Thursday, July 31, 2014

Saying Good-bye to a Very Special Boy

My dear friends,

When I started this day I had no idea, not even a hint of what was to come.  But shortly before lunch our friend Joe called to tell me that their son had drowned and that his wife, Susanna needed a friend.
In spite of my shock I made a couple of calls, quickly curled my hair just enough to get it out of my eyes...but definitely not enough to look good.  Somehow I decided that it didn't matter.  My friend was in pain.....agony really.  Off I went.

I will not go into the details of the day.  They were excruciating.  However, I will say that God was in it. You probably know Joe and Susanna from my occasional references to them and Susanna's blog.  The son who was lost today was Tommy.  Precious Tommy.  The boy who had not known love until God brought Susanna to his orphanage.  She loved him on sight and was so blessed when God chose them to adopt him.

They brought him home.  It didn't go smoothly. Tommy was sick much of the time.  And yet Joe and Susanna loved him more.  And more.  They did everything in their power to find solutions for his intestinal difficulties.  At last solutions were working.  He was growing again.  Tommy was happy.

He was so close to his little brother, Stephen.  You can see some photos here on the guest post I wrote today to let Susanna's blog readers know of this horrible accident.

If you don't mind, we would love your prayers.  Prayers that those who are tempted to blame themselves would find peace in the love and forgiveness of Jesus.  Prayers for the siblings who will grieve this loss deeply.  Prayers that God would use this for His glory.  Give thanks with us that this life will now be celebrated and missed rather than slipping away quietly with no one to care in an adult house in his birth country.

In my mind Tommy will always be this smiling happy boy who knew no enemies.  He is a reminder to all of us that life is matter how you come to it.  No matter how much people expect you to be able to give to society.  Oh yes...Tommy made a difference in this world.  Just ask anyone who met him or has read about him.  Just ask the families who are now a child or two bigger because they were impacted by his story.
Just ask Jesus....who loved him so much that He sent a quiet family from Lancaster County to Eastern Europe to bring him home and love him.  Tommy's life counted!!  Big time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Beautiful Summer Day

 It is the kind of day that inspires the pets to want to be outside.
And it is even the kind of day that makes me willing to stay 
outside with them longer than usual.
When we first got out here Oliver was in the hammock
 with Georgia.  
It was so cute. 
when he saw me coming he jumped down
before I could snap any pictures.

 Just look at the sun and shade dappled yard.
We are so blessed.

 Back in the wild part of the yard
Tidbit was enjoying the cool grass.

I got closer to take some photos.

Then next thing I knew 
Oliver was up in my face.
He seemed a bit jealous.

But most likely he was just curious.
I don't think he really was jealous.
He's pretty secure in his ability to get attention.

Tidbit...looking pretty good for fourteen,
don't you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Catching up.....Life Just Doesn't Stop

If this blog reflects life at our home it kind of did a poor
job of it over the past couple of weeks.
Information was scarce around here.

It has been crazy busy and more than a little bit sad
as we said our goodbyes to Johnny.... for now.

He and Chelsea have changed their status back to friends.
And great friends they are.
But we surely miss having him around here.
No one else could have fit so seamlessly into this craziness.
And I mean that as a compliment!!
He is loved.
And definitely not forgotten.
Gotta love that internet and how it allows us to keep in 
touch with loved ones on the other side of the ocean!

Jonathan finally got his car back after months of a very dead engine.
It took time and research on Warren's part but we were able to 
find a good engine with low mileage and a three year warranty to have installed.
This is a blessing to all of us.
We loved spending time with Jonathan as we drove him to work
but it was also a bit hard on him to have to rely on us.
He had grown very used to that freedom.

Good Neighbors Candle Co. is going strong.
Record breaking summer months....
that so surprises me.
But is pretty awesome too!!

We joined the YMCA yesterday.
Guess that means I need to go there and do something
very soon.
Chelsea did a trial week and really enjoys it
but we decided to get a family membership to help all of us
get in better shape!
I look forward to meeting Warren there after work some days.
Then we can have a bigger dinner, right?
We are even discussing a Ballroom Dance class.
Fun, right?
We'll see in the Fall when it is a real possibility.

Our Moms were gone on a bus trip to Maine when we got news of a bus 
crash in Canada involving a bus from their same company.
We were so sad to learn of the death of one of those travelers.
We were thankful that other than bad weather, 
which cancelled a whale watch and fogged in a lighthouse
Mom and Georgia enjoyed a trip which was uneventful.
So sweet that our moms are such dear friends.

I'm back off of white bread.
I do love the stuff.
But the physical toll it takes on me is obvious.

Our most recent adventures involve spending time with some children
whose families are refugees from Burma.
Chelsea instigated this as she misses the Thai people 
after her YWAM trip.
We found that the Karen People from Burma have 
spent many, many years in refugee camps in Thailand and some 
are being moved into the U.S.  
We are helping with English retention for the children 
as they go through the summer months without school.
Chelsea has two little girls
whom she adores.
I have three girls who are smart and sweet.
I was warned that they are a bit of a handful but 
so far they must not know me well enough to 
challenge anything I have asked them to do. 
Instead, they have been enthusiastic and a joy to work with.
What a blessing to our hearts (Mom was able to go along)  yesterday
as we pulled away and their sweet faces were in the window
and their hands waving goodbye.
They had asked if we were coming back today.
Awww...not until next week girls.

So all in all, I would say that life is good.
It has its hard times.
But it is still good.

A very good thing?
Michael and Emily's wedding is now just over 
one month away!!
Oh yes. 
This is good.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Living Life In Overdrive

Our long and special weekend began with the Fourth of July.
My dear friend, Shelley, was here from State College.
Allan and Bev were also with us for the weekend.
It was great!!

Surprisingly the weather was cooler and windy on the fourth
so we ate on Georgia's porch.  
Warren grilled for us and we had Mom's traditional and delicious
potato salad.
It was delightful!

I don't even know if I have photos from those days.
They are a blur.

But on Sunday we were guests at a wedding shower 
for Michael and Emily.
It was so strange...and kind of cool....
to be "invited" to this event.
Usually if my kids are involved in something 
I am, as well, up to my elbows.
But in this case I knew nothing about it other than 
that Warren would be grilling and I was bringing water.

The wedding party took care of all of it with Emily's sister
Liza doing all of the organizing, planning and most of the 
work of it.
The Best Man, Chris, did assist her I am quite sure.

These were the table decorations
which perfectly reflected the artwork on the invitations.
So cool.

Michael and Emily found these country style drink dispensers 
a few weeks ago and were quite pleased.
They were perfect.

Front and center in the photo below is Emily's brother Caleb.
He is such a wonderful young man who now works with Chelsea.
We enjoyed Caleb and the rest of this family all of the way 
through our home educating years. 
They were a very important part of our co-op.

 Behind Caleb is Jonathan (in plaid) and my brother Allan (in blue).
I don't get to see Allan often enough.

 Mikey was pretty pleased that he was able to pull of the surprise
matching t-shirts.
I think he tries to not tell me things...and this was one of them.

 A party game that thankfully only involved the guys.
Normally this is done at Bridal Showers but in this case....

 I thought these guys made really horrific brides.
Thank goodness they are not meant to wear these anywhere.

I think Johnny could see this was not working out so well.

 The seriousness on both of these guys faces just cracks me up.
Love it!

 Jonathan enjoys a bit of the girls silliness.
Later he would join the guys in a very hot and active 
game of ultimate frisbee.

 Johnny wanted to take a walk down by the river and so I suggested he take my camera 
and get some photos.
He did a great job.

 Apparently Chelsea and Grandma Georgia joined him because they showed up in 
the photos. 
Chelsea doesn't love wearing yellow but it is the bridesmaid color 
and so she was asked to wear it that day.
I happen to like it on her.
What a delightful event this was.
And I am so thankful for all of the work that went into 
making it so special for the bride and groom to be.
The wedding day will be here before we know it!

Also ongoing all weekend long was planning for Chelsea's 19th
birthday party.
She is a great party planner and so had every detail in place.
Each day had its assigned duties up until shopping on Monday morning
for the food that we weren't making.

Monday afternoon we cooked and baked.
BBQ, Pasta Salad, she iced the cupcakes, Grandma Georgia made 
the cake, Grandma Ruth made two huge bowls of her amazing 
potato salad.
So, if you are counting that makes THREE bowls of potato 
salad from Mom this weekend. 
Its that good!
Mikey helped her get tables and Emily came early to 
help her set up.
I had to take a little rest while they put the final details together.
I'm not the energizer bunny I once was.
But they are young and strong with lots of great ideas 
and the ability to pull it all off.

And then the guests began to arrive.

 One large group of co-workers had car trouble and then got lost 
and so they arrived quite late....
but we were SO happy they kept trying and finally found us.
They livened things up a lot.
I don't have any photos of them, though, because by then 
I was in full mama/hostess mode.

Activities included eating...of course...
volleyball, tree climbing, Dutch Blitz, 
Singing around the fire and a lot of visiting.
Johnny was so happy to find a co-worker of Chelsea's who grew 
up in Germany.
They chatted a while.
He loved it and felt so much at home with someone who
understands his culture.

Chelsea had made labels for just about everything.
They were so cute!

Chips and pretzels got their own table
but the real food was behind this fence.

 I love seeing friends enjoying time together.
These two have been buds since Kindergarten.

 Newlyweds, Joseph and Lindsay enjoying our Chloe.
I suspect that Lindsay was plotting a diet for our sadly obese pooch.
Last night didn't help that situation at all.
She found much on the ground and reminded me of 
Templeton the Rat in Charlotte's Web.
By the end of the evening she looked uncomfortable.

 Two special guests.
Melissa and Grandma Georgia.
Melissa has been friends with my kids and myself for a good long while.
I'm glad she could make it after a migraine that morning.
Grandma Georgia made Chelsea's birthday cake.  
It is tradition!

 These three have such busy lives that they struggle to find times when all three
can be together.
However, when they do it is a natural and very fun time.
It makes the effort worthwhile.
 And then it was time for Cake and Ice Cream.
Emily lit the candles!
 19 candles lit it UP!
 Michael "helped".
And then supervised.
What a blessed evening.
Thanks to all who helped to make it so special.
You are so important to us.

Happy Birthday, Chelsea!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Remember This Feeling

It was the last year of our home education.
Chelsea was graduating early.
I was about to be out of a that I was both
sad and happy to see go.
Home School Teacher.

There is this feeling of transition.
In most things I would tell you that I love change.
I am easily bored and need a varied routine.

This whole shift from parent of teens 
to parent of adults is taking its toll.
Not because my young ones are bad.
Couldn't be further from the truth.
They are amazing!!

If you've been reading along you know that we have 
had a very happy few months.
Things are constantly changing here and we are having
fun together.
my "kids" are less and less dependent on me all of the time.

They make their own decisions.
One is getting married.

One is seeking the Lord's will for the next couple of years in her life.
Sometimes her answers clash with my dreams.
Can you believe it???
And yet she is finally at peace with her Lord.
And that is exactly what we hope for, right?

Another has been patiently waiting for a full time position
to open up for him and continues to wait.
He has been through so much in the past few years
and has come through stronger and such 
a dear young man.
Perhaps soon the timing will be right
and God will say "Yes".

I know this feeling.
It is the one that says I just want the world to 
slow down a bit and let me get my bearings.
It is the one that grieves for all that I thought I knew.
It is the one that rejoices in God's Goodness even through 
the pain of this refining process.

I also remember that in times past He has shown 
Himself so faithful in everything.
He gives us what is best for us....
in His timing.

Sometimes we are right about what we wish 
and hope for but our timing is just wrong.
Other times we are sadly mistaken in what we are hoping 
for but He allows short term pain for the longer good.

I have no idea which this will end up being
but I choose to trust.

Even as my heart hurts.
And lets go.....
Just a bit more.