Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas from the Hsu family! Blessings to you this Advent season. We’ve had a good year, and everyone has been healthy and happy. Elijah is three and a half now, and he transitioned out of his early intervention program and has begun preschool through our local school district. He is in a reading tutoring program and is reading words and sentences beyond his age level. He loves reciting letters, numbers and colors and singing songs like “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” He asks to go through his deck of word flash cards, and at bedtime he’ll sit by the bedroom door to read Blue’s Clues books by the light of the hallway. He also likes helping make pancakes and putting away laundry.

Josiah is now 7 and in first grade. He tells us, “I love learning stuff.” He’s in an advanced reading group and a gifted math class, and he enjoys all of it. He started riding his bike and has been learning to play a little tennis. Over the summer he took swimming lessons and enjoyed a day camp through the park district. Other highlights for him were playing Sonic Heroes and Lego Batman. He also finally watched the original Star Wars movie (twice – both the theatrical release and the special edition, and he counted all the differences).

We had a few local “staycations” this year, with day trips to the zoo, the arboretum, the children’s museum, the beach and so on. Josiah was excited to visit the new Legoland Adventure Center here in the Chicago suburbs. And for our 11th anniversary, we went to see the musical Wicked before it wrapped up its Chicago run. We love musicals, and this one was a delightful deconstruction and reconstruction of the Wizard of Oz narrative.

As the rights manager for InterVarsity Press, Ellen had some domestic trips to Miami and Orlando, and this fall her international travel took her to a rights conference in South Korea, Marketsquare Asia in Hong Kong (where she met up with a former IVP intern) and the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany. She was invited to join the board of her professional industry group, the International Rights Managers Association, and promptly helped the group rename itself as the Licensing and Subsidiary Rights Association. She also took two sign language classes to continue to progress in her signing skills and vocabulary.

In addition to his editorial acquisitions and development work for IVP, Al applied and was accepted into a PhD program in educational studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. (He scored in the 99th percentile on the MAT, so he used that test score to join the Triple Nine Society, which has a higher standard of admission than Mensa.) He took his first doctoral classes this fall, and things seem to be going well so far. Al also served as a columnist for Christianity Today magazine this year, and he continued to do some occasional speaking, including the Envision 08 conference at Princeton Theological Seminary and a chapel at Wheaton College. Al also signed up as a volunteer for the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid.

What have we been reading this year? Josiah’s big thing has been puzzle books, brain teasers and riddles. He would ask friends, “What’s purple and in China? The Grape Wall of China!” and “Did you hear about the man whose whole left side of the body was cut off? Now he’s all right.” He particularly enjoyed the Picture Puzzle series of “can you spot the differences” books, and he also read through lots of Calvin & Hobbes and Garfield books.

In the realm of fiction, Al and Ellen read through Stephenie Meyer’s stand-alone sci-fi novel The Host and her Twilight series (the last book, Breaking Dawn, seems to draw some intriguing parallels between vampirism and resurrection life). Ellen read through T. Davis & Isabella Bunn’s Heirs of Acadia series and Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter family series, and she enjoyed Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos and Linda Nichols’s books In Search of Eden and If I Gained the World. Al liked Sebastian Faulks’s new James Bond novel Devil May Care, which picks up where the original Ian Fleming novels left off. And Jorge Cham’s books of the comic strip series Piled High and Deeper (also known as PHD comics) provide a hilarious portrayal of grad student life.

In non-fiction we both appreciated Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, an inspirational and moving account of a dying man’s life of purpose and meaning. The Big Sort by Bill Bishop explores how people tend to self-organize themselves into like-minded communities. The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine is an accessible and explanatory tour of neurobiology. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee is a fascinating cultural history of Chinese food in America. Tim Keller’s The Reason for God is a sophisticated and intelligent presentation of the Christian faith for our day. (And Al was thrilled to find the out-of-print and amusing The Unrelieved Paradox: Studies in the Theology of Franz Bibfeldt, and even friended the elusive obscure genius and enigmatic figure on Facebook.)

Top of our list of IVP books this year is Andy Crouch’s Culture Making, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was also named one of the best religion books of 2008. It’s a stunning, paradigm-shifting book of how Christians need to move beyond merely critiquing, condemning, copying or consuming culture and instead create and cultivate culture. Also receiving a starred review was Living Gently in a Violent World by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, which looks at the profound lessons of the L’Arche communities’ experience of disability and friendship. James Choung’s True Story is a fresh narrative retelling of the gospel that goes beyond escape-ticket-to-heaven and provides a holistic, missional vision for both individual redemption and global transformation. Jesus Made in America by Stephen Nichols examines how Jesus has been imagined and reinterpreted throughout American history. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey unpacks historical and cultural dynamics of New Testament passages. Finding Calcutta recounts what Mary Poplin learned from her time visiting Mother Teresa. I Once Was Lost by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp shares how their skeptical postmodern friends came to faith in Jesus. And Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove brings together prayer and social activism.

That’s it for this year! May the Lord bless you and grant you his peace.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elijah Pray!

I was getting ready to eat a nice breakfast of pancakes with Elijah (our favorite!) when Elijah looked at me and said, "Elijah pray!"

So I said a simple prayer leaving time for Elijah to repeat each word after me. "Dear...God...Thank you...for...pancakes...Amen!" Elijah repeated each word, emphasizing the amen. I smiled, happy with Elijah's spiritual development, and picked up my fork.

"Mommy pray!"

I looked up and Elijah was signing that he wanted me to pray now. So I said a slightly longer prayer and got ready to eat.

"Elijah pray!" I looked up and Elijah had his hands folded ready for yet another prayer. We said three or more prayers together before I finally said, "All done prayers, Elijah. My pancakes are getting cold!"

This has become a common theme at mealtime. Elijah is quick to remind us to pray and eager to repeat the words (and complete prayers) as often as we allow him. This morning I was eating my pancakes (I told you its our favorite breakfast) when I heard Elijah babbling. I glanced up and he had his hands folded, clearly chatting away with God. I couldn't understand many of his words, but I have no doubt that God understood exactly what Elijah was saying to him.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Along with Christmas music and snow, December has brought me a sense of lightheartedness and joy. The past few months have been full. After traveling to Asia in September I went to Frankfurt, Germany in October. While I was in Germany my assistant (who was in the office, not in Germany) went into premature labor. They were able to stop the contractions and she eventually had a beautiful and healthy baby, but the early labor also meant an early departure from work leaving me to train the new assistant. Things are going well, but I was feeling pretty stressed and pressed for time for most of October and November.

This is my absolute favorite photo of Elijah right now. It captures a sense of his joyful nature better than usual. And it expresses a sense of how I am feeling these days.

I love Advent and Christmas. Our Christmas tree is up, I've been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving and most of our gifts are purchased and wrapped. We attended a couple of Christmas parties this weekend, both of which were a lot of fun.

Michael Card sang at IVP's Christmas party this weekend. I was talking with Michael a bit and wondering if he even remembered who I was when he said, "I think of you every day." Huh? I must have looked bewildered because he explained that he keeps translations of his books behind his coffee-maker. Since I handle translation rights for IVP and helped facilitate the translations, he thinks of me each morning when he gets a cup of coffee. I'm a bit of an affirmation junkie, so that made me feel pretty good. I really enjoyed the concert, particularly a new song he played for us called "Freedom," which has been a recurring theme in my Advent ponderings this year.

I have also been enjoying Sara Groves' Christmas CD, O Holy Night. Al and I especially like the song "Toy Packaging." If you haven't heard this yet, you really need to find a copy and listen to it, especially if you are a parent! The whole CD is really nice, but this song is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Going Home

After eight days of travel, I am ready to go home. I'm glad I came to Asia. I've had good meetings, visited some interesting places and enjoyed conversations with industry colleagues and friends. I took a few photos and bought a few gifts. I've also endured long hours, awkward conversations and food that is not familiar. With the exception of the past few evenings, I have been "on" for seven days straight. I'm ready for a little time off. And I am soooo ready to be with my family again. I'm going home.

Symphony of Lights and the view from Victoria's Peak

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Reporting from Asia

I am travelling in Asia for work this week. I spent three days in Seoul, Korea and am now in Hong Kong for another few days. I have been honored by the graciousness and generosity of various people who have hosted me and others in my group for office visits and dinners. I was able to visit the the offices of four publishers in Korea in addition to meeting with 25 publishers in a convention setting. I participated in two traditional "royal" Korean feasts where we were served course after course of the finest Korean food. And I went to an Outback Steakhouse and the martial arts comedy "Jump!" with a group of friends and publishing industry colleagues.

Last night I visited a publisher here in Hong Kong and was treated to a wonderful buffet dinner. At 8:00 pm the city of Hong Kong lights up with a laser light show. Our table was in front of a large window displaying a panorama of the city and a splendid view of the light show. The light show is synchronized to music, which the restaurant played for us. Many of the buildings in central Hong Kong have large lights on the face of their buildings that light up and change color in coordination with the music. In addition, large spotlights appear to shoot from the tops of the tallest buildings. It was quite a spectacle. I forgot my camera, but the people I was with took some photos for me. I'll have to post them another time.

I've been with other people for the past four days, mostly as a guest where I needed to display certain decorum and sometimes squelch my own personal preferences so as not to seem rude. As much as I have enjoyed everything so far, today I am happy to have some quiet time to myself. One of my dinner hosts last night gave me an entire itinerary of interesting things to see and do in Hong Kong today. If I were more adventuresome and brave I would be out exploring the sites of the city. As it is, I'm an introvert and a bit timid so I am spending the day in my hotel room reading a book and catching up on some blog reading. I hope I'll have some time to explore on Monday or Tuesday evening (I'd really like to visit Victoria's Peak, especially), but today I need the rest.

I'll spend the next two days in meetings, building relationships with publishers and showing them our newest books. I'm looking forward to visiting with these people, but I'm looking forward to going home on Wednesday even more. Traveling can be fun, but "there's no place like home."

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Day of School

Josiah and Elijah started school this week. Here are some photos.

This is Elijah waiting for the bus. He refused to stand still for photos. His bus didn't show up and I forgot to bring the camera to school with me, so these are the only "first day" photos I have of Elijah.

If Josiah looks a little nervous, it's because he was.

Josiah was really happy to find out that his friend from our neighborhood is in his class this year.
This is Josiah meeting his teacher for the first time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fun in the Sun (and Sand)!

Last weekend we took the kids to the Indiana Dunes. The water was closed due to the risk of rip tides, but we still had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Confession

I have a confession to make. Not everything I do is for the enrichment of my children. Sometimes I do things just because it's something I enjoy.

At a recent event I attended one young mother mentioned how her sisters' lives seem to revolve around their children and the various activities they are enrolled in. One mom mentioned that it would be good for our kids to have one night a week where they can't participate in outside activities because it is mom's night to do something. Another mom mentioned that her friend tells her children that date night with her husband is "to make sure you are happy."

As I drove home from the event I thought about the idea of explaining date night to our kids as something we do to keep them happy. Explaining alone time with my spouse in this way, I realized, would actually reinforce the idea the world revolves around our kids. While it may be true that maintaining a happy marriage will help my children remain happy, the main reason I spend time alone with my spouse is that I really like him. I enjoy having uninterrupted conversations with him that allow us to connect at deeper levels than "When was the last time we changed Elijah's diaper?" or "Have you seen Josiah's backpack?"

The same is true of other activities that take me away from home. I enjoy taking sign language classes, leading worship and having coffee with friends. I could explain to our kids that I am a better mom when I am able to pursue activities I enjoy, but I think it may be better to simply tell them, "I am doing this because it is something I enjoy."

I can't do everything that I enjoy all the time. Sometimes I decide not to do something because I would rather spend time with my family or because my kids need me to be with them. I enjoy being with my kids and I want them to feel loved and to know that they are important to me. And I am intentional about making sure that I am frequently home with my kids. At the same time, I want them to know that I am more than just their mom. God has given me gifts to serve both my family and the world around me. Having children may require modifying my activities, but it doesn't mean that I have to hit the pause button on my life indefinitely.

Having a child with special needs can sometimes exacerbate this issue. Children with special needs often require more of our time and energy. We may become so wrapped up in helping and advocating for our children, that we allow their diagnosis to become a primary part of our identity. If mothers of typical children are tempted to believe that their kids can't survive even one evening a week without them, imagine how mothers of children with special needs often feel, especially when our children require special medical care.

But when we lose our own identities to our children we are not the only ones who lose something. Our churches and communities lose out too. They may lose out because we are not using our gifts to serve, but they may also lose the opportunity of using their gifts to serve us. And, if we are so worried about our children that we do not allow them to spend time in someone else's care, they may lose out on the opportunity to learn about our kids and how to love and serve people with special needs.

I just signed up for a second class in sign language this fall. I'll be out of the house on Wednesday evenings from late October through early December and the kids will be spending a little more time with Al or, in some cases, with a babysitter. But that's okay. I enjoy learning sign language. The kids will survive without me for one night a week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Tooth Fairy's on Vacation

Josiah recently lost his two front teeth. The first came out while he was eating a piece of toast. We washed it off and put it into his special tooth treasure chest and tucked it under his pillow for the tooth fairy to retrieve. I had a sign language class that evening and by the time I came home the kids were in bed and I had completely forgotten about Josiah's tooth.

I was in Josiah's room when he woke up the next day. He squinted at me and asked, "Is it morning?"

"Yep, it's morning. You can get up if you want to."

Josiah brought his hand out from under his pillow. He was holding the treasure box with the tooth still inside, "Why is my tooth still here?"

Thinking quickly I said, "Oh! I mean, it's still night. Go back to sleep!" Once his eyes were closed I rushed into my bedroom and rooted around my dresser for a quarter. I found one and sprinted back to his room where I tucked it under his pillow while retrieving the tooth. Phew!

"Um, mom? That was you, not the tooth fairy."

"I know. The tooth fairy is on vacation and asked me to take care of things, but I forgot. I'm sorry."

Josiah looked at me askance, but didn't make further comment.

That weekend his other front tooth came out while he was playing with friends at church. He ran over to me and showed me that his tooth had come out. I washed it off and put it in my purse for safe keeping. Josiah then went to the sanctuary where he walked up and down the middle aisle, smiling as largley as possible to show off his missing teeth until I realized what he was doing and had him sit down (church was about to start).

After church he continued to show off his missing teeth. A couple of people asked if he was going to put his tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy. Josiah responded flatly, "It's just my mom, not the tooth fairy."

Oh well. I guess he to find out eventually.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

At Home with Down Sydrome

Al just sent me a link to a nice article about Down Syndrome in The New Atlantis. This is a very nice article exploring recent books about living with Down Syndrome. I highly recommend the article.

At Home with Down Syndrome by Caitrin Nicol

I love the beginning of the article explaining the possible origins of a painting by Andrea Mantegna, who may have used a child with Down Syndrome as a model for the Christ child. I came across this painting in a book while I was still pregnant and dealing with Elijah's diagnosis of Down Syndrome. It was immensely encouraging to me.

I've read most of the books reviewed in the article. I think my favorite book of those reviewed is Gifts edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper. This is a terrific book for families who have just learned that their child has Down Syndrome.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meme: 7 Things About Me

My husband, Al, tagged me with a meme. Here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as
links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, here are seven facts about me:

1. I have a huge sweet tooth. When I was a kid I walked six or seven blocks in a snow storm (school was cancelled due to the weather) to buy two candy bars and a coke. My mom would give me quarters so I could call her from school and was always upset when I couldn't call her because I used all of my quarters in the soda machines. Fortunately, I have strong teeth and very few cavities. Our six year old, on the other hand, inherited my sweet tooth but not my strong teeth and has a number of cavities. (I'm munching on M & Ms while I write this).

2. I am learning American Sign Language. We have purchased a number of Signing Time DVDs for Elijah, who uses a combination of sign language and speech to communicate (his speech is delayed) and I've found that I really enjoy signing. I've been signing the liturgy songs at church for awhile now and decided to take an ASL class at College of DuPage. I am thrilled that our church's children's ministry director is taking the class with me!

3. I totalled my parent's car one month after I received my driver's license. I was following a friend home late at night on a country road and took a curve way too fast. I haven't been in a car accident since then (I also get nervous if someone I am riding with takes a curve faster than usual).

4. My biggest fear is that something horrible will happen to our kids. I usually don't express my fears aloud, but when I do mention them to Al he usually thinks I'm really weird. Last night I worried that Elijah would strangle himself in the safety rail of his bed. Al, of course, thought I was weird when I expressed my concern. Elijah was fine and we actually got a decent night of sleep since he didn't fall out of bed even once.

5. I am very organized at work, but less so at home. I think this is because once I get home from work I no longer have enough energy left to deal with things like filing and organizing. I do try to keep the floors clean, but that just means our dining room table is laden with books, old mail and various school papers. There is also a very cluttered corner on our kitchen cabinet and other trouble spots that seem to overflow with paper and other things.

6. I have a strong sense of justice. This means I am drawn to organizations such as International Justice Mission. It also means that I can get pretty angry if I feel like I have been wronged. When we moved to our current house we reserved a U Haul moving truck, but when we went to pick it up it was not available. We quickly rented a truck from a different company. I was angry, but didn't lose my temper. Until, that is, we learned that U Haul still charged us $50 for the reservation. I was livid and made numerous calls to their customer service department until a refund was issued. I may look nice, but you don't want to cross me. Just ask Al (he gets to listen to my side of these phone calls).

7. I am an introvert and somewhat shy. In high school the simple act of talking to a boy (whether I liked him or not) made me blush. This is why I can say with confidence that Al asked me out on our first date! (see number five of Al's meme). I would have been way too shy to ask him to take me to a movie unless it was utterly clear to me that he was actually asking me out.

So now I am supposed to tag seven other people. I'm an introvert though and I can't think of more than three folks to tag that haven't already been tagged by Al. Here they are:

Llama Momma

Shannon Farrier

Julie Kouri

Monday, June 16, 2008

Marker Woes

Yesterday Josiah bought a book on how to draw Transformers. I read my own book while he sat at the kitchen table and worked on his drawings. After a while he came out and said, "I'm tired. Can you finish the drawing?" I refused for awhile, but after 30 minutes I gave in and agreed to help him if he sat with me. He had done a pretty good job, there were just too many steps and it was taking more time than he wanted. After a few minutes of working on the picture, Josiah moved over to work on a different picture.

I was wrapped up in drawing Optimus Prime when Josiah came over with a wet piece of paper. He had drawn the symbols for the Autobots and the Decepticons and was working on coloring one of them with purple marker. "Josiah, why is your paper all wet." When he looked up at me I could see tears beginning to well up. "It's not coming out."

"Oh, honey," I said, "marker doesn't come out of paper."

He walked to the counter to check the marker and then cried, "But the marker says 'washable'!"

I explained the marker was referring to washing out of clothes, not paper. He was disappointed, but went back to work on his art. A few minutes later he came over with a dripping red marker.

"Josiah, is the marker all wet?"

"Yes. I think the red is all gone."

"Did you put the marker under the water?"

"Yes. It had stuff on it... Can you put the red back?" He was clearly upset (again).

"I'm sorry, buddy, I can't put the red back," I said as tears started rolling down his cheeks. "Put the cap back on the marker and let it sit for awhile. Maybe it will be okay if we don't use it for a few minutes."

A little while later Al came home from a used bookstore. He proudly showed me a couple of new CDs he picked up. Then he said, "Look!" and proudly held up a copy of The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon. (At this point I should mention that Elijah has vandalized our house with a purple marker twice already. Once all over our downstairs, including our formerly white furniture, and more recently all over our upstairs. He wrote on the walls, the carpet, the refrigerator, his pillow...practically everything. Most of it came out, but it was still pretty frustrating.)

I looked at Al in disbelief. "You bought The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon for a child who has taken his own adventures with a purple marker twice already?! Do you really want to encourage that?" Al gasped in sudden realization and quickly dropped the book in our kitchen garbage (which, conveniently, was right next to him).

We all laughed. Al retrieved the book and went to hide it somewhere until Elijah gets a little older and has more self-control.

Friday, June 13, 2008

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

As I mentioned earlier, Elijah has outgrown his crib. We quickly converted his crib to a toddler bed and surrounded it with pillows until he learned how to stay in bed without falling out. Three months later he is still falling out of bed multiple times each night. Each time he falls out of bed, we get up and gently settle him back into bed.

Tired of, well, being tired all of the time, Al and decided to buy a bunk bed. We thought between having a larger bed and adding a safety rail we could get Elijah to stay in bed and that we might actually get some full nights of sleep again. So last Sunday we went to IKEA and found a reasonably priced bunk bed and brought it home. It was bedtime when we got home so we left the boxed bed downstairs. Al left Monday morning for a trip and I thought I would wait until he got home to put the bed together.

On Monday I was excited about the new bed and had the day off anyway, so I thought I would start getting things ready for the new bed while Al was gone. I started by rearranging the toy room so we could move Josiah's old bed into it. Then I decided I may was well move Josiah's old bed while I was at it. Then, since Elijah has been sleeping on his crib mattress on the floor anyway, I decided to take apart his crib and put into storage. Once I finished that I realized it was only mid-afternoon.

To make a long story short, I ended up assembling the new bunk bed and rearranging the toy room and the boy's bedroom on Monday afternoon. I did most of the work by myself while the kids occupied themselves watching videos and playing on their own. Josiah helped a bit when I got into a bit of a fix. I kept saying "Dangit!" when something didn't work quite right and Josiah kept responding, "Mommy, that's a bad word. Please don't use bad words anymore."

Josiah also used part of the time I was busy working on the bed to crumble some of the styrofoam packing all over the house! I knew he was up to something when I heard him
laughing nefariously (seriously - he was cackling while he went around on his crumbling mission). Elijah used part of the time to dump foam alphabet stickers all over the family room. By bedtime I had finished building the bed, cleaned up the toy room, bedroom and family room and vacuumed most of the styrofoam up. Oh yeah, I also did a few loads of laundry. The next day I woke up tired, bruised and sore. Actually, I'm still bruised and sore.

To make matters worse, I'm still tired. Why? I found out that you can't use a safety rail on a bunk bed. It's not safe. (sigh). Thinking I was oh-so-smart I put the mattress crib on the floor next to the bunk bed and put the safety rail on the crib mattress. I figured if Elijah fell out of the bottom bunk he would land comfortably on the crib mattress and that the safety rail would keep him from rolling onto the floor (and waking us up). Not so. He woke me up two or three times last night. He falls comfortably onto the crib mattress and then ends up scooting off the head or foot of the mattress, which are still open. Then he kicks the floor to sooth himself back to sleep, which always wakes me up and I just can't leave him sleeping on the floor without feeling guilty. Well, that and I can't fall back to sleep with all of that incessant foot banging!

So, our investment of approximately $400 and 6 hours of hard labor for a good nights sleep resulted in a battered and bruised body and a new bed that both kids think is fun. It did not, however, result in better sleep for Elijah or for the rest of us. Oh well. He has to learn how to stay in his bed all night eventually, right? Until then don't be surprised if I'm a little tired and grumpy.

Friday, June 06, 2008


I was able to visit my parent's on Mother Day weekend and gave my mom a copy of my apology. After reading through it she sniffled a bit and gave me a hug. A few minutes later she commented, "Ellen, do you realize how little any of the things you apologized for really mattered? When I read your apology for wrecking the car I had to stop and think for a minute before I remembered what you were even referring to. I had forgotten it even happened."

This reminds me of how God's forgiveness works. When I go back to God apologizing for something again and again I wonder if he looks at me gently and thinks, "You know, I'd completely forgotten about that until you brought it up again."

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103: 8-14)

Friday, May 09, 2008

An Apology

I would like to apologize to my mom. I'm sorry for all the times that I did not listen to you. I'm sorry for all the times when I embarrassed you in public. I'm sorry that I sometimes I avoided being with you or said mean things to you. I'm sorry for sometimes running out of the house in a huff and not telling you where I was going. I'm sorry for the time I poked wholes in wall with my baton. I'm sorry for wrecking your car. And if I ever wrote on your furniture with markers, I am really, really sorry (now I know how frustrating that is!)

In my defense, I never fully understood how deep a mother's love is until I became a mother myself. Last week I was reminded of how very, very much I love my kids. Then it occurred to me that you probably love me in the same way. Wow! I've always known that you love me. You made a point of telling that you loved us every single day and I haven't forgotten. I just never realized how deeply you love me until now.

So, thank you for all the ways you have shown your love. Thank you for the times you let me eat the last Dilly Bar. Thank you for buying me nice dresses for special occassions. Thank you for putting up with me when I was angry, frustrated, grumpy, sad or just plain silly. Thank you for buying me the little trophy at the pageant. Thank you for painting over the football wallpaper in my bedroom with pretty shades of blue that matched my bedspread. Thank you for driving me to summer camp, college and other far off places. Thank you for letting us back track two hours when I left my purse in a restaurant on vacation. And thanks for understanding how important that was to me at the time. Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick. Thank you for always supporting and encouraging me. Thank you for not being completely perfect. It gives me hope that my kids will turn out okay, too. Thank you for loving me so well. Thank you for teaching me to love. You're a great mom and I love you.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I'm an Artist!

Like many kids, Josiah enjoys drawing and coloring. His bedroom walls are quickly filling with the fruit of his crayons, markers and creativity. Yesterday he drew a picture and then proudly proclaimed, "I'm an artist! I once was a little boy, but then I drew and drew some more and now I am an artist. I don't wear an artist hat though. I may only be a little boy, but my art is big!"

Oh to have his confidence. We talked briefly about how everyone in our family is an artist (Papa is an author, Mommy sings and Elijah's at least learning to draw), but I would never describe myself as an artist to someone else. I might say that I enjoy singing and that I like stamping my own cards, but to call myself an artist would seem like a stretch. And yet, in many ways, I am an artist. We all are in one way or another.

Later in the day I was working on stamping some cards and Josiah asked to help. I'm a little too protective of my own creative works to let him help with my cards, so I put him to work creating his own cards. He observed different techniques I used and wanted to try them all. I had to work on my sharing skills since my stamping supplies are more expensive than his, but we worked things out pretty well. He particularly enjoyed making Transformers "postage" stamps for use on future letters.

Our art may not be displayed outside our mother's homes, but Josiah and I are both artists, even if one of us is reluctant to admit it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wrong Number

The other day I tried to call Al at the office to ask him a question. I was surprised when a woman answered the phone, quickly apologized for dialing the wrong number and hung up. As I was hanging up I thought, "Wait! Her voice sounded familiar..." I glanced at the LCD display of the number I had just called and quickly redialed.

"Hi Mom. That was me. I didn't mean to crank call you. I was trying to call Al and dialed the wrong number." We both had a good laugh.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Photos of Elijah's Birthday and First Day of School

Here are some photos of Elijah's birthday and his first day of school:

Yay! I'm finally three years old!

Trying to put on a new shirt.

Birthday cake, yum!

Yay! I finally get to go to school!

Isn't his backpack cute?

Bus Woes

We have decided to have both of our kids take the bus to school. Our decision is based on a number of factors including what is best for the kids, what works best in our daily schedule, safety and what is best for the environment. As well thought out as our reasons may be, I am still feeling mommy guilt and recent situations with the bus have only increased my anxieties.

When Josiah started taking the bus to school we had problems with the bus not showing up because he was new to the route and they forgot about him. This winter the bus was extremely late a number of times due to substitute drivers who did not know the route very well. So, we knew there might be some glitches, but were hopeful that things might go well. This was not be.

Elijah started preschool last week and we've been waiting for the bus company to call and tell us when they would begin providing bus service for Elijah. We had not received any calls so I left for work yesterday thinking that Elijah's grandma would drive him to and from school again (I'm stuck in meetings for work most of this week and can't be home as much as usual). So, when the school called at 2:40 and told me that Elijah was stuck on the bus because there was no one home for the bus driver to drop him off, I freaked out a little. Okay, a lot. ("What?! I didn't even know he was on the bus today! Why didn't anyone call?!")

After a frantic phone call I learned that Elijah was already at home at that his grandma had driven him both to and from school. Apparently, the driver was new to the route and did not know the kids by sight and had misunderstood which kid was actually on the bus. Eek! When I told Al about my conversation with his mom, he laughed and said she probably thought I was crazy. ("Mom? Where are you?! Elijah's still on the bus and they said you're not home!...No, not Josiah, Elijah! He's stuck on the bus!")

Later the bus company left a message saying that they would begin Elijah on the bus on Wednesday. I called back that evening to remind them that Elijah needs a safety vest and to make sure I knew as much information as possible about what to expect.

Today I received another phone call, this time from Elijah's grandma. The bus arrived on time, but they did not have a safety vest for Elijah. Thankfully, Grandma said she would not allow Elijah on the bus without a safety vest. Unfortunately, I did not think to leave my car keys at home which meant that she had to transfer the car seat from my car to her own, which is not an easy task. She seemed very flustered and kept mentioning that she does not trust the bus company. This, of course, simply adds to both my anxiety and my sense of guilt. sigh.

I called the school to explain that Elijah would be late and to complain about the bus. They are working to remedy the situation.

On the bright side, Elijah's principal called to tell me how well Elijah is doing in class. She had just visited his class briefly and mentioned that he sat for most of the circle time. She also mentioned that one of the teacher's aide's said that Elijah is "really smart." Yay, Elijah! I really like our school. I just wish the bus company was a little more reliable.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Elijah is Three!

This has been a significant week for Elijah. His Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting with his school was on Monday, his third birthday on Tuesday and his first day of preschool on Wednesday!

We are very pleased with the IEP and the services that Elijah will receive. Our school district has been very easy to work with so far. Elijah's birthday was fun, but low-key. Al's mom and brother came over for dinner and we had cake and presents. Josiah had fun helping Elijah open his gifts and Elijah had fun throwing his arms in the air and yelling "Yay!" when we wished him a happy birthday.

Elijah's first day of school went well. He was a little nervous when I dropped him off, but had a good day. His teacher reported that he was happy and that he enjoyed exploring the room. I had a much harder time. I was able to hold my smile while dropping him off but started crying as soon as I got in my car to drive to work. Once I got to work I bawled in my office for awhile. He's just so small and he's our last child and he's starting preschool earlier than Josiah did... It all added up to a traumatic couple of hours for me. I felt much better once Al picked Elijah up from school and called to assure me that Elijah had a good first day. I think Elijah will really enjoy school once he gets used to the new setting and the new people.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quick Quotes from Josiah

The other day Josiah came home from school and said, "Guess what!"


"An older girl on the bus called me a cutie... I didn't mind. She's going to sit next to me tomorrow."

(I love the "I didn't mind" part!)


While looking at his chest in the mirror Josiah noticed his ribs. I said, "Do know what ribs are for?" (I was planning to explain how they protect his heart and lungs).

He responded, "They make women."

It took me a few seconds to realize he was thinking about how God used one of Adam's ribs to create Eve.


I woke up at 3:00 this morning to the sound of someone closing the refrigerator. A quick glance to my left confirmed that Al was still in bed so I quickly got up to investigate. I found Elijah sleeping in the hallway outside the kitchen and a jar of applesauce (his favorite food) sitting on the kitchen table.

At 4:00 this morning I thought I saw Elijah walk past our bedroom door. I worried that he might fall down the stairs in his sleep and struggled to wake up or at least wake Al up. I thought, "I have to get him! I have to get him!" When I finally woke up I realized I had been dreaming. I got up to check on Elijah. It was dark and I couldn't see very well. I leaned forward to look into the hallway and bonked my head on our closed bedroom door. Al woke up when I said, "Ow!" a little too loudly. Elijah, of course, was sound asleep in his bed. I wasn't able to fall asleep again.

On a happier note, on Sunday Elijah walked up to me at our church Easter celebration, signed "Love" and gave me a big hug. That was the first time Elijah told me he loved me. It made an already wonderful day even better!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goodbye Crib

I was talking on the phone during Elijah's nap on Saturday when I heard a thud. I thought he had thrown a book or something out of his crib, but then I heard some scuffling. When I went to check on him, Elijah met me at his bedroom door! I practically hung up on my friend, exclaiming, "Oh! He got out his crib! I have to go." He had climbed out (even with his cast) and was ready to play. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt or even upset by the fall. I spent the rest of his nap time converting the crib to a toddler bed. We are keeping pillows around his bed until he learns how to sleep in the toddler bed without falling out.

He fell out of bed twice the first night. I awoke to a soft thumping (he self-soothes by bumping his head or foot on the mattress). I could tell he was thumping against the floor instead of the mattress. I got up to check on him and sure enough, he was sleeping on the floor. He barely even woke up either time. I gently put him back in bed.

The next day I was away during his nap time. I came home to this:

(note the pillows near his bed)

Elijah clearly was not interested in napping and since Al had closed the door, he decided it would be fun to throw everything on the floor. Sigh. I suspect that he will either stop taking naps most days or that we will have to monitor him until he falls asleep each afternoon.

It's kind-of bittersweet. On the one hand I'm proud that he is growing into a "big boy" and is ready for the toddler bed. On the other hand, we probably don't have any more babies and it's a little sad to say goodbye to the crib (and all of the sweet baby things associated with a crib).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Silly Syllabus

This is the syllabus Josiah and I created for the class Al had to take on being silly.

Teachers: Mommy and Josiah Hsu
Date and Time: March 2, 2008 – 8:00 a.m.

Location: Team Hsu Headquarters, Basement


This is a practical class where the objective is to learn how to be silly. You will not learn the purpose, history, theology or philosophy of silliness (although we are certain these are worthy areas of study). You will learn some very basic ways to be silly. This class will be a lot of fun.


You must attend two classes where you will be asked to participate in a variety of silly activities with Mommy and Josiah. You must also read two silly books and take a test.

Required Reading:

Calvin & Hobbes
by Bill Watterson. Kansas City, Missouri: United Press Syndicate (1987).

The Sixth Garfield Treasury by Jim Davis. New York, NY: Ballantine Books (1991).

Class Schedule:

Class one: Mommy Hsu

1. Laughing. We will begin with the basics. The whole point of being silly is to laugh and/or to make someone else laugh. We will practice a variety of laughs including: giggling, happy laughing, belly laughing and super silly laughing.

2. Tickling. While you are not required to enjoy being tickled, it is important to master the skill of tickling someone else. Mommy and Josiah will demonstrate the fine art of tickling, including the “Bumble Bee Poke”. You will then be asked to tickle Josiah until he can’t stop laughing.

3. Silly faces and funny voices. One of the quickest ways of making someone smile, is making a silly face and talking in a funny voice. We will practice making silly faces and talking in funny voices.

4. Goofy dances. You will learn the “Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack, Cock-a-doodle-doo” dance and practice making up your own silly dance to music.

Class two: Josiah Hsu

1. Telling silly jokes. Everyone loves a good joke. Josiah will teach you some silly jokes.

2. Goofy noises. Our bodies are capable of an astounding variety of giggle-inducing sounds. Josiah will be your guide as you explore a number of noises you can make.

3. Funny motions. You will learn how to do funny motions by participating in a silly, silly game of Simon Says.

4. Silly games. You will learn silly games like the “High Five, Low Five,” “Smoosh the Lump” and “Kid Salad” (tossing kids on the bed).

Final Test:

At the end of the classes you will demonstrate your mastery of silliness by taking a test in which you will be asked to act very silly. You will be graded by how much you make Mommy and Josiah laugh and by causing them to exclaim, “You’re so silly!”

(This was a pass/fail class. You will be happy to hear that Al passed).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This morning I recieved the following email from our six year old:

Papa signed up. I am telling you that Papa signed up for a test about being silly. This is for you, Mommy. Guess what, Mommy. It's six long. Two classes for six. We both get halves.

Here is Al's explanation:

(Josiah says I need to take a class to learn how to be silly. He and you will teach me how to tickle. My first class is 8:00 on Sunday).
I love the way kids think!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hopes Dashed?

I had hoped that we could raise both of our kids without either of them breaking any bones. On Wednesday, my hopes we dashed. While I was in the shower (of all places!) Elijah pulled the sofa table over and broke his foot. After hearing Elijah's cries I quickly dried off while asking Josiah to check on Elijah and tell me why he was crying. After a couple of seconds Josiah yelled, "Oh oh! The table is knocked over!" I put on a robe and ran downstairs as fast as I could.

Elijah was sitting on the floor, wailing, a couple of feet from the sofa table which was on its side. I, astute observer that I am, quickly deduced that he had pulled the table and hurt himself. I immediately pulled Elijah into my lap, comforting him while checking for injuries. His left foot was slightly swelled and had bruise across the top. Elijah stopped crying after a couple of minutes and tried to toddle off, but he fell down crying when he put weight on his foot.

I brought Elijah upstairs and convinced Josiah to get dressed. I called our pediatrician and they said to bring Elijah straight to the ER. So I bundled the kids up and drove to the ER where we spent the remainder of the morning. Both kids were remarkably well behaved. Elijah stopped crying in the car and was content to sit in his stroller and look at books. Josiah read books, colored and said things to cheer me up. At one point Josiah said that he had stubbed his toe and then told the nurse, "Don't worry. I don't need first aid." They were able to x-ray Elijah's foot without taking him out of the stroller. After more waiting the doctor confirmed that Elijah's foot was fractured and he would need a cast.

I took Elijah to the orthopaedist and they put a little, light blue cast on Elijah's foot. The fracture is in a good place (not a growth plate) and should heal in approximately four weeks. I the cast might slow Elijah down for a couple of weeks, but he's already figured out how to get around with the cast. He's also learning how to use the cast as a weapon (Al said Elijah kicked him this afternoon).

After getting home from the hospital, I immediately set my alarm clock for 6:40 (half an hour before the kids usually wake up) in an attempt to avoid similar situations in the future. Today Elijah woke up at 6:20 a.m. Go figure.

So we can cross broken bones off the list of things I hope to avoid. The longer I live, the more things I have to cross of this list. The interesting thing is, the more the things I fear happen,
the more I learn that God is able to help us through any and every situation. As I reflected back on the day Wednesday evening, I realized that I experienced God most that day while taking care of Elijah and his foot. I know that God is with me always, but I am most aware of his presence when I am in need. My hopes to avoid any broken bones was dashed, but God, my true hope, will never fail.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We Are One!

Last night I was talking with Al about our Valentine's Day plans. I was asking if I should tell him my plans or if he wanted it to be a surprise. "Oh," he says, "Well, I have plans too. Is your plan something we could schedule, like I do mine and then you do yours or something." Since my plan wasn't really easy to schedule I decided to simply tell him.

"I'm borrowing a friend's fondue set and thought we could wait to eat dinner until after the kids are in bed. Is that okay?" He looked at me kind of funny. "Won't that work with your plan?" I asked. He hemmed and hawed for a few minutes and eventually left. He came back with a large gift bag.

"Oh no!" I cried. "You got me a fondue set?!" I opened the gift and he had indeed got me a Hershey's fondue set with a bag of chocolate. "I even have a little list of all the foods I was going to buy to go with this; large marshmallows, pound cake, angel food cake..." I pulled a crumpled piece of paper from my pocket, "You mean something like this?" My list of supplies was very similar to his.

What can I say, after ten years of marriage we really are one! And this isn't the first time something like this has happened. We both got each other the same card on our first wedding anniversary.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Elijah's Favorite Activities

Elijah loves videos! He is particularly fond of Blue's Clues, The Wiggles and one particular episode of Barney. His favorite activity with the videos is watching them. He is fully capable of finding a video, putting it into the TV/VCR, stopping, rewinding, fast-forwarding and ejecting videos. His second favorite activity (or perhaps a frustrating by-product of his favorite) is pulling the videos off the shelf, out of their cases and onto the floor.

Another of Elijah's favorite activities is pulling toys out of the toy bin and pushing them into the space under the piano keyboard. If we want to play the piano at our house, we first have to kick all of the toys out of the way (or, if we're really energetic, put them back into the toy bins). The other day I spent 20 minutes putting all of the toys back into their bins. Then, while I was making lunch, Elijah emptied all of the toys right back under the piano.

And finally, Elijah has taken to throwing his plate of food across the kitchen when he doesn't like something or is finished eating. This frustrates Al even more than it does me (wasting food is worse than making a mess to him).

Some days I am incredibly frustrated by Elijah's seeming to desire to make large messes. I am not fond of putting 30 videos back into their cases and onto the shelves and am even less fond of sorting toys into bins and wiping spaghetti sauce off the floor. And doing any of these two or three times a day can be close to torture. On other days I am too preoccupied to take much notice. I end up cleaning the messes either way (which is not to say that Al doesn't clean up messes too, just that I clean up the messes Elijah makes while I'm watching him).

On good days, I am able to focus on Elijah enough so that he is occupied with more useful tasks like putting together puzzles, identifying words and objects or pretending to cook. I wish I had the time and energy to focus on Elijah all of the time, but that simply isn't possible. There are meals to cook, floors to clean and other people in my family who need me. Actually, I'm thankful that Elijah is able to play on his own and doesn't demand constant attention. Now, if I can just encourage him to clean up the house instead of making messes... hmmm, I suspect that won't be happening any time soon though.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I was recently tagged by Llama Momma to list some favorite books. I have a hard time choosing favorites whether it's movies, songs or books (it's too hard to decide on just one!), but here is my list.

1. One book that changed your life:
The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson. This is the book that convinced me to attend seminary. I read a TON of fiction after graduating from college. I picked this book up shortly after it was published in 1999 and enjoyed it so much I thought, "Hey, if I enjoy reading about historical theology, maybe I should go back to school!" And that's exactly what I did. One result of attending seminary was that we decided to become Anglicans. And thus, my life was changed.

2. One book that you have read more than once:
Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

3. One book you would want on a desert island:
Other than The Bible (NLT), I would like to have The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

4. Two books that made you laugh:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson (actually, any Calvin and Hobbes books make me laugh)

5. One book that made you cry:
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

6. One book you wish you'd written:
I have no idea. Sorry.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I'm not sure why I read this. The story was somewhat interesting, but a lot of the scenes were not edifying and I probably would have been better off never reading the book.

8. Two books you are currently reading:
The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford
The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
Water from a Deep Well by Gerald L. Sittser

I think I'm supposed to tag some more people, so now it's your turn Becky and Lisa! Have fun ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting Ready

Elijah will celebrate his third birthday in April. He will also begin preschool. Last week we met with a representative from our school district to discuss the transition from Early Intervention to Early Childhood (preschool), from an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The meeting went well and I look forward to working with the school district to help Elijah reach his full potential in school.

When I talk with other families about their experiences creating an IEP with their school district, I sometimes get the sense that their relationship with the school district is somewhat adversarial. It almost seems as if the families expect the school district to give them a bad deal and to deny services that their children need. I am choosing to enter the process assuming that the school district wants to work with us to provide the services Elijah needs. I have to believe that the teachers, therapists and other professionals involved in early childhood education want what is best for all of the children in their care. We may not always agree about what specific services should be offered, but I hope to build a relationship of mutual trust and respect where we can discuss differing opinions without animosity.

I truly want what is best for Elijah and am prepared to advocate for services I think he really needs. At the same time, I think building a good relationship with the school district is important to this goal. If I am pleasant and willing to work with the district to coordinate Elijah's education, I am hopeful that the district will do whatever they can to return the favor. If I am angry and difficult to work with before we even have a disagreement, I can't imagine that they will be eager to work with me. Advocating for my child does not necessarily mean I have to put up a good fight. It does mean I have to know my child, including his strengths and weaknesses, and communicate those things effectively. It also means understanding the IEP process and our families legal rights and doing my best to form a good working relationship with those involved so we can work together to meet Elijah's needs.

The next few months should be interesting. Elijah will be assessed by a team of professionals who will probably focus on his weaknesses more than his strengths (they are, after all, determining if he needs extra help). Once they determine if Elijah is eligible for services, we will meet to discuss which services he needs, to create goals for his education and then to create specific plans on how to reach those goals. And at the end of it all I have to send Elijah off to preschool. I am sure preschool will be very good for him, but I'm glad I have another few months to get used to the idea. Sending Josiah to school for the first time was hard. This will be harder.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I not usually outspoken about my pro-life views, but once in a while I come across something that strikes me as worth commenting about. For example, I just came across an article that was published in June that reported:
Nice, France: Non-invasive screening of pregnant women with ultrasound early in pregnancy, combined with maternal blood analysis, has reduced the number of children born in Denmark with Down Syndrome by 50%, a scientist will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics today. Professor Karen Brøndum-Nielsen, of the Kennedy Institute, Glostrup, Denmark, will say that another benefit of the introduction of this procedure in her country was a drop in the number of invasive pre-natal diagnostic procedures from 11% to approx. 6% of pregnancies.
Noninvasive screening in early pregnancy reduces Down's births by 50 percent
What the article doesn't say is that the 50% reduction in the number of children born with Down Syndrome in Denmark must be due to abortion. I already know that a high percentage of babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome prior to birth are aborted (I have read percentages as high as 80% to 90%).

What disturbs me most about the above quote is the assumption that a reduction in children born with Down Syndrome is beneficial. I wonder if researchers would make the same claim about other diagnoses that are given after birth. For example, would we consider a 50% reduction in those who suffer from cancer to be beneficial if the only cure was to euthanize those who are diagnosed? I don't think so.

I wish we were less concerned about reducing the number of people with disabilities and more concerned about valuing all people and doing our best to provide people with the opportunity to live fulfilling lives. I wish we could focus less on what people are not able to do and more on what they can do. I wish all families who receive a pre-natal diagnosis had more opportunities to meet other families who have children with a similar diagnosis and to see that the things we imagine are often worse than the reality.

I think we are too quick to dismiss our own strength and our ability to handle situations we never thought we could. While I was pregnant with Elijah I did not think I could handle a child with a disability. When we received Elijah's pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome I kept saying, "This is not what I wanted. This is not what I planned for our lives!" I thought caring for a special-needs child would take all of the joy out of life and leave us exhausted and weary. I could not have been more wrong.

Elijah is two and half now and brings us much more joy than frustration. Yes, sometimes we get tired, but who doesn't get tired when they have toddlers?! Elijah's laugh lights up the room and and his hugs melt my heart. Caring for Elijah has been different than caring for his older brother, but it has not been nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I'm so very glad Elijah is a part of our family and would never in a million years consider his death to be beneficial.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I turn 33 years old today. While this is not a particularly significant age, it has been a year of tens. I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary and my tenth anniversary of working at InterVarsity Press this year. So I've been thinking about how my life has changed in the past ten years.

Ten years ago, today, I was at my first InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Staff Conference, which Al and I left early to attend Les Miserables in Chicago. I had graduated from college and got married in May 1997 and was still newly married and very newly employed with InterVarsity Press as an Editorial Assistant. We were living in our first apartment with used furniture and a bunch of brand new dishes and such from the wedding. We only owned a few movies and they were all VHS. We regularly rented movies from Family Video and spent most of our evenings watching movies or reading books.

Now I am the Rights Manager at InterVarsity Press. I work fewer hours, but travel more often. Now we have two kids, one in Kindergarten and the other getting ready to start preschool. Our spoons are scratched up from getting stuck in the garbage disposal and our first set of dishes was so chipped we recently replaced them with something durable enough for our kids to drop without breaking or chipping them. We are living in our second townhouse and the furniture we bought eight years ago looks okay, but is showing wear and tear (We bought the furniture before we had kids. It's all white. Well, actually, it used to be all white). Our media cabinet is overflowing, mostly with Blue's Clues, Wiggles and Signing Time DVDs and videos. We check out the movies we want to watch from the library and spend our evenings watching movies or reading books (some things don't change!)

Within the past ten years I have earned a Master of Arts degree, endured two pregancies (one fairly easy and one somewhat difficult), attended too many funerals and learned a lot about copyright issues, Down Syndrome and worship. My prayer life has grown along with my concern for orphans and those who are treated unjustly and I have grown a little less greedy and little more patient (although God is still working on these issues within me).

All in all, I am incredibly thankful. I have a wonderful husband, two terrific kids, a loving and supportive extended family, good friends, a job I enjoy and excel at and a church we love. Life has taken some different turns than I expected and sometimes has been very difficult, but God has extended his grace and peace to me in the ordinary and extraordinary events of life. I look forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring and trust that God will be my strength and peace whatever twists and turns life may take.