Gifts

Confession: I was up so late last night, three hundred and forty-two miles from home, that my brain is buzzing and my husband said to me “Are our phones goofing up? You sent me a text that apparently came in at x:xx. Were you really texting at that hour?”

And I said “Yes.”

In the strictest sense of the word it was no longer “last night” but we are not discussing that in this forum.

scarves on us

I want to stand up and say what the Lord Jesus did for me in the last week. It is so complex a sequence I can only get a hold of it in bullet points.

  • Several weeks ago, my mom asked if I would like to join in a surprise visit to my sister in Virginia for her 30th birthday. Joy! We got it all planned… how long we’d be gone, when we’d leave, who would go along.
  • Three days before departure, Jesus gave us an answer to prayer: a foster son. Yes, yes, absolutely yes!!
  • Could I still swing the weekend plans? Should I give them up? We decided to hold them with an open hand and see what turned out.
  • As K (our foster son) adjusted and adapted, Ryan said “I really think I can do this. Go ahead and plan to go. You’ll have Kelly; I’ll have the boys.”
  • Then we found out that K’s court date was set for half an hour after our estimated time of departure. I told my mom I wanted to stay for it if she was game—could we leave an hour later than planned? She was more than gracious, and we went to court.
  • In the hallway outside the courtroom, we found out that a kinship option had suddenly materialized and K was going to leave us. That day.
  • And then I said, “Oh thank you Jesus thank you.” That I got to meet this small person and love on him for three days. That I didn’t cancel my weekend plans and miss the trip to Virginia by one hour. Most of all, that I didn’t leave before the court date, and miss the chance to say goodbye to a child I thought we’d have for weeks and weeks.

When I release a foster child I think how lucky I was to meet him. All the training and waiting seems so worth it because in this short slice of time I became part of an amazing person’s life—I got to hold him and love him and find out his favorite things and give him one toy to keep and kiss him and make him giggle and pray over his sleeping head.

And the trip?

To die for.

My mom, my sister, my daughter. I am most blessed.

the four of us

kelly and jean

kelly and i

There are several things I will never understand:

  • How three people can laugh so much alike, over and over again: our forms bent double and no sound except desperate gasps for air.
  • How you can talk and talk and talk all weekend and still have to stay up till the wee hours of the last night, to get it all said.
  • How there can be so much beauty and color in the world.

scarves

  • How Jesus can answer my child’s earnest wish for “a balloon that goes up without me running.” She clutched her dollar and begged, as we drove the six hours and as we walked the pedestrian mall. “Honey, I’m sure we will find one!” I said over and over. We did, in Hallmark—and the white-haired shop owner made her laugh and played pranks with her and taught her math facts and then—gave her the gift of helium, for free.

kelly with balloon

This right here was the low point:

kelly with hydrant

Hot, tired, waiting, missing Daddy. We sat on the street because in Kelly’s emotional condition I could not bring myself to navigate the toy store where my mom and sis were shopping.

lying in the street

We sat there like the homeless and the poor, wishing and fearing that someone would come drop money in our bag. To cheer ourselves up we passed the time acting.

Happy–

happy

sad – (she can do the suffering sheep look better than anyone I know)

sad

crazy.

crazy

There is a final thing I do not understand:

  • How we could have agonized in this city, a year and a half ago, with my sister so weak we thought we might lose her. Stem cell transplant; and a woman so drained she had to start all over again. Learn to eat, to laugh, to run, to care for herself. Now she stays up late with us and she eats what she wants. She sasses me back and she runs a lap around the hotel and she dresses cute and she finalizes plans to move to Israel in January. And when we visit the hospital room where she lay, so that we can draw that painful circle closed, she is strong–

jean in UVA

and she walks out on her own two feet.

walking out of uva

I want to stand up and say what the Lord Jesus did for me in the last week.

High heeled shoe cupcakes

My little girl just turned four years old. This sends cold shivers through me. I wonder if it’s the beginning of the end, and if we will ever again be as close as we are now, and what I should be teaching her about femininity that I haven’t learned yet myself.

kelly

So because I do not know how to raise a teenager, in the meantime I bake cupcakes for a little girl. {And after the guests have gone, I sit beside her in the darkness and sing.}

pink in front

This was one of the most fun cake ideas I’ve played with. I will say this once, loud and clear: IT’S NOT MY IDEA. As far as I can tell, high-heeled shoe cupcakes originated at Grandma’s Bakery. This site supplied additional ideas. I copied shamelessly.

green in front

The sole is a Milano cookie, and the heel a Pirouette. They are sturdier than they look… The only one that collapsed on me did so under the weight of another cupcake, which I dropped right on top of it. So. Not that it had a lot of choice in the matter. You can even move them (carefully) to a plate.

cupcake on plate

whole set

I enjoyed the endless options for color and design, everything from girly to suave. I think they’d be fun at a ladies’ tea or a bridal shower. What style is “you”?

Enchanting trivia (or not…)

Confession: Some days the trivial is infuriating, and some days it brings the most satisfaction. Or humor. Or sheer joy.

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Did you know that it is possible for a woman to trim three heads of hair and 80 nails in approximately one hour?

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My little magnolia tree—the five-inch infant that got hit with hard frost the night after it was planted, the one I prayed and agonized over, the one I loved and whispered to, the one that dropped each of its leaves, one by one, and turned into a five-inch stick, that magnolia—grew a tiny bud.

Enter whoops of joy from Kelly and me.

She has contracted the strange habit of kissing baby trees. Wonder where she learned that.

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If you live near these stores and are interested, check out the following sales:

  1. Home Depot’s 88¢ geraniums!
  2. Valu Home Center’s Tiki torches for $2.97!

Home Depot has patio torches for $3 as well, but I liked them less.

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Confession: I have a mental list of “Urgent Items to Replace ASAP,” that somehow slips by very comfortably week after week. You, too? Why is that?

I won’t give you the whole list, just mention two. First, my home hair-clipping set, which sent Ryan through the roof 3x last night, causing much trauma to his head and to his wife’s self-esteem… He has become a Nazirite until the lady of the house purchases a new clipper.

Second, my aging vacuum cleaner that smells like arson each time I run it. Aarick nearly refuses to operate the thing. He thinks it’s gonna blow, and you know, I have fleeting thoughts along those lines as well.

My husband gave me permission weeks ago to buy a new vacuum. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Why is that?

(This snippet does not really belong in the happiness camp. I did not enjoy discovering the deficiencies of my clipper by drawing blood. I just enjoy questions that tickle my brain, and this is one of them. Now, the drama of the vacuum I do find rather fun… an innocent form of gambling.)

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If you want to get really gooood cornbread, let your four-year-old do the stirring. I’m usually too impatient, and whisk-whisk-whisk. He took a wooden spoon and stirred very slowly, then stopped. It was the best we’ve ever made—tender and luscious, the perfect pairing for our taco soup with corn chips, shredded cheddar, and sour cream.

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I found a very helpful tool online. I’m studying to teach 1 & 2 Thessalonians to our church ladies for the next three months. Here, Mark Copeland shares introductions, outlines, and FAQ’s for numerous book of the Bible—with permission to use his materials free of charge. I appreciate the Scriptural accuracy, the minimal human interpretation, and the quality of the outlines: parallel points and accessible wording.

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My six-year-old chose to learn about MLK Jr. as one of many great summer projects recommended by his teacher. We chose some library books, and after reading them he asked if he could read the original I Have a Dream speech—his library book offered an online link. He was slightly stunned by the volume of text, so we read it aloud, stopping frequently for explanations. Confession: I had never read this speech before. What a brilliant man! Among a million quotes to ponder, here was my favorite this morning:

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

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People say happiness has little to do with surroundings and much to do with viewpoint. The very thought makes me unhappy, because I have so far to go. Most of my days are overwhelmed instead of joyful. But some days I get a whiff of it: What if quality of life has little to do with wealth, circumstance, and velocity; and much to do with moments–savoring the glass of tea, the act of stirring, the smell of wind, the feel of dishwater, the slow ticking of time?

What trivia made you happy this week?

Home again

Confession: I’m tired. And lazy.

These days I would cheerfully sell all I have and give to the poor, whether or not I gained treasure in heaven. All I ask of life is lots of sleep and a leisurely cup of coffee when I awake.

But what a lovely week I had! Highlights:

  • Seeing Jean healthier and happier than I ever imagined.
  • Just hanging out with my beautiful sister and daughter—talking, laughing, trying on hats, working, playing, getting comfy with Jean’s home turf.

in the infusion center

  • Enjoying lunch together at Potbelly, half old country and half hip bistro, with a live guitarist, warm melting-cheese-and-mushroom sandwiches, and the best chocolate milkshake I’ve ever had in my life.
  • Shopping—with beautiful finds, and Kelly trying on schmantzy shoes
  • Six hours of driving time, twice. Two things that made it sweet:
  1. Borrowed books and toys, new to Kelly. She could not have done better!
  2. Audio books and headphones while she slept. I listened to The Hobbit, half on the way down and half coming back up.
  • Coming home…!