Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

Finally!

My daughter taught me to crochet about eight years ago. At the time, we lived in a condo, with a really pretty cottage-country bedroom. The quilt on the bed was very nice, one of those mass produced supposed to look handmade patchwork quilts.

It actually was quilted, pieced and all, just not that unique, but I really liked it. So I decided what we really needed to add the finishing touch to a really sweet room was an afghan laying at the foot of the bed.

So my NellyBelle taught me how to single crochet. If you read my last blog post you will remember my past as a perfectionist. When I began the afghan, I didn’t understand that the tighter the stitches, the harder it would be, the longer it would take and the more yarn it would need to fit my queen-sized bed.

And the first several rows of stitches have no spaces between them. NO AIR and NO LIGHT. Perfect if you live in Antarctica. I do not. I live in the swanky, humid, confused weather-patterned Midwest.

See those lovely, perfectionist stitches?
Clearly PRE-grandchildren…;)

We moved out of the condo. The lovely quilt became the guest room quilt and eventually fell apart. I experimented with many new color schemes, and eventually found the afghan in all its unfinished mess. I did a few rows and eased up on the stitches. It went a little faster, but I just couldn’t quite get the hang of the whole turning part. Or how to knot the skeins together when one ran out.

Starting to loosen up a little by this point…

I realized at some point that I really didn’t have time to finish it, so it got buried in a closet somewhere. Life has a funny way of forcing the readjusting of priorities and projects. No more of that Urgent-Important, Urgent-Unimportant, Not Urgent-Important or Not Urgent-Not Important quadrant stuff for making good use of time. Not in Nana Land, anyway.

NellyBelle has since married, finished her residency, had a baby, bought a house and made her own toys for her little guy. My afghan was still a sorry mess.

Meanwhile, Superman and I decided to dedicate a room to my sewing and crafting and dreaming and writing. While emptying out the entire room and closet, Superman found the incomplete afghan project. I decided it was way past due on finishing this thing. I had too much time invested in the crazy thing to just throw it away, and I wanted to at least finish it and be done. I attacked that afghan with gusto.

I loosened up on the stitches, and it actually made the afghan “feel” better–not so hot or heavy. I considered turning it into a dress, but realized I would be one long lasting hot flash, and the world is just not ready for that. Talk about global warming! (Now that I think about it, I think that global warming could almost certainly be attributed to how much longer women are living and how many hot flashes we are all contributing to the atmosphere. Maybe the scientists could come up with a healthy solution for that??? Like, TODAY?!?!?!)

Digressing…anyway, in the last three weeks, I have tackled the turning problems and the loose stitches, and how to join the yarn AND made up a finishing edge that doesn’t look bad. All things considered. I don’t know if it is even a legitimate stitch, but if it wasn’t before, it is NOW!

Don’t you just love the way I tripled the stitches to edge the thing?

So now I have an orange/brown/blue/cream bedroom. My living room is grey/green/blue/cream and the afghan is lavender/periwinkle/green/dk green/cream. Hmmmmm…

I think I am ready to start a SMALLER project now…

Don’t tell her, but I am giving it to my mom. She thought it was so pretty when she saw me working on it, and it will be just perfect for her when she gets a little chilly. I even made sure the loosened stitches wouldn’t let the toes sneak through. And my dad? Well, he can’t appreciate the colors but I would imagine she will share it with him too…

Contrasting the old on the right with the new on the left…sigh…so glad it is finally finished!

Cleaning Out the Closet…

Since my sweet husband has been away, I decided to use the time wisely by organizing his drawers and closet. You see, when he is HERE, he has this problem when the purging begins…

So I started with the easy part…the closet.

Let me just start off by saying in my defense that in my past, I was a confirmed perfectionist with very particular ways of folding, hanging, sorting, washing, line drying, organizing…You know, my way is the right way and there is no other way…

My husband is not color blind. He can see all colors.  My FATHER is color blind. He cannot see red, green, brown…or mixtures of these colors. So my FATHER has a legitimate reason if something is mismatched. My mother found socks with snaps so they don’t get separated in the drawer. Brown and tan in one drawer, blue and black in another drawer. You know, I learned my organizational skills from HER.

Nathan believes that if something is blue it always goes with anything else that is blue. All greens can be worn together. And he believes that since the rainbow doesn’t clash, neither do his clothes.

When he comes home at the end of the day and I realize that he went to work with mismatched clothes, he is always so surprised if I don’t think the combination worked. I ask him, “Have I ever put that combination together?”

And his response is always the same, “I thought I would try something new…”

That is now forbidden.

I asked him if he would like his shirts matched up with pants to help figure out what works…He wasn’t sure he could manage that. Really??? (I should note that when we first got married, he only wore navy or brown pants, no patterns, textures or variations. You wouldn’t believe how hard I had to work to get tan and gray added…)

So…back to the closet. I put all of his button shirts by color from white to black, left to right. Then his cold weather casual shirts and his light weight shirts. All following the same color pattern. His pants separate the current season of shirts from the warm season shirts. After all, we have been known to have sudden warm ups in the middle of Winter.

I like the order of the colors as they transition from light to dark. I like knowing that with the second button fastened I won’t have to worry about wrinkled shirts lying on the floor…I like knowing that with a quick glance it will be easy to put clean clothing away because it is so organized.

RIGHT. After all these years, I am still the only one who cares about the clothes being in any sort of order, the only one who actually thinks about where the clothes SHOULD be hung…the only one that recognizes that there actually IS a pattern…

And I also continue to be that slow learner that refuses to just give up and admit it’s hopeless…

And tomorrow, I will tell you all about the lessons learned from the sock drawers…

 

 

 

 

The Promise

As I sit out on the deck today, I am being reminded of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

It’s not as though I deny that life can be excruciatingly difficult and tragic. I have seen and lived through enough heartaches and sorrows to have a basis on which I might question God…

But, I also have lived through the heartaches and sorrows only to know that as I walked through those dark and agonizing valleys, I was never alone. Even when I was physically alone, even feeling abandoned, I really wasn’t.

When my husband and I began the process of adopting two of our children, we had to go through an abandonment procedure, whereby our two children were officially “abandoned” by their biological parents. There is no easy way to deal with the emotions of this process…the laws of the country through which we were adopting required the publication of our children’s “datos” and “fotografías” in the major newspapers over a three week period.

That was a scary time for us, as we already had custody of our children, and we knew that there was the possibility of having someone step forward and claim them legally, even if they couldn’t prove their biological claims to our children.

For my happy-go-lucky husband, he lost that aspect during the entire adoption process. It was excruciating to have custody of these children for two years, knowing that they could still be taken away.

I remember asking anyone who would listen to please pray for us. Please pray for our adoptions to go through. Every time the government suspended international adoptions, we felt a sense of panic try to overtake our confidence in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Eventually, we received approved adoption decrees for our children. Children who had been placed for adoption for different reasons. Children who would never be able to know their biological roots. That is hardcore abandonment, people. And there is no easy way to explain that away, no matter how heart-wrenching their biological parents’ situations happened to be.

Adoptees handle their feelings about adoption uniquely. Some truly struggle with the idea that they were somehow unwanted. Others are filled with grief for the circumstances that made it impossible for them to remain in their biological family. There are obviously commonalities that many experience, but just like everyone else, the situations are as individual as the kids.

But one thing is consistently true for each one of us…when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never, ever be abandoned. He has promised to never leave or forsake His children. No matter how awful life can get, if you are His child you will not go through your sorrows alone. He promised.

 

Hula Hoop Hugs

I never got the hang of the hula hoop. I just couldn’t get my body to figure out when to go left and when to go right. It was actually more of a hazard for me than a jump rope…and if you think about all the ways jumping rope can go wrong…

But the other day I was speaking with my mom. Our little buddy, Froglegs, was having a little sadness in his heart and we couldn’t fix it. He is one of the thousands of children whose “father” can’t be bothered to care for him. And somehow, it is especially hard at the beginning of the school year.

Imagine wanting to be in Cub Scouts without a dad? Or signing up for soccer and no dad to help you practice and cheer for you? What about when you play baseball and you have to play with your “papa” who can’t run as fast anymore?

All those father-son activities are hard enough, but then…where is that “father” when you have serious questions like “Why aren’t you a good dad?” or “Don’t you love me?” or “Why don’t you ever call me?” or “Why did you move so far away from me?”

You see, my little Froglegs has a very tender heart. His little heart has been bloodied far too many times by this man who doesn’t deserve the title of “father.” And my little buddy asks the tough questions and demands honest answers. He can smell a lie or a shifty answer before we can.

So, as my mother and I were talking about the little broken-hearted boy, my mother said, “You give him a special hula hoop hug from his great Nana!”

“A hula hoop hug?” I asked.

“Yes. My arms would wrap around him just like a hula hoop circle.”

I thought about that. A hula hoop hug. That was the best description I could think of to remind that little boy how much we all love him. That no matter who was failing him, he could count on our love wrapping all the way around him.

But then I realized that, in a way, our promise of forever being there is really not true. We are older. We have health problems. Our lives, in reality, are frail and subject to disease and death.

While I cannot promise that we will always be here to offer hula hoop hugs, I CAN promise a greater love, a more steadfast love that will never, ever fail my little Froglegs. There is only one who can offer that eternal love, our Savior.

He promises that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He is the Father to the fatherless and the husband to the widow. He is the Friend who is closer than a brother. That Gentle Shepherd and paschal Lamb. And His love is even better than a hula hoop hug.

1 John 3:1-3

J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

3 Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is no mere figure of speech—which explains why the world will no more recognise us than it recognised Christ.

Oh, dear children of mine (forgive the affection of an old man!), have you realised it? Here and now we are God’s children. We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, if reality were to break through, we should reflect his likeness, for we should see him as he really is!

Everyone who has at heart a hope like that keeps himself pure, for he knows how pure Christ is.

Saying Grace

Tonight we went to my parent’s house. Be assured, there is always a LOT of laughter and story telling. And tonight was no exception.

My parents have had a broad experience of living, from boot camp missionary training to dissecting cockroaches and cats in our kitchen…I know. Gross.

My daughter and son-in-law came with my GRANDSON for the long weekend, and Janielle came upon my father’s old single shot shotgun. After a few jokes, the storytelling began.

Apparently my mother once accompanied my father squirrel hunting in the past. Only once–it seems the gutting and cleaning of the critter was more than she wanted to experience again. However, I am still a bit confused because she subsequently went to nursing school and brought her cat cadaver home for dissection during her Anatomy and Physiology class. She stored it in our freezer. It drove our living cat crazy. I am serious.

My son-in-law likes to pheasant hunt. He believes it is less boring than sitting in a tree stand or squatting in a blind.  Somehow, chasing a bird is easier for his ADHD personality.

My father was reminded of a true story from his younger years involving a ring-necked pheasant. (At this point, Ben noted that those pheasants were an invasive species from China. I just love all the little learning opportunities…) It seems my father had four friends (missionary training candidates) who went out riding in a car one Sunday.

Nothing newsworthy there.

As they drove, a ring-necked pheasant came into the open. One of the passengers grabbed his rifle and shot the bird dead.

Nothing particularly newsworthy here either except that it was 1) against the law to hunt on Sundays back then; 2) no one had a hunting license; and, 3) it was against the law to shoot a gun from the interior of a vehicle.

I think we have now gotten into the newsworthy part of the story.

So these friends cleaned and cooked the bird and sat down to eat. One guy asked another one to ask the blessing on their illegally gotten gain. He declined. One by one, they all declined to pray.

What a dilemma. What to do? What to do???

Finally, they sang “Amazing Grace” and ate their dinner.

Please Pray

It has been almost impossible for me to write since my last post. I learned that a family, whom I have loved my whole life, is being tested in an excruciating way. Old sorrows have crept to the surface of my heart as I have been in prayer for this family. And losses that are decades old feel fresh and brand new.

This post is limited to soliciting prayer for a young couple, David and Rachel Hanson (pictured below at their wedding just a few weeks ago).

Wedding Joy

This couple has now, in just a few short weeks, had their lives unalterably changed by grief. David, a lineman for a company in California, suffered a very serious fall. Reports have varied as to the height of the fall–I have heard 40′ to as high as 60′. He suffered skull fractures and serious fractures to pelvis and other bones. He has also suffered an apparently devastating brain injury.

As I write, members of the family, mostly in Wisconsin, are gathering to be with this injured son/brother and his young wife. I confess I have never met either of these two young people, but I have loved David’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and father as if we were related by blood. One day I will write more about that.

For today, I plead that as you read this post you lift up this family to our great God, the great Physician. The Lover of our souls. I do not know what purpose God has in this tragedy. But I do know that David and Rachel have lived their lives to honor and magnify their Savior, Jesus Christ. Wholly His.

My prayers now are more like groanings. Words fail me as my heart overflows with grief and my eyes repeatedly fill with tears. Please join the over 2500 people who have come together, literally from the ends of the earth, in prayer for this family.

Bring the Rain
by MercyMe

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You
with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty!