Monday, September 15, 2014

Tattoos and the Bride of Christ

Yesterday I met a young couple at an event at our church. They are not members, but are related to people who are. I asked them if they were married (I noticed a ring on his left hand) and he said that they were going to get married, and had plans to get married in May but they didn't.  He didn't offer an explanation, and I felt it wasn't my business. But I did ask these questions: Where do you live? Do you go to church?

He did all of the talking. They live close by. He doesn't go to church anymore because all they talk about there is money and politics.  

I mentioned that I hear many people don't come to church because of the hypocrites, and that everyone I know is a hypocrite. I continued by saying that no one stops going to the grocery store or bank because there are hypocrites there, but they stop going to church because of the hypocrites.  

Then the real conversation started.  He said, "I want to go to church, but when I do I am told I'm the son of satan (he doesn't deserve a capital letter) because of my piercings and tattoos, and I've actually been told that exact words!" 

I looked him in the eye and apologized on behalf of the people who told him that, telling him if that happens again that he should tell them the Bible makes no mention of satan having children.  That made him grimace a little, but he was not amused because of the painful memories.

Then I said, "I hope this doesn't offend you, but I didn't even notice your tattoos." Then I looked at his arms and realized he was covered in ink! I continued, "I did notice your earrings, but they don't bother me."  My ears are pierced, so why should it bother me that his are?  So I'm not a hypocrite about piercings, but I am about other things.

I told him that if he came to our church that no one would mind his tattoos or piercings, and that I hoped he would consider coming.  To my surprise, he immediately responded, "I would like to come here!"  

I then suggested that they get married at our church, and I offered to photograph the wedding and do the graphic design of their invitations and such. His fiancee asked for my contact information, and I gave her my phone number and e-mail address.  

I have been praying for them constantly since our meeting, and I hope they do come to our church, get married here, and I get the honor of photographing their wedding.  Most of all, I pray that our conversation has an eternal difference!  

Church, we have to stop thinking that people need to be a certain way or look a certain way before they come in the door!  No one would ever be able to cross the threshold if we had to be perfect.  Jesus died for us because we weren't perfect!  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Just Fiddlin' Around

Here's our Jaden with her electric purple violin that she purchased with the gifts of money she received on her baptism day.  She is as happy as a kid on Christmas day, and has carried her violin in it's backpack-style case around the house all evening.  

She'll begin lessons at school in the middle of September!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

While at the eye doctor . . .

Alannah wants glasses so bad and has for years, and recently she'd been commenting that she couldn't read signs from far away so I scheduled an eye appointment.  Sadly for her, she has 20/20 vision.  While she was being examined, Aja took some photos of Jaden. They are adorable, so I had to share.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First day of first and seventh grades

We had another "first" today. It was the first day of school. First day of first grade for Jaden. First day of seventh grade for Alannah.  First day at a new school for both girls.  First day for Michael and me to have two kids going to school on the first day of school.  

They now attend the school where I work, saving time and money in transporting them.  It was not an easy decision. We were thrilled with their old school; a place where both girls thrived. The teachers were incredible, and the staff was too. We will miss Immanuel in many ways.

We look forward to the future at their new school. Things change, but some stay the same.  Opening chapel was today, the same as it's been since kindergarten for Alannah. 

Jaden tells friends, family and strangers that she's going to learn to play the violin at her new school. Regardless of their age, gender, appearance or location, she tells everyone who will listen about her violin. Some people respond with interest and others ignore her. Personally, I am geeked she's excited to play and look forward to the coming years as her skills improve.  She had a tough time at school today as her new name is now a reality. She was introduced as Jaden Stahl, and her desk tag reads the same. She's acclimated so well to being part of our family, but she simply doesn't like the name Stahl. I wish I could help her work through this issue, but time will help her come to terms with her new name.  Other than that, she had a great day.  Her teacher had given her a booklet for her to read last night that included some pretty confetti to put under her pillow to help her to not be anxious.  She woke up this this morning and immediately told me "that stuff didn't work because I had a dream about zombies last night."  I told her I was sorry to hear about the dream and then asked if she knew the confetti did not have powers, but it was a special gift from her teacher to make her feel better.  She paused and then said that she knew that.  I had weird dreams last night too, and I had no confetti.

Alannah has always had stomach aches on the first day of school, but today she did not.  I don't know why her annual anxiety was gone, but when I hugged her after school she whispered, "I didn't cry today."  This is a huge milestone for her, and I think her life is turning a corner. She's going to be in handbells for the third year and also play the trumpet in band. She'll run track in the spring in a much longer season than her old school.  Piano lessons begin on Thursday, and we have to discuss if she'll get a new guitar teacher as hers has gone back to college.  What else?  She's eager to make good choices and get organized this year.  She adores the teaching staff at Bethlehem, and is eager to get involved in the youth group. 

I attended morning chapel and photographed the service to post on Bethlehem's Facebook page.  Pastor Korte took off his shoes at the beginning of his message to the kids in reference to the Old Testament reading about Joshua standing on holy ground.  Then he asked the kids who else in the Bible took off his shoes to stand on holy ground.  Jaden raised her hand, was called on, and answered, "Moses!"  I just smiled.  Moses is her favorite Bible character, and she has a deep sense of injustice that he does not have a book of the Bible named after him.  

What more can I say than I'm grateful to God for a beautiful first day of school.  The only thing that marred the day was me throwing up in the car on the drive home.  Yes, I've been sick for nearly three weeks (hence the silence on my blog) and today was not a good day for me.  However, my girls are happy and safe, in another school that values them as children of God, and I am content.  To God be the glory!

August in photos

Lucia, Laurine, Alannah, Karder, Sarah, Jaden and Mercedes performing a mini operetta to
"Hello, My Name is" by Matthew West on Jaden's baptism day, August 10.
Hand motions to "Hello, My Name Is"
Mom and Dad with Jaden
Cookie Grandma and Jaden
My mom, grandma, me, Alannah and Jaden - three generations
My dad, his sister, Susan, her husband, Jim - plus me and the girls
My dad, his sister Susan, her husband Jim, my sister Angie - plus me and the girls
Stahl family photo
Jaden posing with her cake
Jaden wearing the tiara she purchased
Jaden & Alannah on the first day of school!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

This is love

This is love: Letting your 6-year old do your hair in the style of Robert Palmer's
"Addicted to Love" band models with enough hair gel for the entire band
and then doing her hair just like the photo she found on Pinterest. I'm not
a coordinated braider, but she encouraged me: "You can do it, Stacey!"

Then she asked if I would put this on the internet for the world to see.

Despicable Them!

Today was the annual parade in our little town, and our dear neighbor Aja had the brilliant idea to create a mini float based upon her favorite movie characters from Despicable Me 2.  She and her parents made all of the costumes for the minions (4 of her sisters and my Alannah).  She was Lucy. Two neighbor boys were Gru and Dr. Nefario.  Our little Jaden was Edith. 

Each minion costume was made by paper-machacing a beach ball and poster board. Yellow felt, black pipe cleaners and custom-made overalls with a "G" on each of them rounded out their costumes.  Even Dr. Nafario's gloves and Gru's hat had that "G" on it. 

I just got a phone call that their entry got first place!  Yay!

Here are the photos I took of this very special day. 
Karder is driving the mini-float.

They played Pharrell's "Happy" the two-miles of the parade route and Jaden danced the whole time.

This was seriously the highlight of a fabulous week!

Karder was so awesome!

Dr. Nefario!

Lucy and Edith dancing to "Happy"

Alannah, Mercedes and Laurine as minions.

They went by so quickly, but it was an incredible moment.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Seven months of photos

On Jaden's first visit on December 14, 2013, we went grocery shopping to buy foods she liked.  She raved about lemons, so the first thing she and Alannah made in the kitchen was lemonade.  This is the first picture I took of Jaden. 

She really doesn't like getting her picture taken, so I was surprised when she smiled for me.

This is Alannah trying to get Jaden to smile for a picture.  She laughed and smiled, but never when I was pointing the camera.  Jaden thinks Alannah is the funniest person she knows.

This is our friend John on Christmas Day at our open house. The little girl in dark pink is Olivia, Jaden's friend at church. The two of them giggle non-stop!

"Take a picture of us eating ice cream!"  Okay.

Jaden brought Bear home twice from school for the weekend and had to journal what they did together.  This is pure joy on her face.

Jaden:  Knock, knock.
Me:  Who's there?
Jaden:  Annoying Orange
Me:  Annoying Orange Who?
Jaden:  Annoying Orange Blah Blah Blah Blah.  Isn't that annoying?  I made that up!

My favorite photo of Jaden.  I had just brushed her hair and asked her to pose for me. 

So . . . Michael thought it was a great idea for him to knock over the loveseat while the girls were in it. They thought so too.  Me, not so much.  But I did get a series of pictures of them with my ISO on the wrong setting so everyone one of them is blurry like this.  :)

After getting several classic poses of her, this is the one that best represents her strength and determination.

Pillow Pets, blankets and girls transfixed on the TV. 

Jaden had this dress and a few weeks ago she found the same one in Alannah's size at a consignment shop.  This is the two of them after church one Sunday.  

She melts me.

Love this girl so much.

We went to the Balloon Festival in Frankenmuth and had a blast.  Jaden loved looking in the program for information about each balloon as it was filled with hot air.  "Take a picture of me, Stacey!" So I did!

Our neighbor, Aja, took this photo of the girls as a possible choice for a birthday present for me.  

I asked Gretta at church if she would teach the girls how to make candy, and this is her patiently teaching Jaden the art of chocolate the week before Easter in the church kitchen.
"Look at this piece of chocolate!"

The girls on Easter Sunday.

Jaden with Love-A-Lot
Alannah with Olaf.