Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eucharisteo---Thankful in All Things

I started reading One Thousand Gifts* by Ann Voskamp* last week and was so moved by her poetic writing.  This book has been out for a year or so, but just made it's way to my knowledge through several different ways in the past couple of weeks.  It's a must read.  It is purposefully making sure we thank God for ALL the things in our life.  All.

I took lots of photos of random things around PandaPop's parents' land.  They just moved into their stunning new home they had built this summer on their retirement land.  Three acres covered in a canopy of trees. It's so beautiful to be in the woods!! Seeing groups of leaves float down from the trees in a feather-like fall just stirs my soul!!!

We have been under a burn ban for the entire summer, but it rained a couple of days allowing the ban to be lifted, trash & brush to be burned (this is common out in the country!!) and making trekking through the area very muddy.  Our cutie-patootie boots came in very handy.

Remember back in the summer when PP started his collection of root beer bottles?  Well, he now has TWENTY different bottles in his man cave.  It's been fun to have taste tests of all the flavors that have come through our door.

PP has two helpers for his task of dwindling down the brush waiting to be burned.  The burn ban was lifted that very morning and there was a TON of brush to be burned.  Took him the entire day, but he loved every second of him a sense of accomplishment when seeing things happen since in ministry he doesn't always get to see the result of his hard work. The little one was especially in awe since this was her first time to experience such a sight!

The next door neighbors have this emu that continually checks us out on the other side of the fence line making low drum beat sounds down in his (her??) chest.  Quite an eery sound.

Love the capture of this pic!! I can even see the heat waves!

See....this is just a smidgen of the mud we tracked around. Made us feel so earthy.

This girl was amazing in her big sister role this week.  Both girls were so great and an actual delight to be around!  They are growing and really learning how to be sisters.  We are STILL waiting on the appeal process to finish for PandaJOY, but in the meantime we live life like a family of four.

While on a mini walk through the woods I found the perfect walking stick.  I grew up in the country and it was just something we did to go walking forever through the woods and fields that my family all owned.  We go to my grandma's for lunch then anxiously beg to go "the walk". My aunt would always have a fabulous natural walking stick and tell crazy stories while me and my many cousins tagged along dodging cow piles (that's manure, for you city folk!) and keeping a watchful eye out for rattlesnakes.  Some of my most favorite memories of my childhood stem from these walks.

When I found my walking stick I brought it back to PandaPop for whittling and oiling, but alas......I broke the darn thing when playing around with it.  Stupid stick.  Must not have been walking stick worthy to have broken so easily.  Now I just have to find a new one. Smile.

Raise your hand if you love pumpkin pie!!

I think I've watched the Thanksgiving Day Parades (or just had on in the background) every year of my life! PP makes fun of it because it's really just one big gig for showing off Broadway shows and not much of a parade.  I think he's on to 'em.

Lovely fountain making a soothing dreamy sound in the back yard. I love seeing the sun come through the water.  In order to get this pic I had to stand on big rocks in my house shoes while getting splashed with water, but it was worth it for the shot.

Well, whadayaknow? These two CAN get along!

On over at the other grandparents' home who also live in the glorious country....they have neighbors with donkeys, goats and geese.  As soon as the entire crew heard us calling from across the tank (large manmade pond) they all started making their way to the fence. Felt like I was watching the nativity donkey embark on his journey.

The girls delighted in feeding all six (I think there were six) donkeys leaves from a tree and the recipients were just as happy to have something offered other than feed.

We spent some time out with the girls watching them get a bit of the natural world under their belt then went inside.  No sooner had the adults gotten settled doing something, but to see the Little Bitty come inside with huge tears saying the donkey bit her finger.  We took a look and saw that, sure enough, there were teeth indentions, but no broken skin.  Then PG told us that she was scared because another donkey bit her pinky and wouldn't let go! When we realized that they were both OK...we were cracking up with laughter!!!! I think it just sounds so funny to say that both our girls were bitten by donkeys!

No matter how long or short of a time we put PandaDoggie in the doggie hotel....he comes home utterly exhausted.  This is how I found him just an hour of being home.....completely out of it on the couch in the garage (or better known as The Man Cave). Poor baby.

We attempted to take some family photos while out on the land.  I had all our outfits coordinated, but of course, we couldn't get everyone to smile or look at the camera at the same time.  Crazy that we couldn't do it with only four people, but then again one is a three year old the photographer wasn't a pro.  We take what we can get and are happy to have what we have!  It's hard for me to be on the other side of the camera when I know much better how to work the thing and boss people around for their shoots yet can't even get a great pic of my own family! lol!! PandaPop took this one of me and my father-in-law took the one of us below.  I think he did pretty well!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are blessed beyond measure.  We have to find the way to give thanks in ALL things! Read Psalm 100 for a great start on how to praise God for all that he has done for us. Blessings!

Hey....Funderstorm...I didn't put the Pandaleidoscope Pics on the last two pics so you could click & drag. Love you!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Be Thankful

PandaPop surprised us three girls with beautiful roses yesterday morning as we entered the rainbow hallway as we do every Sunday morning.  We go in with our freshly made coffees from the downstairs atrium coffee bar and head on down that colorful hall to find Daddy who's been at church since 7:00am. It's our weekly ritual and we love it.  Yesterday was a special celebration for us and the start of a new tradition.

We do adore a good tradition around here.  Makes me feel close-knit and special.  Something to always look forward to, I guess.

November 20 is the day I met my Beloved PandaPop TWENTY YEARS ago!! It is also the first time we saw PandaGirl's breath-taking face on our email that said she was ours and to come get her.  November 20 was also the very day that our precious PandaJOY came into the care of my dear friend who was her foster mother for 15 months.

Do you see that luscious, glowing skin I have on my cheek and nose?  Yeah, me too.  I think I remember that feeling.  Age takes that away. Stress eats it away one wince at a time.  PP has always been so deeply moved by the joy of us getting older together.  I see wrinkles and inevitable aging.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not so shallow as to overlook the fabulous gift of my precious husband and having lived life together.  I just hate that we have no choice, but to lose our physical youth and have nasty wrinkly skin to look forward to no matter how much fancy lotion we apply. Bleh.

By the grace of God alone, we have a great marriage.  We are best friends.  We laugh so much together, play, talk, cry, pray, grieve, long, plan, pursue, love, gripe, cook, read, eat, sit, make fun of, ponder, listen.  All of it.  We do life together.  What a gift.  A rare gift, indeed.

November 20th is a special day in the life of our PandaFamily.  We call it Team "Panda" Day (insert our last name in place of Panda).  These are the moments to hold closely to my heart.

Everyday battles still ensue, but there are moments every single day that are worth stopping for and boasting in the Lord that He alone is good and worthy of our praise.  He IS the giver of all good gifts.  James tells us that.

Late last night I spent some carefree moments in the company of three other women who "get" the whole Twilight* Saga.


That cracks me up.

So serious.

I've read the books and have seen the movies.  Fun escapism.

I don't drink blood and realize the Bible prohibits it. Whew.  I'm not a werewolf either, but I do love me some Jacob*Black.  He's so warm. (Wild & Precious....that was just for you.)  I like Edward*Cullen, too. So noble is he. Bella* gets on my nerves.  Fun times!!

This book.  This book is moving.  It is real and not escapism in any form.  It is facing head-on the realities of this dank, dark horrible life we have to live through to get to heaven, but doing it in a state of thankfulness.  That thankfulness is the turning point of our perspective.  Once truly thankful for everything....the good and the bad.....we are freed to live......freely, peacefully.

Once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord....we are free.  Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." I have been a person who thanks God for most everything.  Even the tiniest of details doesn't escape me.  I give credit where it's due: God.  Check out my sidebar blurb that I've had up says that I like the small details in life.  I do.

I love cheering for God and the gifts He gives.  I also lose my perspective sometimes and this very poignant, extremely beautiful poetic book is blessing my heart deeply.  I am changed because of its words.  Ann Voskamp*s writing is a true breath of fresh air.  Go buy it today.

And what exactly is this, you ask? Why the pretty pictures and then end with a white dog speckled with pink spots?  

Well this is what happens with the girls are off from school and PG puts bright red lipstick on PJs mouth getting very much outside the lines and then PJ decides to KISS PandaDoggie.

It went in my thankful journal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prepping for Thanksgiving

Busting at the seams with gratitude.

That's how I want to feel tomorrow.

Tomorrow holds yet another biological visit with PandaJoy's birth mother.

For reasons yet unseen, maybe never seen, we continue this charade.

My daughter doesn't understand why she has to be left in the muraled room with cast off toys for an eternity to play with another grown-up who calls her "mommy".

Maybe that's just my own interpretation of the visit, but I do know that confusion will assuredly set in tomorrow as we pack up to head down the crowed highway an hour and a half one way to walk into the very bleak, very beige, very long hallway to fulfill the state required biological visit in the tiny room for an hour.  Minus me.

This whole reality of ours does nothing of benefit for my daughter. It only sets to delay her healing.

It challenges my own motherhood.

However, today I bought a book.  One that is seemingly popular right now and has made it's presence known to me through several veins this week alone.  I thought it worthy of purchasing.  Clearly, it was a perfect buy.

I'll share it with you when I'm done.

I am so thankful for this gut-wrenching process we are living out with our PandaJoy.  She is truly worth the pain, struggle, confusion and unending wait.  Being thankful for all of those things will make the completion that much sweeter.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Around These Here Parts

PandaKitty has a psychosis. He has had it for as long as we've had him which is about 5 years now.   No matter how full his food bowl is he comes to find one of us and yells at us trying desperately to lure us into the kitchen to put food in his bowl.  I end up having to tap-tap his food bowl so he hears the kibbles & bits rattle around and all of a sudden he thinks I put new food in the bowl.  Doesn't matter if he SAW me put the food in the bowl......1/2 hour later he comes a-yellin' for more food. I know, crazy.

PandaDoggie is sitting on the back of our couch.  Yep.  That's a way to welcome guests to our home.  "The children can't walk on the couch, but the dog can. Help yourself up on the perch, too if you wish." Also, Mr. Deafy didn't seem to hear we had a time change on Saturday so he's been perky, wide awake and raring to go at 5:00 am every day since. He is precious, though.....if you can stand his high maintenance lifestyle.

The collage below is a tiny peek at the preteen retreat that PandaPop and I put together for our 5th & 6th graders at church. FUN TIMES!!!!  Do see PandaJOY hula-hooping?!!!!!! What three year old can do THAT?! That little bitty toot was cracking us up with the shakity-shake of her booty and hips until she actually GOT IT! PandaGirl mastered her feat of hula-hooping while reading.  Love these precious gifts of mine!!! (They still drive me absolutely crazy on a daily basis, but that's what make parenting fun, right? Smile. )