Home and apple butter

I went home this weekend. And it was wonderful, of course.I love being surrounded by familiar, domestic things. Such as the gazillion vegetables my father picked from his garden. This is only a small portion of them.

Going home made me excited to make my own home with Homère next year. (He even has “home” in his name — bah, how perfect. You can laugh at me but I don’t care.) On the way to go wedding dress shopping (and yes! I bought one! and it is the most beautiful thing ever! I’m so excited to wear it! I’m sorry I can’t show you), I bugged my mother and grandmother for registry tips. Just what is a soup tureen, anyway? They are full of knowledge; I’m grateful to have them.

We also made lots and lots of apple butter for favors for my wedding. When I say, “we,” I mean mostly my grandparents, who were visiting from Minnesota and brought apples from their trees with them. I’m not quite sure how I coaxed them into doing it, but all I know is I got home from the airport and they already had 80 jars of appley goodness made.

 

Grandpa did most of the squashing of the apples. But I helped, and in between all the other chores he decided to do around the house (he almost never stops working — “No rest for the blessed,” he says), he got a break to read The Killer Angels.

yummm….

 

 

 

Joni and friends

My freshman year of college, I noticed early on that kindred spirit Lee Anne LaPlue always wore T-shirts, and almost all of them said, “Joni and Friends.” “Lee Anne,” I asked, “What is Joni and Friends?” I don’t quite remember her exact answer, but knowing her it was probably something like, “Only the best thing EVER!” — spoken very loudly with her eyes popping out of her head with enthusiasm.

Lee Anne’s family has been going to Joni and Friends camp for years and years, and this year I finally went with them. The experience was eye-opening, humbling and — here I want to say, “refreshing,” but that’s not quite it. It was more like a deep scrubbing of the soul.

The basics: Joni and Friends family retreats exist to love people with disabilities and their families. Volunteers like the LaPlues go to form a tunnel of cheering for the families when they arrive, to go swimming and ziplining and paddle boating with them, to help them through the cafeteria line, to do anything possible to show them the love of God. Volunteers care for children, including siblings of those with disabilities, so the parents can get marital counseling or just some downtime. Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, started the retreats.

Lee Anne, upper left, and others from Joni and friends this year

Serving at camp was hard work. At one point I promised myself I was never having children. (But then again, I do that after every time I teach Sunday School, too. Don’t worry, it never lasts.) Serving another family all day long, being forced to act selflessly for an entire week, made me realize just how selfish I really am. And seeing families who have made it their mission to adopt intellectually disabled adults and care for them like Jesus would — that’s immediately humbling. The week also helped me realize how much harder life with a disability is, but how much any life — disabled or not — shines so much more brightly when it trusts in God, when it focuses on others, when pride and self-pity are things of the past.

There’s a lot more I could say. Joni and Friends camp was packed with amazing people, with amazing stories. But I recommend that you just go volunteer. You will gain much more than you give.

A little Saturday update

 

So much to update! In August I went to Joni & Friends camp with Lee Anne, accompanied Homère to law school, signed a contract for a wedding reception venue, got to see Juls… More on all that later.

But for now…

I really love Saturdays. I was working Tuesday-Saturday most of last year, and now that I’m off that schedule, boy it’s really great. They just feel so perfectly lazy and comfy. And now I am watching a wild storm whip around the trees out my window — rainy Saturdays are even better.

Homère is off at law school, studying very hard. I miss him very much, but he’s visited twice already and is planning to visit quite a bit more in the next few months, so the distance hasn’t been too terrible for us yet. I keep busy going to work, planning our wedding, pinning too many things on Pinterest, catching up with friends, reading, etc. And I will gladly bake several dozen cookies for whoever invented Skype.

Lately I have been reminded over and over again how incredibly, undeservedly and abundantly blessed I am. God has just been so kind. My good friend and future bridesmaid Michele just got engaged! I get to see my family in two weeks! I have a loving fiancè, an exciting job, an encouraging church, a comfy house with fun roommates, etc. And in the midst of this I sometimes still complain! I’m crazy.

Praying you get a chance to count your blessings today….