"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bookmark Today

Really. I wish I could bookmark today so that I could go back and re-read it over and over again. It was one of those glorious it-all-just-worked kind of days.

We woke to two kids sleeping in late (our "weekend" is Tuesday/Wednesday around here) and the other two whispering and plotting how to build a Lego scenario. There's something wonderful about laying in bed, slowly adjusting to morning wakefulness and listening to kids share ideas and giggles.

Over the next couple of hours, everyone got moving and we shared a special weekend breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, and pineapple. And I found myself laughing that our kids' appetites have gotten to the place where they'll polish off almost 3 full recipes of pancake batter. Wow!!

Then it was on to that every-day stuff. Laundry had to be done, the dog walked, beds made, the house opened to the warmth and breezes of the day. After the kids got their chores done, while Dad and I collaborated on laundry stuff and Ben got interested in a documentary, the young 'uns drifted out into the yard, riding bikes and doing some collaborating of their own.  We knew they were making some form of game and working feverishly on a coloring project at the picnic table, but we weren't really paying attention. Until one of them started flagging down passers-by and attempted to begin going door-to-door with a flyer the kids had colored. Um, young 'un? What'cha dooooin'?

"We're inviting people to our Pine Cone Festeval!" (so says the spelling on the flyer) Once we got the details on the plans, we narrowed the invitation list to the family as opposed to the entire neighborhood, and agreed that the festivities would take place just as soon as we got the last load of laundry folded. It was a blast! The kids had planned everything, set out all the necessary supplies, considered safety (using only the old, trampled, softened pine cones for the Pine Cone Battle event), applied fairness by setting out equal turns for each participant, and were able to coherently explain the guidelines and scoring for each event they had planned. Each of us loved Pine Cone Golf (think putt-putt toward the road with a goal of surpassing a set finish line...Ben won with a beautiful swing), Pine Cone Battle (which devolved from teams pelting specific targets to a giggling free-for-all), Pine Cone Target (the inside lid of the sand table has a perfect bullseye pattern, so it was affixed to a tree and we took turns pelting it. Pine cones don't fly straight. 'Nuf said.), and the Pine Cone Pitch-Off (did I mention pine cones don't fly straight? They don't get good distance either; think spikey wiffle ball. lol).  The first ever Pine Cone Festeval was a huge success. Plenty of encouragement, teamwork, and silly fun were had by all. And I am so proud of my little event organizers for putting it all together with no help from an adult!!

After the Festeval, we were all hot and sweaty (really? 87 degrees in mid-November??), so we headed down to the pool. We love it when we have the whole pool to ourselves as was the case today. After a relaxing swim, it was back to the house. Where Dan decided that we'd just cook dinner for the kids, then leave them with a movie and go get a bite to eat and have some big-people time for a little bit. O wonderful surprise!!! We ate. We talked. Uninterrupted. We browsed stores and found the birthday gift we'd wanted to get for Michael at 25 percent off. We came home to smiling kids ready for hugs and kisses goodnight.

It was a day filled with so many sweet things. I wish my memory could be counted on to accurately bookmark it and return to it with every detail intact. It's a day worth remembering.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Well, Thank You, But... (an Open Letter to My Nurses)

Dear Nursing Staff,

Thank you for taking wonderful care of me today. Your prompt attention, compassion, sense of humor were all appreciated. I'd just like to address one misconception that seemed to come up *every* time one or another of you came to my room. One of you went so far as to be sure to inform the new nurse to the room of this staggering misconception. So, I'm sorry if I shatter you, but... being a mom of four kids and homeschooling them does not, in fact, qualify me for sainthood or Superwoman status. Although your awe and compliments totally made my day...when I closed my eyes and ignored their insane level of falsehood. :)

I could tell from your reactions that somewhere in your mind this picture was being painted:
A family in which some Otherworldly magic has imbued the very atmosphere with a backdrop of harp melodies, the strains of which caress each gentle child to wake in the morning with the sweetest of spirits. Upon awakening, this Otherworldly influence continues to weave its way through the day, guiding cheerful industry in chores and schoolwork, joyous kindness in relational interactions, ready and unquestioning obedience to instruction and correction, children ethereally gliding through the day on waves of every good virtue until sundown when, scrubbed clean and tucked snugly in bed, they drift into peaceful slumber again, smiles gracing their cherubic faces. All I can say is you've been reading way too much fantasy literature. Seriously.

I am not a saint in the way you meant it. I am so far from Superwoman it's laughable. Our home is loud. It is chaotic some days. There are battles of the will that I would swear leave more casualties than some of history's epic battles. I lose my temper - and my mind. I cry. I give up. I make beautiful plans that get dashed to pieces. I say things I have to apologize for. I make mistakes. Tons of them. In short, I'm human.

My kids are kids. They're smart kids. Smart enough to have their own opinions on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. and be willing to fight for them. Smart enough to be amazing problem solvers and show you a far better way of doing whatever it is you've asked them to do than the way you've asked them to do it. They're active kids. They run and play and are loud and would far rather be doing anything than chores or the small amount of "sit-down" work I require of them. They throw temper tantrums. They disobey. They break things. They hurt each others' feelings; they hurt MY feelings. Some days they'd rather spend an hour on their bed being disciplined because they KNOW I'm being unjust and they would rather lose the day than admit they messed up. In short, they're human.

But, you see, there's good in us, too. We love each other. We work through the fighting days and hope for a better day tomorrow. Sometimes we do just call it quits on pushing the schoolwork because it's not worth the battle that day. There is much joy, laughter, playfulness, compassion, helpfulness, and love in our home. But it is not seamless perfection. I tried to live up to that for a lot of years; I refuse to try to saddle my kids with that expectation and would prefer that you disabuse yourself of it, too. We're family. We're human. We've chosen this. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it requires persistence. But because this is what is right for our family, it's worth working through all the messiness that it is in order to have the beauty that it is, too. Just as you have chosen what you are doing. Nursing and parenting in your context is hard. It requires persistence. But you have chosen it for yourself and your families, deciding that it's worth the work and messiness to have its own unique beauty. We're really not so very different.

So, from a grateful patient of several other wonderful people today,
Thank you for your choices. You're pretty amazing, yourselves.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ponderable...

The Winds of Fate
One ship drives east and another drives west,
With the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tell them the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate,
As we voyage along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

The conversation in our home this morning as the kids waited for breakfast:

Michael: so...God made us...but how did he get our ribs to wrap around our bodies? They're hard. How did he get them to bend like that?

Me: **insert brief explanation of DNA chains that contain codes of instructions for the cells as they develop to grow in exactly the way God wants them to grow to create the parts of the body**

Michael: There are directions for all of my cells?

Me: Yes.

Michael: Well, then, why did God give my cells directions so that I would have autism?

**crickets chirping**

Reese, without missing a beat and with a "well, duh" tone of voice: Because He wanted you to be unique!

I love my kids.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Brain...

is so very tired. I've got very little to say. Between hormone shifting that's leaving me sleepless, kids who have no respect for the fact that if you stay up all night you should really be allowed to sleep all day, having a *major* curveball of a decision thrown at us that had to be decided in a matter of days, and general familial stress, there's no room left to form coherent thoughts for blogging.

So. I will share with you the joy and sentimentality of the link that my brother made sure that my niece would pass on just for me. It was his first communication with me after he landed in Qatar last night. Get your tissues ready.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTjx-9GYy1A&sns=fb

Just can't see the screen for the tears, can you?
I love my big brother and our strange and wonderful relationship.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Excuse Me? I Need a Tour Guide for Switzerland.

I don't talk about it much. I deal with it daily. Some days better than others. But it's always there in the background, threatening to derail the day in an instant. I hate labels. I hate boxing people in. I hate narrowing who a person can be down to a set of predictable or probable behaviors. And yet...

It is time I look it in the face. Call it what it is. Use the labels as tools to find partners who can come alongside us and help unlock some of the secrets to being parents who give their kids the very best chance of becoming who they were created to be. I have a son with autism. More exactly, I have a son who has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism and secondary attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. My brilliant, sweet, snuggly, orderly, just-so, complex-subject grasping child is autistic. EVEN on days when he *appears* to be typical, he is not. Even though he is highly intelligent and has no comorbid physical problems, his brain still functions in ways that need extra help, patience, accommodation, and work in certain areas. And I will never know what or when that will happen until it blindsides both of us in a mass of frustration and tantrumming.

He has always just been "Michael" to me. The one who needs a little extra time adjusting to things. The one who will come out from under the table when he's ready. The one who draws pictures of houses as though from an architectural birds-eye layout view rather than from the front elevation box-with-a-triangle-on-top view "typical" kids see. The one who shocked us by verbally showing us he knew math skills and reading skills we had never directly taught, just because he had picked them up in listening to others' lessons. The one with the infectious laugh and the killer brown eyes. The one who, despite social integration deficiencies, draws big hearts with the names of each family member inside with ink on his legs because he tattoos himself with what he cares about. The one who will probably never ever wear a pair of pants without an elastic waistline and for whom we dare not purchase clothes unless he has tried them on in the store - twice. The one who sometimes plays happily with new kids at the pool and other times hides in a corner because there's too many new people around. The one who we have seen so much progress with, but who is becoming more frustrated with his own limitations as he becomes more personally aware of them. My third son.

I have always avoided the label because of the limits it seems to impose. My son is who he is; he is not defined by a condition (process? delay? imbalance? genetic anomaly? what-is-it?!). But as I picked up a book recently and read, I wept. Somebody else gets it. Completely. Whatever this enigmatic thing called high-functioning autism is, it does impact how he interacts with the world around him. It is *part* of who he is. And we're along for the ride. Because of somebody else's words, I was able to put words to how I have felt. Since about the time Michael was 3 years old, it was obvious. By the time he was 6, it was official. We now lived in Switzerland. And Switzerland is confusing; very often, it is lonely and overwhelming.

The article quoted in the *book: linked here.
The *paragraph that followed that had me bawling:


"Yet, high-functioning autism isn't quite the Holland of "regular" autism. There are some real strengths, and there are traces of autism, but how much? There's a reluctance of professionals to diagnose anything. It's perhaps like being in Switzerland - a little bit of Italy, and closer to Holland than some of the other people in Italy, but not so close that you feel welcomed by the Dutch. Enough to see the abyss, but not find the support. Switzerland can be very confusing.... High-functioning autism is something our children have, as well as a characteristic of who they are... It's a really fine line between 'quirky' and 'problematic.' A gap between 'talented' and 'not quite right.' Somewhere between 'cute' and 'hmmmmm.' "


*Children with High-Functioning Autism: a parent's guide by Claire E. Hughes-Lynch, Ph.D

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Be Still

I've tried writing this post 3 times now. I find that, unlike many of my blogging friends, I am simply not able to put into words the path I am travelling *as I am travelling it.* I'm much more of a reflecting-back-on-what-was-learned type. Not really going to spend a lot of brain power deciding whether thats good/bad/indifferent; it is what it is. So. Suffice it to say that I'm travelling a path right now that is not easy.

Today, though, I had a respite. Tangible encouragement. And while I'm not one given to mysticism or symbolism, I am learning to look for God in His creation and finding that it is true; He's placed Himeself there if we only take time to look.

We spent the day taking a much-needed break from "normal life" at a local springs. It was beautiful. Sunny skies, crystal water, rustling trees as they stirred in the gentle breeze; perfection. Stepping into the water was an incremental process. Somehow, I'd expected 72 degrees to feel warmer than that. Just after I took the final plunge and found myself up to my neck in cold, I took a deep breath, relaxed, found my footing on the sandy bottom of the lake, and turned to talk to my hubby...and stopped my call short, changing to an amazed whisper. Sitting on my right shoulder was a perfect little dragonfly. Glistening lacework wings, irridescent blue body, just sitting there gazing at me. We stood there, watching each other.

I began consciously controlling my breath so as not to disturb him with a gust. My kids were gently waved over to marvel at this beautiful creature but warned off of getting too close. Expecting him to fly away any moment, I stood. And waited. And watched... The longer he sat there, the more entranced with him I became. If I turned my body, he gently pivoted around to remain in exactly the same orientation to his surroundings as when he first landed. I began to wonder: is he trying to watch something? keep the wind in a certain location? warm himself just so in the sunlight? does he just want to sit and watch *me*? I studied. He sat. It was amazing. Perfectly formed wings, precision movements, radiant coloring. Magical. And so very still. He sat with me and allowed me to wonder at him for almost half an hour. Never have I experienced anything like that.

And all I could think was: Be still and know that I am God. In the middle of this tumultuous path, stop. Look. See ME. See My beauty. See My precision. See My patience. See the care I take in even my smallest creative endeavors. Pay attention. And learn to be still. You're liable to find yourself breathless with awe at what I am doing. Oh, and by the way, I want to sit with you, too. You are worth MY time as well, child.

I needed to hear that today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mixed Emotions...

It has been an emotional day. For me. For the vast majority of our country. An objective so long sought has been accomplished. What concerns me most is the reaction I have seen to it. It worries me - what it says about our country. About the condition of our hearts. About the clarity of our minds. Whether we realize what we are saying at all...

Here is a brief summation of the ponderings of my heart today.

*Am I deeply grateful to our military for completing this mission objective? Absolutely.
*Do I fully agree that it had to be accomplished? Yes again.
*Do I think it solves everything? No.
*Do I think there will be political advantage taken? Of course. By both sides.
*Does it terrify me how many "hope he had full magazines emptied into him" or "wish I could've seen his eyes" kind of hateful, pleasure-in-death statements worthy of an Osama Bin Laden type person I have seen? YES!!
*Am I sickened that it seems that both people who can't stand Bush and people who can't stand Obama are jumping on the blame bandwagons for why it didn't happen sooner or how the President's words were self-glorifying or not perfectly crafted? Yep. This should be GOOD news for all of us. And we should all be able to admit that no one man of any political stripe was able to accomplish this on his own.

I dunno. The whole thing makes me sad. It's like what should be a common goal reached has become yet another point over which to bicker. And as sick as the man was, as worthy of the end to which he was brought, as necessary for moving forward as his death was both security-wise and on the world political stage, I cannot find it in myself to be HAPPY that it came to this or to party over the probability that he is tormented in hell. I am proud of the tenacity and resolve of our country's intelligence and military communities to accomplish the task that was laid at their door. I am thankful that a President who entered office so arrogant as to dismiss the value of Gitmo chose to humble himself, albeit quietly, and continue to allow his military commanders to do their jobs and accomplish the mission with which they had been tasked. I appreciate the sacrifices made by so many and the message that this surgical mission sends to the world. I am sympathetic with the families who have seen justice served to the murderer of their loved ones. But I can't be jubilant over something so somber. Over the end of a life that God created - and loved - because that life chose to live it apart from his Creator and spread sin's devastating consequences over so wide a field.

War sucks. And even the victor pays a high price. It makes me wonder if this is part of what Jesus saw when He wept over clueless Jerusalem...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Woooohoooo!!!

This about says it all:

http://jeremiah18-4.blogspot.com/2011/03/news.html


My Daddy never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Race...

I've been a negligent blogger. Especially when you consider that I've strung y'all along in suspense over this whole "will the crazy 38-year-old be able to complete a half marathon" issue! So?...
Do ya wanna know?...
Since it's a full two days after the event?...

The answer is a resounding YES! I was able to finish. But not only did I finish, I learned so much about enduring, overcoming, and truly finishing *well*.

Three weeks and three days before the race (coincidentally, about the same time I fell off the edge of the blog world) I had a little mishap. While riding my scooter to work, a gentleman in a greater hurry than myself ran a red light as I was beginning a left-turn into my business parking lot. I didn't make it to the lot. I had a split second to decide whether to gun it and beat him (not realistic), keep going and get hit (not attractive), or slam on brakes on fog-wet pavement and eat it (sounds good to me!). I went down on my left side with my arm Supermanned (yep. it's a perfectly good descriptor) out in front of me. He kept going; don't think he ever saw me. The bike wasn't scratched, my clothes weren't torn, but my shoulder kinda wouldn't move. Hm. That was interesting. So, I did what any woman with my bloodline of stubbornness would do: picked up the bike, used my right arm to set my left one on the handlebars, rode it the rest of the way in, parked it, then went in and called my hubby to come pick me up because my arm wouldn't work. Turns out I messed up my rotator cuff pretty badly and, over the next several days, I discovered that my muscles were pretty bruised and unhappy about the trauma of hitting the ground that hard. Race training? Not happening. Three weeks and three days.

Restlessness? Frustration? Anger? Yep. Dealt with all those things. Fear of letting people down? Fear of letting MYSELF down? Affirmative. Complete aggravation at watching *nobody* in the house fold my laundry the right way? Why, no! Nobody with one good arm could be that ungrateful, could they?

It was a L.O.N.G. two weeks before I was physically strong enough to try to train again. And it was exactly one week before race day. Ugh. Confidence level rock bottom. That first run didn't help it any. Tired, creeping pace, cramping muscles...those two weeks took a toll. It was the first time I really doubted that I could finish this thing. So I went home, cried on Dan's shoulder, and ate ice cream.

And got back up again after a day of rest and tried it again. And ran a full 5k at pace. That day felt like I HAD run the half-marathon... and won.

The rest of the week was a little nutty with finalizing my costume, making sure we had the family logistics figured out for race day, checking in and getting final race instructions, a little trip to the ER with my mom the day before the race...Oh? You caught that? Yep. Day before the race. Dad and Mom came into town to cheer me on. And the stinkin' road came up and took a swipe at my Mom, too. Me and asphalt don't have a good relationship right now. After her tumble from a curb, Mom ended up with a fracture in her hand and a really painful upper lip after using her nose/lip to catch herself. Ouch.

But y'know what she did? She got up at 4am and came out to cheer me on. Smiling. Not complaining even though I know she hadn't slept much and was in pain. Go, Mom. If I ever need an example of endurance and grace, I don't have to look far.

And so, I ran. Thirteen point one miles at an average pace of 14.74 minutes per mile. A better pace than I averaged in training. My first three miles were at a pace of 10 minutes each. Carried on angels' wings as one of my dear friends was predicting. And along the way I met so many other people running for their causes. Encouraging each other. Cheering for those running faster and drawing inspiration from that rather than being jealous or grudging. Graciously yielding to stronger runners. Teams running together whose captians FINISHED their own race, then came back to re-run the final miles with their slower teammates. Beautiful women of all ages struggling through the course together but enjoying every minute in our girly get-ups. Laughing at our own weak places, stopping for a moment to stretch, then carrying on. And God even put a family in my path who read the wondercape and picked up their pace just to talk to me about Daniel, Parker, and Josslyn. Because their son was born with Down Syndrome and the kids' story brought them to tears and gained another prayer warrior on the Carlins' side.

In the end? I fought the fight. I finished the race. I kept the faith.
And God was faithful.

I'm trusting Him to be faithful in the Carlins' race to bring those sweeties home, too. I don't think He'll let me down.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Intimate Relationship

I've been struggling with how to word this post for over a week now. Do I present the conversation and just leave you to draw your own conclusions? Do I elaborate on all of the ponderings of my heart that have occurred since this conversation? Is this even as mind-blowing to anyone else?

Because it is mind-blowing to me. In an utterly simple, natural, deeply intimate moment, I was gripped to the core of my being. By the faith of a child. Could it be so truly simple? Yes. It is. And in our adulthood and desire for knowledge and rightness we cloud and complicate the clear simplicity. And we lose so much because of it. We gain prestige, propriety, position... and we lose intimacy.

Let me share the short, sweet conversation with you. It happened as our family was sitting down to eat dinner together. Long ago, we gave up the standard "join hands 'round the table to give thanks before we partake;" not because we aren't thankful, but because it had been reduced to a religious act with little real meaning. Nobody really wanted to be the one called out to come up with the right words to say and sound all spiritual. Our gratitude didn't necessitate a formalized expression at a given moment and, in fact, that formalization is really difficult when you're wrestling four kids, two adults, a dog that's tall enough to try to eat off your plate as you bow your heads and close your eyes... so we lost the ritual that didn't work for us. Every now and then, one of the kids will ask to pray at that moment and we readily agree. Because we encourage them to talk to God anytime and anywhere they so choose; it is a relationship, after all, not a ritual. It doesn't require well-planned words or eloquent phrases voiced or written at designated points in time. That's what I believe. But it's hard to remember sometimes when you're afraid of seeming foolish (or unspiritual among those who do practice this ritual) or when you are asked to voice someone else's prayer and don't want to mess it up. See what I mean? We complicate simple communication.

This time was so simple, though, that it took my breath away. Nobody asked for a moment of prayer together. One of my kids just prayed. Without everyone having to stop and participate. Just like he was having a conversation with someone who was *right there* and who was intimately involved in our dinner service. I generally fix portioned plates at the kitchen counter and then place them on the table as there is little room for large dishes of food once all of us gather around to eat. As I placed the plate in front of Michael (my 7 year old), he looked up at me and said, "Thanks, Mom." Then, as he dug in his fork to gather his first bite, he very naturally said, "And thanks, God. It looks good."

Simple. Natural. Intimate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Generation/Vocabulary Gap

Nicole (my 5 year old daughter) came into my room today and mumbled something unintelligible.

Me: What you talkin' about, Willis?

Nicole: Who is Willis?

Me: It's just a quote from an old show, sweetie. What did you need?

Nicole: I am NOT a quote! ... whatever that is...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Milestones and AHA! Moments

This morning was huge for me. It was time, according to my training schedule, for me to run a 5K. No biggie, you say? You've been running up to 6 miles, you say? Well, you'd be right. Sort of.

Until now, my training schedule has called for ever longer distances, but has not pushed a required pace. I have personally imposed a 15-min mile minimum to be sure I can handle the requirement for my race, but have given myself plenty of slack to walk rather than run the mileage. Which is fine, as my trainer calls for a run/walk system to increase endurance. But today was different. Today was the day to test the limits of that endurance.

The result? The **first time** I have run an entire 5k with only (3) 30-second walking breaks. Woohoo!!! And my pace? A 13-minute mile! Double woohoo!!! I'm so excited to see what God is building into my body and praying to see Him use this for His glory.

So...what's the AHA? It was so striking that I literally started laughing in the weight room. Sure am glad nobody was there; I would've had to explain myself. I was thinking, at about the 2k mark that this was surprisingly easy. That the verse in Isaiah held some truth..."they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." How God Himself was carrying me through this running thing and increasing my endurance. How funny it was that on the other side of the wall from me, the community worship service was happening and that there, in the weight room, on my little treadmill, a worship service was happening, too... And then it hit me. The context of that verse.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who WAIT ON THE LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

Have I ever mentioned that I'm one of His kids that seem to need object lessons to get it? Hm. Hilarious laughter. Okay, Dad. I get it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Listening. Oh, How You Speak...

The race registration fee will *not* be waived? ... Well...Then... Um... *That* didn't work out like I figured it would. And it was such a great idea, too! And other people have done it for their charities! What gives, God? Now this thing of racing to bring Daniel home has gone from weight on my heart to seriously burning fire in my spirit. I'm not going to have to watch this fall apart, am I? You wouldn't DO that! Your handprints are all over the whole thing up 'til now... oh. um. yeah. except for that little frantic emailing thing.

Okay. I'm listening. What's YOUR plan, Lord? ...

Lord?...

Oh. I get it. Wait. Sigh. Okay. I'll wait. I'll keep training, but I'll wait for You to provide. You know I stink at that, right? Just makin' sure.

Y'know, I don't recall ever being able to make the statement that a huge corporate entity was undeniably used to fulfill God's plan. He sure uses some crazy places to bring His plans about. Maybe so that there is no human explanation for what He does because #1: we'd never come up with the idea in the first place, and #2: none of us could coordinate the insane number of details that He does to come together seamlessly. He gets all the glory when we back off of our plans and let Him run with HIS! That's exactly what happened. God, in concert with the Walt Disney Corporation and Cigna Health Insurance provided the funds that have allowed me to run for Daniel. Go figure.

Each year, around the end of the year, capitalizing on the whole New Year's resolution trend, Disney and Cigna get together to organize a healthy living expo for Cast Members. The companies have a vested interest in the Cast choosing healthy lifestyles as it costs the company far less money to insure healthy individuals. This year, however, they added a big incentive. For each of 3 activities that any Cast Member ***AND THEIR SPOUSE*** completed, the company would offer a cash bonus. Really? Cash in hand? Just for filling out a health survey, completing a biometric screening, and meeting a range of body mass index? Seriously? Dan completed his activities... AND SO DID I!! God used my husband's employer and the health standing of my own body that had been working out in preparation for the race to provide the funds to enter the race. Tell me that anyone else could've arranged that? I didn't think so.

And that is how, on December 18, 2010, I was able to register for the Disney Princess Half Marathon on behalf of Daniel, thereby getting this 38-year-old body of mine involved in more intense training than it has ever undergone. God has used the internet, friends hundreds of miles apart, corporate entities that have no personal knowledge of this situation at all, and who knows how many other prayer warriors with a burden for the defenseless, to bring about another step toward the rescue of a sweet little boy. If you'll hop on over to Jessica Carlin's site, you can follow up on the continuing story of Daniel...and now, of the two others that God has led the Carlins to adopt: Parker and Josslyn.

I continue to train. Friends and family continue to pray. God has opened doors for me to place donation canisters in several businesses here in my area to contribute to the financial need involved in rescuing these precious little ones from an institution and showing them the love of God through the love of a family. That Reece's Rainbow link up at the top right of this site is a direct link to the Carlin's grant account if you'd like to contribute. This story is far from over. When I run on February 27, it will still stretch out ahead of all involved. When the Carlin family is whole and together, the story will continue to unfold. Because it is not just my story, not just the Carlin's story, not just Daniel's or any of the ones who have become involved. This is God's story of His love and redemption for *every* life He has created. And it's bigger than we ever imagined.

W.A.I.T. Get It? Good.

As you can imagine, after launching that email on its way to the race organizers, believing that I had seen and grasped God's answer to my money problem in entering the race and thereby raising money for Daniel, I fully expected to recieve an affirmative answer within short order. This was, after all, God's doing, right? Well...kinda.


He *did* lead me to put 2 and 2 together and miraculously come up with 4. He took my desire to become more fully myself and my desire to be his hands and feet to Daniel and gave me a flash of insight into how those two things could entwine to accomplish His purposes. But HE didn't really do the providing the funds through the waiver; that was MY idea. I researched. I planned. I saw. I was wrong. Not only did I discover this, but He made me WAIT to discover it. I suppose He knows that this hard-headed daughter of His needs some very visual lessons to get it sometimes.


I didn't hear back from the race committee the next day. Or the next. I don't know what these people were doing, but it sure wasn't answering email. Like anything was more important than giving me the tangible go-ahead to pursue my plan! Sheesh! While I waited for their reply, I continued to watch the race enrollment climb. It was unexpected to me. The race isn't until the end of February, so I figured that registration would not really get going until a month out. Wrong again. By mid-November, it was at 55% full. The next week, it was at 65% full. And still I had heard nothing. Time was running out and I had NO idea how to pay for registration except by the waiver.


Yes, I imagine God was having himself a healthy laugh at my expense about then. Not in a nasty way, but you know how you watch your kiddos walk right into a mess of their own making and you shake your head and chuckle before you go rescue them? Yeah. Like that. Because on November 24, I got my answer. Sorry, but the race entry fees themselves are being donated to the Children's Lymphoma Society. We're not waiving them for anyone.


But wait!! What about MY PLAN??!!

Yes, Ma'am.

I am writing this post in obedience and respect to my mother. I have been properly rebuked for leaving the last post "too short and with too much left unsaid." So... here ya go, Mom! A few more of those middle pieces now that we have the puzzle's outline finished! :D

I've already mentioned that I hate waiting. Usually, the way I get myself through it is by doing something: research, thought, making potential plans for what to do when the waiting ends, figuring out ways around the waiting... anything to occupy the time and make myself feel like there's maybe a *little* something I can do. I rarely wait quietly. Not proud of it, and I've actually grown some here, but it is what it is. This time was no different. I bought running shoes and researched training techniques. I selected a training schedule and set out on it. I researched fundraising options. I analyzed my area of influence and thought of how I could leverage it to help provide for Daniel. None of it came to anything.

Then...
One day as Daniel and the Princess Half Marathon were doing their little tango in my brain, I stopped by a blog that I frequent. It's over there in my sidebar: the Livesay [Haiti] one. The Livesay family are missionaries in Haiti, adoptive parents, and all-around neato people. Oh, and Tara runs. Like, marathons. Like, to raise money for stuff like feeding/clothing/providing medical care for mothers and children and building homes in post-earthquake Haiti. Her daughter even recently completed a half marathon for that purpose (and, I gather, has no desire to attempt that again. Encouraging.)I've seen their ChipIn's multiple times. But this time I really noticed it and suddenly Daniel and the Half Marathon stopped dancing and turned to stare me in the face right alongside that little ChipIn meter. What? Could TWO of the desires of my heart be met in one fell swoop?

You know what I did next, right? Well, after I quit jumping up and down because I finally saw what it was that I could do. And after praising God for putting it all together and blessing my waiting (oops, thought that was over at that point. WRONG!). Well, I did paragraph two of this post all over again. Research, contact, research some more. I wrote to Tara Livesay for advice on how to fundraise, I read all about running for charity, I shared my excitement with a friend who has been praying for Daniel and who I knew would lift me up in this. And then, in my research, I FOUND IT! The answer to the big money question for the race entry fee:

Many race organizers will waive the fee for those runners who are running for charity! Woohoo!! I fired off an email request to the organizers at Disney and anxiously awaited their confirmation reply!

***Sorry, Mom, I'm about to do it to you again. But y'all know this isn't the end, right? You see what just happened there? I got *part* of an answer and then, quite literally, ran with it. I quit waiting. Hm. Wonder how that worked out for me?

Friday, January 7, 2011

More Pieces of the Puzzle

Time for part two of the ongoing "how'd I get my 38-year-old body involved in a half-marathon, anyway" saga!

So, there I was. The weight of wanting to do something for sweet Daniel heavy on my heart. Every now and then I'd sit and try to figure out what I could do, how I could cut our slim budget to give, what talents I had that could be used to raise money. Consistently, I drew a blank. The answer always seemed to be "Wait. I'll show you. Later." This is where you need to know that I HATE WAITING! I do many things well. Waiting is not one of them. I am ungracious about it. Even when I know WHO it is that's telling me to do it. I *so* relate to the persistent widow in Scripture! I'd bet that more than once, He's answered me just to get me to shut up. ;-D

While I wracked my brain for solutions, God quietly worked His plan in His time. During this waiting time I was also experiencing some personal growth in other areas. You've heard me tell my story of burying who I am for years and rediscovering myself bit by bit as I have been freed from others' expectations. Another layer of that was happening. I began to awaken to the desire to rediscover the part of me that has always loved being active and athletic. The part that enjoys a physical challenge; sweat, aching muscles, and all. I enjoy achieving a really difficult goal. It was at this juncture that I became aware of the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It's run right here in my town; at the place where my husband works. It would be a bigger physical challenge than I've ever tackled. I was drawn to it immediately.

Being me, though, I was hesitant to just jump in with both feet. I needed to hear from someone else that this was actually an achievable goal. Not for someone else, but for ME. My husband was enthusiastic (even kept the kids one night so I could get running shoes), my coworkers were encouraging, my Facebook friends told me to go for it... my eyes glowed every time I thought about it. I *really* wanted to do this. So I began to train as if I was going to. But...

As with sponsoring Daniel, there was the little matter of lack of funds. The entry fee to the race was significantly more than I could spare. *sigh* Yet another thing to which I was consistently and repeatedly drawn and which it seemed there was no way I could do anything about. Daniel and the Princess Half Marathon shared space in my heart, my brain, and my prayers. Did I mention that I *hate waiting*?...