Saturday, October 06, 2012

Reflections from Prison

So, last weekend I went to prison for Kairos again.  It's one of my favorite places in the world to be! But it's not always easy.  It requires a lot - Department of Corrections trainings, 32-36 hours of team training, and sacrifices in time, energy, and finances. I used to think when I became a mom, I would not be involved in this ministry anymore.  And my involvement has been less consistent - take a couple years off, work a weekend, take a couple more years off, step slowly back into the ministry, and then..find myself very involved in leadership roles.  And I'm so grateful God has provided a way for me to continue to be involved. It takes some creative planning to make it work along with my kids' crazy schedules too..but after trying it a couple times, I'm convinced that my involvement in Kairos benefits my kids as well.  They have "caught" a bit of my passion.  They pray "for the ladies in prison" regularly. They help make placemats and bake cookies to take in.  They have at times helped me sort or inventory supplies.  Their hearts are growing.  They also delight in telling their friends and teachers "My mom is in prison now!"..but well, they might as well have some fun with it! :)

I try to put my finger on exactly why this ministry has grabbed my heart so much. It sure would make my life a little easier if a little less-intense ministry was my passion. :) Before I got involved, prison ministry is probably the least likely place I'd have seen myself.  Work with kids? Yeah I can do that. Go on a mission trip? Yeah, I can see that.  Feed the Hungry? Just give me the opportunity and I'm there. Spend 4 days with women in a maximum security prison..holding their hands, praying and worshiping with them, listening to their stories, sharing my heart with them?  No thanks..not for me.  And yet,  I can walk down the halls of the prison, hear the  metal gates "clang" (and they do "clang" just like you imagine), and not feel uneasy at all. And when I am in that prison chapel, I feel very comfortable and at home. I have talked and shared and prayed and worshipped with the woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the woman who was in over her head with drugs, and with the woman whose crime has given her a life without parole sentence. And so many more.  When I meet a woman there, I don't even wonder "why are you here?" anymore.  Instead I wonder "Where is God's grace going to take you now?".  I have seen walls fall and lives rebuilt.  I have seen fogiveness given and accepted. I have seen hearts healed and compassion grow.  And I have experienced myself and other team members "getting it right" by saying the right thing at the right time. And I have experienced myself and other team members trying, but stumbling over words, messing up, and saying the wrong thing. And then I've seen God step in and make it right anyway. And while God has been busy working in the ladies' lives of that prison, He's been working in ours at the same time. I mean, I've said and done things in that prison I never thought I could do. I've been awed and humbled by His greatness.  Even with our "team", I've had to learn lessons of love, humility, and forgiveness.  I've experienced a boldness in faith and God has grown and stretched me.  My challenge is not to love my sisters-in-white (known as "inmates" to most) inside those prison walls. No, that's easy for me. My challenge is to stay connected to Jesus and love those in my world *outside* the prison carry the lessons learned inside to those I come in contact with every day. My challenge is to trust God's work in my everyday life as much as I trust His work inside the prison, to love and live as freely in my every day world as I do inside the prison.  Who would have thought I'd learn more about freedom inside a maximum security prison than anywhere else? But I have. And that's God. I hope and pray I have opportunities to continue to be involved in this ministry. God has put a passion deep inside my heart for these often forgotten women. At the same time, I pray I remember the lessons I've learned inside, even if the doors should one day close or if God leads in a different direction.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

August in a nutshell: busy and fun

Well, I'm trying to catch up. :)  So, with lots of pictures and brief descriptions, August was busy.
We started with Hannah's 9th birthday party. Sweet friends, a rock star movie party (they made their own movie party), make-up, cupcakes, presents, fun!

A couple weeks later we went to Treetop Family Adventure for Hanna's cleft clinic's annual "Family Fun Day" Girls had a blast!

Then, the girls were both baptized at my church. So sweet and special to celebrate that moment with the people who have supported our family from the beginning.  Sadie also sang the chorus to "Oh no, you never let go" by herself afterwards with our music leader / guitar player accompanying her.  So very precious!

The girls have been sharing a room since Sadie came home from China over 4 years ago. This summer, they decided they wanted their own rooms. So, they divided up the things in the playroom and Sadie moved out. Hannah especially likes having more space to call her own.  Sadie has mixed feelings about it.  Mainly because she's now responsible for keeping her own room clean  instead of depending on Hannah. Sadie has many strengths, but organization and cleaning are not among them! They sleep in their own rooms on school nights, but most weekend and holiday evenings they end up together - giggling and being silly together.

First Day of School!  Hannah is in 4th grade and moved to the intermediate school this year. So far, she is really enjoying this year.  She has great teachers and good friends.

 And Sadie started 1st grade.  She is having a great year as well and also has a great teacher and good friends.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Fun, pt. 2

I can't believe summer is winding down. We still have a couple weeks -but they will be busy! But July has been I'm ready for busy now.

We've had time to play games and build with legos,

Create and launch rockets,

Help with chores (and that's Sadie who fell into the laundry basket trying to get the clothes out of the bottom), 

Play in the water, 

Create with clay and paint,

And play in the rain.

Hannah went to camp for a week and had a blast!

Sadie had a couple days of adjustment..asking every 20 minutes "What do you think Hannah's doing now?". But then she settled in and seemed to enjoy a little time of  choosing what she wanted to do.  She made a turtle out of a box,

Went on treasure hunts in the neighborhood (this rock is a treasure she said),

Got VERY comfortable controlling the remote,

 And had a sweet friend over to play.  We also took a trip with some friends to Splash adventure, but I didn't even bring my camera for that.

But, at the end of the week, we were both VERY ready to go get Hannah.  We got there early and Sadie hung out on the rock waiting.  We were so glad to have Hannah home.

The girls have also been helping cook this summer, especially Sadie. She LOVES to be in the kitchen helping.

And we've enjoyed all curling up on the couch to read in the afternoons.

Sadie and I took a trip to Atlanta and she got a new splint. She has gone through a growth spurt and had outgrown her other one even though we'd only had it 6 months. (They tend to last about a year..she will wear a splint on her hand that had all the surgeries until it stops growing. She only has to wear it at night, and usually that's what she does. But she's quite proud of this new one so has been putting it on randomly throughout the week.

 Hannah's back (which had trouble in June) seems back to normal.  After many appointments and testing and normal results on all, we figure it was just a muscle strain or something.  But she's back to doing everything as before and seems fine.  She and Sadie have both enjoyed their tumbling classes this summer. And they have spent many hours in my living room trying out new skills, including these handstands.

Hannah had a follow up with her oral surgeon to check on the bone graft he did two years ago. Everything looked great and she is officially discharged from him.  Now, we just work with orthodontics to get her remaining teeth in and her jaws lined up.  We're not sure what all that will entail yet. We're working with Children's Rehab Services because they will help cover the costs of her orthodontics due to her cleft. But first, we have to have a visit with their cleft team - and we have that scheduled in October. Hannah was disappointed not to get braces this summer, but CRS includes a process that we just have to go through first.  I just hope she's still excited about it when the time comes..hopefully late this fall.

So, fall is around the corner! Hannah has one more dr. visit next week with ENT.  Dance team starts back later this week.  Hannah has a birthday party coming up this weekend (we're celebrating early partly to save my sanity  by not having a birthday party in the first two weeks of school). We have a visit to Grandma's house planned, and I start team meetings for a Kairos weekend (prison ministry).  I have two weeks before I go back to work, and the girls have 3 weeks.  But for now, we are enjoying watching and cheering for the olympics! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Fun - part 1

I love summer, and while I love my job and co-workers too - this year I was so ready for summer. We have enjoyed June, and look forward to more fun in July. :) Here's a taste of what we've done so far this summer. get the good pictures. Because I don't have pictures of: waking mom up at a ridiculously early hour, whining, way too many dirty clothes or dishes, or arguing.  Hey,. they're a normal part of life too.  But the joy, the laughter, and the precious time we've gotten to spend together has definately outweighed the other stuff.  Here's a taste of what we've done so far this summer.

Kicking off the first day of summer with breakfast and a game of checkers at Cracker Barrell

A visit to grandma and grandpa's house complete with a game of croquet...

And a short drive to Chattanooga for a fun day at Riverwalk.

By  far the kids' favorite part of visiting..playing with my grandfather's wheelchair!

We've also enjoyed catching fireflies in the backyard.

Both girls have helped cook on different nights.

Hannah finished reading Wizard of Oz and we had an Oz movie night to compare the book and movie.  The girls ran upstairs and came down with these unique costume creations.  Hannah is Dorothy and Sadie is the tin man.  OH NO - the tin man is rusted again!

Never fear - Dorthy has the oil can to fix him right up.

It's not been all play. There's been some productive moments too, such as organizing the pantry.  It even has chalkboard labels on it now too (completed after photo was taken).

My dad came and pruned some trees around the house.  Hannah enjoyed helping.

The girls went to two VBS programs and had a blast at each.  Here's Hannah making a birdhouse at the VBS at my church. Our aweesome craft people were brave enough to spread the kids out and give them all hammers at the same time. They LOVED it!

And of course mine can't get enough of a stage. :)

This week we tried a fun experiment and made a "balloon catapult".  SO fun for the girls.  Here's our homemade catapult ready for action.

Water balloon in position. Ready, aim, fire!!

Wow - it really works!

Bike riding is still a favorite.

But washing the car is really fun!

So, that's the fun part of June! The not-so-fun part is Hannah has somehow hurt her back. She's fine and not in pain for everyday activities. But when she bends or twists certain ways, it hurts.  So, she's been going through some dr. appointments to try to figure out what it is.  Her dr. says that in kids her age, she shouldn't be having back pain, even with sports or dance activities without a cause. But, they can't find a cause. She had an x-ray and MRI that were both normal.  Today, she went for a bone scan.  She did awesome and I was so proud of her! But, we won't get the results until probably next week. So, say a prayer for her.  If the bone scan comes back normal, her dr. will recommend a few weeks of PT to see if that helps.

Stayed tuned for part 2 of summer fun...coming when we do some more fun things and when I get an inkling to blog about it.  Sadie has swim lessons coming up.  That girl needs to learn how to swim. She has no fear of the water. She also has no skill.  Hannah learned to swim great with the YMCA program a couple years ago (her competitiveness kicked in. Once someone else her age swam without the floatie..she was determined too). Sadie meanwhile, was more about the socialization than the actual swimming.  And in two sessions at the Y - I don't think she learned anything.  So, we're trying swim lessons with a friend of mine (who is also a teacher so she's seen enough cute 1st graders not to be suckered in by "cute". She'll be fun and loving and encouraging, but she'll also ask for performance and effort..which is what miss social butterfly needs).   But otherwise,  I'm seeing a bunch of reading, board games, and movies in our future this weekend with temps predicted up to 106. Either that or a trip to Alaska if someone wants to fund it. :) Happy Summer!