Friday, June 17, 2011

Stella's Pre-K Graduation

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Stella's Pre-K Graduation
Stella graduated from Pre-K. She actually had 2 graduation ceremonies - one from her afternoon speech & language program, and the other from her pre-k morning program.

Part of the program involved announcing what each child wanted to be when they grew up, and to be perfectly honest I was a bit nervous as to what Stella would respond. There were 6 graduating pre-k classes, so I was hearing about all of the children who wanted to be doctors, policemen, veterinarians, teachers, mommies, inventors, and nurses. I was trying to guess what I thought Stella would say . . . I was clueless. We haven't really talked about this - I was thinking she would share how she liked pizza or wanted to go swimming. I was preparing for something unexpected. Let me tell you, Stella does NOT disappoint.
"And when Stella grows up she would like to be a . . . MERMAID." Oh yeah, that's right, Stella would like to be a mermaid. I do admit that we have watched the Little Mermaid a few times. We even have the movie: Ariel, The Beginning; but nothing to make me anticipate that answer.
When I heard her response, I honestly was relieved. I looked at my mom in giddy amusement, and laughed til I cried. My daughter, the aspiring mermaid.
In a bizarre way that answer was pure Stella. If the teacher would have responded that Stella wanted to be a nurse or teacher or fireman, I would have thought that Stella was being prompted or even copying a friend's response. Mermaid - pure Stella. I loved it!
Girls, I truly want you to be who God made you - what He created you for - who He intended you to be, and nothing else - nothing less. There can be a big difference between a profession and a calling; a job and a passion. I would be thrilled if you girls were able to follow your calling, and pursue your passion. Sometimes it takes years to figure out our passions, and many times it takes decades to discover our calling; but as we yield our life back over to the one who created it, He has an amazing way of weaving our experiences and interests into something valuable.
Girls, just know that Papi and I (and I'm sure the rest of the family) pray that you allow God to reveal Himself to you, as you begin to discover who you are in Him. And if who you are is a mermaid . . . we are thrilled.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stella finds her Voice

6 months ago you barely spoke, or rather I barely understood. Now, sweet Stella, you love to tell stories and sing songs . . . almost non-stop.
I have to admit that this school year started off a bit rocky with concerned conversations with the teacher on how you would not listen or leave the playground. Days without earning the coveted sticker to show you had stayed on Green Bear behavior. Many time outs for engaging in a chase around the house instead of coming when called. Or disturbing outbursts when you would push or tackle your sisters out of frustration.
6 months later the results are amazing. Every day is a Green Bear sticker day. Weekly progress reports boast of listening, sharing with friends, and answering questions. You have learned the difference of playing chase, and obeying me when I call you. Most sweet to see though is how you have actively taken on the role of big sister.
My heart warms as I watch you play and care for your sisters in a manner that reveals a tenderness, and I cannot begin to tell you how grateful to God I am for you. Between the Pre-K program in the morning and the special Speech/Articulation/Language program in the afternoon, you have found your voice. With that voice you are beginning to find confidence, your sense of humor, the ability to help, and the joy of connecting. I love to hear you sing - which you LOVE to do with almost any song, and I especially enjoy watching your manners emerge. 'May I?', 'Thank you', 'OK', and 'Yes Mommy' have never sounded so good.
Stella, these programs have helped you find your physical voice - the ability to make sounds and connect them to meaning. I am extremely grateful to the teachers and the programs.
Now my prayer . . . for myself, is that I will continue the process of helping you find your voice. God created you with a specific purpose & in a sense, voice. I cannot wait to see the voice that God has given you, and the plans He has for you to utilize your voice. I am honored and humbled have such an amazing opportunity to help you find your voice, encourage you to grow & use it, and help hold you accountable so that it is all to the glory of God. In a bizarre way, as I journey with you in establishing your voice - I am finding mine. Thank you, Stella for helping me to refine and continue to find my voice. Thank You, Jesus, that you have a plan and purpose for us - help us to follow Your voice

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Me Monster - A Lesson in Faith

This morning in church I was reminded that my life is lived within a community of believers. Pastor Ken's sermon was on the journey of faith, and how faith acts as the handle by which we can grip the issues of life. Obedience being the driving force that allows faith to become an ongoing verb.

How does this relate to the community in which I belong? Almost a year ago, Papi and I began to pray about the possibility of going to Italy to help start Young Life. As we began to listen to God, follow the Spirit's guidance, and receive confirmation from respected friends, we decided to begin a journey of faith. Within three months Papi resigned from his job, we put our house up for sale, and I began to divide our things into what stays, what goes, and what is stored. How in the world you girls had accumulated so many stuffed animals was beyond me! I was excited, sad, overwhelmed, focused, nervous, and after a few months wondered if I might need some medication during this process (Papi might have advocated for that as well). I began to filter everything by how it affected ME . . . what ME was giving up . . . what ME had to do in order to make this happen . . . what ME was going to gain . . . the sacrifices ME was making . . . the rewards ME would receive . . . the faith it took ME to embark upon this journey . . . the obedience ME was practicing. So, as the comedian Brian Reagan might say, I became a ME monster.

I admit that I wasn't completely clueless. I was aware that we were asking people to financially support us. I was aware that my mother was welcoming our family of 7 and a dog into her modest 3 bedroom house. I was aware that you girls would change schools, cities, homes, and friends. I was aware that the church Arturo was serving in Dublin would need to find another youth pastor. I was aware, but the awareness of my own sacrifices, feelings, and obedience trumped everything else.

The immediate plan was to raise support and be in Italy by September, and when that plan did not materialize we switched gears to adjusting to live at Grammy's for the school year. Papi began to shoot weddings, I got a part time job, and daily life settled over us.

My faith began to look a bit like the waves of the sea, and some days I rode those waves with joy and other days I felt like I was drowning. My journey of faith was a bit murky, and I was struggling to get out of the inconsistent waves onto solid ground.

Sunday rolls in, and at 8:50 I tell Papi maybe we should try another church with a later service. . . of course this was said while I still laid in bed. Between a 40hr work week from my part time job, the first week of my two masters classes, a few late night interruptions for water (which by the way I pray ends soon), and basic laziness I was not thrilled about scrambling to make it to the 9:30 service. It's amazing what the look of a mother will do, even at 38 years old. So when Grammy came in to see why I wasn't getting ready for church I scrambled out of bed, threw some 'princess' dresses on you girls with Grammy's help, and made it out the door for church.
'The Journey of Faith' was the sermon title. I am glad I do not believe in coincidence. Pastor Ken reminded us of our heritage of faith warriors, taught that obedience is necessary to live by faith, and that our faith journey affects the community of believers.

At this moment, my ME monster took a fatal blow, and my heart warmed to the reminder that I am not alone in this journey of faith. You girls are on this journey with Papi and I, changing homes and accepting with innocence the changes inherent in moving to another country. Grammy is joyfully on this journey of faith with us as she allows her home to be ours, and unfortunately is living through a 'remodeling' process with all of your toys. Girls, Tia Kelly and Tio Frank & Tia Sarah are on this journey with us in many ways. But even more amazing is that our Spiritual family is on this journey with us, supporting us with money, prayers, and encouragement. In the grips of the ME monster I had lost sight of the fact that others are taking steps of faith, and acting in obedience to support us. They are making sacrifices so that they will be able to join us in this journey of faith - the journey that God has called us to walk. I praise God that we are not alone. That God Himself is walking this path with us, and that He has called others to join us so that together we can walk as a community and not as individual ME monsters.

Girls, it was a beautiful reminder of what the body of Christ looks like in action - together we are meant to walk the journey of faith - as one body . . . and I am encouraged and so grateful.