Friday, December 24, 2010

dinner nativity

This will be our first Christmas with the four of us at home. Israel is at a really fun age where expectation can be built and meaningful things understood. Eden also is demonstrating that she understands stories and gets excited over simple things. It's fun times around the holidays.

I feel this great freedom in being home to start our own traditions and to focus on Jesus during this time (all things about it not being his actual birthday aside). We didn't do as well as I would have liked with Advent this year, but I love the whole season of waiting for Jesus' light to come into the world. And now is the time to celebrate that light. But how to communicate that to the kids? I wanted to have a special meal with them, but I don't think great adult food communicates a celebration to a 1 and 3 year old. I searched the internet for ideas for a way to tell the Christmas Story through a dinner. There wasn't anything. So we made up our own. There were good ideas given to be over facebook, too, but I didn't have the ingredients on hand for those. So we made do with what we had, and I think it turned out well. We made the different foods, set them out on the table, and put them on plates as we told the story. So here is the story of the nativity as told through a candlelit dinner.

One night, a long time ago, in a land across the ocean, a star appeared in the sky. It was a bright star. (Let's paint our star really bright.)
Do you know what the star was telling people?
- Stars don't talk, mom.
You're right. Do you know why the star was there? Someone was born. Who was born?
- A Savior.
And what does a Savior do?
- Rescues the people.
That's right!

That same time, there were shepherds out in the fields, watching their sheep. Let's make our field.... And suddenly an angel came to the field! And the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you! Our Savior has been born in a stable. You'll find him lying on some hay in a manger." And then a whole bunch of angels (putting them all on the field...) came and started singing and celebrating!

The shepherds ran off and sure enough, there was the manger. Who was in the manger?
- Baby Jesus!
Right! Here's some hay for a manger and can you put baby Jesus on the hay? There! The shepherds went to go see baby Jesus!

Of course, Eden had already been eating the heads off the angels and had eaten baby Jesus too, and kept asking where baby Jesus went. The obvious answer: Jesus is inside you! :)

If you want to know what the various things on the plate are, aside from their symbolism, here's the role call:

The part of the star was played by your favorite crab or tuna cake recipe, formed in a star cookie cutter and carefully fried. It was made to shine by a mustard, mayo, yogurt sauce.

The field was played by sauteed green beans and the angels were played by potato slices, cut, salted, and sprinkled with pepper, paprika, or coriander.

The hay was played by chopped apples mixed with honey and a little vinegar and cinnamon.

Baby Jesus was played by two marshmallows and a golden raisin on a toothpick with melted chocolate dots for eyes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

on stuffed animals

This morning I had the kids come "snuggle" with me in bed. (A morning "snuggle" is what I call it when the kids come crawl all over me with no regard for which part of me is lying under that part of the covers.) Eden had my old teddy bear. She hugged him for a minute and then grabbed his front paws. "Look at your hans! Say, 'Ta-da!'" and she made him throw his hands up in the air. (As far as he could, anyway.) She repeated the process for his feet. She made me "nug-guh" her Pig-pig and then traded and had me "nug-guh" my old bear.

Israel entered the room with his "Ellie." (Ellie is a stuffed animal formerly known as Cookie Monster.) These days, she sports a cloth diaper and infant pajamas, which look really funny hanging off her stubby limbs. He went back to his room and returned with a rabbit and then started to go get some more.
"That's enough stuffed animals," I said.
Israel got visibly upset. "But...Ellie is not a stuffed animal!"
He came up into the bed with the stuffed animal and I told him I needed a hug this morning. Usually, it merits the best 3-year-old squeeze a mom could ask for...and a kiss on the cheek, too. This morning, I was presented with Ellie's wide-open black felt mouth and outstretched arms (which are default for her). I told Israel her hugs just aren't as good.

At bedtime, Israel piled all his stuffed animals on his pillow in a semi-circle around his head. He made sure a choice few of them were covered up and looked around at them all before settling among them under the covers himself. Eden had her favorite "Pig-pig" and a rotation of other special animals. It's anyone's guess which one she really wants on any particular trip to bed, but once it's found, she lays it beside her and is perfectly ready for sleep. Of course, blankets are part of the ritual here, too. For Eden it means knowing whether she wants to be covered up or not. For Israel, it's always the same: sheet, baby quilt, favorite fuzzy blue blanket on top. These things have become such habits they remind me of the way a dog circles before laying down or a cat kneads her bedding before laying down.

This morning, Israel would not stop asking me about it until I told him that Barker Bear is STILL my favorite stuffed animal. In a 3-year old's world, everyone has to have a favorite stuffed animal, I guess. Having something you take care of must be a way of letting people know you'll do your best to take care of them, too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

7th anniversary trip

This weekend, thanks to the generosity of family and friends, Pat and I were able to get away to our "yearly" camping trip. (I say "yearly" because it has not happened since the kids were born.) For our anniversary, our favorite thing to do is to spend a night camping in Red River Gorge.

This was our first time being just the two of us without our kids. (Yes, we also left them in the capable care of my parents a couple weeks ago, but that was to go to a conference with thousands of people and we shared a hotel room with friends of ours. Not the same.) I was looking forward to being out in the woods -- my favorite woods -- with just me, Pat, God, and the trees. We spent the first night in a cabin, since we arrived after dark. It was a perfect little cabin with no electricity or running water, but a gas stove we could turn on to keep warm. It was glorious waking up in the woods the next morning! I even liked the little outhouse!

~waking up in the woods~

We spent the next day finding a camp site, since ours was taken. Pat kept reminding me that it's not "ours," but I still say it is. It can be a lot of other people's, too, as it obviously was this weekend, but it's still ours. We found a new, nice camp site and went on a new trail, and they were both just fine. But they weren't our favorite camp site and our favorite trail. Pat kept feeling anxious about always doing the same thing every year, and I was curious, too, since the forest is large and there are many trails through it. But after trying the new, we went back to the old favorite trail (Rough Trail, west of 715, for those familiar with the area) the next morning. It's kind of nice to be affirmed in your belief that you had already found the best..for both of us, I think.

I am not sure what I expected from the weekend. We prayed when we got there, inviting God into the time and we tried to listen for Him all weekend. I may have expected to hear something new from Him. I often feel I hear His voice in the rustling of many leaves. But I didn't hear the new direction for the next year of our marriage or anything like that. We read through some of the note cards we received on our wedding day (maybe we even read yours...). We re-read our vows to each other. We talked through some of the bests and worsts of the last seven years. We recounted lives ended and lives begun. We spent time silently being together and listening in some of our favorite places. We listened to music that has been meaningful to us over the years. It was nice.

~where we read our vows~

But I didn't hear anything life-changing. There are things we hope to do better going forward, of course, but nothing crazy. What was apparent, though, in reading cards from people and our vows, is that we're still about the things we've always been about. On the day I first read the cards or first wrote the vows, I may have imagined the life's work referenced in them to happen with that group there rather than this group here or in that way rather than in this way, but it's amazing and comforting that, with all that has changed (neighborhood, church, kids, friends, culture, etc.) there is so much that hasn't changed (working with kids, opening our home to others, being concerned with being good neighbors, and having our life's mission being about reconciliation, which was the theme for our wedding).

So often I feel like I have become merely the things I do. I don't know if it's the work that we do, the fact that we have young kids, or just human nature, but so often I get caught up in "I do this," and "I do that," that I forget that I am a person apart from those things. And Pat is a person apart from the things he does. This weekend, remembering all the things and people we love, we could just be ourselves apart from having to do anything. (And this is even to the point of setting aside the "having" to remember or document to share later!) It was good to be able to get away from responsibilities to just be ourselves, apart from the things we do, with which we too easily identify. It was good to find that we are still the same people we've known and still on the track God apparently had in mind from the foundation of our marriage.

We count ourselves blessed by God's faithfulness and your friendship, for some of you stood with us on that day seven years ago and others of you we had not even imagined! We are glad to be in this together.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

doughnuts, giants, and wind: a 3 theology

Israel: "I just wanted Daddy to pray and tell Jesus that I said, 'Thank you for the doughnuts,' because Jesus is good. ...and when he's not good, then he might fight."
Me: "Jesus is always good."
Israel: "Well, when Jesus is not good, then he just might turn into a giant."
Me: "Jesus doesn't turn into a giant."
Israel: "Well, there are giants. And there are giants in the Bible. And once, Jesus was in the boat and there was a storm and it went...BOOM! And Jesus was asleep. And the guys went to Jesus and said, 'Wake up, Jesus! Tell the wind to stop!' And Jesus went and told the wind to stop and the wind stopped."

It's all in there somewhere.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The last 9 months

This post is mostly for Grandparents, but you are welcome to it. It's a repeat of a post-style I did in January, which is the life of my kids as captured by my facebook posts. It was prompted by one of those days parents have when they feel like their children' childhoods are slipping right through their fingers. Enjoy as much or as little of it as you want! (And please excuse the font issues; I have fixed it and fixed it and saved and re-saved the changes, but they keep being jacked up!)

Sept. 4, 2010 This morning, Pat let Israel help him make our own crushed red pepper. Before he washed his hands, Israel picked his nose. It's a fun morning.

Sept. 3, 2010 Eden finished drinking her milk, handed me the cup, saying urgently, "ah duh coffee, more pease, waduh ice in!"

Sept. 2, 2010 Israel, pretending, looks up at me and asks, "Hey, horse! Do you want to eat this field?" And he KEEPS repeating to Eden: "Hey, must be tired. I read you a story. Now it's time to go to sleep. Hey, horse..." I don't think Eden is a very compliant horse. ‎"Hey, horse, it's nice and cozy up here...."

Sept. 1, 2010 Israel, out of the blue: "It's sorta buggy outside, so we might want to watch Sesame Teet." He likes experimenting with conditionals.

Aug. 31, 2010 Today, an older lady in Aldi complimented me over and over about how well-behaved my children were! I'll take that over "cute" any day! So cool to have someone else affirm your kiddos!

Aug. 30, 2010 Israel has more stamina learning his letters when he's "teaching" them to a stuffed animal.

I recommend the walking path at Heekin for preschooler biking adventures.

Aug. 29, 2010
Eden, singing: "Now I know my ABCs. ABCD,XYZ."
Israel: "You cannot sing that because you do not know how it goes."
Eden: " [some word] WANT to sing A,B,C!"
Israel: "But, you do not know how it goes!"
Eden, singing: "A,B,C,D, Now I know A,B,C. A,B,C!"

Aug. 27, 2010 Eden is crying in bed and I heard Israel say, in his best impersonation of his mother, "I don't want to hear it!"

Aug. 27, 2010
Eden: "Hey, Mom! Cacka gums!" Me: "Cracker gums?" Eden: "Yeah." Me: "What's that?" Eden: "Um...beans! Look a dat!"

Had fun with the kids at their first trip to the dentist. Israel LOVED it!

Eden handed me her empty cereal bowl and said, "More, please." Then she lightly pushed on my arm and said, "Later! Bye!"

Aug. 26, 2010 Tonight, Israel seemed to be experiencing growing pains in his leg and said of Pat's kiss: "It didn't work." It's a sad night in the McCrory house.

Aug. 25, 2010
Israel: "I do have more reasons."

Aug. 23, 2010 I put Eden in her crib and she says, "Kisses." So I give her a kiss. "Thanks," she says. As I leave the room, I hear Israel trying to sing "This little light of mine" to Pat. "It just gets too hard for me," he says, "and I can't remember it." This continues to be a week when I'm amazed how fast my kids are growing up.

My kids did a great job at the library today! They were so well-behaved I had to tell you about it. They cleaned up after themselves, said "please" and "thank you," and shared with each other. It's nice when they act like you've taught them to. I know it doesn't always happen, but it's SO NICE when it does!

Aug. 22, 2010 Eden is going around the house pointing out everything. "Yook at dat kidd-uh cat!" and then she pointed to the box of cereal: "bay-suh ban!" This morning comes the sudden realization that she's saying a lot more than I expect/understand to be words most of the time. and, "Ee yike ih song!" Me: "Do you like that song?" Eden: "Yeah."

Aug. 21, 2010 Me: "Israel, you are SOOO cute! Who made you so cute?" Israel: "Daddy." (big smile and giggle)

Aug. 19, 2010
Israel just asked Eden if she would babysit his "Ellie" (cookie monster doll).
This morning, my mom and I were discussing Israel's crazy ability to dribble milk off his bottom lip.
Me: "I think he has my lips." [Israel smiles.] "Yeah, when he smiles, he barely has a top lip. Must be my lips."
Israel: (in silly voice) "I don't have your lip!"
Me: "Well, whose lips do you have?"
Israel: "I have MY l...ips! YOU have YOUR lips!"

Aug. 18, 2010 Eden got so mad in the bathtub tonight, she made herself puke. Oh, Eden.

Aug. 16, 2010 "I realized that I cannot sleep when there are shadows in my room." -Israel
The real kicker is that there ARE NO SHADOWS IN HIS ROOM. There were sometimes, but there are not.

Aug. 14, 2010 "Tinkle tah ow I watuh we are. Abuh da kie...." Name that song as sung by Eden McCrory.

Aug. 12, 2010 Mommy's sentence of the week: "I didn't ask you what you WANTED to do, I told you what to do." Israel's sentences of the week: "But, but, but I was just..." (or its cousin: "But, but, I don't WANT to...") and "Mom! Sorry for disobeyin'!" It's the beginning of another stage, I guess.

Yeah, Israel has also started "reasoning." "If I do that, I will get a pankin'. If I don't do that, then I WON'T get a pankin'? If YOU do that, then I will give YOU a pankin'." We are still working out the bugs. Today, he said he was "pretending" when he said he would spank me (for doing something with my food at the table?) If it weren't about disobedience, these conversations would be pretty funny. Let's not get our kids together for awhile. It could be dangerous! :)

Israel is attempting to free-style these days.

Aug. 9, 2010 Favorite Israel moment of the weekend
My mom: "Israel, do you want to say the blessing?
Iz: "Blessing."
My mom: "Do you want to say the prayer?"
Iz: "Prayer."
Me: "Israel, do you want to pray?"
Iz: "Jesus, thank you for the food. Aaay-MEN."

Aug. 8, 2010
paid a visit to my sister-in-law's kindergarten room this evening with Israel. Her room was the most fun-looking there, but Israel was mostly impressed with the potties that were "just his size!"

Aug. 6, 2010
were finally able to take the kids with us to Raven Run today! Israel LOVES hiking!

Aug. 4, 2010
We were found outside at Minnetrista when the thunderstorm suddenly hit. Yea for an unforgettable moment!

Aug. 3, 2010
Eden is throwing her obligatory fit about our horrible cooking.

Israel, out of the blue during dinner: "Mom, you're married. Where is your weddin'?"
- We were married before you were born. [pointing] There are pictures of our wedding.
"That was your weddin'? I like your weddin'."
- Thanks. We do, too.
"I like your dress. And I like you, too. And, Daddy, I like you, too!"

Aug. 2, 2010 The kids sit on the counter while I make chocolate chip cookies. Before each ingredient, Israel asks, "Can I pour it?" After each mix, he asks about the beaters: "Can I lick it?" It's easy to make a kid happy.

"Mom? Can we have cookies now?"
-Not yet, but I like your enthusiasm.
"I like YOUR tu-tsie-stats!"

Jul. 31, 2010 The kids had a great time with the Jones kids. I could not believe how quiet it was with 4 under 3 in our house! Yeah for good kids, books, and play dough!

Making playdough for my kids took about 5 minutes and made me feel like super-mom. Happy rainy Saturday to us!

Jul. 29, 2010 I'm in an epic struggle with a 1-year-old over 1/8 of a green bean. ‎45 minutes after is started, the battle ended...and we both won! WHEW!

Jul, 26, 2010 Israel asked to see the GAP mailer that came in and started "reading" it to Eden at dinner. "It, it, it makes you fee bettuh, it gives you a feeling in your heart...." Ummm...?

Israel and Eden are playing together in a cardboard house and pretending it's raining inside, holding their hands up to catch it. Days like this, I'm glad they're so close in age!

Jul. 25, 2010 When I finished getting Eden dressed, she stood up, looked in the mirror, and said, "I coot!"

Jul, 24, 2010
Why was Papaw a firemen?
-You'll have to ask him.
I will have to ass kim?
-Yes, you will have to ask him.
[visibly upset] But, but, I thought you said I have to ask Papaw!

Jul. 23, 2010
Israel is learning to set the table. I can tell him to go in the kitchen and get a fork for "Me, you, and Daddy," and he goes by himself, gets the right number of forks, and puts them in the right spot! I'm amazed and surprised! I can't figure out why that's possible since he can't reliably count objects yet. I mean, he can count to 12, but can't always count, say, four fish or whatever. I'm a little puzzled.

Proof that kids can remember more than we expect them to: Israel came up to me out of the blue carrying the green goggles I last saw this winter and said, "Mommy, are these the snowman's eyes?" And they were!

Jul. 22, 2010
After reading "Where the Wild Things Are..."
"But why didn't he want to stay with the wild tings?"
"Because he wanted to go home where his mommy loved him and made good things to eat."
"But why she make good tings to eat?"
"Because she's a mommy."
"But...YOU make good tings to eat!"
"Why, thank you, Israel."
"You make good tings to (broccoli)! Bockee is a good ting to eat!"

Jul, 21, 2010
I walk in the bathroom to check on Israel, who had just finished going potty like a big boy and found Eden standing facing the toilet, shirt pulled up, pulling her stomach out.

This morning, Israel was talking to an imaginary person and they were shooting off "fireworks." After lunch, I asked him if he could flap his wings like a bird and he smiled at me and said, "I don't have any wings." I guess someone bumped his imagination switch.

Warning to all parents of 1-year olds: Suddenly, your one year old will be approaching 1-1/2 and I don't care what they tell you...s/he will turn into a tantrum-throwing toddler right before your eyes! Just when you think you know a person! Geez! :)

I had a lady in the store yesterday tell me she was impressed with how "alert" Eden was. It's a great compliment for and INFANT.... What on earth will people do when I'm insisting that she "use her words" and tell her she "knows better?"

Jul. 20, 2010 After Israel incorrectly corrected my song lyrics, I said, "Goodnight, Mr. Argumentative." Israel said, "No, I not argumentative, I'm just Izzo."

Jul. 17, 2010
Okay. The ride home summarized. Adult: "Look at the mountains!"
I -Deeja, do YOU like the mountains?
-Yes, I like the mountains.
I -She said, "Yes, I like the mountains." ...Daddy, do YOU like the mountains?
I -He said, "Yes." ...Eden, do YOU like the mountains?
- ...YEAH!
I -She said, "Yeah." Papaw, do YOU like the mountains?
- No. (Being ornery.)
I -Huh?
- No.
I -Huh?
- No.
I- Huh?

Eden kept interrupting saying (far less understandably) "Ee, MOUNTAIN! Look! LOOK! LOOOOK! (Adult: "What is it, Eden?" Ee, MOUNTAIN!"

Conversation with my kid:
Iz - Why you say we made it?
Because we buckled up in time.
(Repeat many times.)
Iz- Why you buckle up?
Because you told me to.
Iz- Why did I tell you to?
I don't know. Ask yourself.
Iz- Izoo, why... Mom, why I tell you to?
Ask yourself.
Iz- I can't do that

Israel: "We goin' tuh to see the fwans right now. They are veey boo-fuhl!"

Jul. 10, 2010 Israel, with stickers all the way up his arm: "I'm Mike and I'm havin' a hard time. Mom, can you help me because I'm Mike?"

Jul. 8, 2010 Tonight, we prayed and thanked Jesus for the rain. Me: "Israel, is there anything else you want to thank Jesus for?" Israel: "ME! [squeezes eyes closed and assumes slightly quieter tone] Jesus, thank you for me. A-MEN!"

Me: "Israel, go find the cup of water you brought in the house." Israel: "Mom, I've looked and looked and looked for my cup of water all day and I can't find it."

Israel: "Do you want some lunch?"
Eden: "Yeah!"
Israel: "Well, Mommy's making us some lunch. Do you like quesedillas?"
Eden: "Yeah."
Israel: "Do you like va-ca-tion?"
Eden: "Yeah!"
Israel: "Well, we have to get ready to go on va-ca-tion!"

Jul. 3, 2010
famee date night!

Jul. 2, 2010 Israel now dresses himself, gets himself glasses of water, and buckles himself in his car seat. Where'd that baby go?

Jul. 1, 2010 I left the dining room to get a towel and return to Israel chewing my cereal and saying, "Mommy, I like it when you share wit' me!"

Jun. 30, 2010
Israel: "When I get little, I can have TWO birthdays."
Me: "When you get older, you'll have 1 birthday. Everyone gets 1 birthday a year."
Israel: "I have TWO reasons for 2 birthdays!"
Me: " What are they?"
Israel: "I CAN have 2 birthdays. That my reason for I can have more cakes!

Jun. 29, 2010 I
love it when my son asks me to cover up his stuffed animal, too.

Jun. 28, 2010 At Eden's check-up today, the nurse asked, "Can she let you know what she wants without crying?" Eden has at least a 100 word vocabulary, but I still almost said, "No."

Jun. 24, 2010
My children just came hopping through the house on all fours saying, "Ribbit! ribbit!" Let the joint pretending begin!

Jun. 23, 2010
Actual conversation I just had:
Me: "Israel, go potty."
Israel: "Mom, I just want to cry."
Me: "Well, you can go to your room and cry after you go potty."
Has anyone else ever used crying as an incentive to obey?!?!
He just actually took me up on my offer because he wanted to. "I'm sad." "Do you want to go be alone for awhile and cry?" "Yeah." ???

was wrestling in the floor with Israel. He "bit my leg." I started demanding to have my leg given back, so he took his time to make a big spit bubble and tried to "put it back." HA! Eww...

Jun. 22, 2010 Israel is getting freckles.

Jun. 20, 2010 We have all taken our first turns going down the (pretty stinkin' fast) slide!

Jun. 19, 2010
I load the dishwasher. Eden starts to unload it.
Me: "No, no, Eden." [puts the item back]
Eden takes it out again.
Me: "Eden, no, NO." [puts it back again]
Eden takes it out again.
Me: "Eden, NO."
Eden hands it up to me. "Yah weh-cuh. Yah weh-cuh!"

Jun. 17, 2010
Israel to Eden: "Judah and Nomi comin' to your house!"
Eden: "Huh?"
Israel: "Judah and Nomi are comin' to your house!"
Eden: "Huh?"
Israel: "Judah and Nomi are comin' to your house!"
Eden: "Huh?"
Israel: "Judah and Nomi are comin' to your house!"
Eden: [starts crying]
Israel: "No, YAY!"

Israel comes out of his room: "Hi. I'm Mike. ...Do you want to sing while I pay the dums?"
I sang with him. He kept a really consistent beat, too! It was one cool version of the ABC song.

Jun. 15, 2010 Israel: "What do we do with the hard rain?"
Me: "We stay out of it."
Israel: "We tell it to go away?"
Me: "No, it's good for the plants to help them grow."
Israel: "That nice of the rain."

Jun. 10, 2010 Israel and Eden are running back and forth from the front door to the back door. Israel: "One, two, tee, GO!" Eden: "Tsee, tsee, GO!"

Jun. 9, 2010 Israel and I were counting. I said, "One...." Eden said, "Two!" Israel and I counted to nine and Eden said, "Ten!" Now she is saying, "2,1,2,1,2,1, 6!"

I love the sound of my children reading books out loud to themselves.

Jun. 7, 2010 Israel: "Eden, it's not a 'weese,' it's a 'fing!'"

Jun. 6, 2010
Israel: "Where does Jesus live?" Me: (buying some time....) "Where do you think Jesus lives?" Israel: "Conner Prairie."
What would YOU say? In your heart? In heaven? Everywhere? I opted for "kind of everywhere..." at which point Israel became afraid of Jesus because he thought he must be a giant and called him a "bad guy." (Did I mention we read about David and Goliath and Jack and the Beanstalk?) Geez! I have some bad theology to undo in the morning! :)

Jun. 5, 2010 Israel last night: "Mom, I have fingernails." Israel this morning: "When I have boogers in MY nose, they are...yucky!"

Jun. 4, 2010 Funny thing Israel said today: "We did see horses and cows! It was piddy cool. It poop."

Jun. 2, 2010
Apparently, Eden wants her new hobby to be climbing on top of the dining room table.

Jun, 1, 2010
Kudos to Kim the Aldi lady for telling the other concerned parents that Eden has NEVER acted like that in the grocery store and then helping me carry my larger-than-usual load of groceries out to the car. It was a rough trip, but Kim ROCKS!

May 31, 2010
My kids have been swinging in our back yard!!!!

May 29, 2010 We're setting the last posts in for the swingset! Tomorrow we SWING! (Israel's already asking where the slide is. Again, he is just like his mom.)

May 28, 2010
Israel just told me, speaking of the shredded toilet paper I told him he cannot have, "I will be disappointed in you if you take it from me."

11:42When prompted to say, "Sorry," (a word she can both sign and say) Eden immediately starts to throw a fit. (If she does not say it, she also immediately returns to the wrong she was doing.) This seems like a heart issue. With Israel, the battle is over once he says the right thing as well, but I don't remember how we go...t there. Anyone successfully taught this to their kid?

11:51: She is still in time out. If I tell her I love her and want to play, but that she needs to say sorry, she says "Pay!" and when I say, "But you need to say "sorry," she puts her hand over her eyes, turns her head away, and then starts crying. Oh, the stubbornness!
12:04: ...and...Israel just busted his lip while playing a game with me. He's so tough. HE'S OFFERING HER HIS ICE, saying, "It'll make you feel better!"
12:32: I settled for "Out, please," because it was lunch time. Hope something was learned....

May 27, 2010 Israel just put his shirt on by himself for one of the first times and said, smiling, "I'm poud of me!"

Israel just ate about .50 worth of chapstick. Can you tell I'm on a budget?

May 25, 2010
At the end of a prayer time that went, "Israel, do you know who made x?" "Jesus! Thank you, Jesus, for making x..." Israel suddenly piped up with his own realization: "And Jesus made ME!' [squints eyes closed and smiles big.] "Jesus, thank you for making ME!" I hope he is always that grateful for the life Jesus gives him.

he kids picked a bunch of strawberries from my neighbors garden. YUM!

May 22, 2010 Burris playground = Disney World to a toddler

May 21, 2010 Sophie (our dog) eats the food Eden leaves behind; Eden eats the food Sophie leaves behind....

Parent's confessional: Mistake of the week #1: Saying, "Obey the first time," on the 3rd time. Mistake of the week #2: Israel said, "Are you feekin' kiddin' me?"

Well, that one is mostly his dad, but I'm not innocent in the matter. It gets muttered under our breath when going to deal with Israel doing something frustrating. Israel said it when I told him to go get his shoes, so it wasn't very funny at the end of Defiance Week.

May 18, 2010 Eden just said, very clearly, "Walk! Sie! (outside) Ribwer! (river)" I wonder what she wants to do?

Israel (out of nowhere at lunch): "I want to be a professor!"

Israel has said (awhile back) that he wanted to be a firetruck. HA! He usually says he wants to be a fireman, though. He has also said he wanted to be a dinosaur when he grows up. We're encouraging professor. :)
Brenda Miller added: That's funny, when I was reading him the Richard Scarry book on Monday, he pointed at the picture of the professor and said that's what I want to I said you want to be a professor when you grow up?

May 16, 2010 This week, Israel became afraid of the shadows in his room. Tonight, it's the tree shadow on the curtain.

May 10, 2010
We made it to Kentucky. I still can't talk, but Israel managed to fill in the silence for me. When we pulled up in front of my parents' house, you would've thought he was at Disneyworld (or the Sesame street equivalent). "Yay! We at DEEJA'S house!"

Having no voice makes disciplining a 2-year-old pretty difficult and strange.

Brandon wrote: I think it's high time that you develop a glare like mom had when we were little. A glare followed by a fingernail pinch on the back of the arm...
Pat's cousin, Jennifer, wrote: Give him the "eye".
I wrote: Brandon and Jennifer, I TOTALLY just did that after employing other means. You know what happened? He LAUGHED at me! Oh, Pat should be home soon...Pat should be home soon....

May 7, 2010 My kids are going to be foodies! Of the deglace, Israel said, "I like to dip in it. It make me pretty happy." Of the ribeye, Eden said, "More! Meema!" They each had seconds of the perfectly soft gala apples, the green beans with garlic, and the parsley mashed potatoes. Tonight, we ate like kings and queens!

Yesterday, we found out Eden broke 18 lbs.

May 6, 2010 Eden insists on saying, "Hi, Daddy." when she sees me. (Yes, she can and does say "Mommy," too.)

May 5, 2010
Israel has had 3 dry nap times WITHOUT PULL-UPS...IN A ROW!!!

May 3, 2010
Me: "Israel, are you tough?" Israel: "No." Pat: "Israel, are you humble?" Israel: "Yes."

May 1, 2010 Pat and Israel McCrory will now attempt to make a BLT pizza.

I used to work with a man who would cuss out God every time he didn't like the weather. Yesterday, my son screamed, angrily, "WIND! STOP IT, WIND!"

April 28, 2010 Israel had a LONG prayer tonight. He'd pray, say amen, and then say, "I can pray for another person." The last "person" he wanted to pray for was me to go on the elevator. (Where?!) I told him he could thank God for elevators that make him happy, but he didn't need to pray for me to go on the elevator. So he prayed, "H...elp ME to go on the elevator and not be afraid and push the buttons to go up and down. A-MEN!"

We often sing the Johnny Appleseed song with Israel before bed. It ends with "Amen!" (pronounced "ah-men" here). Israel ALWAYS says, "On the bus!" I always just thought it was b/c he wanted the wheels on the bus song (another favorite) to come next. Tonight, I asked him why he says that. He said, "because the men on the bus!"

April 26, 2010 Israel has a new phrase from today that took me forever to figure out. Let's see if you can guess it: "Fing-uh-pah-kuh." (Answer: Swing your partner!)

Once again, Israel finished his lunch and started running laps around the table, saying, "Sophie! Underwear!" ...Why???

April 25, 2010 Israel's throwing a fit about having to put his shoe on by himself (which he's been required to do all week). Lezlie's response: "Dry it up and put it on." Pat's response: "I'm not going to be here your whole life to buckle your shoes." Yup. We are parents.

April 23, 2010
Me, tucking Israel in for his nap: "Israel, are you my snuggle bug?" Israel: "No, I-I-I-I'm not a nug bug. I'm not a bug. I'm just Izzo."

April 20, 2010 The other day, Israel sang, "Head, shoulders, knees, and toes...nipples!" It got a laugh from me and Pat. Now Israel randomly yells, "NIPPLES!" during any song.

April 19, 2010 While getting dressed, Eden said, "" so I started singing "Jesus Loves me," and she insterted some of the right words at the right time! She is 13 months old and I think this is AMAZING!

April 16, 2010 We had a great time being hosted this evening. What a treat to be served dinner...and dessert! Israel (who refused to talk upon entering the house) left saying, "I love you!" and blowing kisses. Eden left with berries on her shirt.

April 15, 2010 Israel said, "When I'm a man, I will shave. I will have hair on my cheek when I get older and I will sleep up there (top bunk)."

April 14, 2010
I can tell Israel to go use the bathroom and change his underwear...and it HAPPENS! It's the small things....

Explanation #1: "Because you could break things and hurt people."

April 13, 2010 Today, Eden started saying "thank you" (DEE-doo!) when she receives something instead of when she hands something to you.

April 12, 2010
I'm hunkered down on the couch. Israel: "Can I come pay for gzou?" Me: "Absolutely." Israel: [squinting his eyes, which is funny since I rarely close mine...] "Jesus, pease help Mommy to fee bedduh. ...Jesus, pease give Mommy some money. A-men!"

April 11, 2010 Israel (spontaneously): "Every day of my life, I. Will. Bless. duh. Lord. For He's...gooooood!"

April 9, 2010 Can YOU explain to me why Israel is running laps around the dining room table, saying, "Sophie! Underweeeeaaaar!"

Eden does not like strawberries. But she does like an egg and cheese burrito with sour cream and Taco Bell's fire sauce.

April 8, 2010 Israel was talking about who has babies in their bellies again tonight with the following conclusion: "I want to be a baby so I can come out of Daddy's belly!" Hmmm....

April 4, 2010
When I was putting Israel to bed, he told me two things: 1.) I don't have to go to sleep right now. 2.) I need to vacuum.

April 3, 2010 Telling Israel about the crucifixion: "The people fought Jesus, but Jesus didn't fight back. We want to be like Jesus." Israel: "He fight forwards?"

April 2, 2010
Israel is actually skilled at helping water the plants in my neighbor's greenhouse. Eden just likes to stand on her toes to look in and watch.

April 1, 2010
I just put Eden in the same dress she wore LAST year.

March 29, 2010 Eden, at her 1-year check-up, weighed in at a whopping 17.25 pounds. (3rd percentile.) What a girl!

March 26, 2010
Israel is eating lunch with his backpack on, asking, "We gonna go to Deeja's house soon?"

March 25, 2010 Our friend is in labor this morning! Israel: She have a baby in her belly? Me: Her baby is coming out of her belly. Israel: She gonna jump? She gonna hop out?

March 24, 2010 I just prayed for Eden and after I finished, she said, "Amen."

March 22, 2010 I think my daughter may undermine the doctrine that it is not for humans to bear offspring better than themselves.

Israel is listening to Mozart and screaming, "Everybody clap your hands in the air!" He's so eclectic.

March 20, 2010 Best event of the picnic: Israel sees our friend's dog run into the river and says something about "fimming." Pat turns around to find Israel, pants and underware at his ankles, saying, "Can you take off my shoe, Daddy?"

March 19, 2010
On our first visit to the White River this year, Eden learned to say "river," "rock," "duck," and "stick."

March 18, 2010 I just put on my logicola t-shirt and Israel said, "Mom, you just look so cool!" "I love you, Israel." "I love you, too, Mom."

March 16, 2010
Events of the day: 1.) I only gave Eden one longer nap. 2.) That meant we could spend the morning at the new Heekin park playground. 3.) Totally unrelated, Eden took a head-over-heels tumble down our concrete steps. Horrifying. Worst fall ever. 4.) She's still amazingly happy, if scuffed up.
She cried a bit over this. Her head is scraped a bit and will definitely be bruised from the outside corner of her right eye to well past her hair line. :( She got ice and tylenol and didn't act like it bothered her past that. I'm curious if it'll be worse tomorrow. [still feeling bad about it]

March 15, 2010 Israel just walked past me, said, "Bye, Mom. See ya!" and blew me a kiss on his way out of the room. He promptly returned and said, "You can come with me."

March 13, 2010
Israel: (with no antecedent, and very matter-of-fact): "I'm just very angry because I'm very sick...because I'm sad...." Me: "You're mad because you're very sick and you're sad?" Israel: "Yeah. I'm very angry because...because...I'm just very disappointed." Come again?!

Israel bowls a 72, which is almost as good as me.

March 12, 2010 I've realized one of my parenting lines is, "Stop making my job hard."

March 11, 2010 We're returning from the largest children's museum in the world. Eden says, "wuh, wuh... ts.ts.ts." about the trains.

March 11, 2009, I was looking into the eyes of my newborn baby girl. March 11, 2010, I take out the camera at breakfast and she says, "cheese!"

March 10, 2010 I spread out the home-made compost in the garden using my bare hands because it felt so wonderful. Eden also thought the dirt felt wonderful and Israel didn't let it get in his way. Pictures to follow; laundry first.

March 8, 2010 Israel just told "the Aldi lady" on the way out, "I love you. Peace out!"

March 7, 2010
And so Israel's Mulberry Street live basketball network begins.

This morning, Eden prefers Israel's Super Grover and he prefers changing her baby doll's "poopy" diaper.

March 6, 2010 I crammed Eden's feet into my favorite shoes for the last time. Bummer. (She might have to go shoeless tomorrow. I had no idea she was almost out of these shoes!)

had Eden's first birthday party today! (But I'm holding onto her not being 1 until Thursday.)

March 3, 2010 "Israel, what are you doing?" "Nuffin." "Israel, what are you doing?" "Nuffin. ...I, I, I just was diggin' in my butt, but...I'm alright."

As I was putting egg rolls in the oven, Israel said, "Mommy, you gonna make me very happy." "How?" "Because you gonna make me happy with LUNCH!" (I guess he REALLY likes egg rolls.)

March 2, 2010 Eden now says, "ba" for ball and is trying to figure out how to throw one. Dropping it or pushing on it without letting go is as close as she gets today.

March 1, 2010 Eden has been SO high-maintenence today. I'd been checking fo signs of teeth and thought, "Maybe some are coming in up top." Then, suddenly, her next bottom tooth appeared this evening.

11:30 dance party in our kitchen

Feb. 27, 2010 This afternoon, Eden was able to correctly point out a moon in one of her books. Tonight, I asked Eden to find a truck on a page in another book. While she wasn't able to do that, she did respond by saying, "Vroooooom!"

One kid down, one kid up. Other kid down, other kid up. Today's naptime = fail.

Feb. 26, 2010 I forgot to tell you that Eden said her first SENTENCE yesterday. Two word while talking on the phone: "Hi, Baby!"

Israel last night: "Mom, I don't need any kisses. ...Mom, kiss this cheek. [Done.] Mom, I need two kisses. [Done.] I need two kisses on the other cheek. [Done...] I need a LOT of kisses!" [I kiss all over his face. He smiles even bigger.] "I don't need ANY kisses." [He wipes all over his face, smiling.]

Feb. 25, 2010 Eden now says, "Dance! Dance!" (Okay, it's more like, "Di! Di!" but she "dances" while doing it or claps and so I know what it is.)

Feb. 22, 2010 Pat just gave Israel a wedgie. And I'm telling.

I know I've posted too much today, but Eden's sporting some pigtails! I'll have to post pictures.

Kiddo snapshot 1.) Israel got a spanking and a stern talking-to about why we don't put things in the plug-ins. I asked, "Do you understand?" He said, "Yes," and gave me a voluntary hug and kiss.

Kiddo snapshot 2.) Eden spent 10 minutes throwing a fit rather than using words to get down from lunch. (Did I mention she now says, "All done!"?) Once she calmed down, I got her out and she wrapped both arms around me, laid her head on my shoulder, and patted my back.

Israel is sitting at the piano saying, "1, 2, 3! Why you sad, Baby? Why you sad, Baby? Why you saaaaaad, Baby?" I guess he likes coming up with his own blues songs.

Feb. 20, 2010 We spent the day with Deeja and Papaw and returned home to find our snowman knocked over...again.

Feb. 17, 2010 Israel discovered two things upon returning home. He was excited about the "bicycles" hanging from the house. He cried when he saw some kid ran up and kicked over the snowman.

I am the mother of two toddlers.

Having a 2 year old clean his own room is MUCH harder than cleaning it yourself.

I know it may be gross, but I like burrowing my face into my son's cheek when it still smells like his morning-breath drool.

Feb. 15, 2010 I just told Israel to say, "Yes, please," and he said, "Yes, sir." I never use the word "sir."

Feb. 14, 2010 While I was talking on the phone, Eden picked up a hand-held game, put it on her head, and kept saying, "Hi!"

Okay. Two posts for Israel lovers. Post #1: As I was getting out of the shower, I hear a voice coming from the register in the bathroom. It said, "Israel, did you really drop your drumstick in here?" I heard some scratching, and then, "It's gone, man. It's for real gone. It's not coming back."
Post #2: I came out of the bedroom wearing a long sweater and Pat and I were joking about how all I really needed to put on were some leggings or tights. Israel said, "Mommy, you need to put some pants on. Put some pants on, Mommy."

Feb. 12, 2010 Israel's first time bowling = success

leaving Eden in her baggy pajamas and tousled hair because I like it.

I think taking away books for the day is a strange punishment, but I hope it'll be effective.

Feb. 10, 2010 Israel just asked me if I have a penis. And so the discussion begins. I hope I can keep it at, "So I can't pee standing up!" for many, MANY years. R
ight now it's the same way he's asking everything else: "Mom, do YOU have coffee?" "Mom, do YOU have a lot of food?" "Mom, do YOU have a penis?"

Okay, today Eden started imitating Israel's "smile," by shutting her eyes tight and smiling and independently said the word, "baby" while looking at a book of baby faces. I'm pretty sure I'll never have to directly teach this child anything.

Feb. 8, 2010 Last night, Israel woke up crying 5 times. (That's the last time we'll EVER keep him up so late.) Today, I told him that if he didn't finish eating his apples, he would have to go straight to bed without playing. He then started asking if he could go straight to bed.

just received the first Eden-initiated open-mouthed kiss on the cheek.

Feb. 6, 2010 We just returned from sledding down the McCullough hill. It was a first for both kids and a second for me.

I love this snow! Yesterday brought the beginning of a snow fort, a snowman, snow cream, a warm bowl of chili, and hot chocolate made with milk on the stove.

Feb. 5, 2010 Accident #2 today. I'm trying hard not o be too annoyed, but I think I'm not going to offer fluids for 48 hours.

Pat put Israel's old socks on inside-out last night in the dark. Today, Israel examined his socks: "This my new sock. [rubs the fuzzy, inside-out bottom] It, feel. It very 'pecial."

Feb. 4, 2010 Returning from Bracken Library to make a quick lunch, Israel opens the pantry and says, "I have a good idea. We could have some-uh dat...and some-uh dat...and...some-uh dat."

Feb. 3, 2010
Today, all that potty training mess and frustration feel well worth it. I'd do it again.

Feb. 1, 2010 Eden McCrory demonstrates two of her most recent accomplishments: walking and saying her version of the English word, "dog."

Jan. 31, 2010 Eden just walked from the dining room table almost all the way to the corner chair! (That's a good 10-15 steps for those of you who don't know our house.) Israel is stacking alphabet blocks 10 blocks high.

Jan. 30, 2010
Pat: "Do you like my shoes?" (old-school Converse) Israel: "Yeah. They're cool!"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer break! (?)

This summer was FULL!

...(How full was it?)

The summer began with Pat working at In and Out Cleaning, our friend Jake's business, where he had worked for the last several years. But we've been feeling more and more that we need to clear as much time as possible for working with our church and neighborhood -- even taking that on as our primary job. So Pat worked as little as possible there this summer, though he has enjoyed the job working with the men employed there and the friendships that were formed during that time. But, as I said, it was time for a new season in life and we began being paid for the equivalent of one day a week working with Urban Light as youth leaders. And the kids were out of school for the summer so that meant...SUMMER PROGRAMMING! What to do with all this time in our schedule and ours? Well....

We collaborated with Leslie Draper, who has also been working with kids and youth programming in our church and came up with a game plan of activities the kids could earn tickets to do. This would require time helping the kids earn the tickets as well as rewarding them for the tickets they earned. We wanted to be sure the kids kept growing over the summer -- spiritually and academically as well as taller! The main event for earning tickets was a Tuesday reading time. We had collected a small library of books for the kids to read, so we partnered up and read with the kids for an hour and a half each week, including time for a healthy snack. (I have realized providing fresh fruits and veggies -- something lacking in schools and refrigerators around here -- is a passion of mine. I like the challenge of trying to introduce these foods to kids old enough to have established habits to the contrary.) The reading program was a great success; many kids got some good reading time with an adult. It makes me wish we could continue on through the school year to help the kids get closer to reading on-level. Hmm....

With the tickets the kids earned from reading, memorization, and helping out in the community, they got to go on some pretty cool trips. Leslie took some kids to the science center in Fort Wayne. Pat took some kids on a fishing trip. There were LOTS of fish caught out on our friend's private stocked pond. I stayed home with the kids, but it was apparently a beautiful day. We also all had a camp-out with lots of the kids, grades K-12. It was a lot of fun and not a lot of sleep. It was classic, with a camp fire, marshmallow roast, and a scavenger hunt that took the kids through an old cemetery at the back of the property. Israel and Eden went along for that trip, and it was both insane and cool (now that I've slept since then...) having so many kids I love all together camping out. We had to push a trip to Chicago into the school year, so there's more fun ahead for us!

Of course, if you've followed our lives for very long, you know that
we have a huge block party every summer in our neighborhood. We're partnering more and more with our sister church across Madison Street,
Deliverance Temple. This year, youth from both churches came together to paint the official block party sign. We think it turned out just great! Here we are, all lined up on our front porch at work.
At the block party, I did the cake walk and Pat did the basketball tournament, just like every other year. I remember the first year, when we had no idea what to expect from the party. Would people even come? What if people who hate each other show up at the same time? But now the block party comes complete with traditions and growing help from others in the community. People in our neighborhood ask about it and it is truly a source of neighborhood pride!

Pat also took on a "one day a week" job with a program called LACES. We love the mission and vision of LACES! The idea is to have a couple administrators oversee and disciple a group of coaches -- people from our neighborhoods -- who will then form teams of kids in their neighborhood to coach and disciple. We love the idea of it being neighborhood and relationship-based, as that is the best way we've found to really make a difference in the lives of young people. (I know we're not the first ones to find this out!) The program was started over in Liberia and this was its pilot year here in the U.S. Pat and our friend
George (that's him speaking at the end-of-season banquet over there) put in a lot of hours working out bugs and getting the community involved this year. It was a LOT of work and we are relived that it is over for the year, but we are also excited for what will be able to happen with LACES next summer now that all this groundwork has been laid.

Our sister church also invited our youth to join in their step class. A few of our girls have been able to attend and I've been introduced to a new form of art/exercise! We will be able to participate in their youth service tomorrow. It's an adventure learning how to marry two churches when usually these days are about churches splitting. We're happy for the invitation!

We were glad to be able to spend so much time with the the youth this summer. They truly are an inspiration to know. I know they push me to be a better person every day. We're now moving these relationships into the school year. We're tutoring two particular girls (not the girls in this picture, though I LOVE my time with them, too!) every day this year. I am excited for the challenge of working discipleship in with homework and academic exercise. We're beginning a new season of youth group and watching more and more of the little boys and girls we knew grow up and move toward and through high school! We have so many hopes for them. We want them to do well in school. We want them to be able to make wise decisions. We want them to make and meet goals for themselves and to be successful in whatever they do. And I know Jesus cares about those things. But mostly we want them to each have their own relationship with Jesus that stands whether we're part of it or not. Here's to having learned a lot over the summer and to continuing to learn and grow together through this next school year!

urban light video

I have been trying to figure out how to share anything about our life right now. Summer was so crazy and we are relieved to be settling into the school year! Summer was full of good things keeping us busy, though, and I'll have to catch you up. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share this video about our church with you. It'll give you an idea what we're up to here in Muncie. We are so grateful to be part of this group of people! If you want more information about anything you see here or want to know how you can help us in our work, let us know! We are happy to share!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

another post-bedtime conversation

Israel is, as of this week, afraid of the shadows that our neighbor's motion-sensitive light cast through a tree onto his wall. We've talked over and over it. Shadows can't hurt you. Shadows are just different colors. Shadows can't touch you. Look! You can make YOUR shadow, too! Here's MY shadow. There's the tree making the shadow. It's STEVE'S tree, so it's okay. It's Steve's light, so it's okay. Once it helped to have the dog sleep with him. Once.

Israel stutters a lot, but I'll omit most of that. Suffice it to say his end of the conversation took a lot longer for him to say than it will take for you to read it. We'll just pick up in the middle of the action here....

"But I'm afraid of the shadows."
"Israel, there are things in life that are worth being afraid of. But shadows are not worth being afraid of. They can't hurt you."
"But I am afraid of the shadows."
"Well, you're just going to have to find courage to deal with that, then."
(I should mention here that the light that makes the shadows on Israel's wall was not even on this evening and I had demonstrated that, in fact, there were no shadows on the wall.)
"But...I jus' want to cye because I want somepin'."
"What do you want?"
"I jus' want somepin' to make me feel better."
"Well, you have Jesus to help you feel better and me and Daddy and your bear and your blanket...and Eden is in here with you, so you're not alone."
"But I want to cye because I want somepin' to make me feel better."
"Well, what would make you feel better?"
"A cow would make me feel better."
"A cow would make you feel better?"
"Well, you can pretend there is a big cow in your room, then."
"But, but, but...there ARE no cows in my room...they're just in the barn. Maybe I can have a BUNCH of cows to make me feel better."
"Well, then, you can pretend there are a bunch of cows in your room."
"And maybe horses make me feel better, too. They live in the barn."
"Think about cows and horses, then, and go to sleep. Good night!"

Of course, now he was up again, 15 minutes later, and eventually prayed, "Jesus, can you help me not be afaid of the tees?" Then he added, "And the cows help me feel better, too...!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"it was a beautiful day"

I had planned for Sunday to be a day about real beauty. I'd been studying the materials put out by Dove (the company that makes the soaps) and had planned a "Real Beauty" workshop for the girls in our church and women who volunteered to serve as their mentors for the day. But I had no idea exactly how much real beauty was in store for me for the day.

I was in and out of the church service while I made preparations for the workshop, but I think I was able to witness some of the best parts about it. When I came in the gym where we meet, I saw we were welcoming two new members into the Family. At a time when I have been studying about absent fathers and the missing roles of men in our culture, I saw a group of faithful men gathered around, praying for a brother. It was enough to make me think about tearing up. I also saw the birth mom of my friends' daughter praying with her new-found family in Christ. How amazing to see a child sitting with every kind of parent she has as they become family in an even more real and meaningful way! I'm not a gifted enough writer to tell you how beautiful and unlikely and perfect it was. I need a metaphor.
By this time, I was feeling a bit bombarded by beauty. It was time for communion and Pat was having to hold one boy back from rushing forward first. "And a child will lead them," I thought. "But don't beat me there. I don't want you reaching the goal before I do. I want you to stay on here after I'm gone to keep it going." The thought of some of the kids we work with being the ones we will depend upon to lead us forward often scares me, but not that day. Sunday, anything seemed possible. My thoughts were interrupted by one of the girls I love coming up to me at the start of communion. "Do you want to commune with me?" ABSOLUTELY! I was greeted by two other girls I love who spontaneously wanted to hug me (a first!) and we all went forward to share in the Lord's Supper. I love this practicing for the meal we'll all share together at the Lord's table once we're all done with this rehearsing.

For now, I am happy with the rehearsing. Like I said, it's almost too much for me. I don't think my frail body could stand up to the force of the real thing. Already I go dumb and nearly mute at the sight of the foreshadowing. I'll need a stronger space-suit. For the time being, though, it was off to another rehearsal. So I set up another table and looked over my notes to make sure it was all right. We waited for the girls to come. We wondered if they would actually come after all the home visits made and the personal invitations and the support of moms. Most of them show up, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was saddened by the ones who didn't. I text, I call, I send scouts looking the streets for them. Some just don't make it. We go on and it was...beautiful. I was able to witness women affirming girls for their particular, real beauty. We celebrated our families -- both blood and spiritual -- and the beauty we get from both. Moms wrote letters to their daughters about why they are beautiful, which is its own kind of beauty. My hope for the day was that the girls would know they are loved in their community for who they are and they would be encouraged to be exactly that. I felt incredibly blessed for the help of so many women who are interested in pursuing that same goal for joining me in making food, planning activities, and making visits to the girls' houses. And I felt truly blessed by the girls who agreed that spending an afternoon together would be fun! It was a lot of work that had a great pay-off. (Let me know if you're interested in learning more about this. All the Dove materials are FREE!)

I returned home to find that my neighbor had volunteered more of his time and effort and initiative to build a sandbox for my kids. They were happily playing in it when I walked in the back yard. I joined them and we were quickly joined by two 6th grade girls. It was some of the most leisurely, not stressful time I've spent with kids from the neighborhood in a long time! We played outside in the sand until dinner, when there came a sudden thunderstorm and apparently also a tornado somewhere here on the southside of town. Our little family was mostly bewildered by the siren and looking out the windows to see what in the world was happening. (We'll know better next time.) The storm was brief and followed immediately by a bright double-rainbow! We ran outside to stare into the sky. It was almost too much. I called friends. "Go look to the eastern sky!"

Before I moved to this neighborhood, I'm pretty sure I could count on one hand the number of rainbows I had seen. But it seems we see a good 2-3 a year here -- big ones that stretch over the whole sky! Of course, biblically the rainbow is a beautiful sign of promise. And we need signs of promise here -- big, unmistakable ones that cover over our whole neighborhood and run through entire 24 hours blocks of time. We need them and we get them, I think, because there are also so many storms around for everyone to see. We need reminded that the storms are a brief part of bringing the promise. Days like this keep me going from promise to reality, cherishing the pictures of future things in the beauty of the current things. I'm not the only one calling my friends. New, bewildered faces join the group of us here looking toward the eastern sky, astounded by the beauty around and above and coming.