The Potter & His Clay

Six years ago today, we had a beautiful little girl.  We named her Faith Elizabeth.  Faith because that is what it took and was going to take to walk the path that God was taking us on.  Elizabeth because we believed and prayed for that child.  Our Valentine’s Day will be forever changed because that is the day that we were induced to have a child that we knew God had taken back home.  Thankfully, labor took long enough so she was born on the 15th.

I had to have a blood transfusion before they would induce me because my overall blood volume in my body was low.  The day they put me in the hospital to have her, it so happened that it was a full moon, so everybody in Louisville was going into labor.  It was interesting to have a doctor come in and tell you that you had to wait to have your child because they had to take the women who had “viable” babies first.  I totally understood that, but it was still unsettling.

A week after Faith was born, I had to go back for a checkup.  This was one of the hardest things I had to do.  Needless to say, there were A LOT of women in for their checkup.  I sat there and listened to some young (late teens) mothers complain about how they had to get up every 3 hours to feed their babies and how tired they were and on and on.  I so badly wanted to point out to them how selfish they were being and how they should be grateful that their child was even alive!  And how having to feed every 3 hours is nothing.  Try doing it every 45 minutes with a premie!  (Hunter was a premie and would eat that way because it wore him out so quickly.  Can you tell I was angry???)  I finally got called back to my room and my doctor had been paged for a delivery so I had to wait.  Down the hall they had a mother having a Fetal Stress Test done, so for an hour I got to sit and listen to a baby’s heartbeat.  I left the doctor’s office broken and hurt.  I went and bought my first pack of cigarettes in 5 years.  In my mind, at that moment, it was either smoking or drinking.  So, I chose the lesser of the two evils, so to speak.

Over the next few months, I grew more and more bitter the more I thought about it and the things that I witnessed around me with new mothers.  I couldn’t understand WHY God would allow drug addicts, young teens, irresponsible people (the list goes on and on) to have babies.  I can honestly say that I was so angry at God that I hated Him.  I was mad at myself and Tevis.  Why was I having to go through this?  What good could possibly come from this?  I was at a pivotal point in my life where I had to make some decisions about the direction I was going to go.

It all came down to pottery.  Potters have to do a lot of work to the clay to make it into what they are trying to shape.  Pottery is made by forming a clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln which removes all the water from the clay, which induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing their strength and hardening and setting their shape.  Prior to some shaping processes, clay must be prepared. Kneading helps to ensure an even moisture content throughout the body. Air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed. This is called de-airing and can be accomplished by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can also help produce an even moisture content. Once a clay body has been kneaded and de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After shaping it is dried and then fired. (Wikipedia)  

I was (am) a very bull-headed person.  I don’t like being moved from my comfort zone.  I like to be in control of things.  It gives me security.  What I learned through Faith’s death was I needed to be refined.  And for stubborn pieces of clay, they take some extra work.  Extra HARD work, because they are difficult.  They have to be broken down to be able to build back up.  Once they are finally workable and are shaped, the piece is then fired at temperatures between 1800 – 2500 *F.  That’s hot!  The product that you get in the end is one of treasure and durability.  But it has to go through the entire process to get that way.

I can now say that I am thankful for the trial that we got to walk through with her death.  The bitterness has subsided and I’m no longer angry at God.  I still have those nagging questions as to why us but I understand a little better for what purpose.  I have had the opportunity to talk with other women who have just lost or are currently walking through that same hurricane.  He gives us each our own storm so we can bring hope to others going through the same thing.  Though I am struggling this year with it, I know the good that can come of it.  I just have to let the process continue and trust that in the end, the piece of pottery I will become will be something worth treasuring.  The storms come and the storms go but God’s loving hand is always their even though we may not feel it at that moment.  He’s crying when we cry, laughing when we laugh and He’s still always there, cheering us on.  “Take another step my child.  Trust me.  Take another step.”  So, on I walk.  Praising Him through each storm He sends.  =)  Be Blessed!

Realizing Her Destined Flight

I have come to the realization that my daughter will, at some point in her life, live in Japan or other Asian country for a lengthy period of time.  Those of you who know Destiny know of her love for anime and manga.  She draws it nonstop, day and night.  But it’s more than that.  She is enthralled with the culture.  Nearly every aspect of it.  From the food to the clothes to the television shows.  I really have no idea where she came to love the asian culture so much.  Tevis nor myself have ever had any interest in it.  We gave her no exposure to fuel the love of it.  What I have come to learn, is that it was God who placed that seed in her heart and it is our job, as her parents, to nurture that seed.  I have to admit though, I feel as though we have been failures so far with that job.  Fear has been a huge factor in that.  I don’t understand the culture so I don’t know how to shield her from the negative influences.  It’s just been easier to heavily limit what she is exposed to than to take the time to learn.

I broke down the other day and sat with her and watched one her shows that she added on Netflix.  I want to be supportive.  It was a Korean television show.  I have to say that I LOVED it.  Yes, I had to read the subtitles, but I was hooked and ended up finishing the whole series (2 seasons).  I continued to watch even after she was tired of watching it.  She told me that it was based on one of her graphic novels she had read.  Anyway, something clicked.  I found an appreciation for it.  I can see why she is so enthralled with it.  So, my quest for the last 2 days has been “What can I do to help her?”  Obviously, we are going to have to study this.  I am looking in to Summer programs she can take abroad.  How I’m going to get her there I haven’t figured out yet, but I know that I want her to be able to go and be immersed in it and learn what she isn’t able to learn by being stateside.  I found one program that I am seriously considering.  It’s geared toward the Anime and Manga.  This is an overview of the month-long program:

     ORIENTATION IN TOKYO
     Spend your first few days exploring the world’s most populous city. Working with Japanese college students and your group leader, delve into the world             of Japanese language and culture. Check out the latest gadgets in Akihabara, wander through seafood auctions at Tsukiji fish market, ride the escalators at Ginza’s skyscraping department stores, and consult the oracle at Sensō-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo.
   

     HOMESTAY IN HOKKAIDO
     From Tokyo, you and your group fly to the northern island of Hokkaido. Japan’s largest prefecture, Hokkaido is home to gorgeous national parks, dense forests, soaring mountains, and the Ainu culture. During your 10-day homestay, you become a member of a Japanese family. Whether it’s enjoying a meal of miso ramen with your host brother, going to a Buddhist temple with your host parents, or canoeing on picturesque lakes, you learn about Japanese culture as the newest member of your host family and community.
Sample host communities: Muroran, Ishikari, Nanae
     

     LANGUAGE TRAINING AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
     Take part in small-group language classes with Japanese teachers to gain confidence in your language skills and build the vocabulary you’ll need at the anime studio in Tokyo. Put your new language skills to use as you participate in fun, interesting cultural activities.
Sample activities: Visit a local high school and spend the day with Japanese students; relax in a traditional hot spring; hike through national parks; participate in a Japanese tea ceremony; try on a colorful kimono.
      

     ANIME AND MANGA
     Travel back to Tokyo to explore Japanese culture through the art of anime and manga. For two weeks, you work with professional artists and Japanese student animators at the Yoyogi Animation Gakuin, a famous anime school in Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya neighborhood. Learn techniques in character development, drawing, animation, and voice-overs. You also visit anime production companies, manga studios, and neighborhoods famous for contemporary art. By the end of your stay, you have developed the vocabulary and skills to design and animate your own character and animated clip.
Sample activities: 
Enjoy a day trip to see the temples and shrines of Kamakura; explore the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka; see the biggest fireworks festival in Japan.

What an experience it could be for her!  I showed her and she was excited.  Of course, once we looked deeper, she knew all the places and such that it mentioned in its itenerary.  So, my focus now needs to be more in supporting her, helping her to learn and develop the gifts that God has given her and is planning for her to use, and saving up the money that she will need to be able to take this trip.  How he wants her to use them, I have no idea.  I just know that my daughter will be in another country at some point in her life and God is going to use her in a way that I cannot fathom.

So, Lord, what steps do you want me to take in raising her up to be that servant?  What do I need to do to help her develop those gifts that you will be using?  What groundwork are you laying now that I’m not paying attention to? Who are the people you are placing on her path that I need to listen to?  I thank you for her and what you want to do in her life.  Guide me in helping her make that flight.  I want her to soar!  =)  Be Blessed!

A Beautiful Choir of Autism

I came across this the other night and it brought tears to my eyes.  Yes, I understand that they are on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, but too often we do not give these kiddos a chance to develop the giftings that God blessed them with.  These kids HAVE a purpose just like everybody else.  God blessed them (yes I said blessed) with these different abilities.  I am thankful that to see someone taking the time to develop these children’s gifts.  I love the quote at the end of the video.  “The only limits to what they can do are the ones we put on them.”  So true and that can even go for others as well.  Let’s not limit these children.  Let’s help them soar!  How amazing!

The Fun of Conspiracy (aka Birthday Dinner)

Today is my birthday.  Well, not actually.  This is the day that my dad says that I was born.  He has always teased me about it.  Mainly because he missed me, his first-born, emerge into the world because he went and got coffee since it was taking so long.  So, he calls me on Groundhogs Day every year and sings me happy birthday…and to aggravate my mother (who reminded me this week how close to 40 I was), since every year she tries to correct him about the date.  I love it!  It’s our thing.  My father is quirky.  He has a lot of little things that he does or says that make him special.  Like, I am his “Number 1 Daughter” as so he calls me and Ruthie, my beautifully blonde sister, is “Number 2 Daughter”.  Anyway, I digressed.

Truthfully though, yesterday was my real birthday.  Oh what a wonderful time we had last night!  Mind you, I had no idea that there was conspiring going on behind my back.  I had a “plan”.  I had coupons!  Birthday coupons!  So, I went on about my day, being none the wiser, until I was informed that there was to be a dinner and game playing later.  I have to be honest about something here.  Those that know me well will be shaking their heads in agreement.  I struggle with having nice things done for me.  You can ask my husband, I don’t like for him to get me stuff for Christmas, because I fear his disappointment in my reaction.  Same thing goes for compliments.  Maybe that’s the underlying thing with all of it.  Fear.  Who knows.

Anyway, It was great!  Brad & Connie (our Lead Pastors), Cody & Stephanie (our Youth & Children’s Pastors) and all our chitlins (definition:children).  Merriment abounded!

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Clockwise: Cody, Stephanie, Brady (on Steph’s lap), Brad, Connie, Myself & Hurley the Dog


I have come to realize that memories are, most of the time, made unexpectedly and for the most absurd reasons.  I think sleep deprivation is the cause of a lot of it since 2 of our 3 families have babies and we are sleepless over making a decision about a house to buy.

We played Logo after dinner.  It’s like a trivia game.  I don’t think that I have ever laughed so hard or so much in my entire life.  There was tears shed by nearly all of us.  Tevis and I had a headache by the time we left.  One time in particular, we were laughing so much we couldn’t laugh anymore or breathe.  It made poor Hurley the Dog so nervous, he started eating my pants legs.  NO KIDDING!  He just laid beside me chewing on the bottom of my pants.  Reminded me of the mini-dach we used to have that would suck on his tail to go to sleep.  You can’t make this stuff up!

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Stephanie serving said delicious cake.

Then we had cake.  Wonderful, delicious, scrumptious chocolate cake.  It was really, really good!  Too bad the kids didn’t have any.  Okay, well, maybe two of the kids had cake.  They had more important things going on, like Minecraft (whatever that is).

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Tevis devouring said delicious cake.

Overall, I am so thankful with who God has placed in my life.  I still become awestricken when I really think about it.  We have only been here 2 months and to me it seems like we’ve been here forever.  The way we’ve all just melded together and fit like a glove.  It’s been effortless in one sense.  We’re family and I am so thankful to have them in my life!  Home.  What more can I say!  =)  Be Blessed!