Thursday, July 31, 2003

New students arriving

Last night we attended an AFS meeting as veterans (having hosted 4 students) to meet with new host parents--students will begin arriving from around the world next week. Of course--there are much more experienced host parents than we are--one of the couples we know has hosted 10 times, and many of their students have been friends of ours.

This year we begin an adventure of not only hosting again, but serving as a liaison for a family--making short monthly required reports and connecting with the family and the student. It is really fun to get to know these students from around the world, to see how they interact with family and friends, and see how they connect with each other, even though their cultures vary so much.

Our student from Bolivia was very close to girls from Turkmenistan and Thailand. How different can those cultures be, but they had a lot in common--mainly that they were teenagers far from home, but at home here, too.

We're looking forward to the next phase of our foreign adventure, which begins when Inga from Moldova arrives on Monday!



Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Sending off our kids

It's been over 3 weeks since our Thai student went back home, and we of course are still missing him. We are also looking forward to the arrival of Inga from Moldova in Eastern Europe. We have already talked on the phone and e-mailed twice.

And, today we are sending our 15-year-old son from Minnesota to Tennessee for the triennial Covenant youth convention (CHIC). We've sent him to camp in northern Minnesota, but this time feels a bit different. He's traveling with a youth group that he is just barely acquainted with, and it is farther than just a couple of hours away. Plus, he'll be participating in some challenging activities--like white water rafting!

But he's an adventuresome sort, and he makes friends easily, so I know I shouldn't worry. I'm a little sad, because our exchange student will arrive while he is gone, but they'll have the whole year to get acquainted, and our other two children will be here.

It's just another step in letting go.....not always easy.



Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Keeper of the calendar

It seems that mom's are forever the keeper of the calendar. I try to keep the schedules straight for my three kids, plus the exchange student we have 11 months out of the year, but sometimes it's not so easy. My 13-year old daughter is now babysitting quite often, and parents aren't sure if they should confirm appointments with me or her.

She had overnight duty for a birthday party at her cousins (the parents were home overnight) and I had almost forgotten she has a babysitting job this morning. So, mom, the calendar keeper, is also the chauffer and time manager. On days when we oversleep, when on my walk a woman talks to me for 10 minutes about her hornet problem, and Raven (our dog) decides to plop people's yards and roll in their grass which is nicer and greener than ours--I barely have time to write my blog!

Maybe this afternoon will be more relaxing. It sure has helped that my daughter has her own spending money now--but then again, I have to drive her to the mall because it's burning a whole in her pocket!



Monday, July 28, 2003

Old friends, new friends

We attended an outdoor wedding this weekend, and though the weather was questionable, it turned out to be perfect. The ceremony was a lakeshore cabin. It was a humid morning, but by the afternoon, the cloud cover and a nice breeze cooled the crowd that had gathered. The couple had invited people to bring swim suits and towels to enjoy swimming and water activities on the lake, and after the service ended, the sun came out! We had fun chatting with old friends we hadn't seen in a while and enjoying a day away. Our teenage kids seemed to survive fine without us--we were gone from noon till about 10 pm. Nice.

On Sunday morning, we went to a church we don't attend often (our church of many years closed almost a year ago)--because our son Mark is going to CHIC (Covenant High Congress)--a gathering of high school students from all over the country who have connections with the Evangelical Covenant Church. They will gather at the University of Tennessee for a week-long convention with excellent speakers, worship music, activities (Mark is going to do white water rafting) and small group Bible studies. So, we went to the service and interacted with new friends. Then, we went to an 80th birthday party of my father-in-law's cousin, and interacted with family members we haven't seen in 10 years (at his 70th birthday party). It was really lovely to reconnect.

I've been thinking about friendships and how important they are. I have realized this more since our church dissolved. It was easy to connect with people when we would see them at church 2 or 3 times a week. I developed good friendships, but mostly in a group setting. It is a bit more intimidating to invite friends into my home, one or two at time, or make a real effort to keep in touch with those that are important to me.

But I think it's vital--it's best to keep in touch in between wedding, funerals, birthday parties or youth send-off events. But it's scary too.



Saturday, July 26, 2003


We have enjoyed so many nice days this summer here in Minnesota, and now today my friend's son is getting married--outside. The weather forecast predicts chances of thunderstorms, and the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife. The dew point is 69 degrees.

However, the wedding is north of here, so maybe the weather will be cooler and dryer. This couple is brave to plan a wedding outdoors in unpredictable Minnesota--but I think there is a contingency plan for rain. I hope it turns out to be a beautiful day for them--they are the outdoorsy type, so a gorgeous Minnesota summer day would suit them wonderfully.

I remember on our wedding day (we got married indoors) it rained a bit in the morning, but cleared up later (we were married at 2 pm on May 7). A week earlier, we had a snowstorm--my little Pinto got stuck on my way to work, crossing over a highway on my way to work, tying up traffic and trying not to cry. Fortunately, do-gooders helped me get unstuck (at least Pintos are pretty easy to push).

The couple won't have to worry about snow storms today--but storms will undoubtably come into their lives as they do for all of us. I just hope this first day for them can be storm free.



Friday, July 25, 2003

As I walk....

Today is garbage day. This means that if my husband discovers that the garbage container is not full and bursting over, I must collect more trash so that next week it is not overflowing too much. He is very good, too--searching through his truck for construction material to toss out.

So, I tried to make my walk shorter today so I would get back to do trash duty before the trash men arrive. Trash day is always interesting--looking around to see what people are discarding. At one home was a queen size bed, complete with box spring and frame. Another was throwing out a vacuum cleaner and ironing board. Funny how the things we use to clean eventually become garbage themselves.

But the most unusual sight today was when Raven (my dog) and I were walking around the park. I saw a woman with a bright red top and a large straw hat with a big brim--walking backwards around the parking lot. She was doing circles, looking over her shoulder once in awhile so she wouldn't trip over anything. She was moving her torso back and forth, sos I wondered if I had missed out on some new exercise from the latest infomercial or aerobic program. Or maybe she was just going through some initation rite--who knows?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm walking backwards in circles in my life--waiting till the last minute to take out the last of the garbage--postponing getting clutter out of my home and my heart as I circle my home daily. http://Flylady.net is helping me.

But my best help will come from seeking the Straight Path--the one that will lead to eternal peace--time to get back to Bible study!!



Thursday, July 24, 2003


The news of the death of Qusai and Odai Hussein has taken me back to December, 1989. At that time, my family was gathered for the wedding of my brother, and my mom and dad were home in Tennessee from my dad's work with GE in Romania. The fall of communism had been going on everywhere, but Dad was convinced that Romania would never be rid of it's tyrant dictator, Nicolae Ceauceauscu. (sp)

But on December 25, 1989, the tyrant and his wife were captured, immediately tried and convicted, and they faced execution by shooting. Their bullet ridden bodies were displayed for cameras--and CNN showed these pictures all over the world. When I asked me Dad why they had to keep showing this man's body over and over again, he replied, "Because the Romania people would never believe he was gone otherwise."

Little did I know that our daughter was to be born 2 days after the fall of this man, and she was subsequently placed in a Romanian orphanage at 10 days old. Due to the fall of communism in Romania, my parents were able to help us secure her adoption after they returned--my mother putting in countless hours of travel, paperwork, and basically blood, sweat and tears to get this first granddaughter for our family.

It's amazing how God can take such terrible events in history and turn them around for his glory and for our benefit. Our daughter, Christina, is now 13 and every day we thank God she is part of our lives.



Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Sick teenagers

I have been pretty fortunate through my kids' lives that they haven't been very sick. Now that they are teenagers, the visits to the doctor are very infrequent. So, this morning, on my walk with Raven, I was surprised to get a call on my cell phone from my 15-year-old saying he thought he had strep throat. Well, I've called the doctor enough (I myself am diabetic), so I had the number memorized and made an appointment. I don't know how I got along without my cell phone a few years back!

Hopefully, he'll get some medication and get better soon--he's leaving for a national youth convention next week through our denomination (CHIC--Covenant High Conference--through the Evangelical Covenant Church). I suppose if he needs meds he'll be taking them along with him for the last couple of days.

Even though I hate to see my kids uncomfortable or hurting, it's nice to know they still need mom once in awhile. Especially when they are out many nights with friends and I'm not sure who's bringing them home or exactly what time (this was the case with our sick boy last night!) Well, I'm sure he'll be close to home today, so I can give him some tender mother care. Tomorrow he'll be off with friends again, without a thought to a mother's healing, tender touch (sigh).



Tuesday, July 22, 2003

You never know.....

Yesterday on my morning walk I came upon a house I pass regularly--which I now pass with some trepidation. Several months ago, our dog, Raven, decided to "water" the bush in the yard, and the lady of the house was quite put out with me. I listened politely to her 5 minute lecture, and when I apologized (for what, I thought silently), she said that "sorry" didn't change things. Oh well, I thought--I'll be more careful when I approach this yard, but I wasn't about to change my route either.

So, yesterday when I saw someone come down the same driveway, I took a deep breath and tightened my grip on Raven's leash. This time, a man came down the driveway, greeting me and Raven, exclaiming over Raven's loveliness (he's mostly German-shepherd, part something else--maybe Border Collie). He pet him, and I apologized for all the hair he was shedding, and he just said that dogs need to be shedding in the summer. Then he invited me to the block party they would be hosting in a couple of weeks--when I explained I lived on a different block, he said he'd have to give us a special invitation.

I guess you can't judge a household by one member.



Monday, July 21, 2003

Church planting

I never thought I'd be part of a church plant, since the church we attended was one my husband and his dad before him grew up in. We were married there, our kids baptized there--we were sure we'd be buried there too. (well, not literally!) But after months (actually years) of struggle, a vote was taken to close the church that had been steadily declining. We found a wonderful new church, but it's a bit of a drive and our teenagers haven't really found their niche there.

So, our church has hired a church planter--to locate back around our neighborhood. He and his wife seem really terrific and they have 2 girls, 14 and 9. So, after a year of taking time off of church responsibilities, I ask myself, am I ready to tackle something so innovative and scary?

Time will tell--we'll keep on our knees.



Friday, July 18, 2003

What a beautiful morning we are enjoying here in Minneapolis, MN! Yesterday the dew point was in the sixties, and though the temperature was bearable, it was sticky and yucky. Last night, the cool air the meteorologist had been promising finally blew in, and today we are reaping the benefits as well as temperatures in the 60s. (so far)

I love my morning walks with my dog Raven (German Shepherd mix), especially on days like these. We walk by blooming flowers, well-manicured lawns, road construction, and students working on our nearby park --making a wood chip path out of what was a sometimes muddy and narrow (over-grown) walking path.

Summer is fleeting in Minnesota, but I intend to enjoy every minute of it!



Thursday, July 17, 2003

Reading and Writing (but not Arithmetic)

This summer I have been getting back into my old reading habit. I read Francine Rivers' book, The Shofar Blew, and just completed a book by Mary Higgins Clark that was a reprinted version of her first book--now titled, Mount Vernon Love Story: A novel of George and Martha Washington. Reading is an old passion, as writing is as well. But it is easier to pick up a book or read online then to actually write something that someone else may want to read.

So, blogging gives me an opportunity to write without making major commitments. And maybe blogs will turn into something more--or maybe someone will read what I write and perhaps I can have a small impact on someone with my words.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003


I love Instant Messaging. It lets me connect with exchange students we have hosted through the past years, and helps me keep in touch with my siblings and parents who are scattered throughout the country. I can also chat with the Romanian lady who helped us adopt our daughter from Romania.

I hope I'm as good about communicating with those in my immediate surroundings--sending them real hugs and smiles, not just cyber ones. Before I know it, they'll be gone and maybe I'll only be able to commuicate with them frequently in cyberspace.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Reflections from Home

In just a few weeks, we will welcome our 5th exchange student to our home. This will be a girl from Moldova, Inga. We just said good-bye to our boy from Thailand, Noh. We are really looking forward to hosting Inga, as our daughter Christina was born in Romania only 60 miles from Inga's home town. (Christina is adopted.)

Having a foreign exchange student is a wonderful opportunity--we learn so much about each person, his or her culture, and hope that we can share our faith, culture and family life with each of them. After they leave, we keep in touch via e-mail mostly--all have promised to come visit, but haven't had the opportunity to do so yet. Our 15-year-old son is thinking of going to Ecuador as an exchange student next year--we'll see!



Monday, July 14, 2003

HomePage Reflections

I love being a stay at home mom–being available for my husband and children as they need me during the course of the week–having the flexibility to take on temporary challenges. But as I face the fact that I’m middle aged, my children are teenagers, and my self-employed husband has a steady job, but not always steady income (cash flow isn’t always the greatest), I wonder about finding a “real job.”

I did go to college and even graduate school. I planned to have a career in journalism or some kind of publishing environment. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to write and do desktop publishing from home, sometimes even for pay. I’ve been able to help my husband and his brother during tax season with their businesses. But is there more I should be doing?

Maybe even if I had a full time job in my field I would still be wondering if I’m doing the right thing. If I seek the Lord daily, serve him and my family and those around me, that should be more than enough.


Saturday, July 12, 2003

Musings from Cornerstone music festival (a little bit late)

Here's what I shared at our blogging seminar at Cornerstone music festival--I hope it's okay to post it now, since I actually wrote it a week ago.

At Cornerstone, I've found I can feel isolated or welcomed. Isolated, as I hide in our air-conditioned camper, preparing meals, cleaning--for my family, I tell myself--as I take on the role of mother-martyr. I take comfort in the fact that my children are enjoying music they like--my daughter makes new friends and can get her shopping fix in at the merchandise tent--my husband fills his mind and soul at the excellent teaching seminars.

I am really not too lonely--I revel in the delights and discoveries that my family experiences in this nurturing, yet challenging environment. I venture out, too--enjoying my walks across the vast camping city that is Cornerstone. I even attend seminars that cause me to put pen to paper--maybe eventually fingers to the keyboard.

I recall past Cornerstones--our first--driving in at 4 am, searching the unfamiliar sprawling acres for a patch of land to claim for 4 days. I remember seeing all the colorful crowns of assorted hair styles--the tattos, the "goth" clothes--and wondered what attracted these outsiders to a Christian festival, then feeling glad that they can come to hear the Good News. Now, my 15-year-old son has been sporting a mohawk of ever-changing colors for months. He was saved at age 5.

I have learned a lot about diversity--not just as a catch word, but about accepting others who may look vastly different and even think very differently from me. Even though we may span the globe and the theological spectrum here at Cornerstone, we can still celebrate our oneness in Christ through a variety of media and expressions.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Cornerstone Memories

We've returned from Cornerstone Festival--a weeklong adventure of camping, including music concerts, seminars, and hot weather. We ventured to Bushnell, IL along with our 4 teenagers (including one exchange student from Thailand). While there, I became acquainted with blogging, and here is my first online attempt!

Cornerstone is a myriad of Christian music--concerts in tents--ranging from pop to swing to rap to heavy metal. Our 15-year-son fit in quite well, sporting his blue six-inch mohawk. Before Cornerstone, I had begged him to cut it for my nephew's wedding which was right before the festival. But, he promised to do it when we got home, and yesterday I found his long blue spikes in the garbage can and my son with a long face, grieving the loss of his locks. I know there's always next year, and I'm enjoying his neat trimmed look for the moment.

This was Cornerstone's 20th anniversary festival, and we thorougly enjoyed the "birthday bash" on the main stage, featuring bands/artists such as Ashley Cleveland, Reliant K, Steve Taylor, and video clips from various bands that have been at Cornerstone during its colorful history. Our favorite was Steve Taylor, as we have been fans of his for years. We all wondered if the 45-year-old was going to do a repeat of an early Cornerstone appearance where he jumped into the audience, and, trying to avoid a small child at the last minute, he jumped aside and finished his set with a broken ankle. No jumping this year (off stage, that is) but he gave an entertaining and lively performance.

We can't wait for next year! For more information, visit cornerstonefestival.com


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