Friday, August 30, 2013

*Hand Waving*

I have not had cell phone coverage since Sunday.

On top of that, my mail account shut me down because they
"suspected suspicious activity".  Translation:
Where in the world are you woman?  
You never send emails from *that" remote place.

Hence, communication with the home front has been a trick,
to say the least.  I have to rely mostly on good ol' Facebook
to know what is going on at home.
By the way, what did we ever used to do without Facebook?  

Yesterday I had not heard all day from the bossman.
I know he's fine.  He's gotta' be.  After all, he's the bossman.
I was guessing that the kids were all fine too.
Probably eating way too much junk food, but hey,
if they're all happy, mama's extremely happy.

However, my inquiring mind needed to know how Ruby was
doing.  Graham and I had made some plans for the evening
and were on our way, although I mentioned that I needed to
run and check and see if Daddy had FB'd me.  

Sure enough there was a message.

Now let me back up…just a speck.

Do you remember in the movie 
"You've Got Mail" when the big bad Fox Books 
opens and an author stops into the
little "Shop Around the Corner" to see how
their business is doing with the arrival of the
big, bad superstore?

Meg Ryan, the eternal optimist yet clearly a bit concerned
 by the dive in business
wants to pretend to this author/friend that everything is going to be
okay. 

Birdie, played by good ol' 
Jean Stapleton
waves her hand from the back room and yells,
"We're fine.  Everything is fine.  No difference at all."

It's a favorite movie of ours and when we find a favorite movie
with some very comical lines, Dw and I will use them for years
{and years and years}.

With that as a backdrop, 
when I finally got a FB message from
Dw, here's basically what it said,

*Hand-waving.*  
Everything is going to be fine.
It's okay.  
Really.  
We're all doing fine.

I have still been giggling.
That husband of mine with the great sense of humor.
I am so grateful for his willingness to watch the kids
so Ruby's story could be written.

And for you Whitey:

Babe, *Hand waving*, we're fine too.
We'll be home as scheduled.  

Really.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Love Touches


Writing diligently on Ruby's book has been a beautiful, yet difficult work. 

Some chapters have been easier than others to write.  
Most chapters have been extremely emotional.  

The generous gift of a loving friend afforded Graham and I 
the opportunity to come to my most favorite place on earth -  
known for it's unmatched, breathtaking, absolutely stunning beauty. 

While away I asked the Lord for a few extra love-touches, just from Him.  
He has exceeded my wildest expectations.
I have been so giddy, there were times, I kept hitting Graham's arm
unable to even express my giddy joy.

I am in awe of how much He loves.

The amazing thing is that He loves extravagantly.
He doesn't just love a little.
He doesn't just love a bit here and there.



On the contrary, when He does something, 
He does it with such inexplicable artistry.

But for the record, let me reiterate this:
He loves you just the same.

It took me years to understand this.

For a long time, I thought, that perhaps, 
God loved some more than others.

I can understand it better now that I've 
walked with Him for a long time.  

When we lost our home to the fire, He was still loving us.  
It was just shown in different ways.  
Some times ways that were harder to see, until we stopped to really look.

When we lost our John, it was, again, harder to see His love initially,
 but looking back, I can clearly see His hand on our lives 
and His love poured out on us.

When I was a little girl in the midst of deep trauma, pain and heartache, 
it would be easy for any outsider to dismiss the idea of God's love 
being present during those awfully dark days.  
However, I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that His loving fingerprints
 were all over my life back then.  

And then there are days like today, when it is easy to see
 His loving touches all over this writing trip.

Whatever the season, He promises to never leave us.

Not ever.

Today, His love touches are extraordinarily easy to visibly see, 

and for that, I am incredibly grateful. 

Look around today, His love touches are all over your life too.
Some seasons they might just be harder to see.

It all reminds me of this verse:

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
Psalm 25:10

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Farmer Girl Meets City Life

I have to laugh to myself...

The Lord is completely amazing.

I grew up in the city, 
but every single day longed for the country.

After closing Dw's law practice and heading to seminary,
we eventually pastored our first church and had a
beautiful rolling hilled property on 21 acres complete
with vast woods, gorgeous pastures 
and a beautiful pond and stream which even had
a little water falls.

I affectionately named the falls - Little Niagara.

Our second pastorate we lived on a cul-de-sac
 in a sub-division across from the church.
It was a pretty big lot and this country girl 
found it bearable.

In our third pastorate we lived on 29 acres
set way, way, way off the road.

I was in ecstasy.
  
On that 29 acres was a gorgeous bunch of 
enormous woods, acres and acres of pasture 
where we planted an enormous garden 
that yielded bountiful blessings each year.  

We actually even grew hay, baled it and put it
in the barn that Dw and our boys built.
We sold the hay to other farmers.
We were diggin' it.
True story.

It was my dream come true.

But then the MS got bad and we had to sell 
and build a wheelchair
accessible home on 15 acres to accommodate me. 

We named that place Blackberry Landing
because of gigantic blackberry patches 
which we organically grew. 
Oh, they were so delicious and Graham was
a little tike and he would stand for hours in the 
Blackberry patch...chomping away as I picked them to 
make boatloads of scrumptious Blackberry Jam.


Eventually God called us to pastor in Colorado
and we lived at 7,400' on the side of a mountain.
We just couldn't get a garden to take 
due to the rocky soil of the area we were in.
Somehow we managed.  
Ya' know....
roughin' it with a view of the Rocky Mountains.  

Boy-oh-boy did this "Farmer Girl" 
ever love our "country life" over the years.

Chickens, roosters, huge gardens,
enormous blackberry patches, horses,
a goat, barn cats and open space.

But city life in the desert is where God has placed us now,
so reckoning it all in my head, I began to ask the Lord if 
He would help us somehow to have a garden that we could harvest
yummy things.

And then one day Graham asked if I knew that what the things were
growing on the Palm Trees?  


Nope.


No clue.

Graham researched and found that they were...

Are you ready for this?

Dates!

Cutest little farmer kids harvesting our "crops."
I giggled with joy!

We are gonna' be "city farmers" yet.  

And so, without any effort on our part,
we had the joy of 'harvesting' the dates the other day....

Graham tasted them from the tree.

We separated them.
Washing.

We dehydrated them
and I am happy to report that
they are beyond delicious.

And this farmer girl at heart 
is pretty doggone tickled
with our sweet little harvest in the 
middle of Phoenix.

Delight yourself in the Lord and 
He will give you 
the desires of your heart. 
Psalm 37:4

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Words, Words and More Words

Thank you to all who have been praying....

Graham and I are having a blast.  We have played some, ate a lot, 
dozed off a bit and of course, I have been busy writing and 
writing and writing while he has been working on music.   

Besides the power of prayer, it is indeed amazing what being free 
from all responsibilities can do to allow one to think clearly to write.   

So far I have typed about two and a half chapters.  Of course, I had 
already typed about four so we are somewhere around 
6.5 total chapters, so far.  I have also now typed the "Dedication" page.  
Yippee Jesus! 

The Word Counters on the web are pretty amazing - 
what I've typed so far totals out to: 

5, 544 words

That's a whole lot of words even for a woman.

I was having some trouble saving the documents and
I am so grateful for a techy son who was able to think of
some extra measures to ensure the safety of the
chapters I have written so far.

Graham has been a tremendous blessing to have along for this journey.
Last night we were talking and we started laughing and
we could not stop.  Precious memories.

Thank you to all who have been praying -
I can tell you are.

Please, continue.
You are a huge part of me being able to do what I am doing.

xo

PS One day, when I am able, I will share who I ran into the first day
Graham and I arrived at our destination.
It is a crazy miracle, that *only* God could orchestrate.

Monday, August 26, 2013

20 Years Ago Today...

Twenty years ago today
started out to be an average Thursday in 
August.  We were pastoring in Virginia, living on 21 acres
of rolling countryside in a home we had just built. 


Abi was 10, Tyler was 7, Autumn nearly 4
and Emma was just 5-1/2 weeks old.
I remember as I showered that morning, 20 years ago today, 
praying aloud,
"Lord please use me today.  Use me in a big way."
The words kind of surprised me as they tumbled out.
"Use me in a big way." 
They weren't words I normally used, ever.
And being a stay-at-home mom, there wasn't anything
'big' about my average day.
I look back on those words and have no doubt that they were 
divinely inspired as the Lord's preparation 
for what was about to happen.


As a little backdrop......I always wanted a pile of kids. 

A big pile. 

I didn't care how they came: adoption, birth or dropped from the sky.   
Just a big ol' boatload.   For the record, I have been asked what my 
definition of 'pile' is?  
Emma was *always* a climber. 
Even found her on top of the refrigerator one time
{with little brother Graham attempting to catch her jump}

"When you look at a family picture and have a hard time quickly 
figuring out which is the mom and dad because of having to 
scan the sea of faces, that's what I call a pile."  

Abi was born in 1983 after years and years of infertility.  Over the next 10 years 
I was only able to conceive 4 times and each of those little ones 
left my womb prematurely. We named them Timothy, Andrea, Meghan and John.
 They get to live with Jesus and we are so thankful that we will 
see them one day. It was a long heartbreaking, agonizing haul.


In between Timothy, Andrea, Meghan and John we had years of 
infertility accompanied by tests, shots, surgeries...yeah, not so much fun. 
But through those 10 years the Lord graciously brought us 
Tyler and Autumn through the miracle of adoption. We were ecstatic!

In 1992, ten years after Abi's birth,  I miraculously conceived again 

while pastoring our first church in Virginia.  I ended up on complete
bed rest and eventually, God in His mercy and grace
allowed me to carry her until July 22nd, 1993.  We named her

EmmaLee Joy
   
We were ecstatic to now have four precious little ones!  Emma was thriving 
and growing until that morning 20 years ago today.  

As I was emptying the dishwasher, Emma
 was nestled in my arms sleeping soundly. 
One by one I lifted each dish out and put it away while Emmy slept in my left arm. 
I was praying softly as I worked away. How gracious God had 
been to continue to fulfill His promises, 
"He makes the barren woman to be at home the joyful mother of children."I remember looking down and kind of staring at her.
 Something didn't feel right. I went back to putting the dishes away one by one. 
I looked down again. Hmmm. 
Eating a Hershey kiss in a dress that was mine from 1960.

What was it? 

I felt like something was wrong even though Emma was sleeping
 soundly in my arm. I kept working and after another minute or 
two looked down again . This time Emma was completely blue. 
She was the same color as a pair of faded blue jeans. I freaked out. 
I hoisted her with both hands up over my head and screamed, 
"Emma, Emma, what's wrong?" The quick movement allowed her to start
breathing again.


We ended up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the same hospital 

I had delivered Emma less than 6 weeks before. Test upon test finally 
revealed that Emma had Apnea and we were told that 
I  had "interrupted a SIDS incident". 

Many doctors told me that had I not
 been holding her she would no longer be with us. 
We were sent home with a heart monitor that she wore 24/7 for almost a year. 
She would often "forget to breath" and the machine would start blaring. 
We would have to gently shake her to help her remember to breathe. 

It was one of those years that was a 
defining moment in my life.

 Nothing mattered but the well-being of my baby girl and my other kids.

Hence, we have a little lead from the heart monitor in our Memorial Box 
reminding us that our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, 
Gasp-giving God had preserved and protected our precious gift. 

We will praise His name forever for allowing us to raise Emma. 
She is a delight to all who meet her: tender-hearted, gracious, a tad shy, loving Jesus most and wanting with all her heart to please Him. 

Emmy we love you! 

The kid on the fridge and the kid on the ground.


When Emma was just 6-1/2 years old, God called her to serve the orphans of Uganda.
I have a video of her 8th birthday where she clearly states she is going to move to Uganda
and care for the orphans.  She isn't in Uganda because of pursuing a fad or following someone popular.  She knew 13 years ago that when she was old enough to go, she would move to serve the orphans.  Never once, did she sway in that plan.  

She has determinedly worked toward it, with not one exception.   

In January 2013 Emma permanently moved to Uganda.  By the time she had moved to Uganda,
she had already been there 11 times before for almost a year total with all the trips, including the ones to bring our Ruby home .  
One of my all-time favorite pictures of Emma - 
taken in one of most favorite places filled with memories that 
we hold dear. {Letchworth State Park} 

Since moving permanently to Uganda she has found a home,furnished her home, hired her staff, and has been busily preparing for the ministry God has called her to there.  

Although we miss her till our chest literally aches, we are thankful that
she gave her life to ALmighty God and has been completely obedient to Him.  

Emma has a blog, where she writes about her journey: 



We love you forever and miss you always.
You are our hero.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Has it Really Been a Year, Mr. Nehemiah?

There's this crazy thing about how God works....
Ask almost anyone who has brought home a treasure
through disruption and they will confirm this truth...

The treasure that arrived
broken,
grieving,
fearful,
and often angry.....
whose anxious eyes
peered from an expressionless face...




those pensive eyes, the terrified heart 
and the fearful face - they all melt slowly over time, 
as they begin to understand 
that they are deeply loved 
and 
fiercely wanted...


And suddenly, without warning, each treasure begins to believe
the words whispered over and over and over....

We want you no matter what, 
and
we love you forever
and
we're in this for the long haul 
and

we really, truly, can't imagine life without you.
And actually, quite honestly, we can't 
even remember
a time when you weren't part of us.
We would never, 
ever, 
ever,
ever,
want to go back 
to pre-you in our family.  
Because you were made for us and
we were made for you.

Although your journey to home was long and painful, 
it was a necessary road,
to get you to where God intended you to be...

And together forever we will praise 
the name of the Lord  - -

eternally grateful that in His mighty plan
we got to be do life, 
together,
as family."


Breakfast in bed on a pretend birthday to make up for so many missing birthdays...

Because 

Nehemiah Judson 


It is unanimous that your



 Brothers



and more brothers....



and even a precious sis-in-love...


A bunch of sweet sisters thrown in the pile...

{who each adore you to pieces}

{and miss you like crazy}



And, oh yeah, more brothers.


And another [faraway] sister with a miracle husband...


We all need you Nehemiah.


No doubt, your smile evidences 
that your name is prophetic.

Nehemiah:  God comforts


It's a privilege we didn't deserve...
That we wouldn't trade for anything....

Home one year today.


We celebrate the goodness of Almighty God that He would
allow this precious son to be ours.

Easy going.

Tender hearted.

Generous.

Loving.

Great sense of humor.

Almost daily Nehemiah will call to me
in his roughly pieced together English...

"You the best mom!"

My heart leaps each time he says it
and I will never, ever take his precious words for granted.
Nehemiah's ours and he fits like a glove.

He's exactly where he was intended by the Lord to be:

*Home Forever*