Sunday, March 29, 2009

FIVE




On Wednesday morning, Alli tripped down the stairs, messy hair and blurry eyes, and she was five.  Well, technically she wasn't OFFICIALLY five until 5:26 p.m., but we let her celebrate all day.  Aside from a "sick baby" that she can pretend to make well, all she wanted for her birthday was to party.  So we did.  FOUR times - once at school, once in Bend with Grandma Marcy and Grandpa Don, and twice on her actual birthday.  We are all good and partied out.

Grandpa Terry and his two grandkids, Silas and Jenna, picked up Grant for a day of fun getting acquainted with his new "cousins" and to rescue him from a day with all girls.  

At 10:00 a.m., five little girls, most of them age 5, started ringing the doorbell.  Some were decked out in their fanciest dresses, others in play clothes, all of them THRILLED to come to a birthday party.  Watching their excitement over a play date retitled "party" made me wish I could embrace life with as much gusto and innocence as a five-year-old.  

They crowded around Alli as she opened the presents they picked out for her and took pride in showing her their home-made cards, autographed with the scrawlings of a child learning to write.  We took pictures, sang Happy Birthday WITH Cha, Cha, Cha's (did you know there is a difference?), and ate the most hideous looking cupcakes imaginable.  

A cake decorator, I am NOT, but five-year-olds don't notice how the batter spilled over the side of the ice cream cones and baked onto the edges.  Or the child-sized chocolate fingerprints all over the edges from Alli and Katie "helping" me frost them.  What they did notice were the cheap plastic rings shoved hastily in the middle of the cupcake.  Like lost treasures, they dug them out of the icing and cake, intently licked the frosting out of the nooks and crannies before sliding them on their fingers.  

All the princesses went upstairs and immersed themselves in a world of make-believe and genuine friendship.  Alli forgot about being a good friend and ended up in time-out at her own party, but somehow that encompasses a bit of who Alli is.  And it also is part of being five.   It's not easy to learn how to share and to deal with frustration without clobbering someone.  Fortunately, Alli found her good behavior somewhere around lunch time and the rest of the day was much more rewarding.

Daddy came home from work early and we opened family gifts, snuggled and took naps.  In early evening we headed out for a celebratory dinner at Red Robin. Grandpa Terry, Grandma Ru, Silas, Jenna and Grant met us at the restaurant.  We feasted on greasy food and sang the Red Robin version of Happy Birthday to Alli.  

We left the restaurant and headed to the park where Grandma Ru gave each of us a can of silly string and we engaged in a quick but gut-wrenchingly fun game of silly string tag.  Within 5 minutes our cans were empty and the park was littered with colored goo.  We headed to their house where Grandpa Terry presented a surprise to Alli.  A butterfly cake that he spent an entire day designing, baking and decorating, all from scratch.  A true masterpiece and gift of love.  

Alli and I have been butting heads a lot lately and neither of us have thoroughly enjoyed being around each other.  I was feeling a bit resentful for the effort we were putting out to celebrate "HER" even though inwardly I was a bit grumbly about some of her behavior choices.  As we loaded up to leave Grandma and Grandpa's house, I accidentally slammed her finger in the door.  I heard her shriek and a sick feeling washed over me. Time stood still as I tried to get my door open and to my daughter who needed her mommy. The relational dam between us burst as I scooped her up and rushed her to the house.  She clung to me as I stroked her hair, wiped her tears, and shushed her until her sobs subsided.  I rode in the middle, next to her seat, on the way home and she cuddled up next to me, stroking my leg when she needed comfort.

She wanted Mommy to put her to bed.  We went through the drill of detailed and emphatic prayer from Alli, shorter and less exciting prayer from Mommy, and a song that we sing together.  We hugged and kissed and snuggled for "two minutes" until she started settling down.  I untangled myself from her arms and little legs, gave her one last kiss and stroke of her hair and tiptoed out of her room.  

As I closed the door, I thanked God for my FIVE year old daughter.  For her drive, determination, and ability to think outside the box to get what she wants.  For her compassion, tenderness and generosity.  For her need for physical touch and her outgoing, social, personality.  For her intensity and strong emotions, even when they make me want to pull out my hair.  For her desire to nurture, imitate me, and be a helper.  And I realized that even though our sweet Alli is just DYING to grow up, she really is just five.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Out of Tune




In this technological age, it’s hard to remember the good ‘ol days of fiddling with the tuning knob on my transistor radio, trying desperately to tune in my favorite song that was crackling in and out on some distant airwave. Frustration mounted as I’d twist and turn, dialing in just enough of the song to tempt me to keep trying, but by the time I’d get the song clear enough to enjoy, it was over. And to add insult to injury, all the music I didn’t want to hear at that particular time was coming in crystal clear!

Parenting reminds me a transistor radio. The song I want to hear is one of harmonious kids, playing kindly, sharing, and being respectful to each other and to adults. The obedience song, when played the first time, makes my heart leap for joy, and I can’t help but love it when the “pick up your toys, clear the table, don’t leave your junk on the family room floor, make your bed, brush your teeth and comb your hair” song is set on continual repeat and it’s not me droning on and on, over and over. My favorite song is listening to my kids worship Jesus with singing or uninhibited laughter. These songs warm me from the inside out. This radio station is one I want tuned in 24-7.

Lately, I’ve been picking up every station EXCEPT the one I want. I’ve been dialing in disrespect, sassiness, unkind words and nasty tones. Been receiving a lot of laziness in the form of toys, clothes, and books carelessly tossed all over the house. Haven’t heard the Instructions song on repeat, so I’ve been the one droning on and on and being tuned out in the process. Picking up disobedience and lack of effort to want to obey on several stations and that’s just on the FM Kid stations.

When I switch to the AM Parent station, I’m getting lots of fuzz and static on the patience, love, selflessness, slow to speak and slow to get ngry station, but the impatient, snappy, selfish and quick to anger and nasty speech station is coming in LOUD and CLEAR. My dial that tunes into God seems to have an infrequent connection lately, so my Holy Spirit help is coming in choppy waves.

The static on both stations is making me crazy enough that I’m tempted to turn the Parenting switch to OFF permanently and put the kids on the curb with a suitcase. But hold off on calling child services or the mental institution… There’s just enough of that tantalizing, beautiful song drifting over the airwaves to keep me motivated in my search to find the parenting station that is perfect for our family and honoring to God.


God has shown me over the past few weeks, as my frustration with parenting has mounted, that when I view my children as burdens who get in the way of my agenda and what I want to accomplish, then my heart toward them grows cold. In that coldness, I become self-absorbed, short-tempered, bossy and unloving. Believe me, it’s not a pretty sight. I don’t like me. My kids don’t like me.

When I choose to tune into God and have him set my heart on the beautiful blessing my kids really are, I see His purpose for each one of them and for me as their mom. Viewing them through God’s eyes makes them irresistible to me.

This morning I realized that the song my kids sing is disjointed, off-key, unharmonious and off-beat at times. But it has moments of perfect unison, cadence and harmony. When the notes hit my soul, I’m transformed. I fall madly in love all over again with each of my children. Instantaneously my job as Mom is the perfect one for me and the only one I want. With God’s help, I’ll twist and turn the dial of parenting until their song comes in crystal clear. After all, it’s the only one written just for me and that makes it perfect.

Baby Kendall Needs Your Prayers


A spring day in the Mid-West is hard to come by. After months on end of sub-zero temps, piles and piles of snow, and blowing wind, the first day above 30 degrees that melts the snow, feels like spring. If the temperature hits 50, you get sunbathers. One such spring day in Minnesota, during my junior year of college, I was playing catch with a friend. She convinced me to try out for the college softball team and surprisingly, I made it.


One player immediately caught my eye. She had thick, beautiful, long, dark hair that I was instantly envious of being of the fine, thin, scraggly headed-type myself. Terra was full of life, dramatic and over-the-top funny in a Saturday Night Live type of way. Her antics kept the team dying with laughter and since she and I had equal playing skills, we got to know each other well as we kept the bench warm for the "real" players.


I watched Terra meet and fall in love with her husband Ben. Even though they were young, you just knew their love would stand the test of time. We remained friends those two years in college, but lost touch shortly after I graduated.


Through Facebook, we recently reconnected. I was so mad when I realized she, Ben and their FOUR girls (spaced similarly to ours), lived in the southern burbs of Chicago. To be so close to each other all these years and not know it was frustrating, especially now that we relocated to Newberg.


We exchanged a couple of "how have you been" emails when I noticed that her status updates on Facebook kept focusing on her newborn daughter, Kendall. Kendall was sick. Terra was tired and needing caffeine through her veins. And then it sounded like Kendall was in the hospital. After some searching, I found Terra's blog and realized that their precious daughter was fighting for her life.


Over the past 6 weeks, this precious little 4 month old has been through more medical tests and illness than most people go through in a lifetime. And the doctors are coming up empty with a concrete diagnosis. In the meantime, Terra and Ben are clinging to their sense of humor, their faith in Jesus Christ, and their network of family and friends. Just last night, little Kendall was readmitted to the hospital with bacterial pneumonia on top of all her other issues. Here's a link to Terra's blog, if you're interested in the all the details: http://www.terratalking.com/


Please, if you read this blog, pray with me for Terra, Ben, their three older daughters and baby Kendall. Pray for wisdom for the swarm of doctors working so hard to figure out how to help Kendall. For rest and healing for Kendall. For rest and peace for Terra and Ben. For their daughters who are having their world turned upside down and are supposed to go on living as though life were "normal."


Thank you God that you are God, the Healer. Please place Your healing hand on this sweet baby. Bring health. Bring peace for those who love her and wisdom to the doctor's seeking to help her. And may You receive all the glory for You are worthy to be praised, even in the valley. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Biggest Rhino, by Grant Stilp


The Biggest Rhino
By Chloe Brockie and Grant Stilp

Grant, who is almost 8 years old, and our babysitter, Chloe, mad-libbed a story. Here’s what they came up with.

Chloe: Once upon a time there was a rhino named Frank.
Grant: He was the biggest, fattest, roundest rhino in the world.

Chloe: So he decided that he better start playing sports!

Grant: He tried football and crushed everybody.
Chloe: So then he tried water polo, but he sank to the bottom of the pool!

Grant: He tried to play soccer, but his legs were too short and stubby!

Chloe: So one day, he went to visit his friend, Bob the Moose.

Grant: They played all day long and he saw a poster on Bob’s wall that read: World’s fattest rhino contest next Saturday. So he decided to sign up.

Chloe: He went and he won!!!!!

Grant: When he was getting his award, he crushed the first, second and third stand. So everybody knew him as the biggest, fattest, roundest rhino in the world.

THE END.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It Still Seems Surreal
















Our kids had the day off school last Friday, so we planned a weekend trip to Bend to visit my Dad and his wife, Marcy. We slept in on Friday morning and took our time loading up. It was sunny as we drove out of Newberg and the weather forecast promised temps in the 60's upon arrival in Bend. We took the Santiam Pass and soaked in the beautiful scenery that never grows old or less awe-inspiring.

Detroit Lake was our picnic spot. Every December, Detroit Lake is drained and as the mountains lose their snow in the spring, it melts and drains down into the lake, eventually filling it to its summer capacity. It was strange to picnic by a 3/4 empty lake - with dead tree stumps all around, docks that were sitting on dirt, and red buoys resting on muddy sand where a beach would eventually emerge. We were the only people in the entire park and we ate at a picnic table in the sun. Patches of unmelted snow lay in shaded areas, the sun reflected brightly off the water that was left in the lake, and the mountains were dressed in bright white.

We crested the summit and oohed and aahed at the scenery that is now becoming familiar. Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the forest fire area, Suttle Lake, Black Butte and the quaint little town of Sisters with its adorable shops and restaurants. And you can't go to Bend without stopping at the infamous viewpoint between Sisters and Bend. Desert scrub fields with snow-capped peaks that seem to go on forever and ever in all directions.

We told the kids that we were going to stop at Grandpa's office first before heading to their house. As we drove into town, Katie spotted an Office Max. She innocently asked, "Does Grandpa Don work at Office Max?" For some reason, it struck us as funny and Curt was doubled over laughing so hard he could hardly drive. We collected Grandpa Don from his non-Office Max-job and headed to the house, where we got unpacked and convinced Grandma Marcy to wrap up her work day early and join us for some fun.

Next stop was Pilot Butte, a rather ugly, scrubby mound in the middle of Bend. In Illinois it would be called a mountain and would have a ski resort at the top, but in Bend, it's just a scrubby hill with steep, dirt switchback trails that lead to the top of the butte. It's a great workout and the views from the top on a clear day are well worth the effort it takes to get to the top. Grandpa and Grant took the lead and raced to the top with Grandma and Alli in close pursuit. Katie and I strolled leisurely, posing for pictures with snow-capped peaks over our shoulders. Curt got the hard job of pushing Paige up the hill.

At the top, the panoramic view was crazy gorgeous. The Geography Lovers (Curt and Grant) were in heaven studying all the maps with labels and the girls ran around in circles at the top. Paige decided to walk instead of ride down the hill. She grasped my hand and muttered, "I fink I can, I fink I can, I fink I can do it." She chattered on and on to herself about traversing "FOUR miles," but her determination wavered when she "had to go poop" and she wimped out and rode the rest of the way down.

When we were driving home, Grant saw a kid dressed up in a costume. He excitedly said, "Hey, I see a kid dressed up like Shrek." Then his tone shifted to disappointment and he said, "He looks more like a long-neck dinosaur." Another gut-busting moment for us. I think we were all slap-happy.

After the kids went to bed, the adults engaged in a fierce game of Mexican Train Dominos. I secured last place early on with a record-breaking 101 point, single round. There was quite a bit of table talk and trash talking that ensued, but Marcy silently snuck her way into a first place finish.

Saturday morning my Dad and I went out for breakfast, which is one of my favorite things to do. We immersed ourselves in great conversation and good food. It was the first time in years that we had each other all to ourselves to talk without interruption. Two hours later we reluctantly got out of his truck to head back into the house.

While we were gone, Grandma Marcy and Curt had put together quite a lunch spread. We ate "tea party" style, decked out in dress up garb, munching on triangular little sandwiches and trying to remember to eat with our pinkies up.

After lunch, we headed to Shevlin Park on the other side of town. It's a chunk of land that follows a little creek through the woods. A bad wind storm had recently blown through, falling some enormous trees. The kids had a blast exploring new terrain. They hid in a hole carved out by the roots of a large tree that had toppled in the storm. Grandpa used it as a teaching experience to remind them that when we are rooted in our faith in Jesus, the storms of life can't blow us over.

Katie wore her swim goggles, which she found in her back pack, and spent the majority of our hike resembling an over-grown mosquito. After all, you never know WHEN your swim goggles will come in handy. We found a fallen tree that was wider than Katie was tall and Grandpa showed the kids how to figure out the age of a tree by counting the rings. Grant uncovered an enormous stick with potential to be a spear. He spent the rest of his time being a mountain warrior - exploring, climbing, rescuing, and racing with his giant spear. We climbed huge rocks, lolly-gagged by the river, and took at least 1,000 pictures by the covered bridge.

On the way back, Grandpa invented a stroller game with Alli. She held on for dear life while he'd push as hard as could to see how far she could fly on her own. One large push happened to occur on a slight descent and I never knew my Dad could run so fast. Marcy and I stood laughing as he sprinted after the careening stroller with water bottles and debris flying as it left the paved trail and flew into the woods. He managed to grasp the handle right before Alli, who was shrieking with laughter, had a face-to-face encounter with a tree.

All four Stilp girls took a nap in the king-size, guest bed and I reveled in the beauty of having my three daughters nestled up against me, breathing rhythmically in the sweet surrender of deep sleep. While we slept, the boys did MAN stuff, stacking and hauling wood and quite possibly bumping chests, which thrilled Grant.

Katie and I snuck off to Old Navy and had some one-on-one girl time. We tried to hasten spring's arrival by buying new flip flops and some spring attire. We finished our date with Starbucks and headed home to help with supper.

Grandma and Grandpa threw an early birthday party for Alli (who won't be 5 until next week) complete with presents, balloons and chocolate cake. Alli was intently "reading" a book to herself when Grandma brought out the balloons, and a good two minutes went by before Alli noticed. She stopped mid-sentence, her whole face lit up, and she went dashing to the table. Grandma introduced us to a tradition from her childhood - taking a bite out of the cake before you cut it- and we all laughed at Alli's chocolate frosting face.

After the kids and grandparents retired, Curt and I stayed up and watched a sappy chick flick, which he endured and I loved.

The following morning, we woke to a steady rain in Bend which translates to snow in the pass. We hustled to pack up, said goodbye and piled into our mini-van armed with a picnic lunch and multiple water bottles courtesy of Grandma Marcy. We stopped to chain up at the Mt. Washington viewpoint, which was hysterical given the fact that the only view was swirling snow. Curt and Dad had practiced snow chain application in the garage before we left, but completing the task in the middle of a blizzard wearing a hoodie and tennis shoes proved to be a bit more challenging.

While Curt was wrangling the chains, all four kids suddenly had to go pee SO bad, even though we had only been traveling for a total of 40 minutes. Girls just aren't equipped to easily pee in public, but after some trial and error we devised a method where they could stand on the running board of the van, hold onto the handle behind the drivers seat, stick their booties into the blizzard and accomplish their task without getting too chapped from the snow and the wind. A box of wipes completed the action and I was quite pleased with my new invention.

Curt finished the chains, shivered into the drivers' seat, and we began our ascent, crawling up the mountain in white-out conditions at 15 mph. The plows hadn't been through yet so everything was white, white, white, forcing Curt to guess where our lane was supposed to be. The sharp, steep, drop off on the other side loomed as a constant reminder that there was little room for error. Curt white-knuckled us down the mountain and God guided us safely through the heart of the storm.

Eventually the snow shifted to a heavy, soaking rain. When we stopped to take off the chains, we got drenched and I got the added benefit of being covered in dirty slush from a big truck that flew by a little too close to the van. To top it all off, the 18 cups of coffee and 20 bottles of water I'd consumed in my nervous state, hit me all at once. With no civilized bathroom for miles, I was forced to use my pre-described potty method. (Note to self: next time I expose my bootie to a freezing rain and potential public viewing, warn hubby first.) Curt almost fell into a snow bank when he looked up and saw me in my potty predicament not to mention that anyone within a 10 mile radius heard him laugh!

I was convinced the entire state would be subjected to an all-day, soaking rain, when miraculously the rain just stopped. The sun came out, the temperature rose and when we pulled safely into our driveway it was 60 degrees and sunny, but really windy. We collected Dusty from the neighbors, unloaded the van, scarfed a bowl of cereal for "dinner" and headed out to church, where we worshipped our great God and caught up with new friends that are slowly becoming comfy, familiar friends.

It's been 8 1/2 months since we moved to Oregon and Curt and I are still in a state of disbelief that we actually really live here. From the climate to the scenery to being close to family to making new friendships and rekindling old ones, it still seems surreal. And we are so grateful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Navigating New Waters








As parents, we long to protect our children. Shelter them from the big bad world around them. Limit their exposure to things that contradict our belief system and worldview. On the flip side, we need to raise them up to live in THIS world, with all it's evil and sin, because this where God uses them to do His kingdom work. It's a fine line and difficult to find the proper balance between both extremes.

When our kids attended a private, Christian school I was completely apathetic to their curriculum. Their friends were primarily Jesus-lovers. They learned to read and write and solve basic math facts. As a bonus they studied the fruit of The Spirit and memorized huge chunks of Scripture.

This year we switched our kids to public school. They are thriving in their new environments. Making friends. Reading, writing, solving math facts. And occasionally being exposed to things that don't match up to our worldview or belief system.

Our son, who is in 2nd grade and is 7 years old, came home upset about a novel he was reading out-loud with his reading group. From his perspective, it was scary, had bad words and inappropriate content. He was nervous that he would have to read something out loud that conflicted with what he knew was wrong.

He's a bit prone to the dramatic side, so I took it with a grain of salt, but set out to research the text and see if there was any truth to what he was saying. Turns out he had reason to be concerned. The "bad word" he referenced was indeed included in the text and the story was scary with an orphaned boy, abusive adults and fairly descriptive witchcraft. It was controversial enough that it was ranked #56 on the top 100 most challenged texts by the American Library Association.

The Mother Bear in me came out. I lay awake in bed, blood boiling and seething that my child would be exposed to something this controversial and dark without my knowledge and at such a tender age. I wanted to go marching straight down to the school, kicking butts and taking names. I couldn't help but long for the safety of our little Christian school in Illinois. The fine line of over-protecting Grant vs. over-exposing him waivered back and forth in my head.

As I started to simmer down, I knew it would be wrong to go barging in, shotguns loaded and blast Grant's good-natured teacher. I needed to educate myself, read the whole text (not just the synopsis), and give her a chance to explain her side of the story. I asked God to help me navigate new waters and fell asleep with a plan to call Grant's teacher in the morning.

She was more than gracious, non-defensive, and open to discuss the text and why it had been chosen. She gave Grant the option of choosing an alternate text and had a loving and supportive conversation with him that affirmed his right to stand up for what he believed in. She even sent the text home so I could read it and form an educated opinion.

I still don't agree with the decision to present this book to 2nd graders, but I really felt God's guidance in handling the situation in a way that pleased Him, represented Jesus fairly, and had an outcome that was satisfactory to both parties. I'm sure this is the first of many opportunities God will use to teach me how to raise Jesus-loving kids in a scary world. Lead on Captain God.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interview with our Kids

I interviewed our kids recently and asked them 21 questions that are going around Facebook. Their answers are posted below. Grant, at the time of interview, was 7 3/4 years, Katie was 6 1/2 years, Alli was 4 3/4 years, and Paige was 3 years old.


1. What is something your mom always says to you?
Grant: Obey the first time.
Katie: K.K.
Alli: You can’t be mean to our sisters.
Paige: Go poopy.

2. What makes mom happy?
Grant: When I obey the first time.
Katie: Hugs and kisses.
Alli: If we be good and obey her and give her presents.
Paige: Go poopy on the potty.

3. What makes mom sad?
Grant: When I don’t obey the first time.
Katie: Disobeying.
Alli: If we be mean to our sisters or break something of hers.
Paige: Poop in your pants.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Grant: By tickling me.
Katie: Tickle.
Alli: Tickling my armpits and my neck.
Paige: I don’t know.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Grant: Ummm… you didn’t have very many toys and you grew up in Iowa until 5th grade then went to Scio.
Katie: ummm… You were caring for your toys.
Alli: I think you liked when you had some fun things with your brother and sisters. I don’t know really.
Paige: You were a baber.

6. How old is your mom?
Grant: 34
Katie: 34
Alli: 33
Paige: uh… 10?

7. How tall is your mom?
Grant: 5.8
Katie: (laugh) Oh… that’s hard. 86 inches?
Alli: I don’t know.
Paige: 36.

8. What is your mom’s favorite thing to do?
Grant: Go on vacations with Daddy.
Katie: Go shopping with me.
Alli: Play your computer.
Paige: Write my name.

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
Grant: Has friends over and talks to them a lot.
Katie: ummm… Go shopping and go to physical therapy.
Alli: Does her computer.
Paige: Play.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Grant: Doing the most laundry.
Katie: (laugh) long pause… I think I have to look in drawer… Cooking?
Alli: Loving.
Paige: Cause you wanted to be famous.

11. What is your mom really good at?
Grant: Doing laundry.
Katie: Driving the car.
Alli: She’s really good at playing the piano and she’s really good at spelling stuff.
Paige: You’re really good at yoga ball.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Grant: 3D puzzles.
Katie: Parallel parking.
Alli: She’s not good at hmmm….. not to spill the milk.
Paige: Not playing basketball.

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Grant: Looks after us.
Katie: Umm… take care of her kids.
Alli: Umm… she sometimes… what did you say? You do for a job to help Daddy
lift up stuff.
Paige: Write your name.

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?
Grant: Something baked.
Katie: Umm… pizza?
Alli: I knew it – chocolate chip pancakes.
Paige: Sugar snap peas.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Grant: For doing my laundry.
Katie: When she snuggles with me.
Alli: Umm… how I make you proud is you cheer for me.
Paige: Going poop on the potty.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Grant: Super Laundromat Lady
Katie: umm.. Gabrielle from High School Musical.
Alli: Like a girl in High School Musical or something? Sharpay – I mean Taylor.
Paige: A silly guy.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Grant: We go to Physical Therapy together.
Katie: Go on dates.
Alli: Read books in the sunshine with me.
Paige: Run errands.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Grant: We both have blonde hair and blue eyes.
Katie: We both have blue eyes.
Alli: Ummm.. we’re the same because when we lived in our old house we both had
short hair.
Paige: Dat we have matching shirt.

19. How are you and your mom different?
Grant: You are five feet and I am four feet.
Katie: We aren’t the same size.
Alli: We’re not twins and we don’t have the same hair right now.
Paige: We just different to spin around and do kicks.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Grant: Because she gives me hugs and kisses.
Katie: Because she always says, “Psst…” and I know the answer to her secret.
Alli: I love what? I love you because you make stuff for me.
Paige: Cause us may.

21. What is your mom’s favorite place to go?
Grant: Somewhere sunny and beautiful.
Katie: Target
Alli: umm… to go to the store and buy stuff for us.
Paige: McDonald’s (big huge MUNCH sound).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Friendship Restored




Nine weeks into seventh grade, my family moved from a big suburb of a metropolitan area to a tiny logging town in the middle of nowhere. Scio's population was 580 and as we rolled into town, we laughed at the "Congestion" sign on the road in front of the mill.

Being a city girl transplanted to the country during junior high was not an easy transition. I stood out like a sore thumb and couldn't quite seem to find a place I felt comfortable. My insecurity made me an easy target for a couple of girls in my class, and they bullied me. I in turn, found someone I viewed as vulnerable and bullied her. Kids can be cruel and in many ways, my years in high school were marred by the pain of being bullied and the guilt of bullying someone in return.

I fled from Scio as soon as I graduated. 2,000 miles didn't seem far enough, but it was a good start. 17 years have passed and most memories from high school have faded into oblivion. The majority of the memories that remained were unfortunately ones of pain and guilt. I wanted to make things right, but was scared to face my past and instead, did my best to hide from anything Scio-related.

This summer we moved back to Oregon. I was thrilled to be home, but nervous about encountering someone that might recognize me and tag me as "from Scio." I changed my Facebook network to Portland, added my maiden name, and VIOLA! I started getting friend requests from people I went to high school. When Tiffany "friended" me, I almost fell off my chair. The one person I was hoping to avoid, best case scenario - forever, was friending me. I said yes, with the intent of snooping on her, then "unfriending" her once my curiosity was quenched.


To my dismay, she was nice. Still married to her high school sweetheart. Two kids. Active in her church. Loved Jesus. Had a wild side that resonated with me. I did my best to find something not to like about her and came up empty. We exchanged "catch up" emails and through our email exchanges, I felt the pain and insecurities of so long-ago that had become a protection mechanism swirl to the surface my heart. I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, "Are you ready to let go of that yet?" Over Facebook we reconciled, and as I felt the weight of that burden lift, my spirit soared in freedom.

But the guilt of my cruelty lingered. I saw Heidi on Tiffany's list of friends and inquired if it was "the Heidi" that received the brunt of my anger in high school. When I received confirmation, I prayed, then friended Heidi. To my surprise, she accepted my friend request and we exchanged a brief "how have you been" email. I got right to the point and told her how sorry I was for being so mean. I asked her to forgive me and she was gracious enough to extend forgiveness to me. Another barrier from the past lifted and freedom reigned. I giggled as I thought of how creative God is in His desire to bring forgiveness and reconciliation. Who would have thought He would use Facebook to heal hurts we'd carried around for 17 years?

This afternoon, I opened my door to greet both Heidi and Tiffany. We embraced. Long, warm hugs of friendship restored. Heidi brought her two kids who match up in age perfectly with my youngest two, and while the kids played with every toy in the house, the three of us sat around the table and did our best to condense 17 years into 4 hours.

We shared stories of meeting our spouses. We talked about God using pain in our lives to shape us into the women we are now. We referreed fights between our kids. Tiffany, who is beyond the toddler years in parenting, got to sit and giggle quietly over the absurdity of things kids this age find offensive. We talked and talked and talked. It was glorious.

We were all similar versions of who we were in high school with some battle scars, but infinitely more beautiful from walking through 17 years of life experience with Jesus by our sides. As we said our goodbyes, I felt like we had barely scratched the surface of all we had to talk about. I watched them drive away and felt the power of forgiveness wash over me. Thank you God for fresh starts and friendships restored.

Waltz

I can't dance. Not a stick of rhythm in these bones. My mom, on the other hand, has great talent. She and her husband Terry love dancing and are really good at it. When they got married, the pastor pronounced the new couple "Dr. and Mrs. Terry Hadlock," we clapped, the bridal party moved back, and they started waltzing. It was a moment forever etched in my memory of how they customized their wedding ceremony to encompass who they are.

We celebrated Paige's birthday at their house. Terry drove all over Portland to find a recorded copy of a "Surprise Symphony" that he wanted to play for the kids. When the music jumped from super quiet to as loud as possible, all four of them jumped back, squealed, covered their ears and dissolved into nervous giggles. When the music switched to a waltz, up jumped Mom and Terry. They waltzed around their tiny living room while the kids danced and twirled around them. It was so pretty, I captured a bit of it with my camera. Hope you enjoy it too.
video

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Way


Have you ever been on a road trip and had that sinking feeling in your gut when you realize you’re lost without a map? There are no familiar landmarks, no streets that are recognizable and no one in sight to ask for directions? At that moment you’d do anything to know the way to your destination.

What about closer to home? Have you ever gotten lost within miles of your own driveway? You take a road that is less familiar. Attempt a short cut. Maybe you’re traveling the same road you drive daily but it looks different by the light of moon. You make one wrong turn, start second-guessing yourself and before you know it, you’ve lost your sense of direction and can’t find the way home even though your house is two miles away?

Life is lot like driving. Sometimes it feels like a road trip. Everything is foreign with no recognizable landmarks and each fork in the road makes the butterflies start twittering. We’ve lost the map to our next life destination, not that it would help, because we don’t even know WHERE that is.

Sometimes we get lost in the familiar. We’re hunkered down at home, living the mundane day-in and day-out of life, and we get thrown a curve ball. Things that were once familiar seem different. Cast in a different light, they become unrecognizable. We second-guess ourselves, lose our sense of direction, and find ourselves lost in a thick fog. We have no idea which way to turn and a map is worthless because we haven’t even stepped one foot out the door.

Jesus told his disciples in John 14 that he was going to leave them, but that they “know the way to the place where I (Jesus) am going.” They looked at him with a blank stare and then pointed out the obvious. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Seems like a valid question. It’s like me telling Curt, “I’ll see you somewhere this weekend. You know the way.”

Jesus smiles lovingly at them and then points out the obvious. “I AM THE WAY.” You need direction? It’s me. I am the way. I know the road map for your life. Follow me. I’ll guide you. Lead you. Show you the way. Restore your sense of direction. My Holy Spirit will be your intuition.

Our pastor recently broke down the name of Jesus and defined it as, “Everything that I AM, I will be to you.” Do you need healing? I AM the Healer. You need comfort? I AM the Comforter. You need forgiveness? I AM the God who Forgives. You want truth? I AM the Truth. You need direction? I AM the Way.

The truth of who Jesus is restores my sense of adventure. Road trip anyone?