Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's a Hodgepodge Party!

Joyce, the inquiring mind that comes up with all these wonderful questions every week, celebrated a birthday yesterday. Please note, it's not about turning another year older; it's about celebrating the day! At any rate, make sure you click on the link below and wish her a happy birthday. After you've read my answers and commented here, of course. I mean, we wouldn't want to get too carried away, would we?

1. What's the best and worst thing thing about growing older? I'd say the best thing is that you're around to grow older. And the worst thing is that, well, you're growing older.

2.   Autumn arrives this week in the Northern Hemisphere...what one thing do you love most about the fall season? The cooler weather. We had a cold front come through this week, and now our highs are only in the upper 80's. Brrr! Almost time to get out the jackets! (Yes, I'm being sarcastic. You're surprised?)

3.  Speaking of fall...pumpkin seems to be flavoring everything these days-are you a fan?   What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or beverage? Pumpkins are okay in their place, but their place is not in flavoring my food and drink.

4.  Since we're on the subject of fall...what's the worst fall you've ever taken?Perhaps the one where I dashed up onto the platform so I could make it into the choir loft just as the choir was getting ready to sing the opening song of the evening service. I tripped and ended up on my hands and knees with my rear end waving at the congregation.

5.  If you could own a prop from any film what would you choose? I married the original Indiana Jones. What better prop could I have?

6. What's the most interesting word you've read or learned in the past week?
Although yours truly is imminently cognizant of the lexicological parameters, at the moment I can't come up with anything.

7. When was the last time you locked yourself out of your house, car, or office?  Was it a big deal?
I don't usually lock myself out (jinxed myself there, didn't I?), but the week before we moved down here to Florida, Indiana made the 12 hour drive with two of our children. They arrived in the wee hours of the morning, only to discover that he'd left the key to our new house on the dresser. In Alabama.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Only 96 shopping days until Christmas. That gets your heartrate going, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stephanie's Story

As I mentioned yesterday, September 11th has positive as well as negative memories for us. If you look back through the archives of my blog (you don't have to; you can take my word for it), not long after I started blogging I had a three-month silence. At that time, Stephanie was 17. In what seemed like an overnight transformation, Stephanie changed from our sweet, submissive teenage daughter, to someone who rebelled against both her parents, and the God that she had followed most of her life.

Without our permission, or even our knowledge, Stephanie left our home. And our family relationship. I did not blog during those three months because there simply weren't words. There was only a haze of pain and loss.

For the next three years, our family was fractured. At times we didn't even know where she was. Let me assure you that, although Stephanie was rebelling, she was still the same responsible person she had always been. She did not do drugs or live on the street. She got a job and supported herself. She just had no contact with us, and no relationship with God.

Eventually, we reconnected through Facebook. Short, awkward messages were occasionally sent and received. Sometimes we had electronic conversations, but they were awfully stilted as we tried to rebuild a relationship without talking about the gigantic elephant in the room.

An elephant that, at times, seemed to be sitting on my chest.

There were occasional rays of hope in all this. Late one night, Matt got a text from his sister saying she wanted to come home. In the next hour we tried repeatedly to contact her through texts and phone calls, but there was no answer. Finally, Matt got a text saying she'd changed her mind. A few more months went by with the same stilted contact. We thought, perhaps, we were getting closer until just before Matt and Kylee's wedding. Then a seemingly innocuous comment erupted into a huge, bitter argument. It would be many months later before we discovered that both these instances had been orchestrated and even continued by a third party whose selfish actions stemmed from the fact that they cared nothing for Stephanie or her relationship with her family.

Things continued in this new, painful norm until late in August. At that time Stephanie was living with distant relatives in another state. Some of whom had no desire to see Steph do right or return to her family. Living in that area was a cousin who was dying of cancer. Terry had already made note of the fact that he'd need to travel there when this cousin passed away, and that he would see Stephanie at that time. When I came home from work that Friday in August, Terry was consumed with the idea of making a trip to visit the cousin--and Stephanie--right away. He'd rather spend traveling and vacation time seeing his cousin one more time while she was alive, instead of waiting for her funeral. He was so driven and so certain, that we both knew this had to be the leading of the Lord.

The following Monday Terry set off, making the thirteen hour trip on his motorcycle. He spent a day visiting with his dying cousin, and then he spent a day with Stephanie. Towards the end of that day the two had a serious talk. Later on that evening, he texted me and said that we had our daughter back.

My immediate thought was that he should throw her on the back of the motorcycle and bring her home. But Indiana wanted to give her time to make her own decisions. He returned to Florida the following day, and our contact with Stephanie improved in frequency and in quality. Almost two weeks later she told her dad she wanted to come home, but not if her presence was going to hinder his ministry in the church. Terry told her that family came first and that we wanted her home no matter what. The two set a date for the following week when he would come to get her.

We were all in an uproar at home, working to get her room ready for her, when she called me that Saturday night, crying. I don't know how Terry even knew she was on the phone, but suddenly he was in the room, telling me that if she said the word, he'd leave immediately to go get her. Steph asked us both to come because she was ready to come home.

We threw a few things into a suitcase, left the boys with Matt and Kylee, and pulled out of the driveway fifteen minutes later. We took turns driving all night, pulling up into the driveway of the place where she was staying the following morning. As we headed to the door, I thought I would explode with all the emotions roiling inside me. What if she changed her mind? What if things were different? What if this didn't work? All my questions were answered when Steph opened the door and walked straight into my arms.

Our daughter was truly home.

Shortly after the holidays, Stephanie moved away from home again, but this time with our blessing. God had led her to move to Alabama, and she is serving Him in a church there. She's active in the choir, working with a bus route, and living with the youth pastor and his wife.

Although it was painful to see her go again, there was peace this time. And more joy ahead. Stephanie met a wonderful young man who is attending the Bible college there. He is planning on serving on the mission field once he graduates, and both he and Stephanie prayed earnestly before starting a dating relationship. They've been serious about each other for over six months now, and I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled we are to see our daughter happy, content and following God's purpose for her life.

I think it probably helps that he's not too bad looking, either.

I love seeing that smile on her face. I love when, although we're miles apart, we watch the same movie at the same time and text each other all through it.

I love that she calls me at least once a day, sometimes more. We have serious talks and silly talks. She asks me occasionally if I mind that she calls so much.

Not even a little bit!

When Stephanie gave me permission to write this post, she told me that the three years she spent away now seems like mostly a bad dream. She said she never wants to forget what happened, because she doesn't want to forget the lessons she's learned. But at the same time, those years seem like an alternate reality, and now she's back in real time. (Spoken like a true sci-fi fan.)

I'm glad she's back in this reality too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Go Long for the Hodgepodge!

I know, that's kind of a stupid football reference for a title, but it's early in the morning and it's all I can come up with. Quit complaining; you don't come here for the titles anyway, do you? Didn't think so. So take a gander through my answers, and after you leave a comment, click on the link to go see if everyone else's title is better than mine. You can even come back here and tell me how many are better, if you want to. I could use the blog traffic.

1.  ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?  The NFL is back in action along with all the college teams.  Are you a fan?  Who do you root for?  If you're not a fan what do you do while the rest of America watches Saturday, Sunday, Monday night, and now Thursday night games? 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is more than one question. Not that I'm being picky or anything. At any rate, I might watch for a few minutes, just to get that fall feeling. And I'll root for whoever has the better looking uniforms.

2. What's something I'll always find in your closet?
A bright red felt hat with purple feathers and a large brim. The hat is in a box, right next to the hat that looks like a chicken, complete with legs that hang down on each side of your head.

What? Doesn't everyone have hats like that?

3. Share one of your earliest memories.
I got lost in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago when I was about six or seven. (I have memories earlier than that. I'm just not sharing them right now.) And it wasn't like I was wandering around the whole museum. I got lost in the gift shop.

4. What circus act best describes your week so far?
Let's see ... contortionist, trapeze, high wire, clowns ... we've got it all going on at our house. I can handle it as long as I get to be the ringmaster.

5. What's a food you disliked as a child but you love now?
You'd love if I listed some vegetable here, wouldn't you? That's probably what many people will be listing. 

Not me. Ha!

6.  Describe your summer in three words.
We had summer?

7.  Where were you on September 11, 2001? Will you do anything special to mark the day this year?
I was in Tororo, Uganda with our six children. My husband had just flown back to the States for some meetings with our mission board 12 hours before the attacks. He drove our vehicle to the airport, so I was stranded at our compound with no means of transportation, wondering when they would allow air travel again so he could get back to us. Guess the Indiana Jones roles were reversed that time, huh!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
September 11th has some good memories too. For instance, last year it was the day our daughter came home. I'll tell you that story tomorrow. You'll want to read it. It has a happy ending.

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