Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Cry of My Heart . . .

We all need strength for the journey. We all struggle some times. We all feel weary and are tempted to whine or complain. Today, I need strength for the journey. Today, I am weary and tempted to complain or sit and dwell in anger and frustration at my circumstances and the lack of control over them. But this morning, I woke with these psalms in my heart. And I'm turning my heart toward the Lord. It's not easy and I'm already (at only 11 a.m.) having to consciously choose to keep doing so. But this is what I choose: I will rise up and lift my eyes to the Lord. Whatever you are facing, whatever you have in front of you to tackle today, JOIN me in choosing to rejoice and trust in THE LORD.
  • Psalm 33:20-22 "We wait in hope for the LORD; HE is our help and our shield. In HIM our hearts rejoice, for we trust in HIS holy name. May your UNFAILING love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in YOU."
  • Psalm 46:1-3 "GOD is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will NOT FEAR, though the earth give way and the mountains fall in to the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. SELAH"
  • Psalm 46:10-11 "Be still and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. SELAH."
  • Finally, Psalm 71:1-4 "In YOU, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. DELIVER me, O LORD, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men."
  • AMEN
*(caps and emphases mine)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Favorite Summer Chicken Dish

This weekend, I made a dinner for friends that has been one of my favorites since my Aunt Nancy made it for The Boss and I in college. She's an amazing gourmet cook, and the fact that this dish tasted so fabulous but was so incredibly EASY was an inspiration to me. We were "home" in NY during our senior year to allow The Boss to meet my dad's side of the family and she served this for a little family dinner that she threw together when we arrived. I hope you all try it and enjoy it as much as we do each time we make it. And it has the added bonus for me of evoking all kinds of wonderful memories of our dating and engagement years!

I call it Greek Grilled Chicken, because I can't remember what she called it . . .
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2" thickness each
  • 8 oz. Greek or Caesar light salad dressing (our favorite is Gazebo Room Light)
  • 8 oz. feta or blue cheese (you can even try some of those yummy flavored fetas that are available now)
  • Pour Greek dressing into a sturdy plastic bag and place chicken breasts in the dressing. Work the bag over well, to mix the chicken and dressing up together. Be careful not to rip the chicken though. Marinate overnight.
  • Grill chicken breasts over medium heat, flipping only once. About 3-5 minutes before chicken is cooked through, sprinkle about 2 oz. of feta or blue cheese over each chicken breast. Close grill and allow cheese to melt slightly. Do not allow cheese to scorch!
  • Serve on a bed of whole grain pasta, or a bed of spinach, or with grilled veggies on the side.
  • Leftovers make a great chicken sandwich, on pita bread, or a great cold salad the next day.
Let me know what you think of this one when you try it. It's a big hit with company, for very little effort or time. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Day of Gratitude

Today represents a very special sort of anniversary for our family. I have declared that today is a Day of Gratitude, set apart to thank God for the miraculous protection and mercy that He demonstrated to The Gang on this day, July 23, 2006. Please forgive me if this post runs longer than normal (and yes, I've noticed that some of my recent posts have been running long . . . Might be from the hours sitting by my pool with the kids and scant other adults to chat with!). But I'm sharing today parts of a letter that I wrote last year, detailing an accident in which Baby Blue Eyes was hurt badly. And I'm wrapping it up with a report of where BBE is today, for which we are also so incredibly grateful. Some of you may remember this accident, and for those of you who stood with us in prayer, we all are grateful for you and your support. We could not have made it through without the Body Of Christ loving us and praying us through. Here are excerpts from the update we sent out to family and friends when we got home from the hospital.
The three boys and The Boss were at a (church boys' ministry) campfire and cook out on Sunday (7/23/06) night. There were several activities, including paintball target practice, smores, ATV's and so on. While The Boss was prepping smores for Baby Blue Eyes and the other little boys, an ATV driven by one of the teens came up over the hill and crashed into the campsite. It was on a direct path for The Boss, so he jumped out of the way, but at the last minute, it swerved and hit BBE and another little boy head on. BBE's little body took the brunt of the hit, and loooooong story short, he & I were Medevac'd out to CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia - where The Boss works) with head and face trauma. The other little boy was sent home from our local hospital later that night, with minor injuries and bruising.

BBE sustained a serious concussion, a broken right arm (the top of the ulna and the radial head), lost 4 primary teeth on the upper jaw in the center, and had 2 big lacerations on his lower lip that required 6 stitches to close. The upper gums where the teeth were knocked are, from a mommy's perspective, a complete mess :( He also showed some fluid in his abdominal cavity on the CT scans - specifically around his adrenal glands - and some of his enzyme levels were elevated. We were checked into our room around 2 a.m. on Monday morning, where we all crashed and got about 2 hours of sleep before the next round of blood work and dr. visits began. Not much sleep in a hospital! After a couple blood draws, and good results, they finally gave him clearance to try clear liquids around 4 p.m. Monday when his levels came back normal again. He promptly fell asleep for almost 3 hours, so discharge was put off another day. They needed to be assured that his little body would tolerate liquids and soft solids before going home. We were finally given the clearance to head home around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. His first solid food was half a tuna sandwich on white bread! (Eaten in very tiny pieces, popped past the stitches and swallowed gingerly . . . .)

So, we are home now and the healing process includes several follow up visits to our pediatrician, the pediatric dentist, and the orthopedic specialist for his arm. He doesn't really want to see any more doctors, but at this point we have little choice. Today we meet with the pediatric dentist, for some x-rays, and an exam. Later, we'll face the physical therapists, and in the meantime we'll have to find some alternatives to swimming. That's the hardest part of being home, since our pool is staring him right in the face each time he looks out the window and he's such a little fish. I'm already sick of PBS and Nickelodeon kids' shows, but what I feel about Caillou and Blues Clues is immaterial at this point! And I don't need to tell you how differently this week could be playing out in our home. So whine on, Caillou! :)
. . . One year later, we made it through the 6 weeks of the cast, the partial cast for 6 weeks and finally the removal of the cast and were incredibly blessed to be able to do physical therapy here at home with me helping him. The doctors were amazed at the range of motion and strength that BBE retained while casted and allowed me to choose with our local pediatrician whether or not to pursue "official PT." I'm also pleased to report that BBE's adult teeth are coming in nicely and that only one shows signs of permanent damage. We still pray over that tooth and are believing the Lord for the "best case scenario" of cosmetic repair. He's mighty sick of monthly & bi-monthly x-rays, and thinks his dentist has stinky breath, but if that's the worst we have to deal with one year later, I'm okay with that! At this point (as of his June '07 appointment), he's free of any dental appointments until one of those 4 teeth start coming through the gums.

Today, we are deeply thankful to the Lord for sparing BBE's precious life and giving us many more days to hug and snuggle and run and play. When I hug him, I do so knowing that each hug is a gift. We are thankful for the tenderness and support that our new church family showed to us in the healing process - and for the healing that the Lord has done for the young man who was driving the ATV. He's a wonderful, godly young man, with much tenderness and compassion and I'm so grateful that he's hung in there and worked through the process of this with us. He's a very special young man.

So, today is The Gang's new Thanksgiving Day. We serve a mighty, loving God and we have seen His compassionate deliverance over and over in our lives, but never more expressively than over this year and over Baby Blue Eyes. Go hug your kids and thank your Daddy in Heaven for the gift of being their mommy or daddy!

And thanks for hanging in there for such a long post :) I promise to shorten it up for those to follow!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Favorites Friday

My Five Favorite Ice Cream Flavors:
  • Turkey Hill's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
  • Ben & Jerry's Pistachio, Pistachio
  • Hershey's Moosetracks
  • Bruster's Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
  • Bruster's White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
What are yours?

I'm off to spend the weekend with friends who came in today for a long weekend. Tomorrow is the ZOO and Sunday is slated for swimming and chill-axin' with the gang. Enjoy your weekend :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kudos To Curves

My local Curves started a motivational summer program called Camp Curves this week. I understand that many of the members of the Curves community are doing it too. In it, members are divided into teams (I'm on Spirit and Encouragement) and every time a member visits, she has the opportunity to earn points for her team by choosing various activities to do while she works out. For example, one could sing a camp song or submit an easy summer recipe. Additionally, on Thursdays and Fridays one can earn points for correctly answering trivia questions or for being there at least 3 times for that week. It is a fun summer boost and a neat way to connect the members with each other and with the reason we all drag ourselves out of bed or home from work to sweat it up for half an hour.

I'm so impressed with the way that our local Curves is run. It's very aesthetically pleasant, with nice decor and inspiring posters and pretty accessories all around. All the staff members seem to be enthusiastic and committed to their corporate mission ("Strengthening Women"). They all go out of their way to greet each woman who walks through the door, and they talk about their lives and inquire about ours. It gets us talking and relating to women we might never meet otherwise. I rarely get to know anyone's last names, but these staff members foster a great sense of community and hospitality every time I'm there. Each staff member is very different and unique, but they all carry a warm, caring spirit. It makes me glad to keep going and it CERTAINLY makes it easier to face my early morning work-outs. And believe me, THAT's no easy task!

So, I'm giving a big shout out to my Curves. I'm grateful for a place to go, that encourages me to get and stay healthy and that makes me want to connect with others when I'm there. For an extrovert like me, connection is so very important. And considering how unhealthy and unfit I have been for the past 10 years, THANK YOU Curves for getting me hooked. And for keeping me coming back!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Something New For Us

Today The Boss worked from home. That's new for us, as we've been a "commuting by train "family for the whole three years we've lived here. He loves his job and he loves the mission of his organization, but the stress and pressure of being "in another world" (aka the city) all day long and returning home (to the "real" world!) by train was beginning to wear thin. It required two completely different mindsets for him, and a mental adjustment each time he would board the train to and from the office. You could say, the novelty wore off. Honestly, the novelty of it all wore off for me loooooong ago, but he took a while longer to experience the drag of it all.

So he went to his boss and requested permission to occasionally work from home. He has the technology, both at the office and here, to do so. And he has great people (both above and below his position) in place to allow him the freedom of working remote. He just didn't have the flexibility in his departmental culture to allow for it. When he presented his case for doing so and his boss granted him permission to try it once per pay period, we were elated. We didn't expect that kind of flexibility to be granted.

And now that it's here, I've discovered that I'll have a bit more adjusting to do than I naively thought would be necessary. See, I love, love, love hanging out with The Boss. He's so laid back and easy going that I (usually!) feel relaxed just being home with him. Usually. But I found myself acting today (a Wednesday!) as it were Saturday. I (we) slept in, played on the computer, took my time getting to Curves, and made dinner really, really early (for us). That's all well and good for now, during Summer Break, but I am going to have to kick myself in the pants to remain productive when the kids are off to school. I can see it coming . . .

But the really great thing about The Boss working from home is this: today he was relaxed and "present" enough (ladies, don't you all know just what I mean?!) to sit with me and wrap up several conversations that I've been trying to finish since school got out. We made three big decisions in one 15 minute conversation:
  • Baby Blue Eyes will do kindergarten here at home this year
  • LadyBug will do one more year of public school, then we will re-evaluate both during the process of the adoption (they both want to be home with the baby :)
  • We will not make a decision on a part-time job for me till school gets underway (we've been contemplating that for a while, to help with adoption finances)
And we didn't argue or fade out or misunderstand each other from a place of exhaustion or overload even once. It was amazing. So amazing in fact, that I feel as if I'd lost 10 pounds of thought life.

Now if I could just get the scale to move as quickly as our decision-making process!

*Side note: while I was posting this, The Boss and the boys worked in the basement on a long-unfinished project that I was mentioning at dinner tonight. Wow! I love this work at home thing :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Currently, In Our Adoption Journey

As promised, here is another installment of the journey we are on to adopt a daughter from China. Each segment of our story feels so intimate and at the same time, so universal. At any given time, I have found myself sharing bits and pieces of our story, only to have sometimes complete strangers say, "Oh, my sister adopted from Russia and they waited forever also," or "Wow, my boss and his wife adopted from China, and I had no idea all that they went through." I feel as if the Lord has already used our journey to encourage others. And I'm so blessed to say that He has certainly used others' stories to gird us up and give us strength for our process.

As the story becomes increasingly current in the telling here, there are changes and things working in my heart about it and about my personal journey every day. Sometimes, I wonder what I was thinking when I asked the Lord to use this experience to change and mold me. Sometimes, it feels un-ending and too hard to persevere through. But on just such a day, the Lord allows my path to cross with one of those with a great story. And I marvel. So I'm continuing to share these snippets in as chronological an order as I can, but please know that all of it is "here and now" for me and I'm often processing as I write!

In April 2006, we contracted to begin our adoption journey through Living Hope Adoption Agency. It is founded by Samuel Fang, a former Chinese citizen who is deeply committed to bringing together “forever families” through the mission of his agency. (He has an amazing testimony of his own and clearly is anointed by the Lord for the work to which he has set his hands.) We are currently in the “waiting stage” of our adoption, having been approved first by our agency, then by the U.S. federal government. Our dossier (family file of information, like a portfolio) is in the “review stage,” waiting “in queue” at the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA). It’s a long process, and often the wait really wears us down. But the Lord has given us several tangible encouragements along the journey, including a “life verse” and a name for our new daughter. She will be called Aidan Hope, and the verse that we believe we are called to pray over her & her future is Psalm 71: 5 & 6 “For you have been my HOPE, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you, you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.” Aidan means “little fiery one” in old Gaelic, and with everything that she will have to endure to get to us, we believe God for a fiery little fighter spirit to rise up in her!

Coming installments of this story will be in the form of questions that people have been asking of us quite frequently in recent months. If you have questions as you read this, please feel free to ask them. I'd love to answer as best I know, and research the answers to those I don't know! Soon, I will also post a summary of the steps of the whole dossier approval process, to make more clear some of the things you have read and will read in future posting.

Thank you again, for coming back to hear more of our story!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Favorites Friday

I just spent a wonderful day hanging out and catching up with one of my dearest friends ever. This girl, I'll call her JBug (she knows why!), has been my friend from the first day of classes our freshman year at Messiah. We connected in a Communications class and very quickly became inseparable for the next 4 years. We've walked through lots of life stages together, navigated some tricky waters of relationships and growing pains, and supported & encouraged each other in hard and happy times. Today, I'm posting about my friend, JBug!

My Five Favorite Things About JBug:
  • She highly values real relationships, and works very hard to be as real as she wants her friends to also be
  • She is passionate about raising her kids to know Jesus and to know how to share Jesus with others
  • She is selfless and generous with her time and energy and resources when serving the Lord and His family
  • She is an incredibly loyal, gracious friend - and very constant in her devotion to her family and friends
  • Finally, she is incredibly fun to hang out with - a great conversationalist: wise, funny, and interested in what you have to say
So, JBug - thanks for a great day. Thanks for always reminding me that true friendship stands the test of time. And thanks for caring about me as much as I hope you know that I care about you. I had a super day, and I'm anxious to do it again soon! Love Ya, Babe :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

One More Thing Before I Go . . .

Happy Birthday Baby Brother!

I remember the first time I saw you
Scrunched up face and bald little head
You grabbed my 8 year old heart
And for these 31 years
You've been a joy to our family
Keeping us laughing
And thinking
And praying
Lots of praying :)
I'm so excited to see what God's got
For you and Mrs. Baby Brother
That coming little baby girl is blessed indeed
I'm proud of the man you are
Privileged to have been there
To see your journey
And the return of your bald head

Love You!

Blissfully Returning To Normal!

Today was the first day of our "normal" life again. It was so normal, it might seem tedious to the rest of you. But for me, it was bliss. Pure bliss. Well, not pure - bliss only slightly marred by the warnings to "stop splashing each other in the eyes," "please clean up that mess before we swim," and "keep your hands to your self in the grocery store." But even those little things were so normal I was happy to say them. Well, not happy, but only slightly annoyed at the 100th repeat of "Please don't run by the pool!" Anyway, you get my drift. Normal is good. Today was good. Here's what normal is for The Gang:
  • Got up early and started working up a sweat by 7:40 at my local Curves
  • Stopped at the post office to mail a Rescue Hero to a Johnson boy - you know who you are :)
  • Stopped at the bank to cash a check from the insurance company
  • Came home to find Shaggy and Dr. Doolittle busily attending to chores, while LadyBug played with her favorite doll
  • Baby Blue Eyes had a melt down about changing garbage bags alone this week
  • Talked him off the ledge (in this case, the side of the tub!), took a long hot shower and did my hair and my make-up, sorta
  • The nieces and nephew came for the day (to give Sis a break after housing The Gang in various forms for almost 3 days!)
  • Headed with 6 kids to the library - had to leave Shaggy behind, as our van only seats 7 and I apparently forgot that with 7 kids I'd need 8 seats! DUH.
  • Rockin' Aunt Tracy let everyone play in the new play room at the new library for 20 minutes
  • Headed to the grocery store, with my super duper list helper and various runners assigned to various tasks on the list
  • Stopped for burgers and fries on the way home, again - Rockin' Aunt! Extra burgers for Shaggy - to make up for being left behind
  • Visited with a friend pool-side while kiddies played and splashed and tried not to run
  • Got cousins off for home and fed The Gang
  • Did church bulletin (early, I might add!) and surfed web for adoption stuff while Gang ate
  • Put on a movie for Gang, welcomed The Boss home from long day, caught up on email and blogs
  • Now I'm off to put on my jammies and grab a book
Normal, oh sweet Normal. I love you, Normal :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Little More Of Our Story

In the absence of anything new to report since yesterday's post about our AC repairs, I'm sharing the second part of our adoption story with you. And still waiting for the repair service to come. Rumor has it that they will be here "within the hour," but I'm not staking my entire day on it!

The last segment of our story ended with my junior high self reading a book, The Family Nobody Wanted, and feeling inspired and connected to Helen Doss's passion for the then "un-adoptable" children in the U.S. foster/orphanage system. Here's the next step in our journey:
Many years after reading that book, The Boss and I began dating during our sophomore year at Messiah College. Once I sensed that this relationship was becoming serious, I shared with him my heart for adoption. I’ve always known that I’d like to have biological children, but I told him that I felt a strong urging of the Lord to seek out children from other nations that could benefit from the background, experience, and godly up-bringing that I and my future spouse could offer. He was surprised, but agreed to pray about it as it concerned our future together. I’ve been so privileged over the years to watch God “water” the dream of adoption as a calling in my husband’s heart also.

Since then, there’s always been an understanding that this was the path the Lord had called us to; that the real issue was not “if” but “when.” In fact, many of our friends say that they remember us talking about and being certain that adoption was part of our future as a family – even when we were newly engaged! I specifically remember watching news programs about the orphaned children in the former Czechoslovakia, weeping and begging God to let us begin our family even then. It was so hard to wait on HIS timing and HIS plan for the unfolding of our dream.

Over these 16½ years of marriage, even as the Lord was blessing us with four beautiful children, we still carried a sense, a “knowing,” that our family was not yet complete. Each of our kids is gifted, smart, and talented; but more importantly than that, they all love Jesus deeply and they believe in this “family mission” to which God has called us. I feel incredibly blessed that the Lord trusted me enough to give me this dream, even in seed form; and that He has watered it over the years. I am even more blessed that He saw fit to bring me a husband who could joyfully share this dream with me and make it his own. We believe that adoption is part of our family identity and we are excited to see the harvesting of the fruit of that little seed, planted in the heart of a junior high girl.
I am looking forward to sharing the more current parts of our story with you soon! Thanks for hanging in there to read the individual installments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We Interrupt This Life . . .

As I mentioned in Monday's post, our AC has been on the fritz - dead, really. It broke Friday afternoon, for the third time in as many weeks and the repair service took the fan motor with them on Monday to match the part(s) and to decide amongst themselves whether this was the time to confiscate just my firstborn or go for the oldest two. We're waiting, waiting and waiting to hear from them. In the mean time, we've moved most of The Gang into my sister's place and have only been returning to the house for food to help round out the meals (feeding 12!), and clean undies all around. Last night we returned to swim, but today we're all too pooped out and lazy to get over there even for that. The heat is very de-motivating, isn't it?

I'm trying to be patient, flexible, and understanding. But I was really looking forward to a couple days at home with the kids to lay low and relax together. And to catch up on laundry, re-arrange some bedrooms and cut my 12 weeks of coupons while watching old re-runs of Judging Amy. Instead, I'm fighting frustration, feel completely exhausted, and I miss The Boss. (He's been sleeping at the house in the boys' air-conditioned room, since he gets up sooooo early for work.) I'm feeling unproductive and I don't want to do much of anything. Except keep calling the a/c service to inquire about where we are on their priority list. The Boss left two messages already, so I am restraining myself, to avoid a restraining order on me!

Okay, now I'm whining. YUK.

It has been a good time of praying for The Boss, reading quietly while the 7 cousins play in the basement, and hanging with my sis. And I've enjoyed playing with Rascal - he's their cute new golden retriever puppy. I could do without the constant licking of my legs (who knew Eucerin lotion was a puppy aphrodisiac?!), but he's cute and easily forgiven. While I was driving a friend to work this afternoon, I felt like the Lord reminded me that my attitude and my frustration were in need of an adjustment. And that they will just make me more drained and exhausted. And crabby and whiny.

So I gave myself a little kick in the pants while driving back (figuratively, I promise!) and decided to vanquish Eeyore and Piglet to the wind. Tigger hasn't made an appearance yet, but Winnie is making his way to the surface and that works for now. Nothing like a good dose of toddler parenting skills when you are feeling and acting like a 2 year old!

**I promise, for those of you checking in for the next chapter in our adoption story, I'll post as soon as I'm home on my own computer. I've got it saved in my Word files, as I've been working on it on and off for a few months now. Check back soon :)

Monday, July 9, 2007

I've been tagged . . .

Okay, so the long weekend of fun is over and I'm sitting here in my SERIOUSLY hot house, listening to the AC guy tinker with our compressor. While I'm tempted to feel deep compassion for this poor man in the heat, it's tempered by the fact that this is the THIRD repair call we've placed in less than three weeks. Thank goodness the Johnsons are so laid back and easy going. We spent about 10 hours pool-side on Saturday, ate all our meals there and let the kids swim till well after dark to cool everyone down. They left early Sunday a.m. in their nicely air-conditioned van and we hung out pool-side again till bed time. HUGE thanks to my sis and fam for letting us crash with them over night to stay cool.

So, while I'm waiting on the AC guy to decide if this call is when they take my firstborn son as payment for parts they don't have in stock and repairs they can't make till said parts arrive (I know, I'm such a skeptic! Heat has addled my brain.), I figured I'd respond to my tag. Thanks Krazy Klingers, and oH mY wORD! for including me in the fun :)

8 Random Things About Me
  1. I think I want to write a children's book someday. I have a main character in my head, and some themes and ideas that I jotted down once. Somewhere.
  2. I've been a Weight Watcher for 3 years now. I'm only half way to my goal - still. . .
  3. I seriously hate loose teeth, newly lost teeth, and the gross socket left behind. NASTY!
  4. My favorite wild animal is the polar bear. I have a pic of one on the screen saver of my phone.
  5. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a stay-at-home mommy. In case I haven't said it lately, THANK YOU, Boss Man, for working so hard to allow me to be home! LOVE YOU, BABE!
  6. My kitty's name is Maggie, because when I got her I was unsure if I'd ever have a daughter and I just "needed" to use the name.
  7. I got my first real teddy bear when I was a senior in high school. I'm still friends with the boy who gave it to me.
  8. In addition to my coffee addiction (referenced here), I have very little self-control when faced with chocolate and peanut butter paired up. In fact, I rarely even buy my favorite ice cream, I can't handle the awesome responsibility of properly parenting my children and modeling the act of sharing it with my kids. I can't.
So, now I'm tagging my gal Jess over at The Asbury Trio! to join the fun. And Jess, get your sisters and friends in on the good times!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Happy Surprises!

I just got the most amazing phone call: our good friends, the Johnsons, just called to see if we were free for a "spur of the moment" visit. They are visiting other friends in Harrisburg, and since we've moved away, it's become much harder for them to get us all in, in one trip. It must be the Lord, because all our other plans for the holiday had fallen through in various stages. So - I can hardly contain my excitement! - we are being blessed with a spontaneous weekend visit with our dear friends.

These friends have been such constants in our lives. We met when we were all young married KIDS, with no kids of our own yet. We spent many happy years, cementing our friendships and doing all the fun things that young married couples can do without the baggage (literally!) of kids. (Not that I mind the diaper bags and bottles and diapers, just to be clear!) We went to local festivals, checked out local eateries, went to movies, did sleep overs when hanging out got too late, talked (uninterrupted!) for hours and enjoyed every minute of it.

And when the babies did come along, we held each other's kids, swapped date nights, visited at the hospitals, prayed together, cried together and laughed at all our new parent mistakes together. This friendship went through many fires and trials and tears along with the joys and the laughter of life together. And plenty of morning (all day!) sickness together too.

Then they headed off to Bible school. It was so hard to see them go, even though it was absolutely the right thing for them to do. It was hard to pray for them but not be able to DO anything for them from the distance. It was hard to remember that I couldn't just drop in to their little home on Kent Street anymore. It was especially hard to be apart during the loss of a child - we had to grieve their loss with them, away from them. It was hard to cram all our kids together in their little apartment on campus when we visited. But this friendship was WORTH all those hardships.

Harder still was leaving Mechanicsburg. For all the reasons that you already can imagine, but hard with the added pain of knowing that it was one more step removed from this couple and their "route" of visits and travel. And it got harder yet, when they left NY and headed to VA for a Master's program at Regent. Our access became mostly email and phone calls - lots of long, late night phone calls! In fact, I think it's been more than two years since we were together in person.

The level of excitement and delirium in the house right now is palpable. We love that they are comfortable just calling like that to fit us in. I LOVE that God knew how blessed we'd be, in spite of our earlier disappointment that other plans failed. So, I'm off to plan some meals (they have 5 kids now!) and to try and calm myself down. After all, they won't be here till after 11 tonite. There's no way I can sustain that level of delirium and adrenaline for the next 10 hours. Well, I can, but I better not. :)

Favorites Friday

Recently my father-in-law turned 70. So in his honor, today's Favorites Friday is about the grandparents. They are fabulous grandparents to the Gang, so they deserve the recognition and honor.

My Favorite Things About Tiny Boppa and Grandma B!
  • Tiny Boppa and Grandma B built their home in the mountains with plans for lots of grandkids. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you have a safe, fun and happy place for 7 grandchildren to run and play and burn off lots of energy (no matter the weather!), it's a big deal to the adults who are trying to have normal conversations!
  • They know how to play with the kids. They color, they go for nature walks, they play foosball, and they enjoy silly Disney movies alongside the grandchildren.
  • They live a life of upright, principled character. They set a great example for the kids of living a righteous and holy life, focused on serving the Lord and His people.
  • They know how to spoil a grandkid. Grandma B is often guilty of preparing a special meal just for one kid, cutting off the crusts, and letting certain little things slide. Tiny Boppa allows for vigorous horsing around and "boy play" that Mom and Dad stress over. It's hard for me to let some of that slide, but I tell myself that my grandparents did it for me - and I turned out mostly okay!
  • Finally, Tiny Boppa and Grandma B started a new legacy for the whole Whitney Gang when they committed their lives to Christ. Because of their godly choices, our kids are being raised as second generation Christians on both sides of the family, with all the riches and blessings that come from the lineage that they grafted into. It's a rich heritage, both in the natural and the spiritual and we are reaping many benefits from their surrendered lives.
Incidentally, Tiny Boppa got his nickname when Baby Blue Eyes was learning the family connections of my parents vs. The Boss's parents. Big Boppa is my dad, because he's a very big man (especially to BBE when he was 3). "Tiny Boppa" was just the way BBE figured out the difference between the two. So it stuck. Except for his physical stature, Tiny Boppa is a big man in all the ways that count!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A little bit of our story

As many of you may know, we are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. In the next few weeks, I'm going to be sharing snippets of our story. Our process, how we got here, and where this dream started are all integral parts of who we are as a family. And as I've been praying over the message of Genesis 22 and what it started brewing in my heart, I'm realizing more and more how tied together all this is. I thought there were loose ends, that the brew had more percolating to do. And indeed, there is much to brew over. But I'm seeing that there are no loose ends to this, that it's all tied up in HIS hands and that He's making me up a cup of the good stuff! So, here's a first installment of our adoption story!
I have been nurturing and praying for many years over a particular dream that the Lord planted in my heart in my junior high years. When I was in 7th or 8th grade (1980 or 1981), I purchased a used book at a “Bookmobile” sale in our town. The book was The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss. It told the story of a young Methodist pastor’s wife, unable to bear her own biological children, who desired to be a mother more than anything. I connected with this young woman on many levels: I was a brand-new pastor’s kid, I loved children, and I wanted to be a mother someday. When told that biological motherhood was not in her future, Helen Doss refused to take that as the final word: she KNEW she was born to be a mother.

I became fully engaged in the story of her journey to adopt children from all over the United States, and was profoundly impacted by the trials she overcame to become the mother to these children. You see, she and her husband chose to adopt children that were considered “undesirable” by the 1940’s-era foster and adoptive systems. Many of these children were “un-adoptable” because they were of foreign, unknown, or mixed ethnicity. Looking back on it now, I believe that the Lord used that book to plant the seed of a dream in my heart to pursue international adoption. I still have my tattered, dog-eared copy of that book and have re-read it many times over the years.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the story of our adoption!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Funny, if you are over 35!

A lady at my local Curves shared this funny story with us today. I'm sharing it with some revisions, to keep it rated G. But it's got some universal truths that cracked me up - until I looked in the mirror. Then I just shrieked! Enjoy!

My thighs were stolen from me during the night several years ago. It was just that quick. I went to sleep in my body and woke up with someone else's thighs. The new ones have the texture of cooked oatmeal. Who would do such a cruel thing to legs that had been mine for so long? Whose thighs are these and what happened to mine? I spent that entire summer looking for my real thighs. Finally, hurt and angry, I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans and Sheer Energy pantyhose. Then, just when my guard was down, the thieves struck again.

My butt was their next target. I knew it had to be the same gang, because they took such pains to match my new rear end to the thighs they'd stuck me with earlier. I couldn't believe it, but my new butt was attached at least three inches lower than my original one. What were these guys thinking? Now, my new rear complemented my legs, lump for lump. Frantically I prayed that long skirts would stay in style.

Then, last year I realized that my arms had been switched too. While fixing my hair one morning, I watched with horrified fascination as the flesh of my upper arms swung in perfect rhythm to the motion of my hair brush. This was getting scary. My body was being replaced, one section at a time. How clever and fiendish this ring of burglars was. Age? Age has nothing to do with it. Age creeps up, unnoticed; something like maturity, right? No, this wasn't age. I was being attacked, repeatedly, without warning and quite methodically. In despair, I gave up t-shirts. What could they possibly target next? I shouldn't have asked: my neck disappeared faster than the Thanksgiving turkey it now resembled. That's when I decided to tell my story. I can't take on the professionals alone.

Women of the world: WAKE UP and smell the coffee! That isn't really plastic that those surgeons are using. You know where they are getting those replacement parts, right? The next time you suspect a woman of having something lifted, look carefully. Was it lifted from YOU? I think I finally found my thighs. I sure hope Cindy Crawford paid really well for them!

This is not a hoax, it's happening all over the world, to women in every town, every night. Warn your friends!

Oh! On a hopeful note, I must tell you: I thought someone stole my breasts. I was lying in bed and suddenly they were gone. But when I jumped up to search, I was relieved to find that they had been hiding under my armpits while I slept. Now I tuck them in my waistband for safekeeping!

Do The Right Thing

I just spent a nice family weekend away, celebrating my father-in-law's 70th birthday. While we were away, I felt inspired to tell you about my sister-in-law. For the purposes of this blog, she will be known as "Baby Bird" - a nickname given to her by her daddy when she was just a little girl.

Baby Bird is a loving wife and mother to three great kids. She's been my friend since my freshman year at Messiah, when she came to visit her brother for a Little Sibs weekend. He wasn't The Boss yet, just a good friend who needed a place for his sister to sleep for the visit. Over the years that The Boss and I were forming a friendship and deepening our relationship, my friendship with her also grew. But the deeper, more intimate knowledge of each other has come in the years since we started raising these wild, crazy cousins together. Going through parenting together has given us a common ground from which to learn from each other - and I've learned a lot from her.

Over the years, I've seen Baby Bird make hard choices and learn how to make boundaries for herself in many of her relationships. And I've seen her Do The Right Thing, often at cost to herself. When a friendship was getting sticky and strained, Baby Bird chose to Do The Right Thing and confront the tension head on. When her child was struggling in the private school setting, she explored the options and chose to Do The Right Thing for that child and home school. When she meets someone in need and is confronted with a choice, she chooses to Do The Right Thing for that need. She often sacrifices her time and her money and her creative energies for her church family and her neighbors & friends. "Do The Right Thing" is a strong character trait that has cut a wide swath across her heart and consequently is embedding itself in her kids' hearts. Those who know her know that she is a woman of strong convictions and principles. But she doesn't just mouth service to those convictions - she acts on them. She lives the ideal of "Do The Right Thing."

It's been a privilege to see her grow and change and choose. She chooses to Do The Right Thing regularly with grace and compassion and conviction. And I'm proud to be her sister. And I'm proud to learn from her life.