The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Downside to Paradise

Well, it was bound to happen... I was cruising along with my checklist in hand, ticking off the places I needed to visit, opening checking accounts, exploring the island, enjoying the scenery and the nice breezes..... here we should cue the sound of screeching brakes and breaking glass..... I stepped onto the school grounds today to register my kids and had a total and complete breakdown... in the office.... in front of the whole office staff... they had to go get me tissues... I couldn't speak.... I just stood there like a blubbering idiot.  And then the school counselor asked me to step into her office (it was too late to preserve my dignity so I presume she was trying to shield the others from the awkwardness of my emotional outburst.)  Mama, don't get all worried now, you know I am more like Daddy and I cry at the drop of a hat... not everyone can be a stone wall like you!

Anyway, it was not all in vain. I think the counselor got my point that my kids are special, damnit, and they need some special treatment.  So we have already scheduled our first IEP meeting in Hawaii to discuss Liam's placement in classroom, etc.  Having a kid with FAS is not for the faint of heart... the stuff this kid goes through on a daily basis would make your toes curl and how he manages to do it without being a behavior problem is a mystery to me.  But sitting in an office trying to tell someone who doesn't already love and know my kids about all the special needs that Liam has, and trying to encapsulate it into a 20 minute meeting and impress the importance of his environment, well, it's just more than a mother's heart could bare.  So I cried.  Sue me!

In the end, I went with the really awesome house that opens on both sides and the gated courtyard.  There is very little yard, which could be a problem, but the house is great and the landlord seems to really care that things are in good working order, etc.  It will be a nice break for us to not have lawn maintenance to tend to, it will allow Brian more time to spend with us on the weekends.  And in the end, the owner of the home chose us out of the crowd because she said she felt a connection to me.  Maybe she read me like a book because you should know by now that she had me at "connection" and I just felt like God was giving me a little nudge of the arm... you know, like the old Southern men do when they are making a point or a joke.  Anyway... I feel so much better now that I have the home selected, etc.  The school is the scary part.  Not because it's a bad school... on the contrary, best I can tell, it's one of the best in Hawaii.  But because our school we attend now is SO amazing.  When I say amazing, I don't mean it in the sense that everyone else thinks their school is amazing.  I mean in the sense that as I was describing the services and modifications that Liam receives the counselor said, "Is this a private/specialized school?"  No, I replied.  Then she said, "It must be very small."  I said, "Well, we have 400 students in K-4.  I'm not sure if that is small or not."  And her reply was, "Oh, no, not small.  Wow!  I'd love to get more information from his current teachers and special area teachers."  Ahhhh.... that's me, smiling because what I have always known (that we have truly got the best school for my kids) is now being validated halfway around the globe.  The legend of our school will live on in the minds of the islanders and it will become the new gold standard in education.... oh, sorry.... I was off in my thoughts there for a second.  Anyway... the point is this, I just have to accept the fact that nothing is going to compare to my experience at MES.  We can't be there forever, eventually someone has to leave the school and have some other experience in pastures not sheltered from the world, so here we go.

On the other hand, I visited the church that is only a few blocks from our house, there is a pre-school associated with the church and they THINK they might have a spot for Meg!  That's God winking at me now... He had this all planned out, you see.  And I stopped in the church to say a prayer on my way out and thank God for His continued comfort and provision.  Can I just say that the church does not have walls.  It's got "slats" for lack of a better visual, so that the wind blows through then entire time. How cool is that?  I think I can get used to the climate, even if I can't get used to being away from my friends and family.

Finally, I will just say that I had dinner with my realtor last night.  He was super nice and bought my dinner, etc.  He was informative and taught me alot about the island and language in a two hour period.  However, I left there feeling like I might be the luckiest person in the world.  His family lives in TN and he has been in HI for 20 years.  I asked him how he could stand being so far from his family for so long and he said, "Well, you get used to it.  It's paradise here.  And I keep up with the homeruns and graduations via the power of internet and digital photos."  He said that at first, there were alot of trips back and forth, but that they became less and less frequent and everyone sort of went on with their lives.    And I realized how lucky and blessed we are that we come from a family where that just wouldn't be enough for any of us.  Internet is great and home is where my kids and Brian are, true, but I have a deeper connection than what electronics can convey.  I think my friends who live far from their families could attest to this.  I know Lindsay and Barb, for example, make a priority of seeing family. And I know they have been doing so for years.  So I guess what I am saying is that I would forego vacations and other trips to be sure that family was part of our kids lives, and it's just a reminder to me that I am blessed to feel that way about the ones I love.  I will miss living around the corner from my niece (Brian's sister and her family) and seeing my niece (my brother's daughter) grow in her first year of life.  I probably haven't even mentioned that my brother and his wife had their first baby last week.  I'm going to miss "doing life" with my sista, Sonja.  I'll miss Friday night Mexican with Mary and Leenda.  I'll miss Gwen's craziness and Kendra's extraordinary way of making time for her friends.  I will miss seeing Marianne and our group with Amie, but I will probably talk to Marianne all the time because, let's face it, I'll still need counseling in paradise! :)  I'll miss Niki and Shawn and foster-dogs.  I'll miss crisp fall weather and football season (even though I hate football.)   I will embrace this experience and try to milk every morsel of growth for myself and my kids from the time we have here.  I refuse to focus on how much we are missing and instead, embrace the things that will make this experience invaluable and educating.  However, I know when it's time to go home, I won't look back.  I'll happily get on that plane and return to my beloved friends and family and love the memories we made all the more because I can share them with people who truly love me!

Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Decisions, Decisions....

I am not good at making decisions.  Did I mention this before?

Anyway, here are the photos, I will let them speak for themselves. I feel like I'm on an episode of house hunters.... "Will she pick the fabulous hillside home with the view, but that is unfurnished.  Or will she pick the open breezy home that is out of her price range?"  :)

This is a view of the pool lounge area in the pricey house. 

One of the bedrooms

My favorite part of this house.  I don't know if you can see in the photo how both sides of the home are completely open. In this photo, I am standing by the pool looking through the house to the front courtyard.  Notice the exposed beam ceiling... ahhh!

Check out this view from the hillside house I looked at.

This is the living area... maybe a little fancy schmancy for a country girl, huh?  I doubt anyone in my bloodline ever lived on marble floors! :)

But doing dishes would certainly be alot more fun if you could look at this while doing it.  This is the kitchen counter view.

On my drive around to different houses yesterday, I passed several spots like this.  Wow!  I doubt I would ever get tired of seeing this on my daily route.

Or this either.... this was a small beach that was protected from the wind and crashing waves by the high rocks all around.  Don't know if you can tell how far down the beach descends, but look how tiny the people were.  

I have a light day today.  Only two houses to see and then, I think it's decision making time.  I have one to see in the morning, but that one is not furnished and I don't know if it will be in my price range once I get the furniture contract, so it looks like today is the day.  It's early yet! 

A quick request, if you wouldn't mind just saying a quick prayer for me, I feel alot of pressure about making the right decision here and I feel guilty about the prices too.  We could never afford these homes on our own and I just want to get something good for my kids but not gouge the company either. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I am sitting in Hawaii right now.  I can't tell you how far I feel from my family.  As I was on the flight and it felt like it was taking FOREVER to get here (six hour flight from Salt Lake City, which was a three hour flight from home.)  It's just difficult knowing that I am so far from everyone I love.

HOWEVER... having said that, Hawaii is GORGEOUS!!!  I'm trying to figure out the island and it's more confusing driving in a strange city when you don't have a navigator.  I'm starting to think I should not have declined the insurance on the car.  Luckily, I have finally gotten my navigation running.

I looked at a house yesterday that was totally amazing!  My husband said he thinks I will "know" it when I see it and this one was totally a house I could see us living in.  I have some photos, but you really can't get a feel for the house from the pictures.  This house had two walls, opposite one another, that completely open to the outside.  A breeze was blowing through the house and I just can't explain the feeling I had when I was in there.  I could literally see my boys running in and out of that courtyard.  I could picture Liam and Connor playing lego on the lanai (which, best I could tell is a fancy word for porch.)  :)

It's very fun seeing the difference in homes and the different type of culture that is here.  This particular house was more than just the house, the community seems really neat.  There were tons of people out walking.  I saw one little girl and her dad walking home from school.  The Y was just around the corner.  There were two parks nearby and it is only 1.5 blocks from the beach.    Wow, it feels alot like Provision to me.  The only down side is that it is the absolute MAXIMUM rent amount that I am allowed to spend.  Brian was really hoping to get something that was not at the top of the rental amount, but we'll just have to see what else I find today that can compare to this one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deep breaths in... and out...

and then click your heels together and you'll be in Kansas... oh wait, sorry, wrong destination.

Is it a bad sign that I haven't started packing yet for my trip on Friday?  I mean, I'm going to paradise to pick out a HOUSE and a SCHOOL where my family will call home for the next foreseeable future.  We have no plans beyond Hawaii, so that counts as "foreseeable" future, doesn't it?  Why does my house look like my mom's laundry room the day I arrived home from college for the summer?  Does anyone else have the problem that when there is too much to do, they just do NOTHING?  No, it's only me?  Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.

Have you seen the trailer for that movie, "The Crazies"?  I haven't seen the movie, but I'm wondering if it might be about my life.  Pretty frequently throughout the day my daughter (3, remember!) holds my phone up and says, "Smile, Mom!"  I think I have at least 57 photos of myself on my phone, doing all sorts of things, none of which are flattering or worth posting to facebook.

And I am spending an inordinate and inappropriate amount of time worrying about how much I am going to miss my dog.  It's simply not natural how much I am thinking about the fact that he will have to sleep outside.  "Outside" is not exactly accurate, he'll be in the "shop" with my dad's dog, Big Al.  The shop is heated in the winter and he will have a bed out there and plenty of food and water and all sorts of fun playing fetch and swimming in the pond and chasing the farm animals around, but still, I have this idea that he's going to be missing his warm cozy spot next to my bed, where he has slept every night for the past four years.  :(

And my family.... and my friends... and my school... and my neighbors... and my bus-stop... and the TEACHERS!!!  Oh the amazing teachers we are leaving behind.  Okay, now I am being downright rude to God because He certainly knows that He's got all this worked out for me already.  And the sweet friend who is moving into my house had a very sweet visual for me about imagining exactly how I would want things to be and then just asking God for it.  So that's what I've been trying to do, dream big, not limit God from lavishing me with all the provision at His disposal.  Surely He has already relieved so many questions for me and I KNOW that He is in this... I KNOW that this was His will for us.  So letting go and trusting... that's the thing.  I'll let you know how I come out with it.  Does anyone else ever feel like they keep being taught the same lesson over and over again?  Am I the only one who doesn't seem to learn and has to keep repeating Faith 101?

Love y'all.... thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You're still out there! :)

Is it ridiculous how in love with all my blog friends I am?  I think it might make me a bit pathetic how excited I was to see that some folks are actually still taking time to stop in, even though I've terribly neglected you all summer.  Now you know why... I've been on this roller coaster ride and it's just consumed my thoughts but I couldn't say anything.

Anyway, here are the details....

I leave on Friday to find a school and house for us.  I'll come home and then the whole family will embark on this adventure (picture the Clampets on a plane) sometime around the week of September 15.  I'm excited and nervous, all at the same time.

We will be living on Oahu.  Brian will work in Honolulu.  The initial contract is signed through January 30, but we may be extended, may not.  I really feel that the Lord has given this to me in bite sized pieces.  I can get my head around five months in paradise.  And once we are there and settled, if it extends to the end of next year, I can deal with that then.

I have really seen God all over this.  We love love love our home and our community, but a new location is something we have talked about many times.  Just never really wanted to CHOOSE to leave this little bubble that we live in.  This is the perfect solution for us because we can go, have this experience, know it's temporary, and still come home again.

As if God just couldn't lavish us enough, He has provided for our home and our kitty in our absence too.   My dear friend's mom is going to stay here and take care of the yard, take care of the cat (who we love despite ourselves) and take care of my friend while we are gone.  (My friend lives across the street, so this feels like God was really caring for her while He was caring for us.)  I have just seen God in every little detail of this, which is how I know it's right.  The only thing I can hardly stand to think about is that my dog, Vince, will not get to go with us.  Hawaii has a quarantine of 120 days to bring a pet on the island, so we would not take him with us.  I love this dog!  He has become so calm and sweet (after three years of puppy-hood) and he is starting to gray around the eyes already.  I know he will change alot while we are gone.  My dad has offered to let him stay on the farm, which is great in alot of respects.  However, my dad does not allow the dogs into the house, EVER.  He will live in my dad's shop with his other dog, Big Al (a black lab/duck retrieving wonder-dog.)  The shop is heated in the winter, there are beds in there for the dogs, and my dad has a pond in the horse pasture that Vince swims in every day when he stays there.  I know, it sounds like Retriever Disney, but for me, thinking of him outside all the time, not curled up to my bed every night, is very sad.

Leaving to search for a house by myself is totally outside my comfort zone.  But Brian and I felt it was important for one of us to be with the kids.  They are handling it pretty well, but Jack has mixed emotions (understandably, he's the one in middle school) so we just didn't want to leave them.  Since I am the one who attends all the IEP meetings, understands the school needs the most, etc., it was more logical for me to go.  This is such a stretch for me.  I will overthink the whole thing, I will waffle, and in the end, I will doubt myself because that's how I make decisions.  And every time there is any issue with our location or the school, I will blame myself for the choice I made.  So even this little step feels like a real gift from God because it's such a stretch for me.  I am going to be pruned and groomed in new ways that I know are needed to deliver me to where I need to be.

I really can't wait to experience a new culture and a new place.  It's initially such a short time that it just feels more like an adventure than a move.  But I will deeply miss my friends.  I know I will depend on this community (bloggers) more than ever because I am such a social person that I don't know that I can live without my gal-pals.  We will be five hours behind TN so even phone conversations might be a challenge.  (I'll have to figure out what time is too late to call anyone and get up extra early to chat with my friends on their special days.)  I think one of the things I am most excited about is that this may be the only time in our lives and the lives of our children when they will be a racial minority.  Where on Earth would God likely call our family that this would happen (believe me, I know that alot of you are thinking Africa, but if God gets my husband to Africa, then you should all know that the end times are upon us.... or I have divorced and married a different man. :)  ha!)  Likewise, it may be the only time in her life when Meg appears to be in the majority! :)  God's sense of humor is pretty funny, huh?

Okay, I think that's all the details I can think of for now.  I am sure there will be 1000 questions I have for those of you who have done this type of thing before and I've already taken advice from Barb (anyone need a good used Sequoia?)  But for now this is where we are.  Whew!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

If you're here, you already know there's big news!

I guess you noticed that the header has changed.  And the title to the blog... I know, I know, how many times can someone change the title of a blog?  Work with me here, I'm a little indecisive.

But we are not undecided about what's going on in the next few weeks... buckle your seat belts and start your engines.  We're moving to Hawaii!  :)