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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Home is where you are.

I was thinking about the different places people live and how at times we judge someone based on where they live.

I currently live in a planned community with a Homeowner's Association (HOA) and convenient access to the freeway. Where I would like to live is in a Mediterranean-style home with an inside courtyard in a quiet neighborhood with mature plants and clean, whispering air. Palm trees would be wonderful. We've had many opportunities to move but feel there is more "work" to be done where we are.

Driving home recently from an appointment, I got the impression once again there is more work to be done in the place where we live. I have no clue what work, but God has planted me here for some purpose to reach some person and do some thing.

The culture I live in seems obsessed with stories of people who change their lives dramatically by use of force or will or ingenuity. These are commendable feats, of course, because they give a glimmer of the capabilities of the human whole. But we sometimes compare any other type of effort to be flawed or weak or lesser than. Yes, there is something to be said for making things happen in your life. But there is also a power in releasing all control to heed the plan of the God who has the eagle's view.

A few years ago, my preschool-aged foster son was invited to a birthday party. The Saturday morning of the party came and we drove to a part of town I hadn't spent much time in before then. I looked for the address, driving up and down the street, confused by the commercial zone. And then we came upon a broken house. It was old and run-down, the roof, yard, walls, doors, garage, everything seemed in great disrepair.

"Someone lives here??" I thought. Or maybe I actually said it aloud.

The house number matched the one on the invitation so I pulled up the gravel driveway. My boy and I walked up to the door, me still wondering if truly this was the place. I was greeted by a very happy dad and the house was decorated in dinosaur-theme paper. Sho-nuff.

This was a very happy family, with a very happy celebration for their son's birthday. I stayed the whole time and did my best to avoid staring at the cracked walls. I remember the dining room had been converted into a bedroom; I had to walk through it to find the bathroom. I marveled at this rundown home in the middle of a city that was known for beautiful neighborhoods. I had never driven through this area and noticed this old house before.

Why did the family live here? How does a family end up here?

Partway through the party, I remembered that because of my son's "foster child" status, he was attending a pre-school normally attended by children in poverty. I suddenly felt like I had to stay undercover so as not to embarrass anyone. Of course, I didn't have to, but I suddenly felt like I did not belong there and didn't want anyone to discover that. I wondered how many of the other kids present lived in homes similar to this one.

Interestingly, I know there are people who feel a similar sense of confusion and sympathy about where I live, finding something about it undesirable: its proximity to shopping and the interstate, its small lots, its community bylaws and policies. But I know it is where my husband and I were called to move and it is where we still feel called to serve. We certainly are not the only ones who get these types promptings, but I forget that sometimes. The family in the old cracked house likely had a similar personal experience to move to a place in the middle of a commercial zone.

About a month ago, I drove through that area on my way home from a restaurant. The house had been demolished and cleared off that space of land. I wonder where the family went and if they are now in a better position. Of course, that is my ego speaking. They are wherever it is that God has work for them to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Having a Ball

I had pulled out the camera because my girls looked so cute
and they were playing well together.

This is what happened the moment I pushed the button on the camera.


Crying followed soon after.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Trees

Eight years ago, when I bought the house I currently live in, I carefully selected the tree I wanted to plant in the backyard: a Clump Maple Amur. I chose it because of the random multiple trunks that sprout from the base and its ability to thrive in the dry area where we live. I had the landscaper plant it in the back corner of our lot where I could enjoy a perfect view of it from either of our kitchen windows. That tree made me feel so happy as its many branches rose up and curved over like a tidal wave.

Fast forward a couple years and a few neighbor move-ins and move-outs and our tree was not looking so good. One night, as I was preparing dinner, I looked out the kitchen sink window and realized that our new neighbor's sprinklers had been on for a long time. About an hour after they finally shut off, they came on again!

I noticed this the following night and the following night and the night after that. His sprinklers came on for 45 minutes TWICE a day watering the 6-foot wide segment of lawn separating his yard from our tree! Do you know what happens to a drought-resistant tree that sits in a pool of water for weeks? It drowns. I mentioned this to my husband but, ultimately, neither of us said anything to our neighbor about it. We were recovering from a heart-wrenching family loss and neither of us had the mental energy to do much of anything else. We just hoped that one summer of extreme over-watering would not hurt our tree.

We were wrong. The tree died. The following summer, in the corner of the backyard where there used to be a happy, cascading tree stood the curved skeleton of my clump maple amur. I was sad.

The following summer, after the well-intentioned over-watering neighbor had moved away, there appeared a little weak green branch from the root ball, but all the main branches remained bare. And so it was for a couple years. I could not bear to remove the tree; I held hope that somehow the larger stems would be revived. Every so often, my husband and I talked about what to do with the little dead tree, but the conversation always ended with no resolution.

This year, in the early part of Spring, I found the main stem of the tree lying on the ground. I guessed aloud that some neighborhood kid must have broken it. My husband responded, "No, it's just dead. It broke from the wind last night." My stomach felt a sad ache. We would have to soon decide what to do with that tree I had so carefully chosen years earlier and likely be treeless for some time.

Today, when I was checking out the vegetable garden with my little daughters, I noticed the tree had a bunch of little branches with green leaves. I looked at the larger stems, still dead and curving; I snapped their ends and, as expected, found them completely dry. It did not take any effort to completely break off the entire branches from the base of the tree. What was left surprised me.

The spindly branch from years ago was a little thicker, and without the dead branches looming overhead, the plant actually looked like a healthy, albeit young, tree. Here was a tree making a comeback and its efforts were being overlooked because I kept focusing on what "had been" or "should have been." I was so accustomed to mourning my old curving tree that I hadn't noticed a perfectly good upright tree growing right in the middle of all those dead branches. Only after stripping away what was no longer needed could I see what was becoming.

My thoughts immediately remembered a message a former networking associate shared on her Facebook wall  yesterday: To uplevel your life, relationships, and business, it may require you to strip everything away then put back ONLY the things that match where you are going, not where you've been.

I was not allowing my joy of backyard nature to grow a level because I kept focusing on the skeleton branches of what my tree had been. Thank goodness God initiated the stripping away earlier in the season with a swift wind because it set a precedence for me today to take down the other had-beens.

And it leaves me thinking... What other dead branches in my life need removing so I can delight in the new trees sprouting all around?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Expo Giveaway: Locals Only!


I've always preferred markers over chalk but have settled for crayons and colored pencils for my daughter because of the obvious potential damage when you mix kids and ink. But guess what? Expo has come out with washable dry erase markers!

Expo sent me a box filled with supplies which I was going to use to host a Pictionary party and bar-b-que, but wouldn't you know it, my husband will be out of town during the party date. So, lucky friends, I'm giving these away! I've been giving them away at my kid's party, at afternoon playgroup, and I still have 5 of these packs left!

Each pack contains:
~ a package of broad tip markers
~ a package of bullet tip markers
~ a dry erase board eraser
~ a 9"x12" double-sided dry erase board (one side blank, the other lined)

Sorry, this giveaway is for locals only so I can drop the pack off to you ASAP or so you can come pick one up from me.

If you want one, leave me a comment and promise me that when you receive this kit, you will email me a photo of you and/or your kids using the markers so I can show Expo that I did not just hoard these cool markers for myself!

If you already received a pack from me, send me a photo too! Email photos by Sunday, June 12 to adhisblog @ gmail. com!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brevity

All of my blog posts seem too long. I have some topics I'd like to post about but brevity is nowhere in sight. I know how short blog-reading attention spans are. But then again, I started this blog to post my own ramblings to myself. You guys just happened to trip over my verbose journal.

Huh. OK.

But still, I am noticing I can just go on and on and on and-

Oops.

So, yeah.