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Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

shattered

Intersection coming.

Look both ways.

Nothing. Nothing.

Pull out.

THEN see.

Car bearing down.

Time only for a wheel jerk.

CRASH.

Shattered.

Lifeblood dumping on asphalt. (But green, not red.)

Two girls getting out of two cars. Whole, healthy.

My daughter apologetic. Abjectly. Kicking self for her momentary (oh-so-human) lapse.

Other girl cheerily hoping her own car is totalled (says she’s tired of this one.)

Cell phones call in the cavalry (first police, then dad, then a friend to stand on the corner and console her while waiting for dad to arrive with duct tape and coolant.)

Daughter’s crunched car sadly leaks in a nearby parking lot.

Other girl’s car roars to life.

They exchange paperwork. Daughter hands out Tootsie Rolls all around.

Other girl chirps, “I love chocolate.” and “I wish we could have met in a happier moment,” before driving away cheerily.

Daughter later wryly says, “For a wreck, it was pretty darned civilized.”

The damage?

Besides my daughter’s chagrin with herself?

A radiator. A bumper. Maybe a hood. Doubtless a few other expensive bits of metal and plastic.

But my daughter doesn’t have a scratch.

And neither does my heart.

I have received mercy today. Great mercy. And so has my daughter. At this moment she is too frustrated with herself to feel the mercy, so thick in the air of this house.

But I grasp it. I wrap myself in it. I revel in it. I am grateful enough for both of us.

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The Blanket Party was three months ago, but now and then a donation still trickles in, most recently $500 from a groups of preschoolers!! That donation and the many others from all you kind people have brought the total to $4008. Thank you so much, everyone!

$2500 for a washer has already been delivered to the Sodo Hospital in Ethiopia. The staff there ended up deciding that a commercial washer would not be the best way to meet the laundry need. Electricity comes and goes there, and the specialized parts needed for any repairs would be expensive and slow to arrive. Instead they were able to purchase two wringer-style washers (much easier to repair as needed) plus one dryer, which should be of great assistance especially during the rainy season when it can take days for clothes to dry on the clothesline.

The rest of the money will be divided equally between baby blankets, the projects of Dr. Mary , (a devoted worker there in Ethiopia), and the Soddo Hospital surgery fund. That fund was set up for the many patients who cannot afford to have surgery. $80 is all it takes, but most people cannot afford even that.

My sister leaves for Ethiopia May 30th, and my parents leave in early July. If you’re so inclined, please pray that their preparations go smoothly and that their work there is productive. And thanks so much to all of you who were moved to help people in need.

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The (not so) simple life

I open my eyes to black silence. No comforting hum of fan. No glowing clock numbers. The smooth silence is rippled only by the breathing of the 3 year old sleeping beside me.

Power outage.

I reach to pat my husband’s side of the bed, hoping the outage didn’t affect his waking to go to work. But beyond my daughter the bed is empty and cool, as if he left it long ago. I look at my watch — 6:30 — and remember that my 17 year old, who is taking a class at the local college, has a test this morning. I find my way upstairs to find her awake, sitting up in bed. She uses her cell phone for an alarm clock, so she’s on track.

As I come back downstairs I hear my 3 year old crying in the hall. She’s missed me at even that brief absence, and is disturbed because no lights obey her bidding. I take her to the bathroom and then snuggle back in bed with her. But the silence is disconcerting and the 5 year old soon wakes to climb in with us.

Now with two wiggly little girls in my bed I give up on more sleep. When I suggest we get up, they trot happily ahead of me out to the living room. We stoke the fire, which produces a satisfying glow of light. I think of coffee and put the teapot on the top of the wood stove as well. I’m not sure it will get that hot, but at the moment this option sounds more appealing that cranking up the barbecue outside.

I dig in the farthest, highest corner of the pantry for our two St. Jude’s candles, and set them on the counter for a little more light. We’re not Catholic– we bought them years ago at the grocery store during another power outage. There’s a prayer on the side in Spanish, and the word desperado makes me giggle and seems somehow appropriate as I stumble to approximate normalcy without power.

My 17 year old daughter comes downstairs. She and the little girls and I eat yogurt by candle light in the kitchen. When my daughter tries to leave for school, she discovers that of course the garage door won’t open either. She runs back in to get me to help her open the garage. We struggle for a moment to release the catch, then lift the door together. I wave her off then pull down the garage door in the dark garage.

Back inside the little girls still huddle by the fire, whispering as I remind them that other kids are trying to sleep. I head for my computer, thinking that at least I have an hour of battery life. That’s when I discover the phone line isn’t working either. No internet for me.

Still, having computer time at all this morning feels like a bonus, so I tap away at my keyboard, writing for awhile as the little girls play. When the older kids get up, it is easy to decide on cold cereal for breakfast. But it’s cold outside and I crave warmth. I experiment with a cookie sheet on top of the wood stove, laying a few slices of bread on it to see if I might be able to make toast. The answer is yes, though it takes about five minutes. I fell pleasantly Laura Ingalls-ish.

By now the water on the woodstove is hot. I dig in the pantry once again, looking for my French press coffee pot. It usually seems like too much hassle, but it makes dynamite coffee. I sigh happily when I find it. Once again a gadget saves me from actually having to do without…anything.

The kids and I have toast, cereal, coffee and tea. We read the newspaper. We start school. And soon the house hums back to light and life, leaving me simultaneously relieved and disappointed that my pioneer morning is over.

But it leaves me wondering. Wondering about the people who walk an hour for water every day. The people who cook with wood every morning. Who go their whole lives without even electricity, nevermind internet access.

And I wonder why them?

Why not me?

And which life would you wish for your children?

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  First of all, I have a new writing gig over at Workitmom.com.  I’ll be writing there once a month or so.   This month my article is Could adoption be right for your family?  Check it out if that’s something you’re considering!

 Next– this bit of news made my stomach all quivery.  My book – MY BOOK! – is scheduled to be released in stores nationwide and online in March of 2009.   I cannot tell you how pretentious I feel writing that– and what an odd feeling I got when I got that email from my editor.  It is freaky, like the day you get married or have a baby or get off a plane on the other side of the world and you feel so much like your normal self–but not– that you can hardly believe this is really your life.

 I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.  When I do, I just know I’ll be afraid to open it, for fear that my “Can’t. Stop. Editing. Ever.” demons will leap out. This afternoon when I went over to see my article at workitmom, I was greatly distressed to discover two typos.  How will a whole book feel?  Eeeeeeeek!  But bring it on anyway, angst and all.  Whee!!!! Today I am celebrating! 

And now, since this whole post is already blatantly self-centered, I might as well finish it off with a few pictures of me (and my precious ones) at the Oregon Coast Aquarium last week.  Here are the kids and me, with the big boys trying not to look too self-conscious standing on a WALL with their whole family while many, many people walked by and Dad said, “Say cheese!” way, way too many times. (They’re good sports, aren’t they?)

Then we have this lovely being-eaten photograph of all of us together, thanks to some kind stranger offering her photography skills.

 Thanks for being interested in my chattering!

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I don’t know how many of you read a post I wrote awhile back when I was feeling sad that I didn’t have any baby pictures of our newest daughters who arrived last summer at the ages of 9 and 11. Here’s the link if you missed it.

Yesterday I went out to the mailbox to find a small, dense envelope from our adoption agency. I ran inside to open it with my girls, and burst into tears when I saw that yes indeed there were baby pictures.

Precious, precious gift. Both to me and to my girls.

I made copies for the girls to thumb through, along with enlargements of the nicest ones, some for their room and some for me. This afternoon I hung their baby pictures on my photo wall along with the baby pictures of all my other children. This completed a project I began more than a decade ago.  A project I began when I had no idea how difficult it might be to get baby pictures of some of my children.

Those pictures were taken a decade ago as well. Certainly our daughters’ first mom intended them as gifts for the girls. The girls were so thrilled to see these precious links to their past, proof that they were loved and adored by their first family.

But it touches me to think that even back then, God knew the longing that would be in my own heart.  To see my girls when they were babies.

 “These pictures will bring joy to Mary’s heart,” I imagine my Heavenly Father saying with satisfaction each time the shutter clicked.

And so they have.

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Fun is…

….sitting with your sisters, mom and daughters checking out a book interestingly titled, “How Not To Look Old”. (I confess– it was me who bought the book!)

We hooted over the suggestion that we go to NYC to avail ourselves of the services of a professional shopper (the tea’s free, we were informed).

Some of us groaned at the suggestion that athletic shoes and jeans aren’t actually ‘style’.

We laughed at the idea that Botox done ‘only’ once a year is the ‘budget’ solution.

But the fact that we spent an hour poring over the pages together should tell you that there was plenty of other totally intriguing and not-so-ridiculous information in the book.

 For example, to better weed out your wardrobe, invite a friend (or a sister) over. You try on clothes and she tells you what actually flatters you.

Jeans. For heaven’s sakes, look for big pockets, lycra, and boot cut.  Skinny-legged jeans are only good if you’re a twig or if you want to look like a mushroom.

And shoes. WEAR those cute shoes languishing in your closet.  Yes, even if they were your wedding shoes.

The talk was definitely silly.  Probably frivolous. Nothing world-changing in the slightest. But exactly the kind of fun I needed this evening.

 

 Back Row: Sis #3, my dear mom, Sis# 5, Sis #4, me (AKA Sis #1), my second daughter

Front Row:   My youngest daughter (AKA the ham – see her there?) and my youngest sister

For those of you who are interested, my youngest sister and my mom are the ones going to Ethiopia this summer to deliver your blanket money!  BTW, the Blanket Party has now raised a little over $3500!!!  Isn’t that incredible?

 Oh, and I think the real key to not looking old is to have a mom who looks that good at 60-something! Isn’t she awesome?

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Perhaps…

…snacking on half a cup of chocolate-covered coffee beans at 10:30 PM is not the wisest move to make. Around 2:30 this morning, I was still wide awake. The upside is that at that moment I was also watching the pages of my book spit out of my printer. All 203 of them.

Yeah.

A sweet sweet feeling indeed.

More from here later.

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I’m so excited! Today is the day we get to bless some needy mommas and babies in Ethiopia. For those of you who are tuning in to my blog for the first time, this summer my mom, dad and sister are headed to Ethiopia to volunteer at the Soddo Hospital in a remote area of southern Ethiopia. Because of the poverty in the area, many new moms go home from the hospital with literally nothing for their babies — not even a baby blanket. Can you imagine not having a blanket for your newborn? The hospital workers have told us that they would love to have a stash of blankets to give to moms for their infants, and I would love to help grant that wish.

So today I am sponsoring a baby blanket fundraiser.

Since my family is planning to fill their luggage with medical textbooks for the nurses they’ll be training, they won’t be bringing actual blankets to Ethiopia. Instead they’ll take our money and buy blankets once they arrive in Ethiopia. This is doubly fun because it will allow us to bless both the new moms AND the shop owners from whom we’ll buy the blankets.

If you would like to be a part of this project, go to paypal.com and send any amount of money to owlhaven @ aol . com (remove the spaces from that address). They should be able to buy blankets for $5 or less. If we could provide them with $500, that means that at least a hundred babies should end up with blankets — wouldn’t that be awesome??

Here’s one more idea for you all. Maybe I’m nutty, but since I first cooked up this project, I’ve found myself dreaming even bigger. We have been told of another need that the hospital has. They are in great need of a commercial-style washing machine. This way the hospital laundry would not have to be done by hand.

This is a big thing, people. A commercial washer is — brace yourself– about $2000. I am actually kind of cringing as I type that number.. part of me thinks I am nuts to think we could meet this need too. I totally understand if y’all would rather just donate for blankets. Blankets are awesome and I cannot wait to share a picture… maybe even one of a baby wrapped in one of our blankets.

But just in case some of you like to dream big too, I thought I’d mention the washer as well.

Please be assured that 100% of your money will go straight to Ethiopia, straight to whichever project you prefer. Please write either ‘blankets’ or ‘washer’ in the instructions on your donation. If you do not designate where you want your money to go, funds will go first toward the blanket project until we reach $500. At that point any additional money will go toward the washer fund.

I will be updating several times during the day to let you know how the project is going, most likely around noon, 5 pm, and then again at midnight. Thanks to all of you who’ve mentioned this project on your blogs– I so much appreciate it! And thanks to all of you who’ve stopped by for the first time. Feel free to poke around a bit. To get started, you might want to check out my favorite posts in the sidebar to the right.

And now — ready, set, go! Let’s wrap up some babies!

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Fearless

Today I watched my five year old splashing in the pool at the rec center. Since most of her siblings were scattered around in the various pools, I expected she would be chasing the big kids– she thrives on companionship and commotion.

Instead she found a quiet end of one pool and played by herself. She danced and spun like a ballet dancer under the fountain, poetry in a green-and-orange striped Speedo. She chased and splashed and swam after a ball, all the way around the pool. She did head stands under the water, head ducking down and bum going up, bobbing like a duck going after a bug in a pond. For many minutes she was utterly engrossed in her play, fearless and unself-conscious, a study in pure joy.

After a long while she looked my way and flashed me a grin that glowed like the sun.

And as I smiled back I wished her a million more moments just this rich and free.

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Pictures

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