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.

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

giving good gifts

We all love to get good gifts, but how many of us are good at giving really good thoughtful gifts.  I’ll admit, I struggle.

And even when I manage to think of something absolutely prefect to give, most of the time it is outside of my budget, or there are time constraints that make it just not possible to accomplish.

But I got a reminder this past Saturday that there are some gifts that are precious, perfect, always appreciated, and free.

I had to go to a funeral on Saturday, (bear with me here.  it will all make sense in a minute, I promise.  just keep reading….) and I needed to take Ginny with me.  Martin had commitments that could not involve a four year old, so she had to come with me. I knew it wasn’t going to be any fun for her, but she can be pretty good about sitting still so I knew it wasn’t going to hurt her to go. 

The funeral was for a Sunday School teacher that I had when I was very young.  She also did substitute teaching at the Christian school I went to and her son was a young man I looked up too alot.  In a “6th graders distant crush on a rugged senior soccer player” kind of way. 

The church where the funeral was held is the same church I grew up in and my mother worked in.  First Alliance Church in Atlanta.  While my mom worked, my brother and I used to play all over the church.  We would do commando crawl races under the pews. We played hide and seek and tag everywhere (and I do mean EVERYWHERE, even the baptismal).  We even got in trouble once for eating up all the communion crackers.  We thought they were just crumbled up saltines.  During services my mom sat close to the front row.  She had a real talent for disciplining us silently and unobtrusively.  I remember that quite clearly, but I can also recall times when I would get sleepy and put my head in her lap.  Mother would do what all mothers do…trace letters or just random patterns on my back and run her fingers through my hair as I drifted.

okay, so you get the picture.  My mother and I were heading into a building that we hadn’t been in since 1987.  To attend the funeral of this dear lady, and to see people we hadn’t seen in forever.  Bringing my child along just made sense. She can be a conversation piece.  A distraction if this whole experience gets too intense or awkward.

Besides, she has this adorable smocked dress.  It’s black with tiny white snowmen up around the collar.  With her fair coloring and those big blue eyes……how could I resist the opportunity to show her off? 

Stay with me…there is a point. 

So we are all in the car.  Me, my mom and Ginny.

And Ginny, naturally asks “Where are we going and why am I all dressed up?”

pause.

me: “okay Ginny, when mama was a little girl she had a sunday school teacher she loved very much.  That sweet lady had a good life.  She had grandkids and was very happy, but now she is gone to heaven to be with Jesus and her family is very sad.  We are going to go give her family hugs”

Ginny “okay”

Then she goes back to playing with her stuffed toy in the back seat and my mom and I embark on a discussion of old times at First Alliance Church.

We get to the church, walk in and wow…..  it is different, and the same all at once.  There were people we know and people we used to know and people we don’t know at all.  The service was beautiful and the music really got Ginny’s attention.  It was a long service though and by the end of it I was whispering to Ginny all about the special treat (high tea with mama and grammy) that she would get if she could just sit still for a little while longer.  Eventually the service was over and we filed quietly out into the vestibule.

At which point,  my child enthusiastically reaches for all these complete strangers and starts handing out hugs. 

Some people she grabbed around the legs, some she pulled on their sleeve till they bent down or picked her up to see what she wanted, and once she reached out from my arms to hug the mother of a friend of mine from middle school.  She literally attack-hugged the whole crowd….and it was like watching the sun come up to see the effect she had on that room.

It was so simple.  She gave comfort.  She gave smiles and hugs because they were needed.  She didn’t know these people.  But she blessed them right where they were.

Yes, my child is adorable, but that’s not the point.

The point for me is that so often when someone preaches on using our gifts they talk about time, money and talents.  The talents they refer to seem to be the specialised sort.  Like being able to sing, or preach, or organize or build things.  To me, those things are nice but what I think gets overlooked are the little gifts.

  • a note (but of course to write an encouraging note you have to have at least some familiarity with the person)
  • a hug (but most people, gregarious four-year-olds aside need to have some acquaintance with a person before hugging them)
  • a smile.  Smiles can be given to anyone, anywhere without knowing a single thing about the other person.

What? you don’t think a smile is a gift?  When was the last time someone just beamed when you walked into a room?  Remember how that made you feel?  Well you can make other people feel just like that.  I call that a gift.

I have a challenge for you.

Next time you walk along  in the mall, or on your way to or from your car in a parking lot, try giving the gift of a smile to literally everyone whose eye you can catch.  That way they don’t think you are just smiling to yourself.  Make sure you catch their eye and then smile right at them.   Make them feel like you smiled because they crossed your path.

Let me know how it goes.  I’m betting you will be addicted to this form of gift giving in just one session.

oh, and one other blessing rained down on my head during that service….Ginny put her head in my lap and I got to play with her hair and trace letters on her back in that same sanctuary where I can clearly recall my mom doing the same to me.

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.

she started it!

Ginny is just a little over three now and her vocabulary has gone supernova on us.  She uses words like “technically” and  “actually” and insists on the proper names being given to animals…  “that’s not a chicken mama.  He doesn’t lay eggs.  That is actually a rooster”   This was as we were setting out the fisher price nativity set (Which I strongly recommend for anyone with kids.  Put away the fragile sets for a few years and use this one.   Your child can play with each item and you will find yourself interacting with your kids as you play act the story over and over again.  Not just on Christmas morning)

Given her increased vocabulary,  playing word-association with Ginny is very fun and interesting.  It gives me a window into what she thinks is important. That window opened wide as Ginny and I played word-association last night for almost 15 minutes. 

The only rule for Ginny is “nope you can’t use that word, you said Georgia already”   Otherwise she can say anything she wants.  Even without anyone explaining the rules, Ginny is only going to throw out a word that DOES have some connection (however tenuous) to the previous word   I had a personal rule for myself  that my words had to relate in some real, logical way to Ginny’s previous word and it needed to be something that Ginny had a shot at least of relating to.  So if she said “George”  I couldn’t say “Burns”  instead I said “curious”  

Of course none of this was explained or spelled out as such.   Some games you just don’t have to explain.

The fun thing is that I didn’t start it.  Ginny did.  She was pretend flying and doing a lot of dancing and bouncing around the living room last night.  Suddenly she came to a halt, perched on an ottoman and said “Sandwich!”  and then looked at me expectantly….

It was clear that she wasn’t asking for a sandwich, so I said “Peanut butter”

She responded with “Marmalade!”

And we went from there.  Topics we covered ranged from sports to dance, from ice skating to relatives, from holidays to food, and from furniture to movies. 

She made some really interesting leaps of logic.  At one point I said “ice skating” and she said “Georgia” which is actually the name of a little girl at the rink.  Georgia is about 7 years old  and she is doing double jumps and lands her axle beautifully. Anyway, I’ve pointed her out to Ginny a couple of times and Ginny has said Hi, but I had no idea that she would make that direct association. Especially since it has been well over a month since Ginny has even been in the rink at all. 

Don’t know why I’m posting this, except that it was a fun family moment with Ginny and I wanted to share. What fun things happen in your family with no planning that turn out to be precious memories?  At the very least write them down.  Consider sharing them.  Don’t let yourself forget.  This is treasure.  This is gold.  This is what will last.