A tribute to my in-laws….

This post is dedicated to my sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws. I have written about my siblings and nieces and nephews over the last year in my blog. I am a bit struck by the fact that I haven’t written about  my sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws.

I enjoy my family….both those I grew up with and those I will grow old with. My sibling group started with five of us and now has grown to 9 of us. Dan, Andy, Marcia and Jonna have all been around long enough that it seems like they have always been there. In being single, I have never had to journey the path of merging with another family. But it is something that I often give thought to following our family gatherings.

Often after family times, such as Christmas, I reflect on the myriad of outcomes that could occur when families are grown through marriages. I would say that although we have had some bumps in the road, I am very very fortunate to have acquired sister in-laws and brother in-laws who appreciate the traditions that were carried out when we were children and continue today. It also has been fun to learn of the ways they have done things in their families of origin and now to see how my nieces and nephews grow up in a home where those traditions are mixed into new traditions for them.

I am very fortunate to have a family that enjoys being together and knows how to laugh together. At times we have cried together but I believe what I am most thankful for, is an adult (and kid) group who enjoys being together. We share a happy hour or two, doing some puzzling, playing some games, sharing conversation or a good meal and rarely is their silence. Almost every time, we can walk away saying a good time was had by all!

And so, to Marcia, Jonna, Dan and Andy…..I am thankful for you. I am thankful for what you bring to my siblings and what you bring to our family. I am thankful for your roles as husbands and wives and fathers and mothers. I am thankful for the children you have brought into this world and so wonderfully allow me to be an Aunt for. I am thankful for the friendship I have with each one of you and for the unending support you each have offered me on my journey in life.

I would guess their could be many books written by those who join any family through marriage. I would guess everyone experiences some awkward and difficult moments. I hope though that the relationships and friendships that grow are marked by much love, understanding, acceptance and grace. I am thankful for the spice and life that has been added to my family. May 2012 be filled with many more wonderful memories of the entire Kupborgdeb​os (Kuperus, Borgdorff, DeKam, Bos) Clan!

A borrowed blog…

Due to posting complications, this post did not post last evening.

Tonight I would like to share with you a blog written by Lydia. Lydia has always been dear to my heart. I used to hang out with Lydia ALOT. I started hanging out with her when she was about 3 and I was the Director of Children’s Ministry at Sunshine Community Church. Lydia has always had a sparkle in her eye and a passion for life. Over the years, Lydia has grown up and remains a very gifted young woman who still has a sparkle in her eye and a passion for life.

Lydia and her family are spending the month in Togo West Africa doing mission work together. This is an adventure in the fullest sense of the word. Lydia is the oldest, but there is also Gabrielle, Isaac, Luke and Grace. You place this amazing group of five kids, along with their two parents, and I believe that Togo West Africa and the Blicley Bunch will all be changed in the days ahead. Lydia beautifully depicts one of those life changing moments in the blog below. She also leaves us with some amazing and wonderful questions to ponder….

fresh

funny togolese nurses’ dress.  sterile covers over my chaco sandals. hair net. face mask. camera. OR ready. dad in action. hands steady and sure. woman bulging with 2 tiny lives.
scalpel, retractor, scalpel, force.  1 tiny head. 2 tiny heads. smacks, cries, slime. fresh life. in awe, i gazed at the 2 new faces before me.  dirty, and slippery, and new.  i watched as they took their first crying breaths, their small black bodies floppy and fragile.  squinting eyes, wrinkled skin, matted hair.  twin girls.  tears in my eyes, i held them in my arms the 2 of them already asleep. wrapped up together.  1 light.  1 dark.  new sisters.  i presented them to their mother, still being stitched, snipped and sewn.  “well done,” i said in my broken french, “they’re beautiful.” she beamed and thanked me as happy tears filled her once anxious eyes.  i was so proud.  proud of her. proud of my dad.  just proud.  and amazed.
the miracle of life.
baby fingernails on baby fingers on baby hands, wrapped around mine. teeny and perfect and new.
the husband wasn’t there.  at all. she called him on her cell phone.  from the operating table.
but the grandmother was. her face, pure delight. she held the girls close.  1 in each arm.  she was proud.  proud of her daughter.  proud to be a grandmother.  just proud.  and amazed.
“akbvay ka ka a Jesu,” she exclaimed in her native Ewe tongue.  “akvbay ka ka a Jesu!” over and over.  much thanks to Jesus. she was proud.  and amazed. and thankful.
she held the 2 fresh lives, and i admired them more.  then, she looked at me with hopeful, questioning eyes. she offered me the 2 little bundles and asked, in her native tongue, “will you take them to America?” what?  i couldn’t.  shocked, i quickly shook my head. no.  no way. 2 new, precious lives.  so quick to give them up for a better life.  2 days later, and i’m still in shock.
how could she?  i saw how she glowed, how she beamed with pride, how she thanked me, how she thanked the Lord.
but life is better in America.  right?  or is it just different?
is my 2-story, suburban home with 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms better than their mud huts with straw roofs and dirt floors?  is my massaging shower head better than their plastic cups and buckets?  is my Kenmore combination electric/gas stove top better than their mud ovens? i don’t know for sure. but i don’t think so. i think it’s just different. this is how they live.  it’s a different country, a different culture, a different climate, and a different way of life. you could argue this a million and 2 different ways. but regardless of whether or not life in America is superior–life is life is life.
and life is a present. straight from the creative Creator.  from beginning to end.  and it’s not yours.  or mine.
those 2 new babies didn’t belong.  not to the glowing grandmother, or the beaming mother.  not to anyone here.  and not here at all.
just like them, I’m on loan.  you’re on loan.  to your family, to your professors, to this earth.  we belong somewhere else. and time is short and the need is wide. the world is ready, and hunting, and stumbling in the dark. who will show them the Light of Life?
To follow more of Lydia’s adventures, visit http://www.lydiablickley.blogspot.com/

routine…

I was talking with a friend tonight about one of my goals for 2012. I find that I am often adjusting my awake time to allow for just enough time to get out the door. Although that may have worked in the past, I am not really liking that anymore. I am finding tha I would like more time. Time to enjoy the morning, time to eat breakfast, time to take Dutch for a walk, time to just be….

I believe that if I can define and keep a morning routine, it will likely affect my whole day. But of course, as I think about a morning routine, it requires an evening routine as well. Getting to bed on time is critical…and then of course I have learned that I sleep better if I allow myself at least 30 minutes of down time before I lie down to sleep.

It doesn’t take me long to see that I am embracing the invitation to have more routine than I currently do. I want to remain spontaneous and free-spirited, but have the boundaries in place that keep me reigned in most of the time!

How about you….is there a place in your day where routine would serve you well! I invite you to explore this with me? I am thinking it will be one of those growth producing experiences!

Not many words needed…

I spent some time reflecting on the person I would like to be at the end of 2012 and how I plan to get there…

Then I came across this piece and really like this as the center of my vision. I would like to be me…a healthy me, a compassionate me, a financially responsible me….

I would like to invite you to be you….seems like a pretty simple invite…yet I believe it will take some focus to be the best me I can be! Won’t you join me in this journey?

And just that quickly….

Christmas is over…

It feels odd tonight to know that come tomorrow the Christmas songs will be off the radio and tonight Valentines decor is already up at Meijer. Just that quick, Christmas is over. For the last four weeks I have been thinking about each person in my family and coming up with options of gifts that might bring them joy and delight. I have enjoyed the shopping and writing of clues. I have enjoyed giving and been very loved in the gifts I have received. My family experienced a wonderful family time with very few, if any, moments of relational tension. I am thankful and Christmas 2011 was wonderful…

And just that quickly, Christmas is over….

Tomorrow I will put the paper away and pack up the decorations. I will marvel at the reality that there was not a bit of snow (well, not much at all) this Christmas season. I am sure it is coming, but to be at the end of December and have sunshine and green grass, is another reality that brings me great joy!

And just that quickly…Christmas is over!

And I begin to think about the phrase, it is Christmas every day. I begin to wonder what it would be to carry Christmas with me every day. Is it keeping the freshness and the wonder of Jesus birth in my mind and heart or perhaps it is carrying extra grace for the people who irritate me? Is it practicing generosity in ways every day that seems easier to do at Christmas or is it taking time to enjoy time with friends and family, sharing a cup of tea or a glass of wine? Perhaps it is setting a Pandora Christmas station with the songs that remind me of the miracle of Christmas….

I am guessing there is something I can do to carry Christmas with me in the day-to-day. I am going to really give this some thought in the coming week and welcome your thoughts.

What would it be for you to carry Christmas with you everyday?

Christmas Traditions…

Arlene and I were out picking up a few things from the store yesterday and we got to talking about the fun of our family traditions…

I am going to highlight just two of them in this post.

We have been blessed with a number of kids all about the same age. It goes like this….18, 17, 15, 14, 14, 13, 13 13, 13, 11, 8, 8, 5, 2 . Now, I have to say, that today this isn’t such a bad mix at all. As a matter of fact, today, this is a wonderful mix. But, about ten years ago, this was somewhat chaotic. So we started a tradition way back then. I began to write clues for Christmas.

Papa has always been the clue reader and I have been the clue writer. The kids all sit in the middle of the living room and listen with great anticipation to see if the clue just might select them in or count them out. Whoever the lucky one is, comes to the gift chair and opens their gift while all of us eagerly watch for the grins and giggles that always ensue!

This gift is for you if…

You play or have played an instrument (whoever this is true for stands up)

You have your own FB account (a few more sit down)

Your Facebook Info reads: I am funky and outgoing and love to wear really bright clothing. (and in the end Karolyn is the last one standing!)

Or…..

This gift is for you if…

You have a spring or summer birthday

If you total the digits of your age, they equal Isaiah’s age – 1

Janneke is living in your birth country (Clearly a Ryan gift)

And so the process goes. Each child receives three gifts and so this requires 126 clues. I can tell you this, Christmas clues is worth every ounce of energy and time it takes. It is a tradition I believe will go on from generation to generation!

And then after the kids gifts, we take a break and then meet again in the living with the adults. For these gifts we draw names, have a fifty dollar limit and must present the gift with a poem. Let me share a flavor of the poetry we write.

Dan DeKam you’re a real mans man

of hunting and fishing you’re a big fan

it’s been said you’re not very refined

your knowledge of modern technology is very behind

so with this gift, i hope you soon flourish

and your continuing education, I hope to nourish!

AND

To Len and Nick a Christmas Rhyme

After the names were chosen

And the hat was put away

The DeKams were thrilled to discover

They had Len and Nick, oh happy day!

They were however soon to learn

The trials this would bring

They discussed, they looked, they argued, they thought

About many a many a thing.

And then it occurred to Dan

These boys are both bitchin

When it comes to the kitchen

So, off to the cheese lady we went

A store that really cuts it

She has lots of kitchen toys

And other kinds of sh*t

Dan wanted to buy them spatulas

because he thought it rhymed with flatulence

so another argument ensued Oi Vey this was causing such a feud

But then Aha, some EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

and flavors so divine

those bitchin kitchen bros

will cook up something fine

And so this story ends quite nice

The marriage is intact

The cheese lady is richer

And the boys, no oil lack!

And so poems is a tradition as is drawing names, but in such a delightful fashion, I can add an evening of laughter is a tradition that will continue for many more years, of that I am sure!

Your never fully dressed without a smile…..

I love the age of the kids in my family….

They range from two thru 18, although with Janneke in Europe, today Henry was the oldest at 17.

They are funny kids and they get along great. Christmas 2011 will be remembered by late night walks and Nerf gun wars. The Lions were enjoyed by all ages and laughter echoed throughout the house. Christmas clues are a favorite and all the gifts brought grins and/or giggles!

I believe the collage below shows you that you’re never fully dressed without a smile! (all smiles are actual smiles taken today, December 24, 2011. This does not represent all of the smiles that occurred during the Christmas celebration!) Stay tuned for a post on Christmas Traditions tomorrow! Merry Christmas to one and all!