Breathe in, breathe out, look up

Breathe in, breathe out, look up

Okay.  I’ve had my cathartic day of grieving.

I don’t like the results of this election, but I respect the office, our constitution, the current man holding the office, and the gracious in defeat opponent enough that I will obey their request to try to keep an open mind and give him a chance.

I’m also obeying God here. (See Romans 13 also)

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3: 1-8

So, I’m going to start doing something good by starting to have fun again. Learning to look up and smile and spread joy.  The best way I know to spread joy is to go back to posting about my fabulous daughter Ginny.

Ginny is now 8 years old (which means my blog is approximately 9 years old since I started it before she was even born.  wow. ) Anyway, she is fun and sassy and learning to love God and her fellow humans at a wonderful Christian school that is dear to my heart.

Here are a few photos from recent years.  This is by no means comprehensive.  It’s just ones I had handy on my computer as I’m writing this today.

So that’s my version of kitten videos and lighthearted fun for today.

Enjoy.

plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

shocking isn’t it?

shocking isn’t it?

If you have known me at all in the last 5 years you know that I identify as a Figure Skater.

I’m a mommy, and a wife and a Christian, but my major identifier has been “figure skater”

It’s different.  It’s something you don’t run into very often.    I skated as a kid for 8 years, took a 28 year break from the ice and I’ve been back in competition for 5 years now and it’s been great. When he heard my story, Scott Hamilton hugged me once and said “Welcome home!”  He is right,  I feel like the rink is home.  All it takes is to walk in and breathe in the myriad scents of the ice and I feel better instantly.

spiral in color

 

Yes, that’s me.  I’m rather proud of that spiral actually at age 45 (or 46, I forget when this was taken) decent height and form.

That all changed at the end of May, 2016.

We finally took a good hard look at the budget and realized something had to give.  Ice skating is expensive so, skating, for both myself and my husband had to go.  We let Ginny finish her semester and then she had to quit too.  It was a very sad moment.  Ginny has gotten a lot out of skating.

ginny at magnolia

 

She has learned so much control, both of her emotions and of her body.  People are constantly remarking on it.  Seriously, strangers come up to us in a Starbucks and ask if she is in ballet or gymnastics because she is so poised.  And frankly I enjoyed having all of us involved in skating.

family of skaters

But….

It’s been two months now.  I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and come out of the dumps about it and now I’m about to say something shocking…..

I don’t miss it.

I do miss the FEEL of skating.  I miss the physical challenge.

hangtime magnolia

I miss my friends (both locally and at the national level).

freinds

I ache for the feeling of flying across the ice, and Lord knows I miss performing ! Skating has awoken the utter HAM in me and I’ve got to find an outlet for that off-ice….

light 20

BUT, I don’t miss the space it was taking up in my life.

It was a HUGE drain.

  • on my energy level
  • on my schedule
  • on my mental energy
  • on my families schedule
  • on our vacation time
  • on my interactions with my family

The freedom to have an entire, uninterrupted weekend with Ginny & Martin is fantastic.  It almost makes each and every weekend feel like a mini vacation.  We get so much done!  Playing, cleaning, laughing, eating, cooking, hanging out with the neighbors without having to watch the clock and go to bed at 8 p.m.  There is also more space in my car!  Three Zuca’s can take up a lot of space people !

3 zucas

 

The one who always had to go to bed early was me by the way.  I had to get up at 4 a.m., so going to bed late was not an option.

but it is now!

There is so much free space, emotionaly, logistically and mentally. So, as much as I miss skating…..I’m actually okay with the net effect of walking away from it.

shocking, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

did the world just end?

did the world just end?

My mother and I had an actual conversation about politics last night.

We spoke to each other about who we will each be voting for in the presidential race and why.  No, it is none of your business who is voting for whom, and it’s not really germane to this post.

Here is what is germane:

  • We actually listened to each other.
  • no one yelled.
  • no one vowed to pray the other around to a right way of thinking.
  • no one said anything insulting.

Obviously we are on opposite side of the voting question.  Basically if you put us in one car to go to the polls we may as well go shopping, because we cancel each other out.

nomakeup

From a family dynamics perspective this conversation itself was a miracle.

and I’ve been happy about it for a little over 12 hours now.

but…..

Neither one of us is overly thrilled with our own choices.  Both of us feel we are choosing the lesser of two evils. Even though we disagree about which candidate is the lesser evil.   We each acknowledge the flaws in our chosen candidate, but choose to ignore them because we see something bigger and ickier in the other candidate.   And we each see the flaws in the other candidate as being too big to ignore.

Our reasons for our choices are basically identical.  Reasoned out logically and thoughtfully stated.

But we came to exactly opposite conclusions.

I find that troubling, but not for the reason you may assume.

It is far too easy to think of people who are on the opposite side of the political fence (or any other fence actually) from you as “ravening hordes” “masses of ill-informed cretins” “unthinking persons swept up in a near religious fervor” etc…. but this my own mother.  And her mind, though approaching elderly, is pretty dang sharp.

No, I’m not re-thinking my political choice based on her stated position. What I am  getting to is this:

We all desperately need to re-think how we paint those who disagree with us. 

Life is not about “US vs THEM”  I’ve been guilty of this far too often.  So, for my own benefit, and perhaps my one or two readers, I’m going to spell it out:

Painting ANY group or person with a broad brush is NEVER going to produce TRUTH.

  • women are not all excessively emotional
  • black people are not looking for trouble
  • gay people are not twisted sickos out to harm kids
  • men are not all cheaters
  • rich people don’t all spend loads of time and energy avoiding taxes
  • poor people are not looking for a handout
  • teenagers are not making your life difficult on purpose
  • democrats are not trying to destroy this country
  • republicans are not trying to destroy this country

If we stopped having such sloppy thinking, a whole lot of the problems of this society would evaporate.

Look at it this way….if  you hired a portrait artiste to paint your portrait you would have certain expectations.

They will show up with paints, canvas and brushes.  The brushes will be varied in size, but will typically include some small enough to do justice to the details of you.

If instead the artiste shows up with one color and a single large house sized paint roller you would dismiss him, right?  He can’t adequately convey the complexity of you using only one color and a paint roller bigger than your head !!!

How would he capture your smile? the light in your eyes when you are about to get creative? the tiny, barely visible scar from that time you and your best friend decided to play super heroes and you learned that you don’t really know how to fly?

Do you see what I’m saying?

If YOU DESERVE to be SEEN IN FULL DETAIL, SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE

So put down the paint rollers people.

Instead, pick up a palate with a full rainbow of colors to work from and for the simple love of accuracy (if nothing higher) please learn to look for the details and use a smaller brush to paint the truth about each individual in your life.
Lets commit to see, and create, works of, Human, Earthly, ART.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

are we a team?

before yesterday I would have said that Martin and I make a great parenting team. (not that we are great parents, we won’t know that result for years to come)

but yesterday I found out that we have left a word out of that assessment, and it makes a significant difference…

TAG

We are great TAG – Team parents.

We have perfected the art of passing Ginny back and forth between us like a finely honed machine of efficiency.  While one is being an independent adult, the other is being a parent.  What we seem to have lost recently is the art, and make no mistake it IS an ART, of working together as a GROUP.  With both of us being parents TOGETHER.

Just as an example, yesterday Martin did something that he would never have done had he been alone with Ginny.  Becasue I was there, he abandoned our mutual pile of personal belongings and went off to some other portion of the venue to a change machine to get chage for Ginny to play a game. 

How is this wrong?

it isn’t…..in and of itself.

He had Ginny with him.  She was safe.

I however was fuming.

I had no idea where they were.

I could not go looking for them because I was now in charge ( by default) of a whole pile of stuff that couldn’t be left alone in a public venue.

I knew they had the ultimate goal of going to play some game that Ginny had wanted to show me.  But becasue they didn’t tell me about the need for change I thought they had headed off to the game and must be waiting for me. So I figured out a way to drape all the stuff all over my hands, elbows and shoulders and lumbered through the venue looking for them….and fuming.

I nearly imploded when I finally found them. 

It is such a simple thing, and yet two people who actually love each other have, temporarily, gotten out of the habit of working together as an actual team.

Thank goodness Martin had the sense and the maturity to text me an apology before I went too far off the deep end.  He gave me a way back and I took it gratefuly.

Why am I telling you this?  to air our dirty laundry?  no.  Becasue I just wanted to take a minute to remind myself and everyone who still reads my blog that you have to practice the skills involved in real teamwork. 

We got better at it as the day progressed.

By the end of the day we were back to working as a group.  We even managed to have our heads on straight enough to take advantage of a trio of police personel who sat down at an adjacent table during our lunch.  We showed Ginny the badges and how to recognize, and hopefully trust, a real cop.  By the way, I am so thankful that they were a very mixed bunch.  One black, two white and one female.  Gotta love it when your girl child gets to see the full range of human skin colors and sexes treated as equals.  Martin even let us pick up their tab annoymously.  Which was a really great thing for Ginny to see happen.

I guess my secondary point is that marriage is chock full of moments like that.  I over reacted to a realtively minor situation and my husband offered me a way back. 

No matter what has happened…..take that offer folks.  Or be the one big enough to make the offer.  But whatever you do, don’t be small enough to cling to a hatchet that someone else is trying to get you to put down. 

Relationships are precious.  Join something bigger than just you.  Dont’ just play TAG, be on a TEAM and be proud of it.

blessings in this photo

This picture makes me so happy.  I keep looking and looking and looking at it.  The blessings in my life are abundant.  There are the obvious ones; Happy, healthy child, happy healthy husband. 

And the not quite so obvious ones. 

 Martin is standing. Upright. After his broken leg in April life was rough for a while. With the help of family and neighbors we got through it. 

 Church name tag.  Not visible, but I know it is there.  He works for God.  That makes me very deeply happy.

 Martin’s Smile.  Yes, he still smiles like that when he sees me.  and I smile right back. Wouldn’t you?

 Martin has lost some weight.  We both need to lose more. But we are way healthier than we were a year ago. Progress.

The picture is taken on our church grounds.  I grew up being very comfortable at our church becasue my mother worked there.  It was like a home to me.  It makes me happy that Ginny is growing up in a similar situation.

 Ginny’s smile.  I love her smile in this picture. It is not a “picture perfect” expression…but it shows how much she adores her papa. 

 The pink rose petal in Ginny’s hand is special to me too.  I don’t like pink.  I’ve tried to steer Ginny towards purples and blues.  She looks stunning in denim blue because of her blue eyes.  But she has a mind of her own, and in color preferences she is starting to choose pink.  I enjoy watching her figure out what she likes for herself, especially when her choices run counter to mine in little things like color preferences.  She is gaining independence.

 I love how tightly Martin is holding her, and how enthusiastic Ginny is about being in her papa’s arms. Security.  Trustworthy.

The grey in Martin’s beard makes me smile, because he didn’t have any when we started dating.  I have watched it happen. That represents years and mileage together.  Longevity. 

 Ginny’s hair blowing in the wind makes me happy.  She chose that haircut and it is great on her.  I was always into long hair on little girls, but she rocks the short hair look and is completely little girlie and feminine while having a hassle-free haircut.  Win-win!

 Martin takes time to play.  We had things to do and places to be, but he got out of the car and came back to play with us as Ginny examined roses and I snapped pictures.  Then he hoisted her up and headed for the car.  I said “wait, I want a picture of that” and instead of being annoyed with me for yet another delay, he turned and beamed at me while Ginny clung to his head. That is one patient, fun, loving, kind, generous man.

Thank you Lord.  You have been so so so very good to me.

flee from evil

At the pool last weekend there was this little kid who followed Ginny around for almost an hour.  You know the type, one of those kids whose mom isn’t playing with them, and they are bored so they glom onto some stranger.

I’d guess the girl was about 4 or maybe 5 at most. Far too young to be allowed to just run amok in the pool for an hour, but I digress…

She was intent on telling secrets.  Deep dark stuff that made her giggle to talk about.

“my sister pooped in the bathtub”  teeheeeeeeheeeee

I rolled my eyes and said, “that’s gross” and moved away with Ginny to a different section of the pool.

She followed us.

“I pee in the pool all the time” teeheeheeeeeee

Again I looked sternly at her and said “that’s gross.”  And we moved away.

She seemed nice enough. She didn’t splash or push and I would gladly have let Ginny play with the child, but I feared the evil influence of her conversation.  Not only was I grossed out, but I didn’t want my impressionable child to think that this is funny or get the idea that she should emulate the behaviors being described.

As it turns out, I had no need to worry.  Not only did my well trained girl-child let me know *in a whisper* when she needed to go, but the next time Ginny spotted that little girl making her way towards us she turned around and said “I’ve changed my mind, let’s go this way” and she swam away as fast as her little dog-paddle stroke could take her.

I’m so proud.

and humbled.  Because that is exactly how I am supposed to treat the evil influences in my own life.  Look it straight in the eye, recognize it for what it is….and run the other way.

Thank you Ginny for that unconciously imparted life-lesson.