Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3

To you, tomorrow is New Years Eve. To me, tomorrow is Shawn's 3rd birthday.

To you, Friday is New Years Day. To me, Friday is the 3rd anniversary of the day we learned Shawn has Down syndrome. He was only about 14 hours old. I had just stepped out of the hospital room shower, with my hair dripping and my towel refusing to go all the way around my swollen body.

I will never forget those moments in the hospital. I'll never forget the threat of a heart problem. I'll never forget the confusion, the fear, the devastation, the immediate inability to speak/walk/think/rest. I'll never forget the tears and the desperation for God.

If you spend any time at all on my blog, you know how priceless and perfect Shawn is to me. You know how much I adore and cherish him on every level. You know that I'm a proud momma and that our family is more blessed with Shawn in our lives than we would ever be otherwise.

But New Years Eve and New Years Day will most likely always flood me with the frightening memories of the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.

Shawnie will be 3 in a few hours. He is remarkable, fantastic, glorious, beautiful and hilarious. These 3 years have flown by.

I'm wishing a very happy birthday to my sweet baby boy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

End to End

I do not normally spend a lot of time at the end of each year reflecting on the events of the prior 12 months. I guess I just don't think that life is measured so much in years as it is measured in the whole day by day carrying out of life, from the heart. I also do not make New Years Resolutions. That just doesn't work for me. If I am going to change something about my life, I probably have to do it when my heart is severely pounding over the matter, rather than when I happen to get a fresh, crisp new calendar. A clear empty calendar of the year lying in wait just really intimidates me. Because if I know the truth about life, I know that at the end of the year, there will be some days that I wish I hadn't gotten out of bed. There will be some experiences I wished I didn't have to endure. And there will be some days that are filled more with worry than with joy. Sure, the calendar is blank today....but at the end of the year, it will tell a story. I'm just reminded that we cannot predict or control the future. Like I said, it intimidates me.

Today as we have just a few days remaining in 2009, though, I am reflecting. The past 12 months have possessed some of the most monumental experiences for me in my lifetime. In the past 12 months (including last December 08) I have journeyed on 3 International mission trips. Twice to Zimbabwe to serve orphans, and once to the Dominican Republic to help build a church. 5 1/2 weeks of the past 12 months I have been on foreign soil, in hungry nations and I have embraced countless motherless and fatherless children. It's impossible not to reflect on these things.

In March of 2009 my youngest son, Shawn, had open heart surgery to repair a defect. His tiny little heart in his then 20 pound body was removed and held in the hands of a skilled surgeon while a heart/lung bypass machine kept him alive. He had a partial lung collapse, was on a temporary pacemaker, and then was in the hospital several days for recovery. The mere hint of any possibility that would creep into my mind that we could have lost our son would cause me to vomit. The surgeon repaired Shawn's heart. God allowed a victorious homerun that day.

My faith this year has been a fantastic journey. I have dedicated so much effort and time into reading scriptures and really learning from them. I have a serious appetite for more of God's word, and certainly more of his grace and mercy.

But the end of this year is not wrapping up well for me. I am experiencing pain in more than one area of my life. I'm struggling to reconcile some things. My coping skills are declining. I am a person in need of emotional restoration and healing. I really need the God of the universe to help me out here. I want to serve Him, honor Him and glorify Him. But as this year ends, I feel like a helpless child who can only rely on being carried.

From the end of last year, to the end of this one....my life has been an overwhelming journey.

1 Thesselonians 3:12
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.

1 Thesselonians 4:11-12
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependant on anybody.

Collossians 3:12-13
Therefore as Gods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

MERCY = Compassion or kindness shown to someone instead of severity, especially to someone who doesn't deserve it.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christmas Moments

Some very important people in my life did not receive Christmas gifts from me this year because we just could not afford it. We also did not do the charitable giving this Christmas that we like to do. In fact...I only purchased a few very small, inexpensive gifts for my two youngest boys. That's it. Nothing else. And I love giving so much, so this has been utterly painful for me. The boys, however, haven't even noticed....which is a wonderful blessing to me. They were full of "WOW's" and every exciting reaction you hope for as a parent, when trying to fulfill even the tiniest requests.

To add to the the funk that is upon me this Christmas is the fact that I am knee deep in some relational struggles that just weigh me down and wear me out. It is not a pleasant place to be, and yet, it is my location, my season, my struggle, my suffering. It just is. This grown up stuff is really hard.

But I have moments to cherish from this season. Asher, for one, has been on an art project frenzy....filled with paints, glitter and glue. We have done several projects together. They are simple but they have been fun. He LOVES to make things for people and so we have been focused and earnest in our efforts. That boy is remarkable, in my honest opinion. I have so enjoyed these projects with Asher. He's 5 now, you know. Such a big boy.

Planning and preparing a Christmas Eve feast with my mom has been good. The food was wonderful. But the best part about our dinner was the blessing. Asher quickly volunteered to say the blessing. His readiness, his lack of intimidation....just his sheer eagerness to give thanks to God really overwhelms me. Sure, as a mommy I have instilled some or a lot of this in him, but it is so clear to me that it goes deeper into him than anything I could have accomplished on my own. Jesus has met with Asher in his heart....and I'm so thankful that Asher wants Jesus to stay there. Dwell. It's too much for words. Asher thanked God for the wonderful day and for the wonderful food. And he thanked God for helping Mommy and Nana cook the food. There was more. It isn't a rehearsed prayer. It's a moment between Asher and the Jesus that he is learning about, and the rest of us are just the witnesses to the sweetness that becomes him. Thank you, Jesus.

Shawn loves bows, tissue gift paper and ribbons. The child could be on Broadway with the way he dances with gift decor. It is graceful and precious, and yes, comical. It is joy. Joy that lights up on his face like a Christmas tree. Jolly. Shawn has the gift of jolly.

Shawnie can say "Tanta" and "ho ho". Just 2 ho's, not 3. Sorry....I had to go there. Poor Tiger Woods....I automatically just thought of him...did you?

Spencer has been home a lot. Every day, actually. I recently asked him if he has moved back in, you know, because I am just a bit curious. His response was, "yea". Well, okay then. Now I know. And it is good. Having him close makes me smile. It also heightens the necessity and the urgency to clean bathrooms, sanitize things, and scavenge the house for lost dishes...but hey, he's my boy. I'm not ready to strangle him just yet. Not quite.

I collect copper. My MIL gave me about 5 awesome pieces of copper which she has been collecting this year from yard sales and estate sales. I kinda struck the mother load. She is good to me that way. I love my new "old" copper pieces.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BaHumBug - I Love Jesus

Shawn loves "teh-treeeeeeee", you know with "Caca" and "Melmo". (hint: Sesame Street/Oscar/Elmo). This morning, Shawn even tried to sing the theme song to Sesame Street. He made quite a large production out of the one word I could understand..... "street". I'm not sure who or why, but I really think someone needs to give Shawnie an award. If for nothing else, just being uber cute. Lawdy...this boy. It's too much.

Shawn has also discovered "Tanta" and "memen", aka "Santa & snowmen". I love that he is really getting into the Christmas things this year....it is so sweet. OH, and he loves the "wites", aka "lights".

In other news, Shawn has learned the word "MINE" and he says it exactly like he should... "M.I.N.E!". Oh lawdy...here we go.

Asher has recently disovered glitter. And tooting.

I have been channeling my inner scrooge lately. I nearly "accidentally" ran over a rude lady in the Target parking lot this week. She so deserved it....but I would prefer to spend Christmas at home than in prison. My common sense really comes in handy in times like that. In the same parking lot....I unloaded the packages into the trunk and pushed the cart to the cart corrall and was walking back to my car to drive away. There was an old man and his little old wife in their car waiting for me to pull out of my spot and he made the decision to mildly honk his horn as if to ask me to speed it up a bit. It's a good thing my common sense was working in that moment as well because he almost got a crude hand gesture from me along with a verbal "honk THIS buddy!". Instead I just gave him a long blank glare and I slowed down my strut a bit. Oh I really needed Jesus because the devil was trying hard to take over my spirit in that moment. My "bahumbug" is really getting on my nerves, by the way. Sometimes I feel like there is a sweet little angel following me around hovering above and all around me. Occasionally she floats right up to my ear and screams "GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF WOMAN! SLOW YOUR ARROGANT ASS DOWN AND FIND YOUR PEACE. IT'S IN YOU. JESUS DIDN'T TAKE IT AWAY FOR CHRIST'S SAKE". Ok, she probably didn't say "ass" and she also probably wouldn't take the name of Christ in vain. But, you get my point. But really, I'm just glad she's there.

So........Christmas is just 5 days away and I've got work to do.

Have a great week everyone!!!!!!!

God Bless You and Merry Christmas. May you be filled with the love, the hope, the peace, the JOY and the comfort of Christ! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He IS the Savior.
And Heaven rocks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zim Rhythm

These are the kids that I love so much! If you sponsored a child to go to the camp, look closely because you just might see him or her dancing in this video.


I love their love for dancing. They really bring joy to me! Enjoy.



video

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Treats from the Treadmill

You are in for a treat with this blog post because I might as well be stoned. I'm high. I had a great morning at the gym (my 3rd day in a row) and I've been dancing to silly songs for the past hour. If anyone of you ever shows up with a video camera to peer through my windows, I'm dead meat. I'll never show my face again.

Don't do that.

But like I said earlier this week on Facebook. I shoulda been a back up dancer for Snoop Dogg. Just sayin.

This morning I put on work out pants (the dry/breathe kind) that Shawn might have slightly pee'd on last night in my lap when I snuggled his little naked body after his bath. I was in a rush. I don't promise that I'll never do it again. But unless you were actually near me this morning in the gym, you have no right to complain. (Sorry Susan, you might actually have a right).

I had a conversation in my head this morning on the treadmill with my late Aunt Brenda. I really wish I could see her. But this morning, in my head, she told me that it is perfectly okay to like Miley Cyrus. And it's even okay to dance a little when "Party in the USA" comes on. I think my Aunt Brenda would have really liked Miley Cyrus. She woulda bought the CD. And by the way, Aunt Brenda, I dance alot. Is that still okay? (I'll let you know if she answers me next time I'm on the treadmill!)

I had a bright idea to purchase a 20 ft Christmas tree. Thank God I didn't actually go through with it. I need to scale that idea back a bit. But that's what adrenaline will do to ya.

Is it wrong that overtly sexual songs are the ones that contribute to me doing 20 extra minutes on the treadmill? I'm thinking...whatever works, right?

I'm a mess. I need a shower. I'm so hungry I could eat a moo. And I'm so thirsty I could drink a moo. A chocolate moo. But, that would be bad. So I won't.

Tomorrow is Asher's sweet Christmas program at school. His Christian Pre-K. I've got to seriously get my Bible on. Where is my holy?

Oh Lawdy, help me.

I really do love Jesus. I really do.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Zim update

Ok ok ok ok.....I have to start sharing more! I get it! (Sorry!) Many of you are filling up my email inbox with pleas and subtle hints.

I'll pick up here by telling you about a woman I have met and admire. I'm not going to share her name for now. I just really want to honor privacy as much as I can. You can understand it even with a fake name, right? So, we'll just simply call her, Miss Mother.

Miss M. to my knowledge was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She managed to make it to the United States to do her university studies. I cannot recall where she said that she studied, but I do recall it to be very well known, prestigous universities. Beyond her bachelors, she either got her Masters or PhD, or both. I cannot recall. And not sure what her majors were, but just that she went very far in her education and then she returned to Zimbabwe.

I'm not sure of her age. She is probably older than she appears. I'm guessing 50's. What she has done in Zimbabwe is remarkable. She has established several orphanages. They are grouped by ages so that all of the children are sharing homes with other kids in their same age group. Each home is an actual house in various communities. They are middle range communities, in that none of them appear to be "rural villages". Each house has a house mother and a couple of helpers. Every house appears to me to have running water, etc. They all suffer from power outages, but to the Zim natives, this is nothing they can't work around.

But, here is what is different.

Miss Mother not only provides them food, she feeds them well. She not only provides them clothing....the clothing is very nice, well cared for, clean, etc. She not only sends them to school...she STARTED a school for them that she also runs. She not only loves them, she teaches them the gospel, encouarges them daily and is preparing them for a real future in Zimbabwe...not just teaching them survival. She is teaching them that they ARE THE FUTURE of Zim.

Her next project is to start an orphange for children who are born in prisons. We spoke about this together while I was in Zim...and I am just amazed. I am amazed by what she IS doing and by what she DESIRES to do. These kids love her. They adore her. They respect her. They would do anything for her.

Miss Mother's heart is gigantic. And the most important thing about her heart is that it is filled with Jesus. She loves Him so much. She is a woman who is living her life to serve Him no matter what. She puts all of these orphans before herself. You can see by visiting these homes and talking with the kids that she is providing for them before herself, and personally she could really use some things. She has made her life about them. I saw this last year when I visited the first time.....but this year, it actually knocked me over.

She and I prayed together. When I shared with her that all of her sweet kiddos from the teen group could go to the camp in December....she cried. She has sent me an email since then with a word of prophecy for me. I do believe that this woman is annointed. And I am going to take her prophecy very seriously.

She is a special woman and I want to serve her. She is serving the children that I love, and I want to help her.

I want to raise money to help her get a truck. She needs a truck for the deliveries that she has to make to the kids on a daily basis. All of the homes are spread far apart and she cannot get everything into her car, AND her car is old and keeps breaking down. She needs a truck....but she keeps putting the kids first. You can see that the kids do not go without anything. But Miss Mother could run a more effecient ministry if she could buy a truck.

Please let me know if you want to help. I think she will have to go to South Africa to buy a truck (not sure) and she only needs a used one. I'd like to raise $6,000 and get it to her by the summer before the new orphanage opens.

Do you want to help? Do you want to involve your church? Your small group? Your bible study? Your office? Your family? Your neighborhood? Your social group? Your professional network?

I'm praying for a miracle.

Please contact me if you can help.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Not a Baby Anymore

Happy 5th Birthday Tater Tot.

















Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tid-bits

Ok.....I know I haven't posted much lately. I ran into a friend and blog-reader at a restaurant yesterday and she said something like, "did I miss the summary somehow?". Basically I think what she was trying to say is, I've left you hanging.

There are a few reasons for this, and at least one of them, I cannot go into. But, I owe you something and I'll do better.

As recently as 5 am this morning, I was vividly dreaming of Africa. My dream was not realistic to my personal experiences in Zimbabwe, but what I saw was amazing. I was in a vehicle journeying through the African landscape and everyone was outdoors carrying on their daily lives. Each wearing bright ,vibrant colors on heavy textiles, with the womens heads covered in ornate scarves. They were all happy and were all praising God. There were men beating drums and children running and laughing. It was a perfect dream that I would surely not remember at all if it were not for Shawn crying in his sleep and awakening me. I'm not thrilled that my baby is feeling under the weather, but I am blessed that the disturbance allowed me to recall my dream.

I think my dream is the Africa that God desires to see. Maybe He wanted me to see what He wants to see....so I can understand His longing for such an underresourced continent.

I just love that place. I have only been in the southern region and I do understand that the north is vastly different....in lifestyle, ethnicities, religion, etc. I'm not pretending to know everything about Africa.

I'm not in Africa anymore. I have been home for almost 2 weeks. Strange. It feels strange. Tomorrow is my sweet Asher Tater Tot's 5th birthday. I cannot believe he is 5. Strange. It feels strange. My sweet boy is just so precious. It isn't that I want him to never grow up, but I wish he would never grow up.

Since it is his birthday week, Asher is the special student of the week at his 3 day pre-K. He got to bring something special for show-and-tell and we also got to create a poster about his life. The template for the poster had a couple of fill in the blank questions. One area was for Asher to name 3 wishes.... and here they go (we did NOT guide him at all in this). Wish #1: to live with God and Jesus everyday. #2: to live on a farm (I'm assuming God and Jesus will live there too). Wish #3: to work in a zoo with koala's and chimpanzee's. (I'm assuming God and Jesus work at the zoo too). But for real....isn't this sweet? So far, at the age of 5, his wishes don't involve money or stunning good looks (although he's got that second one cinched). When Asher told me his wishes I had to struggle a little not to cry. I'm just so blessed and overjoyed to have a little boy who's little heart is becoming sweeter and sweeter. He could be the next sugar substitute. How awesome it would be to have little individual packets of Asher to add to my coffee?

Drastic change of topic: (Screech, spin, flip). I have finally received all of the final sponsorship matches between the kids in Zim wanting to go to the Christian camp and the sponsors here. I've been able to email everyone a photo of their child and all the kids in Zim have photos of their sponsor. There are 8 boys from one of the homes who decided to write thank you letters to their sponsors. I have received notes from about 3 or 4 of them and have forwarded them on to the sponsors....and waiting for the others. These notes are so precious. They are so tender, so deep, so thoughtful and so full of love. I'm hoping eventually....all 24 kiddos will write notes.... they are keepsakes for sure. I've cried at each one of them I have read and have felt this incredibly huge honor to be able to share with the generous people who sponsored them. My heart just fills up. What a gift they have given each other. I got to physically go there and collect the hugs, watch them dance and sing and even hear them squeal to the top of the Heavens when they heard of their gift....but the notes are so personal and so incredible. Soon I will post some pieces of the notes...but I will keep both the kids and the sponsors anonymous to honor what was intended to be personal and private...but to show you snippets of the sweetness that is flowing across the oceans, back and forth, like waves and undertow.

Speaking of Oceans, when God created the Earth, He sure did not make travel easy, huh? I wish my Zim kiddos were easier to get to. I wish they were down the street. I'm lying. I wish they were upstairs tucked quietly into bed, about to arise and share breakfast with me and then go off to school. That's what I wish.

Shawn is a talking fool. This boy is going wild with the tongue. I am so very proud (sinful I know) to announce that he knows all of his body parts. Except for what stays neatly concealed in his diaper, you name it and he can point to it. He can also say it. Here is the translation table for those of you who need a little giggle:

ear = eee-yur
eye = i
mouth = no sound but tongue hangs out
hair = ha (like hat but without a t)
arm = ammmmm
leg - le
hands = (see hair)
fingers = they wiggle
toes = tows
belly/tummy = no sound but drums on his tummy
nose = nooo

And for the record, "ammmmm" is the cutest one.

And for more records, Shawn will be 3 on New Years Eve. Impossible I know...but that's what the records say.

And my last report is work related....it is picking up. Thankfully.

I promise to update more soon regarding Zim, the kids, Victoria Falls, etc. I also plan to have a gathering at my house where all are invited to see my photos, my handmade purchases, etc. Please let me know if you want to come to that. I think it will be mid January.

Love to all...thanks for reading and keeping up. Thanks for caring and for investing. You are so loved and so appreciated.

P.S.. I received a surprise anonymous gift in the mail yesterday. I have no idea who you are or why you did it...but thank you. I'm deeply appreciative and it was/is much needed. Praying for your blessings!