Friday, May 29, 2009

Over her head

So tomorrow my sister will become a television star! Or at the very least, we'll all get a good laugh. She and her husband will be on "Over Your Head" on HGTV at 11am e/p and their interactions with Eric Stromer are sure to be entertaining. Not because the show is funny, but because it's so far from it. The show's star didn't strike me as the most humble of individuals and Sarah's not one to humor anyone's cheesy jokes (except maybe Danny's!). I can't imagine how they're going to edit this one! The worst part is, all the work that the show did has already been destroyed thanks to a second-story addition Brian and Sarah had done after the taping. If you get a chance to tune in, at the very least you'll get to see how beautiful my sister is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Putting the "fun" in "funeral"

Since I've known Danny, he has been dreading yesterday. His grandma has always been a huge part of his life, and her death was not something Danny's family had wanted to admit as a possibility - let alone an inevitability. She was blessed with 95 remarkably vital years, and it was only in the last 1 that we saw real proof of her mortality. God graciously weakened her, in large part I believe, to prepare all of us for her home-going. And in fact, yesterday's memorial proved that we were all in large degree, ready. Danny actually remarked on a number of occasions that it was FUN. And it was. There were, of course, plenty of tears as we remembered a godly, loving, selfless woman, but there was a great deal of laughter too. We have no doubt that Grandma is in heaven, enjoying fellowship with her Savior, so in a very real sense we rejoiced in the cessation of her pain. Most of us also have assurance through God's Word and a relationship with His Son that we'll someday be joining her. So ours is only a temporary good-bye. I don't pretend to understand the grief of those closest to Grandma or intend to diminish it, but there were no hopeless, heart-wrenching sobs filling the chapel that morning. We enjoyed our time together as a family - supported by hundreds of friends - honoring a woman who loved us beyond measure, and our God who she loved even more. This is a little bit of the tribute Danny was able to share with everyone yesterday:
"My grandma accomplished many noteworthy things in her 96 years, but she saved her best for this past year. Grandma has consistently provided the appropriate lessons for my level of maturity. When I was young, she taught me lessons like “look before crossing the street,” “stay seated at the dinner table,” and “be sure to go potty before going to bed to avoid an accident.” As I grew older (and hopefully more mature) the lessons continued, but became far less trivial. Grandma taught her final and most important lesson as she prepared for eternity with our Lord. Grandma faced her mortality with no fear of what was to come as she “watched expectantly for the God of our salvation” (Micah 7:7)."
"As we watched Grandma’s health deteriorate and her strength and independence disappear, her focus never wavered. The day before she died I was able to spend some time with Grandma and read to her from Scripture. Do you know what elicited a “two thumbs up” from her? A passage from Revelation 21 which says: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Grandma’s character was consistent to the end. She continued to love and care for us, placing our needs before her own - including graciously allowing us to address her mortality. We weren’t forced to ignore the fact that she would soon be Heaven-bound. I am so thankful for the manner in which she lived her life, but I will be permanently impacted by the way she prepared to die."
"Grandma understood that she only had a few more hours to live and it was her hope in our Savior that brought her peace and joy. Do you have that hope and peace? You can! Grandma spent her final moments reminding us of how we should live. I am grateful for all of the lessons she taught me, most important were the ones that pointed me to the One Who is worthy of our love, our hope and our life."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pool babies

One of God's little graces to us in Grandma's passing was a trip to the desert blessedly sandwiched between her death and her memorial service. We return home tomorrow to spend time with out-of-town family, but have thoroughly enjoyed a week of little but swimming, sleeping, reading, and eating good food. My idea of a great time!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Life and Death

On Friday our family welcomed a new life.

On Saturday we said good-bye to an old one.

Scout Magnolia was born to Danny's brother and sister-in-law, and Grandma Cook held on just long enough to see her face. This photo is from Grandma's 96th birthday, at the moment she discovered the last of her 7 grandchildren would be a parent, and declared that she now had another goal in life. God graciously granted her last wish, and she affirmed that it was "worth the fight." But as much as Grandma wanted to see Scout's face, she was more determined to see her Saviour and entered His presence just 24 hours later. I'll later post a bit of Danny's eulogy, and share how much we've all learned from both watching Grandma live, and watching her die. God has been so kind to all of us as we rejoice with Peter and Emily, and joyfully grieve Grandma's home-going. Thanks to so many of you who are sharing with us in both our excitement and grief!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Two years ago, half a world away, the little girl sleeping upstairs became my baby. Or maybe more accurately, over the past two years, on this side of the world, that baby has become mine. On May 15th, 2007 Ho Thi Thao Van was legally made our daughter. But she didn’t yet feel like ours. Not that we had any real bonding issues - from the first moment on, Reagan seemed to like us. By God’s grace and lots of prayer, she fit quite seamlessly into our family. I loved her then. But I know her now. Now she’s more than just a picture or some legal documents sent in an e-mail. Reagan is more than the little bundle placed in my arms on that Mother’s Day. She’s not just a child, she’s mine, with all the accompanying affection, frustrations, laughs, tears, and makes-your-heart-want-to-burst pride in the girl she is becoming. When I really think about it, it boggles my mind how God selected her to be a part of our family. But mostly I don’t think about it at all. She is a natural part of us, even though the means He used was not nature. I often forget that we don’t “match.” Usually I just thank God for the three incredible little bodies He has allowed me to mother, and rejoice in the family He has made us. Happy Gotcha Day baby girl!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Officially a PTA mom?

So completing a diorama on Mother's Day must be a check-mark on a "real mom" list somewhere, right? I'm sure you're all impressed with my artistic ability. Just tell me, what exactly is a first-grader supposed to learn from "helping" a parent assemble such a masterpiece?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What else?

17 nights alone... did you think I wouldn't be painting? While Danny was in Malawi last year, I passed the time with a paintbrush. By the time he returned I had painted all the common areas in our home. But do you think I've painted since then? Not so much. I guess you could say that Danny is just that entertaining. Now that he's away again, I've struck up the old friendship and my Purdy and I have been getting along swimmingly. We've tackled Alyssa and Reagan's room - with help, of course - and it is now a soft shade of pink (Parker calls it "strawberry yogurt"). Next we had a little fun with stripes in Parker's room, mimicking the cherished schooner we wrestled home from Vietnam. Finally, today I finished the guest room, which turned out quite well considering the mixing games I played with leftovers to come up with the final colors. Now if I could just drag myself up to the master bath to finish cutting in (a project Danny and I started together on a whim several months ago), every wall in the house will be complete!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Climbing the walls

Literally. I probably encouraged questionable behavior by photographing this (or rather, by asking him to do it again so I could go grab my camera!) but I'm just floored by Parker's abilities to scale walls. He's little, but he's one solid muscle. So very unlike his mama.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Just because Danny's away, don't think I don't have help around here! Alyssa and Parker were diligent little painter's assistants today, and Reagan was our very charming cheerleader.