November 30, 2007

Left behind

This is a picture of Zion a couple months ago, gazing at his cousin, Eliana...who he will leave behind. Her name means, "My G has answered" in Hebrew. She is Daniel's sister, Kerry, and her husband, Philip's daughter. Daniel and Kerry are so close. When we lived in Kentucky for three years, he called his sister every week, and they would chat like girlfriends. She is five years his senior and he has always thought she hangs the moon. I couldn't love her more, myself. And her husband is a wonderful, devoted man of God. Not to mention the kids' grandma, MoMo, and their great-grandma, SueSue. And of course there is Grandma and Grandpa in Michigan, and Uncle Kody and Uncle Jack and Aunt Denise and JJ, who will also be left behind.

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Last night, Daniel asked Kerry and Philip to be the boys' Godparents. Should anything ever happen to us on the mission field or otherwise, we have decided to entrust our most precious earthly treasures to them. They were absolutely honored. It was an emotional time. For that matter, it IS an emotional time. This is the hardest part of all of this. It sometimes keeps me up at night, thinking, 'Will the boys suffer very greatly because they are so far aways from their families?'

And then I remember the words of my dear friend, Laura, who is raising her two small daughters on a snow capped mountain top in North India. She writes, "Our children Kayla, yours and mine, will have a worldview!!! My children thank Dad for ELECTRICITY and WATER!!! They chat for the children on the streets they see. They know the world is not a suburban bubble! What I did not know at the age of 21, Sophia knows at 4."

So, chat with me now friends, I need it. "Dad, as we boldly go in 'ruthless faith,' as Laura puts it, bless our going. We desperately need your anointing, your provision, your Spirit. When these little boys find themselves on the other side of the world, may they know that YOU are their world. May they know that their citizenship is in Heaven, that they were put on this earth for one reason and one reason alone, to love you and bring you glory. May that knowledge help them understand why we've taken them away from family and country Comfort them when they cry for MoMo, when they long to see their Grandma and Grandpa. Comfort them when they are the only blond heads in a city of four million people. Make them strong, make them resilient, and most importantly, inflame their hearts with love for you. You are our hope. You are our everything. To you we commit our lives and our sons."

November 21, 2007

And His desire is for me.

I devote a day of each week preparing to teach the Song of Songs on Sunday, and today was the day. This week we're covering the last of the Bride's four statements of identity. In the first, she was consumed with herself, which made her relationship with Him very one dimensional. In the second, she began to think of what blessed His heart, although she still placed her desires before His. In the third, she began placing His desires ahead of hers. In the last, she totally surrenders every desire, good or bad, and begins to get totally lost in the desires of His heart.

Around eleven this morning my phone rang at the house. It was Kayla. She asked me if I had been outside. I hadn't. Apparently, the temperature dropped around 30 degrees and she thought it would be the perfect day for me to hunt the evening. Though she's done things like this before, it always surprises me because it puts a pretty big strain on her. She knows a change in weather means deer movement (because she's a stud, or should I say the wife of a stud). She also knows that I love to hunt the evenings, which is a rarity when one has small children. And she knows that I LOVE to hunt the cold. There's something about facing elements that excites me. So I loaded up my bow and arrows and enjoyed the evening from a cedar tree in the valley of Haggard farm.

I'm no psychologist, but it must be unhealthy to be totally consumed with yourself. Certainly, it must be unhealthy to be totally consumed with another. Full abandonment to anything is risky and detrimental. Unless, that is, you're abandoned and consumed with the One.

Some might think, "Boy Kayla, keep that up and you'll have a man that's consumed with hunting." Not so my friends, never underestimate the nature of divine love. What pleased my heart this evening, more than any weather pattern, scenic view, or late-rut hunting action, was that I could tell that she really wanted me to go - for me. And what that did was make me want nothing other than her.

His intention is to consume us with Himself. Just when you think you're losing it all, just when the professionals would advise you otherwise, you gain EVERYTHING. Turn everything over to Him getting what He wants, and come to find out that His singular desire is to possess and have YOU. Watch out Kayla Rupp, keep that up and you will have a man that's totally consumed... with you.

(By the way, these are my two all time favorite pictures of my wife.)

November 16, 2007

Men and their friends

My wonderful husband is hunting this weekend with his buddies, Tyler and Russ. Tyler is a pharmacist and Russ is a business higher-up. They both like to cook, and they both care about their clothes. I've even seen both of them wearing pink (at separate times, of course). The men my husband makes friends with fascinate me. They are usually very different from him. He has few friends, in fact, who are much like him at all. He is drawn to bachelors a decade older, or jokesters a decade younger, or men from other countries, or men with funny names, or men who don't say a word, or men who like the name it. Of course, his closest buddies (like John Harrigan, pictured here) do share a lot of his interests. But he is always bringing home a new friend for dinner, and I'm always entertained by his choice.

November 12, 2007

Drive-in movie night

In these pictures, I am in my pajamas, sitting in a camping chair with a bowl of popcorn... and yes, we are outside. That is the beauty of not owning a TV. When your only option for movie night is your portable DVD player, you can get very creative. We called it drive-in movie night. The stars were twinkling above our heads as we watched Heath Ledger bite a man's jugular in Four Feathers. Very romantic. Our neighbors in the apartment complex teased us, but we didn't mind (they're just jealous). Of course, we had to have the subtitles on so we could follow the dialogue of the movie during the rumbling of a passing truck or the blast of the train whistle.

This is a such a precious season for us. The other night as we were clearing the dinner table, Daniel caught me up in his arms and we kissed and danced on the kitchen floor. We got to chuckling about it, because as he held me in his arms, he was holding a sippy cup of milk behind my back. The milk swayed in the cup as we danced. Precious, precious times. I really am thankful we live in this tiny apartment complex across from the football stadium. I'm glad we hear fireworks against our windowpanes on Friday nights when the hometeam scores a touchdown. I'm glad our neighbors aren't glad they smoke and cuss and tell us about their problems. I'm so glad my baby son sleeps in our walk-in closet. I'm so glad we watch movies under the stars. If things were any different, I really think I might get bored.

November 10, 2007

Camp Potty: Day 3, and we are potty trained

Well, Laura Pinkstaff was right, you CAN potty train your kid in three days. Today he pooped in the potty twice and peed countless times...making it all the way to the end of the prize chart. That meant a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's!!! MoMo and Sue-Sue and Aunt KK and Uncle Philip and baby Eliana and little brother Zion and Mama and Daddy accompanied Bright for pizza and games - in his underwear! He asked to used the potty twice, all on his own, while we were there and he did great.

While he was sitting on the potty to go pee before bed, he said to Daniel, "Zion is Daddy's baby." Daniel said, "And Bright is Daddy's little boy." Bright corrected him promptly, saying, "Bright is Daddy's real BIG boy." And he's right. There is only one baby in the house tonight. Though I'm so very proud of him, I'm sad, too. I don't know where the time has gone. He sat there at Chuck E. Cheese, eating a slice of pizza, not using a booster seat, and not wearing a diaper, and I realized that somewhere in the last 36 hours he crossed a threshold, and we can never go back.

And just like that, the baby is gone.

November 09, 2007

Camp Potty: Day 2 of 3

Day two went well! We had one poopoo on the potty and several peepee's. The reward system is really key, otherwise I think he might lose interest. We've drawn up a road on a poster board with several stops along the way. Every time he goes successfully he gets another sticker further down the road. Yesterday he made it to the gas station, then over the rock bridge, and then to Luigi's tire store! Today we made it to the big wooden bridge. Hopefully soon we'll make it to our final destination - Chucky Cheese's!

Our favorite comment from the potty, said with confidence and a deep measure of certainty, has been: "Poopoo is gross, tooters are not." Have you got a memorable potty training moment???

(props to the Chaneys for the interactive comment idea - I love it!)

November 08, 2007

Camp Potty: Day 1 of 3

Good friends of ours in India potty-trained both their kids in three days. We decided to try the method with Bright. The fun began today. Daniel and I stayed up late last night coloring a prize chart and washing little white underwear. Daniel took three days off work. This is big time. This morning, Daniel laid plastic down over the carpet. We kept Bright's sippy cup filled all day and encouraged him to drink constantly. Now, at the end of the day, we can proudly say that he peed in the potty 6 times and pooped in the potty twice, with NO poopy messes and only ONE peepee mess. Unbelievable!!! This method rocks. Here is the photo documentation of day one. Enjoy. We will let you know how day two goes. Stay tuned.

November 05, 2007

Bambi's dad

This is a picture of Daniel on his first ever bow hunt, four years ago. As you can see, Dad blessed his efforts. And now every fall, before he heads out into the woods, we ask for a deer.

Can Daniel really be a follower of the One and a hunter? Can we actually think that Dad delivers deer into his hands? Absolutely. Though death was not supposed to be in the cards for creation, it is, temporarily, just as much a part of life as birth. Unless you are a very disciplined vegetarian, you and your family enjoy the fruits of death every day. I would dare say you've even craved that which death provides (did you ever order a pepperoni pizza after midnight in college?)

Alright, so we're all terrible, right? No. But I will venture to say that a hunter is the least despicable meat-eater of all. If we're going to talk methods of execution, then perhaps the grain-fed steer is killed more "humanely" (being that his death comes upon him suddenly and unknowingly). But what kind of life did he lead? He was born into slavery, his manhood was stripped from him so he wouldn't act like a bull, and he was forced into a life of gluttony and submission. A wild deer, on the other hand, might stumble and bleed for miles, with an arrow protruding from his side, but when he falls, he falls with honor. He lived free and died fighting. Ask any man which death he'd prefer. Not to mention, the steer lost his life for the profit of a commercial restaurant chain, and the deer lost his life for the organic nourishment of a grateful family of four.

And if we're talking honor, which "hunter" is more honorable? The man who hunts the best-looking cut of meat in the supermarket, or the man who practices his shot for months, wakes up at 4:30 a.m., and sits in a freezing cold tree for four hours, not moving?

In closing, I am proud to say that my husband is a deer hunter. And on top of that, I make a mean rosemary-lemon venison stew. You are all welcome for dinner at our house.

November 03, 2007

While the sun is in the sky

Yesterday, I finally took this banner down from my dining room wall. It is a quote from Mother Teresa, scrawled tearfully on pieces of scrap paper and affixed to the wall with thumbtacks. It got me through a very tough day that I never told you about. Some things are so big, they can't be reflected upon until hindsight has set in. Let me bring you back in time to October 16.

I called the pediatrician that morning because Bright had woken up twice in the night screaming. Both times I went to him, and both times he was holding his head in the very same spot and asking for me to kiss it (which meant it hurt). The doctor said we should come on in. Once in the examining room, Dr. Miller asked what part of the head it was. I told him the top back left side. He frowned.

"I don't want to alarm you," he said, "but we don't mess around with the back of the head. Pain there is always a red flag."
"For what?" I asked.
"You don't want to know," he said.

Dr. Miller ordered an MRI, but we were going to have to wait a week for the next available appointment. That meant I had to worry for a week whether or not, basically, Bright was going to live or die.

Daniel took the rest of the day off, and I tried to stay busy, but the tears would not stop falling. All I would do is look at my beautiful two-year-old and I would have to leave the room and cry. I decided to take a shower. A very hot shower. While I stood under the water, worry choking me like a weed, the above quote came to my mind. It has always been one of my mom's favorites. I realized that it was true. Worrying was not going to change the result of that MRI, but it WAS robbing me the joy of my son. How, I asked Dad, do I stop worrying? DECIDE TO, He said.

So I did. I dried off, put on comfy clothes, and pulled out a pad of scrap paper. As I wrote the quote and hung it on my wall, I cried the last tears of worry I would cry about that MRI. I decided, if this is the last week of Bright's life, then dad-gummit, we are going to enjoy ourselves. And we did.

The MRI, by the way, came back normal. But by the time the results came in, I had already come to grips with the fact that my son would die. And he will. Someday. We all will. Fearing that end is like fearing the setting of the sun. We should, instead, consider what we are doing while the sun is in the sky.

November 01, 2007

Wait for it...

My cousin Brian took me hunting on his family's place up in West Fork tonight. We had a blast. The further up in the Ozarks you go the prettier it gets. The leaves are starting to turn here and it was just a touch cool outside. I got up in the stand around 3:30, and as I was pulling up my bow, there were two does! Here's my bow dangling in the air 12 feet below me and four eyes staring me down from 17 yards away. Soon, needless to say, they decided that another area of the woods might suit them better.

At 4:50, I couldn't believe it. Up walk two more does. This time, I was sure not to mess things up. They moved right in, 15 yards, broadside, my heart was in the foliage about 5 feet above me. As I pulled back they busted me and probably went to see the other two does so they could all laugh and have a good time. At this point I'm coming to grips with shaming the family name...

Then, at 5:30, up the hill below me comes a lone deer. I knew it was small. I couldn't tell if it was a small doe or a yearling, but I decided to take a shot if I was given the chance. I remember whispering, "Dad, help me make good decisions." As she moved behind some covering, I drew back. Slowly, and very carefully she stepped right out - 15 yards from me on my bow side. I let it fly and had my best shot yet on a deer. She laid down just 40 yards away.

I'm thankful for her, that might sound odd to the non-hunters out there. But you always feel a strange but right connection to the animals that your given. Like Bright, Zion's first meat will be venison from his daddy's bow and arrow, from the One. Now it's 1:30 in the morning, I need a shower, and there are things under my fingernails that I'd rather not mention. But, I spent the evening Dad's woods and He's stocked us up with some good food. Thank you Dad for second chances, and third chances...