Monday, October 22, 2012

McDonald's Moment--Part 2

If you haven't read part one, do so by clicking HERE

Ok...so I didn't realize that I would have a week of no posting...Wednesday I got the notice on my computer that no one wants--hard drive failing. Yep. It sucked. Thanks to the message though, I lost no data. Back to the story...

Our choir ended up back in school and we finished out the day in typical fashion. I went home, did home work and probably started something for dinner. When my mom got home, she asked about my day. When I told her about the interesting encounter I had at the golden arches, she was less than thrilled. As a parent now, I understand...as a teen? Not so much. I can still see my mom in her ankle length wool coat and scarf saying we needed to go back to her bedroom computer and look up this man on the internet. She had her "I am not happy" look on her face. This was before facebook, myspace or any other social net work. We were looking for who this guy really was. Today, if you type his name in, there are over 3 million hits. Yeah, I met that guy. My mom's fear of who I gave our information to quickly turned into excitement, curiosity and plain amazement. Keith at the time of our meeting was the CEO of the largest advertising franchise in the world--think McDonald's  State Farm, Budweiser, Volkswagen (their client list is AMAZING). And he just video taped me and asked me if I wanted to sing in commercials.

After our "minor" internet discovery, I quickly logged onto our e-mail and sent Keith a message telling him that I was so flattered that he would take the time to talk to me. I also shared with Keith that I was a Christian and although I was thrilled that he'd think of me & my gift to potentially be used in a commercial, I had  strong conviction to sing only for the purpose of furthering God's Kingdom. Keith quickly responded back and shared that he too had a strong faith, he was a father of 7 children and was excited to get to know me better. The next day or two I received a HUGE FedEx package at my house. There were a few trinket gifts, music to the song "Emily" as promised, and TONS of CD's with the recording. Additionally, Keith had included videos of commercials he wanted my opinion on. I was dumbfounded. 

After this point, I think my mom and I realized that this was someone special, who was not around to take advantage of me. He seemed genuinely interested in my life. Through e-mail Keith encouraged me to pursue my dreams. He encouraged me to do my best work in school. He encouraged me to give my dad another chance. In the spring, my mom and I flew to Chicago to visit Moody Bible Institute. While I thought I would be going there simply because I was accepted to both the school & the music conservatory, during our visit, it became increasingly clear that this school would not be a good fit for me. Although Keith has an affinity for Chicago, he was in full support of me going to a school where I was comfortable. So I re-directed my thoughts & went all in towards Azusa Pacific University. I visited late spring and also auditioned for the school of music...

All through this time, it is so clear how God was orchestrating such an amazing story. I had been waiting for my audition with the director of the APU freshman girls choir for about 2 hours...when another director (whom I didn't know at the time) came around the corner and asked if anyone wanted to audition and get it over with. My BFF who was with me raised my hand for me. I walked into this other directors office and had the audition of my life--he gave me the highest available vocal scholarship. My audition-er was none other than Al Clift who became my friend, director and mentor over the next 4 years at APU. I was feeling confirmation from the Holy Spirit about bowing out of MBI. After this instance, although my mom and I did not know how the funding would happen exactly, we both felt that God was laying a path for me to attend APU.

As my senior year drew to a close, I turned 18...Keith sent me a gift card to the GAP. The screaming and shopping that ensued still makes me tingle all over. After my birthday and before graduation, I received several additional scholarships from APU and also various scholarships available to students in our school. The biggest scholarship granted was a CalGrant which made the dream of going to APU a reality. God clearly had this dream formed for me when I visited as a 15 year old. I was excited to go and start this next chapter of my life. 

Before any of my new life could happen though, several parts of my current life were coming to a close. I graduated, moved out of my childhood home into a new home, my sister got married and various other "major" life events took place. To say that I was ready to get out of dodge would have been the understatement of the century...

But that hope collapsed with one disappointing phone call... 



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

McDonald's Moment--Part 1

Do you Remember commercial's like this for McDonalds? 
Can a restaurant evoke emotion, change a life, or a moment...We have definitely been given the impression that one can! I'm not one to think that a restaurant could change my life--I leave that up to the perfect sovereign will of God, but I did have a McDonald's moment that changed my life forever. Some know the story, so sorry for the redundancy. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..." Christ had a perfect plan for my life during a very difficult season and I am so grateful that I have the ability to share this story as a part of my hope!  I've realized I have never written this story out. It's been 13 years since it happened, and I don't want the details to become any dimmer!

A little background--at 15 my high school went on a "Spring Tour" up & down the California coast...we stopped at several colleges, Azusa Pacific University being one of them. I just about came unglued when I sat in the rehearsal hall and listened to the choir perform--they sang O Si Funni Mungu and several other stirring songs. It was mind boggling. After the tour, when I was home, we had a family dinner where I proudly and firmly said that I would be going to Azusa Pacific University for my college education. My practical hard working dad asked how much the school cost and gave a little chuckle and said that he didn't think that would be happening. I remember telling him in my own little sassy voice,(I had a little habit of letting my personal convictions known to anyone who had ears), "Don't under estimate what God is going to be doing in my life dad". Conversation over. End of story.

Fast forward 2 years...I am a senior in high school. My parents had separated, I had subsequently kicked my dad out of my life. (this breaks my heart now to think of how I hurt him and me). I was still very involved in the fore mentioned choir. During the holiday season we had many Christmas concerts all over the Sacramento valley. One particular holiday concert was for Aero Jet Machinist Hall. It was a reunion of sorts for those in attendance and they could not have cared less if there was a choir singing their hearts out. They talked through our whole set. My wonderful teacher, Jennifer Leighton felt bad for their rudeness and to "make up" for the experience, she took us to the place that could make it all better,  McDonald's.

Let me set the scene. There are 15-20 high school students dressed in fantastically 90's formal choral wear. Suits & taffeta, and fake velvet oh yes. We walk into Micky-D's and see a bunch of extremely well dressed businessmen. I start to tease with one of my girl friends about them being so dressed up in this restaurant  Hahah--now that's the pot calling the kettle black. One of the said business men approaches me...he seems to be in his late 50's early 60's and has kind eyes. He asked me why we were in such nice attire. I began to tell him that we were part of a choir yada yada yada. He asks me my name. "Emily" I say. "Oh, Emily, have you ever heard the song, Emily?" "No." I reply. He says, "Oh, well I'll have to send you the music!". Of course I think he is speaking in hyperbole. Never imagining that was going to happen. Suddenly, one of the other well dressed men is video taping me.--Now I am still a ham. But can you imagine me at 17 being a MAJOR ham? I saw a video camera and I was going to take my moment!--We introduced ourselves further and Keith asks a few questions about my future. He asked if I was going to college, I was, planning to go to Moody Bible Institute--(it was only 5 grand and way affordable for my now single mom). In my most grown up & charming self, I talked about what music I liked and what my dreams were and what I was planning to study at Moody. Music of course. Vocal Performance, of course.

He asks me about what I want to do for a living and of course, I am going to be the next famous Christian Recording Artist. (can someone say reality check please?). He asked me if I wanted to sing for commercials and I laughed it off. Much to my surprise, Keith asked me for my address and he gave me his business card. I tucked his card into my pea-coat and went away to eat my lunch. The whole exchange maybe took 5-10 minutes. Yep, those 5-10 minutes changed my life...

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Dawning Moments

Owen's Aunt Laura was in a pretty serious "accident" 2 weeks ago. She fell off a horse and broke her tibia in 7 places. We were finally able to go visit her on Sunday and saw her "ouchies" and prayed for her. Owen prayed, and Clara said the sweetest prayer too.

Monday Clara had a very concerned expression on her face...Our conversation went like this:

Me: Clara, what's wrong?
Clara: I'm just so worried about Aunt Laura.
Me: Well, you can just say a prayer to Jesus and ask him to comfort Aunt Laura and heal her leg.
Clara: He can hear us mom? I just keep thinking about her and it makes me feel sad.
Me: Yes! He can hear you Clara. He even knows your thoughts. Everything you think about. You can even say a prayer for Aunt Laura in your head.
Clara: In my head? He knows what I say even when I don't say it? How can he do that?
Me: God is so awesome and so mighty. He is all powerful. He knows EVERYTHING!
Clara: Oh! So that's why he knows how many hairs are on my head.

I think the Lord is developing a theological thinker in my family. I am grateful. There is nothing like a 4 year old pointing me to Christ and reminding me how much HE loves us.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We don't need Halloween!

No this is not a bash post on Halloween. Dressing up or purposely dressing silly is something that's so built into kids...well at least my kids. 
Exhibit A 
 Judah can often be found in silly clothing choices. This one is the winner from last week. He seriously wore these clothes out--and was comfortable with it. So that's a button down shirt worn backwards whit a striped belt and camouflage rain boots. and don't forget the car's inspired backpack, filled with, CARS!
Exhibit B
 Clara channeling lady GaGa. Well, really it's Ariel, but you can see what I mean! And no, she definitely didn't wear this out.
Exhibit C
 Wesley can't dress himself yet, but he can sure sport the ear protection.
Exhibit D 
 The ear protection was the thing on this day--but if you look close, there is another FABULOUS accessory. Dora the Explorer boots. We (and by we I mean Owen) were sawing wood that was previously home to LARGE ants. Judah, being scared of the ants and wanting to SMASH them, couldn't find his previously worn camo boots, so Dora boots were next in line. I like a man who isn't picky.
 And yes, we let our kids run around without proper clothing too...and play with loud dangerous machines!

Keep an eye out for a post about my McDonalds moment and 30 in 1 year and if I am feeling feisty an update on where we are in our adoption process. Bye for now!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

Sorry about the creepy eyes for both of us...I guess that's the look of " We're about to have a baby!"
 There is also never a better time to learn about how awesome your own mom is than when you become a mom yourself. When I had Clara, you came for 2 1/2 weeks...for the delivery & whatever post care you could offer. I remember a lot of overwhelming emotions and moments during that time. One thing that was so profound in my mind was my sudden and deep appreciation for all that you had ever done for me. for my whole life...it all became crystal clear. You worked hard every day to give us a safe, caring, nurturing environment in which we (not only lived) but learned how to be productive human beings--I think all three of us kids turned out to be loving, nurturing, mature and productive members of society! You laid down your body (literally) for 18 months to nurse Alex  and I--we did not care for bottles one bit. (If you've nursed even one baby, you know what I mean--two babies at the same time....I don't know how she did it.) Apparently you don't either because when I ask you about how things were when I was ________ months old, you say, "I don't remember, I was nursing". During Clara's first weeks of life, you continued to love me and care for me despite me being less than lovable (hello hormones!). I would have never survived those first 2 weeks of being a mom without you mom! In the first year of parenthood, you have taken countless phone calls to help me "process" or talk out what I was thinking about for parenting, scheduling, and how to best care for Clara. You were my brains when I had none...and no, I am not too prideful to admit that at times I really was just plain dumb!

You came out for Judah's birth and although delivery was fast, our stay in the hospital was not! You stayed one night with me in the after care room and we literally took turns comforting Judah every 20 minutes. Talk about taking one for the team! After having Judah and already having a 17 month old--I had a difficult time with postpartum depression. You came back out a few months later when I was still not doing well. You have often laid down your own schedule, work & life to come to the aid of your three kids in various situations. I know now as a mom the deep desire to see that your kids are "OK" and because of that desire, I know how much you love me. Not only have you come to Phoenix for a number of births, but you have spent countless hours on the phone with me, Rachael and Alex. I know that I am equipped to do that for my three children (hopefully more) because of your example.

 The experience with Wesley's birth was so different than my other two. Although it was a more intense labor & delivery and he wasn't doing well, we laughed through the whole thing.I know that sounds crazy, but that's what the epidural did to me that time! I knew you were there to support me and with your help I could get through anything--even a blind spot in my epidural! I know very few moms  & daughters who have a relationship like ours. I feel like you are my mom, but also one of my closest friends. I know I can come to you with anything and you will first point me to Christ, second help me talk through the issue more and love me no matter what I decide. I pray that my kids will have an adult relationship with me and Owen like I have with you. Thank you so much for all you have done for me as a child--even when I didn't get it. And thank you MORE for all that you have done for me as an adult--now I totally get it (a special thank you for taking care of me during that really UGLY time in college--couldn't have made it through without you). AND I still think you are so pretty.