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.

 

 

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.

behind every skater….

the long over-due thank you post from my 2012/13 skating season and first trip to the U.S. Figure Skating Adult Nationals

thank you post 7

Behind every skater,

of any level,  

stands a coach….who DIDN’T kill me on my worst days.

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In the bleachers at every event clap the friends who stand by me…

even when I am down and don’t display my best side.

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On the drive home, hands clenched on the steering wheel drive the husbands, brothers, parents and friends being tortured by tears they can’t comfort or endless re-hashings of all the tiniest details of the things that went right (or wrong) with the program THIS time.

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And at home waits a weary grandmother,

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proud of her daughter and a four year old who can’t understand why mommy didn’t bring home a shiny medal this time because she always thinks I’m a winner.

thank you post 3

I didn’t win…at nationals.  I placed 6th in one event and 5th in the other.  But still, I am grateful.

Grateful for the chance to even go to Nationals. After a year filled with injuries, coaching changes, sickness and a myriad of set-backs, honestly even qualifying was a victory worth celebrating but I was too busy setting my sights on the next goal.

Now almost a month later, I am celebrating and finally ready to send out the thank you post.

To Martin, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running and for backrubs that kept me on my feet when I just wanted to lay down and never move again.

To my parents, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running (grin)

To Julie for understanding that sometimes we can all get crabby. And for helping me find (and visit) every single Starbucks on the way home from Elllenton, FL to Atlanta, GA.  Julie, I need to give you a special thank you for putting up with my singing for the last two hours of that drive back from Florida. I know it’s not my greatest talent, but it DOES keep me awake at the wheel….

Oh, and to Martin again for all the various cuts of music we went through. You are a genius honey. Pure and simple.

To the folks at A.C. Chiropractic Spinal & Wellness center for being willing to venture into new territory to keep me functioning.

To Annette for “interpreting Davin” for us all.

To my neighbors Liza & Bryon and the kids, for just being there, being normal and delightful.  I know I couldn’t have done this without you.

To my previous coaches: Dawn Malone, Chuck Miller, Tim Zinc and Deena Bryant – thanks for helping put down a foundation that I will build on for the rest of my life.

To Sarah Bolocan, thank you for being willing to try just about anything I asked when it comes to new dress ideas.

To Kylie for just being yourself. Watching you on the ice is very peaceful.

To all the skating moms at the Duluth Ice Forum – thanks for encouraging all us adult skaters. It means a lot that you guys actually like us adult skaters and don’t see us as comedic or pitiful.

To Dr. John Xeroegeanes and the staff at Emory Sports Medicine for putting me back together…do three knee surgeries qualify me for a volume discount?

To Stephanie for being fun on the ice. Sometimes I need to be reminded to just play and have fun.

To my hair stylist Angelia Leong as we journeyed through finally finding a haircut that works for my life style and looks good on the ice.

thank you post 2

To Rob, as a guy afloat in a sea of female drama we must be an endless source of entertainment for you. Thanks for being such a great representative for our club and for Adult skating in general.

To PJ, Lou, Ben & Meredith Scafidi. I don’t know that I can ever possibly put into words all that your family has done for me. Starting with taking us into your hearts in Greenville and keeping us there. I will never forget your kids playing cards with Martin so I could get the hotel room packed up. Or you FIERCELY defending the chair that Martin’s foot was propped up on at the restaurant.

thankyou post 5

To Davin….just thank you. Thank you for all the times you didn’t smack me across the rink. You know you wanted to.

thank you post 4

And thank you for pouring yourself heart and soul into your own skating. Watching you skate is a joy and being able to count myself as one of your students is a privilege.

Yes, I am proud.  Proud of going to Nationals.  Proud of skating two beautiful programs that were the best of my season.  Proud of everything I accomplished in the 2012/13 season……and ready to go out and do it all again.   

thankyou post 1

 look out 2013/14….here we come!

crying it out

I’m talking to parents here.

Ever done that thing where you sit in the hall, with the lights out and listen to your child cry?

Most parents are familiar with this as a way to try to get a child to learn to go to sleep on their own.  Learning to put yourself to sleep is a life skill that we all need.  But it doesn’t just happen, you have to learn it.  and learning is, sometimes, a pain-filled process.

I’m facing that with Ginny right now.  We used to have a pretty solid routine and she knew how to go to sleep by herself.  We were very good at the whole “never put her down asleep, always put her in her crib when she is drowsy, but still awake” thing. She learned her lessons very well and we hardly ever had to get up in the night or spend hours begging her to just please go back to sleep.

We thought she had learned that life lesson perfectly.  Chalk one up for the awesome parenting duo of Martin & Deirdre.  Congrats.  Your child has passed this test.  Please move forward.  You won’t ever have to learn this one over again.

WRONG.

Over time we let the routine slip.  Inch by inch we moved so far away from a child that puts herself to bed with no fuss that we are now living in the land of a tyrant who never gets enough sleep herself, and never lets papa get enough sleep. She crawls into bed with us in the middle of the night, she insists on a movie to fall asleep to, and papa must sit down with her to watch it.  Which leaves papa asleep on the sofa and Ginny getting just enough of a nap between 8 and 10 p.m. that when Martin finally wakes up to take her upstairs, she wakes up pretty thoroughly and either makes him read to her half the night or begs for another movie. 

Martin’s poor tired, sleep deprived soul is not strong enough to resist her at that hour, so she pretty much gets whatever she wants.

But the lack of sleep is getting to be a serious problem.  Not just for Martin, but for Ginny’s friends and playmates.  She is a crabby, bossy spoiled, violent little terror these days.

Ginny is unhappy. Martin is unhappy.  I am unhappy.  and Ginny’s friends, school-mates and teachers are definitely unhappy.

Don’t get me wrong, Ginny is also blindingly intelligent, adorable, sweet, loving and kind.  But she can go from one extreme to the other so fast it is really scary and I’m convinced that half of it is a lack of sleep.

So, we are going to try the old, “sorry, I know you don’t want to, but you have to go to bed now” routine again.

Which means her parents are going to find themselves in that hall again…listening to her cry.

Why am I telling you all this?

to make myself look bad? no.
to belittle the parenting skills of myself or my spouse? no. Martin is a hero as far as I’m concerned.
to humiliate my child? no.  she’s just being a kid.

It’s because of a song that got sung in church this week.

Nichole Nordeman’s “Why are they screaming”

We rode into town the other day
Just me and my Daddy
He said I’d finally reached that age
And I could ride next to him on a horse
That of course was not quite as wide

We heard a crowd of people shouting
And so we stopped to find out why
And there was that man
That my dad said he loved
But today there was fear in his eyes

So I said “Daddy, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why is He dressed in that bright purple robe?
I’ll bet that crown hurts Him more than He shows
Daddy, please can’t you do something?
He looks as though He’s gonna cry
you said he was stronger than all of those guys
Daddy, please tell me why
Why does everyone want him to die?”

Later that day the sky grew cloudy
And Daddy said I should go inside
Somehow he knew things would get stormy
Boy was he right
But I could not keep from wondering
If there was something he had to hide

So after he left I had to find out
I was not afraid of getting lost
So I followed the crowds
To a hill where I knew men had been killed
And I heard a voice come from the cross

And it said, “Father, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why are they casting their lots for My robe?
This crown of thorns hurts Me more than it shows
Father, please can’t You do something?
I know that You must hear My cry
I thought I could handle the cross of this size
Father, remind Me why
Why does everyone want Me to die?
When will I understand why?”

“My precious Son, I hear them screaming
I’m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe You in robes of My own
Jesus, this hurts Me much more than You know
But this dark hour I must do nothing
Though I’ve heard Your unbearable cry
The power in Your blood destroys all of the lies
Soon You’ll see past their unmerciful eyes
Look there below, see the child
Trembling by her father’s side
Now I can tell You why
She is why You must die”

http://youtu.be/sRKV8Jh5IgQ is the link to the song. 

The whole song is breathtaking and was presented by a teenager in our church in a very moving way.  She didn’t sing it perfectly, she sang it with absolute participation and consequently brought the audience to tears.  The verse that really gets me is the one about God the Father listening to His son’s screaming  and having to wait for the time to be right to respond.

I know that my sitting in the hall listening to Ginny crying doesn’t even come close, but it gives me a tiny glimpse into “that dark hour”

And makes the coming of Easter just a tiny bit more real to me this year.

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.