Sailing and Such

Yesterday we took the Tanzer 22 out for another sail.  This was the first trip with all 8 of us on board.
We have it parked at a lake/ river about 2 hours away.  There wasn't a lot of wind this time which is ok with me.   Keeping 5 kids from going over board and out of the way of the rigging can get a little crazy.  
We spent most of the afternoon in a little cove enjoying the sunshine and water.

We entertained ourselves watching kids swing off of the boat.

We're cramming lots of fun into the summer while my sis-in-law and nephew are here.  Only 1 more week left of our visit.   I think they'll be tired of our crazy noisy full house by then.  

The water levels were a little higher in this dammed off part of the river so our little private beach was nearly gone.  The kids didn't seem to mind and were convinced they could find precious gems or gold if they dug deep enough. 

Can't you just hear the shrieking and laughter?

These two little munckins could entertain themselves in the sand all day.  
Cece spent nearly 3 hours in one location on a few feet of beach digging sand and dumping it on different parts of her body.   She was one happy girl, despite no naps. 

This is our little picnic spot. 

Silas had a much better experience on the sailboat this time! (thanks to Dramamine)

Kid tossing. 
 It's like throwing an octopus.

This boy is getting so big I think he'll be the one doing the tossing in a few more years!

This girl ADORES her Daddy.
He hasn't dropped her yet.

  I'm so thankful that God has given us the chance to get to know, and love, the nephew that we didn't even know existed three years ago.  
He's such a big hearted, silly and quirky kid.  He fits into our tribe of goofballs well.  

I mentioned earlier the classes about Christian relationships and healthy conflict resolution I attended while we were at family camp. 
One quick thought I want to share with you was the concept of superficial community versus authentic community. 
Pseudo community or superficial relationships are full of facades and pretending.   They may appear healthy and normal because there is nothing beyond the superficial.   Conflict is ignored rather than resolved.   Topics are skirted around rather than worked through.  Hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness fester under a pleasant smile until eventually something breaks and the slow death on the inside shatters even the phony image making the carnage complete.  Marraiges can last for years in pseudo community.  Families can build whole phony realities while the  dysfunction is hidden behind deception and  ignored.   
Pseudo community eventually equals death.  Death of a church, destruction of a family, the end of a marraige. When people or churches don't learn how to deal with  little conflicts in a constructive, loving, biblical way they will be completely annihilated when a major crises hits.   Relationships can appear peaceful on the surface but in reality there is no authenticity.  Pseudo relationships are defined by an absence of trust, a fear of conflict, a lack of commitment, and an avoidance of accountability. There may be an appearance of harmony but there is no lasting fruit.  

Authentic community  involves the willingness to speak truth in love.   It involves the tough work of forgiveness, communication and grace.  Feelings aren't easily hurt and emotions aren't used to manipulate.  Problems and breaches of boundaries are worked through respectfully as they arise, before they are given a chance to fester and build offense.    Communication is ongoing, honest and constructive.   Words aren't used in slander, pride, deception and gossip.  Sometimes moving into authentic relationships in our families, churches or friendships involves some healthy conflict.   It may mean moving through a period of transparent, honest chaos in which assumptions, lies and hurts are uprooted and discarded in order to move into an authentic  relationship.  
Authentic relationships are defined by a foundation of trust built by time, effort and healthy boundaries.  They include transparent communication, unified commitment, mutual accountability, and an awareness of each others needs. 
 Having house guests for a month is great practice for these principles of authentic relationship.  Combining two households into one functioning home is a perfect test in practical application  :) Because we are committed to the authentic relationship and the principles that define it we are able to deal with the little irritations and personality conflicts that will inevitably arise.  

A peace maker is not the same thing as a peace keeper.  
Keeping the peace at all costs involves overlooking sin, stuffing hurts,  and sweeping problems under the rug.   In order to keep an appearance "peace" we would need let others trample what is ours and invade healthy boundaries.  This is where many Christians like to take the "turn the other cheek" verses out of their intended meaning.  Jesus was  talking about aggressive love for our enemies and intentionally removing ourselves from the position of victim into an interaction between equals... not  a lesson in "How to be a Door Mat 101. 

  Being a peace maker involves a willingness to wade through crap in order to be reconciled into an honest healthy relationship.  

Living with authenticity, healthy boundaries, forgiveness, and free from offense isn't easy but it's a pretty sweet place to be.  


My little Girl's room

I've never had a knack for decorating, crafting or creating domestic beauty.  
I'm practical to a fault.  Hot glue guns and I are not compatible.   
I am loving having a little girl again.

This was Aili's room last year.  When we returned from Mexico, Aili picked her colors and we painted over the dingy, pealing, periwinkle paint that had been there since she was a toddler.  Aili was excited about her renovated big girl room although I wasn't thrilled with the colors initially.
A few weeks later a little sister unexpectedly arrived.  A few months after that Aili very graciously and willingly moved into the spare room in the basement and Celina moved into her own nursery.   

The furniture is second hand or well used by my several babies.
The decorations were passed down from big sis or bought at the dollar store.
There was no plan or intentional decorating...but I think it turned out pretty cute.
The little plaque above her bed says
"Love begins at home"
The flower was Aili's addition.   The hangy thingy draped from the window was made for us by our former Japanese exchange student.  It is rows of tiny paper cranes strung together. 
I really should add a nice little curtain or valence. 

I don't think kids need their own rooms, in fact my other three usually all sleep in the same room, but for a light sleeping baby it is practical and easier.  

One of the sweetest moments of each day  is the time I spend in this rocking chair.   I treasure this little bit of alone time with Cece.  This little girl is so affectionate and playful.  
She snuggles in close, sets her head on my shoulder and pats my back.   She steals smooches and curls up in the crook of my elbow and smiles contentedly at me.
She knows she's loved.
Although only  mother can understand this aching of love for a child.  
As I sing "Jesus Loves Me" to her she sways and sings like a smiley little bobble head.  
It struck me this evening just how much Jesus does loves her.
So much more than I do.  She was God's girl long before she was mine.  She will always be His.
It is incredible to think about how much she is adored by the one who lovingly created her.
I am so grateful and honored to be the one to rock her each night.
It is a big responsibility.  
   I pray that she will truly know how much Jesus loves her.

At 16 months Miss Cece is a toddler in every sense of the word.  She explores, discovers, imitates and asserts her budding independence.    Suddenly she has a very discerning palate and much of her food is dropped over the edge of her high chair tray.  She now refuses to be spoon fed her morning porridge and insists on managing the bowl and spoon herself.   She still has the best giggle of any baby I know.  


Family camp 2011

I have been virtually absent from blog world  for the last couple weeks.  Although it's been good to take a break from reflective narcissism and just enjoy summer for a bit I must say I miss keeping up with my blog friends.   

We spent all last week at Arlington Beach Camp and Conference Center enjoying "Family Camp".
A week of camping, playing, community, teaching, and worship all wrapped into one amazingly refreshing week.

The first few days were HOT!  Ridiculously humid and 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Farenheit).  It was crazy hot.  
Keeping kids hydrated and cool was a full time job.  After a long long winter I really don't mind a few days of a heat wave. 

This was the second  year that we had the privalege of bringing my American sister in law and her son with us to camp.  
It's a full house this summer but we're having lots of fun.  

Auntie is starting to get used to Roman's customary enthusiastic greeting.  

Although it's been just too hot for much snuggle time.

I celebrated my 34th birthday while we were at camp.  My mom (the little head on the far right) surprised me with a black forest cake) which my sisters and I thoroughly enjoyed.  
Aren't we a photogenic bunch of ladies?

Once again my children gifted me with treasures purchased from the camp garage sale.

Score!  It's about time I got a burl clock with a fabulously shellacked surface.  I'm still searching for the perfect place to hang it.  
I also received the book "Heaven is for real" by Todd Burpo which has been on my wish list.  I could have read it in one sitting if my little people would have left me alone long enough.  It was fascinating.  I wasn't sure what to expect but ...wow.   As a mother with two children who live in Heaven, the book had me in tears on quite a few occasions.  I felt like the veil separating my world from theirs was pulled back for just a glimpse.  Amazing.  

This is my littlest sister and her littlest baby. 
They are both so cute.

This is my biggest child having a water fight with hoards of well armed little people.

A highlight of camp other than the playtime, cake and fabulous presents was the morning seminars.
This week I attended a class called "A survival guide for Christian relationships".
It was SO good and so applicable to so many areas of our life.  I mentioned many moons ago that we have found ourselves weathering some pretty nasty stuff in the last few years.  I think at some point we all encounter hurt, attack, betrayal, deception, and conflict in relationships.   Those closest to us have the most potential to wound us.  Satan loves nothing more than to destroy families, marriages,  churches and friendships so how do we navigate conflict in a Christ like way and turn carnage into something constructive?  How can we avoid bitterness and offense?  Why is forgiveness important and what does it look like?  Authentic community vs. pseudo community.  What are boundaries and why are they important in healthy relationships?  Basically, how do we respond in a godly mature way as a part of a church family (or family in general) when all hell breaks loose?

I really want to share a bunch of what I learned this week but I need to find the time to do it.  I have pages full of notes and bullet point lists that for my own review I want to go through and study again.   Stay tuned for relationship survival tips.

Even when our life isn't surrounded by dysfunction and chaos there is no relationship that can't be improved or person alive that doesn't have something they need to honestly confront  and lovingly forgive.  

The fruits of living in honesty, grace, and forgiveness are sweet.  Sometimes it's hard work though! 

This week we're still in recovery mode.  Sleep deprivation, mountains of laundry, overgrown yard, and a garden full of produce is the after effect of a week away.  It was worth it though.  


One Summer Day

After too many hours of this... 

and a little of  this...

We decided to do more of this.

We took the Tanzer 22 sailboat out for a day.    Silas was at camp with Grandma and Grandpa  but I'm happy to report no incidences of sea sickness this time.  The weather was perfect!..not too much wind and plenty of sun.

Baby dipping.


Brothers Reunited

Yesterday we heard the news that Javier's little brother Feliciano followed him to Heaven.
From what I've heard it was a shock to everyone.
No one expected that both brothers would be gone the same week.

Little Feliciano was in his class at the Learning Center (at the mission in Baja) when the Father called him home and  he graduated into heaven.  

I know there will be a lot of mixed emotions.  
Devastation for a family who lost 2 sons within a few days of each other.
Shock and trauma for the staff and children who witnessed his passing.
Joy that he has been freed from the illness that ravaged his muscles 
and that he is reunited with his brother Javier.

The loss of these two boys leave will leave an aching void in the Learning Center and in the hearts of all those who loved them.

Our friends in Baja Mexico are burying another one of their beloved children today...two little bodies laid to rest within a few days of each other.  It's hard not to be there with them as they say goodbye.

Please pray for the dedicated and loving staff who have poured so much of Christs love into those two little boys over the past several years.   I know their hearts are broken.