I went to the Bridge the Gap fundraiser today. Oh my goodness. I successfully avoided hauling home an autographed football and signed jersey of Russell Wilson because I thought my husband might be surprised if I had decided to donate our children's college fund to the cause. However - I did bring home a renewed vision for why we decided to use some of the proceeds from The Scramble for the Kids (a charity golf tournament I help with every year) for this amazing organization. Bridge the Gap helps by providing funding for foster kids to do the "extras" in life - they pay for art classes, rent band instruments, pay for tutors, sports fees and even purchase yearbooks and prom tickets. Last year, Bridge the Gap helped 1602 foster kids in Clark and Skamania counties. Today one of the speakers was a stunning student who is about to graduate. When this brave soul shared her story the entire room sat in rapt attention and then gave her a standing ovation. And then the paddle raise. Goodness me. If you need to renew your hope in the world go check out Bridge the Gap and get involved.
I spent the afternoon reading one of the books in my stack. The stack has grown to ridiculous levels and I have a goal this month to power through and get caught up. This afternoon's read was a fantastic thoughtful and engrossing book by Christina Baker Kline called The Orphan Train. The book traces the relationship between a modern day foster child and a 92 year old woman who find friendship through sharing their similar childhood experiences. The book made me want to be kinder to everyone I meet. People carry such pain and kindness makes a difference.
My girls and I read books together before bed every night. I love to read. I can't stand reading the same books over and over and over again. I totally understand this is a good thing for kids - it helps with their reading skills and understand text and all that but I go slightly cookoo when I'm into the fifth or sixth review of the same plot line. This is especially true if its "lesser" literature. You know - the books that are really just marketing commercials for random kids toys. My little one made me read Shimmer and Shine's teanie tiny escape from a sparkly bottle one too many times recently. Anyway - I love to read picture books but seriously need new input. So we go to the library a couple times a month to restock.
A couple days ago we were reading Ruth Chan's new book Georgie's Best Bad Day. Its about a group of friends who decide to tackle their rotten day with friendship and activity and end up having a pretty good day in the end. At one point we came to this page. Poor little Sneakers's here forgot his breakfast.
When I read this line out loud my youngest got it right. She said "Pants".
Yes, forget the breakfast. What this little guy forgot was pants. My eldest and I both laughed so hard we cried.
This is why I read every night with my girls. It makes me see things in a new way. I've been thinking about it all weekend. What critical things am I ignoring because I'm too worried about my own grumbles? The sermon today at church was about prayer. The pastor asked "If we believe what we say we believe....why don't we pray?". Good question.
My husband sent me a gift this morning. I love surprise gifts. This one came in the form of a blog domain and blog email renewal. My Quirky Faith domain was set to expire and without asking this sweet spouse of mine signed me up for two more years. I haven't written much in the last few weeks. I've neglected the written word. I appreciated his vote of confidence.
Fact is lately I've been called to smaller things. My sister had a baby - two months early - and in aunty fashion I've been making quilts and embroidering Christmas stockings. My mom and a good friend of our threw a fairly fantastic baby shower.
The last couple of weeks I've also been called to focus in at home. My kids have had some obstacles in health and homework which required attention - time cuddling and reading and being present. So I've been quiet online.
This morning as I dropped my daughter off at preschool she asked me a question which made me pause.
Mom - Do I look like Miss Clavel?
I looked her up and down before I responded.
Ummmmm. Miss Clavel? Like in Madeline? The nun?
Yea! Do I look like Miss Clavel?
I truly tell you I had no words. Miss Clavel is not what comes to mind when I think about my feisty five year old. But her question made me ponder.
Miss Clavel is a wonder. She sacrificed her rights to marriage and her own family in order to take a vow of fidelity to Jesus. Then she spent her life chasing after 12 little girls and one especially spunky little one. Miss Clavel took in puppies and kittens, toured world cities, woke up in the night and rushed to the side of people in pain. Madeline is the hero of the story but truth is I love Miss Clavel. So I hope my kiddo turns out the same.
Mother Theresa once said "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
I'm grateful for Quirky Faith - and for the platforms on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. I love to write and shout out to the masses what is true and holy and right and fun. I so appreciate the opportunity and the privilege. But I'm convicted when any attempt to strive for something "great" makes me too busy to look at my children and understand what they are asking. My daughter wanted to know if she looked like Miss Clavel. I want to be about the same question.
Wall of Faith: Michelle
Life is one big musical. Lyrics pop into my mind to narrate life's events on a moment by moment basis. Hang around long enough and I'll break out into song--albeit it will likely be both off key and off tune. When a headlight needs replaced, I sing "We can drive it h-ome...with one headlight". When I go to pump gas in the car, I sing"Pump, pump the jam. Pump it up a little more..." When it starts to sprinkle, I hum "Drip, drip, drop little April showers" or "Raindrops on roses..." If the skies open up in a torrential downpour, I sing"Rain, rain on my face- it hasn't stopped raining for days...". And when the rain stops and the clouds break through, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..". And of course when the combo of sun and rain are out, "Somewhere over the rainbow...". And anytime someone says, "You're free to go", “And I'm FREE- FREE falling..." automatically plays in my head. If I get the goosebumps, "I've got chills! They're multiplying" plays. (Props and accolades to anyone who sang all those songs while reading this!) I think in song. It's a game I've played since I was little. Ally Mcbeal used to inwardly laugh when she saw a dancing baby--likewise, I smirk when a line from a song pops into my head that perfectly fits a situation.
Lately, one song has been playing through my mind like a broken record- "Home" by Chris Thomlin. It has been playing for 48 days and counting in fact. Forty-eight days and counting- that's how long we've been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with our 32 week gestation preemie. He started out 3 lbs and 14 ounces. A resounding gush of thanks was prayed when he came out screaming-- you can't cry if you can't breathe. His lungs were strong, but a soft cleft palate was discovered moments after he was born via emergency Caesarian section. Due to the fact he was born before the suck and swallow reflex was developed and the cleft palate, learning to eat has been very difficult. He is using specialized bottles and slowly making progress. This little man has been out of the womb for over 7 weeks, but he hasn't left his NICU room once. All he knows are those same four walls.
Life in his NICU room is pretty good. It's warm. Germs are kept at bay. Mom sleeps there most nights and cuddles lots in the day. He is clean and thanks to a feeding tube he doesn't go hungry. The nurses are kind and helpful. He has a team of specialists (Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Nutritionist, Neonatologist and more) who carefully look out for his well being. And there have been visits from dearly loved ones.
There have been plenty of things that have been less than fun. There have been heel pricks and blood draws. Feeding tubes have been yanked out and put right back in. There were biliruben lights and genetic tests. Several times a day there are blood pressure and temperature checks. Milk has flooded his sinuses over and over while he is trying to learn to eat and the suppositories are no fun at all.
Then there are all the things he missed. He didn't get to
go to Easter Sunday at church or to the family gatherings that weekend. His cousins haven't met him yet because no one under the age of 18 (besides siblings) is allowed in the NICU. He hasn't felt a drop of rain or the sun on his face. He hasn't heard a dog bark or a cat meow or a bird chirp. He hasn't seen his nursery or his home.
Home. We keep telling him about it. It's this wonderful, happy place with no more needles, feeding tubes and beeping machines. There are a lot more than 4 walls. We tell him about his stroller and the walks we're going to take and the clouds, trees, flowers and animals he will see. We tell him about the car and how he gets to ride in the back seat with his big brother and the music we'll sing together along with the radio. We tell him of the books and toys at home that are waiting for him to play with and mostly we tell him of his cousins and friends he'll get to meet when he breaks out of this joint. Right now the words of a future filled with comfort, exploration and fun are just noise to our tiny baby--but soon they will be a reality.
We have similar conversations with our four year old, but they revolve around the Happiest Place on Earth. We talk about the food he can eat, the shows to watch and describe the rides in detail and the characters he could meet. We tell him about fireworks and shops filled with souvenirs. We tell him of the music and twinkle lights. He hears about airplane rides, sunshine and hotels with swimming pools. We've shown him pictures and friends who have gone recently exuberantly speak of how much fun they had.. He believes that Disneyland is amazing even though he's never been. He trusts our word. He keeps asking when he gets to go.
More importantly we tell both of them about the place that is even better than Disneyland- our true home- Heaven. We talk about being in a place with no more tears and no more sadness. We talk about the Bible characters and relatives they'll meet who have gone before. We speak of pearly gates and streets of gold. We speak of Jesus. And we tell them of the music they will help create which will be so much better than anything here on Earth. Many question the reality of life after death. They aren't sure what's to come. But we serve a God we can trust. He promised those who believe in him that he will one day take us home.
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
I got my baby's nursery ready just for him. Walls were painted. Pictures were hung. New floors and blinds were installed. The crib was assembled. Baskets of baby clothes were washed and sorted. Nesting officially took place. I can't wait for the day that I get to take him home for good. Likewise, Jesus feels the same about all those who know him. He's getting everything ready to welcome us home. I've been singing this song over my tiny baby for the past 48 days and counting... It's fitting in so many ways:
Home, where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go, oh I wanna go
Home, where every fear is gone
I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong
Where I belong
Where I belong
I’m going home
I’m going home
I’m on my way home!
I’m goin' home!
I love Easter. The pastel and chocolate and candy and family photos make me smile. The packed church and triumphant worship songs make my soul warm. The food is fantastic too. You know me - anytime I get food I'm a happy girl.
My grandmother used to make this cheesy potato dish every Easter. Its the kind of casserole you shouldn't really eat so we only do so once a year. Maybe by eating it on Easter we think we're celebrating life by eating something which dares death by calories and clogged arteries. At any rate - its cheddar cheese, sour cream, cream of chicken, potatoe goodness. Last year my mom made it. It was good - but not grandma good. Mom didn't put the cornflakes on top. This year we made it. We added cornflakes and onion. Closer. Still not grandma good.
It's possible what was missing was her.
The recipes and treasures from family serve to call my heart to eternity. The best part of Easter is the promise. Death loses. Heaven wins.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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