Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Festivity Photographic Fun

One of our first fall projects was painting little pumpkins. Both girls really enjoyed it.

My biggest fall craft involved crocheting bazillions (okay, twenty) of four-inch long candy corns as goody bags for DeLaynie's class. It was my own idea, so I have no one to blame but myself for the sore fingers. But aren't they cute?

DeLaynie's first field trip was yesterday. The customary first field trip at her school is a trip to the local gardening center where they grow pumpkins, apples, corn, herbs, and every kind of flower. They also have bees that live in what they call an "observation hive." I'm not an expert, but it looked a lot like a kitchen cabinet with a glass door that was drilled shut. It was a very attractive and effective way to look at bees in their habitat, although I question how natural of a habitat it is.

There was a room full of hay. Most of it was arranged into a maze that they then draped a large black cloth over. I joined DeLaynie on her excursion to make sure she didn't get too nervous half-way through. It wasn't even a slight issue, though I got a little claustrophobic. I think that I may have accidentally insulted the very nice owner of the establishment when I finally exited the maze and announced, "I believe that the assertion that this maze is big enough for adults may be false." I wasn't insulting the maze so much as my own width, but the other adults didn't seem too amused. Oops!

At the end of the trip, each child got to choose a pumpkin. DeLaynie was really excited about her choice, but it was very windy and getting colder by the minute, so she wasn't able to get a great picture.

Tonight we made cookies. DeLaynie was pretty methodical.

Ella was more on the giddy side.

Then Mommy temporarily misplaced her common sense and decided to use glitter to decorate some plain-looking pumpkins. 

They had fun, but it wasn't very effective for the pumpkins. They aren't plain anymore, but they have a kind of Las Vegas look to them.

When Edwin got home (to a glittering house, I might add), he read Green Eggs and Ham to the girls. Being a drummer, he added some funk to the finale, which turned into a drum concert starring Edwin and Ella. She loves being loud with Daddy.

The next step in our series of fun is the fall festival on Sunday. DeLaynie is going to be a princess. Ella is going to be a dragon. Mommy is some sort of Peter Pan/ Little Jane (as in Little John from Robin Hood fame) character.  (I'm not sure who I am exactly, but who does?) Daddy is going to be a baseball player because that's what he always is. Ya gotta love a consistent man!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Problem With a Comfortable God

I remember when I heard a certain talk show host say that she could never believe in a God who is jealous. I wasn't aware that we had the option of picking and choosing the attributes of our God, but that's what many of us do. We explain away the parts of God that our limited selves cannot accept. Wrath? Angry gods aren't fun. Jealousy? Possessive boyfriends are terrible, so imagine a possessive god! Sovereign? How can I accept a good God who allows suffering, even in the lives of good people?

So we reduce God to a nice, pocket-sized edition that meets our expectations, but never exceeds them. He's portable, easy to love, easy to accept, and rarely asks much of us. But there's a problem with this comfortable god of ours. What happens when we meet a situation that we can't handle? What happens when we try to introduce our miniature god to a problem that is bigger than we are? If I can't handle it, how can a god reduced to fit into my understanding handle it?

I don't know about you, but I need a God that I can't understand. I need a God whose ways are higher than mine. I need a God who gets angry at sin. I need a God who will pursue justice at any price, including the life of His Son. I need a God who is unlimited in resources and wisdom. I need an infinite God whose plan will take more than my lifetime to complete and an eternity to comprehend. I need a God whose glory is worth anything and everything that I have. I need a God who warrants sacrifice, and who never falls short of the investments I make into Him. I need a God who forces me to live supernaturally. Forget comfortable! I need Jesus!

(Yes, I am reading Radical by David Platt. Although I've been contemplating the content of this post for a long time, the truth of our radical God has been hitting me with growing force lately. Platt's exceptional book has been one of many factors that has increased my awareness of my need for the true God of the Bible.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Chapman Family

I don't know them. I've never met them. I haven't even written them a letter or an email. The family to whom I am referring is the Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman family. (Just in case you don't know who they are, he sings Christian music, and she married a guy who sings Christian music. She's also an author, mom, and full-fledged person, but most people know her for her husband, or at least that's how they used to know her.)

My first real concert was a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Jackson, MS. I was twelve years old, highly impressionable, and thoroughly amazed. When he and Mary Beth adopted a child for the first time, I was 16 years old. When I heard their story, I knew that I had been called. Called to adopt. It was the only thing that I knew for absolutely sure about what God wanted  from me. (Specifically, that is. I know that He wants holiness from every follower.) This led to a conversation very early in my relationship with Edwin. He knew that being married to me meant accepting the call to adopt, just like being married to him meant accepting the call to be a pastor's wife, which I had already done. Edwin had never even thought about the fact that he would one day be a father, so as we dreamed of our future family, adoption became a natural part of that dream.

For Edwin's birthday in November, 2007, he asked to go to an SCC concert in Nashville. During this tour, Show Hope (formerly Shaohannah's Hope, a charity named after his oldest adopted daughter) took up money and showed orphans currently waiting for their families. Adopted children were the offering bearers at this event, escorted by their parents. He also brought all three of his adopted children (all three are little girls adopted from China) to the stage to tell his family's story of the miracle of adoption. I was pregnant at the time, so I was thoroughly emotional, at least in light of my normal state of stoicism. The three beautiful little girls stood alongside their Daddy. They didn't look like him, but they were his daughters.

During the actual concert portion of the evening, his two sons played with him. Will plays drums. Caleb plays guitar. It was such a powerful image, this family on stage. This ministry that God has given them is a family calling. They serve together. Edwin and I left inspired. Inspired to continue on our road to adoption. Inspired to serve God as a family.

Then it happened. A tragedy struck that only God could have predicted. In May 2008, Maria, the youngest of the Chapman children, ran behind Will's vehicle as he was backing up. She was injured severely, and died at the hospital in Nashville. This family that was so strong and such a picture of grace faced something parents pray will never happen.

Something like that doesn't go away. People aren't the same afterwards. Every day becomes a day to face a new reality. Everything that happens is now post-tragedy. Everything that happened before is now pre-tragedy. An event such as this becomes the turning point. So many things could have happened. They could have given up. They could have laid down their ministry. They could have denied their God. But anyone who knows our God knows that He will not be denied. Christians may be angry with God, confused by Him, frustrated by His ways, but they will not be separated from Him.

I went to a Women of Faith Conference recently. The thing that piqued my interest was that the Chapmans would be there. Mary Beth would speak of her time since losing her daughter. Steven Curtis would perform and share as well. When they came to the stage, I was giddy. Soon I was in tears. By the time they performed "When Love Takes You In" and showed the accompanying video that shows children waiting to be brought into their families, I was a mess. I was a  pathetic ball of emotions, salted with tears, and shaking with whimpers. That isn't normal for me. I wasn't really sure what to do with it, to be totally honest.

As for the Chapmans' pain, the world had to see it. The world has seen so many Christian musicians fall into sin of the ugliest kind, usually without reason, but rarely has it seen such faithfulness from public Christ-followers. The world had to see that God holds His children, and He never ceases to be worthy of praise. I'm not saying that this child's life was ended on this earth for that reason. I don't know God's ways or His total plan. I just know that tragedy happens in this world, so this family faced unthinkable suffering, a suffering that no one wants to understand. There's only one way to really understand what they went through, and what they continue to endure. You have to be there. The incredible thing is that we serve a God who's been there. It may not make for much comfort in the darkest moments, but when His light shines enough to see it, it really is a miraculous thing. He's been there.

The Chapmans did not cease their ministry. They have not given up. They move forward, imperfectly, maybe, but moving forward is a miracle. They continue to serve, and to see what God has done and will do. I continue to be inspired. I wish I could tell them how grateful I am for what they have done for my family, if only by making clear the call to adopt. I wish I could tell them what it means to see a family suffer for Christ, with hope of the coming glory. But I can't. So I suppose that I'll just tell you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ella Discovers A Bad Word (sort of)

Last Thursday, Ella began saying the word, "stupid" repeatedly. She wouldn't stop. No good reason. Just blurting it out and laughing hysterically. Finally, we discussed that this word was not a nice word and that she shouldn't use it. She didn't get the message apparently, so she went to time-out. If (okay, when) she said it while in time-out certain unfortunate measures were taken. But she just didn't seem to understand that she wasn't supposed to say that particular word, and its humor only seemed to grow.

We thought that it had to do with being around other kids... until that night. I had the startling revelation that it was, in fact, due to the scene in Beauty and the Beast when Beast is getting ready for their big date, looks in the mirror, and humorously states that he looks, "stupid." And it IS funny. It isn't meant to hurt another person's feelings. It was just a statement of opinion.

But I told her not to say it, so discipline was required, even if her intent was pure silliness. Sorry, world, for blaming you for the effects of our choice of entertainment.

Incidentally, she hasn't said it since that day. Apparently, it isn't as funny anymore. DeLaynie never even understood what she was saying, though it was as clear as day. DeLaynie's response was, "Ella said 'pig costume!'" Apparently, she is just that innocent of a soul.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Hath Come!

I love the fall here. It's a beautiful time of year, with the changing leaves and the changing temperatures, it's a great time to pile the leaves and take a dive, as demonstrated by Ella.

DeLaynie was excited to discover the fall festivities when she got off the bus.

She loves to play in the leaves as well, but she prefers the pile-building to the pile-jumping. We've really got to get the kids a rake.

I love the fall!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not Restful... But Good

Our weekend was busy. I went to Women of Faith while Edwin stayed home to take care of the girls and orchestrate the largest outreach event of his ministry. It certainly wasn't a weekend for sleeping in or taking it easy, but it was very effective. The outreach event involved a nationally renowned illusionist known as Harris III and the comedy team, 321 Improv. There were 479 people counted in the last census of our village. More than 500 people showed up at the event! Pretty crazy stuff, eh?

While Edwin was completing a God-ordained task at home, I was seeking to understand what it is that God desires from me. When I was 17, I felt a call to the ministry. I knew that a large part of that ministry would be supporting my husband's ministry, but I also knew that there was more to my personal calling. I still don't know exactly what it is, but God is starting to give form to the desires of my heart, and for that I am grateful.

When I got home, I discovered that my children really are as cute as everyone else says that they are, and that my home is a wonderfully warm place to be, even when my frugal husband doesn't want to turn on the heat. (Love ya, honey. ;) I'm looking forward to understanding God's grace in greater detail as the days, weeks, and years (hopefully) go by.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Pickin'

We went pumpkin hunting on Monday. There are several places between our house and the nearest WalMart where you can stop and pick out a pumpkin.
At first, Ella was pretty confused by the options.

There were several options that were in the "Well, that's different!" category.

Daddy showed DeLaynie various options, all of which she liked.

Ella eventually found a pumpkin that she wanted to take home, but it wouldn't fit in the van.

DeLaynie, however, approved of her decision.

There were two pumpkins that got special attention from Ella. She deemed them "pizza pumpkins" because of their tomato sauce and pepperoni appearance.

But the main reason I wanted to go pumpkin picking was that I wanted to get my picture taken with two special little girls. Ella refused her full cooperation, but I still appreciate the effort.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warning: Crazy Weekend Ahead

This weekend in going to be crazy. I'm leaving for a Women of Faith conference on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. Edwin will be at home. With the girls. Alone. While in charge of pulling off the largest event of the year.





We have known about this weekend since spring. We have known that it would be interesting. What we didn't know is that Ella would have a case of lead poisoning. You read me right. Ella has lead poisoning. We live in a crazy-old (but beautiful and spacious) house. It has a 3-seater out house in the garage, as well as three horse stalls. Ella likes to put her fingers in her mouth. Thus, lead poisoning. I know that I seem incredibly calm to have a daughter with such a serious medical situation. Let me assure you that I wasn't nearly so calm last Monday.


Ella doesn't have any symptoms. Not one! She passed a developmental screening with flying colors (better than average!). And we're getting her on medicine today to get the lead out of her as quickly as possible. Her doctor doesn't seem concerned about long-term problems, and there aren't any short-term problems.

Except for one. The medicine. It tastes terrible, and she is going to have to take it three times a day for five days, and two times a day for two weeks after that. And this weekend, I won't be home. Edwin will be facing the wrath of Ella two or three times a day by himself. (Anyone else hear "Whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty, mighty good man," in their head? No? How about now?) A crazy weekend just got a little crazier, and we're still five days away.