Friday, February 27, 2009

Talkin' 'bout My Girl....

Today is Jess' 25th birthday! On this day, 26 years ago, God answered prayer. Actually, He answered many prayers long before that day. Neither Wally nor I were, shall we say, abounding in social skills or maturity. That we would even find each other is no small miracle. But to then be blessed with a wee one, this was just too much to hope for. All self-deprecation aside, He managed to take the best of each of us and combine them into the wonder of Jessica Kelsey.

Each morning during my pregnancy I would rise early and do some stretching exercises and I would culminate them with a prayer that our child would be healthy, and that he or she would have a kind heart and a gentle spirit. If you know Jess, you know that this prayer was answered in full. But just to remind me that nothing in life is a coincidence, on Jess' final 5th grade report card, her teacher had written several glowing comments at the top, mentioning Jess' leadership skills and telling us how much she appreciated her "very kind heart and gentle spirit". Oh yeah!

Jess made parenting effortless. She was flexible, teachable and eager to please. From day one she was just happy to be with me. When I'd go into her room to get her in the morning, she would be standing in her crib grinning and babbling away. The babbling away hasn't stopped! This girl is articulate and expressive and can tell a story like no one else. Her sense of humor and sarcastic wit will keep you on your toes.
Books were her thing early on!

My girl is beautiful--in and out. Her compassionate heart draws people to her like a magnet and she is always willing to give of her time and herself to aid a friend. She is fiercely loyal and endeavors to see beyond the obvious in people, never hesitating to give the benefit of the doubt.

Poster girl for hats!

She has always had an affinity for children, instinctively knowing how to maintain that difficult balance of "being one of them" without losing the ability to set boundaries and guide and direct them. These innate gifts have made her an ideal teacher as evidenced by the praise she regularly receives from parents who are fortunate enough to have children in her classroom. But Jess never rests on her laurels, she is always striving to learn more and to try new things. She is truly a life-long learner.I delight in her company because she has managed to maintain her child-like sense of wonder and imagination. She is creative and artistic and she inspires me to step out of my comfort zones. She is bright enough to be brilliant, but humble enough to be willing to learn. She sparkles and lights up rooms and has managed to wrap herself around her Dad's and my fingers and to permanently enlarge our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Jess! You are the very best kind of "dreamer"--you truly embrace life and you live out your faith in very real and contagious ways. You really are a princess and we are so proud to call you "daughter"!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

I'm beginning to think I need to switch my knitting focus to spring/summer items and give up on winter. The last time I finished a project, a wool hat, we had a terrible windstorm with very cold temps. But then spring decided to tease us a bit and we've had a couple of weeks of temps in the mid-50's. Warm enough that I decided to plant my sweet pea seeds. Then...I finished this:

An entrelac scarf with Noro's Silk Garden yarn, also another winter item and last night we had this:

And today it's about 26 degrees out and we have about 8" of snow on the ground and the roads are SOLID ice. Getting to work today was just loads of fun. What is it about SUV drivers that makes them think they are invincible? They were spinning out on the freeway right and left, driving too fast, braking too hard and making the conditions for the rest of us very, very difficult. I counted 16 of them in the ditch on my way here. Arrgghhh....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

This unassuming little pot of pansies has been through quite a lot. It's spent the entire winter on my deck and thus has endured multiple heavy snowfalls, weeks of temperatures in the teens, incessant rain and endless heavy morning frosts. And yet, here it is, blooming its little heart out. I am inspired! I see this pot every morning as I stand at the kitchen sink and ponder what may lie ahead for me and my family in the next 6 months. Our state budget is a disaster and cuts to our schools are going to be deep. Jess is only a "provisional" employee. In Oregon, teachers must have 3 years under their belts before they have a "continuing" contract--this is only her 2nd year. So her job will most likely disappear. My job, as well as Wally's, may very likely disappear. We are committed to "not being anxious about anything" and we will endeavor to "give thanks in everything" and by His grace will bloom in spite of our circumstances.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Math in Action

Several years ago I made Jess a quilt from some fabric that had assorted tea cups as its theme. I did some "fussy cutting" to adapt the fabric to a quilt pattern. Tea time is a favorite ritual for her and I thought this would be a fun thing to curl up with as she sipped tea and read her current book pick. Little did I know it would be used in a classroom as an example for a math lesson. How cool is that?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wake Up Call

Winter in the Pacifc Northwest is long and dark....very, very dark. I am just beginning to see a hint of daylight cresting above the horizon in the mornings when I arrive at work at 7 am. Of course this will only last for about 2 weeks because the powers that be have chosen to set our clocks ahead an hour a month earlier than in years past. So when I arrive here at 7 am, it will really only be 6 am and I will be plunged back into darkness yet again. But I'm not bitter...much.

This morning as I got out of my car, I was delighted to hear several birds singing heartily in the stand of trees next to the parking lot! Spring is on its way! But will the time change cause them to rethink their concert? I hope not. It's music to my ears.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary...

No, not ours...Boomers! Everyone in Bellingham knows that February is Boomer's Anniversary sale, all burgers on the menu are only $2.89...all month! Boomers is the last of the "old style" drive-ins left in town and is a treasured Bellingham icon. So Saturday we stopped by for our annual burger/shake deal and then walked it off at Lake Padden. It was a beautiful day, cold but with hints of spring if you were looking for them!

Fungus Among Us

Sun on the water!

Yin and Yang....Up or Down!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Mission Field

Missions Fest Vancouver '09 took place this last weekend. This is a yearly event held at Canada Place which takes place over 3 days and brings together Christians from all corners of the world for the express purpose of informing each other of what amazing and powerful things God is doing around the world. It is a highlight of our year. We spend all day Saturday there, from 7 am until 10pm listening to speakers, attending workshops and visiting the plethora of booths and chatting with the workers who are living out their faith in very practical ways. I always come away with mixed feelings: encouraged by the knowledge that God is truly at work and somewhat discouraged because I want to do more than what my circumstances allow.

The highlights this year were the plenary sessions and seminars of Mark Buchanan, Joseph D'Souza and Marie Ens.

Mr. D'Souza was a passionate, articulate advocate for the Dahlits (the untoucables) of India. It is his goal to "free" this generation of Dahlit children from this entrenched scourge of slavery that has held them in its grip for 3,000 years. No small task, as this involves educating and employing 40% of a population that has never had access to either of these things until now. And it requires a monumental shift in how India's people view their creation. They are taught that God creates people according to a caste system into which one is born and from which one can never escape. Join me in praying for him, for them and for India.

Marie Ens was nothing short of delightful. At 74 she has returned to Cambodia where she and her husband served for 40 years until his early death. At 65 her missions agency asked her to retire, which she did. But she decided to return to Cambodia on her own because she felt God was not done with her yet. She now oversees an orphanage which cares for and educates the millions of children who are abandoned or rescued from sexual slavery. She is often referred to as the "Mother Teresa of Cambodia." Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious.

And Mark Buchanan painted a very different picture of China than what we viewed during the Olympics in Bejing. Every culture has its dark side, and China is no exception. Because of their "one child" mandate, their country has a huge population of men who will never find a mate. Orphanages are full of abandoned children who receive little or no care. The needs are overwhelming.

I am convicted. I live a life of ease and comfort and like most Americans, I have imagined my "retirement" would fit the common mold of living out my remaining years puttering about. I'm rethinking this view and wondering if God could use me somewhere else. I can hold and comfort and love babies. There are lots and lots of them all around the world desperately needing these very things. Although our resources won't go very far in this country, we could easily live in other countries on the small retirement income we will have. We shall see what transpires. All He asks for is a willing heart!