hellomarylou

Inklings from within


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Tears & Laughter

This post is mostly for my far away sisters and other family who could not be with us this weekend.  (How great would it have been to have you here?!!)

This weekend our cousin Rachel had the amazing experience of meeting her birth mother for the first time in her life.  My aunt Betty and her family adopted her when she was 2 weeks old. She has been our cousin and friend these past twenty-five years and it’s wonderful to see her have this beautiful, emotional experience.  My brother and his wife expertly captured the story in this touching film.

 

On Friday I rushed home from work, changed, packed my baby niece into the car, and headed off to meet a bunch of aunts and cousins for lunch. I got to meet Nicole (Rachel’s birth mom) and she was a pleasure, a courageous and brave woman. I didn’t take any pictures that day, and how I wish I would have.

This evening we had dinner with aunts, uncles, and cousins; and afterward went back to  Barbara’s house and talked until one in the morning when Rachel and aunt Betty had to leave for the airport. It was great “Miller time.” :)

IMG_6079                Pat and Rachel

IMG_6080Betty, Mom, Barbara

{oh how we miss you aunt Fanny}

IMG_6086Carolyn, Deb, Nicole, Desiree

{Is there anything more fun than a bunch of Millers piled in living room?!}

IMG_6087Julie with her “special” mug.

{this girl is a hoot!}

IMG_6088Carolyn, Rachel, & I

{Where’s Sheila?!!!}

IMG_6101Another aunty photo

{because we know how absolutely precious they are}

IMG_6093I realize more and more as years go by how precious moments like these are…how I wish more of you could have been there!

IMG_6104Aunts and cousins, all together.

{Love, love, love.}

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(P.S. On Friday night we also had a great time here at my house with Aunt Freda, cousins Wanda and Regina, and Wanda’s two daughters. I barely have any pictures of that evening….so sad. But here is one of Carolyn with Wanda’s daughter Emily. Oh. My. Word. They look so much like each other!)

That’s it. I wish I could capture the conversations and the laughter and the hugs and the tears, bottle them up, and send them to you.

{ Especially you Celesta. Miss you so much and the oceans between us  are just SO BIG.}

Peace and Love.

 

 

 

 

 


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September So Far

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It’s a funny feeling being back here, writing again, on this long forsaken internet island. It feels strange, but good as well. Like coming home.
I think to un-clog the pipes I need to do a quick rundown of the events of the year so far.
Here goes.
January: In January we bade farewell to my eldest sister and her family as they moved to Thailand for 3 years, maybe longer. It was painfully bittersweet…..we are thrilled for the opportunities God is leading them into but simultaneously feel the distance of all that earth between us. David and I adopted their Golden Retriever, Keiko, when they moved and she has been a JOY. In January we also said our final earthly goodbyes to my aunt Mary who passed away after battling cancer. She was an amazing example of generosity and love to so many people, and she is greatly missed by all of us.

February/March: We finally moved into a rental house next door to my mom’s after waiting for months for it to open up. The weeks flew by with painting and unpacking and organizing but wow…it was so nice to be out in the country at last after living in a small, congested town for the past 6 years. We love it here so much, and not just because I can raid Mom’s kitchen whenever I run out of something. We love the setting we’re in with its beautiful farmland views, and the back roads and the deer in the fields….I could keep going. In February Keiko had to have surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from the base of her tail. Poor dog, I’m not sure who hated the e-collar more, her or me.

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April: In April, my sister, cousin, and myself spent a few days in Maryland at our uncle’s place. We were helping him sort through some of aunt Mary’s peripheral belongings. It was a bittersweet time with our dear uncle who is clinging valiantly to the goodness of God.
David and I spent a weekend on the eastern shore in April. We visited Assateague Island and saw the wild ponies, (should I have been more amazed by them? I felt strangely underwhelmed) we spent a few hours in Berlin, Maryland, an adorable small town where the movie Runaway Bride was filmed, and walked the boardwalk in Ocean City. But by far our favorite times were spent around the campfire in front of the little cabin we rented in Frontier Town, a western themed campground. Frontier Town would be a blast for kids but we enjoyed it too….even though we mostly were just there for the campsite.

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May: Ah, May was a blur. I remember someone saying, “Hey, Keiko looks fat,” and two weeks later she had five puppies. That was a happy, but unplanned surprise. Two days after she had her puppies 4 of my nieces and nephews came to stay with us for a few weeks. (Their family was in the process of adopting a baby who was born prematurely and their momma had to spend lots of time at the hospital) The kiddos roamed freely between my ours and my mom’s house, playing football with David, holding puppies, planning elaborate tea parties, and just in general living on the love of a grandma and aunts and uncles who live too far away. Also, they are hard workers, and helped complete more than one project around here!

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June: June was strawberries and good food and campfires and growing puppies and lazy days on a blanket on the lawn and one adorably cheeky niece we’re lucky enough to have live close by.

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July: Hmm……..I can’t remember, was it June or July when we had thunderstorms almost every day for a week or two? Poor Keiko, she is terrified of storms and tries desperately to hide out inside the house at the slightest sound of thunder. In July the puppies all found new homes….it was hard, yet good to say goodbye. July also included a family reunion and an impromptu-one-hard-days-work-of-filming-and-editing (on an iphone, ha!) birthday movie for a niece in Thailand. It was a lot of work for a few minutes of silliness but we made some good memories.

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August: Along came August and David and I spent the first long weekend in Niagra. The falls are beautiful and worth the trip to see but the rest of the the town itself doesn’t have a lot to offer. We drove north to Niagra on the Lake and I was ecstatic to find this beautiful little town sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario. David was making friends with all the other husbands who moved from one street bench to the next as their wives popped in and out of one little shop after another. I mostly window shopped but it was fun. It’s interesting how EVERY shop has scarves, and scarves, and more scarves. Will this trend ever end? One can only hope. Lake Ontario itself is the most beautiful deep blue…gorgeous. In August I helped mom and my sisters put lots of corn in the freezer. We borrowed an Amish neighbor’s outdoor cooker and fell in love with it. It’s something I definitely want to invest in for next year.

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September{so far}: David was gone half of last week on a business trip and while he was gone I got Keiko fixed. No more babies for her. I don’t know how people can raise puppies and get rid of them, over and over. The single most stressful part of it is finding people to take/buy/adopt them. I was fortunate enough to personally know all the people that took puppies in July but I do not want to bet on that again. So yes….barring some miracle, Keiko’s child bearing days are over.
For some, those days are just beginning. On Sunday we celebrated the new life coming to my brother and his wife at their baby shower. November is not far away any more you two!

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So that catches me up! Here’s to not letting time go by so swiftly any more…if only.

Happy fall y’all!


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Ancient of Days

“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.”
Daniel 7:9

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This past week was a flurry of activity as we helped prepare for my brother and his fiancé’s wedding. V was an organized bride with a clear vision of what she wanted so it was a fun event to be a part of.

20121025-184415.jpgThe barn where the reception was held was so beautiful. Honestly, if they would let me, I would move in and make it my house.

20121025-184434.jpg The day dawned, dreary and wet, but the skies cleared beautifully just in time for their outdoor ceremony. And they got married. They said I do. I will. For as long as we both shall live.

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There’s my family. All 457,694,793,474 of us.
The reception went off beautifully. A celebration with good food, an excellent and witty toast by my little brother, songs, tears, love, blessings. We were and are, so happy for the newlyweds.
Towards the end of the reception, a light rain had grown to a heavy downpour and could be heard pounding on the roof above us. The wind had picked up as well and I said to David, “I think we should go over and close those doors.” The barn had these giant doors that were propped open throughout the evening. I had started to make my way towards the doors when David said, “Honey, no. Just stay here. Don’t worry about the doors.”
Looking back, the timeline blurs, but suddenly the wind really started blowing and one of the barn doors swung shut and then open again with a loud BANG! There were a few seconds of silence and then a lady’s frightened scream. And then bedlam. It sounded like a freight train was bearing down on us. People were running all over the place trying to determine the safest place to hide away. I was close to the bridal table when a window in the ceiling caved to the pressure and glass came flying through the air. I remember dropping my phone and thinking, “Who cares?” (there’s no app for the end of the world) I was getting underneath the bridal table when I heard my dear husband yelling my name. Vigorously.
If you look at the photos above of the barn, you will see these ladders/posts that run from the floor to the ceiling. He was standing next to one of those and calling me over to join him. I put one foot in front of the other, like a slow motion escape from the rabid dogs in my childhood nightmares. I reached his side, we fell to our knees, hugging the sturdy posts. At some point I became aware of the fact that I was hugging a stranger who was also clinging to the post. The stranger and I were both praying. “Dear Jesus, calm the storm. Dear Jesus, be with us. Protect us. Dear Jesus. Jesus.” The wind whipped and howled and the roof rattled and then, as suddenly as it had come, it was over.
People got off their knees, reunited with their lost spouses and children. Hugged each other. “Are you okay? Where were you? Who was with you?” I unwrapped my arms from around the stranger and as she turned to look at me I said, “Nice to meet you.” She smiled. “It seems like we were both thinking the same thing.”

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“Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”
Isaiah 40:24

20121025-195132.jpg We spent lots of time going over the details of the storm. Over and over. Each one’s different perspective. Rejoicing over and over that we were all safe.

20121025-195441.jpg The next day we drove around the neighborhood around my mom’s house and surveyed the damage. It was an incredible sight to see, to try to wrap your mind around the power it must have taken to cause that much destruction. I know that what Lancaster County suffered was nothing compared to the storms that other areas have suffered in the past. Nevertheless, it was certainly the strongest storm many of us have ever experienced.

20121025-195922.jpg Saturday evening we were having a ladies’ night out at a bistro in Honeybrook when we got the news that a young mother had passed away mysteriously in her sleep. She was a sister to one of my brother’s groomsmen and someone with whom I occasionally hung out before getting married. Ruth. Thirty one years old. My age. Mother of three. I can’t imagine what her family must be going through. What can ever prepare you for losing a sister? A daughter? A wife?

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“A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of The Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.”
Isaiah 40:6-7

20121025-201310.jpg I walk around as if I hold the keys to life and death, as if I can count on my next breath. My next day, or week or year. But in truth, each and every moment I am being held up by the mercies of God. Each moment of life, a gift from the Father. And that can bring fear to my human heart. A few weeks ago I answered a question in my Q&A book. Where do you think your road is going? And the answer had come to me so clearly. Towards redemption. And Ruth is just a little further down that road than the rest of us. There is a reason to fear God. He is powerful and just and holy. And there is a reason to trust God. He is faithful and true and not willing that any should perish. If you have claimed the blood of his Son Jesus as a sacrifice for your sin, repented, and turned from your sin, then you are his.

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“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one.
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
and have the keys of death and hades.”
Revelation 1:17-18


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Day Fifteen {por fin}

15. Favorite city?

In September of 2003 I spent three weeks in the loveliest city I have ever laid eyes on. Antigua, Guatemala. The purpose of my visit was to go through an intense, one on one, five hours a day Spanish language course in preparation for volunteering at Orphanage Emmanuel in Honduras. I found a willing friend to go with me and away we went.

My pictures of that time are safely archived in a box somewhere, so I’ll just steal borrow a few images from the world wide web.

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{via}We stayed with a local lady who had several rooms she rented out to international students. We had several European housemates; I can’t remember exactly which countries they were from. The photo above looks very much like the street view outside our house. The city is surrounded by three volcanoes and we were afforded beautiful views each time we walked down the street.

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{via} We studied. Studied a lot, in fact, until it felt like our brains would burst from the endless conjugating of verbs. However, the school also offered great opportunities with field trips to coffee plantations, mountain towns, beach towns, as well as providing plenty of time to explore on our own. The ruins of Santa Clara, pictured above, were my favorite place to visit. Santa Clara was a church and convent that were destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. If, or please God when, I go back, I would spend a lot more time here.

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{via} We spent hours in parque-central, watching people, meeting people, and buying handcrafted goods from the locals. We re-named it “parque-sensual,” in honor of the excessive amounts of canoodling, cuddling, and kissing going on all around us. Public displays of affection are everywhere in Antigua. I was not married then, but who knows, maybe if I went back now with my husband we’d find our own kissing bench. :)It’s just that kind of city. So romantic.

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I’ll never forget the smell of the daily afternoon rain shower.

The warm banana bread from the Doña Luisa bakery.

The thrills of discovering city, self, and language.

Salsa dancing with strangers.

Scaring my dear friend Lillian to bits one night as we walked home after dark.

Shopping at Katun.

Walking downtown after dark and stopping to peep into the windows of candle lit restaurants and hotels.

Cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture.

Trying to avoid our “more worldly” European housemates invitations. :) Haha. That makes me laugh, still.

“Buenos noches.”

Street vendor food.

Buying toilet paper and trying to pronounce “papel higienico.”

Going to the Catholic church and lasting about 10 minutes.

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   {via} Oh Antigua. I miss you.


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Day Fourteen

To be a genius you need to be both intelligent and creative. if you could possess only one of these traits, which would you prefer and why?

 Intelligence.

 Creativity may enable me to knit or paint or glue popsicle sticks together, but creativity alone may not lead me down the wisest paths. I think intelligence would allow me to decipher wrong from right, truth from lies, and  help me find ways to be creative. Our Creator is the origin of intelligence and I think we can all see in the world around us, that His creativity is off the charts!

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