Sunday, August 28, 2016

That Was Quick

Well, here we are at the beginning of our last week of Summer camp. Fastest summer I can remember. I haven't written in a few weeks because, well, it's been kind of nuts around here.  A real zoo, in fact. I sit in this window every morning and this is what I see.
And deer. They practically let you walk right up to them.  

I don't know if I've mentioned some of the endless perks to our jobs up here, but one of my favorites is daily Chapel. Most of the time I listen through the speaker on my desk phone, but every once in a while I can sneak out of the office and actually go to the auditorium. A few weeks ago Crawford Lorrits was here with us. I love his style and his study. That week I put on a hat (incognito) and snuck in the back on my day off to get a much-needed message. So great!

Of course you've noticed that summer is slipping away. I've always been one who is eager for Fall but not so much this year. Since it's rarely super hot or humid up here in the mountains and the nights and mornings are gloriously cool, I don't wish it away. Especially because I know that we dwindle back down to a 40 person staff and only host guests on the weekends. My summer staff has been slowly going back to college for 2 weeks now. Sniff. In other words, it's way less busy and bustling. That's got its pros and cons for sure. Essentially though, I've loved this summer and will be sad to see it end.

Because of our insane schedules, we've barely had time to sit back and enjoy the view. That's coming up after Labor Day too. In the meantime, let's just pause a moment and take it in.

Sometimes you just have to find a beautiful place to sit and be quiet. These are a few of my favorite spots.
As if adding a new member to our growing family, baby Adeline Grace (see gratuitous pic), wasn't a big enough event for us to marvel at, this other little thing happened last week.

Our baby girl graduated from the Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake. I was introduced to WOL when I was 18 and our brand new pastor suggested I attend. I remember wondering, "Why would I do that? Will it make me a nun?" Oh, youth.

I won't tell the story of how I got there today but suffice it to say, Jesus stole my heart during my time at WOL and completely changed the course of my life and I couldn't be more thankful. I fell in love with His Word, the Bible, and His people. I surrendered my will and promised to follow His ways for all of my days. Best decision I ever made. 

Later we annually sent or took our kids to WOL Camp every summer but didn't even consider that they would follow in my footsteps and attend the BI. My emotions can't handle (aka - I weep) that all three of our children now have the same foundation heading into adulthood. Isn't that just like God? He blesses us beyond what we can imagine (Eph. 3:20, 21). 

Back to our CAMP-of-the-WOODS perks, our kids always have a job when they are here. Now that Ally's l9, she can run the grill at the TeePee. No complaints from her. I'm sure it's her work ethic or the fact that she can eat all the fries and mozzarella sticks she wants. Whatever.
As sort of a graduation/we know you need to get away present, the other night we put her on a train to spend a week with her brothers. First stop, Chicago and the big city, then on to Indianapolis for baby love. 

Gotta love public transportation. It's cheap and convenient. We were both a smidge nervous about her travelling alone all night, until we saw some of my people waiting for the same train. Phew.
Still, I texted Scott and Ben to tell them she was on the train but scared.
Feel the love. 
Happy last week of Summer everyone!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Little Tiny Huge Thing

Well, I was warned. They tell you there are certain things in life that you simply can't prepare for.
The moment the man you love proposes a lifetime of marriage to you.
The birth of your first child.
Your child's first day of kindergarten.
Seeing them standing at the back of a gym with cap and gown, Pomp and Circumstance playing loudly.
When your child takes a spouse declaring adulthood and independence.

Then this....when your firstborn's firstborn is placed in your arms.
"They" were right. Instantly smitten. Tiny and perfect.
For a moment or two I was speechless.
But alas, 9 days later I have found my words.

Let me back up.
It all started with our Christmas present from Drew and Brittany.
Which gave us seven months to prepare to be old. To enter a new stage of life. I hoped it was enough time.

Fast forward to the big day. Because our daughter-in-law is so thoughtful, she texted us all the way up to when Drew told us "pushing has commenced". What a gift to be on the edge of our seats as she progressed through labor. While we waited, Scott made flight arrangements for me.

In the early afternoon of July 28, 2016 Adeline Grace Burtis, 7lbs 4oz, 19 inches long joined our family.
Tiny, but huge. A new generation.

One day later, very early, I hopped on a plane with five days ahead to soak it all up.

I was so grateful that Scott managed to book me a seat by myself. Time and space to spread out and spend some time with God, asking Him to prepare me for the unpreparable. It just so happens, by no coincidence at all, that my Bible reading for that day was Ephesians 1. I have prayed the verses at the end of this chapter over my own children for years. Wiping the tears as fast as they came, I prayed this prayer for a darling little girl who was about to steal my heart.

I do not cease giving thanks for you, 
remembering you in my prayers, 
that the God of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory, may give 
you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation 
in the knowledge of Him, 
having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to 
which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe...1:16-19

Croak much? Nothing else matters and this is everything I want for her.

Ben asked me in the weeks prior why I was getting so emotional every time we talked about the baby coming. "Because I'm overwhelmed knowing where and who I was when God found me, and in spite of that He still gave Dad and you kids to me. Now He's giving another generation to influence for His kingdom. It's a lot."

"Classic Mom answer", he said. Whatever. It's true. Not a more undeserving person than the one typing these words.

Pretty much this was Day One in Indianapolis.
The next day baby Adeline came home from the hospital. My fun job was unpacking the nursery before they arrived and sorted all the dresses, shoes and accessories. I knew right then that we were meant to be together. I think she and I are going to like a lot of the same things.
Did I mention Drew and Britt moved into their first home the very day she went into labor?

The next few days looked a lot like this.
We played dress up on the floor which was ridiculously fun. So many choices!

We attempted her first few baths. Is there anything quite like the smell of a baby?

And this Mimi even put together this little jig. Some of you know what a big deal this is. Power screwdriver even. Boom!

Every time I was alone with Addy Grace I tried for hours to take the perfect picture of her, holding my camera over our heads. Did I say hours? I'm embarrassed to tell you how many shots I took and deleted. Over and over until everything was in the frame. Don't tell my kids. I can see the eye rolling from here.

For those of you who asked me on Facebook who do I think she looks like...see below. Making side by side comparisons particularly amused me. Brittany and I had a great time comparing Drew's baby pictures to our real live baby doll.

I mean, come on people. Baby girl Drew!

I brought one gift and with it a goal. It's the Jesus Storybook Bible and I determined to read all of it to her before I had to leave. I pray that Adeline will love God's Word. That she would learn who God is, how much He loves her, and who He says she is. That she will believe it and let it shape all of her days. That she will look to it for everything she needs every day. That she will be obedient to all that's written inside. That she will love God more than anyone or anything.

So during Mommy's morning naps and before bedtime, I read my granddaughter every page. Sometimes she was awake and sometimes she was asleep. But mission accomplished, the first book she heard was the Bible. Got the Word in her!
It was just the sweetest experience. I love the way this children's version makes the Truth so beautiful and irresistible. It can even bring an old(er) lady to tears because of the amazing, huge love of God. Please buy it for your children and grandchildren. Then read it to them.

I will always cherish those moments.
And can you stand the cuteness of this little family? Except his jeans. Oy.

I was especially blessed with a few occasions to be alone with Drew. We talked about important things. His initial parenting strategies. His growing up years. He told me why Adeline's middle name is Grace. 
"1. Grace is something we are still learning to this day. God has taken us on a journey and we are still trying to understand His grace towards us. Adeline is a part of our journey. 
2. We wanted to remind ourselves that Adeline is God's gracious gift to us. We don't deserve her, but He gave her to us anyways. 
3. Elegant. It is a beautiful name and our little girl is beautiful." Amen.
Just when you think you can't love your son anymore, he gives you a whole new and amazing reason. My firstborn and his firstborn and one proud, happy Mom/Mimi. I can't wait for Pop to meet her. (Look closely, I still contend he looks like me.)
Right about when my time in Indy came to an end, Adeline's other Grandma and Aunt flew in. She had fun with dress up time too. It was so much easier to leave knowing they were in these good hands.
I'm thankful for every minute I was given to spend at the hospital and in their home and can't wait until the next visit. 

Thanks for sharing our big moments by reading this blog. Much love to you!

P.S. One last favorite moment the night before I left was when Drew plugged in his Dad's old SuperNintendo and said, "Mom, let's go, we're playing Dr. Mario".

Yes, let's. Insert smirky grin.

Schooled him 6 games to 2. Got me some r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Mmmmhmmm. Not bad for not playing in years. I believe I've still got it. Once a youth pastor's wife, always a youth pastor's wife. I could've gone on much longer but he was starting to call me not-so-nice names and then claimed to be tired. Psh.
Now all I need are some true friends who might actually tell me when it's TIME TO GET A HAIRCUT. Yikes!! When did this happen?

Monday, July 25, 2016

True Beauty

I've heard it said that women tend to surround themselves with beauty, sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not. This is likely why many of us make an effort to decorate our homes a certain way, purchase cute clothes and acccesories, etc. It's so pleasing to the eye.

I get this and to step it up a notch, I lump the presence of special people and outdoor landscapes in my personal pursuit. This week was full of that kind of beauty for me.

It all started when this woman showed up for her annual week at Camp. Her name is Peg and we met years ago through a mutual friend (thank you, Sandy). Then because of Facebook we have gradually discovered a sweet relationship based on similar interests and love for women's ministry. Our face to face encounters are rare, but when they happen it's a beautiful thing and I walk away so happy. 

One afternoon we shared a window. Two actually. Not only did I get to look at her joyful, kind, smiling face for a little while and hear what God is doing in her life, but we enjoyed the mountain view together as well. Beautiful.
Our next treat was feeding this handsome young man dinner one night. He is the son of one of my heroes, a missionary I've been happy to call my friend for many years. He's working at a boys camp nearby and headed to Cedarville University (Scott's alma mater) in the Fall. My plan was to prepare him a home cooked meal, but it's summer and I've been acccused of keeping no food in the house since we eat all our meals at work. I resent this. (Even if it is sort of true.) King of the Frosties for burgers, fries and ice cream it is!

This kid is a total trooper. First, he graciously forgave me for not cooking. He really doesn't remember us as he's lived in Senegal and Hungary for most of his life, but he came and answered our endless questions and let us love him a little, which felt like I was loving his beautiful mom.

For our day off one of us got a great idea - an early morning Camp-led canoe trip at a nearby lake. One of us was very excited! I mean, who doesn't want to be out on a beautiful Adirondack lake at the break of dawn? I can think of one person. Caravan left at 5:30 am.
 I admit it was a little chilly (oh how I love the cool nights and mornings here) but insisted it would be worth it and I would ultimately be called blessed.
 A big shout out to the Rec Staff who basically do all the work.
 I spy the sun peeking out, looking for us.
 When you are up and out before 5:30am, it's automatically a hat day.
We saw so many interesting things and even heard loons giving God their praise first thing - just like we were.
Beauty everywhere we looked. Breathtaking, really. I'd like to say it rendered me speechless too, but well....
I never made it into Chapel this week, so was listening eagerly as the man behind me reviewed what he heard and learned. Sermons about Job - the idea that when we suffer we shouldn't ask for a reason why. That's looking backward. Instead, we should ask God for the purpose in our suffering. That's moving forward. Yes. 

I love this man. Not too many days go by that I don't thank the Lord for a Godly, faithful husband. If you had known the teenage me, you know he would never have looked in my direction. I was definitely not the girl he was looking for. By God's grace, Jesus saved me out of that life and set me up for this beautiful one and I never get over the enormity of it all.

The staff told us what time we should come back for breakfast.
 I was expecting a granola bar and a little fruit maybe, but not all this.
Pancakes, sausage, eggs, muffins and smiling hosts, eager to hear what we discovered on the lake. Also a fire to sit by and eat! Beautiful.
Togetherness. I know my ideas drive him nuts, but he's a good sport and in the end enjoyed our morning as much as I did. 

All this in just one week. People beauty. Nature beauty. Relationship beauty. The trained eye can find it everywhere. I, for one, want to be as close to it as possible. Makes the harder, darker days easier to swallow. Be on the lookout, I am sure you can find it in your world too.