Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Leland and Clemmie

They've been together for almost 70 years. High School sweethearts- him shy and studious, she outgoing and playful. "I thought he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen!" was the answer she gave of the first time she saw him. She had to ask a teacher to borrow a classroom so he'd have a chance to ask her out because he was too shy to do it anywhere else. He, the high school quarterback and 4-H champion, she, the social butterfly who could care less about school. Marriage (he had to get parental permission to marry her because they weren't old enough), pregnancy, and then drafted for War. She had her dad drive her down to say goodbye. He snuck out to have one last night with his girl. Boot camp then the Philippines. She and their baby boy lived in a one room tank house on her parent's property. A year and a half later, he came home and met his son, my dad. He bought land, and they began to settle down. Grapes was what he grew. Raisins is how he earned a living. More babies came; another son, a daughter, and a daughter. Tragedy struck- a trash fire and a twirling can. One daughter and sister who will never be forgotten. One year later to the day, a gift of another son. The family is complete. Farming and child-rearing is how they spent their days. Church, family gatherings, and trips to the coast and the cabin became great memories. Being together was prioritized. So was working hard. So was loving other people. So was loving Jesus.

The kids grew and made lives for themselves. One became a teacher and a missionary. One a pharmacist and farmer. One a coach and lover of life. And one a farmer and family historian. All loved Jesus passionately. The two became grandparents, and they were loved dearly by their grandchildren. 7 they had total, 3 boys and 4 girls. Summers swimming, grand occasions celebrated, family meals cherished, and fun always had by all. They could always be counted on to love you! Tragedy struck again- this time with cancer. It was a long battle with many ups and downs, but daughter number 2 taught all of us the meaning of living life to the fullest, and in the end, dying with the dignity and beauty that fully encompassed her. Drawn together again, they grieved and celebrated a life with those still living. There were hard days, but together they saw them through. Imagining how parents bury two of their children is beyond my comprehension, and yet, they did, and are more refined because of it. Very slowly, age began to creep in. Her knees, his eyes. Her mind, his tolerance. But still they lived and loved. Traveling to visit family, hosting friends, playing games - dice was their favorite, taking moments with their children and grandchildren to show their love. She, always ready with a joke, funny saying, or a hug. He, always willing to listen, wrestle, or teach. Both, uniquely different, yet I can't imagine one without the other. 65 years they've been married. They are the embodiment of how God designed marriage, as they've truly become one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happiness is . . .

the first snow of the season, boisterous belly laughs, the American flag, wind chimes, the colors of Fall, tulips, babies of all species, Christmas lights, grandparents, the feeling of belonging, a committed marriage, hot apple cider, sour cream chicken enchiladas, NFL football, time with my Bible, Starbucks peppermint mocha, March Madness, lightening storms, white water rafting, the symphony and opera, crazy patterns and bold colors, the beach, authentic worship, Jitterz granitas, new socks, a heartfelt hug, the quiet of a wintery forest, waves crashing at sunset, puzzles, serving others, limitless imagination, being understood, a kiss from your spouse, walking a journey with a friend, discovering your children's gifts, candles and bonfires, singing with great acoustics (elementary school bathrooms), road trips with good music, the Oregon Coast, . . . (to be continued!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Call

We sang, we reflected, we communed, we listened to God's heart, and we sang again . . . all the while, we worshipped. Pastor's were thanked, gifts were given, applause was heard. And joyfully, the Call was made. The Call to serve. The Call to love. The Call to lead God's people. The old church: full of mature saints and tattooed babes; bursting with life under the age of 35 and over the age of 60; ministering to those seasoned in the denominational dogma of the Free Methodists and those who identify more as spiritual mutts; drawing in those desperate to be known and authentic and not lost in a crowd; now has a 30-year-old man who longs for God's heart as their pastor. Support, affirmation, encouragement. Prayers raised, tears shed, weight felt. Humbled, honored, ready, joyful.

On Sunday, November 1, 2009, James was officially appointed as Senior Pastor of our church, First Free Methodist. I still am amazed at how God brought us to this place, and James to this position. I remember while we were dating, when James finally allowed God full control over his life, that God began planting in James the desire to pastor. Perhaps it began even earlier as a young child listening to his grandpa preach, believing every word was spoken just for him. Though that desire has waxed and waned over the last 12 years, often more because of me or our culture than because of James, it has been clearly evident that James received his vocational calling long ago. What a joy to be in God's will and see it carried out to completion. There is much work to be done in us still, but it is rewarding to live in obedience to the One who is doing the work. May we carry this mantle well, relying solely on our God who has Called us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life . . .

. . . is busy these days-- not really earth-shattering news to anyone as they are all busy too! But here's a little recap of what God has in store for the Leman household this fall, and what He's been doing this year.

James began seminary at George Fox University full-time this fall. It's mostly an online/cohort modeled program, but he does have to take an occasional trip out to Portland for it. He continues to love his work at our church. He is still the Associate Pastor but is continually taking on more and more responsibilities. He is excited to help the church enter a new phase in its life. We count it a true joy to be able to be involved in people's lives during joys and crisis' that arise, and being able to share Christ continually through those experiences! James still bikes regularly, and is really excited about some new shoes he recently got. (This is a big to-do b/c he never buys things for himself unless it's outdoor gear). He was thrilled to be able to finally share with me part of his heritage earlier this summer by going up to Alaska for his cousin's wedding!

Sam began Kindergarten at home this fall. He absolutely loves it, but his favorite subjects are Science and Math. He sees 2 of his best friends almost every other day as they're in the same homeschool PE class together and they're also in the same Co-op. He is enjoying soccer again this fall and is one of the oldest on his team, so he's enjoying his role of being the big kid and encouraging the younger ones. About 2 months ago, he told us he had a dream to buy Bibles for people who don't have them, especially kids, so we told him we'd pray with him for a special gift to come to our family so he could start doing this. God answered that prayer and now we're helping him figure out what this ministry could look like. What an encouragement to see child-like faith! We're excited to see that be nurtured through AWANA this year! He turns 6 in 3 days!

JJ continues to enjoy being a JJ. He is talking so much more now and often has very funny expressions to share with anyone who will hear him. It's a joy seeing his personality emerge especially since it's a stark contrast in many ways from his brothers. JJ too is enjoying Co-op and getting to be with the big kids. He tells almost everyone he says goodbye to that he'll miss them. We pray we won't squelch that tender heart! He too loves soccer, and though he isn't officially playing this year, he is a very devout team mascot that enthusiastically participates in all the drills. It's been fun watching him learn to swim as well. The boy has no fear of water, so we figured we'd better teach him how to navigate well once he's in it! JJ's our little dancer and loves almost any kind of music! Though his intake has slowed down, food is still a top priority for JJ! He also has deemed himself the family meal pray-er! He turns 3 in about 3 weeks!

Abby is on the go a lot lately it seems! I am thoroughly enjoying homeschooling, even more than I thought I would! I am so grateful for the Co-op that we were asked to join! It's an answer to prayer for me to have a group like that to both take and receive from! I have very much enjoyed quality time with my best friend since college over this last year in many different ways, including getting to homeschool our kids together! She and I and another college friend decided to meet regularly as women/moms/wives/friends/daughters/christians about a year ago, and the time has been so precious to me! In all honesty, my soul was quite lonely for some time before that, and to have their friendship and authenticity has been huge!! I'm still involved in church but am trying to get the leadership roles off my plate! Due to James' job, it works better for us to have me as a volunteer, which is perfectly fine by me!! I really want to get a Boxer puppy but the timing isn't quite right yet. We had a fantastic family vacation with my best friend and her family on the Oregon Coast a few weeks ago! Seeing that part of God's creation does wonders for my soul!

Well, my part was longer than the boys, but since I'm writing it, that's my prerogative right? Though we're busy, we're at peace, and not just a circumstantial peace, but a peace that comes from deep faith and great trust in the One who has control over it all! And we're never too busy to hear from or have visits from friends!

Friday, September 11, 2009

In love with love . . .

So I recently came to the conclusion that I am in love with love. I love everything about it! The tingly way you feel when you're discovering it, the heart pounding joy you experience when you've found it, the disappointment and heartache when it's gone, and the complete security and freedom you treasure when you give yourself fully to it. Love really is a beautiful thing.

You know the little kids who can't get enough of their best friend and want to spend every second with them? Love. How about those teenagers who truly believe they can't go on if separated from their companion? Love. Or the couple who looks in each others eyes as they promise forever in front of everyone they know? Love. The look parents give to each other after gazing at the beautiful life they helped create? Love. The shed tears because the one person who has complete power of you was momentarily thoughtless. Love. The mom holding her daughter's hand while she gets her chemo treatment. Love. The couple who struggles through counseling because they are committed to each other and making their marriage work even though they're scared to death. Love. The letter that's wrinkled and damaged at the edges so that one could have a link with another again and again and again. Love. Or the dad who takes his son on a solo camping trip just because. Love. The couple who cries alone because their dream of holding their child has yet to be realized. Love. The couple who grieves for their aging dog because he's only ever given them joy. Love. The aged couple who still holds hands and are comfortable in each other's silence. Love. The man who visits his wife's grave and still brings her flowers even after she's gone. Love.

Two of my absolute favorite places to go are airports and hospitals. I seriously get excited every time I go to either of these locations because they are places where people run a huge gamut of uncensored emotions, many of which stem from love in some shape or form. I truly count it a privilege every time I witness a display of love. Even if those displaying it are imperfect or not healthy, I find that when I see it, I am catching a glimpse of my Maker and what He intended to be a good thing.

Does that mean it's always easy. No. I think those people we love the most are often the most difficult to love, because in order to truly love them, we have to give up ourselves, which isn't easy or popular. Often the things that really hurt us are because we love deeply. It's inconvenient when the neighboring car cuts you off, but when you get cut off by your spouse, it's much more than inconvenient- it's painful. When I discipline my boys, I don't do it because they disobeyed me and my pride's been pricked; I do it because I deeply love them and want the best for them which often means pointing out and correcting when they've done wrong as much as it hurts both them and me.

I know that not every love works out for one reason or another. I do wonder though how often love is given up on because of a feeling involved rather than a choice to be made. People will always disappoint each other, but Love never will. Maybe that's why so many give up on love because they've never let the Author of it into their relationship in the first place. It's hard to navigate something in which you know nothing about. I am grateful that when all is said and done, we haven't been left alone to come up with the rules of engagement, but have been gifted with the play book, and even more importantly been gifted with the gift of love!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Goodbye Nemo

Sam and James bought Nemo when JJ and I went to North Carolina to visit our good friend Beth while her hubby was on his first deployment to Afganistan. 2 1/2 years later, it was time to say bye, and at the end Sam's doing all he can not to cry. They wanted to bury Nemo under our new Quaking Aspen tree so he could help it grow!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Change in perspective

So now that I'm into my 30s, I've noticed changes occuring all around me. My kids are all of a sudden not babies anymore, my husband is enjoying the process of coming into his own, my friends are truer yet more sporadic, my dog is old, my body takes longer to recover from things, television has less and less good on it, my dishes are chipping, my yard actually matters to me, people getting married look younger, it's harder to say bye to my grandparents, our food budget is increasing, it's easier to get rid of "stuff", time is of utmost importance now, and the list could go on and on. Through all this change, I find myself wondering how I fit into the picture that is my life. It's a hard thing to grow up. You view yourself a certain way for a very long time, and then suddenly you look around, and your view of self doesn't quite fit in or match your present reality. I'm wiser, more experienced, and at peace, but it's not an easy thing to change. The dreams you had as a kid, teenager, college student or as a newlywed- some have been fulfilled and are fantastic, and some are still there, waiting to be realized. But how in the world do you make time for your past to meet with your present? It's still a mystery to me. Finding myself as a unique individual self apart from the different roles that I also am has been/is quite the journey-- mostly thrilling and happy, but sometimes confusing and sad. I know that the God who holds me now is that same God that held me 32, 15, 10 years ago, and the same God that will hold me as I continue to age and mature! What a joy that is to me, and what a thrill to know I'm not alone on this ride!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Surprise 10th Anniversary Trip

So, it finally came!!! I woke up Thursday morning, to my 2 year old crying. After getting him settled down and tucked back in, I went downstairs to let our dog out. On the couch in our kitchen was 2 suitcases with a 7 day weather forecast printed out and laying on top. I did a little freak out dance, then ran over to my computer to check facebook--I told James it would be cool to post it there, and sure enough he did! Then I called him and did a major freakout dance!! In the conversation, he casually asked if I was enjoying my granita . . . what?!?! James randomly brings me home granitas for no reason other than he loves me and he knows I enjoy them, so we both thought it would be fun for him to announce the trip with one, and write on the bottom of the cup. Well, due to being in a sleep-induced stupor while helping JJ, I totally missed the granita next to my bed, but up I ran and there it was in all it's chocolicious glory!!! And sure enough, on the bottom he wrote "Is it today (-: "

So to back up, let me give you a little history as to how all this came to be! Almost 3 years ago, James and I were talking about life and the deep longings of our hearts and the meaning to all the great mysteries of the world, while road tripping to Boise, ID for our church conference's annual conference. In the course of conversation, we began talking about our marriage and could we believe how it's flown by and yet it's nearing the decade mark. How in the world did we want to celebrate? Now James has always had trouble surprising me due to my curious nature, his simple joy in sharing everything with me, and my insane attention to detail. So, I really wanted whatever we did to be a surprise. We both agreed we wanted to go away somewhere, and the more we dreamed, the more James got into this whole surprise idea! However, he wanted some input from me ahead of time so he wouldn't be walking blindly! We talked at length about elements we both wanted in the trip (time to relax and do nothing, some outdoor adventure activities, some cultural flavor, some historical opportunities, at least a week in length, hotel stay-we camp enough throughout the year, good food and drinks, and beautiful weather) to name a few. James, frugal to the core, didn't want this trip to put us in debt either, so he decided all the money he made from mowing my parents lawns during the summer from then till the trip, would be designated for the trip. And to make sure he was able to fully surprise me, he reserved the right to have the trip anytime from the summer before our anniversary (summer 2008) to anytime the year after our anniversary (all of 2009)! He had a lot to work with!

Over the course of those 3 years, James would drop snippets of info just to whet my appetite and remind me he hadn't forgotten! His catch phrase whenever I or someone asked was that he was taking me to the West Central Community Center, which is 2 blocks from our house. Our anniversary was actually in January of this year, and in and of itself, we celebrated well! We got coffee, saw back to back movies "Defiance" and "Gran Torrino" and then ate a wonderful dinner at the new Twiggs, while mom and dad again watched our boys! At some point last fall, James gave me 3 locations to research, and gradually brought it up to 10. . . New York, Chicago, Seattle, Augusta Maine, Hollywood, Busby Montana (where he grew up), Spokane, Celebration Florida, Washington DC, and Kissime Florida, all the while reserving the right to have it be none of these places just to throw me off! Some of these were obviously out, and some were so random my head started trying to make sense of it all. "Were we going to have a kissime celebration in august-a?" I know, I was reaching!! He also told me it wouldn't be overseas due to the cost of tickets! We both would have loved to go to Ireland or New Zealand--maybe for our 2oth!!

So back to my story. For numerous reasons, I had no idea it would be scheduled for this week. First off, my dad was still out of town, and he and mom were going to be watching our boys. Second, I was scheduled to lead worship this weekend, but James had it all covered! Third, we were out really late the night before at my parents house, and staying up late before traveling is so not James!! He officially has surprised me world!!! Well done babe!!

So on the facebook status, he announced that our ride to the airport would arrive at 3:oo, so I needed to start getting myself and the kids all packed up. Fortunately we had just done all the laundry, more forward thinking on James' part!! I got all the packing done in record time . . . I was a tad bit excited . . . with even a trip to walgreens and my friend Alaina's house to pick through her fancy dresses! It was like shopping for free!! Thanks Alaina!! Our ride (aka mom) came at 2:45 to get us all loaded up--us, the kids, both sets of luggage, and our trusty old dog, Baylie with her bed--it was truly going to be a vacation for the entire household!! In the course of packing, I was looking for my iPod charger, and came across the folder with my passport in it. I just happened to peek in, and it was gone. This is the first time I'd peeked at anything in this whole process, I'll have everyone know, and it was enough to get my brain thinking "what is this boy up to?" I knew he had said no international travel, but maybe that's part of the surprise.

So we leave for the airport about 3:15. arrive at 3:25 (we're not far), kiss the boys and mom, pat the dog, and we're off! They were headed to Big R to see all the new baby chicks, so they were excited for their own adventures! We got checked in electronically, and I covered my ears when the Southwest lady talked to James. Why spoil it now? We breezed through security, I mean come on, it was 3:30 on a Thursday in Spokane. 5 minutes tops! Then we arrived in the booming atrium that is the Spokane airport and decided to check out our local shops--all 2 of them!! James, at this point, is about to burst from excitement, but I decide to make him suffer a bit more! Really what's 15 more minutes after waiting for 3 years? Finally, he can't take it anymore, and he had just bought some travel book from Auntie's (local bookstore) and he wants to give it to me and share the news! Apparently, b/c I was so efficient in packing, we were extremely early- our flight didn't leave till just before 6, so we had some time to kill!

I'm trying to remember exactly how he told me, but the whole day was so surreal that I honestly don't remember what he said. I know at some point I asked if it was actually one of the places on the list, and he said no. I asked if we were going to California, and he said "yes and no". Finally he pulled out the book he'd purchased and the travel info he had and gave it to me. San Diego and a cruise to Mexico! Although completely excited, I was also trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I actually knew and we were doing this! When every place and every adventure is an option, having it finally narrowed down takes awhile to get used to! Once we talked all the details, etc, James looked like a deflated balloon! Not in a bad way, but you know how after planning your wedding and you're going going going for months, and then soon after it's done, you're like "now what?!" There's kind of a let down process. Fortunately we had a long flight- stopped in Seattle, Sacramento before finally getting to San Diego- to talk about all the things he'd done to prepare and all that we get to do, so by the time we arrived, we were both really excited again, although very tired!!

So that's the story of how it all happened. I'll add some more details of the actual trip in the days to come, but I wanted to get this all out while it was fresh in me brain!! Thanks to all those who enjoyed this journey with me and helped me guess and played in the fun! Thanks mostly though, to the love of my life, James! You always help me enjoy the journey, and our marriage and family is the greatest journey of all! This whole trip, planning, waiting, anticipating and actually doing it, has been amazing!!! I love you James!

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Post

So I'm taking the plunge into the world of blogging! Nothing else to do while the family recovers from the flu! We'll see how it goes! So we have 10 years of life to catch up on here, so I'll probably just start with our second decade together!
James- Currently James is the Associate Pastor at First Free Methodist Church here in Spokane. He just began his MDiv at George Fox University in Portland, OR. He's very much enjoying it--such a change from the James 10 years ago who hated the academic side of school! He's passionate about his relationship with Christ, and equally as passionate about being obedient to meet people where they are at and share Christ with them in a way that's meaningful to them, while being attentive to the Spirit of God. Some call this the "emergent church"--we call it "going and making disciples"! He loves to bike, hike, backpack, camp, and be with his family. He's enjoying a new decade in life as he finally joined me and most of our friends by turning 30 last December.
Abby- I still am living my dream of being a stay-at-home mom and wife, though I still use my counseling skills daily as a parent, pastor's wife, and Christian! I've recently been thinking about what my counseling will look like in the future. I'm homeschooling Sam this year (just pre-school) and very much am considering continuing on with it. I oversee the Children's ministry at our church after stepping down from leading worship last year. I'm still getting used to being a pastor's wife and all that goes along with that. I'm very much anticipating my surprise 10 year anniversary trip that James is planning for us over the next 6 months- our anniversary was in January! I enjoy camping, scrapbooking, eating out, traveling, the Oregon Coast, playing games and doing puzzles, reading and doing anything with my family!
Sam- Is almost 5 1/2, and we can't believe where the time has gone! He's such a fantastic little man who has all the makings of a hero in him, with a strong sense of right and wrong! He loves all things outdoors, especially camping, biking, and hiking (sound like anyone?) and has a dream of being an Army Ranger when he grows up (mom's still getting used to this and is glad he's still 5)! He recently has discovered Legos and amazes us with his ability to follow written directions but also freeform elaborate creations! His brain is wired like his mom's- sensitive, shy, and fiercely loyal, and has shown a keen interest in science; and wired like his dad's- loves adventure, routine, making people laugh, and truly has a heart for the things of God! He asked Jesus to live in his heart during our church's Superhero VBS, and we are so grateful!
JJ- Is almost 2 1/2 and our hillarious little clown! He's very much a cuddler, lover, and caring little boy who wants to live life to the fullest. JJ's our tactile learner- he has to experience everything with his body, and he's our people person! Though both our boys are independent (like us), JJ's streak is a little more fierce! JJ enjoys everything, as long as he has someone to do it with. If he were to have two interests right now, they would be food and music- just like his momma! He's learning to entertain himself, and does well as long as he's in the same room as others. Usually if it's quiet or he's alone, we need to go find out what mischief is taking place! He's a huge fan of his "bubba" and they get along amazingly well for an age difference of 3 years! He too has a love for things of God, even now, and won't let us leave his room till we sing "Jesus" (loves me) to him, both in regular form and in "boom boom chick" a.k.a. rap form!
Baylie- our cocker is still here, though slowly getting more senile as the years go by! The boys love her and she tolerates them! She still dreams of being a horse, and lets us know anytime one is on tv! She'll be 10 this spring.