Friday, June 29, 2007

It's gonna be a long one...

I know it's gonna take a while when my three year old says, "I'm gonna pray lotsa, lotsa prays, ok?"
I guess I have a tendency to interrupt and ask her to wrap it up, because tonight she added, "and you don't talking to me, promise? I need to do lotsa prays."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Today's List of Good Things...

1. God painted a masterpiece in our sky tonight. I wish my camera had been beside me. I was undone!

2. I had fun with my kids today and we got the basement clean!

3. Maddie made me laugh so hard...she was furious with me because I had told her not to do something. She was scrunching up her little face, tears rolling down her could just see her mind trying to come up with something mean to say to me...finally, she took a deep breath and between gritted teeth snarled, "God is NOT your mother!" I just about died laughing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Making the 'Spiritual' Connection

Lately I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to convince Maddie that she is 'big enough' to go potty by herself. She, on the other hand, has been adamant that she needs assistance, specifically, from Mommy.

Today we were careening through the house during another last minute "potty" alarm. Limbs were flinging left and right as we dodged a football, sleeping bag, mouse house and two, or was it three, remotes to some electronic device that probably doesn't work anymore. As we raced toward the bathroom, I prepared an outline in my head for my opening arguments which I had scheduled to begin the moment I placed her, captive, on the potty.

As I plopped her down on the seat, I said, calmly and rationally, "Maddie, you're a big girl now. You don't need me to help you."

"But mommy, I do. I do need help."

"No, Maddie. Mommy doesn't need to help you."

Suddenly a light went on.

I held my breath. Could this be 'IT'? The right of passage into a world of no longer needing to wipe anyone else's butt (OK...admittedly... I wasn't factoring in elder care for my parents someday...I was caught up in the excitement of the moment).

Maddie took a deep breath and said, "Mommy doesn't need to help me? Will Jesus help me?"

Clearly, my point didn't get through.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The One Year Plan

Larry and I started what we have deemed "The One Year Plan" at the end of May. It involves some hard choices and big changes but it is reassuring to know it is temporary. I was browsing through Barnes and Noble one day and my eyes fell upon this greeting card. I knew immediately that it was my "visual" for The One Year Plan.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

S*O*S- block party

One of the projects that Landen's camp is doing is block parties in low income neighborhoods. I took the other kids and visited one today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hearts of Flesh

WARNING: The pictures displayed at the end of this posting are graphic in nature.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I am undone.

I received a link to a CBS news story today from a fellow adoptive parent and dutifully double-clicked on it, fully expecting to be discouraged once again at the plight of the orphan. It is so disheartening at times. I steeled my emotions, feeling as if I must read this article...after all, Larry and I lead our orphan ministry at church and we try to stay informed and current so that our ministry is relevant.

Through the years I have had seasons when my emotions are numb... it is difficult for me to cry or be moved. Sometimes it is a result of my depression. Sometimes it is simply a spiritual dry time. Sometimes it is protection. Eventually I will tire of being anesthetized and I will reach for my Bible, fervently looking for the aged-yellow highlight marking the scriptures that speak of hearts of stone turning to hearts of flesh. I turn the phrases over and over in my heart and mind and pray them as a petition...Lord, let me feel again.

I've heard it said that there are "dangerous" prayers. Perhaps begging for a heart of flesh could be considered unsafe but I've learned that opening myself up for something wild usually ignites a renewed passion for the Gospel and fervor for participating in redemption. So, even though it usually takes some time for me to come around, I will wind up on my knees, pleading for that tender, responsive, fleshy, red-blooded and broken heart.

I have spent the last few weeks battling my depression...well, not battling... more like wasting away in my depression. Our lives are in transition and I'm finding myself lonely yet never alone. I can't find a rhythm and I've felt frayed on the edges, on the verge of feeling too much but not wanting to lose control.

This morning as I double-clicked on the news link, I was unprepared for God to show up. I was not "ready". I mean, I hadn't prayed my "heart of flesh" prayer yet. But God, and thankfully not I, is sovereign and He decided it was time.

My God gave me, and (I am so thankful for this) Larry also, a passion for the fatherless years ago. He uses this to awaken me to the Gospel on a regular basis and He did it again this morning. My heart is breaking for the things that break His heart. I am yearning for the day when His Kingdom comes here on earth as it is heaven. I want to be fully aware and fully alive and fully participate in this beautiful mess. I want to see the Spirit move with His sovereign plan and I want to see justice for these children.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Camp Baldwin

The girls (Emma, Maddie and Madeline Hubbard) got right to
work creating the ultimate camp experience. They collected all the greenery they could find as well as anything that resembled a woodland creature and started setting up the area around the tent.

Isaac finally got bored with decorating and left to play outside. Meanwhile the girls dug out my yoga mat and turned it into a stream filled with fish they had drawn on
paper towels and a stuffed crocodile.

They took a break and went outside to play for a little while. A few minutes later the girls came running in with Madeline carrying Maddie who had tears running down her face and blood running down her legs. She had fallen on the sidewalk and scraped up both knees as well as parts of her feet. I wiped up the blood but the older girls insisted on playing Florence Nightengale and nursed her wounds for her while I got the stuff out for s'mores.

As soon as Maddie was all bandaged up it was time to get the fire going...

The girls started melting their marshmallows and we enjoyed an amazing dessert in our wilderness campground!

Eventually Isaac joined us too!

Dentists and Dogs

Today Emma got her first filling...make that TWO fillings! We have a wonderful new pediatric dentist who is fabulous with kids and made her feel very comfortable. After choosing the rootbeer flavored laughing gas, she settled down into her chair and was completely cooperative. She insisted that Isaac come along for moral support and he thoroughly enjoyed watching his sister giggle through the entire procedure. Afterward, the three of us (Landen was babysitting Maddie at home) went to the mall across from the dentist's office and chose a puppy to play with at the pet store. The kids chose the cutest little puggle (pug/beagle mix). There are no just have to see for yourself!

He didn't have any desire to play around on the floor. He kept snuggling up to the kids, wanting to be held! He captured their
hearts in an instant.

Later we picked up Madeleine (Emma's best friend) and came home to create Camp Baldwin...our own version of camping in our air conditioned living room! Pictures coming soon.

S*O*S - Summer of Service I dropped off my teenage (ugh) son at Bethel College for a week of camp. It's a service and worship camp and they'll be doing work in the community all week long. He was so excited to be's all jr. hi and high school students from all over the midwest...a group from our church, the local Vineyard church and then a whole bunch of other Vineyard churches in the region. Pray for them...the impact they will have on the community and the spiritual growth potential as well!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another wonderful quote...

"My wife Ruth was the person to whom I would go for spiritual guidance," Billy said. "She was the only one in whom I completely confided. She was a great student of the Word of God. Her life was ruled by the Bible more than any individual I have ever known. When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry — she was the greatest Christian I ever knew."

from USA Today article

Thursday, June 14, 2007

She Is Home

Ruth Bell Graham was welcomed home today at 5:05 pm (EST). Read these beautiful words from her husband of 64 years, the Rev. Billy Graham:

"Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team. No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.

I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Does anyone else...

get embarrassed when they're watching tv with their 13 year old son and a commercial for "personal lubricant" comes on?


"Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side," Graham said. "I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College."

Ruth Bell Graham

In the spring of 1998 I was blessed to be able to spend an unbelievable few days with one of the greatest women I have ever met...Ruth Bell Graham. Our small group of actors/singers were performing a tribute to her life and writing in Montreat, North Carolina. The Grahams housed us at the Billy Graham conference center, away from the bussle of conference crowds in private cabins that Ruth had helped decorate. Ruth took us out for Chinese food, served us Haagen Daas in crystal in her lovely home and showed genuine interest in the lives we lived back in San Diego. I spent the days in a haze of disbelief. Was I really here? With these people? I will never forget it. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Words cannot describe what an amazing woman Ruth Graham is.

Tonight I learned that Ruth has lapsed into a coma and is close to meeting her savior face to face. I am sad. I am especially sad for her family. But I am so very thankful for the few moments I got to spend with her.

This is lunch with Ruth at her favorite Chinese restaurant. Her parents had been missionaries in China when she was growing up and she loved the Chinese culture. Little did I know at the time that I would one day visit China and fall in love as well. Ruth is in navy blue directly to the left of me (I'm the was my color for that year!).

This is in the Graham's living room after our ice cream and a wonderful visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hot Summer Nights...

It's 6:30 pm and 85 degrees. The girls decided to jump into the little kiddie pool we have on our deck.

Let's Bring Her Home!

Many of you know my heart for adoption. I am passionate about children finding families. This week I became aware of girl who is “aging out” of the adoption system in China (when children turn 14 yrs old, they are no longer eligible to be adopted and languish in the system). She is a beautiful girl whose heart’s desire is to find a family and, specifically, a family in America. Well…guess what? No…we’re not the family! BUT, a good friend of mine is! Now the challenge is to raise the funds and finish the paperwork before this precious girl turns 14.

So…here’s the deal. Starting TODAY through the END of JUNE, all commissions from every sale on my Close To My Heart website will go toward bringing this girl home to her family.

Pass this on to your friends and family and let’s make a difference in this little one’s life!

Close To My Heart provide supplies and instruction in the art of scrapbooking and stamping. Create beautiful scrapbook pages, cards, and craft projects with our exclusive line of top-quality papers, inks, stamps, and accessories. Be sure to check out our amazing acrylic stamps…the quality is unbeatable not to mention the many benefits of convenient storage, see-through placement and the ability to create your own stamps by combining several smaller Acrylix® onto one larger block!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heart of Darkness

I am always amazed at the depravity of my own mind. You know, those secret places that you don’t even fully acknowledged yourself. I’m not just talking about that part of you (ok…me) that wishes to shove pudding up Rosie O’Donnell’s nose when she speaks without thinking or fill Rush Limbaugh’s bed full of Cheetos just to piss him off more. I’m talking about the place that I came face to face with this morning and instead of pushing it aside, I reluctantly invited it to sit down for a minute so I could (maybe) start to deal with it.

My daughter, Emma, and her best friend, Madeline, woke up very early for a Saturday morning. I finally rolled out of bed, poured myself some instant awake (coffee) and dug out some left over scones for them to eat for breakfast. A while later, as I was pouring a fresh cup of coffee to take up to Larry, I realized I was feeling smug.

Now, you have to understand that Larry NEVER sleeps in. He is always the first up with the kids in the morning. It is extremely rare for me to get up and get everyone going. I explain this away very easily because I’m positive no one would really want me to be the one to greet them in the early morning hours. I can scare small animals and children with a mere glance.

But this morning, I did get up and I was feeling pretty self-satisfied with my burst of generosity. What is this? I don’t like this side of me. Why can’t I just do things because I’m a loving, giving person? While I believe that those things were mixed into my mess of motivations, they weren’t lingering in my heart…it was the pride that was stinking up the atmosphere.

Final thought: Grace…can’t live without it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


"One of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one's secret insanity and brokenness and rage."

-Anne Lamott, "Operating Instructions"

This Morning

Disclaimer: Photo does not do this justice.

I reluctantly emerged from my cocoon of blankets and dragged my tired, achy, snot-ridden body to Isaac’s room, gently shook him and stumbled to the kitchen to heat up a cup of yesterday’s coffee. We quietly maneuvered through our preparations and then, wiping more sleep from our eyes, went to the garage. I fumbled for the garage door opener and wound my way through the bikes, cardboard fortresses and scattered shoes to the car. What greeted my eyes as the creaking door lumbered open was mesmerizing. In the mists of the early morning sky was a double rainbow that stretched from one end of our cul-de-sac to the other. It was whole, vibrant and filled the sky. Isaac and I just stopped, wide-eyed now, and drank it in.

If You're Reading This...

I am not a HUGE country fan. The occasional song will reach out and grab me. This is one of those songs. It has not been released. This is the only version available.

Back story: My father, Dana Randolph Barker, was killed in Vietnam when I was seven weeks old. I have ONE picture that has both of us in it...the day he left for Vietnam. He is in his uniform, looking over my mom's shoulder as she holds me. I never sang for my father.