SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Thursday, April 29, 2010

English "Humor"...

All of the alumni newsletters begin this way. Talk about rubbing it in.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where's Daddy?

Gabe finished his bath this morning, looked in the mirror, and emphatically announced, "I want Daddy!"

I told him that Daddy was at work. Nonetheless, he went running out of the bathroom calling, "Daddy! Daddy! Where's Daddy?" He looked down the stairs and then out the window sure that Daddy must be close by.

I grabbed the phone and called Daddy. I told Keith what was going on, handed the phone to Gabe, and told him, "Say 'hi Daddy'."

He took the phone and repeated, "Hi Daddy." Keith asked him a question and his face suddenly lit up. He looked up at me and hollered, "I FIND!!"

Ooo, I love this kid!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vote For Dave!!

Chet asked me to vote for his friend Dave, whose idea has been entered in an online scholarship contest. I am loyal to Dave. He (along with his fairly new wife Kristi) is one of only a handful of people who traveled almost 1000 miles to Chet and Priscilla's JANUARY wedding in Wyoming. I voted for him.

Today, I decided to be fair and check out all ten nominations for the scholarship. I still liked Dave's idea the best.

Check out and click on "Voting" to see the entries (look for Dave's at Idea #9 Maple Syrup: Using Michigan's Natural Resourses). Of the ten entries, only two are presenting ideas that motivate Michigan's economy through some sort of tangible product development. The other eight are focused on tax cuts, economic juggling, tourism, and educational motivation.

As we discussed in one of our homeschool sessions in our living room last week, economy is based on production. Without production or manufacturing you lose the structure that supports education, tourism, and banking (as well as health, construction, retail, and service industries) and generates tax money. Lifting tax burdens may ease the burden on current businesses but it can not be counted on to be a lasting solution to long term economic problems.

So, I voted for Dave--Idea #9 Maple Syrup: Using Michigan's Natural Resourses--because I like and want to support Dave. I'm asking you to check it out and vote for him because I like and want to support Dave AND because I think he has a good idea!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Babies, Blessing, and Bereavement

You never know what a week will bring. We don't think that when we experience what we expect. We think it when the unexpected happens, or when the range of our experiences is great. Both of those were the case for us this week.

For me, it started with an unexpected pulled muscle in my back. It is not a new thing for me and I can expect to be crippled up a bit about once a year. I did not expect it to come when we were having a guest speaker at church for the week and Joey, Jamie, and the twins were coming over for a visit. I did not expect it to be the worst pull I've probably ever had while doing the least--I turned my head and felt it go. Thus, I spent two solid days on the couch and two more days moving very gingerly. Thankfully, I was moving by the time the babies were in town.

With three babies around for the weekend everyone pretty much had their fill of getting to hold a little snuggler.

As much as we were all willing to help I think Jamie could still frequently be found doing this...!

Dana and I both got a little greedy and had to try filling our arms with all three at once, but that was a bit tricky.

Holding Keira (2 mo), Vince (1 mo), and Carson (2 mo)

Gabe loved having the babies around and wanted to kiss them all the time. If one was crying he felt that he HAD to give a kiss! While the above picture may look like he's mauling poor Keira he's actually being very gentle. He didn't put any pressure on her with his arm and would only let his lips just brush her cheek. He was a bit confused by being told to "move out of the way" and was thrilled to have the camera turned his way during our picture taking sessions.

Still, these three were the stars. It's something how enamoring a baby's face can be. We just can't seem to get enough of the expressions and looks and grins. When else does a roomful of people turn their full attention to, "Look, she smiled!", or "He's yawning!"?

But, for all three there was a limit. Finally, enough was enough and they'd had it with pictures and being held.

Even Gabe reached a limit. He loved the babies, but decided it was hard to give up his own place as the baby and he required a little extra Mama-time on Sunday.

It was a happy weekend for all of us. We enjoyed playing with the babies, rocking and comforting them. We enjoyed seeing our children move on to being parents. After having eleven we were "old hands" at caring for babies and it was fun to see the experience through fresh eyes. Being a big brother does not necessarily prepare you for being a father. It's still new. I'm thankful to see the change in expectations in my older children. When Mom had a new baby they naturally took for granted that she could keep up with that baby, a toddler, several homeschool students, running the house, making the meals, doing the laundry, as well as make it to sporting events and give people rides to wherever they needed to go. I'm glad to see many of their sensitity levels kick into a higher gear for these new Mamas (and I'm not just talking about the Daddies).

On Monday we combined Keith's business with pleasure and spent a day with Ellen. At 29 weeks she is finally looking like an expectant mother.

She's been enjoying picking up baby things at yard sales and feeling her little one moving around. The weather was beautiful and we spent an afternoon at the park with the Klevens. After Keith finished working we walked to another local park and just enjoyed the weather and one another.

Bryce shared our basketball with a little guy at the park,

and he shared his trike with Gabe!

We returned home Tuesday feeling tired, but very full. Full of enjoyment, peace, happiness, and feeling blessed with the love that is being returned to us from our aging and growing family. We were ready to get back into the job of maintaining our daily lives and getting back to school and the usual routine.

But, on Wednesday the unexpected took us down a different road. Chet called me in the afternoon to let me know that he and Priscilla had just lost their first child. They had yet to announce her pregnancy, wanting to wait until the first trimester had passed. That announcement was going to be made next week.

I arrived at their apartment late that evening and spent two days doing what little I could to make things a bit easier for them. I called Priscilla's mother, Mary, to let her know I was going up to be with them. I knew her heart was hurting for her daughter and that she wanted more than anything to close the 989 mile gap between them. I learned that she had suffered five miscarriages herself and asked what I could do. Her answer was exactly right. There was really nothing I could do. I just had to love her. Chet and Priscilla had suffered a loss that would always be with them and the pain of it would not go away tomorrow or the next day, but it would take time for that hurt to heal and for them to move on. My job was going to be to make it easier for them to concentrate on caring for one another, giving some emotional relief, and offer a hug or a smile when it was needed.

I made sure I filled the Mom-role of keeping everyone fed and overfed. Other friends filled in with visits, baked goods, loving messages, and flowers.

There was no anger or bitterness, no lashing out at God or questioning Him. There was peace and understanding that God's ways are always right and good and His love endures through all things. But, there was inevitable sorrow and a deep sadness and sense of loss. And through it all there was love as they reached out to one another to share their pain and emotions as they cried together, hugged one another, and found reasons to smile and laugh.

I was blessed to be a part of their trial and to see how they loved each other. It is a help to me as I desire to see my children happy and loved, to remember that my mother-in-law wants the same for her son. I am reminded to be what I want for them.

I was also reminded on my drive home of how the loss of their child affected me, the grandmother. When you are caring for someone else you think only of their needs and the pain that they are suffering. Your own feelings and pain don't tend to surface until later. My later came just as I was ending my trip. An old song came on the radio. It was Stevie Wonder's 1970s song "Isn't She Lovely", written as a tribute to the birth of his daughter. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought of my lost grandchild--a baby who, for the last 5 weeks, I had pictured in my mind as a little girl.

I am inspired to keep on going, to keep on loving, and serving, and looking for the good and the beautiful and the joy. Life is precious and I believe that God means for us to live His love to make it that much brighter. Praise His Name.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


A milestone. Four-year-old Gabe's first "one-man-no-restraint-no-screaming-easy-as-pie" haircut! What a boy!

I know, crazy.

It is amazing to think of how much can be communicated with just three words. I read these three words, "I know, crazy", awhile ago and they have stuck with me. Their message has stuck with me and the whole thought about what we say and how we say it has stuck with me.

Words have different meanings and varying nuances based on what is said, when it's said, and how it's said. If you said, "I know, crazy" you could mean a few different things depending on the context.

If I told you that we got 3 feet of snow today and then said, "I know, crazy", I would be saying that an unheard of event just took place. It is crazy to think that we would ever get three feet of snow in one day, and just as crazy that it would happen in April. I would be confirming that I understood and agreed that something very unusual and noteworthy just took place.

But, what if I used those words to describe something not so very extraordinary, albeit, a bit on the unusual side. Let's say I told you that I ate oatmeal for lunch and then said, "I know, crazy". I'd be saying that I understand that my behavior is a bit out of the ordinary and I understand that you might think it was a weird thing for someone to eat oatmeal for lunch.

Now then, what if I used those same words once again, but this time to describe something that someone else has done that is a little on the unusual side. What if I told you about how my son wore shorts to school when it was only 20 degrees outside and then said, "I know, crazy"? Now what am I saying? It seems to me that what I am saying is not just that this act is out of the ordinary or is unusual, but I'm also telling you that I expect you to think it's crazy and I want you to know that I think it's crazy too. I'm saying, don't lump me in with that odd behavior, it's crazy!

I think about how often we say things and make comments concerning situations or events in order to align or distance ourselves from certain opinions or viewpoints. I think of how much we can communicate while saying very little.

I imagine Peter standing by the fire on that first Good Friday while Jesus was being "tried". He was asked directly if he was one of Jesus' followers and he denied it. But I imagine another kind of denial. I imagine a group of people talking with him around the fire and saying to Peter, "Did you know that Jesus, that guy in there, claims to be the Messiah, the son of God?" And I can imagine Peter betraying his Lord by merely saying, "I know, crazy".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Observant daughter

Lisa asked me the other day,

"Mom, why is it that every time I ask if you need any help you say 'no', but you always do?"

Hmm, I don't know. But she's right.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Used Up

I was thinking today...that if I DIDN'T believe what I DO believe,

then, what I WOULD believe is that:

We all are born with a limited amount of patience to use in our lifetime, and mine just ran out.