Monday, August 2, 2021

A Comedy of Errors

I am an awesome mom. I went to Alaska and bought my kiddos COOL Alaskan shirts!!


Points for me!


Did you know that an airplane uses a pogo stick in the back to keep its balance when it is sitting in dock?

Okay - I am probably not writing that correctly but the captain did say to us that the 'pogo stick' was missing.

Yep.

On my flight to Georgia after a wonderful experience in Alaska I learned all about pogo sticks. 

I was in ROW EIGHT. Like - the BEST seat behind first class seating. 

I did something on this plane I never ever do -  I paid a bit extra so I could get OFF that plane quickly! 

And after being on that plane for an hour and a half LONGER than was originally promised... due to 'A Comedy of Errors' (the captain's words for why we were so late leaving/arriving)... I REALLY wanted to get off that plane.

But they lost the pogo stick. Or couldn't find it. Or something.

So we could not get off in the normal, orderly, first class seating leaves first and then my row eight a few rows behind them gets to leave. Nope. 

Without that important pogo stick holding down the plane in the back - we had to disembark from the back of the plane to the front. So that the plane wouldn't flip up like a seesaw.

You learn something new every day.

I learned about pogo sticks, and I learned a LOT of patience as I watched the 10,000 people behind me S.L.O.W.L.Y. make their way to the front of the plane... looking for their luggage that had been stashed here and there when they first got on because by the time they boarded, all the overheads above their seats were full. 

So one by one they walked up and down the aisles searching in all the different overhead bins for their lost luggage. I really wish there was such a thing as a GPS tracker on luggage. We could have used it on that plane for all those poor people.

Here is something I noticed... just about everyone in the back of the plane owned black luggage. And none of them had added any special tape or tags to differentiate their luggage from anyone else's luggage. And just about every other piece of luggage in the overhead bins is black. Finding their luggage was a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Some poor souls had to give up hope until the plane emptied!

It took 45 minutes to finally leave that plane because of a missing pogo stick. 45 very very long minutes.

I wanted off because a certain husband of mine and three of my littlest were meeting me at a restaurant for dinner.

That certain husband had not counted on having to drive his three littles all the way to Georgia from Virginia. He had not counted on setting up for a convention. He was in the middle of FINISHING an 800 page book. He didn't have time for 9 hour van rides!

But my poor helper was sick (NOT COVID) and could not make the trip and so from Alaska I was organizing the troops to get everything packed up, food made for Mary etc. etc. so Rob could bring the materials down so we could sell at the convention.

The greatest part of the week (and Alaska was pretty great) was when I came walking into the restaurant (exceedingly late) to find my family. The cutest part was when Mary saw me. She was shocked, surprised and beyond happy. How her Mama got to that restaurant was beyond her comprehension but her world was righted when I walked in. 

On the plus side of having Rob there, I got to be with my bestest friend in the world at a convention. On the down side, we barely saw each other. I worked hard at talking to customers, speaking and  keeping Mary contained so Rob could FINISH the book. The boys helped me with such great attitudes!! I don't know what we would have done without them! Mary did amazingly well until Saturday afternoon and by that time Rob had finished the lion's share of the work and could take her with him.

Sadly, seizure-wise - Mary had a rough rough time. Driving home was a bit of a nightmare. She kept tanking - seizures and status stacking up on top of her all day. 

By Sunday night we had rescued her six times over a 24 hour period.

We have a call into the neurologist's office as we need to sort out what is going on with her. 

But the book is done in spite of the utter crazy last week.


It is heading to the printers today and the e-book is now available on the website!!

Praise the Lord!

Now we just need to write all the supplements that go with it!

Sigh.

BIBLIOPLAN





Sunday, July 25, 2021

Consider the Years

 Alaska isn't a state where we have had a huge following.

An order here or there through the years is about all we have ever mustered. 

But word of mouth is powerful and when one mom in that far away state stumbled upon our curriculum and used it she couldn't keep it to herself.

She shared it with a friend who happened to be head of a homeschool co-op. That group had just left a popular homeschool program and was looking for another option.


Two and two makes for crazy.

I got a call one day in early May asking me if I would be willing to come out to Alaska and share about BiblioPlan. They wanted to put together a convention and fly me out and have me speak.

I laughed out loud.

Next year, right?? Sure - next year when we aren't in the middle of finishing a massive re-write of our Ancients high school book. Next year when we aren't writing around the clock trying to get that book and all its supplements on the market by August 1st. Next year when my traveling schedule is not a mishmash of nutty because of all the Covid changes. Next year when we can breathe again.

They weren't laughing.

Will you come? 

I gave a tentative maybe. I mean - what are the chances of them pulling together a convention in that short of time anyway? There was no way it was going to happen.

Oh me. Oh my.

I leave tomorrow for Alaska.


They pulled it together. I am crossing the country to go speak to a group of excited homeschooling families and other school choice families in Anchorage, Alaska. I will be meeting privately with the co-op about BiblioPlan on Monday night at a picnic and for two days to the greater Alaskan community, sharing about homeschooling and special needs and other sundry stuff. They have pulled together an assortment of speakers and it should be a great two days.

They put me in a hotel that has room views over the lake where I can watch the planes land on the water. 

After I leave that unbelievable experience,  I will fly straight to Georgia for another convention.

Then home.

We are one week from putting our newest book out.

It's a rewrite of the first full book we wrote and it is unbelievable. I can say that because Rob did the majority of the rewrite. I am so proud of him and this newest book.

It's a re-write with a brand new series title.

Consider the Years; History for High Schoolers.

Our younger series title is Remember the Days.

"Remember the Days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you."

We have one week to get it out in e-book format. The print version will come out at the end of September.

It's been crazy hard and we are weary. Losing Rob's mom this past week added a layer of grief on top of the stress.

And leaving is never ever easy with little girl.

She had a ROUGH night last night. As we rescued her twice in an hour, I questioned for the umpteenth time how I could leave when she is such a crazy roller coaster.


It's the hardest part.

I'm her Mama and I struggle the entire time I'm gone. I spend my days whispering prayers of protection. 

So please, prayer Warriors, pray for my girlie as I cross the country. 

Pray too for John and Aaron as they are doing the long drive to Georgia to meet me there (with my trusty helper, Adrienne, and her son). They have become amazing BiblioPlan convention workers. 

Thankfully, they love traveling, they love working the conventions and I love having them beside me.



Win. Win. Win.

It's a crazy week. 

Thank you for praying!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Farewell, Gran!

 

This morning Rob's mom went to be with the Lord.


All my kids loved her dearly.

She was a precious part of our family. 



We haven't seen her much in the last year and a half which has left a huge hole in our daily lives and a whole lot of sadness.


Sadly, Rob didn't get to say goodbye in person. The kids and I were traveling and he waited until we returned home before he set off this morning. She passed away before he could give her one last kiss and sing to her. 


Thankfully, we grieve knowing that her story is not over.

For that we cling.

We love you, Mom! You were a class act!



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

An Audience of One

It was one of those moments when crumbling to the floor was not the appropriate response but it was truly what I wanted to do.

I had spent hours and hours preparing my speeches and creating the PowerPoints to go with them. I had prayed over them and worked through them and finalized them and was ready to go. 

Yes, I was nervous. I had never given a speech with cameras everywhere and multiple faces staring at me from 8 different computer monitors. I was speaking live to thousands of moms and dads all over the country who were watching from their living rooms. The stage was impressive, the entire set up was awe inspiring. I was humbled and excited.

A few hours before I was to go on for my first speech, I was waiting in our hotel room with John and Mary and our aide, watching one of the speakers who was ahead of me. It was raining outside but we were cozy and happy and it was peaceful in our room. 

Until the lightning struck and our room went dark. 

Our room went dark.

I was scheduled to speak in a little over an hour and the hotel just lost electricity.

I grabbed my computer and my phone and John and I ran. 

Backup lighting lit our way through the halls. The hotel generators were working, and when we arrived in the studio they reassured me that all would be well. 

The computers needed to reboot, but once they did everything would be fine.

So we sat and prayed along with others who were sitting and praying.

And when the computers came on-line, the speaker ahead of me began.

All was well. The schedule was a bit off but we could adjust.

I listened to her and felt peaceful. 

Until everything crashed just as I was to go on. The generators, the internet.

It was a disaster.

I sat there. Shocked. Watching the men as they brainstormed and discussed what to do.

The leaders approached me. Would I be willing to do my speech without an audience. They would tape it. 

I wanted to crumble to the floor. All the hours. All the time. All the work. Talking to empty monitors is not the same as talking to a live audience. My speech was written for a live audience. 

Yes. I was willing. If that was the only option. I was willing. But. If I could have an audience of only one it would be better. I only asked for one. One live person.

It was stupid of me to say that. How ridiculous a request. 

Either you have no audience or a full audience. Right?

Asking for one was absurd. 

But in the moment - at that time - it's what I requested and it was what I prayed. Lord - let me speak to at least one.

We waited. We prayed. We prayed some more. The electricity came back on. The internet was restored.

They set up my computer and turned on my PowerPoint. Those 9 monitors in front of me - they each had to re-boot. 

We waited. And waited.

Finally one booted. One monitor.

It came on. Crippled. A screenful of names but every face blanked out except one.

One person in the top left corner was live.

She was looking at me in anticipation and I gave my speech to her. The one. She was the perfect audience. She nodded and responded. She laughed at my jokes and reacted to my stories. For 27 minutes I shared my heart with her. 

When I broke for a break they told me I actually had a decent sized audience. I just hadn't been able to see them. They brought another monitor up and it was filled with faces. Smiling faces of people who had been listening. People who had heard. People who appreciated what I had to say.

I cried when it was over.

Not a crumbling to the floor in despair cry but one of grateful praise. I made a ridiculous request and asked for an audience of one and God answered. He gave me one person in the top left screen of a crippled monitor who received what I had to share with joy and enthusiasm.

He's that kind of God.

A God who hears and responds.

It was a surreal experience and one I will never ever forget.

An absurd request heard by a Loving God.

----------------------------

What a difference a year makes.

Last year we were home, home home.

This year is one of travel.


In the last few months I have traveled to South Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Pennsylvania (Aaron to Shriners), Norfolk, Virginia (where I spoke to an audience of one) and this morning I fly to Texas and then Colorado.

Between July and August I am going more than I am coming...

Thankfully, the kids have been able to go on a few of the trips and will go on more in the coming months. It's harder with them tagging along in so many ways, but I like having them with me. 

Poor Rob is stuck at home writing and writing and writing. He's barely able to come up for air.

We are SO CLOSE to finishing a total upgrade of our Ancient book for high schoolers. It's going from 350 pages to 800 pages. It is going to be stupendous. We just need to drag through the next few months and then we are going to celebrate with some restful quiet.

Mary continues to ride the seizure roller coaster. She has amazing days and then she tanks. 

In Norfolk she tanked three times. It would be easy to despair when it happens but we just remind ourselves that she is so much better now than a year ago or two years ago. Her body slamming to the floor seizures are rare and she has many days at home when she can run carefree without the helmet.

Leaving her is the hardest part.

Each night Rob tucks her in beside me around 11 pm. I know her breathing. I understand her movements. I can react when she starts to tank. 

We have monitors and she wears a seizure watch but for me - having her tucked in beside me is the most peaceful.

I feel lost when she is not breathing keto-breath next to me. 

All I can do when I am gone is whisper prayers to a God who knows my girl. 

And rest in the knowledge that the same God who answers absurd prayers for an audience of one will watch over and keep my girl while I am gone.







Saturday, May 15, 2021

To Lyla With Love


Ten years ago they tried to cross the ocean to adopt her, but they were turned away.



She was too sick. Too fragile. She was expected to die.

So they adopted another. And then another.

But in a crazy, God-story turn of events, they discovered that she had survived.

So when the way opened they ran.

To get a little one who had everything going against her except she had a determined desire to live.

And she lived.

Though her heart was fragile.

Though she suffered and struggled to breath so many times.

She lived.

Though doctors shook their heads and said no way.

Though sickness took her down over and over.

Though breathing hurt.

She lived.

She tore through life in her sassy, bossy way.

She was one of a kind. 

So loved by every single person who met her.

One of a kind was Lyla.

Thrown away at birth. Deemed unadoptable. Of little value.

She had Down Syndrome. Physical deformities. Heart defects.

Tossed aside to lay out her days in a crib.

But she fought. She refused to die when death knocked.

And when they brought her home - to this country - to a family who loved her beyond words - she ruled the roost.

They beat to her drum.

They followed in her wake.

They bowed to her whims.

Queen Lyla.


Her heart was defective but it is now their hearts that are broken.

Her body could fight no more.


She is now in the presence of the Lord. Her pain gone and for that they rejoice. But their pain has begun. 

To Summer and Dave and all the kids - I grieve with you.

I have spent the last 9 years loving your fighter. I cheered and championed for you as you broke down mountains to get her home.  I have laughed at all her antics. I have prayed over every hospitalization. I have cherished every post. She lit up my life in my little house on a hill.

I am so sorry she is no longer dancing in your kitchen. 


May the God of Peace fill your hearts as you navigate a world with her no longer in it!


Monday, April 26, 2021

Over the Mountain

Two weeks ago we packed our van and headed over the mountain and crossed a one lane bridge with no rails.

It was a two and a half hour ride full of anticipation and longing.

A reunion.

Not family.

Not school mates.

A reunion of three boys who share one story.


They were once Lost Boys.

They had lived in the worst of places.

A place where boys die.

A place shut off from the rest of the world.

A place of nothing.

Three former Lost Boys.

They suffered abuse, neglect, abandonment.

But God.

He called us to the first little boy. 

 


Eleven years ago we were the first to go past those ugly green gates to the forbidden world behind.

We saw. We heard. We wept.

110 boys in that lonely world of hurt and pain and only three were eligible to be adopted. Only a few had a fighting chance of escaping a lifetime of nothing.

We screamed. We yelled. We cried.

The first family to step forward lived across the country from us. We watched with joy and tears and agony as they went for Aaron's tiny roommate. 

Their boy was hurt. Abused. Starved. Neglected. Hated by the nannies. He suffered there for two long years.

But he was a fighter and a survivor.

It took much to tame him. He had to learn to trust. He had to learn to know that hands could be kind and food would be given and abuse would not be tolerated.

And slowly slowly he calmed. He still bears the scars. But from the tiny little boy who shared a room and a table with Aaron, from a starved little guy who ran at the drop of a hat, from the battered creature who spent his days in survival mode - he's come a long long way.

While they were there bringing home their Little Lost Boy they met another boy. A sweet boy who shared a poem with them. A sweet boy with a smile and a tender heart.

They came out yelling for that one boy. Would not one family step up to get him?

So worthy. So precious.

No one heard.

Two years later I went back. I walked through the green gates, down the lonely paths and visited with boys who were just as battered and weary in a world of nothing as before.

My heart broken, I too met that same boy. I listened to his poem. I saw his sweet smile, his tender heart. (2nd boy in the picture)

I yelled too. Please someone get him out.

No one heard.

Dear Jesus, please!

So they went back.

The family who brought one home went back for the other.

They helped him escape a lifetime of nothing.

They rescued him.

And two weeks ago we packed our van and went over the mountain and across a bridge with no rails so we could spend an afternoon letting three Lost Boys meet on this side of the ocean. 


And so two families who shared one story about a forbidden world behind a green, ugly gate could meet and hug and cry a little.

We watched our boys and accepted their loss, noted their scars, recognized how far they have come.

And that sweet boy who shared a poem across the ocean. He shared another here. In English. 

 I cried.

Because there is nothing more precious in the world than seeing a child who had no hope and future sharing a poem with you here on this side of the earth. 



A bit of history:

 Aaron and Judd (Hurley shirt) were in the same group, sat all day inside the same shed (pictured below), slept in the same room and suffered the same abuse and neglect. 

Both boys struggled to feed themselves so both were completely dependent upon the nannies for food. To survive, Aaron had developed the ability to choke his food down quickly without barely swallowing it, so he could quickly eat the food haphazardly stuffed into his mouth. Sadly, Judd was not a favorite and was often starved by the nannies. He struggled to swallow and feeding him took time they didn't want to give him. We witnessed how they fed both boys and it was heartbreaking.

Aaron and Rob 2010 with eating shed in the background

Bey arrived after we left so we did not see him when we were there. I met Bey on my second trip.

These three boys are part of a tiny group of six boys who have escaped that institute. 

It's a drop in the bucket. 

Sadly, two other boys died before their families made it to them. And because no one has adopted out of there in so long, we have no real idea who is still available. There were moments in the last 11 years where we hoped it would open to the outside but sadly, that institute is just as closed today as it was when we first brought Aaron out.

There are 110 Lost Boys still living in that place. Those who don't die while they are there (and many many do) are transferred to an adult institute where they wait to die.





Thursday, March 4, 2021

Somewhere

Somewhere out there is a Mama in pain

Somewhere out there she is remembering, pondering, wondering

Memories are flooding and she can't hold them back

Somewhere out there she is filled with regret and sorrow

Her loss is hardest on this day

The day when her baby girl was born

The day when she held her in her arms and kissed her a million times and whispered promises meant only for her ears

Somewhere out there a Mama longs to take back time

Undo the past

Bring back what she lost, her baby, her treasure

To hold her and kiss her and whisper promises meant only for her ears

Somewhere out there a Mama wonders where and how

The three years she had her so fleeting 

Her arms so empty, her heart so lonely

Somewhere out there a Mama is praying for the little girl she lost

And here - in our somewhere - we pray too

We pray. We wonder. We grieve with her knowing that our gain comes at great loss.

Little girl turns 10 today.

Presents and birthday songs and Happy Mary


We celebrate. We rejoice. We don't forget. 

So we whisper prayers

Prayers that cover a little girl who lost so much

Prayers that a Mama out there somewhere will be comforted on this, her daughter's 10th birthday.