Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting "The Cousins" off to France

I have to get up & teach my children in the morning so I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet but I wanted to share my thoughts about today. So, today was the day. We've been helping the cousins pack and move for the last couple of weeks and today was the day they REALLY went to France. It seemed so unreal for a long time. Kind of like when it finally hits a husband that his wife is really pregnant. (In our family it seems I notice it's "really real" a lot sooner since I feel all the changes in my body.) And then all of a sudden the wife has a really big belly and it gets more real to the husband.

We said our "final" goodbyes last night which Dana and I knew could get really intense so we were very careful how we went about it. You know, we'd kind wipe our tears that we cried in the other room and try to pretend we didn't know the other one was crying...but we knew we knew. You have to understand, we were afraid to "lose it". But, then, when I got home late last night I realized I still had Alyssa's coat in my car and I HAD to see them one last time. We weren't going to do the airport goodbye because we knew that would be extra intense. There was so much craziness going on this morning and we were so busy bringing things they needed to the airport and things like that that it didn't end up being the "cryfest" we expected it to be. There was also something REALLY funny that happened but I don't want to embarrass the party involved... but let me tell you a story about me that is very similar to what happened. A couple of weeks back my grandma and I were shopping at Kohl's. I said to my grandma (as I stroked Sam's hair), "Okay, you put her in that shopping cart and push it and I'll put her (Bella) in this other one..." and then suddenly a female complete stranger was looking me in the eye and saying, "Okay!" I was thinking, "Okay...does my grandma know this woman? Why is she talking to me?" I was so horrified when I looked down and saw that the little girl whose hair I was stroking was NOT my little sweet Samantha but a complete stranger as well. I was so shocked at myself (not that it's out of character for me but I had never done THIS before!) I laugh as I write. I don't even know how this girl's head ended up in my hand! My grandma and I cracked up- you know- the kind that brings tears. This woman thought it was quite funny and so did the workers that couldn't help but notice the scene. The woman joked something about that was fine with her as her daughter had been "acting up in the store" anyway. And, grandma joked that I had so many children that I just thought that one was mine too. Yeah, embarrassing! ;) Well, so, okay...I'll tell you what this person did but I will not name names. ;)They were in such a hurry loading things on the thingymajig that rolls the bags into the airport that they actually opened the wrong van's passenger car door (I'll give it to them that it WAS silver too) and then continued to open the sliding passenger door. I'm laughing as I write this too. It was all in slow motion. I watched it all happen and I was confused thinking,"This isn't right...but is this person helping them and I just don't know them? No...I think they're at the wrong van..." So finally I speak,"Umm...(insert their name)..." Then the woman breaks my voice with a loud, "HELLO!" A hello that says, "Excuse me, why are you opening MY van door?" Oh, man! That was funny! The person blushes and reminds me that it reminds them of my "stroking the little girl's hair incident". We laugh and get back to the busyness.

Dana didn't have her Ergo baby carrier and Ryan had laid it aside earlier and it never got packed. And if you know us, well, that is just a necessity! So, I gave her mine and now hers is mine and it's sentimental to me now (Bury me with it. Ha ha!)The reason we weren't crying is because the day was just that way. It was wild. When they left, the day only stayed true to the wildness. I am just positive I will hear "wild" stories from their plane ride. After they got in the airport I waited by my grandpa's truck so he could park my grandma's van (Ryan and Dana had driven there in it). It took him forever to get back. He said he couldn't figure out how to get back there. I watched a car get towed as I stood there wondering if they'd target his next! As I was taking him home to drop his truck off and bring him back to the van they found out they could bring their high chair (which Dana had really wanted to take but didn't think they'd let her check) so I caught grandpa on the road and told him to follow me to my moms so I could pick it up. Grandpa ended up driving home from there and said to come back and get him. I thought it might be good just to have one of the sweet people who came to say goodbye at the airport drive it back. So, we went to check the high chair at the airport and I had some other things they wanted me to bring but they had gotten on an earlier flight and were going through security when I got there and it was too late. So, on we went...One of the men from church said he'd drive the van if I could take him to work and his wife would head on. As we left one of the other people from church had a dead battery and needed a jump. So, we all scrambled trying to find jumper cables which Derrick told me (over the phone from Kentucky) I had some in a hidden compartment by the time they found some. Then were pulling out of the airport parking lot and there was another sweet friend standing outside of her car with a flat tire and I rolled down my window. She borrowed my cell phone but, of course, the servant- hearted men from church were pulling there cars over and hopped out to change the tire. They had the look of stress off of my friend's face in minutes. The Youth Pastor and Pastor were among the men that helped with all the car trouble and they went above and beyond. Anyway, how's that for short and sweet?!

My sweet in-laws watched the kids and I went to the doctor and then did some Christmas shopping. And, of course, stopped and got my Caramel Apple Spice Cider from Starbuck's. Which, by the way, I've added their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate to my list of favorite drinks (Compliments of a suggestion from Dana earlier after she and Ryan discovered it).

Here are some cute quotes from the kids about the cousins going to France. It kind of reminds me of when Bailey first heard they were going and said, "I wish Oklahoma was France!"

The night before they left we came over and ate very American takeout, Fuddruckers. Alyssa knew I was crying when I told her and Mia goodnight (and goodbye) in their beds. She is really a funny character and said, "Are you crying?" Ha! Ha! She laughed. She totally doesn't get it. But, she's hilarious.

Sam~"I wish we were the "Powell's." She went on to explain she wished our whole family were Powells and were going with them. *Well, I used to be a Powell.*

Bailey~ This isn't funny in the least but sweet. When we discussed how they wouldn't be here for Christmas Bailey said, "It's going to be empty without them." I didn't even know he could articulate something like that. I guess he "gets it".

Sam again~ We talked about how sometimes one family would be awake while the other was asleep. We talked about how they were sleeping on the plane on the way there. Sam said, "Are they asleep right now?" Then, with surprise, she said," Even Aunt Dana and Uncle Ryan?!" as if they were supposed to fly the plane.

Ryan and Dana have already grown so much through this whole process. They (and the kids) have given away many, many precious earthly things to them. I watched Ryan give away his "beloved" espresso/cappucino maker my grandma had gotten for him a couple of Christmas' back. He used to make Derrick plain jane coffee and me cappucinos when we'd get together for New Year's to play Bible Trivia and Monopoly. I have a dream to play Bibliopoly with them one day. I think they have a better understanding of the verse, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 better than I do.

Unbelievable but Dana made Peppermint Bark for gifts on the last night they were here. Amidst all she had going on she wanted to leave those Christmas gifts. Which, I am so thankful she did because it is really, really good.

Dana has taught me SUCH a great deal about MANY things. I will still be able to call her constantly with questions like, "What should I do about...", "What should I make for the birthday party?", "Do you think it's okay to use expired (such and such)", "Did you like that...", and on and on. My afternoon will be her bedtime. My morning will be her afternoon. I will just have to time it right now.

And one last thing.God is going to use them tremendously in France for His glory and it is exciting. But, with it will come trials, testing, hardships...One thing I have found in my own life is that God uses those trials to draw us closer to Him and make us more like Him. I am astonished at the way He has used the most terrible things that have happened in my life to bring about the best things in my life. It has caused me to trust Him more and fear much less (although I am still growing). He works it ALL for the good of those who love Him. He used the absolute worst thing in my life for the absolute best thing in my life: my salvation. If it were not for my brokeness, I wouldn't have come to Him. But now, I have a relationship with the God of the universe. And those other things, that is where I have experienced the most growth. So, would I take the bad away? No. That's where He meets us, shows us our need for Him, and that He is worthy of our praise, that He loves us and knows what is best for us even if we don't think it so. He allows us to go through dark times and He uses it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time with the Cousins

These last days with the cousins (and my mom being in from California) have been so much fun! Lots of good food, laughs, staying up late, and memories. We've been playing, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," looking at Christmas lights, eating out (once we had some Indian food at my mom's, one night Charleston's-very,very yummy Chicken Piccata, tonight we had chili, cornbread, salad, brownies, ice cream, and French Silk pie at our house), hanging out at Bass Pro Shop, hot chocolate & apple cider from Starbuck's, the kids had fun when I put their faces on "Elf Yourself"...Tonight the kids put on a "Christmas show" for us and made a theatre out of Sam and Bel's room. They made us a ticket and even signed autographs after the show was over. I was just in there picking up some of the toys they played with after everyone left. All I could wish for is more time...more time with them. Or, that time could just stop for a bit. I love them so much and am going to miss them more than my heart can stand. France is getting a HUGE gain. God is going to bless so many lives through them. May He work mightily through them.