January 21, 2016

The skill of being still

Furlough isn't relaxing.

It is a time to reconnect with our families, friends, and supporters back home. Which means it is a wonderful time, but it isn't relaxing. In the midst of all the reconnecting, the kids must still be home-schooled, meals must still be prepared, laundry done and clutter managed. There is a lot of travel, packing and unpacking, hellos and goodbyes, super high highs, and stress-filled lows. It is many things, but it isn't relaxing.

Think Disney World. It's a happy place! But at the end of a day at Disney, one is typically left with sticky kids, a cranky husband, a sunburned neck, a lighter wallet, and a long way to walk to get to the car.

It's kind of like that with furlough.

So now we find ourselves, by the grace of G0D, at Juniper Tree in Chiang Mai for Daniel's classes, and I am learning, once again, how to be still.

Being still is a skill. It takes great discipline to be still, and great security in one's worth apart from what one is accomplishing. Rest is as necessary as food and water, and yet we starve ourselves of it. And then when it is forced upon us, we no longer know what to do with it.

But I am learning. I am remembering how. I am feeling myself being put back together from the inside out, and I am determined to keep up the skill of being still.

January 10, 2016

Before we left

Before we took up a whole row in the airplane,
we had just enough time to sneak in a few more memories in Michigan.

There was time for a Christmas pageant.
Zion was Joseph and Sharlet was Mary. Uncle Kody's stick horse, circa the late 1970's, was the donkey.

Jack Jr. and Gene were wise men.
Brave the shepherd.
And an angel named Jubilee. (Did I mention she got glasses this furlough? Severe astigmatism.)

There was also time for a trip to Build-A-Bear.

And time for Christmas dinner.

There was time for Christmas cookies.

And I HAD to see each of my brothers and their families one last time.
Kody and me.
Jack and me.

Oh and guess what G0D did? After a green Christmas (sad), he sent a thin layer of slick snow in our last 48 hours stateside! So there was sledding after all. Whew, that was close.

The sledders in action. Sadly Zion was sick this day and couldn't go.
Cutest sledders ever.
Love my mom.

There was time for a quick dinner at Bagger Dave's in Grand Rapids on Christmas Eve (before meeting up with Liz and Brian and their crew for church at The Barn at The Other Way).

And speaking of Liz, there was OF COURSE time for one last supper, at Panera in Grandville (halfway point for us), where we talked about the cost of following G0D's call on our lives. Tears were shed, love was felt, and a big, bittersweet hug was had in the parking lot before parting ways for another stretch of time apart.
Panera selfie.
Free to live in this moment.

January 09, 2016

Somewhere in middle America

Remember that Counting Crows song?


We have left the States and are back in the Eastern Hemisphere, and I can't say that without a note of sadness. We will miss you, middle America. Until we meet again.

It feels good to be parented

With all of the parenting I do day in and day out, it feels good every now and then to be parented.

When I got word a couple of months ago that George Fuzzy had died - and I hit the floor because I was half a world away and I couldn't say goodbye to my lop-eared friend - my parents were the first ones I called. They knew how George had been there for me when I'd been depressed and strung out with a newly adopted toddler, how I'd buried my nose in his soft fur many times, and stroked him in the evenings while feeding him popcorn. And now he was gone! And I wasn't there! The tears were real, and the pain was real.

They listened and consoled, and then we hung up.

But later that same day, these were delivered to my door. And I felt loved. And known. And understood.

What a gift it is, being their daughter.

January 07, 2016

Mentor me

I asked her to mentor me.

It was eight years ago, when my oldest was two. I had looked at my life and thought, 'I don't know what I'm doing. I need a mentor.'

She was our pastor's wife. Her girls were delightful, respectful, content. Her husband was happy. I wanted to know the secrets she knew. So I asked her to mentor me. She agreed! I implored her to be honest with me always, to never hold back.

And she is (honest), and doesn't (hold back), and I am better for it. So much better than I otherwise would have been. As are my kids. My husband. My marriage.

Mentorship rocks. Allison rocks.

And somewhere along the line, she became more than my mentor. She became a friend of the dearest kind.

It has been a wonderful furlough for many reasons, not the least of which all the time I've had the privilege of spending with Allison.
We both LOVE movies. When Roman Holiday came to the big screen, we were there!

Daniel is not without mentorship, either! Here he is with "Coach" David Montague, sitting in David's and Kelli's living room, catching up during the weekend we spent at their house in Memphis.