Monday, June 30, 2008

Did you sign the petition yet? Please do!!!

This petition could make a difference for families and children in Viet Nam. The innocent parties caught in the middle of a breakdown in the process need our help.

Remember, you do not have to be part of the (Viet Nam) adoptive community to sign the petition.

Thank you very much!! Doing the right thing is easy and will make you feel great!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

URGENT. DO IT NOW!!!


Please, please, please help families with this very important Vietnam adoption-related topic.

The letter is self-explanatory, time sensitive and comes from a very reliable source, IAAP.

Finally, something we can *DO* that may make a difference.


CURRENT INFO ON VIET NAM

As of today the deadline of July 1 for all dossiers to be received by the DIA in Hanoi still stands and also the deadline of September 1, 2008 for receiving a referral. Vietnam has stated that all dossiers without a referral by September 1 will be sent back to the agencies. The current estimate is that this could be as many as two thousand dossiers.

Efforts are still underway to get the dossiers that are currently in Vietnam grandfathered in so that referrals may be received after September 1 when the MOA between the United States and Vietnam expires.

The DIA has indicated that they would be willing to discuss changing the September 1 deadline if the US Department of State would request a change. So far the Department of State has been been unwilling to do this. The last statement from the Department of State was that they had contacted the Office of the Government in Vietnam and that they had said there was no change in the deadlines. The Department of State has not said whether they have or will directly contact Dr. Long, the Director of the Department of Intercountry Adoptions, who originally made the statement.

You can help encourage the Department of State to work with Vietnam to bring this about by contacting your Senators and Congressmen and asking them to contact the Department of State and ask what they are doing to try to assist the families with dossiers in Vietnam and have they contacted the DIA about extending the deadline.

Also go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Grandfather_All_Dossiers/ and sign the petition to ask the Department of State to work with the Vietnamese government to grandfather all dossiers currently in Vietnam. You can sign it and have any friends, relatives, neighbors, etc. sign it, too. It currently has about 5,700 signatures but we need about twice that number.

You can do this even if you are not adopting from Vietnam. We need everyone's help! There are so many children there that need families. We can't let them down.

Dick and Cheryl Graham

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Looking Ahead



















Husband's
ringtone for his daughter's phone calls...



Lovely. It's never too soon to start preparing your heart for the day you dance to this song at your daughter's wedding. sigh

Although, if we play our cards jussst right, we might not ever have any letting go to do! [evil grin]

Dueling Realities

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Sheesh. My neck and shoulders are so stiff.
My plantar fasciitis hurts. [groan]


This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

ugh. What all do I have to do today?
Something important, but I can't remember...


This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Oh yeah. Renew driver's license. Get oil changed in the van. Finish up preparing for my new grad. student.


This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

For honkin' out loud. Why am I so tired?
What time did I go to bed last night?


This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

{startle} Oh hey. Good morning, Lord.

I 'm thankful for the not so still, not so small voice You use, when necessary. (grin)

This *is* the day that the Lord has made.

I *will* rejoice and be glad in it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guess what 'Jehovah Sneaky' has been up to?

Man, oh man, oh man!

Run! (do not walk) over to Cherry Blossom Baby's blog (I'm sure many of you "know" Christie and Abbey), to see what our Awesome God has done in answer to earnest seeking.


I am doing some sort of wild end-zone touchdown dance and pointing to the Father in Heaven, just like a real NFL pro (only I'm a middle-aged woman, so I look ridiculous)! lol



Wait.


What are you still doing over here? Hurry up!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

All I ever wanted

is probably not so different than what many girls want. A white picket fence and all that it symbolizes. A husband. Children. A 2-story home with a welcoming front porch. Flower boxes on the windows. Happiness. Stability. Security. Love. The white picket fence.

I tried every way I knew how to make my dream come true. Man, did I ever try. If wanting it was enough, I would have surely obtained it.

But trying on my own (although it is the 'American' way and the way I was taught by my 'self-made' dad) is not God's way. And as I came to know more and more of the Lord's ways, my dream(s) did not change, but my acknowledgment of their Source crystallized.

And God is good. He gave me a second chance at the white picket fence. And I was grateful and confident that *finally* my dreams would come true.

And I was um.... incredibly misguided. I knew, knew, knew and believed like crazy that God was not interested primarily in my happiness. I knew He wanted *holiness* for me most of all.

Those two ideals (happiness and holiness) are not always in the same ballpark. And may, in fact, be at odds with one another. I was invested, though, in wanting God's way for my life.
I just did not know what exactly that might mean. What the cost might be.

And I am ashamed to say, once the cost became apparent, there was a period of time that I was unwilling to offer myself, my life's course to the Lord anymore.

I was spent. I was confused. I was done. For the first time, I was suspicious of God and His motives. I was having a faith crisis; my very first one in 14 years. I felt betrayed. I felt that God had pulled some deceitful bait and switch on me.

And out of hurt and pain, I decided I didn't want it anymore anyway. Out of desperation, I re-wrote and revised my dream(s) to include new things, that didn't feature a husband and more children and a two-story house with a porch. My white picket fence seemed absolutely out of reach and so, in an attempt at self-preservation, I called it undesirable.

And in letting go, it was given back to me. Not the same old messy reality I had once lived, struggling daily in frustration and anguish, but the effortless, miraculous fulfillment of nearly every one of my dream(s).

And was I happy then? Oh heck no! I even remember God asking me, "What happens to the girl who finally gets everything she ever wanted?". I'll tell you. I was not. happy.

I was upset that God felt it necessary to rip my heart in pieces, in order to give me that which I had already wanted in the first place. What was the deal with that? What kind of Papa would do that to his daughter (other than my earthly father)?

Who was this God? Who was Jesus? Did I really hear the voice of the Lord through His Holy Spirit? Why did I ever think I did? What kind of character did God possess anyway?

Unknowable? Unsearchable? OK. Fine. I did not expect to know His mind.

But His *heart*? That, I thought I knew...

And now? Two years later, I am just beginning to trust Him again with the same reckless confidence I used to exude.

Wow. I am so not very proud of that fact, but hey, it is what it is. Why pretend with y'all? God certainly knows my heart. Whether I am honest with others or not, there is no hiding from the Lord.

So here I am, Lord. Slightly more than lukewarm, more like a sullen teenager than a joyful child and still, You are God. You are loving and perfect. You are with me always.

And just as I was never particularly moved or offended by the tantrums of my (then) two year olds, neither are you moved or offended by mine. You love me simply because I am Yours.

And that, is the ultimate. That is safety.
Happiness. Stability. Security. Love. A spiritual white picket fence. All I ever wanted.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pretty Girl by Emily West

Love her or hate her, this photo montage of Britney, coupled with Emily West's beautiful, heartbreaking song, "Pretty Girl" is so. very. sad. (and by the way, I believe we are called to pray for poor Britney).



I wonder how many little (and big) girls feel the same, invisible way?

In the category of, if I don't do it now, I'll forget...

Remind me to describe what the Lord told me about this...

Pretty SIn

Deuteronomy 8:14 "...when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage..."

This quote is from a post I wrote quite a while ago:


***No, the most horrible sin I have ever committed was a pretty one. One that was easy to defend and gloss over and rationalize. And it took years and years of sinning in this way, to build up and to dull my spirit and to make me well, if not blind, pretty darn near-sighted.

Anyone care to guess what I was guilty of?***

So, returning to this thread, I realize that there have been no comments, no guesses as to my sin. Hmmmm....

Alright, dear reader. You have 24-36 hours, before I have time to fully launch back into this discussion with myself. Start the clock and let's see some guesses...

Maybe you really have no ideas? Maybe you do and are shy (not likely--heh heh). Maybe you can't imagine moi engaging in any sort of really ugly sin? Maybe you know me personally and already know the answer and don't want to spoil it for the casual reader?

Whatever the case, I will take the time to listen to the voice of the Lord today, so that I may be clear when I pick this topic up again. It has been (for me) a subtle belief, that again, looks completely fine (even desirable), but is intolerable to the Lord.

Off to work now! Have a collective good day. :~)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Father's Day 2008

Happy 8th Anniversary!!!!! (a few weeks late)

The kind of man I married:

will take the dog outside in the morning, but wait, it gets better; if it's raining, he will carry the dog outside, under the umbrella and will wait, holding the umbrella, until she is finished and will escort the dog back inside the house. Serious.


will get up at an unholy hour to make certain my daughter feels safe leaving for school in the morning.

will help my daughter with math and science homework (science, I like; math? we are *blessed* to have him).


will *not* yell if his wife, in a fit of excited distraction, backs her minivan into his daughter's car. He will say, "That's why we have insurance". This has happened, so it is not mere conjecture.


will find something else to drink when the kids or their friends have consumed his non-diet Coke.


will allow me to 'purty' up the bedroom with romantic mosquito netting, pulling it aside each evening and morning to enter or exit the bed, without a word of complaint.


has more or less insisted that I schedule myself to receive a full-body massage once per month, for my health and enjoyment.

entertains his children, their friends, my children, their friends, my friends, our friends, my brother, his parents, his brother with ease, interest and good humor.


will ask my opinion and consider what I say.


shares my wacky sense of word humor, puns, multiple meanings and the creation of new vocabulary.


mows the lawn for 'exercise', rises daily at the crack of dawn and works all day, although he is self-employed and could be a slacker.

expresses interest in working at the Happiest Place on Earth during our retirement. How fun is he?


loves Myth Busters, Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, How It's Made and No Reservations. He also loves Food Channel--Iron Chef, Unwrapped any show about traveling and food.


knows how the furnace works, how a light bulb works, how a gasoline engine works, how to shore up broken things, how to untangle a necklace, how to teach a child, how to love a woman.

is OK with counseling and church and God and the Bible and love and charity and giving.


tells me I look nice, that he loves me, what time he'll be home...and means it.


does not drink, but is no kill-joy.
does not smoke, but is no overzealous health nut.

has learned to tolerate (maybe love?) Panera. hehehe


will take two weeks off work to re-live and re-create memories with his daughter and grandson, traveling to National Parks out west.


will take two weeks off to go on a honeymoon.
declared the year of our marriage "The Year of the Honeymoon" and proceeded to take me to Colorado, Greece, Turkey and Viet Nam.


helps around the house, cooks with joy, cleans waaaay better than me, but is no sissy.

took charge of our lives at a critical time, providing leadership and love, forgiveness, wisdom and humility.

freezes his tookus off most nights in bed, since I am in the land of HOTFLASH.

loves movies and can watch the same ones many times, memorizing them, but not tiring of his favorites.

is romantic and sweet, handsome and smart, good and funny, fatherly and friendly and PERFECT for me!!


Mark, I am blessed to be your wife.


I have grown because I have known you.


I thank you for showing me the Way.



This little gem hangs in our bedroom. lol



This hangs in our foyer. Awww.......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to the Book

(stage whisper) Previously on "And Then God Said..."

Deuteronomy 8:10 10 "When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you".

Tonight's verses...

11 “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, (beware, indeed! the Lord God means what He says...)

12
lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; (I am overweight, I am so full of things I have eaten and I live in the best house I've ever lived in--for many reasons)

13
and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; (got our first dog, working full-time now (so that brings a raise) and have more stuff than is necessary).

More tomorrow...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Excess

Water---sandbagging is not enough. All the towns I have ever lived in Iowa are under water. It's a bit overwhelming. Catastrophic. Katrina-like. Horrible. CNN-newsworthy. ugh.

To Blog About
---I am not sure where to begin to catch up.

Emotion---happy, sad, worried, glad---how to sort it all out. I'm becoming numb.

Memory
--on my camera. Must stop running and start uploading.

The artist: Brij Sondhi, Meerut, India. 'Deluge'- depicts an evening in the season of monsoon in Assam-[North East India] where he took his newly wedded bride- now his wife of 41 years.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's 'By' Birthday Today

And I have a sinus infection. And a fairly sweet earache.

And I have to be on a plane to 'Dashville' tomorrow. 'Dice'.

I am concerned about the pressure in my ears while taking off and landing.

And for my overall ability to kill the girlfriend-joy with my ringing ears and snot-filled head.


Prayers, please.

'By' girlfriends will thank you.

(my best written rendition of my snot-filled productions of nasal sounds)

The Mid-West's Universal Ice Breaker

video

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's just loooong and that's the way this one's gotta be

The request for help.
One person's answer for the group.
Less than 24 hours to pull it all together.
A homemade card.
Quickly gathered essentials.
A hastily gathered offering.

Sometimes, it all just works out, with very little effort. Sometimes, it all just seems ordained. Sometimes, it is pure God-magic.

This was one of those times.

Sunday, we went to devastated Parkersburg, Iowa, scene of an EF-5 tornado just one week previous; 10 dance team girls, ranging in age from 13-17 and four parents (ages ::coughcough:: unimportant). Alternatively during the 30 minute ride, we are silent or superficial in our interactions, but always a bit awkward.

As the minivan nears the destination, I begin to feel the tears coming. I know what I will see, having seen so much coverage on TV. I know that I will cry. I don't care that I will cry, but I do not want to embarrass my daughter or her friends with my display.

So I stammer and preface and try to explain. And as my eyes catch the first real-life glimpse of the ruins, I am struck speechless. For the next 25 minutes, as we snake our way through town, I am unable to say more than, "Oh my God", (as in prayer). Over and over.

We arrived at the local VFW hall, the site of all things crisis (FEMA, Red Cross, NOAH, State Patrol, Fire Depts., Police, Sheriffs, National Guard, volunteers, churches, etc.). Unbelievable. There were more people in that town, post-tornado, than had EVER been in it for any sunny day.

The hall was minimally busy when we arrived; no more than a couple of dozen people, including us. We received our job descriptions and ...waited. Too many helpers and not enough folks to help, yet.

Then, the accordion man and his wife come and set up camp. Wearing matching turquoise shirts and toting "eight of his 20 accordions", at first, I am a bit hinkey about them being there.

But it is clear that the duo feels a bit awkward, too (I'm thinking it had to do with that "What appropriate thing is there to say to a disaster victim?" feeling, not so much the "I'm wearing a matching turquoise shirt and I have just publicly admitted I own 20 accordions", but I can't be sure), so I mentally cut them some slack.

Then, the hungry townspeople begin to arrive and we are caught up in busing tables, assisting diners, handing out beverages, making take-home boxes of food, toting out trash and the like. The teens we brought are making me prouder than I've ever been and all is going pretty well. Polite conversation, small talk, some hugs are exchanged.

And then, it happens. Or 'she' happens. Amanda. A. manda.

Oh dear me. What is Amanda do*ing?

Amanda is one of my daughter's friends. We love her. Part stand-up comedian, part bull in a china shop, all big hearted; that's Amanda. I believe (and have stated out loud) that you could drop Amanda anywhere in the world and in 5 minutes she will have made a friend. When I made this point to another of the dance team members, it was asserted that it would probably only take 1 minute. lol

So what *was* Amanda doing? Well, I will tell you.

Amanda had pushed, pulled or dragged some poor frail, septuagenarian male onto a makeshift dance floor and was dancing...well, not a waltz with him. She was dancing the kind of dancing that you ought not to be dancing to accordion music, with an elderly gentleman, in a small Iowa town, recently half-leveled by a cyclone. Horror!

But, wait. wait. People were laughing (a teeny bit). And clapping (a smattering). And smiling (a whole lot) and suddenly, the brilliance of it was obvious.

Remember after 9-11, how good (and at the same time irreverent and awkward) it felt to watch SNL with Rudy Guliani as host? To laugh? To feel just a bit of the old normal (cuz we would forevermore have a new normal)?

Yeah. It was like that.

By the end of our shift, we had met many cool volunteers from all over the USA. We had made new friends. We had made memories. We had seen the worst of the damage and the best of the people.

By the end of our shift, Amanda (and the rest of our girls) had the National Guard and the firefighters dancing to "YMCA". Truth. I have video. I have so far decided against uploading it to YouTube, since it seems that might cause problems for men in uniform.

And everyone in the VFW hall in recently devastated Parkersburg, Iowa was laughing and clapping; the little kids were running wild and our girls were catching them up and swinging them around and the adults who were not dancing, were grasping our hands (we were all wearing matching dance team T-shirts, hot pink, no less; so we were easy to spot) and *thanking us* for bringing our girls.

Servanthood from Complacency.

Self-lessness from Self-centered-ness

Pride for Horror.

Mourning into Dancing.

Beauty for Ashes.

My God is an Awesome God.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In Blessing Others, We Bless Ourselves



As always, to get rid of the special effects or to read captions, click either on the view all images button or click on the photo.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Rachel!!! (in photos)

Happy Birthday, dear Rachel!!! (in words)

It was Rachel's 25th birthday over the weekend. Wow!

She knew what she wanted for a celebration (I like a girl who knows what she wants and justs lets it be known--so much nicer than guessing!) and we were happy to oblige.

We started the weekend with fireworks and moved through the next day with a parade, cookout, gifts, cake and ice cream and goofy golf! The weather was perfect. We had a blast!


Since moving closer to us, I have enjoyed getting to know Rachel. We all have spent quite a bit of time traveling in the car, hanging out at home and doing life together.


Rachel has many admirable qualities. She is a devoted mother. She is driven to maintain her body and health. She has recently applied for and accepted a perfect job offer. She is kind. She loves her parents and siblings. She has a great laugh.

Most importantly, she loves the Lord.


It is our prayer that God would continue to lead Rachel to the fulfillment of His plan for her life. And that we would get to go along for the ride and cheer!

So much to tell

not sure where to begin.

So much has gone on this weekend and a great deal of it feels surreal and deja vu and spiritual and gritty and hopeless and hopeful and overwhelming and joyous.

Lots of paradox and juxtaposition.

Best to begin at the beginning....