Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you kidding me?

I have a new friend that I met 20 years ago.  I was reading the Baylor Line a few months ago and  saw that a girl from my graduating class had recently moved to Richmond.  I had a vague recollection of a tall girl with curly hair, so I emailed her and told her we were moving her way.  She had no idea who I was, but was nice enough to welcome me into her circle of friends when I arrived.  Today she invited me to attend a fancy Junior League-type market that was benefitting  kids with cancer.  Before she came to pick me up, I made sure that the pillows were on the couch; I picked up the shoes by the door; I put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher; I even swept the back porch.  When she walked in, the first thing she asked was, "Can I use your bathroom?"  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  My choices were to let her go upstairs and see my messy bed, or let her use the kids bathroom.  I chose to let her think my kids were slobs instead of letting her think I was a slob.  Next time I want to impress someone I will not forget to wipe down the bathroom!

We enjoyed "just looking" at all of the jewelry, bags, clothes and fancy dog collars at the Ivy Market.  On the way out I stopped and asked about the organization that was benefitting from the fund raiser.  It's a group that works to "improve the lives of children battling cancer."  They told me about all of their activities and it sounded a lot like Ally's House.  Then I asked the volunteer, "Do you have any services for the families of the children who die?"  The woman stared back at me with a blank look on her face, "Uh, no.  I don't know of anything..."  I wanted to say, "Some of them do die you know."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Raccoons and Bun-gee Cords

We have raccoons.  No, they are not pets, but apparently we are feeding them.  Two nights ago I heard them so I sent Richard out to investigate.  The lid was off one of the trash cans.  When he went to put it back on, there were two raccoons staring back at him from the bottom of the can.  They didn't scamper off and Richard didn't want to trap them in the can so he just left them there.  The next day we moved all of the trash to one can and put a bun-gee cord over the top to hold the lid on.  This morning the empty can was still covered, but the other lid was laying in the grass with the bun-gee cord right next to it.  I guess  bun-gee cords are no match for little raccoon hands and to tell you the truth,  I've always wanted a pet raccoon.


I have reached the "I quit my job 13 years ago when I started having kids and now my kids are in school  so what do I do?" stage of life.  I have two degrees, but I have been feeling NOT SMART and NOT ABLE to do anything "important" or "professional".  This all came to a head Friday night when I burned the pizza.  I know burned pizza had NOTHING to do with how I was feeling, but it sent me over the edge and all sorts of emotions came spilling out--including grief which is always lurking beneath the surface.  (Yuck!--and surprise for Richard!)
THE NEXT MORNING during my quiet time I was reading in Isaiah chapter 49....

3"You are my servant... in whom I will display my splendor."
4"But I said, 'I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing...
(But God, my resume isn't  impressive in the eyes of the world.  My experiences don't qualify me to do anything.  What was it all for?  What have you prepared me to do?)
"Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."

Then God asked me the question,
"Is it too small a thing for you to be my servant?"

"Why... labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen to me... and your soul  will delight in the richest of fare.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."  (Is. 55:2)

No Lord, it is not too small a thing for me to be your servant.  Speak for your servant is listening.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Will

Last night I was sad as I kissed my eight-year-old goodnight and realized that I would never have another eight-year-old.  It's hard when your kids grow up!
But today was a day to celebrate being nine.  Will got up early to make the most of his day.  He opened his nine presents and his cards at breakfast.  Then we had fun Skyping our friends and family in Oklahoma.  (Video conferencing on the computer for those of you who have never tried it.  It's great and it's FREE.)  The best quote was from Will's buddy Nate who asked, "Is it Saturday there?"
At ten o'clock his new VA friend arrived for four hours of fun.  We took them to the park then came back home for spaghetti and more play.  Tonight we went to see "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".  We liked the movie, but it would have been just as good without paying extra for the 3D showing.  I'm pretty sure Will had a good day.  He has decided that now that he is nine, he is too old for a booster seat.  I reluctantly agreed, but I will miss having a car seat in my car.

Will likes cookies better than cake and ice-cream better than anything

Making ice-cream sundaes

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Will Carry You

"I have made you and I will carry you." (Isaiah 46:4)
What an incredible verse! Don't we all want to be carried sometimes? Aren't we like little children who get tired and long to be swept up in their Father's arms? God says He will carry us. We're not too heavy!
I found a German proverb yesterday in one of my library books. It says "Aller Anfang is schwer, " which means: "Every new beginning is hard." It's true! New beginnings are hard. But, I know from experience that endings are hard too. So if you are in one of those days between a beginning and an end--rejoice! And if you are facing an end, or plodding through a beginning, rest in your Father's arms and let Him carry you.
Selah has a new song called, "I Will Carry You." It was written when the lead singer and his wife were told that the baby girl she was carrying would not survive after birth. The doctors recommended terminating her pregnancy, but the mother said no "I will carry her."
It thrills my soul to think of God saying to me, "I will carry you, while your heart beats here-- long beyond Anna's empty bed, through the coming years. I will carry you all your life."

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?
People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you

(I Will Carry You, by Todd and Angela Smith)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Finally Reached my Limit

I was the Mystery Reader for Will's class today. At his school they have the parents sign up to read to the class every other week. It is a surprise for the kids because they don't know who is coming. When I walked in, they were all sitting on the floor with their eyes closed. Of course none of them knew me except Will. We had a GREAT time. I loved every minute.
Before I went, I spent all morning trying to find the perfect book. I researched "read aloud books for third grade" on the internet then went to the library. I found several books on my list of possibilities, but the one I really wanted was checked out. They had a copy at a different library so I had to make another trip. Because the first library hadn't checked my books back in, I could only check out one more book before reaching my limit. I found the book I wanted and maxed out my library card--50 books! I guess I need to get the kids their own cards because only 3 of those books are mine.

A New Friend

I sent a note with Will to give to his friend to give to his mom. It's hard to invite someone over when you don't know their phone number, address, or last name. Finally tonight I had a message from new friend's mom saying that her son would love to come play on Saturday. She said I could call her back and then she said, "My phone number is..."BEEP Cut off by the answering machine! Hopefully she will call back tomorrow.
Thank you to those of you who are sending Will cards. I will let him be the one to check the mailbox the next few days :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life's a Beach

We made the first of hopefully many beach trips Saturday. It was quite fun for a bunch of land-locked Oklahomans. At first Audra said that she was going to wait for the waves to die down before she got in. We told her that wasn't going to happen so she plunged right in and loved it. September is a great time to go to the beach if you don't mind a brisk north wind when you get out. Today I am washing the sheets because somehow the sand got in them even after our showers. Audra was still digging sand out of her ear during church yesterday!

Audra turned Jacob into a mermaid!

Will thought it was warmer under the sand.

Audra LOVED the beach!

Will's Special Day

Will's birthday is Saturday. We had a party before we left Oklahoma, but I would like for his "real" birthday to be special as well. I think he would love to get some cards in the mail. If you would like to send one, please email me and I will send you our address. He does have one new friend and I am hoping his mom will trust me enough to let her son come over and play. If not, it will just be the five of us celebrating. Will wants to have a whipped cream pie fight.....hmmm, not sure that's going to happen!

(Yea! I can add pictures now. Scroll down to see more pictures on previous posts.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The new book covers are here! The new book covers are here!

That title is funny if you have seen the movie "The Jerk". If you haven't, then you probably just think I get excited about every little thing. But the new book covers ARE here. We received two packages of them in the mail yesterday so we should have plenty--and just in time. Audra's science book had to be covered by tomorrow. It is now sporting a sassy new Tinkerbell design. She thinks she might be too old for Tink, but right now she loves fairies. Lucky for her, if she outgrows Tink during the year, we have more bookcovers waiting to be used. Thank you Lauren and Grammy for meeting that need!

Something Bad

I am trying to get the kids to be positive thinkers. I want them to see the good and be thankful rather than just seeing the bad and being critical. This week we have been praying for something good to happen each day at school. On Monday I asked Audra if anything good had happened at school. She said, "No, but something bad happened."
(Oh no, did someone pick on my little girl? Was she shunned by the popular crowd? Did she give a wrong answer and everyone laughed? What????)
"Oh really, what happened?"
"We had PE today and it was hot and we had to play SOCCER!"
If that's the worst thing that has happened I think things are going pretty good.

Lord, open our eyes to see the good in our days and be thankful. Forgive us for focusing on the bad--especially when it's not so bad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not Cool

I am not cool. I know it. I tried to be cool in High School. I even managed to hang with the cool crowd, but it was an act. Now, I have a 13 year old son who is very cool. If he is acting, he's doing a fine job. At his old school he bought his lunch everyday because it wasn't cool to bring your lunch from home. At his new school it's just the opposite. This morning he looked at the lunch I packed and said, "Mom, what's the deal with the mini bagel sandwiches?" (I think this is the third time I've made them, but this was the first time he said anything.)
"Oh, I just thought they would be a fun change. Aren't they cute?"
"Mom, didn't you say that you want me to make some guy friends?" (Jacob has a tendency to attract girl friends.)
"Oh, I didn't think about that. What would be a cool lunch?"
"A peanut butter sandwich and a coke."
So from now on, I will try to be cool. It sounds like cool lunches are easier to make anyway.

Feeling Regular
Audra came home the other day and said that she felt regular at her new school. At her old school she felt special. Everyone knew her. They knew she was smart, artistic, responsible, and a good singer and actress. They knew her parents. They knew her brothers. They knew she had a sister who died. She had a reputation. No one at the new school knows anything about her. Starting over can be a good thing, but it can also be a hard thing. We are all feeling a little regular right now. We want to fast forward to when we are no longer the "new girl", the "new guy", or the "visitor."
There have been many times in my life I have wanted to fast forward to better days. Unfortunately/fortunately we can only live one day at a time. But while we are living through those not-so-fun days we have the incredible gift of looking forward with great expectation to what is to come--in this life and especially in the next.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heaven is...

I was tempted to post this song on my "other" blog since it's about Anna, but Anna is in my thoughts today. She is not just part of my past.
She is a part of who I am.
So as I listen to this song I weep.... I hope.... I look forward to what is to come.
This song was written by Steven Curtis Chapman about his little girl Maria who was also 5 when she died last year. Please note that these are not all the original words. I changed a few to fit our girl.

Heaven is the face of a little girl
With (big blue) eyes
That (sparkle) when she smiles.
Heaven is the place
Where she calls my name
Says, “(Mommy) please come play with me for awhile.”

God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I’m aching for.
God, you know, I just can’t see beyond the door.
So right now...

Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep,
Lying on my chest, falling fast asleep while I (pray).
And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms,
Being there to keep her safe from harm while she dreams

And God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I’m longing for
God, you know, I just can’t see beyond the door.

But in my mind’s eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space.
All the cancer is gone,
Every mouth is fed,
And there’s no one left in the orphans’ bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love,
And there’s no more goodbye,
And no more not enough,
And there’s no more enemy.

Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things I miss with her gone.
Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You,
And we both run into Your arms.

Oh God, I know, it’s so much more than I can dream.
It’s far beyond anything I can conceive.
So God, You know, I’m trusting You until I see
Heaven in the face of my little girl,
Heaven in the face of my little girl.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Virginia is for Book Covers

My name is Marlo. I am 42 years old and I have NEVER put a book cover on a book. Apparently Virginians like to protect their textbooks. Book covers were on the supply list. I tried to buy nice cloth ones, but they didn't fit. Then I tried to buy paper ones, but the school supplies had already been replaced by Halloween supplies. Poor Will keeps bringing his books home for me to put covers on. They are HEAVY and our bus stop is 1/4 mile from our condo! Last night I got desperate and IRONED a paper sack and followed the directions on the internet to cover one of his books. Then Jacob got home and said that he had to cover his book too. Yikes! So I bought some wrapping paper. Now Jacob's book is wrapped up in bright red paper. It took me forever! I know that tonight, Will will bring the rest of his books home for me to wrap. Maybe with practice I will get better.

Bus Failures

After missing Audra and Will's bus the first two days of school, I have given up. It comes at 7:05am! We are the first stop on the first run. Which means that after our bus drops of the first group of kids it goes back out for a second group. I have added a new requirement for our new house--a second run bus stop!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Better Day

Jacob's described his second day of school as a "7". That's a big improvement from the day before. He said he made friends at lunch and on the bus. Then last night he wanted to go to a nearby church for a youth group meeting. I was so proud of the way he just got out of the car and walked up to a group of people he didn't know. Thank you for praying for him!

Yesterday I found a house in the country that has a garage apartment for out-of-town guests. It's on an acre lot and backs up to the training center where Richard will be spending part of his time. It's located in South Anna Estates off of South Anna Drive and the school is South Anna Elementary School. Hmmm... Why didn't we see this house on our internet searches before? Answer: because it was just marked down $30,000 and is only now in our price range. Sounds great---except now my kids are happy in their new schools with their two-day old friendships.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They Did It!

The kids made it through the first day of school. Audra said that she was homesick in the morning, but that she made some friends at lunch and forgot about wanting to come home. Will started out the day in the wrong seat. He was in Will S's seat---hey, wait a minute, he IS Will S! My Will said that Will S is one of his new friends and so is another boy--but he can't remember his name. I guess it's harder to remember someone's name if it's not the same as yours! Jacob said that his day was a "2" so hopefully today will be better. It's hard to be in a school with a thousand kids and not know ONE. He was thinking about dropping out of band but then found out that he is the ONLY trombone. I guess no matter how bad he is, he will be first chair. The band also gets to play at Busch Gardens later in the year so that's another reason to stick it out. Please continue to pray that he will connect with friends who will "sharpen" him like iron.

Audra and Will off to school!

An Apple a Day...
On Monday we spent our last day of summer at the apple orchard. For a bunch of Okies is was quite thrilling to be able to eat apples right off a tree. The orchard was in the mountains near Charlottesville and it was beautiful! After our harvesting, we had a picnic over looking the valley and ate fresh apple donuts for dessert.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School

I'm sitting here in a quiet house wondering how my kids are doing at their new schools. It has been really hard for me to send them off to do something so difficult. I can accept that suffering produces perseverance and character for myself, but it's harder to accept that principle in my children's lives. Although I believe that this move will ultimately work for their good and they will be blessed, today is going to be hard... and maybe tomorrow will be too. Pray that Will would find someone to play foursquare with. Pray that Audra will find someone to make miniature food with (her latest hobby). Pray that Jacob will find someone to text who doesn't live in Oklahoma!

Speaking of prayer, we had a great experience at the mall yesterday. There is a store called C28. It sells a brand called "Not of this World". Jacob and Richard were in there buying something and the salesclerk asked if she could pray for them. She came out from behind the counter and prayed for our house to sell, for us to find a house, and for Jacob to find friends at school. Wow! That's real Service! Thank you Amanda. Thank you Lord.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Picnic at Pony Pasture

I love the title of this post. It sounds like a book that Audra would read. It's really the title of the day trip we took yesterday. We found a place that Will says is BETTER than Incredible Pizza. It's located on the James River--only a short drive from our house. There are no ponies and no pasture, but there are giant rocks/boulders in the river. The rocks create white water rapids. The river was low yesterday so the rapids were small and we could jump (or wade) from one rock to another. Families were there having picnics in the middle of the river on the boulders. It was great fun and Will is begging to go back.

Will takes a flying leap

Audra and Asta in the James River

Church Shopping

Before we moved, I was looking forward to visiting different churches, but I'm done now. I'm ready to stop being the visitor. I'm ready to know where the bathrooms are. I'm ready to find a small group where I can share. What I like about visiting churches is that I can wear the same thing every week since I see different people every Sunday! What I don't like is feeling out of place. Two of the churches we've visited as guests of other members. That wasn't so bad because at least we had someone to help us find our way around. When we have walked in off the street, it hasn't been so easy. This morning was downright awkward. If it's hard for me--someone who's been to church every week of her life--think how hard it must be for someone who's never been. I hope this will make me more sensitive someday when I'm the one who knows where the bathrooms are.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finding our way

We took the kids to their new schools today to meet their teachers. It was organized chaos as we navigated the strange hallways. I did meet another mom in one of the lines who recommended an orthodontist and a dentist. Then she gave me her phone number in case I needed to ask her anything else. Way to be friendly Tina!
We were a little disappointed when Audra's teacher told us that her name is pronounced "Ferris" and not "Fairies". Oh well, that will have to be close enough. Will is one of three Wills and one of two Will S's. I'm sure that will be fun for his teacher. We were in a bit of shock as we stumbled out of the last school after finding the classrooms, paying the fees (middle school is not quite "free"), trying to figure out which bus the kids were on, finding our packets of information, getting Jacob's gym uniform, trying to switch math classes, buying locks for the lockers, etc.
After dinner we retreated to one of our favorite places....the library. We finally had some cancelled mail that showed we were official residents so that we could get our library cards. It was a pleasant experience let me tell you. Those were some nice librarians. They helped us get our cards, find our books, and then gave us coupons for free ice cream and slushies. I felt like I left with my books and a new friend, Mary the librarian.
So, all in all, it was another day of adjustment. Another day of transition. Richard reminded me of when we moved to Oklahoma and I didn't have any friends. It seems like it took YEARS to develop the close friendship I cherish today. I hope it doesn't take years here. I hope I am better at reaching out to others. I hope my kids are able to build strong friendships here. I hope. I pray.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not Home Yet

Welcome to the new website! We've entitled this chapter of our lives "Pressing On". Some days that's easier to do than others, but we will press on until we reach our "real" home. We miss our friends and family, but we are finding our way around our new city. It feels more like country around here with deer and raccoons out our back door. We have added a turtle "rescued" from the creek to our menagerie this week.
Please bear with me as I make the switch to this new website. The other one has been such a comfort to me.