This red earth 

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I looked up through the windshield of my van to see the hearse facing me in the drizzling rain. How appropriate on this sad occasion. My heart was filled with emotions and I was hit with the reality of life and death. One thing stopped me cold in my tracks (if it is possible when one is in the seated position in the first place) The sight of my father in law, my husband, and son with the family and group of pallbearers carrying the casket to the vehicle that would transport it to its final resting place. His final resting place.
We came to Georgia for my grandfather in law’s funeral. Something like grief always seems to illicit the pondering of life. Grandpa Andersen was one of the most kind, loving, funny, hard working, and talented men I have ever met.  

As we ponder his life, inevitably, we consider the ways his life intersected with our own. One of those ways was his name. My father in law was named after him, as was my husband, and my oldest son. The Four Johns, as we called them have always been close. So much alike in many ways. Each amazing trait passed down from Grandpa,mingling with their own unique abilities and character. I see a little of each one in each other. I have always admired them all.  

The thing that struck me the most this time involves my son. You see your child on a moment by moment basis through out the day, you know them better than anyone else. And yet, they grow up almost with out notice. Most twelve year olds are care free and playful, Johnny is no exception. However he possesses a groundedness, an ability to take things seriously, sometimes in the extreme. We didn’t know when we packed to leave on this trip that Johnny would be a pallbearer. As I watched him help carry his great grandpa to the hearse, it dawned on me how big he actually is. Physically he stands around 5 foot seven, the shoes we bought him the night before were a men’s size twelve. But it was his maturity in the midst of his grief and the strength I saw there that crushed me. It was as if I was seeing a glimpse of the man he will become and in so many ways already is. At the same time seeing a tangible line that made him who he is, both genetically, and learned.  

Some of the learning was done directly through Grandpa. The times he spent in his company observing and soaking in what he saw and heard, and everything Grandpa stood for and taught. Other things he learned indirectly from Grandpa through my father in law and my husband. Everything culminating in that coming-of-age moment. Standing with the strong men and women of his family. Carrying a heavy load like a man, emotionally and physically with the help of others who share in the special legacy left to them by John William Andersen Sr. With heavy hearts we said our final goodbyes to Grandpa Andersen and the red earth of Georgia in which he now rests.  

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This is the Day

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I have been drawn to this passage the past week. These verses stuck out to me today.

Eccl. 7:13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 ¶ In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. 

There are times in our lives where we want God to restore something we had. We even want it sometimes so that it will bring God glory. I often want God to straighten out messes for me. Until today I never thought that sometimes God is the one who has made it crooked? Just because it isn’t straight doesn’t mean it isn’t God. 
The point is to be obedient and to allow God to direct our lives. He has made the good ones as well as the “bad”. 

Lamentations 3:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The “new mercies every morning” in this verse means that not only is God available to us every day, but he tailors the mercies and strength we need for each day’s specific needs!! Puts Ecc 7:14 into perspective doesn’t it?

This is the Day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it!!!

A time to every season…

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Eccl. 3:1 ¶ For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
Sitting here with Owen I am thanking God for the chance to bring him to the island. This year I have been staying back at the Doc’s house every other day because it is just too much on both of us to go to kids camp every day. Today I am staying back.  

I began reminiscing about the last time I was here (two years ago) Johnny was 10 and Kaitlyn was 8. John and I cooked that year so there was plenty to do. I didn’t have to worry about the kids much they were experienced enough and old enough to get by pretty good. It was the perfect year for me to help with cooking. It was a season of life that enabled John and I to work together on it. It was a lot of fun.  

In life there are seasons. Sometimes it is scary to walk through because they change so quickly. Other times you can’t wait for a new season to come. The most important thing is too do all you can during each season so your life is full and let your regrets be few.  

When we get home we will begin a new season. I am really excited! I am also terrified. How will I weather the season? One thing I know for sure is that I want to live it to the fullest. Redeeming the time!  

Eccl. 3:12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 

Ode to the ziploc bag

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Ziploc bags are a basic, every day item.  I have been on this earth for 34 years and never really thought much about them.  This trip however has revealed the extraordinary usefulness of ziploc bags.  Here is a list I am working on.  You won’t see it, because I can’t actually publish this post till I get back to Nassau, but it will be growing all week.

1. Toy organizer: I used ziplocks to hold individual categories of toys for Owen.  The idea was two fold. Keep the toys from ending up in a pile at the end of the Star Wars light up diaper bag, and keep them separated so that he could play with one thing at a time, clean up, repeat.  FABULOUS!!

2. Dirty diaper/clothes bag (’nuff said)

3. Busy maker: Owen LOVES to carry things right now. He also LOVES to take stuff out of containers and put them back.  A ziploc bag of toys or any other sorted items for that matter is intriguing to him and has kept him busy.

4. Snack holder: duh

5. Toiletry items organizer and protector.  We had ziplocks for our toothbrushes and shampoos and medicines etc. They kept our clothes safe when the kids Benedryl spilled and kept our toothbrushes clean. Plus I labeled them so replacing was easy.

As far as all purpose ultra useful items go:duct tape is out my friends! The ziploc bag is here to stay.

You have no idea what this means to me!

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I don’t know what it is about airplane rides, but they always make me think.  Some of my deepest thoughts have come on an airplane.  Or at least they feel deep at the time.  Anyways, right now I am on a flight to Nassau. We are on our way to Cat Island. OUR Cat Island.  We have taken this trip as a family since we’re married almost 14 years ago. Through the years we have had to split up sometimes with John going along to represent our family. Last year in particular I was unable to go because we had a little foster son that we couldn’t take out of the country.  But mostly we have gone altogether. 

This year we go as a family of five for the very first time.  With Owen being our son.  OUR SON! He is sleeping in my lap right now.  I look down at him so peaceful and I remember a time when he didn’t know me as “Mommy”.  I have been so excited for this trip.  All the plans and all the time we spent jumping through all the hoops. First, the adoption. Then the birth certificate and then the passport. Raising money for our team’s mission to Cat island. Getting up at 4am. Going through security, and now our first flight together. I thought I was excited before.  Looking down at him now so secure in his knowledge that mommy and daddy are here and he is with his family, I can’t help but realize that I had no idea what this trip really meant to me u till right now.  

Tears keep falling.  I am so thankful for this precious life and this beautiful boy snuggling up to me. So grateful for this trip and for the ability to take him home to meet our friends and family and to serve God together as a family of five!! That is what it feels like. Bringing your baby home from the hospital. I can’t wait for everyone to meet him! 

It’s also a blessing that after two nighst of no sleep he is sleeping during a plane ride that would otherwise be pretty crazy.  But that has NOTHING to do with it. 

Real Men

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Ever wonder why movies and tv shows always depict the hero without a shirt?  Or why heroes change into a costume to signify their great alter ego? Well I figured it out!!

You might say it is sex appeal, or to show off their strength, but I say no.  It’s because they are imitating a real man.  I know, I know, now is the point where you say I am crazy and stop reading.  You can if you want but I am telling you, I  FIGURED IT OUT!!!!!

Like many, if not all, of our fantasies,this concept begins with a real life scenerio. Then moves on with a bit of unrealistic details.  Right? Ok well let me tell you a little story.

This morning I turned on our garbage disposal only to be greeted by an aweful medal on medal slightly muffled grinding sound.  Then I felt a gush of water at my feet.  Upon opening the cabinet under the sink, I discovered, to my horror, a half inch of water mixed with bits of slightly ground up food everywhere!

So, I texted John to alert him to my mega crisis and he said “I’ll be right there!” He left work to come home and deal with the offending appliance. He came in and began the work/clean up process and I stepped out to talk to Kaitlyn who was playing in the water hose outside.

When I came back in,  I handed him a bowl to catch some of the dirty water still pouring from the pipes. I noticed that he had taken his shirt off.  It made sense, he didn’t want to get his dress shirt dirty, I  just had not seen him remove it.  It struck me.  Not just because my husband without his shirt is exciting to me-it is- but because in those moments he was my knight in shining armor, my super hero, my sparkly vampire, and my warewolf all in one.  He is my husband. The man I love.  The man who can fix everything. The man who will drop everything to come home to rescue me from a mega crisis.  And suddenly it all makes sense.

These super hero stories really are rooted in real life with a little bit of fantasy. The “unrealistic details” are really just manifestations of the feelings we have for the men (and women) we love when they do things for us and are there for us whenever we need, and really when we want them.  And real men do things that require them to take their shirts off.  To deal with the unpleasantness of life.  They also have to change constumes like putting on their work clothes to go to work every day to provide for their families.  They are willing to do ordinary things and that makes them extraordinary.  That is what makes them real men.

Mommy of four?! Part 4

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She sat down across from me as we prepared to have our meeting.  The auditorium was still a little noisy with several groups of people fellowshiping and preparing to leave, but it was as if the world stood still and it was just the two of us.

I took a deep breath and Jay Jay said “what is going on? You are scaring me”

“I need to tell you something.” I recounted the information I had received about Jalica and I told her how we had been praying since before she left that God would bring her a very specific kind of family.  Jay Jay and her husband fit that description to a tee.  I told her it wouldn’t be easy, that she would have a uphill battle ahead but that God had put them on my heart when I knew Jalicia was ready and waiting for her forever home.  By the end of the meeting we were both in tears and prayed together.  She said they would talk and pray and get back with us.

Two weeks before Christmas Jalicia was placed with Jay Jay and her husband Jason.  We planned to take them dinner their second night together.  I had never been to their house before and I asked for their address to obtain directions.  That’s when I found out that they live around the corner!!! Jalicia and Owen get to grow up together and we now have a new branch of our family. We get to be in Jalicia’s life and she in ours! She calls us aunt and uncle now!! God is so good!!!!

Tomorrow they will stand before the judge and take their own oathe and become an official forever family!! I cannot wait to celebrate with them!!