Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why We Love Shelli

This week marked the end of an era. With school around the corner, Dayna will no longer be visiting Shelli's house for daycare on a regular basis. Let me tell you, there just aren't words to describe Shelli. She is the epitome of patience and gentleness amid a household of preschoolers running amok. Of course, nothing is ever amok at Shelli's house. Even with a dozen kids running around, everything is always in it's place. She makes ordinary things seem so special. Do you know how many kids learn the days of the week because Fridays mean donuts and pajamas, and Wednesdays mean Pop-Tarts? Dayna, the fish stick queen, never had to worry about missing fish sticks for lunch, because Shelli would always save them for a day that Dayna was there. For some people, daycare is a job, but for Shelli, it's truly a calling. Dayna's life is so much sweeter and richer because she had a Shelli to love and guide her while Mom and Dad were working.

We had a little picnic yesterday, and all of the kiddos (with their parents) made a block for a quilt to give Shelli. Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Home Is Where Your Story Begins

You know, I've seen this "inspirational" plaque over the past few years, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. It's just not true on so many levels.

You know, my story began in Oregon. I lived there for 22 years before coming to Nebraska. Part of Oregon will always be in my heart, but it's not really home anymore.

My story also began with my parents, but when I married Dan, "home" became with him, and no longer with my mom and dad.

Dayna's story began with a man and woman we'll probably never meet. She has a history we'll never know, but that history is intricately woven into the very fibers of her identity. And yet, that history happened before she found a home with us.

The story of humanity began long before the creation of this world. Our stories began before we even had life.

Since "home" is such a fluid thing on so many levels, I'd rather believe that "Home is where God places you."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Conclusion - Part 5...

Who knows what will happen from here. Is this over now? Probably not. I will continue to pray for wisdom and grace as I continue to keep my eyes on the horizon and keep rowing the boat.

Consequences - Part 4

When you reach the point of surrender, when you know you've done everything in your power to live at peace, when you have confessed to the people you have wronged, what do you have left?

I hope at the end of the day I have my integrity. I am the person God made me to be, and I can't change that to find the approval of other humans. But I also have consequences for my own sinfulness. My board now has one less member. I'm saddened that our differences couldn't be resolved, it bothers me that my apologies have gone unheeded and forgiveness and grace have not been returned. It's never good when someone leaves in anger with unresolved conflict. I have lost some of my supervisor's esteem and have to work at proving myself again and rebuilding trust. But I can't answer for the way anyone else chooses to behave, nor can I allow myself to continue being consumed by this.

I don't believe that there's any more I can do, nor am I feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I will live with my consequences, but I will also live in the freedom I have been given by forgiveness through Christ.

Confrontation - Part 3

It just wouldn't stop. Yesterday, I received more emails. I tried to answer graciously, but also came to the point where truth needed to be spoken. The truth is not always pleasant. I again apologized, but I also pointed out how I have handled myself in the last three years when the other person was not always holding up her end. I wasn't trying to be accusatory, so much as remind her of my track record of supporting her. I again offered an olive branch to meet personally and put this behind us. It was not well received. The response was again twisting my words and revealed that I was playing tennis with a wall; my offers at restoration and reconciliation were ignored, and Dan (who rarely sets his foot down and tells me what to do) instructed me not to respond. It would do no good.

Which reminded me of yet another entry in my new book.

May 21

"Don't give what is holy to unholy people." Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. Matthew 7:6

Place Some Space

The Bible gives us some great principles to follow when it comes to our relationships with others. Think about the following statements:

  • Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
  • If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won't accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. (Matthew 18:5-17)
You may be wondering, Where does giving pearls to swine come in? If you have tried to follow the relationship principles above and a person who sinned against you won't acknowledge the wrong or apologize or repent, then, to paraphrase God's instructions to you in Matthew, Place some space between you. If you keep sharing your heart, that person will know exactly how to hurt you the next time. The time may come when you need to treat that person like a stranger on the street: Be polite and respectful and obey what the Bible says about praying for your enemies, but give the relationship some breathing space and wait for God to intervene.

The circumstances are a little different here, as this is not necessarily a conflict with a fellow believer. But the wisdom makes sense. When I have done all I can do, when I've prayed and surrendered the relationship and situation to God, when I'm playing tennis with a wall, it's time to place some space.

Conviction - Part 2

As I was trying to seek wisdom and pray for God's guidance, I spoke to a colleague behind closed doors. This is a trusted colleague who I have bounced things off for five years, as she has with me. I went to her because she was uninvolved with the conflict, and I felt could either be a good sounding board as I sorted through things or offer insight on how to continue. Well, this colleague (whom I still trust completely) wasn't as uninvolved as I thought, and by the end of the day, things I had said became twisted and got back to the teacher I was having conflict with. To make matters worse, some words about my supervisor had been attributed to me. I was confronted quite unpleasantly by the teacher, and it was clear to me that my supervisor now also believed I had said these things. This water I'm rowing in is getting thicker and muddier, and now I've really blown it.

I immediately confessed and apologized to the teacher I was having the conflict with. My intention of seeking wisdom had become gossip and I was wrong. Most people would call it a lapse in judgment, but I'll call a spade a spade. It was sin. My apology seemed to fall on deaf ears, but it was the right thing for me to do anyway.

But now, I have the uncomfortable situation of making things right with my supervisor. Dan told me I had to talk to her. My mother told me I had to talk to her. I confess...deep within, I think I was still looking for a loophole.

Then I read May 25 (also from "Devotions for Women on the Go" by Stephen Arterburn and Pamela Farrel

I have much more to say to you, but I don't want to say it in a letter. For I hope to visit you soon and to talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 2 John 1:12


The more intense the emotion, the more sensitive the topic, or the more unknown the outcome, the more a conversation needs to happen face-to-face.

When a challenge needed to be laid out, Amaziah send messengers to Johoash, "Come, meet me face to face" (2 Kings 14:8, NIV). The harder the road ahead or the bigger the mountain, the more the challenge needs to be explained face-to-face, followed by plenty of time for questoins and lots of time to encourage, comfort, and instill vision and confidence.

When a vital transaction or negotiation needed to happen, Zedekiah king of Judah was handed over to the king of Babylon to speak with him face-to-face (Jeremiah 32:4). The more tenuous the transaction, the more room there may be for misunderstanding; thus, the more those negotiations should be handled in person. And if there is any question of character, those talks need to be in person so you can discern the person's motives.

When correction or punishment is given, God says he wants to see his people face-to-face to judge them (Ezekiel 20:35). Jesus tells us that if someone sins against us, we should go to him or her in person (Matthew 18:15). Words that are hard to hear should be given in person.

Life is hard, and those moments need to be shared in person. but the best moments should also be shared in person: announcing an engagement, news of a pregnancy or birth, (I'll add adoption), congratulations over a raise, a new job, or an award. Good news is rare; make the moment count!

Okay...God told me pretty clearly that there was no loophole for this one. I made the appointment.

Conflict - Part 1

It has been a very difficult spring, between job uncertainty and professional conflict that became very, very personal. I haven't really even known where to begin when it comes to blogging about this.

As the President of an organization, it is my responsibility to lead the group, and (I believe) when necessary, to remind people of their responsibilities to make sure things happen. This very thing had to happen recently, and it made someone very, very upset. This started a whole lot of drama and unnecessary anxiety. I have spent the past two months on my knees asking for wisdom on what to do.

Well, the end of Bible Study came, and the dear ladies in my group bought me a devotional book. To be honest, I don't put a lot of stock into most devotional books, as they can be trite and "feel good," but not really meaty. But, this was a gift, so I was going to check it out. My usual type-A, anal-retentive personality would start at the beginning and catch up to the current date, or save the book until next January to start. I would NEVER start in the middle. How crazy would that be?

Well, about the point I was wondering if all the stress in this organization was worth the toll it was taking on myself and my family, I opened the book for the first time. To the correct date. May 19.

From "Devotions for Women on the Go" by Stephen Arteburn and Pam Farrel

When [Peter] looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Matthew 14:30

When the Boat is Rocking

I once heard John Maxwell, founder of Injoy Ministries, say that those who are busy rowing the boat seldom have the time or energy to rock it.

If God places you at the helm of an event or organization, keep the people rowing and their eyes set on the goal, and the sailing will be smoother.

What happens to people when their eyes are off the goal? Peter and the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the night, and they were afraid, thinking he was a ghost. But Jesus encouraged and calmed them, telling them not to be afraid. And then Peter decided he would walk out on the water to meet Jesus. As long as he kept his eyes focused on Jesus, he was walking on the water, but when he looked out at the wind, he immediately began to sink and cried for help (Matthew 14:25-30).

Things will start sinking if your eyes or your crew's eyes are on the circumstances rather than on Christ. If you feel your idea, dream, company, or future sinking, turn your eyes and the eyes of your team back to Christ.

Pray together, study the Word, or bring in a godly specialist or teammate who can point the team back to God and his purpose. This is especially true if the crew starts turning on each other or on you!

Before you have a mutiny, lead your team to look to the horizon!

Wow~how perfectly timely. This isn't a Christian organization, but the premises are so true! So, I continued rowing, even though one person was rocking the boat for all she was worth and I felt like I was rowing upstream in a hurricane.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mother's Day 5-9-2010

Mother's Day used to be the worst day of the year. Now, it brings bittersweet memories. I have a lot of compassion for those who desperately wish to be moms. Then there are those who have lost a child. Mom's who haven't yet met their children. Those who have a distant or estranged relationship from their moms. I really miss my grandma and Aunt Sharon. 6 years ago, Mother's Day was our last "healthy" memory with my aunt before her final days began. My own mom lives halfway across the country.

But I also joy in the fact that God finally saw fit to bestow the title of "Mom" on me. And what a sweet little girl He chose to trust to my care.

Completely on her own, Dayna decided that I should have pretty flowers for Mother's Day. So, while we were searching for carnations for her birth mother (a tradition we do each year), I conveniently got lost in Wal-Mart so she could buy me some roses. My sweet husband kind of surprised me (okay, I dropped a lot of hints) with a new birdbath and together Dan & Dayna made chocolate chip scones for breakfast. Yum!

Probably one of my nicest surprises was the beautiful necklace Dayna made for me with beads and a sparkly shoelace. I proudly wore it to church and showed all of my friends.

Thanks for the great Mother's Day memories, Dan & Dayna!

Dayna's Birthday 5-1-2010

Five came in with a fury of fun! Dayna's friends Izzie and Levi showed up for her party first.

Daddy was happy to oblige with some horsey rides.
And the three entertained themselves with puzzles while they waited. For some reason, Levi just wasn't into the Princess Puzzle. Go figure.

Once everyone arrived, we started with a traditional English Country Dance for May Day called "The Sweets of May." The kids seemed to catch on just a *bit* faster than the grownups!
All the kids got to decorate and plant their own flower pots to take home. Unfortunately, Dayna's met with a strong wind the next day and didn't survive.

Dayna's guests included the uber-cute Eli...
...sweet and shy Gracie......beautiful Isabel...

...and Levi, the energy and life of the party; can't you see that twinkle of mischief? I LOVE this kid!

Dayna found an envelope in the back yard. Mickey Mouse sent her a letter inviting her to Disney World in June.
Do you think she was excited?
My China adoption friends will appreciate memories of the red couches at the White Swan hotel and trying to get a picture of all the children. Dayna really does have non-Chinese friends. These happen to be the friends who could make it to her party.

Dayna has been talking about this cake since I made it for her Daddy last September. Yum!

Happy Birthday, Dayna! You are five and fabulous!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lincoln Half Marathon 5-2-2010

I apologize now for May entries being out of order. Blame it on busy-ness, dying brain cells, lack of organization, whatever. Nonetheless, I'll start blogging now about our early May activities.
I woke up early on the morning of May 2. I took a not-so-leisurely soak in a warm tub, threw some fruit, juice and yogurt in the blender, then hopped in my in-laws van with my family, my smoothie, and my iPod loaded with inspirational praise music. For the next half hour, I tried to tune everything out except my time with God before the race began.
Once downtown, I bid the family goodbye and entered the fray that was 8,000 runners, plus additional volunteers and National Guard members. I found a place to stash my stuff, and about 15 minutes before race time got in line for the port-a-potties. 13 minutes later, the line hadn't moved much and someone started singing the National Anthem. I finally found myself in the enclosed plastic box finding a way to make myself more comfortable when the starting gun fired. life story...I'm in the can when the race begins.I finished my business and found my way to the back of the pack of 8,000 runners. My goal pace was over a 12:00 mile (logically, probably closer to 13:00), and those runners were to line up last. It was really something like "On your marks, get set, shuffle!" as we slowly made our way around the loop to the starting line. About five minutes into my shuffle, I spied my family and gave some excited waves and one last hug to my little five-year-old. Twenty minutes into the shuffle, I finally crossed the start line. At this point, the little microchip tied to my shoelace officially started my time.I ran down sixteenth street, past the sorority and fraternity houses. (Interesting...many sororities were out cheering on their sisters, but the frat houses were surprisingly silent for 7:00 on Sunday morning.) I continued to South Street, which was about 2 miles into the race. I passed what used to be Godfather's Pizza, where a certain young man proposed to me 11 1/2 years ago. I gave him a friendly call and with short sentences relived the happy moment. At this point, I'm feeling really good. I decided to wait until mile three to take my first walking break.

Continuing east on South Street (is that like the University of Northern South Dakota?), I found my way to Sheridan Boulevard and the 3 mile mark. I grabbed a cup of water from the volunteers and forced myself to walk. But you know, I felt really good, so I quickly picked up my pace. I decided that mile 5 would be a good place to stop, so I kept running on Sheridan...a beautiful tree-lined street in an old-money part of Lincoln...until I hit 48th Street. About this time I had hit mile five. I grabbed some more water, slathered some Vaseline on my blistered left foot, and joined a short line for a quick break (I was remarkably well hydrated and needed to take care of it.) Well, the short line took ten minutes! At this point, I figured I had rested more than I would have walking, so I started running again, heading south to Highway 2.

Somewhere along the way, Dan gave me a call so he'd know when to expect me. He would be waiting right before mile 8. I hit the bike trail along Highway 2 and kept running until the mile 7 rest station. At this point, I downed a gel pack for a quick calorie boost and slathered on another round of Vaseline. I walked a little bit, but still felt great. I couldn't believe I'd gone more than halfway already! About a block and a half before Dan, I saw him taking pictures of Dayna and bellowed in my deep teacher voice, "WILSON!" Everyone around me heard...I kept hollering for a block and a half. He finally looked up as I passed him...completely unprepared. Thus, no picture.

I turned up 20th Street and prepared myself for "The Hill." I believed it would be between miles 9 & 10. So, I proceed up mile 8, psyching myself up and gearing up for "The Hill." I hit mile 9, and noticed that everything had flattened out. Apparently, "The Hill" was between 8 & 9 and I had just conquered it. Wow! I got a call from my friend Jordan, who told me that she and Lori would be waiting for me after mile 10. What joy I had to see my friends and give them a big hug!
At the very moment I passed Jordan & Lori, our good friend Brooke called me.
Brooke has been an amazing support the last few weeks...telling me what I should eat, when I should eat it, what I should expect...she's truly a running pro. I'm still not sure why she decided not to run with me...maybe 8 months pregnant is a good enough reason!
The encouragement of Brooke, Lori & Jordan was exactly what I needed as I found my way to 10th Street. I had less than a 5K to go! At this point, the balls of my feet were starting to hurt. I did take another walk break at mile 11. Then I geared myself up for the final push. Somewhere near mile 12, I stopped to give myself one last foot massage. I was sitting across the street from the apartment where Dan lived when we were dating, and where we spent the first 2 weeks of our married life upon returning from our honeymoon. I called him and let him know I was coming in.
Mile 12 was slow but steady, and before I knew it, I was backtracking to Memorial Stadium. An early wave of full marathon runners was coming in at this point, so I was directed to stay to the right while they went to the left (yeah, that's a bit humbling, but they've been doing this longer than me!) I crossed mile 13 and went by cameras that were projecting me on the left side of the HuskerVision screen. That last .1 mile almost did me in, but I came into the stadium (not roaring like I had hoped, but very full nonetheless). I saw myself on the right side of HuskerVision and threw my arms in the air in victory. 13.1 miles. I did it! The gun time said 2:56. My goal was to finish in under 3 hours, and I knew it took 20 minutes to hit the start line. My final time: 2:36:09. Truth be told, if my bladder had cooperated at mile five, it would have been shorter. My average mile time was 11:56. Much lower than the 13:00 I anticipated. And though I figured on walking at least 4 miles, in actuality, I walked less than a half mile total.

I make it to the end zone and look up into the stands for my family. About this point, Dan called me and asked if I was almost there. Um...I had already finished. I had been on HuskerVision twice. He missed me...both photo ops along the way (mile 8 and the finish line), and he missed me. I confess I was extremely disappointed. I had trained so hard, and I really just wanted a picture to commemorate this accomplishment. To his credit, I had completely underestimated what I was capable of doing, and both times, I had reached the destination minutes before he expected me.
Will I do this again? I'd love to. But, I think training and running the race was difficult to do by myself. Somewhere along the line I lost my running partner and never heard back. That was a disappointment, but somehow must have been part of God's plan. I would have never signed up alone. I will say that during the race it never crossed my mind that I couldn't do it, and I never hit the wall that seems to affect so many runners. I had trained well. I was well hydrated and had eaten the right foods. I had a game plan...I prayed for each of the 13 members of my person for each mile. My mind was focused on God and others, not myself. A year ago, I would have never thought this was possible. I couldn't run 3 minutes in place. A mile just about did me in. And now, I have completed a half marathon!

So...anybody want to run with me next year?