Sunday, February 28, 2010

Couch to 5k

I used to "run." I put run in quotes because what I did might more accurately be described as plodding, but it made me happy. I started running when I joined my junior high track team. In high school I also got to join the cross-country team. I set no records, won no major events, and was no great asset to the team, but I enjoyed it. For the past several years, I have particularly enjoyed running with my big dog. As some of you know, I lost my canine running partner more than a year ago. She loved going running with me. I haven't really done much running since.

I have decided that I need to get started running again. Without my dog as an excuse to take time out of my busy schedule to run, I needed another reason for getting my running shoes on. I decided I would enter a local 5k race. Even though I have been a runner for a long time, I have never entered a 5k. I found a few other bloggy friends who also decided to try a 5k this spring as well and they pointed me in the direction of the "Couch to 5k" training program. This is a training schedule designed to get people like me up off the couch and in shape for running a 5k. It is a free program you download onto your mp3 player.

I started in January, but with sick kids, getting sick myself, and my trip to Chicago, I completely fell off track. I finally got back into it, started over, and just completed week 2 of the program. I hope to stick with it this time and get in shape for the Tulip Time 5k in Orange City in May. A side benefit would be losing a few pounds, hasn't happened so far but a girl can always hope.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adoption and Being a Slacker

I am a big fan of adoption. We aren't in the position to adopt again, but I really enjoy following other people's adoption journeys. It has struck me lately, that I am pretty much of a slacker compared to these families. We have three bio kids, did foster for about 5 years, and have two adopted kids. Pretty much small potatoes compared to these families. One family whose blog I follow has 19 adopted children in addition to 5 grown bio kids. You might think that is too many children, but they really seem to be doing a fabulous job providing a family for some very hard to place children. Many of the families adopt two, three, four special needs kids at a time. I thought adopting just one at a time was sufficiently challenging.

Another thing I've noticed is that most of these families home school their children. Now I have to say that I am certified to teach both special education and English as a second language, so no excuses there. I really am qualified to teach at least my adopted children (both were older, special needs international adoptions). So, the other day at dinner I mentioned that perhaps I should have home schooled all our kids. The reaction was less than supportive. Maria looked absolutely horrified and my older three just bust out laughing. Only Jon Felipe seemed impervious to the impending doom and kept on eating. Okay, so maybe I'm not cut out for homeschooling.

To complete the slacker reality, I recently learned about Katie Davis. She is a 20-year-old who has an amazing ministry in Uganda. Her plan was to take a year off college and teach in Uganda, she never intended to stay. God had other plans. He kept placing needs in her path and she kept faithfully responding to those needs. She is still there and she continues to teach, has 14 adopted children, runs a program that feeds over 1200 people a day, and founded a sponsorship program that sends 350 children to school. This is a truly amazing, faithful woman of God and she is only 20! This is from her blog :

A few days ago an American woman who had spent about three days of her life in a third world country looked at me and said, “I would SO love to do what you do. I would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, I would take 14 kids in a second!” It is a good thing that I was having a graceful day, because I said, “Aw that’s nice.” But my not so graceful heart was angry. And the not so graceful voice in my head wanted to say to her, “Ok then, do it. I can have you 14 orphaned, abandoned, uncared for children tomorrow. So here is what you have to do: Quit school. Quit your job. Sell your stuff. Disobey and disappoint your parents. Break your little brother’s heart. Lose all but about a handful of friends because the rest of them think you have gone off the deep end. Break up with the love of your life. Move to a country where you know one person and none of the language. And when you are finished, I will be here waiting with your 14 children!” I wanted to ask her what was stopping her, knowing that the answer would be her comfort. I wanted to look at her and tell her that my life was full and joyful and WONDERFUL, but I also wanted to tell her to COUNT THE COST. Because my life IS full and joyful and wonderful, but it is NOT easy. My life is NOT glamorous. I do not expect it to be. I do not think that anything about carrying a cross was easy or glamorous either.

You can check out her ministry here:
Go to the history tab to read Katie's story.

You can also read about her here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jon Felipe-isms

Jon Felipe has interesting fads and ways of approaching life. For example, he still has to count the number of days until the next event of interest in his life. As soon as we leave church on Sunday, he checks to make sure that it is indeed seven days until we go to church again. He always knows the number of days until the next time we go to Kid Zone. Our family will be having dinner at Kid Zone on Monday and he is very interested in how many days until that exciting event occurs. He has developed an excellent ability to count backwards because, of course, as each day passes the number of days until the next event keeps decreasing.

He also collects bus numbers. He has memorized the four digit number of the bus he rides to school. He knows the four digit number of the bus that takes him to swimming lessons, even though he has only been on this particular bus three times. He knows the number of the bus he rode in Holland. He got a book about buses from the library and has determined he wants to move to a certain town shown in this book because he would like to ride a bus with that bus number (14). The towns in this book are all in the south, this particular one being in Florida, and I can certainly think of several good reasons for moving there too.

He has become very interested in the weather this year. We check the weather forecast every evening. We have to count the number of days until the next time snow is forecast. In the morning, he likes me to take him to a website called "Is it going to rain?" Currently it answers the question, "Is it going to snow?" This web page just displays a one word answer to that question, generally either "Yes" or "No." The other day it said, "Maybe," giving Jon Felipe a chance to learn to read a new word.

JF does homework every night. This is a child who thrives on routine so, for right now anyway, he never gives me grief about doing homework. When he practices his math facts, he still sometimes needs to count on the fingers of both hands and, because he has little control over his own left hand, he just uses mine. Pretty clever, I think. When he writes his spelling words, I ask him to say them in a sentence. He often acts out his idea, in his own amusing way, rather than saying a sentence, but at least I have a sense that he understands the idea behind the word he is trying to spell. This week one of his spelling words is Jesus. He immediately added that important name to his mental list of names that start with J, another of his collections.

He also just started doing Bible memory. He has never memorized Bible verses before, but as his speech is getting clearer and he is become more confident in English, I suggested that it might be time to try learning Bible verses. I suggested he start with the ABC Bible verses as his class' verses seemed a bit long to be beginning with. He was delighted to discover that Colin knew his ABC verses too. How cool is that! He lacks confidence on this new task so most of the words seem to turn to mush in his mouth, but I'm pretty certain that he is retaining much of what we are reviewing. We'll see if he can recite it to his teacher at the end of the week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Olympics

We are not a sports family, except when it comes to the Olympics. We spend more time watching sports during the two weeks of the Olympics, then we do during the entire two year time span between Olympics. Personally, I particularly enjoy the spectacle of the opening ceremony. On Friday night, Jacob and Tony came over and watched it with us and we even let the young ones stay up and watch. Perhaps not the best parenting move as Maria was droopy the next day and Jon Felipe had three seizures later that night when he was asleep, but how do you decide when to play it safe and when to live just a little. We did make sure they both got to bed a little early the rest of the weekend. On Friday night, though, we all cheered together for Colombia and Romania and the United States. We even got caught up in the moment and cheered for the Canadians as well. After all, they are doing a fabulous job as host country. What part of the Olympics do you enjoy the most?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saint Theresa's Prayer

I pinned this prayer to the bulletin board in my office last fall. This week I am trying to focus on being attune to God's presence, trusting that I am exactly where I am meant to be, and being content.

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Familiar

When I got to Chicago, I picked up a rental car and drove off into a city that felt familiar. The street names were familiar, I had a mental map in my head of where I wanted to go, and as I drove through neighborhoods, I thought about the people I knew who lived, or had lived, in those places. Everything felt so familiar and familiar is such a comforting place to be.

When I flew "home," I got in the car and drove out of the lot wondering which way to turn and desperately hoping I'd come across a street that matched one of the names that was on the directions I'd so carefully written down. I knew that if I ended up off by even just a block, I would be hopelessly lost. Everything here is so unfamiliar. Of course, Ed gave me excellent directions and I had no problem, but still there was that moment of panic wondering if I'd be able to figure it all out. Unfamiliar. A reminder that I am a stranger here. I hate that.

Last week I missed seeing my kid zone buddies. They always seem so pleased to see me, they make me glad I've come there to be with them. I also wondered about the girls I'd been helping at SCMS. I wondered if they did well on their test this week. Today, though, it is the opposite. Today I am thinking about my family and the good friends who have seen me through so many stages of my life. I feel so far away from them out here in Iowa. I feel like I've lost my identity, or at least an important piece of it. Who am I now? Where do I belong?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I am going to choose to ignore the difficulties getting here and focus on what a great week this has been. Here are some of the highlights:

1. I got to spend a lot of time in schools and saw some wonderful student teachers.

2. I got the chance to chat with a few people from my past life, like Tim Hoeksema and Sherri Broekstra and a few others.

3. I totally enjoyed the chance to catch up in person with my friend Tracy. We have been friends practically since we could walk. We grew up in neighboring houses and I spent a lot of time at her house and she at mine. (Tra - I love you too much to call you my oldest friend, but you are definitely the friend I have had the longest. So good to spend some time with you! Give your mom a hug from me.)

4. I met up with some fellow CCHS grads from the class of '82. With the exception of my dear friend Nancy, I hadn't seen the others since graduation. It was so good to reconnect. Thanks to Sharon for setting this up and insisting we could make it happen with only two days notice. It feels like I've found new old friends. How fun is that! I'm looking forward to staying connected now that I've found you again.

5. I loved having my parents all to myself and spending unrushed time with them. They totally spoiled me too. I spent my days at schools, so my mom made sure I had a lunch each day to take with me. They planned special things for dinner (including dinner out tonight with my sister and my nieces). We spent time just talking and drinking tea and being together. It was such a delight to have this time together.

So the visit is over. Tomorrow I will get on a plane and head back west. Of course, the weather forecast doesn't look too good, so who knows when I'll actually make it back to Sioux Center. Sounds pretty typical for Dordt College related travel.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sensory Overload

When we adopted our kids, we were warned about exposing them to too much sensory input all at once. I've been thinking about that this week as I've been driving around the Chicago area. Sensory overload is status quo around here. I was a little surprised by that discovery. After all, I grew up here and, though I haven't resided here for many years, I do visit often. I've only been living in Iowa for 6 months for goodness sake.

Driving in from the airport, I couldn't help but notice that there are an awful lot of places to spend your money around here. I'm not saying that people in northwest Iowa don't spend money, just that they have to work a bit harder to do it. It seems like it would be a stretch to call a purchase "impulse buying" when you have to travel an hour or more to buy it. Here it seems like you can practically fall out of bed and have a sale's clerk at your elbow.

There are people and cars everywhere, all the time. Driving always involves traffic and parking logistics, even when it's off-peak hours. People also worry more about safety. I have noticed a phenomenal number of police cars out "creating a presence." Every school building I have visited is locked up tight. At Timothy Christian, I had to stand in front of a security camera so the secretary could verify my identity before I was buzzed in.

On the other hand, I have not seen a single farm implement or farm animal, nor have I heard a single farm report on the radio since I got here. It's funny how the familiar changes so quickly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hotel Response

So, the hotel manager let me know today that he personally checked the room I was staying in and found . . . bed bugs. Yep, just like I said. So they have quarantined that room and the adjacent rooms and will have them all treated professionally. I did not ask for a refund, but he let me know that they couldn't do that anyway since the airline actually paid for my room (which is the reason I didn't ask otherwise you can be sure I would have). He did offer me a discount on a room should I choose to stay in that hotel again, but I don't think that is likely to happen. At least I know they have responded to the problem and I've saved the next person a bit of grief.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bed Bugs and Donuts

So, I got to stay in a nice hotel last night. However, when I turned on the light early this morning, I found that I had company. There were little bugs in my bed and even in the other bed where no one was sleeping. Yuck! I'm hoping I didn't bring any home with me. While I went to see student teachers at Elim, my mom washed my clothes and checked for bugs. Anything she couldn't wash, my dad put outside. We haven't found any critters yet, so we're hopeful.

It was suggested that I arrive at the airport this morning by about 5:30 for my 7:10 flight. It was suggested I do this because apparently there can be long lines for security on Monday mornings. When I got there I discovered the lines for security were long, snaking back and forth like something you might find at Disney, although without the promise of fun at the end. I was glad I got there early, but the whole process actually only took about 15 minutes. I did have to be patted down, however. When I asked why, I was told it was because of the fleece top I was wearing. I was wearing my favorite Dordt fleece. I'm not sure what Dordt did to tick off airport security, but they did clear me and I was finally able to fly to Chicago. Yeehaw!

So I got to Chicago, picked up my rental car, and headed to Elim to see student teachers. On my way from the airport to Elim, I stopped at my parents to change my clothes. When I got there, my wonderful parents had a pot of tea and chocolate donuts waiting for me. Just what I needed! I didn't sleep much last night and I needed a boost. So I ate a donut and drank some tea and my folks got started on the battle of the bugs, my mom made me a lunch to take with me, and then I went to Elim. It is so nice to have someone take care of you! I also had a very nice day at Elim.