Rainbow Cake

A piece of cake.

Not how I would describe homeschooling and travel for work.

I used this sentence as a focus for a recent presentation. I used this rainbow cake as a key analogy in my presentation.

I loved creating the presentation, traveling to give the presentation and blessing them with little details.

I do love the tiny details.

In this case I decided it would be fun to make tiny cake magnets to give as awards at the completion of my presentation. All the family pitched in to help me make my mini magnet cakes.

I’m one of five fantastic Negveskys and my team loves the details too. 

He dropped me at the airport Sunday and The Man headed to chaperone cotillion class with our two beautifully dressed daughters. I would travel for work and he would teach young men to properly knot a tie. My exit left a lot of details. The remaining four Negveskys oversaw meals, completed school, made it to dance and piano lessons and completed daily chores. They did it well so I could go.

I got home and the house looked great, so great that it showed no sign of a baking bonanza to produce a full size 6 layer version of my rainbow cake magnets. They just whipped it up as a special way to welcome me home. Just a little detail.

I traveled far from home but with the help of a rainbow cake my little family made themselves a living, breathing participant in my journey.  

Gratefully Eating Cake and Counting:

  1. For a Family that does neat things to say how much they love me
  2. Meeting Him on the airplane and feeling so blessed because of it.
  3. That the Fantastic Four is safe and has electricity today
  4. A Mom that still loves digging in to insane craft projects with me.
  5. That I held my own in spades.
  6. Sweet little dimpled face chatting away as I put on my make up.

  
 

 

In it With You

The cursor blinks on this electronic diary. It’s been seven months since my last visit. I gladly stayed far away from this blank white space. At my exit of the funeral home last March I had two things facing me, a life I had put on hold that now demanded my attention and a future forever changed. I decided to wake up every day and tackle that day with a fist full of vitamins and a Gratitude Journal.

The vitamins have worked wonders.
And, daily choosing joy with 10 simple gratitude’s has made the journey to this 7 month mark,
This visiting again,
Here…
In this white space,
Well…
It’s made it all possible.

I have amazing days.

Then there are the days when my heart feels like a melted puddle in my chest and I can’t clean it up. I wish I was nicer on those days. I wish I didn’t miss him so on those days. On those days, I wish the world would stop and feel my loss. But it’s a busy world. It doesn’t have time to stop for my broken heart.

I have days that start great, I’ll plan a normal event and I forgot that he had been a natural part of that normal. I don’t know why, at times, I forget my loss. When memory jolts me to the change… it’s hard.

The jolt is 100,000 wattage to the heart. And I’m standing in a once normal event and I want to run from my memory, my loss. I am proud to say I’ve learned to stand and face the future minus Dad, this new normal, and hold the tears. It’s not until later that I crash in a quiet room and sob.

I have learned the emotional release in a sigh. It gets me through the grocery store music that surfaces memories of childhood. Through the inside jokes that bubble so naturally to my lips, but zap my heart because it’s an inside joke to me alone now.

I’m dripping my tears and ragged heart for you here. I guess I could apologize for a sad post, but I won’t. I think there is too much hurt that life barrels right past. Too many times I’ve run right past you and your broken heart and I am sorry for that.

Repeatedly my gratitude’s in that aforementioned journal are for the people who see the red rimmed watery eyes and offer me a look…. the one of compassion and knowing. I am grateful for the understanding human who pats my shoulder in remembrance, offers words of encouragement. These nurses of pain pull me through the jolted moments. I appreciate them.

I don’t know what’s left your heart in a pulped mess but let me be that for you today. Let me offer you a ragged watery grin, a pat on the shoulder with a loving embrace. I know it hurts, I’m in there with you.

Jolted Gratefulness:

1444. Seeing a motorcycle like Dad’s and remembering how much he loved to ride.

1445. Going to Amazing Glaze and reminiscing with the lovely women there about Dad and his pottery painting antics.

1446. The Scroll Saw coming to my house because it seems Dad made sure EVERYONE knew he had bought that for me.

1447. When she drops two laundry baskets of his clothing, that smells like him, at my house and I remember Dad in those clothes and I can’t not cry.

1448. That The Boy wants to hunt, fish, carry a pocket knife and that he is the kindred spirit to his Papa.

1449. A younger brother with a video camera asking hard questions about grief and he interviews me with tears pouring and my tears are pouring and we nurse each other in our pain.

1450. A Backyard Birthday Party for one of Dad’s Grand babies and the water balloon fight would have been started by him. His antics were missed but his spirit hovered in the fun.

Remarkable?

My Dad
It’s been weeks I’ve thought about what I would say on this day. How do you take the whole of a man’s life and impact the listener with the fullness of it in just a few minutes. I made a list of words, is there just one word that would describe the life of My Dad? 

It’s hard not to turn him into a saint and if you knew him you knew he was no saint. As a matter of fact, Dad was a transparent sinner. He sinned out in the open, for all to see. This was hard on the today’s American church. Dad just didn’t look like the common picture of that edifice. He was loud, he was politically incorrect, he told off color jokes, he hunted and rode a motorcycle and he came to church every Sunday with his wife and children, often sleeping soundly through the sermon.

So, as all the good is running through my mind coupled with the memory of this transparent sinner I grasped for a word to describe him. For days I’ve tossed around the thought, 

“What makes a man remarkable?” 

 Is he remarkable when he drops out of high school and finds a career he loves? 
When he goes on his knees in prayer to save the life of his unborn child? 
And, when that life is safe he joyfully marries and loves the mother, child and her little brother as well? 
Then he loves and pursues his wife for 38 years. 

Do we call this remarkable? 

And if he works the night shift and brings a paycheck home faithfully for his family those same 38 years? 
What if he makes it known to his wife and children that they are his favorite people to be with. Because he always wants to be with them, building a house, doing yard work, vacationing, stocking shelves late at night in the grocery store, or just running to 7-11? 

And, when he slips a disk in his back and refuses immediate surgery to bring relief from the pain because he won’t be able to walk his girl down the aisle on her wedding day?
Then delays that surgery again because he can’t let her drive an 8 hour trip alone on a new engine?

What if he gives his free time, every weekend, many hunting opportunities, to be with his son in prison on visiting day? If he does this for 6 solid years, 

is that remarkable?

And when his face is the picture of sheer delight each time he lays eyes on a new grandchild?
Do we count him remarkable when he will drive 45 minutes just to kiss them goodnight?
And what if I told you I have found picture after picture of his face turned away, turned toward a crying little one that he is comforting,

Remarkable?

Finally, when he is diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live he embraces his family, friends and begins to talk, like never before. 
 He tells of his love, his faith to all who listen. 
He demonstrates that faith more wholly to his family by his subdued anger, perseverance. 
When he holds on for 3 years in unspeakable pain because he wants to be with them, be part of the party, not miss a minute,

Is this remarkable?


These are just a few of the memories I’ve mulled for weeks now. You have to be careful though because if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the hidden hand in this picture of my Dad’s life.

Dad steamed through life, often getting it wrong before he got it right. The moments I listed are Dad getting it right. He often told me that he loved to hunt because God met him there amongst creation. I know God did because Dad had to be meeting God somewhere effecting the change in Dad so he could get it right.

There were many hard times with my Dad but what I think made him remarkable is how God met him and in  these encounters, he was changed.Dad went to heaven Monday evening and God was glad to bring home his transparent sinner.
I will miss my Dad, 

He was a man made remarkable by a remarkable God. 

You should know such a God.


I am grateful for all the remarkable moments:

1151.
That others miss him too and share in my loss.

1152.
A church where I can freely worship.

1153.
Quiet talks with The Man late in the eve.

1154.
A childhood friend who comes and is compassion and love and friendship.

1155.
Cool March day full of sun and wind.

1157. 
Kids running in and out full of life and laughter.

1158.
Amazing members of the church body of Christ who open their homes, bring food, love and serve. I am overwhelmed by the love.

1159. 
Family with stories that make me laugh and warm my bruised and battered heart.

1160.
Children who keep my electronics charged and up to date. A simple act of love in serving.
 

Spilling

DSC_0380
Dad is a silent.
Mom is sad.
Hospice is amazing.
People who follow Jesus,
true disciples of Him,
they make me cry,
heal my heart,
make me long to deeper know my God and His Son.
My breaths come sharp.
Tears spill in odd places.
Children play and laugh and then hide in corners with silent tears streaming.
My even, steady Man has a fuzzy red that rims his deep, brown eyes.
I make meals to comfort souls.
I write words to capture the amazing beauty of this family,
on this journey.
We celebrate an 8 year old birthday and play with the newest family member.
We have journeyed to a cemetery to make arrangements.
We drank coffee afterwards,
so normal.
Normal will soon, forever change.
Soon my father will be past tense.
Oh, how I need the heavenly one to face the loss of the earthly one.
My God remains faithful.
His strong arm supports,
He is not shy to show His face.
My writing rhythm is shot.
My words won’t flow.
I’m focused on a family rhythm for now.
Cancer altered the lens.
Joy spills with the tears.
God is so good.

Transformed

I’m sitting here, in an office. Work clicking all around me and the buzz of voices behind closed doors. I’ve been a part of this. It’s exciting being a part of something so much bigger than my little self. My days these last months devoted to family and development. Developing something that stirs a passion deep within.

I didn’t know I had this passion. Now that I’m in the whirl of development I can look back at the lighted steps that lead to this moment. A moment sitting behind a camera offering my heart, encouragement to homeschool families with high school students. I’m shocked as my passion stirs me to speak. Shocked at the overwhelming emotion stirred in my heart and welling in my eyes as I share incredible encounters with everyday families, incredible because God met us there and we were changed.

My eyes well even now. It is overwhelming to be cradled in a place of God’s planning.

I had a plan for my days. I wrote it out even drew a map of my roadways and told God what I’d use to travel on them. He sent tidal waves and I’d shake my fist thinking, “don’t you know it would work so well if you’d do it my way”. As I type this I shake my head at my own precociousness. I wonder that I wonder where my own children get it from.

How did I get from handmade roads to walking a divine creators will?

One day I got tired of building. Maybe my newest construction, in it’s infancy, had been demolished one too many times. Too tired to start again I finally yielded to the expert. Maybe watching my progeny use my building methods opened my eyes to the state of my own affairs. Either way I asked to be transformed. I made it 2011’s pursuit, The Year of Transformation. I became intentional in acquiring transformation.

It’s funny when you become intentional by letting go. I let go of every pre-planned goal. I put aside my Performace Planner.  I would listen and be led. How can I be transformed if I don’t listen to the one who brings about the  transformation? I feared my silence. It left me alone and I feared I’d find myself lonely.

At first it made me restless.
I needed something to do….
what to do…
on my knees hands clasped I began to beg…please God just give me  something to do.

He asked me to stop being by my doing.
Would I let him do and just be a set of hands here and walk to that man there?
Drive your Daddy to Chemo  treatment on this day?
Bless children of the Dominican Republic in this way?
Maybe, dear girl, would you just give up your house and move?
Are you willing to deeply love and train your children?
Love and be led by that man  I sent you?
Then, my daughter, would you just smile at the wind and bask in my prescence?
Could you just go  on your knees and  be, with  Me, JUST BE?

And it has been so hard.

Lord you are so often like the wind. I want you in flesh, I want to grab hold of you but you are uncatchable. Unless I stop my plans, breath deep the moment I am in and see with your eyes the real and tangible world and how you are reachable in all the moments, faces, smiles, sunsets, hard days and broken moments. Yes, especially in the broken moments, here I find you so real and reachable.

So, I look back at this transformation and I know it is only the beginning, but a Year of Transformation it has been and I say a cheery “hullo” to this new year already grateful for every day it holds.

Counting in 2012:
1091.
A shopping day with my oldest and Gamaw.

1093.
An early morning quiet time and one by one the entire Party of 5! joins me with their Bibles and devotionals.

1094.
Being married to a guy that loves to watch “Lark Rise to Candleford”

1096.
First sight in the a.m. being my sweet boys face with a big kiss on the cheek.

1099.
How he laughs at my vision of a tiny house and tells me that’s he loves that fun crazy side of me.

Learning to Run

We didn’t make it easy on her but how could I know all that God would squeeze into three short months.

Grammie planted the idea. She went on a Summer Adventure and her Grammie, whose always listening, always reading for new wisdom to deliver to her sons, their spouses and of course those beloved grand babes. Well she heard about it and then heard about a book written by a sweet girl who made it to Nationals.

Grammie bought the book and Girlie #2 devoured it. Home but a day when she finished  the read and came in my office late to find me on the website. She wanted to do it. I was  frantically researching what it entailed. What does it require of her, me, the family. We had to make a rush decision because we just happened to be on the site the last day of registration. Not only the last day but within hours of closing on the last day. I paid the $30 entrance fee and Girlie #2 became a contestant in the Junior Division of the National Bible Bee.

It’s designed as a Family Discipleship. The entire family works through a book of the Bible. The contestants have a stack of 250 Bible verses to memorize. I had grand plans to sit around the table studying God’s word, instead we encouraged her in the airport while we waited for our plane to the Dominican Republic. She dutifully lugged her study material, Strong’s Concordance and that big stack of verses all over that tiny island,  but still she fell behind and I felt like I let her fall. Then we arrived home with plans to catch up.

Instead we had to pack boxes and load trucks and find a new place to dwell. I worked hours learning a new job when I wanted to be drilling her on verses We all encouraged her and she gasped at the work load but continued to press on.

In our new abode, boxes piled everywhere, school started and unexpectedly her beloved Papa is admitted into the hospital. Focus is shifted, loved ones are cared for and that little Girlie runs so hard to keep up. When Papa’s hospital stay goes from days to weeks she tells me in tears how far she is lagging in her run. How can I help her run this race?

She decides if she sits at his side, next to him in the hospital room she can work the lessons of 1 Peter and maybe she can catch up. So she does. For days I drop my sweet 10 year old daughter at MD Andersen Cancer Center. She hefts that pink camouflage backpack up the elevator. The straps are begining to give way to the overload of weight in the form of John Gills writings, Strongs’s Concordance and her bulky Sword Study binder. She sits at the side of her ailing Grandfather and delves into God’s word.  There is a guilt over not holding her hand more as she runs, but I am brought to tears at the image of my girl studying in the presence of her heavenly Father as she gently, lovingly sits at her Grandfather’s side.

The date of the local bee arrives. She is nervous, It has arrived too quickly. We all go to cheer her on. Up at 6 a.m. to make it to the competition on time. Her heart is racing but her presence is that of peace. I’m already so proud.

First up the written test. The competitiors head to the testing room. We wait, for an hour, biting my nails and praying and she returns with sad news. She didn’t realize there was a second side and took too long on the first side. She ran out of time and that meant 30 questions unanswered. Her shoulders slumped a bit. The Man and I encouraged, reminded we are so proud, no matter the outcome.

On to the oral test. 10 minutes, 25 verses randomly chosen from the stack of 250. The Man and I follow her into the room sitting in  the back. The time starts and I watch her shoulders fall as she says, “Pass, Pass, Pass” to verse after verse. One judge pulls her baseball cap down over her eyes, she cannot look at the crestfallen competitor. I understand her body language, it speaks of right before the tears begin to fall. I can hear the quiver in my girl’s voice. I’m praying hard. My girl’s stumbling to the finish line and all I can do is ask the Holy Spirit to carry her the final steps in this race she’s chosen to run.

She recites a couple verses but as soon as the time is up her body collapses into a full slump. The tears flow. She ran her heart out, she is disappointed with how she finished. The Man and I envelope her. Our hearts break at the sound of her sobs and even the judges tears are flowing.

I take her into the ladies room and I remind her, remind her of the eternal verses earthly. We pray. The Holy Spirit gives me words beyond my own understanding and she is comforted, but still disappointed. She wished she did more, regrets of how she spent her time My heart is exploding with pride over this girl and her race. She wipes up her face, puts on a smile and heads to the waiting room to play checkers with the other competitiors/newfound friends.

All the staff disappears to tally scores. We fellowship with the families present, enjoying sandwhiches and ice cream. Her tears are forgotten. All the competitors sit together to hear the outcome of this amazing race. They start with the Senior Division. Girlie #2 claps and cheers for the sole competitior. Now the scores of the Junior Division. The announcer is looking at her list. She starts with First Place. The name she calls is familiar, I am in shock, The Man is in shock but the oldest sister is cheering and our Girlie #2 sits stunned.

“Me, did you call me?” she points to herself.

All present had seen the tears, all present were excited, applauding. It seems, though she missed those last 30 questions, she scored almost perfect on her written test. Time spent in a hospital at the side of one she loved had been blessed. The Holy Spirit granted wisdom and knowledge when she asked for it. She won First Place. Her sweet, humble little heart took my breath away.

Now, we wait, wait for three days to see if her scores are enough to earn a spot competing in Nashville, Tennessee on the National level. She would love one of those spots but either way she has learned how to run, not looking to the left or right but just dead on, running only for an eternal prize.

I’m so proud of my Girl!

Numberless Counting since I packed my Gratitude Journal:

Grateful to watch my children run races and get to help them run well.

Friends who bring me silly candies that make me laugh til I cry.

Children growing in their love for their God.

The Man shoulders stand square and his burden is less.

Bubbling Joy

The Lord, has provided, not just my physical needs but emotionally.  I decided to wait on him and found at ever step, he has provided every little bit I need. Every physical and emotional need to get me through this task, at this moment, on this given day. It has restored rapture to my heart and we dine again with glee.

Somehow.

No, Christ-is-How.

We have been thrust into hard stuff and we have found delight in our moment by moment journey.

Lord, You are God.

In my life I have made things happen and done the things I said I was going to do. But, it was forced and it was of me. Lifeless. Only the giver of life can bubble joy in the midst of chaos. He spoke order into chaos, but how dense am I that I miss this little tidbit. I declare myself a demi-god and believe with enough work, enough effort, a can-do attitude I can “get ‘er done”. A lot of times I do but the skies turn gray because I’m no god. When I step into my place, be the girl creation. Bask in my creator’s presence. In those moments, he puts the stars in order, aligns the planets and produces a little yellow house for us to call home.

All the while my heart is placed in his hands. I have to slap my own each time I reach to take it back. At this moment it’s resting so securely that it begins to rest. I take deeper calming breaths and they bubble up as belly laughter. Soothing to those around me and my very presence becomes one of peace. My heart screams, “Folks, it’s not me, just a side affect of a loving creator!”.

He loves you too.  Put your heart in his hands and find peace today.

Counting today:

Peace amongst the cardboard and vacant spaces

Friends who’ll help me sell my possessions at a Flea Market

Children with eyes changed and they part with their possessions as well

Learning to be me and only care what my God thinks of  her

Phone calls from Minnesota and a silly box brought her joy

Folks who get what we’re up to and encourage us to press on

Make it Stick

When you shelve your life, rip yourself from it to experience something  new, it is inevitable that some of the new will stick. When you effect drastic change and shelve your life midway through the change to come  home and execute the completion and you are changed and already in process is the life change that mirrors the effects your journey had, well that’s the God effect.

So many experiences and so  many epiphanies and being home only two days, two days where I had to sleep to catch up. Two days where the air conditioning feels too cold and the lack of breezes from the ocean make the outdoors too hot and memories of the trip swim in my mind and I can’t pin down one thought without all the others crowding  in and my emotional roller coaster does little more than create a crying, stuttering, incohesive mess of words.

In short we are changed. I scroll through hundreds of photographs to pin down one snapshot of the change but it is all so raw and real and  in process and even the children nestle up to me at different moments and I hear the effects of their ‘in process’ as they are wrapped back up in the reality of their life with memories of the children they frolicked and loved on. It is hard  to hear the verbal ‘in process’ as they realize the future of their friends on a little island versus their own.

Twenty-one of us traveled together. Twenty-one became a little cohesive family unit, the family of God there in the D.R. I miss my little missionary family. Together we did hard stuff, in front of our children we tackled tough emotions, and all us adults loved on and supported each other as we processed through it. What an amazing group of people. I long to return to that exact dynamic. I learned much from the families we traveled with and feel so blessed to have journeyed this at their side.

Grateful Today For:

996.
Ocean Breakfast Views.

997.
Kids that help themselves to Banana Mamas.

998.
Nightly devotions and a storm swirls around us but we are huddled together and safe.

999.
Super loud air conditioning unit that drowns out all the noise and lets sleep come.

1000.
Kids that work hared with no complaints, no whining, no tears.

Friends ReVisted

i'm out to change my worldFirst Love

She always prefaced her story with how she was just a simple girl. This spoke to me. I too am a simple girl. I have freckles and fair skin. My lineage full of pioneer stock. My future full of normal. Her normal looks spectacular. In Christ, well that’s what normal becomes. Her little stories of simple flood my eyes with tears and inspires me to love people, just love them right where I am, right where they are. When we were young Mom would read her book aloud before bed. Each evening just one more of Ann Kiemel’s little stories.


If you’re ever in Manassas, Virginia make a stop at Mckay’s Used Books. I miss this store. It’s like shopping at the library. Old books, new books, stacks and stacks of books and you choose a genre and you get to see the way that genre has been covered through the years. And then, so many times you run into old friends. That’s what happened when we were visiting our old stomping grounds and a rainy day left me scanning shelves. There, I reunited with Ann. The book I found wasn’t the one I remember from those childhood days but I bought it anyway and greedily gobbled up her words. Ann is authentic. She is authentic even if it means incriminating herself. She’s not afraid of the world knowing when she sinned or how. Her honest walk inspires me.

She’s currently writing her 18th book and she now has a blog. Want to experience just a taste of Ann then click here and  read her inspiring post titled, ‘i believe’, and be encouraged by her words.

Grateful Heart for Finding Old Friends and…:

982. 
A peace about upcoming days that can only come from God 

985.
Crazy ideas and being  bold enough to ask when it really feels so crazy


986.
Teenagers saying and doing hard things.


988.
Bags of clothing  for only $29.00


989.
A grocery bill smaller than  the amount saved


990.
Mentors who think none of it is crazy and they encourage us to keep on, persevere.


993.
Studying 1 Peter as a family


994.
Quizzing my Bible Bee Contestant and she’s got it and her stack keeps  getting bigger and bigger.



Summer Adventure

Summer started last Friday. Well, maybe not for you, but as of Friday, May 20th we wrapped up our school year. A new completion date dictated by an opportunity, Girlie #1 and her Gamaw heading west for 10 days.

I love adventure. I love when my kids go on grand adventures. Since Girlie #1 would be leaving on a jet plane to one coast we thought the other two should join the party and jet to visit the other Grands. We put them on a plane and those Grands received them. I don’t think we could send a more precious gift.

Of our three, only one was totally sold out to the adventure, rearing to go, no looking back. The other two, well, they feared what they might miss. Each came to me with concern in their tone, “Mom, I’ve never been away from you that long”, and my heart swelled because I felt loved, needed. But, I’ve been careful not to squelch the joy of adventure in the desire to be needed. It’s a tough scale to balance.

My response, “You’ll be fine. You’re going to have such a wonderful, full trip you won’t have time to miss us”, but, the boy would cling a little closer and keep giving me sweet love notes.

I’ve gotten calls. They call to check in, tell me what they’ve done and the sweetest thing– when they ask what I’ve been up to. They say it in a disturbed sort of concern. I can tell they think there isn’t anything  I could possibly have to do if they aren’t here. It makes me laugh.

We are on separate adventures this week. I’m excited about our reunion, the day we come together and share what we’ve seen and done. That’s my favorite part of being a family, I’m home all week but really I’m all over the U.S. because each member of this ‘Party of 5!’ is a carrier and wherever they go they infect the people they meet with the beauty and uniqueness of our little family.

Loving the Adventure:

942.
Girlie #1 and I playing ‘Guess Who’ in the car because her job is to keep me distracted while The Man and the others get the goods for my surprise.

943.
One Eighth a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee because that’s what a 10 year old can afford and she wanted to give the best and that ‘s the best.

945.
A torn piece of paper flying through the car, landing in my lap and I unfold the small paper plane to reveal the sweetness of a little boy’s heart.

951.
Cool Florida Morn with Cool Breezes.

953.
The cleaning properties of Tri Sodium Phosphate.

958.
Quiet girlie talks as I prep her sweet face and hair to withstand the rigors of recital.

959.
Rib crushing hugs from growing kids.

960.
Seeing clean dishes and laundry thanks to above mentioned TSP.