Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Part of the Family

Dear Red Ford Aerostar,
You served us well for many years. You put up with us even when we didn't treat you well. We covered your seats in crumbs, and vomit, and garbage, and dirt, and tree sap, but you never even complained. You just served with a humble attitude and kept persevering.

Oh the miles we covered with you. Road trips to the beach, Southern California, and the most memorable trip to the Grand Canyon

You provided a place for us to rest and also to find adventure

We ventured into the woods and snow with you to find the perfect tree at Christmas

You weren't even afraid when we grew up and learned how to drive you. We put you in some pretty precarious situations and you pulled through.

We have watched you grow old and sick, we have spent every last moment we could with you. You have served us well and we thank you for all the memories. But now it is time to say goodbye. May you rest in peace dear red van... we will miss you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gifts of Spring

I dug my fingers deep in the cool, damp dirt and took a deep breathe of fresh air.

In between the daffodils and crocuses in the front yard I planted two tulip plants from small pots, that have recently been given to me as gifts. I am hoping that in the natural habitat of our front yard they will be revived and give me the gift of beautiful tulips over and over again.

As I took my small shovel and reached to place it on the shelf in our backyard...there she was. A mama dove sitting on her precious young. Nurturing them to life, protecting them beneath her soft, warm wing. She wasn't more than 2 feet from my face. Her small black eyes looked at me very directly. She did not seem afraid, nor startled, just ready to protect her youngins if any harm were to come their way. I gently backed away and then came back and carefully took this photo, not wanting to disturb her.

Sitting on the front porch, with coconut ice cream in hand, I added these things to my list.

  1. Daffodils and crocuses popping out of the ground

  2. Coconut ice cream-a treat for a girl with many food intolerances

  3. A nest with a mama dove and her babies in MY backyard

This is the beginning of a list of God's gifts to me. His love come down in many small packages for me to unwrap and enjoy. I've been inspired (as I know many others have) by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. Seeking to cast aside the sin of ingratitude and to cling to God and his goodness, I open my eyes to the many gifts God has given me. Like Paul, I desire to be content in any and every circumstance. I thank Him. I cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.

Spring is full of many beautiful gifts...and the reminder of new life. A land that has been cold and dreary for so long comes back to life with brilliant colors, delicious smells, and sunshine that warms me to the core.

When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace

and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places

let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices

life grows.

-Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Joyful Reunions

The hugs...
The laughing...
The dancing...
The questions...
The new experiences...
The joy...

I miss it so much. I miss them so much. My African Children's Choir family will always hold a huge chunk of my heart. I love them dearly and I look forward to a grand reunion one day in heaven, where we shall all dance, and sing, and worship Jesus together for all eternity. Yahoo!!!

I don't know if I shall have the opportunity to see those precious children again on this earth, but this week I got that much closer to a few of them. Racheal, Sarah, and Geofrey have returned to America to join Choir 37 for the remainder of their tour!!! I danced around the house when I heard the news.

I got the opportunity to chat with Sarah on skype the other day. My heart rejoiced. My smile reached from ear to ear. She has grown and matured, but she is still the same Sarah. I can still hear her laugh like music to my ears. Her smile reached a place in my heart that hasn't been reached much in the last year. We danced and I did a fashion show for her. She told me how she has excelled in school and I beamed with pride.

My buddy, Geofrey! I haven't had the chance to speak to him, but I hear he is as good a boy as ever. Always endeavoring to be the best behaved, always seeking ways to serve others, always a gem in my life and the pride of his parents.

My dear, wonderful, precious Racheal arrived just in time to see one of her sponsor families, who live in Austin, Texas. What a privilege! Racheal and I stayed with this wonderful family for several days, and then I ended up staying an extra several days to recuperate from my emergency surgery. Morgan and Susan got to spend time re-connecting with Racheal yesterday and today and that brings such joy to my heart. They informed me that she quickly found my picture in the ACC handout. She rubbed her fingers over the picture and said "I miss Auntie Angela sooooooooo much." I miss you too my little Racheal. I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again and dance with you. I hope to see you soon.

Welcome back to America my children. I am so proud of you, for everything that you have become and everything you will become. I love you so much and I can't wait to shake my cabena again with you one day soon.

Auntie Angela

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Waiting for Prince Charming

I have always been content and happy being single. No matter that many of my friends are married with one or two kids by now. I don't feel left out...yet. I do think a lot about getting married though...someday...when Prince Charming rides in on his white steed and sweeps me off my feet. I don't know if God will allow me the opportunity to be married or not and I'm not going to wait until I get married for my life to really start. It's silly to waste these years if you ask me. I will enjoy every season as it comes. I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately though, as I see more friends getting engaged, middle aged couples struggling to stay together and stay happy, and elderly couples that appear more in love than ever. What makes a marriage work? What makes a marriage strong? What makes a marriage stay happy and committed to the end? I have lots of happy thoughts about the prospect of marriage and what it will be like. I also have lots of scary thoughts about how hard it will be and the struggles that can come about. I develop fears as I see marriages around me falling apart. What went wrong? What could they have done differently? Why are people giving up?

Today my mind has been buzzing with thoughts about what I can be doing even now to prepare to be a good wife (if God so chooses to allow me to become one). I don't want to just assume that once I get married I can start thinking about what it means to be a wife. I want to be living now in such a way that I am not just focusing on the future, but that prepares me for life and marriage.

So I started making a list of things a single woman can do to be preparing to be a good wife (things that will be beneficial even if I never end up getting married). Here is the beginning of my list:
-Learn to be a good cook and develop a cookbook of favorite recipes
-Design and keep a budget
-Be content in my relationship with Christ and let my heart be hidden in His
-Practice communicating well and confronting those I love
-Get into a healthy lifestyle so I am happy and accepting of my body
-List the values that are important to me personally and for my family
-Develop list of hard/important questions to discuss with a potential prince
-Read up on recommended books/blogs about being a Godly wife
-Learn to ask hard questions of myself and others
-Practice daily dying to self and putting others ahead of myself

I think that is a pretty good start to my list. So I am curious, to all of you young married women and those of you who are seasoned married women, what advice can you offer? What do you wish you had known before you got married? What do you wish you would have learned or done to prepare to be a good wife?