't always been carefree. When Autumn was younger she was dating a young man named Quinton. It's a Memorial Box story so I will keep the details till one day when I share the entire story. But part of the story is that while they were dating, Quinton was on his way to baseball practice, his cousin was driving and took a curve a little too fast, flipped the car and Quinton was killed. It was a devastating loss to all who knew this precious young man. His death had a profound influence on Autumn's life and there are still days that she is greatly affected by his death. It was an incredibly painful time in all of our lives.




Then as many of you know this past Spring Autumn was diagnosed with a tumor in her pituitary in her brain and life has become a bit more complicated. The doctor is leaving things the way they are for the moment, and has stopped all medication as the side effects were making her sicker than sick daily. They will be rechecking the size of the tumor in a few months again.



So although life has presented some very painful times for our blue-eyed baby girl, we know that through these trials we can trust that our faithful God is working behind the scenes on her behalf. I am thankful for the those who pray for our Autumn, she is such a precious girl and our hearts overflow with gratitude that God would allow us the privilege to raise this precious treasure.



Today after church we will have a party up here with her favorite: clam linguine for dinner and homemade ice cream pie!
Join me in wishing Miss Autumny a very special 20th birthday, will you??