Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Next Step

To briefly summarize:

The Wait is over, and the Next Step has been given. The Lord has shown us where to put our feet next, and we are so grateful.

We have waited for what feels like a very long time. In an attempt to make himself available to whatever opportunity the Lord had for us, Ryan has applied for dozens of jobs. We have prayed and waited, and looked down any road that we came across, asking "Is this the one Lord?" While He said "Wait" every time, we felt that it was the right thing to do to continue looking. One opportunity that we were excited about never went anywhere, but because Ryan applied where he did, his information was sent off (with his permission) to other similar organizations. Many wrote back asking for applications and more information, but only one stood out.

There was an opportunity to work with an organization in Memphis, Memphis Teacher Residency. Ryan applied, was called for a phone interview a few days later, and immediately afterwards, invited to come to Memphis for a weekend introduction to the program and face to face interview. This past weekend he went.

He saw God working in Memphis. He saw Change happening there, and he saw God's people standing up and serving as we have been called. In their own words, MTR is working to "positively impact student achievement in Memphis' urban schools by recruiting, training, and supporting outstanding teachers, all within a Christian context." There is a huge need in the urban schools of Memphis, and MTR is stepping up to help meet that need.

Ryan was so impressed with what he learned about their program, and was blessed by the example the residents and staff gave. Their mission and calling resonated with both of us, and we were eager to see what would come of this trip! His interview went very well, and for the past two days since his return, we have waited excitedly to see if the Lord would invite us to join His work in Memphis. We knew that for the first time, there was prayer happening on the other side as well, and we knew that their decision would be from God.

This morning, they called to let us know that Ryan had been accepted into their residency program!

The Lord has shown us where He is working, and has shown us our Next Step! We could not be more excited.

We are moving to Memphis this June, for a 4 year adventure in Urban Education!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just Two Years Old Today...

Dearest Darling Little Girl,

You are Two Years Old today. I can not remember what life was like without your cheerful and exciting little presence in our lives. You have made my life so much richer Leilani. You made me a mother, and in doing so, have shown me our Father in a whole new way. You make life so full and so blessed.

This morning when you woke up, we had one of your two favorite breakfasts. Usually we have waffles which you love, but today you asked for french toast with honey. A dollop of "cream cream!" on top started you off with a smile.

Right now, your favorite foods are waffles, tofu and your green smoothies. You will eat anything that I throw in a blender and you are learning how to make them yourself! You love your tofu with shoyu and your waffles with honey. I am glad that you drink water so well, while you love juice, your cup is always full of the water that you request. Beans, rice and avocados make rotations with tuna and macaroni in your favor as well. You must eat super well, because you sure are getting heavy!

I can not get over how smart you are. You recognize logos, some letters or a number on occasion, you can count all the way to 12 on days when you feel like focusing, you know most of your alphabet (and a lot of it in order too!) and you can't get enough singing. You love to hum your favorite songs or hear them sung. Over and over and over.

You are really starting to pretend too! You enjoy serving up wooden block meals to all of your stuffed friends, and I love to watch you ask them questions, greet them excitedly and explain things to them. "Hi Bearbear, you tired? Here look. See dis? What  you doing?" Listening to you mother your fluffy friends and share what you learn with them is so sweet.

You met your new little cousin Sarina just a few days ago. I was so proud of how gentle and careful you were with your new friend. You were so interested when she got her diaper change, and I think your happiest discovery was that she had Buns just like you! "See Leilani? She has little baby buns!" You gasped and said "I have buns TOO!" You could not stop talking about her afterwards! Your relationship with your cousins and other family members is such a blessing. You talk about everyone so often and I am amazed at the amount of people you know and already love!

You are so interested in littler children and babies. You always excitedly point out strollers and infants wherever you see them. You also love your diapers, since they feature your favorite Sesame Street characters, Elmo and Cookie Monster. You love to exclaim "See! See? See Elmo?" to anyone who will listen, and point him out. You are intrigued by the bathroom and potty, I think we are almost ready to start potty training, even though you love your diapers so much.

You love animals! Horses, cows, elephants... It doesn't matter. They all fascinate you, but you especially love going to the pet store with Dada to visit all the kitties, doggies and fish. You take such good care of your fishies here at home, helping Dada to feed them almost every day.

The great outdoors is your favorite place to be. You are so brave, and will slide down any slide no matter how tall, all by yourself. If Mama or Dada is waiting beneath you, you never hesitate to jump off a ledge into our arms. You enjoy strolling with your Thatha (Really, you love doing anything with your Thatha) and exploring the green world around you. I am so glad that we have had an early spring, keeping you inside all the time was getting to be tough.

You talk and talk and talk. Full sentences, clear expressions and so many words! I love that we can have conversations and talk about what you are thinking. We are still working on expressing your feelings when you are upset, but you usually remember to use your words and say what you want. You seem so grown up for such a little girl. We could not be more proud of you.

You really enjoy Curious George, Yo Gabba Gabba and Sesame Street, but I am trying to slowly get you back into books. I guess you love sound too much, you really enjoy singing and dancing to all the songs on your shows. Hornton Hears a Who and Finding Nemo are on constant replay. You love those movies as much as you love your shows and when you get to watch something, you usually rotate through several of them. (Obviously one of my proudest achievements in motherhood.)

You sleep well for the most part, though we are working on consistent nap and bed times. You stay in your toddler bed happily and love your pajamas. I think I went a little overboard in the pajama department, you have quite a selection. Bathtimes are so much fun as you like to pretend that you are a shark, dolphin or fish. Watching you "swim" and giggle and imagine is a treat.

We love you so much Leilani. Our prayer for you is that you will grow in wisdom and in your love for the Lord as you add inches to your height, and that the Lord be your joy, strength, present and future. We could not be more proud of you Little Flower. Happy, Happy Birthday.

(Photos taken this past Fall by Rebekah Joy Petersen)

Some of Spring

Twas a mild winter, and an early Spring! Yay for outside time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Still Waiting.

The 22nd of this month marks half a year since we began this Great Adventure. Six long months. There have been several "Is this it God? Is this The Next Step?" and more than a few raised hopes, and excited "What ifs?" There have been several "guaranteed" or highly probable jobs, interviews that have gone well and opportunities that "fit perfectly and made so much sense." But the Next Step was always "Wait on Me. I am planning your story. Wait, and I will provide." And He has. He has really had our backs, and He is not letting us take a step in any direction but the one He has planned for us. It is quite amazing, really.

It seems like this should be one of the most stressful and anxious times in our lives, but in reality, it hasn't been. The Lord has been so faithful and has never left our side, and although it seems like absolutely nothing is happening, we have so much evidence that something is. "No" is still an answer to prayer, and even though it may not seem like a next step, it is. So often I keep looking for the "Yes, this is it! Move forward!" as the "next Step," but "No, this is not the plan. Sit still." is what we keep hearing. "No" is an answer, "Stay where you are," is still progress in His plan. Every day brings us one step farther down His path, even if it seems like we are going nowhere fast. So we wait.

"Waiting on the Lord" is not supposed to be a passive thing. All throughout the Psalms, we see examples of active waiting, looking ahead with confidence, searching for the Father, seeking His will. Never does God say "sit around and do nothing," but always "Seek Me. Search and you will find." So we are trying to wait that way.

We get a lot of "So what about Colorado?" questions (I ask this question frequently myself) and nothing has changed there other than our understanding of God's timing. We are confident that the Lord told us that He is going to bring us to Colorado, and it sure felt like He was moving rapidly in that direction. But oh, how His timing is not ours. One day (soon or far,) He will bring us there, but before then, we could spend (many?) years in other places along the way. We do not know, and we can not see that far ahead. So we wait, knowing something of the future, but not a single thing about the journey in between.

We are currently looking at a really exciting opportunity, one that gets us more excited than any before it. If in a few weeks the Lord is still telling us to wait, we will be disappointed, but still confident. His plan is perfect, and we would choose no other. I admit that I am ready to take a step, ready to see where the Lord will stick us, but until then, we wait!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thinking Out Loud.

Spring is in the air. It is 70 degrees and pretty sunny today. Leilani and I spent our morning visiting the Jr. Menehans, playing with Sophie at the playground while Vallie strolled with Elsa around the lake.

So thankful for this warm day. Although we have had a mild winter, I am still longing for true spring weather. Warm, the smell of dirt and fresh cut grass, flip flops and open windows... lemonade and gardening. Or the concept of gardening.

I am in classes again, taking Survey, which is the second to last class in my interpreting class. It has been a long almost 3 years away from it all. Strange to be the stranger, weird to feel out of my element as a student. Scary to realize that I should be capable of so much more at this point in the program. Calmed to know that the Lord got me into this class (unexpectedly, two weeks late) so He will teach me whatever it is I need to learn.

I have wanted to interpret since I was 8. I tailored my entire highschool education towards that goal. American Sign Language speaks to me. Wow, cheesy. But it does. I worship with my hands. I dance with my hands. I speak with my hands. But do I communicate? Am I an effective conduit? I want to think visually. To really "get it." To "THINK A-S-L" and to naturally understand the linguistics, grammar and culture involved. Basically I want the Lord to upload all I need to know instantly to my brain. Mostly because I am afraid I can't get it, or because I worry that in order to "get it" I must live a different kind of life.

When Mommy became who I am, I gave up a lot. I gave up a job that I liked (not a career, but a job, people and atmosphere I earned, laughed and did well in,) and for a while the education I wanted to have. I mentally gave up aspirations of being any sort of artist, and of ever having a career. Then God gave me my Dots and Lines, and now, He is giving me the opportunity to learn. Am I? Am I making the most of my opportunities?

Questions about ability, "good enough," should, shouldn'ts, coulds and what ifs swirl about in tangled knots. They are blown about, forgotten, remembered and silenced, but they always seem to come back.

But you know what? He is good. And He is always wooing. Am I listening? He is singing. Am I dancing? He is Perfect. And He is the Author of my perfection. Am I letting Him sculpt? He has promised to complete what He started. I am His and He is mine. He is my I AM.

Lots of swirling. I need more still. Worry pops up like weeds. I need to water my peace.

Spring is coming.