Thursday, June 26, 2008

June bugs

(This post is basically a glorified picture-fest, so hang on for the ride!)

June has been a month of outdoor fun for the whole McCrory family. (Even Katya has taken to frequenting the front porch with us.) Pat has enjoyed grilling out (I think...) and Israel is cleaning our front porch with his knees several times a week (and we don't even have to pay him!). One of the most beautiful outdoor times have been the meals we've eaten on Thursday evenings in the best backyard in Muncie (not ours...). We've had that time to hang out with some of the Muncie Alliance interns, which is great, since we don't get to do that as often as we used to. Pictured here is Beka, who has been one of Israel's babysitters. I think he likes her. Adam (with the dreds) and Pat enjoyed some good conversation about all kinds of creative ideas about life. Lisa (in the black and white) has been a wonderful host and provided us with an assortment of quiches and fresh fruits and veggies. These evenings have been laid back and wonderful. The dog plays, Israel explores (sometimes more than we want him to) and we get to enjoy some good company and take in all kinds of beauty. Who could ask for more?

Our garden is in full swing as well. We have had a time with the peas, which the rabbits seem to love, but most of the other things are growing well, including the weeds. We don't get out there as often as we'd like sometimes, but when we do, Pat and Israel and Sophie run around a whole lot. Israel thinks being chased by the dog while in his dad's arms is hilarious. While he doesn't seem to like pulling weeds very much, you can tell he likes being outside by the amount of dirt he brings home with him from these ventures. More often then not, an evening in the garden also means a bed-time bath. And more often than not, a bedtime bath means a funny hairdo to sleep on. This was one of the best.

Israel had another first this month: camping. It wasn't our usual out in the woods, five hours from home camping, but it was nice. We paid a visit to Josh and Michelle and baby Heron. They graciously provided us with all the materials we forgot at home and we slept in the yard where they live on the Lett property in Eaton. (If you were at our wedding, we camped out right about where the tent was for our reception.) I was admittedly apprehensive about the idea, but really wanted to give it a shot to see if we could handle something a little more adventurous later in the year. It went REALLY well! Israel could not have enjoyed himself more and was quite fascinated by the tent. All four of us (that's Pat, me, Israel, and Sophie) slept all night in the tent with no problems other than forgetting our pillows! We cooked over a fire, roasted marsh- mallows after Israel went to bed, and had an indoor pancake breakfast the next morning with Michelle and Heron. It felt like an overnight vacation! Thanks, guys!

In case you can't tell, Israel is growing and growing. We will have his nine month doctor's visit tomorrow to find out just how much! He seems to have temporarily lost interest in walking, as he can crawl and pull himself up in order to get just about anywhere he wants to go. He can wave bye-bye (and say it, too...) when he feels like it, which is most often during meal-time. I don't know why. He likes crawling all over the dog and anyone else lying on the floor. He likes to feed himself now (which makes things both easier and more difficult at the same time). The video below is of when he first started to do it; he's nearly a pro now. His favorite food is currently tofu and he seems to like Pat's lentil-burger recipe quite a bit, even if his mom doesn't like the "end result." He seems to be getting between two and four new teeth. He tries to imitate consonant sounds a lot and gives zerberts when you least expect it. He laughs at strangers as long as they don't try to hold him and is a pretty fun guy to be around if you have the energy to keep up! Here are some peeks at Israel doing the things he does the best.

Monday, June 16, 2008

After the rain

Last night, at about 9:00, we were getting ready to put Israel to bed. The weather had been calm all day, but then, as has happened a couple other times recently, a storm came up. Without warning. The wind started blowing fiercely. Pat and I put Israel in his playpen and rushed around outside in what had become a crazy dust storm to bring in hanging and potted plants and to take down the basketball goal so the rim doesn't get bent further by another fall into the street. While we were running about, another limb fell out of our tree. A little girl's trike blew down the street. The lattice holding back our neighbor's raspberry bushes snapped in two. The rain started and we were safe inside. We put Israel to bed and turned on the TV to see what was going on with the weather. These days, I feel like a tornado could descend on my house at any moment. No tornado this night, though. And the storm passed in a matter of minutes.

We would not have even noticed it, except that the storm was replaced by a bright, orange glow. Pat led the way outside again. It was still raining and you could hear thunder in the distance, but the sky was the most beautiful and strange I have ever seen. On the west, the entire sky was bright orange -- not your traditional sunset. The whole thing was orange. And it was after 9:00 pm. The light penetrated everything. Neighbors came outside to see the light show. We turned and looked east to see a double rainbow that took up that entire half of the sky. I can't recall ever seeing a rainbow like that. We called neighbors and friends to spread the word that something amazing was taking place. A couple of the people we called let us know that they felt very loved by us because we would call them to make sure they didn't miss out on such a thing.

We stood and watched the sky for a long time. I took all kinds of pictures (none of which really did it any justice) and jumped in puddles and decided to let the rain make my hair look funny. We climbed upstairs and bent over to look out our little windows at it. We pushed our way onto the little overhang on our roof to try to get a clearer look. The rainbow evaporated in the time it took for me to dial one more phone number. The sky remained beautiful. Clouds became visible where the orange glow had been and were lit pink and purple by a strip of still-orange glow beneath. It was purely magical. I leaned over the railing to get a couple more shots to remember the evening by. Such pure joy after such a terrible storm. We were still talking about it as we went to sleep. Pat said he thought that sort of a sky spoke about the beauty that takes place when God's light shines into the stormy places.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been able to visit Trever and Lauren's house. If you don't know them, you may remember from our previous post that they just gave birth to their daughter who died the same day. While I have not yet spoken with them at length, I have interacted with them enough to know that some miracle is being worked on their behalf. They say that they have been given so much peace that, at times, they feel like they should be more sad. Within a week of being home, Lauren was already talking about ideas for how to console and encourage those of us looking to have more children (some sooner than others) so that we would know we need not fear this sort of a thing. Regardless of what happens, she wants us to know God grants peace beyond comprehension. They have been so concerned for everyone else in this process that it is humbling just to know them. I am sometimes afraid to go near them because they are in the middle of something so profound I feel like all I can do is trample it, but they welcome my blundering company. (Just a couple days ago, I all but barged into their house seeking refuge from a mangy old stray dog who wanted to befriend Sophie on our walk. They could not have been more gracious and understanding.) In the middle of this mess, I have been witness to peace and faith and joy and love and perseverance and community and hope that are nothing short of miraculous and that are absolutely beautiful.

The Lord is faithful, beautiful, and strange. He brings beauty from the ugliest of things. Such pure joy after such a terrible storm.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Papa Pia!

Okay, maybe it's not good Italian, but that's how the saying used to go around my house. At risk of being merely a copy cat, I thought I'd put a post up here about my son's father and my husband, Pat. I think letting everyone know what a great dad Pat is is at least as good as a card and maybe better than me just saying so.

I was asked to speak in church today for Father's Day. I was stumped for a bit, because all I could think about was what makes Pat a good dad, which isn't the sort of thing you get up and say as a tribute to all the dads in the room. Besides that, I realized that not everyone in the room would be a good dad in the ways Pat is (not that they are not praiseworthy in their own ways in some cases or beyond redemption in others...). So, while it left me at a quandry as to what to say for father's day to everyone, I became quite thankful that Pat is my husband and the father of my child.

As many of you know, Pat came to Christ out of addiction. And God filled the selfish place that had been in his heart with the gift of service. That is the first thing I thought about Pat being a great dad: he is such a servant. Pat serves Israel and me as well as a host of others and he does not consider himself above doing so in the most mundane of ways. He is the one who changes the majority of poopy diapers around here. (Or at least he does the preliminary cleaning of most of them, since we use cloth. Yuck!) Pat is not one of those dads who wants to come home and be fed and only engage his child when it's convenient. Even now, Pat is in the living room loving Israel and me by taking care of him while he is sick -- rubbing Israel's back as Israel sleeps on his chest. Last night, Pat was right there, consoling and caring for Israel when he woke up screaming with a fever. I suppose one of us alone could've done the trick in getting Israel into a bath at 1:30am, but we all were there together. In the evenings, it's not uncommon for me to find Pat covered in Israel drool and Israel covered in dirt. Pat is not put-off by Israel's spitting-up and will enter into just about any mess with Israel. He's kind of like Jesus like that.

Pat also is a wonderful husband. And that in no means can be separated from his being a wonderful dad. He is kind and helpful to me and respectful of me and he cares about my needs. I know there are many, many families where this could not be said, but if Israel grows up to be someone's husband in the way his father is, we all will be proud.

And that's what I talked about in church. I talked about imitating. Israel already tries to imitate the noises his dad makes; he likes to try to beat-box with him. And fathers are there to be imitated. Boys should be able to grow up to be like their dads and that should be a wonderful thing. Jesus was always doing "only what he saw his Father doing." Earthling fathers are to do no less. And then, if things go according to plan, when their children imitate them, they will find themselves looking to their heavenly Father as well.

This morning, I read the section in Philippians about how we are to imitate Christ's humility, which Pat does this in so many small ways. In the passage, it talks about how Jesus took on human-ness and, more than that, he took on a humble human situation and died a humiliating death. At the end, it says that because of Jesus stooping to the lowest of lows, he is given the highest praise. Both the stooping down and the being lifted up are to the glory of God. So I know it is to God's glory that Pat stoops to things like poopy diapers and dirty dishes now. I know there will be many more trying things ahead, but I look forward to the day when Pat will be praised from the mouth of his child for the father he is, to the glory of God.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When it rains

It's been raining here the last couple of days. Pat is happy about how good it will be for the garden. We hope the plants will all be taller when it dries up and perhaps new soybeans will have sprouted.

It's been raining in all kinds of ways lately.

Our dear friend, Michelle, lost her father this past month. Two weeks later, we celebrated their coming baby with her and Josh and all kinds of friends. This past Friday night, we met their daughter, Heron, for the first time. It was a joyous occasion and I was amazed at this tiny little life and how she is healing the fresh wound of Michelle losing her father. We are dumbfounded at God's mysterious work in this situation.

Our friends Jason and Andrea, who have been hoping to adopt a little girl for several years now finally received word last weekend that they will be parents to the little girl they have longed for this September! We are all rejoicing with them, as we all have been waiting for this little girl together. God has definitely been faithful to them and to us all by bringing them through this process.

Pat's mom came in for a visit and it was wonderful to see her. We usually see her only once a year or so and this time she was able to stay with us at our house for the weekend. There were several nights of staying up late and discussing all kinds of things. There was time spent with brothers and sisters and coming to understand more fully each other's hard times. Things have been particularly disappointing with Pat's youngest brother and events culminated in his going to jail on Sunday night. We are saddened for his little son and the choices that, though not his, will affect his life for years to come. We pray and we don't know what to pray anymore.

We gathered yesterday with our brothers and sisters and sang about God's peace "when sorrows, like sea billows roll." Our community lost a precious life this weekend. Katie Joy was born to Trever and Lauren on Saturday night/Sunday morning and passed away fifteen hours later on Sunday afternoon. We have all been fearfully and hopefully anticipating her arrival and knew that, from her first breath, there would be a battle between life and death. She had many health complications, but ultimately her little lungs just weren't developed enough even to sustain her on life support. She drifted off peacefully in her parents' arms Sunday afternoon after being enjoyed by friends and family for a little while. We all are very near tears at any given moment over this loss, but we grieve as those who still possess hope and know that, for Katie, her life is pure joy, as her name means. Yesterday, we stood with Trever and Lauren as they buried their daughter. Today, we celebrate the anniversary of their marriage with them and the strength God has obviously bestowed upon their union as they worship him in these awful circumstances. No one understands. But we know and trust the one in charge and we don't need to understand.

There are so many thoughts and so few words to really tell of them all. This rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn at the same time over so many things is...well...a place where words fall short. I feel honored to be involved in both the rejoicing and the grieving. Our life and our God are complicated; trusting him is the simplest thing to do.

We hope to find all kinds of new growth whenever the rain lets up.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

lions and tigers and...

This Saturday, we went to the zoo with Pat's mom and some of the extended family. It was a great time. We thought some of you might enjoy pictures of our time there.

Grandma Terri with our nephew, Ethan, and his sister, Sophie. And the bear.

Sophie and the rhino.

Pat and Israel in the African plains in the middle of Indy.

Lezlie and the bear. (Photo taken by our nephew, Dillon.)

Dillon and Pat and the giraffes, which Pat says are the strangest of animals.

Israel. This could have been him with the elephants, the lions, the zebras, or any number of other animals. He took a great nap, which was needed since we were at the zoo for six hours!

Dilllon and the emu, which actually came even closer at some point.

Yes! The walrus! This is by far the best exhibit at the zoo and you'll see why in the video that follows. Israel loved the walrus. (That's Israel standing in the middle of the picture; he is not in the video.) The exhibit was perfect for him. I can't help but wonder what he thought the walrus was...a strange, floating, ugly man with weird teeth?