Poem to Ponder

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

* by Marianne Williamson and quoted in the movie, Akeelah and the Bee


There are several countdowns happening right now.  A countdown to school starting.  Countdown until Thing's first football matches.  Countdown until Poppi and Nani visit.  Another countdown until Mama's trip to Honduras.  Countdowns.  They are fun.  Kinda.  I'm not sure I am emotionally ready for any of them.  Well maybe a few of them.  Time to be ready.  Funny thing about countdowns, the thing you're counting down to ends up happening whether you're ready or not.

Thankful Thursday #67

613. early morning breakfast
614. forging new friendships
615. happy little boy sounds from Thing 4
616. big dipper stars above
617. Thing 3 finishing a book in a day
618. listening to Thing 2 talk while I drive her home from training 
619. highschool adventures for Thing 1
620. neighborhood lemonade stands
621. blue skies
622. football (soccer) schedules


There are these moments, moments where I feel inspired.  It's as if the Holy Spirit has deposited a million dollars into the creative account.  Ok, not really.  If you can't relate to that, how about a light bulb idea?  Where all of a sudden a rush of excitement hits and you have to share.  That may be more like what I just felt.  Either way I have a thought or two to share and you all are my audience today.  Well everyday actually.  The Things aren't too interested in the blog unless it is about them.

Here I sit, one month away from leaving for Honduras.  For those of you that don't know I am traveling to Central America in September to volunteer with Mission Lazarus.  To learn more about the organization and the work they are doing you can visit their website at, www.missionlazarus.org.  This is not necessarily a post about them.  Yet it is all intricately weaved together.  Anyhow, I have been dealing with feelings of doubt, hesitation and FEAR.  Really just the enemy at play.  The trip has been planned for a few months now.  I have attended meetings in preparation, purchased airfare, sent out donation letters and rearranged my family's schedule for the sole purpose of going on this trip.  All the while there was this nagging in my gut telling me not to go.  A whisper.  You can't help these people.  Why are you better than them?  What about your own family?  What do you have to offer these women?  You're not equipped, you're not prepared, you don't even know what to share.   It was as if those phrases were stuck on the CD that continually played in my head.  Day in, day out. 

And then this past Sunday something changed.  A highschool boy stood in front of us and shared a powerful message.  See, he had been involved in a similar trip this past summer.  Only instead of being afraid he was empowered.  He shared the Message with others in the foreign land and then he returned and shared that same Message with others at home.  He is captain of the football team at a public highschool here.  And as he spoke he did so with such confidence that I wept.  His platform is that team.  His responsibility, his teammates.  So after each practice he shares an encouraging Word with the guys.  Then one day he invited them all to a Bible study at his house.  Forty highschool boys showed up.  He talked to the security guard at the  highschool parking lot.  His family picked up a hitch hiker and shared the same Message with him.  It wasn't just the words though, it was action.  He was living it out. 

I sat in my chair stunned.  This young man spoke with such courage and fire.  What an example.  Here I am a mother of four, a married grown woman and I don't posess that same boldness.  I can though.  I see glimpses of it in the Things.  The way Thing 1 shook off her insecurities last week and introduced herself to a group of freshman girls.  If you're not aware a group of teenage girls can be more intimidating than a person who doesn't speak the same language as you.  Trust me, I was one of them. 

All that to say, courage is key.  Not listening to the lies the enemy will haunt you with.  Standing on the foundation that is truth.  The only truth.  And then of course sharing it with truck loads of grace.  The grace that carries you through the fear.  The same grace that empowers us to live freely.

Go Fly A Kite!

Yesterday was a windy day, ideal for kite flying.  Or so we thought.  After putting together our new kite, reading instructions and believing that we were prepared the Things and I ran into the open field full of anticipation.  Polo even joined us, watching anxiously for the nylon device to take flight.  Much to our dismay it never did.  There were a few lifts and short lived dives into the grass below.  There was an abundance of "discussion" on what to do when, how to hold the lines, whom was going to be the runner, etc.  You get the picture.  Or maybe you don't.  So below are a few snapshots into our afternoon.  And hey, if the weather permits today, go fly your own kite!

Thankful Thursday #66

* Thing 4 jumping on his buddy's trampoline - in Turkey
603. impromptu dinner dates where a mariachi band played
604. sparkle in a Thing's eye
605. emails from friends
606. a timely Word
607. watching Things encourage one another
608. an almost finished home
609. world map inspiring games
610. dinner table conversation
611. rainy summer afternoons
612. new school supplies

A Few Favorites

Just a handful of photos from this summer that I love.  They make me smile. 

The Things and the Chicago skyline

 Happy teeter-totter smile

 A garden bench as interpreted by Thing 1

 Thing 1 at the laundromat, consumed by her novel

 Smoke stacks in IL

Husband Jared and Thing 3 sharing a moment

 Our clothes at the laundromat, for the first time ever

Rasberries at the Farmer's Market in Chino

The Inbetweeen

I feel so repetitive at times.  There are posts on the back burner but for today "inbetween" accurately describes where I'm at.  Hence, the title and  purpose of this post.  Empty boxes are strewn all over the Things bedrooms.  Books are scattered all over the floor.  Curriculum is piled waist high in the corner, waiting for some attention before the start of school.  Tools are now considered decor.  I have a garage full of "stuff" waiting to be uploaded to Craigs List.  And there are four Things who are tripping over linens that litter their path to their bathroom. 

I am fully aware that this is home.  Although after being somewhat transient since the end of May I am just not feeling settled.  Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining.  We have been so very fortunate to have traveled, to have family that allowed us to interrupt their lives and stay with them for six weeks and of course to now be in a home.  Together.  All six of us.  Learning to navigate this new place and make friends and be the "new family", yet again. 

I do not feel displaced, nor does anyone in the family.  Only like we are learning our culture all over again and certain things are just not processed by us the way they once were.  They couldn't be and for us to expect them that way wouldn't be fair.  We have all changed.  Life continued on here while we were away and now we are plugging ourselves in to the present.  Or at least trying to.  And that means that soon we won't be "inbetween".

Thankful Thursday #65

* The arch in St. Louis, MO

593. safe arrival of goods from Nashville
594. patience through the bumps
595. watching 9th grade girl conquer her insecurity
596. fearless 8th grade girl who helps sister Things make friends
597. endless energy of boy Thing
598. KitchenAid mixer, amen.
599. Husband who is home for dinner
600. having the "kool-aid" house, already
601. sidewalk chalk art in the driveway
602. lone deer on a morning hike

How He Loves Us

Just thought you might need to be reminded of this today.  I know I did.  And when we were worshipping this morning I threw both hands up in the air.  I did.  Unabashed, unashamed.  Simply amazed at HOW HE LOVES ME.  Yes, how He loves you too.  So read through these lyrics.  Listen to the band sing it.  If you feel so inclined raise your hands.  Because yes, He does love you.  More than we could ever fathom. 
My favorite line is about His wild grace, one that we are sinking in, only if it were an ocean.  Can you just imagine that?  Perplexing.  Yet so grateful for that. 

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way

And oh, how He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

David Crowder Band - 2009

Another Forgotten Recap...Oops

So I wrote of our last night in Urla with our dearest friends and I wrote of Ramo beach here, http://sixhansons.blogspot.com/2011/06/ramo-beach.html , our special place as a family, and now I will show photos of our last few days in Cesme and Olive park, saying yet more goodbyes to people and places that we have all grown to love. 

 Time for refreshment
Our group
 The girls
 One last group hug
 The group, taking a plunge

Thing 4 and his buddy, David
 The ladies at a farewell BBQ
The guys at a farewell BBQ
These photos capture some special times, like our last night in Alacati, the windsurfing capital of the world.  It has this amazing little town that we enjoyed wandering through all lined with restaurants, some even serving PORK.  Woo hoo.  These pictures were snapped while we enjoyed our last meal in this town.  

Thing 1 and Thing 3
Thing 2 and Thing 4

Then we had a day at the beach at the Radisson where we collapsed and recovered after packing our house and being drained emotionally, just before we left for Istanbul.  The Things were scouted to try out bocce ball on the beach with Lutfu, the events coordinator for the resort.  There was this amazing gazebo built out on the water and the Things walked and looked down only to discover schools of fish at their feet.  We enjoyed some family time here and walks and runs around the town.
After our stay at the above mentioned we left for our friends home in Urla where we spent our last night with them before our departure to Istanbul and then America.  You can catch up on those posts here, Bittersweet , Istanbul, Part One and Istanbul, Part Two .  But for now I thought I had better pen some of our memories from our last week before I forgot and we were on to the next chapter of our story.  So enjoy. 

Thankful Thursday #64

* Ramo Beach in Turkey, because well,
 I'd like to be there right about now, wouldn't you?

583. Dog excitement
584. Creek discovered
585. Family cheer for football tryouts
586. Tears being wiped away
587. Honesty from a teenager
588. Crockpot aroma all day
589. Surprise flowers on our anniversary
590. Baby feet in my hand
591. Two year old niece and sand
592. Being an Auntie

Thing 3's Ventures

Well as I've posted before Thing 3 and I were in California recently.  It was her turn for a special week with Popi and Nani, all by herself.  The chosen grandchild is able to choose a location for their trip and then they spend time being the "only one" for a few days of uninterrupted fun!  This summer Thing 3 chose the American Girl doll store and Sea World.  All this meaning that she was able to fly with me to California so that while she was off galavanting I stayed with Gianna and her parents to love on them.  I had the blessing of babysitting Gianna for her parents' first night out to celebrate their anniversary, I love being an Auntie!  Win-win. 
Thing 3 was also fortunate enough to spend a night with her godmother.  They went to Seal Beach for a concert, had a picnic and stored up some sweet memories together.  She even rode in a convertible for the first time!  There was plenty of cousin time in the VanDieren's pool, sliding and playing with the boys and entertaining us all with her uniqueness, lunch with Grandpa Sam and Grandma Sharon and even a night with the Strand family. 

Below is a photo montage of her time in Cali.

 Thing 3 and Gianna
 Ready for a day at the American Girl Doll store
 Pool time with Uncle J
 Night time show at Sea World
 Morning feeding time with the dolphins

Fourteen Years and Counting

A special post today on this, mine and Husband Jared's, fourteenth wedding anniversary.  My brother recently asked me if it felt like we had been married that long, to which I answered, "some days yes, most days no!".  Honest enough right? 

Most days I do find myself asking where the time has gone.  And then looking back on all that fourteen years has given us.  I wouldn't even know where to begin to tell you all that we have been blessed with, the good, the painful and all the inbetween.  I do know that the four greatest blessings of our lives are now old enough to understand the meaning of an anniversary.  The other day we were remembering a little ditty they wrote for us a few years back (2008).  You must take a listen. 

So, Husband Jared, thank you for yet another memorable year of wedded bliss, or at least the closest we will come to that this side of the veil.  You amaze me with the way you love me and I am ever so grateful for the gift that you are.  Thank you for taking me halfway across the world, literally, and back.  And thank you for yet another adventure ahead.  Here's to all the unknowns that lie ahead of us.  May we remember to live each and every one as if it were all we had.

A California Visit with the Strands

Thing 3 and I recently made a trip to the West Coast.  Lucky us.  While our time was short and super busy we were able to spend some time with the Strand family, which ultimately meant Emme and Colin!  Yeah.  We met Colin for the first time and instantly fell in love with him.  What a sweet edition to the family. 

Auntie Maggie prepared a delicious Mexican dinner for us which we enjoyed outside on the patio.  All the while Cousin Emme and Thing 3 played and played.  They even had icecream for dessert.  The next morning we had a slow, jammy morning and then ventured to Newport beach for some fun.  Not able to resist the call of the ocean Thing 3 and Emme played in the waves, combed the beach for shells and dove in the warm sand. 

What a day and what a treat to love on my niece and one and only nephew.  Thank you Uncle Aaron and Auntie Maggie for a special visit.

Meet Gianna Marie

On July 12th my brother and his lovely wife welcomed into their family a baby girl.  Her name, Gianna Marie.  She immediately stole our hearts and has already brought such joy.  We are so grateful for her safe delivery and her healthy start. 

I had the privelege of meeting Ms. Gianna and spending a week helping the new family adjust to the ways of a newborn.  What a sweet time it was.  Below are a few photos from our time together.