The exciting adventures of the Hillson family.

The exciting adventures of the Hillson family.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Loving God on a Tuesday ((Psalm 52))

 ----A dad and his sons were wrestling, and as they finished the sons were trying to convince their dad that he was loved more by them, rather than him loving them more. 

It went on to say God, our Father, is the same way. He loves us more than we could ever imagine. We always praise and say, "I love you." God is constantly whispering, "I love you more."----

This really touched me today. I think about my love for my kids and our relationship, and God loves ME more than I love my kids. It made me smile just thinking about the unfailing love that he has for us. I have issues with feeling unloved a lot, so this was an amazing reminder of His never ending love!!!

~ ~ ~

I love that story.  It's so hard to imagine how much God loves us... and to then accept that He loves us that much.  It's also hard for me to feel worthy of such love, but God is constantly reminding me that when I say I'm unworthy or worthless, I'm telling Him that He's wrong and His creation is unworthy.  We've been created to be His glory, and he's made us beautiful--for the purpose of glorifying Him.  He has really been showing me in the last year that He has created me for His delight, and He wants me to be filled with joy.  He made His sacrifice because of this deep >>UNFAILING<< love He has for us.  Where our love is imperfect, and we have trouble showing it all the time, His love is SO perfect, and He loves us when we feel unlovable.  He even loves us when we're doing wrong.  And He is so patient... waiting for us to come to our senses and back into our relationship with Him.

It has been so awesome--yesterday and today--feeling like I'm back with my God.  I've been totally ignoring Him (well, mostly ignoring Him) for awhile, and I forget how unbelievable it feels to be walking with Him and trusting Him for the little things in our lives.  Ah...  blessed contentment.  He is so amazing!

~ ~ ~ 

Psalm  52

 1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
   Why do you boast all day long,
   you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
  • David is talking to a specific person here.  I researched it, and it's when David is running from Saul (the king who wants to kill him).  David wrote this psalm towards someone who told Saul David's whereabouts... someone who was betraying David, basically. 
  • I'm thinking about the term "boasting evil," and wondering how I can be like the bad guy here.  I think, for me, it's really easy to boast--outwardly, and/or to have a sense of pride in myself--about things in my life that aren't necessarily Godly.  The world puts a lot of value on things that aren't important in the grand scheme of things.  While I can see that my situation is different than the one David is talking about, I can still see myself as someone who "boasts of evil" because there are times when I put a lot of value on possessions and relationships instead of focusing on God and what's important to Him.
2 You who practice deceit,
   your tongue plots destruction;
   it is like a sharpened razor.
  • The image of a tongue being like a sharpened razor is really interesting.  I'm imagining how a razor cuts--then how skin would heal afterwards.  Our words affect people in such a way that after we say something cutting, the person never really is the same again.  The wound has to heal, but even then there's a scar.  And, scars do fade over time, but they never really disappear.  There are other places in the Bible that also talk about our words and how important it is to use them carefully.  This is a great visual example of how words can be used violently---that we need to treat our tongue like a weapon--something that can cause "destruction."
3 You love evil rather than good,
   falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c]
4 You love every harmful word,
   you deceitful tongue!

  • I think this description of the "bad guy" is interesting because there are two ways I'm looking at it.  1) I see the myself in the bad guy.  I see the ways in which I enjoy speaking falsehood (gossiping, in particular) and get pleasure out of hurting others (sometimes it makes me feel good to talk about how other people fail because then I feel better about myself...  in some ways, I am just as bad as the betrayer because I've betrayed God's commandment to love others, and I end up loving myself and caring more about my feelings than anyone else's feelings).  2)  I can also see this as a warning against the attackers of the world.  The devil and his workers have deceitful tongues; they want us to believe lies (like me believing I'm too guilty... that I should be ashamed of myself).  They love seeing us hurt one another, and they love to encourage falsehoods (lies), whether it's the lies we tell ourselves or the lies we tell others.
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
   He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
   he will uproot you from the land of the living.
6 The righteous will see and fear;
   they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is the man
   who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
   and grew strong by destroying others!”
  • I see this part as a warning and a reminder that the evil will parish...  it's a reminder to cling to God, to find our strength in Him rather than in our wealth (earthly possessions).
 8 But I am like an olive tree
   flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
   for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
   in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
   for your name is good.
  • I love this ending part.  I don't really know why he says "olive tree," but I know that God has created us to bear fruit (fruit of the spirit), and the word flourishing (growing more and more.. producing more... blooming... LIVING!) makes me so happy.  I want to be the type of person that flourishes in the way God wants me to (I looked up "flourish" and put the definition below).  I feel like the only way we can thrive like this is to feed on God's word... to get the nutrients from Him that we need.  Otherwise, we will die and shrivel up... gross.  :) 
  • (((Flourish:  to grow luxuriantly, or to thrive.  To be in a state of activity or production.))) 
  • It's interesting.  The verses I read yesterday also talked about God's "UNFAILING" love.  It's such an awesome reminder that while I'm only human and I screw up all the time... God does not.  His love is unfailing.  I pray that I will be the type of person who "always praises Him" and that I can always "hope in His name." 

~ Kasey & Megan

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

Chester watching Jorma & I get Married.
Tuesday night, we got the news that Jorma and Johnni's grandfather, Chester, had passed away from a massive heart attack.  Unexpected.

While family relationships have been sometimes strained, and I didn't have a close relationship with Chester, a death in the family always causes repercussions; the news, the emotions, and difficult interactions ripple out to the outer reaches of the family, spilling over into their personal and professional lives.  We don't even realize how far the effects of our family's tragedies can reach.  I'm not talking about the--pardon my lacking vocabulary--"simple" effect a death has on the individuals of a family.  Obviously there will be sadness.  Obviously there will be regrets and wishes for second chances.  But the greater repercussions we don't realize are the ways in which we affect the world around us and the way our legacy will continue to evoke change in ways we never could have imagined.

When my dad's father died in 2003, I was a freshman in high school, and Dad was my basketball coach.  Grandpa Leonard was an avid athlete and educator.  He lettered in basketball, football and track when he played for Oregon State University in 1945, and he was a constant supporter of my academic, cultural, social, and athletic pursuits.  The last time I saw him, he was cheering me on at a basketball tournament.  He died mid-season, the season my team went on to win the state title. 

During that season, my entire team felt the effect of my grandfather's death.  Both through my dad's coaching and my game, my grandfather's legacy was carried out.  I remember a specific game when we were playing our rivals, and we were up by a comfortable margin at half-time; we tromped to the locker room for a pep-talk, talking loosely, laughing, feeling confident in our ability to win.  Once we'd sat down, I could feel the quiet fury of my father building as he stepped up to address the team.  He started telling us a story about a time in high school when he was throwing the discus in a competition.  He had already beat all of his opponents by far--in two of his three throws--and he was content to not take his final attempt because he'd already won.  When my grandfather realized the choice my dad was about to make, he pushed him to the ground and reminded him forcefully that it didn't matter if he'd already won--he needed to do the best he could.  He instilled the idea in my father that it's not our opponents that matter, but that we also need to compete against ourselves to be the best we can be.  My dad got up, took his final throw, and PR'd (threw a new personal record).  At that moment, in the locker room at Dufur High School, the warmth of contentment slowly seeped away from our team, and a new fire was ignited.  From then on, our season and our team was focused on being the best team we could be. 

My grandfather's legacy went so much further than he could have imagined.  When he was playing, teaching, and parenting, how could he have ever known that the lessons he taught his son would trickle down to a 1A girls basketball team in eastern Oregon?  The 12 South Wasco County players who were in the locker room that day have a memory of Leonard, and their drive to win, their journey to a state title and to other successes in life, has been partially shaped by an ideal Leonard taught his son decades ago at a high school track meet.  Now those 12 women are out in the world parenting, working, competing, and living a life that was touched--even if for a moment--by my grandfather.  We just never know how our legacy will affect the world. 

As I'm writing this post, a song I know very well is going through my head.  I didn't plan on writing about the lyrics of this song, but as I'm singing it to myself, I feel like it's a great addition.  In the song "Legacy," Nichole Nordeman sings:

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an "atta boy" or "atta girl"
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world 

The song reminds me of the distraction of being recognized for my accomplishments and my own contentment and satisfaction with the approval of the people around me.  It can be so satisfying to know or hear that others think you're great, or that you're good at something, or even that they envy you, your possessions or your accomplishments.  But those aren't really the types of things that actually matter when it's all said and done; those aren't the things we can "hang our hats on."  The chorus of the song continues:

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

The "You" in this song refers to God, and by my personal faith, I believe that relying on God is what gets me away from dwelling on the material, superficial, unimportant things in my life and helps me focus on serving other people .  Whether or not you believe in God, I think there is an important lesson for everyone in what I'm talking about and even in the lyrics of the song.  If we can ask ourselves the question, "How will they remember me," ("they" being the people in our lives), we can reflect on how we are devoting our lives to the important things.  Are we focusing on money, or are we focused on serving others?  Are we focused on accumulating treasures, or are we focused on nurturing relationships?  In asking myself these questions, I hope I can say that people will remember me for the service I've given God and the service I've given others.  I hope to be remembered as someone who loved everyone and took time to care, foster relationships, and help provide for the needs of others.  How will you be remembered?

(This is a link to another posting I wrote in reflection of my Grandpa Leonard's life:  "Leonard's Overalls").

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love, Lighting & Honey-Do Lists

With a three-day weekend at our disposal, it was definitely time to kick the home-improvement action into high gear.  It's not often that all of us are home at the same time, so we decided to make the most of it.

To get the most bang for our buck, we decided to divide and conquer.  While Elven and Jorma attacked the big projects like the bathroom, garden, and backyard jungle, Kasey and I decided to focus our efforts on a back porch that required some much-needed TLC.  A few days ago, we had purchased some awesome outdoor lighting from World Market.  We were excited to give it some use, but the back porch required more attention than just stringing up some Christmas lights and calling it good.  The picture to the right shows the mish-mosh of remodeling debris, plants, cookware, etc. etc. that cluttered our porch as of Sunday morning.  With some elbow grease and a lot of determination, Kasey and I were able to create what is now a comfortable place both for our family to eat dinner and hang out, but also a place where we can entertain friends and guests.  Somehow, a household of eight just doesn't seem as crowded when you're eating outside.

We started with some basic organization.  The deck needed to be sorted.  While we couldn't get rid of all the random pieces of our house that need to be stored while we're remodeling, we did manage to combine all of it into one area:  "the remodeling corner."  There you will find a wide array of tools, a door, a toilet, as well as a random set of antlers that we're not really sure what to do with.  We also had a large collection of plant and planters that we weren't really sure what to do with.  While our awesome men were busy constructing a trellis for our tomatoes to grow up (out of reclaimed wood, I might add), we came to the group-effort idea that we could also use our extra pots and planters to create a potted herb garden, rather than taking up much-needed space in the big garden.  A few 99 cent annual buds later, along with our once abandoned pots and the herb starts we'd planted last week, we were able to create a beautiful--and practical--area.  We also started some flowers from seed in planters I'd purchased last year but had been lost in the following downpours--my flowers drowned.

Most of our fixes were easy:  organizing, repurposing, a little spit-shine, etc.  The only money spent on this little project was the less than $40 we spent on a string of round-glass-bulb lights, which we strung along the outside edge of our porch roof, and a paper-lantern light for over our table.  Everything else was polished from its filthy, forgotten state or just a tidied up, replaced piece of outdoor furniture or planter.  What is important here is that we have created a place for our family to come around a table.  Our inside dining table isn't really big enough for the eight of us, and now we have a place where we can join each other for meals.  It's such an important time for all of us, and having the space finished gives us a great sense of accomplishment and pride in our home.


Friday, May 27, 2011

"Happily Ever After"

One of my best friends--of all time--is getting married... tomorrow!  Stacy and Alex are perfect for one another, and I am so blessed to be a part of their day.  Not to mention, I am so, so, so excited for them to embark on their new adventure.  God bless you two!

However, being thrust into "wedding-mode" last night at the rehearsal dinner made me realize how out-of-it I really am.  I haven't been in a wedding, or to a wedding for that matter, since the summer of 2006.  So, it's four years later, and I'm mentally past the whole getting-married part of life.  I'm thinking about home, family, working--you know, figuring out the "happily ever after!" 

Many of you will be able to relate to my subject today.  I find myself contemplating what I once flippantly referred to as my "happily ever after"--that life I assumed I would fall into so naturally after getting married.  I know others who thought they would have that end-result feeling when they finished high school, got a job, finished college, got their masters...  As a child and young woman, I never really planned far beyond the "I DO!"  Marriage was the end-result, or so I thought. 

If I've learned anything in the last four years, it's this:  life doesn't end or begin at marriage or at any other life step.  There is no end-point, no ultimate goal, no stopping point for the countless transitions we encounter.  Last year, I had the honor of being part of a Solid Rock ladies Bible study in which I heard women of all ages, from all walks of life, talk about their frustration about the constant feeling of being "unsettled," or having the feeling of being in "transition." As a recent college grad, newly moved citizen of Portland, and a fairly novice wife, it's obvious that I would relate to their concerns.  What I found interesting, however, was that each of these women were accomplished in their own rights:  wives, mothers, noted professionals, church-members, retirees.  Apparently my fervent hope for a settled feeling would not likely be found by reaching a certain level of adulthood, wifery, or professionalism.

So, that got me thinking.  When are the times I do feel settled--at peace?  My fleeting moments of peace are when I feel satisfied with where I am, content, and I'm so caught up in the moment that I can't take time to worry over, plan out, or run through the countless scenarios of how my next conversation, next day, or next adventure will turn out.  Sad to say, those moments of contentment are few and far between.  Why is that?  Why do we focus so much on what's around the bend instead of what's right in front of us?  I can't seem to stop the never-ending "what-if" machine that's always running in my head, fueling my worry, concern, and monopolizing my time. 

I wish I had a definite fix for the problem.  I believe life is short, so we shouldn't waste all our time thinking about the future--I don't want my life to pass me by while I'm busy planning and worrying.  All I know to do is pray for the discipline to "stay in the moment."  There are daily, minute-by-minute opportunities to make other peoples' lives better, to say something nice, to help someone out, to learn something new, but oftentimes I'm too busy planning or running to my next big thing that I miss the little chances that make life meaningful.  But that's not who I want to be.  I want to be the person who makes her "happily ever after" each second, who purposefully listens, takes action, and engages in life "right now."  So, today--this minute--I choose to be that person.  I refuse to plan what I will choose next.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Read the Minutes: Family Meeting I

[Kasey taps the arm on the reclining camp chair]. "The first family meeting is now in session."

Gathered around our glowing "bbq pit," Elven, Kasey, Johnni, Jorma, and Megan call the first family meeting to order.  We are not organized.  No one knows how to start, and no one really has an agenda.  What's the point then?  Everyone wants to make sure that everyone else is doing okay.  We are all individually happy, but, uncertain, we just want to make sure everyone else is also.

Megan and Jorma came into the meeting wanting to do what was best for everyone.  In private discussions, they'd lamented the idea that Kasey and Elven might decide to move out soon.  On the already emotional Mothers Day, Megan had teared up thinking about the Hillmans deciding to leave sooner rather than later.  The system just seems to work: everyone contributes, everyone cares about everyone else, and everyone gets taken care of in some way.  "It just makes so much sense for us to all live together," Jorma said.  We just wanted it to work for Kasey and Elven.  "I wish we had more room to share with them!"  We

Kasey and Elven came into the meeting fairly confident that the Henson's were still loving them as much as the day that the kids and truck-loads of stuff bombarded their calm and quiet home. They still had that little birdie it the back of their minds chirping, "Your kids are maniacs...the Henson's are going crazy...nobody can sleep in the morning with little Bethany is screaming that she wants her fifth bowl of cereal!"  After much thought and discussion, Kasey and Elven decided that if the invitation was still open to stay, they would stay. It works out so well for everyone. They both love it here, and the kids adjusted better than expected; in fact, they say they never want them to leave. As the time to start everything nears, Kasey frantically shovels down the Hershey's Kisses she brought, sweating and nervous as to what everyone will say about her child-wrangling skills, housekeeping, and worst of all her cooking. As Mommy Megan starts talking, however, the nerves quickly settle.

Johnni darts in and out of the meeting, lounging on the kids' large toy car, grabbing snacks, fixing food, poking the fire.  She is laid back, disinterested in the meeting, but, as always, willing to do her part.

The important things were covered:  money, sex, food...  apparently our basic needs are all being met!  We talked about parenting, sleeping quarters, and our ambiguous months to come.  The meeting led us into swirling spurts of ideas for the future, ideas bristled with the excitement of future possibilities. For fear of sharing too much before our family has come to any conclusions, we will leave you with the conclusion that we are all happy and excited for whatever is next.  Suffice it so say, we have a lot to pray about when it comes to the future of our family, whether it's a combined family, two families whose houses are connected by a complex matrix of tunnels, or if we return to living in separate areas.  Regardless, God has blessed us with the unique living situation we're in now, and we're very happy to continue trusting Him to help us make it work.

"How did Bethany get out of your belly?"

Another amazing fun car ride to school with Brayden. I never realized how great it would be to have to drive him to school each morning. I love that we get that extra half hour of one on one time. It really gives him a chance to get some much needed attention that he doesn't always get being the oldest. This morning he asked me a very unexpected but important question. "How did Bethany get out of your belly?"

Four years ago, when I was pregnant with Madison, Brayden was three, very smart, and very curious. Brayden and I would watch "A Baby Story," and I when the mom was pushing I would say, "That's what I am going to do to get you your baby sister." He would be very excited and ask if it was September yet, knowing that when September came, so would the baby. This was enough information to fulfill his curiosity at the time. This is no longer the case.

I looked up in my rearview mirror and saw a little curious boy with a grin and big blue eyes staring at me, waiting for me to answer. I simply said, "I pushed and she came out," hoping that we could continue the conversation at a time where I wasn't in the car fighting morning traffic. When he looked at me and said, "So you just say "uhhh" and she's out? But how? And why does it hurt?"  I knew I was going to have to go a bit deeper into this topic.

I didn't want to lie or baby it down for him because he is a smart boy, but I also didn't want to go too deep since he's only 6. I thought for a second and explained; God gave Mommies a special place for babies to come out, and that it was called the "birth canal." When babies get too big for their mom's belly, the mom has to push and push and then the baby comes out the birth canal. I then explained that it hurts because Adam and Eve made a poor choice and ate the apple in the garden, and God said as a consequence when you have babies it will hurt.

Brayden was very pleased with this answer and kept giggling. He was sitting in the back of the van pretending to give birth. He said, " I want to do that someday."  I reminded him that only mommies have the special place so only they can have babies. He replied with, "I think you should have another baby. We only have three. I want like ten." Oh, his sense of humor...

When we first moved, I was really bummed that I would have to take Brayden to school every day. He used to get dropped off at the end of the driveway, which was very convenient. I feel like it is such a blessing now having the opportunity to get that quality time in that I didn't even realize I was missing. As I was packing to move, I was so frustrated. I felt like nothing was going right. I was praying and praying for a house that we loved and would be happy in, but everything kept falling through. We were having to stay with our friends and keep stuff in storage. I kept asking myself what I was doing wrong, and I now know. I wasn't trusting God. I should have known He had an awesome plan for us. Not only did we get the house we loved and had been praying for, we get to live in it with our best friends.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Glory Days

Last Friday night, the adults went out on the town... 80s style!  The McMenamin's Kennedy School hosted their annual 80's Prom Night--a celebration of 80s decadence--where people pay money to dress up like crazies in order to come dance to awesome 80's music.  Jorma and I went last year, and we were quick to rope Kasey and Elven into coming this year.  So, two hours at Value Village and $80 later, I came home with a dazzling array of 80's garb.  The guys all had a theme:  sa-weet ladies wind-breaker-esque jackets, complete with bright colors and shoulder pads, t-shirts in blinding colors, and some fly hats worn to the side.  I scored when searching for outfits for the ladies.  Both Johnni and I sported legit 80's apparel in sizes smaller than what we normally wear--it was like a sporting event getting us zipped in--and Kasey took center stage in a Madonna-inspired black sequined dress, cropped pleather jacket, hair everywhere, and a pink-leopard bow headband.  In a word?  HOT.

If you would have come to our house any time during the week leading up to this night of frivolity, you would never have guessed we'd have made it out that night.  Rolling off our return from Mexico, the flu ran through the house like dominoes, starting with Kasey.  One by one, we each took our turn suffering in anguish on the couch for at least twenty-four hours.  I brought up the rear, fighting off nausea--feverishly trying to convince my body not to be sick--for the last few days of the week, finally succumbing to defeat Thursday night.  After staying home from work Friday morning, and being asked not to bring my germs to school for the last part of the day, I was the most unlikely candidate to enjoy the 80's fiesta.  However, after some rallying, a healthy slice of meatloaf that stayed down, and copious amounts of Sprite, I was ready to walk like an Egyptian.  The evening went on as planned, despite the icky sick that romped its way through the family. 

Our time at the Kennedy School went all too fast.  We boogied on the floor a little bit, jamming to hits like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Rebel Yell, celebrating with a big group of friends, three of whom were celebrating birthdays (shout-out to Linds, Steph, and Johnni!), but I didn't last long.  My family entourage was supportive and gave up their spots on the floor to grab a snack with me and rest in the restaurant.  Little did we know, the notoriously slow McMenamin's service would keep us out until the end of the party--probably a result of the school being nestled in a quiet neighborhood.  In general, I am okay with the slow service; the food and beer is so good, and normally the company is so fine, that I don't care how long it takes.  However, the server we had at the school was the most unpleasant guy we've ever had wait on us.  I'm an understanding, empathetic person; in general, I am quick to develop some back-story in my head that explains even the rudest service.  However, because of the way we acted, we seriously felt like we were imposing on his night.  So, an hour, some delicious food, lots of laughs, and one poignantly meager tip later, we tromped back to the auditorium to find the dance over--a quick end to a great night.  

As we cruised home in the mini-van, packed in like sardines, pumping out the jam Smooth Criminal (the Alient Ant Farm remix), I couldn't help but think, "what a great night!"  But wait, haven't I been here before?  I remember a similar scene; switch out the people with my high school buddies and turn the mini-van into that beat-up Chrysler-boat we drove around, and there you have it:  an exact replica from my high school glory days.  Maybe we aren't as old as I feel most days.  While I'm not up for staying out all night like I used to (okay, like I did a few times), I'm definitely still up for a good time, and I couldn't imagine a group of people I'd rather be making happy memories with (not necessarily the specific group that was out for 80's, but the group of people around me in life right now).  Whether it's dressing up like idiots and hitting the town, or staying home for an intriguing game of Clue, these are happy times.  These are the new glory days.


Colonel Mustard... in the Conservatory... with the Revolver!

What is it about playing Clue that makes everyone want to speak in a British accent?  We're not really sure, but our terrible attempts at lofty rhetoric were out in full force last night during our first adult family game night.  After an exciting and tiresome afternoon of digging through the backyard for Maddy's glasses, repeatedly reminding Brayden he was supposed to be in his room (a consequence for his sassy-pants), and an hour of Maddy crying at the table because she had to eat a miniscule amount of bell pepper, we needed a little something-something to liven up our evening.  So, after our delicious dinner of Traeger'd chicken breast, salad, and BBQ'd corn (thanks, Kasey-boo for the scrumptious meal), and after the kiddos were tucked tightly into their beds, it was time to add the key ingredient to a good time:  a board game.  I know what some of you might be thinking.  "Why not take a shot and zone out in front of the TV?"  Trust me, the thought crossed our minds.  I'm sure I don't just speak for myself when I say that the idea of a whiskey-warm-up night of relaxation wasn't a little tempting.  However, the idea of actually interacting with one another, while speaking in ridiculous accents, won out--and I'm sure glad it did!

Kasey Beth
I had never played Clue before, a fact that shocked and appalled Elven, the resident Clue-genius-extraordinaire.  He's what we might call a Clue Prodigy, brandishing detective skills only attainable through a lifetime of practice and discipline.  I'll be honest, for the first few rolls of the die, it was much more entertaining for me to produce mini-conversations and create relationships between the small figurine character game pieces than to actually pay attention to my Clue check-off sheet.  I started out as the burly Reverend Green, and after a scandalous tryst with Miss Scarlet, as well as a small skirmish with Professor Plum, all involving random murder weapons, my competitive spirit kicked in, and I was finally sucked into the mystery.  Who killed Mr. Body?  The smug looks passed between Jorma and Elven as they used their powers of deduction to check off more and more possibilities were infuriating.  And, to no one's surprise, Jorma solved the first mystery.  Bollocks!

After another thrilling round in which we exhausted our efforts in keeping Jorma and Elven out of the room they knew the murder was committed in, I eventually figured out the final piece:  the murder weapon.  I did indeed solve the mystery!  Since the game had dragged on and on in our attempts to keep Jorma and Elven from victory, it was then time for sleep.  What a great evening!  While this might not sound like a hoot-hollerin' good time, it was for us.  Our little game night was just another reminder that we all actually really like one another.  And, we've devised a plan for a new adventure:  Murder Mystery Dinner (some day)!   It doesn't get much better than being silly with people you love and who love you in return.

~ Meg

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day

Mothers Day has always been one of those holidays I tried my best not to forget.  Generally, I feel pretty good if I remember to give my Mom a jingle to let her know how much I love and appreciate her.  However, this year Mothers Day brought on an strange array of emotions for me.  While I started out really excited to celebrate all the wonderful mothers in my life, I got a bit of a rude awakening when I realized there were some stowed away feelings I needed to deal with.  To give ya'll some inside information that will make everything a little more clear, it has been almost two years since Jorma and I decided we were ready to have children, but--for those of you who don't know us or haven't read the other blog postings--that just hasn't been God's plan.  So, Mothers Day is just another reminder of my unfulfilled dream of motherhood.  It's easy to remind myself that God's timing and plan is better than my own, and it's easy to remind myself of all the good things that have happened to me after waiting on the Lord; however, truly convincing the deepest parts of myself to rejoice in the waiting and suffering is a completely different task.  My heart doesn't respond to logic.

At church yesterday, I was bombarded with an overflow of emotion.  As Pastor Timmy prayed for all the Mommas, he also prayed for those who were yet to become mothers, as well as those who never would be.  The tears flooded as I thought the words, "it may never happen."  This is my biggest fear; the one uncertainty I've been praying to be prepared for.  The church I go to is very small--everyone knows everyone, and many people have known me since I was a child.  As Timmy neared the end of his prayer, I started scrambling for tissues; in a few minutes I would be walking back up to the stage to lead the congregation in our closing songs.  "Ok, God, snap me out of this... please...  just help me hold it in."  The first song we sang was,"Take my hand," a song I wrote about a year ago about finding comfort in our Father amidst the raging world around us:
Take my hand.  I don't wanna walk alone.                                
The world may be screaming, but You're drawing close.

I can't believe I'm the one You chose.
And all the matters now is You and me--
in this moment, You're all I can see.

While I fought my hardest to not feel anything during this song, to try and hold in the tears that remained just behind my eyes, I couldn't help but cry out to God to give me the kind of peace in which He would be all I could see, to truly feel as though all I need is Him.  The small cracks in my mask of normalcy shattered by the end of the two closing songs, and Tim prayed again at the end of the service, this time including a plea that God would bless a certain married couple in the church with children.  I'm sure most people knew he was talking about Jorma and I.  What a blessing to be loved and prayed for so much, but my heart just wasn't prepared for the emotion. Tim prayed for us again after church, and once with me before I left; we are so blessed to have him in our lives.  I am so thankful for the pastor's family and all the support they have given me throughout my life.  By the end of the prayers, I could no longer respond appropriately--the emotions had washed out everything.  I'd seen my mother crying, but I couldn't even talk to her about it.  Hugs only.  It breaks my heart that she also has to grieve for me.

Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I pray for comfort, patience, and peace in the midst of my disappointment.  Comfort comes in many ways, the wonderful pieces of my life:  my husband, work at a job I love, a bustling household, and the amazing relationships I have with my friends and family.  Patience seems like the easiest, so long as I can convince myself that I will be a mom someday.  This thought brings the most challenging part:  my battle for peace.  It's easy to wait when you know you'll eventually get what you want, but the heartache comes when I pray for peace regardless of whether or not I'm blessed with my own children.  It's odd; sometimes I can convince myself that I would be fine, and I can rest in the comfort of being a part of the lives of the many children around me.  That's the peace I pray for on days like today.   

On days like today, it's difficult to fight off the seductive comfort of slipping into the numbness depression offers.  While that darkness isn't something I enjoy, the alternative can be much worse:  surges of emotion I'm not ready for, which almost always result in crying, mood swings, and general wallowing in self-pity.  I despise all of those things.  While I understand the therapeutic importance of a "good cry," it's not high on my list of favorite things to do.  It also seems futile to waste time grieving something I haven't even lost.  So then, what is there left to do with the sudden rush of feelings which sporadically invade my peace? Most of the time I feel as though there is truly no resolution for this pain, except to just wait for it to pass.  It's a hurt that gets a band-aid, but never heals, and I never know when the band-aid is going to get ripped off again.  There's nothing anyone, including myself, can say.  How many times can we say "wait for God's timing," or that "God's plan is perfect"?  I've heard all of the right responses, repeated them over and over to myself, but that doesn't fix anything.  What it does do, however, is remind me to turn my hopes, thoughts, and uncertainties over to God.  There is comfort in His promise.

Right now I am very thankful for some important people in my life, who have, in particular, helped me with the daily battle.  My amazing husband, Jorma, who just wants to give me everything I could want, has been an incredible support through all this.  We both desire children, and we both battle with the emotions related to not being able to conceive, but he maintains his role as our spiritual leader in a way that points our marriage back towards God and His plan.  My family and friends are so supportive and loving.  I spent about an hour texting with my friend, Stacy, this morning, debriefing what happened yesterday at church.  I know all my besties--you know who you are--would drop everything to talk to me if I was having a hard day.  And I am also very thankful for a new blessing in my life:  the Hillmans.  While it might seem like having children around me all the time would be a constant reminder of my sadness, the effect is just the opposite.  Having the privilege of being such a big part of Brayden, Maddy, and Bethany's lives has given me an outlet for my pent-up maternal energies, and while I am not their Mom, I get the experience of doing some of the "mom things" I've missed out on up until this point.  I also know that I will be able to be an important part of their lives as they grow up, which is such a wonderful feeling.

Whatever it is God decides to do in my life, my constant prayer is that I would be ready and joyful to take the next steps.  My hope is not only that I will find encouragement, but that you might also find encouragement in my story.  We never know what God has in store for us; I can't control whether or not I will have children.  What I can control is my attitude.  The mantra I've been working into my life is that "happiness is a choice we make beforehand."  So, by God's grace, I choose to be happy regardless of my situation.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Tell The Drama To Your Mamma....

Waking up to my alarm clock going off for the fourth time and Madison yelling at the top of her lungs, "Mom, I peed in my underwear," really threw off my morning groove today. In my strongest effort to be optimistic, I hopped out of bed smiling and followed Maddy upstairs. Breakfast and teeth brushing went unusually smooth, and before I knew it Brayden and I were getting in the van headin' out.

As we pulled away from the house, I zoned out listening to Brayden sing to the songs on K-Love. When we neared 205, Brayden stopped singing and, in a concerned voice, said that a girl at school has been acting really mean to him. To most parents, their son getting pushed around by a girl is no big deal. Brayden is not like most boys. Brayden is very sensitive, dramatic, is all about talking things out, and laying all your feelings on the table. I wasn't concerned, just curious as to what was happening.

I turned off the radio and asked what was happening at school, and in an almost hysterical voice he blurted out, "She pushed me at the drinking fountain, she goes under my swing and knocks me down and takes it, and whenever I sit down she yells that I took her spot, and when I move she says that she wants the chair I'm in. I try to tell the teacher, but she didn't do anything. I say please don't do that and she doesn't listen. Mom, I even pushed her once."

If you're like me, at this point you're smiling and chanting in your head, "Brayden's got a girlfriend, Brayden's got a girlfriend!" I tried very hard to keep a straight face as Brayden went on about her using big arm motions and mean faces. I waited patently for Brayden to finish explaining. Once he finished and looked at me like, "well, Ma, what are we going to do about this," I explained that sometimes girl tease boys when they think the boy is cute. Brayden was not OK with this explanation. He started again about how she hits him, pushes him, and in no way is ever even "sorta nice."  Now, my instant thought was, "hit her back!" (I grew up with 5 sisters and 2 brothers, so I learned to stand up for myself early on.)  Immediately after thinking this I thought of Megan. I was thinking about what Megan would say if Brayden had told her about this. She would never even think to tell him to hit her back or yell at her. I was now thinking rationally.

I talked to Brayden and explained that he didn't have to endure that kind of relationship. It was OK to be stern and say, "Stop it now. I don't like it when you do that." Also to just try to avoid confrontation with her and try to surround himself with friends who treat him well. It was brought to my attention once again what a blessing it was to have Jorma and Megan in not just our life, but our kids' lives as well. Having four different adults with different experiences being able to come together and teach, love, and learn from each other is incredible.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

"don't throw trash on the mooooon..."

Tonight's main event?  Brayden's grade school choir concert, an exciting choral extravaganza featuring the charming classics "This Land is Your Land," Zippity Do Dah," and--for the neo-hippie Portlandians--the new hit, "Don't Throw Trash on the Moon."  While Brayden's singing, dancing, and outrageous drum-solo were outstanding, it was the excitement happening behind the scenes (i.e. the back row where Kasey, Maddy, Beffers and I were piled haphazardly into two chairs, overflowing with coats and cameras, after offering our third, "relief chair," to a friendly neighbor).

With Elven working and Jorma sick, Kasey and I were Brayden's representative parents for his concert.  Now, in order for you to envision our little family unit for the night, I need to provide a little back-story:

Very recently--last week, in fact--the four parents were in Mexico.  While there, we marveled at the women braiding hair on the beach.  In excitement to have the experience, and save money, Kasey and I decided that I would braid her hair into cornrows.  It looked awesome.  After we arrived home, we realized that the "80's Prom" event at McMenamin's Kennedy School was only a week away, and what better way to produce perfectly crimped hair, but to have Kasey leave her braids in for the week and take them out the day-of?  If any of you white girls have ever tried to keep braids looking tight, you know what happens next:  an array of hats and head-scarves to try and camouflage the cracker-fuzz.

So, tonight before we left for the concert, I carefully wrapped Kasey's fuzzy-noggin with a subtle-cheetah-print scarf, and we headed out the door with the kiddos.  To all tolerating, hyper-sensitive, modern parents, it looked like Kasey and I were there as two moms (Kasey, the doo-rag wearing lady-thug, and me, the feminine wifey; we basically could have been cast-typed characters on "Modern Family").  Watching people smile politely and nod, thinking they understood that we were a "different" kind of family, then force a friendly, accepting greeting was quite the experience.  Both of us felt a stark difference from the ways we are generally perceived and interacted with when we go to events with our husbands.  Aside from our inside-joke chuckles as we watched the shock in their faces fade to over-compensating friendliness, the experience makes me consider how my responses to others might be hurtful.

Food for thought:  instead of dropping our jaws or working too hard to be over-accepting, why not just attempt to love all people the same?  Now, I'm not naive enough to believe everyone is capable of simply dropping all our preconceived notions about others or completely do away with the biases resulting from who we are and where we've come from, but why not make a conscious effort?  Then we can worry about bigger issues...  like trash on the moon!


Welcome, welcome...

....welcome to our new blogging adventure! (an introduction from Megan)

These are exciting times, and our family has a lot going on.  I'm going to take a few moments here to introduce you to us and our one-of-a-kind family.  Let's start off with a little narrative about the men who brought this family together:

Elven & Maddy
Elven and Jorma grew up in southern Oregon.  The details about their escapades down south are a little hazy to Kasey and I, as during that time I was battling out my youth in central Oregon and Kasey was keepin' it gangsta in our state's capitol.  The guys have known each other since they were just kiddos.  The complete unabridged tale of how we got to where we are today would take more than this tiny blog post, but let's just say that after a whirlwind of affects--friendship, mold, circumstance, prayer (yes, lots of prayer), and laughter--we have arrived in a unique and awesome household of blessed chaos.  Suffice it to say, it was Jorma and Elven's sustained friendship over the years that brings us to our present situation:  a combined family of eight, all living under one roof. 

So, where do Kasey and I come in?  We are the wives and BFFs that hold the house together.  Now, don't get me wrong, we are far from running the place like a well-oiled machine, but we are well on our way.

Elven & Kasey, Jorma & Megan...  that's four people; we're only halfway there in introducing our brood!  Elven and Kasey come with their adorable kiddos:  Brayden ("Bray"), Madison ("Maddy" or "Maddy-cakes"), and Bethany ("Beff" or "Beffers"...  sometimes even "Finny" or "Befferee"), ages six, three, and one respectively.  And last, but definitely not least, we have Johnni, our housekeeper, nanny, daughter, sister, extraordinaire!  Johnni is actually Jorma's little sister, but she's been a part of our household for the past two years.  There's the eight people, and then throw in a couple awesome dogs (Jack & Jill) and now you've got a brief idea of everyone in the house.  The house with one bathroom... did I mention that before?

Jorma & Beffers
Amidst all the excitement that comes with children, a house in mid-remodel, potty-training, one bathroom, noise, laughing and crying, but mostly more laughing, we find the heart of our family.  Eight people who, by the grace of God, do life together.  We are each others' support, backbone, accountability, and back-up.  Sometimes it's hard to believe how much God has blessed us with; He is good, He is faithful, and He is smack-dab in the middle of our blessed chaos.

Through this blog, it's our hope to share snippets of our journey.  We have the strange ability to be mothers in a house where one of us stays home with the kiddos (Kasey) and one of us goes out into the workforce (me).  There are obviously challenges to be faced with so many people in such a small space, but there are also great joys.  We experience blessings, failures, happiness, frustration, and definitely some good (and sometimes bad) cooking.  We hope to bless others by the honesty in our writing, and share with friends and family the bass-pumping, potty-training, corn-dog throwing, free-for-all, holy mess, pandemonium that IS the Hillson household.

Until next time...