Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Will Work With Joy.*

I will work with joy, my task has now begun,

I will work with joy until my task is done.

Persistence and pride, purpose unfolds, as I work hard to reach my goal,

I will work with joy, my task has now begun, I will work with joy until my task is done. :)

*Words from one of my favorite songs from the Seven Times the Sun album. Immediately thought of it as I watched Grandpa Jim and the babes picking the remaining veggies from the garden. The last pick of the season. I'll miss watching Sammy work with such gusto. He and his Grandpa Jim are two of the hardest workers I know. Amelia? Well, she tries. Sometimes. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I know this much is true, if we were all as demonstrative in our reactions to seeing our friends as these little ones are I think the world would be a better place: )

Do you remember this video of the babes watching their friend Vera arrive for a visit?

Well, fast forward almost two years and things haven't changed much. Today I went and picked Vera up to come over to play for the afternoon. As I drove into our driveway, Amelia burst out onto the porch screaming and laughing and jumping up and down and saying, "Vera! Vera! Vera" As she ran down to the car and I opened Vera's door, Vera said, "Amelia! I am soooo excited to see you! I've missed you! " Amelia replies, "I miss-ted you too Vera! I love your sweater!" Then Vera got out and they gave each other a huge hug and walked inside and started playing. Well actually, Vera ran inside yelling "Saaaaam? Saaaaaam?" He was still napping, but was up soon and got to play for a bit before leaving with his daddy and grandpa.

Anyway, it's just the sweetest most honest thing ever. Oh, and they had just been at pre-school together this morning, so it wasn't like they hadn't seen each other in a long time! Hahaha.

So, my life long friend Abbe Jo was here yesterday and I got to spend the day with her and her sweet, sweet family (I need pictures guys!) and I just want to tell you Abbe that Amelia's reaction to Vera was how I felt inside when you and I were finally reunited:) You and your kind husband and cute and funny Asher and smooshy doll baby Lucy.

Sad are goodbyes though(especially if you are Amelia, to whom friendship holds paramount importance), and it does usually come to that doesn't it?

Whether you will see your friend at pre-school in two days or maybe, sigh, not for years, I am so thankful for friendships and the time we have together. New and old and in-between, they are such a gift.

All for now,

P.S. In unrelated news, I ran down to get the camera cord a minute ago, and this is what I saw:

Um, hello winter, I guess we decided to skip fall this year? WAAAAAH!

LA- Skid Row.

So, I'd like to start this post off by saying I am no expert in homeless issues or homeless outreach. In fact, I know almost nothing about it. I only know what I have heard from Joel and read in books/articles. So, this post is just a picture of what I, a plain old ordinary girl, saw. I have no doubt it is a naive, very incomplete picture but it is my experience nonetheless and I'm thankful for it.

I almost chickened out. I didn't really have a reason for being there after all. I'm not a street medicine provider looking to gain insight by seeing outreaches in Skid Row. I was just curious, really, and wanted to to grab the opportunity to see homelessness in one of the most "in your face" places in the country. So moments before we left I was still saying things like, "I don't know. I don't want it to be like a spectator sport. Maybe I shouldn't go, blah blah blah".

I went. We were a group of seven, with a leader from one of the outreaches leading the way. I think he was probably on those streets himself at one time, and I felt pretty safe with him as our guide and I stayed pretty close to his side:)

First we visited a "harm reduction center" . It is a place for drug users to come and trade out contaminated needles for clean ones, as well as getting other products like rubberbands, condoms, pipe tips...basically everything you need to use. It's a difficult concept, but i get it. They also have sandwiches available and also host classes on things like reversing overdoses with Narcan, etc. While there a teenager who was drugged out of her mind came in trying to find a bathroom (there wasn't one), and took some sandwiches and left. It was really, really sad. She was so tiny and so young.

We left and walked on to a free Community clinic where we toured the facilities and heard the philosophy and were able to ask questions. It was a nice place, really nice, where the directors vision was to make it a one stop shop where most all non-emergency medicine could take place. He said that if the homeless population has to get referred out of a clinic, find buses and connections to take them to another appointment, etc. they often don't go. So, he hopes to rarely have to refer a patient out of the clinic for anything, and it looked to me like they were pretty close to that.

Next we walked to a place that serves the homeless, but specifically the mentally ill population. Their first goal is to get them into housing. By taking away the daily worry of finding a place to sleep and eat, they feel like this frees the people up to focus on getting mental/medical/addiction care that they need. Again, the facilities were very nice and welcoming. They had an art and music program for their clients as well as employment opportunities for them in their laundry and shower facilities/ front desk, etc.

When we left there, though the streets had been pretty crowded and rough, we headed into the depth of Skid Row. I have never even imagined being in a place as overwhelming/scary/sad/surreal. I think the best word to describe it was eery. A street thick with huddled masses. Strange smells (hello drugs). Ripe for violence. Ripe with mental illness and addiction. I don't know, it was hard to process the reality of it all. Plus, in my paranoid state of not wanting to seem like a spectator I didn't really want to stare or even look at anyone. So, I just inhaled the horror of it all and don't think I exhaled until we turned the corner of the street.

We rounded the corner and visited a Christian homeless clinic. It was an old hotel and, though the doctor who gave us a tour was really great, I was still exhaling from the whole experience and all I could think was how tiny the place was and how it needed a paint job. It seemed much less funded than the other outreaches we visited and I wish now I would have asked if that was because of faith-based regulations or what. I also wish I would have asked how the spiritual aspect of the clinic is integrated into their services.

That was the end of the tour. Whew. I thought I would feel guilty walking back to our nice hotel, just a couple of blocks away. I didn't. I just felt thankful for a safe, comfortable place to stay and to sleep. However, on the trip to Santa Monica that evening it was a little too much excess (seeing $400 shirts in one store, luxury after luxury) for our systems to handle after what we had just seen and, though the ocean was gorgeous, we just ate a quick bite and headed back to our hotel.

So, there you go folks. I don't really know how God will use the experience to change my heart. I'm still processing. Joel said it was a warm up for the complete brokenness we will experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia when we travel for the adoption. He said it is much, much bigger than what I saw on Skid Row, I can't even imagine.

I'll end with this Franciscan Benediction I read a few weeks ago that Joel reminded me about today:

May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.


Amen and Amen,

Friday, October 22, 2010

What a trip...

I wanted to write this post, like I most often do when I am writing about something I really feel deeply, listening to music that inspires. Then I heard sirens outside our hotel window. Siren after siren and I thought, "Nope, no fluff today, I am just going to listen to the sirens while I write." Our hotel is nice (especially compared to the $20 room we stayed in while traveling through Las Vegas!:), but when you look out the window you see the LAPD headquarters. So, lots of sirens . Amazingly, we are also just blocks away from Skid Row, so lots more sirens.

The trip has been good. I felt a bit anxious as we drove away from our babes. I think being away for five days wasn't the issue, it was imagining all of the tragic situations that could happen while we are away that made my heart ache and head spin. Thankfully, having Joel captive in the car so that I could ask him questions like, "So, where do you see our family in five years? How do you like the current state of Jenny? No really, what's your favorite thing about me? What could I improve on? Do you feel like you can never get all big pieces of your life lined up? Are you excited about homeschooling? Which of these three curriculums do you think fit our family best? Remember Sam and Amelia? Aren't they adorable? What's your favorite thing about them? Let's talk about Ethiopia. Let's talk about adoption. The hard stuff. The stuff no one wants to talk about. Wait what? You don't want to talk about it either?!" Just kidding. He loves all of my questions and I really didn't ask all of those questions. Or maybe I did. It was a long car ride! Anyway, having Joel all to myself was a treat and soon the anxiety of leaving our precious little ones started to lessen.

We stayed in Las Vegas for a night (got there at 12 am, left at 8 am), and let me just say that it is NOT the place for me! It made me want to run to a mountain river or something to get away from all of the flashing lights, practically nude women on billboards and signs everywhere, and throngs of people. No thanks.

On we journeyed to LA where we found our hotel in Little Tokyo. Joel went straight to some seminars while I jumped on the fluffy white blankets and settled in to read. Oh, and I got to watch Ellen! So fun and something usually reserved for when I'm in TX visiting family with TV!

We went for a long walk to stretch our legs in the early evening and it was fun to see everything around us. So many people! So busy, and so much more intimidating than Salt Lake City! But, it is so diverse and so interesting and so full of life and I love that. We found a fun little place to eat and I got the Farmers Market Plate full of vegetable goodness and rustic bread.

We went to a reception after that and met some interesting folks who are doing street medicine in their cities. One guy we met was named Mike. He was quite a character. He said something, though, that stuck with me. We were talking about his fellow Native Americans who live in SLC and are homeless. He was so interested in the situation and so full of compassion towards them, that he hopes to come visit and see what he can do to help. Anyway, while we were talking he said, "There's an awful lot of hope out there. There's a awful lot of hope."

It's what I went to bed thinking about that night, which was a good thing as we woke up the next morning to tour the homeless outreaches going on in the heart of Skid Row. I have never in my life experienced anything like it.

I'll write about it soon, but now I'm going to try and get some more reading and thinking done. Two things that are hard to do with two 3.5 year olds around (but boy do I miss them!), Jen

Monday, October 18, 2010

The gift of understanding...

I know this is shocking, but sometimes I get a bit frustrated with Joel. :) His time management skills are often lacking, this we both know. I, on the other hand, am ultra time sensitive, and often wish I could lose track of time and just enjoy the moment! Anyway, it's a discussion we have had over and over. You know the kind.

Joel works with people who have long stories of suffering, of tragedy, of loss. Joel's weakness of losing track of time is, of course, also one of his greatest strengths. One way that strength shows itself is when translated into listening. He is a guy that truly listens. Of course, he has a pretty tight schedule to see patients, but he stretches it a bit and in those moments I just know he looks those men and women in the eye and makes them feel as if they are the most important person on earth. It's a feeling they don't feel often and I believe it is in those moments that a lot of healing happens.

Now, I sound so understanding and supportive don't I? Not always! It is also in those exact moments that I am at home putting our babes to bed/bathing them/feeding them, while he is looking those people in the eye, catching up on charts, taking extra time to make calls for them, on the streets searching for those who are alone, sick, is in those very moments I am often huffy and hissy and tired.

It's a balance game for both of us. He and his balance of work and family and me and my balance of family and support and understanding of his work.

Last week he was getting close to printing out a form from work that we need for the adoption. In my mind I just couldn't grasp why he hadn't remembered to get it done. Seriously, my mind could not compute it. Then I got this text from him in response to me asking how his schedule was looking for something we had planned that evening,

"Got here and everything has gone wrong. Had to send first pt by ambulance to hospital, next pt was breaking down b/c of losing 8 fam members in 12 months, 5 at once from an auto wreck and had to help dress corpses for funeral, some of which were children, then one pt who has explosive diarrhea couldn't get here from shelter, so I'm waiting for him to come by taxi, having serious computer problems (thus not being able to print out the form for another day). It is frustrating. "

Bits of understanding seep in.

All this to say, he and I are heading out together to LA tomorrow for a conference he is attending on International Street Medicine. LA is the last place we would probably choose to go together, but he is excited to learn and I am excited to understand more. God has shown me that, yes, I have my own passions. Passions towards motherhood and home and education and adoption, but sometimes I hide behind those things in order to opt out of caring for those who Joel cares for (ewwww, sad but true). "It's out of my comfort zone, it's his thing, you know?" "No", God says, "I don't know. It's actually not his thing, it's my thing and I want you to be a part of it."

So, I am going. I'm excited to be with my lovely man, I'm excited to see his work up close and personal (I'll be going on a field trip day with him to Skid Row), I'm excited to see what God is going to do in our hearts. Yes, I will miss our babes (WAAAAA!). Yes, this is the longest we have left them (by far, we'll be gone for 5 days), but I have peace in knowing that there is a greater plan for all of this and, of course, they will be in wonderful hands with their Grandma Shari and Grandpa Jim.

This has been a crazy month, let me tell you. Good, though. Rich and full. Lotsa love to you, Jen

Joel with his bike trailer on outreach, July 2010.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Where have we been? Processing apples and more apples and more apples:) and processing some life stuff too. I'm a pretty open book of a person, and sometimes it's hard for me to blog when I can't "tell all" about things going on in our life, but of course a blog is not always an appropriate place to share. I'll just say that God is shaking things up a bit in our hearts and life. One thing is that we are considering some changes to our adoption plan, being open to possibilities beyond a healthy baby boy. We don't know what the changes in our plan may look like, or if it will look different at all, but we are excited (and a bit terrified, if I'm honest) to see! Right now we are working with our caseworker to make some changes to our home study, etc. etc. etc. etc.

In other news, we are loving having the Hunt's here. They are ever loving and helpful as always and, of course, it melts my heart to see Sam and Amelia with their beloved grandparents. Shanyn (Joelie's sister), Tim, and Isaac are coming for a visit at the beginning of November and we are so ready to see them too!

On a random note, Flylady is the new superhero in our house and my dream of a cleaning routine is finally coming into reality. Anyone else out there a Flylady fan? More on that later.

For now, I must get down to the basement and do some organizing. Having a cleaning routine is wonderful, but definitely leaves less time for blogging:)

All for now,

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Laying low...

After a wonderful, long weekend full of apples and campfires and grandparents, we are home and settling into this wet and cool weather. Amelia has a yucky cough and I have a head cold so we just decided to lay low today.

I'm looking forward to taking Sammy to pre-school tomorrow and getting to spend the morning with just him (well, and 7 other little friends:). One thing I love about having the grandparents here is that I can spend some time with Sam and Amelia individually. What a treat!

Anyway, here are some more pictures of our trip. If I don't post them now, it will never happen! We drove into the country to find an apple orchard open and we hit the jackpot! The rancher whose orchard we picked from was so kind and let us feed the cows, pigs, horses, and buffalo with him!

Hope you all are well! Jen

P.S. Joel reminded me tonight that every time my mom or the Hunts visit, I get sick. Seriously, every time. We figure it is my body just hanging on until back up comes and then it gives in to a cold/mastitis (not kidding, came down with it the day after the Hunts got to SLC a couple of years ago)/ fever, etc. Weird. Frustrating. Yet, a blessing that I am not often sick without them here:)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I love to see how outdoor exploration builds confidence, balance, strength, bravery. I've seen it in my own life and in theirs. It's a beautiful thing, really.


What fun we had apple picking yesterday! We had a big scare at first because we went to the orchard we went to last year and there were ZERO apples on the trees. With two children asking every two minutes when we were going to pick apples, this was not a good discovery. Thankfully we found another orchard about 5 minutes away that had plenty. Sam set to work immediately filling his little basket with ones he found on the ground.

Amelia cracked us up because while we were all using ladders, apple picking poles, jumping to reach the apples, etc. we looked around to find her across the orchard calmly picking apples straight off of low, low branches right at her level. Haha. We moved over to that tree to continue picking what ended up being a VERY LARGE amount of apples:)

More pictures to come of rock climbing, campfires, hikes, etc. !! The grandparents get here this evening ("Where are grandma and grandpa? Is that their car? Are they coming soon? You said they were coming!" Next time we are going to make it a surprise, wowsers!) so I am sure we'll have reunion pictures as well. I am off to get some rest now. Everyone is asleep. Ahhhh. Jen

P.S. Can I just pause here for a second to say how incredibly thankful I am that Sammy is in such a different place this year than last? Last year he melted down almost the entire time at the orchard because he wanted to be on the ladder all the time and couldn't. This was a real refection of the challenging season he had from age 1 1/2 to 2 1/2. So much frustration, so many meltdowns. He has grown so much in this past year in his ability to adapt and to overcome disappointments, thank the Lord! Seriously, that is what was most on my mind yesterday morning. Thankfulness for this little boy and what a joy he is and how far we have come. Raising Your Spirited Child was an enormous resource to me during that year, and for years to come I'm sure. If you have a child that is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, energetic (Sammy is all but the last) this book may be an encouragement to you as well.

Friday, October 01, 2010


I love,love,love walking into the grocery store this time of year and seeing all of the shiny apples overflowing. Crunchy and red and so delicious.

This year, just as we did last, we are heading to Capitol Reef to hike and picnic and hopefully pick lots of apples from their orchards! This trip will be extra special because we are meeting Joel's parents there and then they'll be coming home with us for a long visit. The babes are beyond excited ,about apple picking and Grandpa and Grandma coming, and so are we! So, I'm off to finish packing. See you all back here in a few days (unless I find that we have internet access there and then maybe sooner:), Jen

P.S. How cute is Amelia in her "Portland shirt" that I found her at a consignment shop there? Also, Sam was obviously in silly face mode this morning:) His silly faces remind me so much of his daddy's and always make me giggle.