June 26, 2010

Haste the day

I don't know how much more bad news I can stand to hear.  Fathers fall from ladders and pass away two weeks later.  Grandmothers bulk under the weight of radiation treatment for cancer.  Uncles are handed five years to live.  Wives leave their husbands for a dream of a better life.  An ultrasound reveals a heart defect, and bam - life as we knew it will never be the same.

I am feeling an ache for eternity swelling in my chest.  Sweet Redeemer, come back and claim your kingdom.  I am ready to crown you, and live forever in the perfect shade of your reign.

I literally ache for it.

And sing for it:

L0RD, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
the trump shall resound
and the L0RD shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

June 25, 2010

Coming to a close

The fun is almost over.  Tomorrow is our last day in Arkansas.  We are more than excited about heading north to connect with our Yankee bloodlines and have all kinds of good times, but we are sad to part with friends and family here in Razorback country.

From Uncle Philip's secret-ingredient bar-b-qued ribs and Dick Tracy hot rods, to MoMo's swimming pool, to cartoons with Sue Sue, to Eliana's fantasy bedroom playland, there have been more memories crammed into two months than ice in a Sonic cup.

All of our training seminars have told us that our kids, though raised half a world away from their families, will have stronger and more vivid memories of their loved ones than most kids because of the nature of their time with them.  If there ever were three boys who enjoyed America more than mine have in these last 10 weeks, I would be very surprised.

June 24, 2010

Holding babies

Nearly 30 years ago, this beautiful young lady was mommy to this baby. The baby is me, and the mommy is mine.
Nearly 3 days ago, this bedraggled young lady was photographed by her husband in the way he usually sees her.  The crying babies are mine, and so are the mismatched pajamas.

June 22, 2010

Asking for Glory

Please pray with us now, my friends.  The prognosis in Little Rock yesterday was not encouraging.  We have one month until Glory is born (July 22nd to be exact) which is a very long time for Kerry and Philip to wait.  Glory is still not swallowing.  The doctors were hoping to see improvement there.  The medical team is shifting gears now.  Her empty stomach might be pointing to an esophagus/trachea condition that is as great of a threat as her heart defect.  A baby with just one of these two conditions, they frankly reported yesterday, would be fighting for her life. 

In Kerry's words, "The heart doctor and surgeon seemed to think that her success will, in many ways, depend on the severity of the esophagus/trachea condition upon birth.  However, as [Philip's mother] said last night, that is not the only reason we have to hope…we will continue to hope, regardless of what the doctors tell us, because of who our G0D is."

Spoken like a true champion.  As a mother myself, I am blown away by Kerry's faith in and loyalty to the Author and Creator of all.  I have never known a stronger woman than my sister-in-law.

Please pray fervently for Glory Morton.  Pray for her body to have the strength to endure the surgeries and treatments she will need.  Pray for her heart to keep beating, for her lungs to keep breathing, until she is old and gray.  Pray that the dancing cutie-pie kicking and squirming with life in her two-hour ultrasound performance yesterday would dance like that on earth to the delight of her parents and big sister.  Pray for Kerry and Philip, that they will have strength and feel comforted in these remarkably difficult days.  Pray for Eliana, Glory's 3-year-old big sister, that she would have the peace she needs and know G0D is good.

Thank you.

Furlough faux pas

After two months of solid speaking engagements, dinners, small group meetings, doctors appointments, hair appointments, get-togethers with friends, and a variety of other scheduled events, we finally failed to remember a commitment.

This woman slaved all day, undoubtedly grilling her famous marinated steak and chicken, and then she and her sweet husband and three amazing kids sat at the table and waited for us to arrive.
We never did.

Granted, our excuses were undisputably legit.  Daniel had been at the hospital until 5 a.m. the day before with Philip.  Daniel was going to Little Rock the following day with Kerry for her prenatal appointment at Childrens' Hospital, because Philip, her husband, is currently laid up in bed with a stent running from his kidney to his bladder and drugged three sheets to the wind.

Needless to say, we are all a little out of it right now (some of us more than others, eh hem).  Even still, it pains my heart to think about Ronda Brown and her adorable family sitting around their table, the clock ticking, wondering if they should call, and then finally picking up their forks and eating the meal that was supposed to be for us.

Ronda could not have been more gracious or more understanding on the phone when Daniel called to apologize in 50 million ways.  We are blessed to have people like the Browns behind us, loving us inspite of our mistakes, and praying us through these most turbulent of times.

June 21, 2010

The Worst Fathers' Day Ever

I found a good card this year.  Daniel doesn't usually get into greeting cards.  He doesn't see the point in them.  But I love the excuse to browse the greeting card aisle at Wal-Mart.  This year's Fathers' Day selection was fantastic!  I decided on this one.  It even looks like us.  Daniel may have even liked it.

Despite the fact that the kids and I made him Rice Krispie Treats...
...Daniel declared, with his feet up at the end of the day, "I'll go ahead and say that this was the worst day I've ever had."  Granted, this was an overstatement, but it may very well have been one of the most stressful days of his life.  Not exactly a man's Fathers' Day dream.

The day began very early, just past 1 a.m., to be exact, when Daniel woke me up to tell me that he was headed to the hospital.  He was himself feeling fine but Philip was trying to pass a kidney stone the size of a Fathers' Day card and he needed a little help from the folks at the emergency room.  Philip's day was much worse than Daniel's.  Not only was he in the predicament that I already mentioned, but at one point, around 4 a.m., a nurse assumed that Daniel (age 30) was Philip's (age 35) son.  We had a good laugh about that one over not-very-good beef stroganoff later in the day (I made the stroganoff, so I can say that).  Philip wasn't laughing.  He was stuck in the hospital overnight, after a day of surgery and strong meds and much pain.  Talk about a Fathers' Day nightmare.

Daniel did not stay at the hospital all day.  He made it home a few hours later, at about 5 a.m., and crashed.  He woke up about noon, ate a Rice Krispie Treat, and took a hot bath.  That was perhaps the highlight.  The flavor of the day quickly soured once again and stayed that way until dusk.  The kids were MONSTERS.  That is not characteristic of them, I'll say in the humblest way I know how.  Our kids are really good kids.  Not yesterday they weren't.  Holy smokes.  We really almost didn't make it through the day alive.

In fact, we spent our evening reading Parenting with Love and Logic, the new parenting book that dropped into our lap last week.  I think we might have a game plan.  Whew.

One overpriced Panera lunch that we had to bail on due to our screaming children, one hot and over-busy afternoon, one mediocre dinner, and a very bumpy and tearful bedtime later, we finally got the kids shut behind their doors and we collapsed.

Its a good thing Daniel is a father every day.  Its a good thing we have a lifetime to express to him that as far as dads go, it doesn't get any better than him.  Its a good thing I snapped these two pictures (pardon the chestiness) before the proverbial poop hit the fan.

June 19, 2010

It takes twelve muscles to smile

Bright has decided to become a helicopter pilot.  Specifically, a rescue helicopter pilot.  He wants to pull people up out of flood waters and off of the sides of mountains.  He decided this all on his own and out of the blue.  To be honest, I am not at all surprised.  He would be a perfect helicopter pilot.  He is steady, decisive, focused, and a very good driver.  The first time he drove his cousin Eliana's pink Mustang convertible, he hopped in, dropped it in reverse, looked over his shoulder, backed out, popped it in drive, and took off.  I've seen him park it flawlessly between a tool shelf and a hot rod, in reverse, while holding a stuffed animal with one hand and talking to me about lunch.  He could definitely pin a helicopter in the air in a storm above a drowning child.  If anybody could that, Bright could do that.

Bright comes up with things that mystify me.  He'll say something to me and its as if he just tossed sequins all over the place.  Sequins on my shirt, in the sink, under my socks.  He's like a sparkle machine.  He may not be the one sparkling, but everything around him is.

I just saw an ad in a magazine for Lays potato chips.  The add read, "It takes twelve muscles to smile."  That's funny because Bright has been saying for months that he has 12 muscles.  He'll say, "I'll carry that for you, Mom.  I've got 12 muscles."  He sure gives my 12 muscles a work out.

I stopped setting the kitchen timer the other day.  That had always been my solution to the squabling-over-a-toy problem.  "Five minutes!" I'd say, "and when the timer goes off, it will be Zion's turn."  Earlier this week, though, after I had set the timer for just such an occasion, Bright said, "The timer isn't as good as sharing."  I said, "Bright, you're right.  I won't ever set the timer again.  I will trust you boys to willingly give up the toy to your brother when the time is right."  They have been sharing ever since.

So this morning, when we were swimming together in the late morning heat, and I stopped at the edge of the pool to listen to the birds and take in the smells of the honeysuckle and the grass, I thought about all the times that I've crashed in and out of that pool, not noticing the birds or the flowers at all.  How many times have I crashed in and out of my 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. shift as these boys' mom, never looking up from my damp cloth or my frying pan?  Too many times.  Bright will not always believe that he has only 12 muscles.  He will not always want to be a helicopter pilot.  He will not always ask me to go on a date with him in the shade on the hill beside the driveway.  Therefore, I will look up from my frying pan.  I will turn off the burner, and go on that date with my 5-year-old son, like I did today, in that shade on that hill.  I will pack the snack he suggests, bananas and Dum Dums.  We will carry them up the hill in a tupperware dish.  We will sit in folding chairs, dipping our bananas in Ovaltine powder, and we will find baby elephants wearing feather headdresses in the clouds.

It takes 12 muscles to smile.  It takes takes 12 minutes to bless a child.  12 years from now, I will be glad that I shared Dum dums with Bright in the shade while I had the chance.

June 16, 2010

A face with the name

Here she is, folks, Glory Danielle, coming soon.

June 15, 2010

The (gene) pool

Now that my parents no longer live in the house I grew up in (you don't even want to know how sad I am about that), MoMo and Sue-Sue's pool is the only chance for swimming the kids will get this summer.  We have been taking full advantage.

Bright can now touch in the shallow end.  Even though he is only in the 35th percentile of height and weight (we just had our pediatric checkups), he thinks he is a regular giant now that he can touch.
Bright might look cute and harmless in this picture, but don't try to give him his 5-year booster shots!  At the above-mentioned pediatric checkup, it took two nurses and myself to hold him down while he hollered like he was being castrated.  He squalled so loudly that he broke the blood vessels in his face, leaving his eyes surrounded with freckle-like dots.  I felt bad for him.  Being 5 for the first time (as if we ever get another chance) is not easy.  Sunday, he graduated to the kindergarten room for Sunday School.  He walked in, holding my hand, and said very loudly and with forced confidence, "MY DADDY IS MY BOYFRIEND AND MY MOMMY IS MY GIRLFRIEND."  For some reason, he thought that was the cool thing to say.

Zion, going back to the swimming pool, is a regular Jimmy Buffet.  He could float and chill all day long in his blue starfish innertube.
How did Zion score at the pediatric checkup?  6th percentile in height and 7th percentile in weight.  Way to go, ZiZi, you made your way onto the chart!

Then we have Brave.  He just loves the pool.
Brave is the biggest Rupp boy, sitting at the 50th percentile in height.  His head measured a little big for his body size, but he gets that from his dad.  I apologized to Daniel after the appointment for giving our sons the Vander Hoff short genes, but he basically said that a short son is just as good a kind of son as a tall one.  I don't know who would argue with that.

June 14, 2010

Glory's story begins

The paintbrush is not moving on it's own.  There is a hand holding on to it, a Painter with skill far greater than the weight of bad news.  He feels love for us far stronger than the sting of dreams lost, paths blocked, and vows broken.

And right now, perhaps more than ever before, we can see that He is up to something.

There has been more going on in our lives this Spring than the eating of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and the throwing of birthday parties.  While here in the States on furlough, our hearts have been breaking alongside those who we love the most.  Characteristic of most storms, though, the cold rain, even as it beats down hard and blocks the sun, always smells good.

Let me bring you in on one of these such storms.  Let me start telling you the story of Glory.  It is just beginning, but it is already one of my favorite tales of all time.

A handful of weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Kerry (Daniel's treasured sister) and her stoic yet hilarious husband, Philip, found out that their precious daughter (who currently resides within Kerry at 7 1/2 months gestation) is basically missing half of her heart parts.

Imagine getting that news.  Imagine it.  Now we'll return to the story.

Not only that, but there appears to be nothing in her stomach, which means that for whatever reason, she is not swallowing amniotic fluid.  Her right hand was also mysteriously still while the rest of her body moved about.  After further testing, the doctors have more-or-less ruled out all of the incredibly severe problems that could be causing her not to swallow.  Now we must wait until she is born to determine what, if anything, is posing a challenge to her wellbeing other than her incredibly complicated heart defect.

The good news is, her heart is repairable.  She will be whisked away from her mother's womb into the hands of a team of highly skilled specialists at the Little Rock Children's Hospital.  When enough days have passed for her to be ready, she will undergo her first open heart surgery, where the doctors will take the heart she has and make it into something that will work.  Six months later, they will operate on her heart again.  Two and a half years after that, they will operate a third time, a surgery that will hopefully give her a very-close-to-normal life.  As adulthood approaches, her heart may need to be replaced altogether.  We will cross that bridge  we get there.when

Kerry and Philip have shown epic amounts of strength during the last few weeks.  I have watched over the last couple of years (largely from across the world, unfortunately) as the Father has been carving them into heroes of faith.  He has been making them ready for the time that is now upon them.
Before they learned of their daughter's condition, Kerry had been wondering for months why she and Philip could not settle on a name.  Nothing seemed to fit.  Last week, the name came.  Her name is Glory Danielle.  Glory because they want, more than anything, for her life to bring glory to the One who made her, and Danielle after Daniel, Kerry's favorite (and only) brother.

Now that you are choked up, let me really give you the chills.  Remember the charm sign that Daniel and I made for his mom - the one that we add a handmade wooden charm to for each grandchild born?  Before we knew anything about Kerry's baby, other than the fact that she is a girl, we made her charm.  We all agreed on the shape being a flower, and we all agreed on the color purple.  I randomly selected a flower shape from the internet to pattern the charm after, and drew it out.  Daniel cut it out of wood, and I painted it.  This is what it looks like (the name was originally missing, of course, because we didn't know it yet):
Once Kerry announced the name, and we all had a good celebration over it, we thought about the purple flower charm and wondered if it still fit.  Glory is such an important baby (not that other babys aren't) and we felt that her charm needed to be especially meaningful.  We wondered if we were going to need to make her a new one.

Then it dawned on me.
"Wait a minute," I said, "What does a morning glory look like?"

I scrambled to the computer and Googled "morning glory images."  This was among the images that came up.
You may cry now.

May He be glorified.

June 13, 2010

Celebrating Brave

Last year today, Brave Ransom Rupp was born in Thailand.  The room was large and hot with pink walls, pink trim, and pink leather furniture.  Brave's little blue hat, courtesy of my mom's knitting needles, was the only thing in the room that wasn't pink, I'm pretty sure.  Bright and Zion were running around the room with their matchbox cars, Daniel was up to his sunglasses with paperwork, many nurses were asking me, in broken English, "You pee pee?  You poo poo?", and I was forcing myself to eat the jiggly Thai food on my tray, amidst waves of nausea from an epidural that didn't set in until after the birth.  And in the middle of the room, one beautiful baby was sleeping like an angel.  One beautiful baby named Brave.
The weeks that followed were sweet weeks, memories that only the five of us share.  None of our family was there with us to experience the night market, the elephants, the tea carts, the supermalls, the tuk tuks, the falafel place, the Juniper Tree, the waterfalls, the mountains, and the seafood chowder at The Dukes.  We were a family, and we had each other, and we were happy and sweaty and rested and away from everything else and everywhere else that we had ever been or would ever be.  What a wonderful place for our memories of Brave's birth to reside.
And now we celebrate you, Brave Ransom (The Berv), and all the wild wonderfulness you bring into our lives.  This has been a delightful year, after I got over the initial shock of having three kids underfoot all day every day, a shock that was more like a shock wave.  You made it easy, really.  You make everything easy.  You are just a plain joy, that's all.  No complaints about you, little one.  You are a fighter, we can see that, but with the right training you are going to be one heck of a man.

You wear your name well.

All our love and Happy Birthday,
Mom and Dad

June 11, 2010

Rare gems

Right now Bright is trying to occupy himself with a cheese grater while I am trying to sneak in a blog and while Daniel and the little boys are napping.  Bright, thank you for being so gracious as to let me blog on these afternoons of your childhood.  You are a good boy.  Someday, when you have all this garbldy-gunk to read, maybe you'll be glad for it.

What was so important that I would sacrifice 20 minutes of time that I could be cuddling with my son in his Thomas underwear (which is the only thing he is still wearing today, and most days by 3 p.m.)?  Our recent outing to Fayetteville, of course, centered around two of our favorite subjects: food and friends.  In this case, both involve Asians (that's right, Alex, I am talking about you).

We went to our all-time favorite restaurant, which I have blogged about before, Taste of Thai, to eat our all-time favorite dish, Panang Curry, with Daniel's best college buddy, Alex Yu, and his wife of 9 years (that night), Betsy.  We had not seen the Yus since before we both starting having kids.  We had A LOT of catching up to do, which explains why we didn't get home until nearly 1 a.m.
Alex and Betsy are one of those couples who, given a completely different set of life circumstances, would be really, really close friends of ours.  We could do life with them - you know those people?  Its when your parenting styles mesh, your lifestyles mesh, and you share the same views on what is important and what is worth fighting for.  We could have talked with them until the sun came up. 
So thank you, dear friends, because I assume you'll be reading this eventually, for being who you are and for loving each other the way you do and for pouring into your kids the way you always will.  You will remain a beacon of light in a sea of compromise.  We love you so much!

June 10, 2010

Where it all began

Where did I begrudgingly go on Spring Break in my junior year of college when all of my friends were going to places like The Dominican Republic?

Where did I meet the handsomest guy I'd ever seen?

Where did I hear from G*d for the first (and only) time in my life, so clearly that I would have bet my mother's life on it?  (The message was, by the way, that the handsome guy mentioned above was going to be my husband, even though I had only known him for three days).

Where did I devour the New Testament like it was candy, reading it with seeing eyes for the first time in my life?

Where did I commit my life to G*d's work worldwide?

Where did I pick out my engagement ring with my new fiance (the handsome guy mentioned above)?

Where did I eat my first Chick-Fil-A sandwich and drink my first Sonic Cherry Lime-aide?

Where did I learn that Michiganders do have an accent?

Where is the best BBQ in the world made?

Where did Elvis live?

What city will we name our (future) family dog after?

What city did Marc Cohn sing about?

What is our favorite city in the world?

The answer, if you've not already guessed, to all of the above questions is Memphis, TN.

Pictured below are Daniel and I with our kids and two of our favorite people, David and Kelli Montague, with their two youngest daughters, at Rendezvuous in Memphis.  I probably have bits of THE WORLD'S BEST RIBS in my teeth in this post-dinner picture.  Every time we go to Memphis, like we did last week to speak about what we do in East Asia to the summer staff at the place that awakened us to G*d, we make it a point to eat at Rendezvuous.
And we make it a point to hang out with these people and much as we possibly can.

June 07, 2010

The Birds and the (busy) Bees

Bright has been asking questions about babies and their origins.  I have been running screaming in the other direction changing the subject.

Then, this morning, I said something stupid:

I said, "Yes, I'm sure there are boy ladybugs, Bright, even though they have the word 'lady' in their name.  There couldn't be baby ladybugs, after all, without daddy ladybugs."

Small gasp. I stop in mid dish rinse, holding my breath and beating myself over the head in my mind.  I wait for his response, wishing Daniel were here.

He said, "That's right, Mama, because if there weren't daddy ladybugs, the mommy ladybugs would have too much to do."

Relief and a smile swept over me.  The role of the daddy in procreation remains, in his mind, one of helping mommy not be so busy.  Talks of insemination have been avoided for one more day.

I will, however, have to address his choosing to call himself "Dr. Drag" (when he is pretending to be a dragon doctor) and "Prick" (when he is pretending to be a porcupine).  At least its not as bad as the other day, when Daniel and I were standing in the kitchen having a minor disagreement about I can't remember what, and Zion ran through the room squawking, "Fock, fock, fock, fock" for some unknown reason. 

Does anyone have Dr. Dobson's home phone number?

June 05, 2010

Around here

Around here, there have been makeovers (the mop was getting hot).
Around here, there have been dragons (surprise, surprise).  This one by Bright is breathing fire.
Around here, there has been heartache.  There are two types of people you don't want to welcome into your daily life: pediatric heart surgeons and divorce lawyers.  Our extended family has welcomed one of each this week alone.

Around here, there is always horseplay.

June 03, 2010

That is not the cross

It is ON.  Brave and I are going toe to toe, and I am going to win.  He is a 20 pound ball of baby flesh (a mighty cute one, I might add) and I am the 120 pound MAMA.

I really hate it when this day finally comes.  I hate to reach out and rap pudgy knuckles after they touch what they know not to touch.  I hate to be met by a look of total betrayal, followed by a broken-hearted yowl.  It really is not parenting at its glory.

Or is it?

I saw the heading for an article in TIME Magazine the other day (notice I stopped at the heading) stating that the "fact" that spanking children causes them to grow into abusive adults is a no-brainer.  I ran it by Daniel, who cooly reminded me of Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him diligently disciplines and punishes him early."

Oh yeah, that's right, the Bib!e is systemically being undermined by Sat@n in modern culture.

Not that there isn't grace in parenting.  I once heard of a dad who sat in the car during an entire dinner party while his offending daughter went in to the party.  She was supposed to sit in the car for what she had done on the way over, but he took her punishment as a demonstration of what her Savior did for her on calvary.  Don't think that lesson didn't stick.

Discipline can be a glorious thing, when done lovingly and outside of the context of shame.  The kids might not see that now, but someday they will.

So I will continue to thump Brave's digits when he touches the outlet, and Zion will continue to say, "Brave, don't touch that, you could die on it."  Then, after a dramatic pause, "I'm not touching it, seeee?  I don't want to die.  My name's not Je$us, and that [pointing to the outlet] is not the cross!"

June 01, 2010

"...what it feels like to live life."

This morning I stood in the driveway waving a bubble wand.  My oldest sons and my niece ran around in front of me.  The garage radio was tuned in to Air1, which was playing a song I had never heard before.  Yours To Take by Jimmy Needham.  As the lyrics danced out of the garage, the children before me danced among the bubbles with their hands in the air.  It looked all too much like a worship service. 

True joy is found in those moments, like the one described above, in which one is keenly aware of the stuff described below.

Jimmy Needham - Yours To Take
From the album Nightlights

This is my second chance
This is no song and dance
You came in and renewed a right spirit
This is grace at its best
This is taking a restless, messed up heart and having you clear it

I can feel the weight is lifting
I'm barely staying on the ground
And I can feel the wait is over
Finally the lost is found

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The Son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine
I've Been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

I was down for the count
I was up, but knocked out
When I heard pardon for the interruption
Then like out of blue
Out came glorious You

You picked me up without barely any introduction
You won my heart by a landslide
You tend to do that every time
So everything I have is Yours now
Even my very life

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The Son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine
Well, I've Been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

Your kindness leads me to repentance
Leads me to the cross, which leads me to forgiveness
So I'm counting it all as lost

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The Son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He asking for mine

So, this is what it feels like to live life
So, this is breathing air for the very first time
The Son of man, He came here to give life
And in return He's asking for mine
I've been captured by grace
I'm not going away
I'm Yours to take

So, this is what it feels like to live life
I'm Yours to take
So, this is what it feels like to live life
I'm Yours to take
So, this is what it feels like to live life
I'm Yours to take
So, this is what it feels like to live life
I'm Yours to take