Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Something old, something new, something sandy, something blue!

Last Saturday we got to go on a much-needed date, much thanks to some neighbors and some very generous friends. We don't normally go on dates during the day, so we don't really know what to do but see a $3 movie at McMenamins. So we decided to go blueberry picking at Sauvie Island Blueberry Farms. It was the best blueberry picking I've ever done (except for wild blueberries in Austria that turn your mouth blue). It was lovely just to be together in nature, time to talk and be quiet and harvest and snack. They also sell Dahlias at the pretty!

We also wanted to go out to Sand in the City but we ran out of time. Then, we were going to take all the kids there, but the older ones started acting up so Dave stayed home with them while I took Morgen & Micah. It was really crowded so I'm glad I only had the two. Half the time was spent finding a bathroom, but I think they enjoyed our little outing...

The Great Wall of China
(ode to the Olympic Games)

Micah & Morgen are rockin' the Starbucks samples.

Micah says "I love deez tings!" And he went around and labeled all four water spouts: "Kowah, Tayduh, Meghen, Micah!"

"Is it coming??"

They even got to ride the MAX... how fun!
Morgen sat next to a guy with a pretty pink mohawk and half-way through the ride Micah noticed it, gasped, pointed and yelled, "A HO-HAWK!" He was very excited.

Fourth of July, part 1...or, One Country's Birthday is Another Man's Death

"A 19-year-old man who was hospitalized after nearly drowning at Blue Lake Park, died early Saturday morning." By NICK BRADSHAW, Staff
I really don't know what to say about this. I don't have anything spiritually or personally profound ready to pour out onto the page. I just feel that it needs to be mentioned. Something tells me that when you go through something traumatic, you ought not to ignore it and pretend it didn't happen. So by completing the Fourth of July blog with this tragedy (or starting it, depending on when you've started reading), I might be helping myself to process it, but I might also be honoring what was a real life, and not something on the news that I might take for granted.

It was like a scene from Jaws, when Brody sees what he thinks is a shark and yells at everyone to get out of the water. They are so strict at Blue Lake Park about kids polluting the water, we joked that someone must have had a little bodily-functions problem. I think I sometimes refuse to see the obvious because I just don't want the unthinkable to be happening. It didn't take long for the heavy reality to roll onto shore like a fog, blanketing the huge crowd that watched and waited. Park workers and police dove in fully clothed...down, up for air, down again. We just stood there praying and waiting, praying and waiting. My struggles with the purpose and good of prayer stood there beside me, and I just ignored it, praying anything and everything, just in case.
Are they sure there was somebody down there? They weren't finding anything! A Channel 8 helicoptor joined us in gawking at the scene, searching for presumptions to make. I am just a bystander; I don't know anything about this person, their spiritual beliefs, their family situation, what events preceded this suspense. Was it a man or a woman? How old were they? I wanted to qualify this person's life somehow, so I could know what to feel: disappointed at the prospect of their death, hopeful for their rescue, at peace about where they were going if they didn't make it...
It occurred to me that someone there had to be waiting with more expectation than the rest of us. It was easy to find the small huddle of folks crying, hugging, watching the search from the beach. So I prayed for them. I played with Micah who only knew there was a ball to throw, and Morgen who wanted to throw a frisbee with mommy. We escorted our oldest two a little further into the realities of life, and prayed with them for the victim, their family and friends. I felt completely helpless in the great big universe that God runs. It was happening, time was ticking, fragile life was expiring before my very eyes; I couldn't even use the CPR training I had completed just days before. I could feel God's presence, but there was no reason for me to be there. It was a very awkward silence.
But in that silence, my heart broke. I wanted to cry, but I stood sentry, waiting for God to unfold the story. It didn't matter, really, if I was there or not, if I had any information at all about the victim and family. This was a human creation, just like me, that God loved. End of story. It didn't matter what neighborhood he lived in, whether his parents were divorced, if he had been intoxicated, what color he was. All the details we wait for the news to spill to comfort us from the emotions of the unthinkable weren't there. God alone was in charge, and we were mere witnesses.
I'm a little bit appalled now, looking back, at my own thoughts and the conversations I overheard at the park. Even the news story seems a trite and brief epitaph to a situation that was so totally out of our control and beyond our understanding. As people, we have a responsibility to search, rescue, transport to better service, and otherwise do everything we can to save each other's lives without knowing anything deeper than the body. But to play God by labeling the situation, putting a completely impalpable circumstance into words to comfort our own selves, is...well, inappropriate and completely selfish. How often do we take it upon ourselves to qualify the news we hear, "oh, I'm ok with that freak's death, they had it coming!, what a shame about that family's tragedy..." That's how it's spun. And I wonder if I'm ok with the fact that God's deep knowledge of and love for me is so much bigger than the world's sad ability to deal with reality....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fourth of July, part 2...or, Friends, Franks & Fireworks!

Some of our favorite people are the Monahans and we were so glad to be able to hang out with them for an entire day (well, what was left of the day by the time we finally showed up). The Vonderkinders are in LOVE with the baby Monahans...Taylor escorts Isaiah around and they entertain each other for hours. We got to hang out with Laura's brother and some other friends of theirs who have twin girls whom Morgen really hit it off with. I wish I had pictures of Morgen running around, a twin in each hand, or chasing each other in circles around our little picnic site. I have never seen Morgen make such good was so cute! We all had a great time...

Laura & Liam laughing...(great shot, Dave!)

Andy worked for over an hour to get Isaiah to fall asleep...

Yay! The little guy's finally out!

Korah couldn't get enough of the twins' little brother (another Liam). He was a very cute baby.
Notice Micah rooting through somebody's Barbie backpack, uninvited...

Korah's going to be a great babysitter someday soon. I told her changing our baby's diapers (come October) will look great on her resume.

This is what Isaiah thought of the fireworks.

Waiting for fireworks, everyone's playing with their kids...pretty sweet scene. Morgen, to our surprise, actually wanted to be tossed in the air, but the picture shows she was still pensive, unlike Micah, who spreads out and never wants to stop. Maybe he'll be an astronaut someday...

Fireworks were fun... Micah just laughed for the first 5 minutes of it once the booming started. After a while it just got mesmerizing and started putting them to sleep. When we finally got to the car to go home, they all decided they were parched and whined for water as if they'd been stranded on a desert island for three days. From "ooooh, aaahhhhh" and laughing to complete irrational meltdown in 60 seconds. It's so obvious they're tired it has the complete opposite effect on us and we have to laugh, or we start singing goofy songs and acting silly until they are throwing shoes at us from the back seat. And then we drive through BK and get them all waters...
Thanks Andy and Laura, for a great 4th of July. It always does something good in our core to be with you. :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fourth of July, part 3...or, FREE BEEF- but this ain't no Les Schwab*!

For those of you keeping up on the blog, you might be wondering what happened to parts 1 and 2 of the Fourth of July, or why I am starting with part 3. Well, simply... part 3 is coming to fruition this weekend, and I wanted to tell the story before it happened. The rest of the Fourth was pretty intense and I'm still processing through it, so I'll get to that when I get to that.
Thursday, July 3rd, I'm meeting with my coach for my volunteer leader position as a Two's leader at Imago. I'm telling her the ways that I want to be a better leader, and love on my team more and give them bonding experiences by doing things like...having them all over for a BBQ. But the thing is, my husband is between jobs right now, and we're taking frugal to a whole new level. I'm pretty sure hamburgers for a crowd isn't a real priority for us. So we brainstormed some pretty cool ways that we could get together and bond anyway, and I went away hopeful. But God heard my heart...

Next night...we come home late from watching fireworks out in Gresham, and what is sitting on our porch, but a cooler-full of hamburger patties, cheese slices, buns and chips! I instantly thought, "woah, that's a lot of hamburgers" and then, "now I can have my Two's bbq!" But I didn't want to squander the wealth of food that God had given us in a time of need, and again, I want to keep my priorities straight...feed the family first, right? As we were going to bed, we talked about this blessing of beef...60 hamburger patties in all! David said something that made me laugh and cry at the same time: "God has entrusted us with 60 patties!" I wrote it on the white-board I have hanging in our bedroom (I'm still redecorating). God has entrusted us with 60 patties. That's more than what we need to feed our family; do we really want to eat cheeseburgers for 10 days straight? OK, not that we'd have to eat them all at once, they're frozen of course. But still, that's a lot of meat for folks who weren't big red-meat eaters before. So I thought I'd mention my BBQ aspirations to David. I didn't want to sound self-serving with the provision God had given our family. But David agreed: I needed to have that BBQ. We cried and thanked God as He spoke to us:

  • This isn't my ministry, and the passion in my heart was not created by me. I have already come to a point of doing this because I love God, and He's asked me to do it. Because He has shown me that he loves me, I desire to love others. Because of the way He's created me, I will lean toward loving people in certain ways, like feeding them. God knows I love to cook for people, to gather 'round and take care of some practical needs. Having a BBQ isn't about me and my objectives and how I manage my grocery budget. It's about how God wants to speak into our lives through community. If He wants a BBQ to happen, He will put it on my heart and He will make it happen. He will even shop for the burgers: He will speak to the Cox's because He knows they will listen, and He will tell them to give the leftover 4th-of-July burger supplies to the Vonderahes.
  • Leading the Two's Room is not just my calling. I am part of a family, and whatever I do in ministry effects my whole family. Whatever is happening with the family effects the ministry. So whether or not anyone else is on the front lines of the ministry, we, the Vonderahes, are partnering together to lead the Two's Room. If God has laid it on my heart to have a team BBQ, it is not selfish to bring that idea to the family, it is appropriate. And as is fitting, we will love on the Two's team as a family. This may seem obvious to the spiritually healthy married couple, but for a family that's experienced years of addiction and abuse and plain 'ole cultural brainwashing, this is a [brighter] light shed on the way God designed things to work, and we are seeing what a beautiful creation He's made in marriage and family. We are Team Vonderahe, and we talk about that a lot...but it mostly has a lot to do with cleaning the house and sticking up for each other on the playground. But to think about how that applies to supporting each other in the ways that God has called us to serve's much different (and may I say more special?) than the way we might support a missionary, or support an orphan overseas. To support each other as a family is opposite of the American culture's ideal of autonomy, even within the family. I don't think that was God's intention for family, but I'll let that roll around in your head a bit and see what He says to you......
So that's my free beef story. I'm looking forward to the BBQ this weekend and to what God will do there! Hopefully, the sweet smell of grilling, and the sweet smell of Christ. :)
*If you aren't from the NorthWest, you might not be familiar with the tradition of Les Schwab Tire Center to give away "Free Beef" with a set of new tires. Go ahead and's funny, but so cliche, I think born northwesterners have lost the hilarity of it. But that's just my pov.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

House Centipede

Everyone's napping except for me because it's just too hot, but that leaves me a perfect opportunity to learn how to use images from the web on my blog without breaking copyrights. So hopefully I have properly back-linked this picture of a House Centipede, because Dave smashed the one we found before I had a chance to take a picture of it. To his credit, he was saving my life from "this crazy scorpion...cockroach...centipede...thing" as it sped past my foot as I stood innocently at the stove putting globs of cookie dough on the stone. This happened the other night, and it was one of those things where you rush to the computer and type in something like "creepy insect with lots of legs" and you instantly get a picture of the exact thing you just smashed. Who knew this was so common? We were surprised by it, as was almost everyone else who posted a picture on Flikr. So I thought I'd share what we learned about this most creepy-looking insect.
First of all, Wikipedia (which I'm really starting to love as an information junkie) has some great information, of course. House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, ants and other household arthropods. They live anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the environment, and mostly live outdoors in cool, dark places. So while gross and scary, they seem pretty useful! We definitely have ants at our house, and there are spiders everywhere, especially in the spring and summer...and I'm ok with those in moderation (as long as they stay outside and aren't making our house look like a haunted mansion every night) because some of them eat the poisonous spiders (like Recluses), I'm not a big fan of the flying things (mosquitos, moths), and it can be good for the garden. I see the occational silverfish, which is annoying, but I don't think they do much serious damage. We might have a few termites, but I'm choosing to ignore that for now. As for bedbugs, I'm not sure that I'd rather have a House Centipede in my bed taking care of that problem, so I'll just keep washing the linens and vacuming the mattress on a regular basis. Man, if I ever see either one of those things in my bedroom, it's time to redecorate! And cockroaches...I think I'd have to opt for the centipede...or maybe the exterminator wins that one.

Friday, July 4, 2008


"Where's Micah?" is a phrase you're going to hear if you are around the Vonderahe family for more than 20 minutes. This zaney kid (his middle name is Zane, coincidentally) constantly keeps us on our toes as a family. He's already had special priviledges that his older siblings can only aspire to, like undergoing cranio-facial surgery, being escorted home by the police, riding in an ambulance and a few near-drownings. I know...and really, I hope....that he will continue to elude death on an almost daily basis by running after life with such joy and abandon. He's not sneaky or dishonest or testing, as much as he just sees a mountain top and knows he needs to be there. I really love that about him. It inspires me to trust God and reach higher, be bolder, be unafraid.

With all those moments of panic, suspense and surprise, knowing Micah also affords us some pretty good laughs, and I want to share a few recent visuals of the hilarity that is our little "Zaney Baby"...
"Super Hero" was his favorite thing for a while, which is funny because we don't really talk, read or watch anything super-hero related. Maybe that's just his calling........

....Oh, well, except for Mr. Incredible, but he didn't have a cape. "NO CAPES!"

He likes to dress up and swing. He swings successfully in wigs and daddy's old ties.

OK, this was shocking! I was a little confused at what I was seeing at first. Korah left her suim suit in the bathtub and so, hey, why not? He has a sense of humor! And I'm thinking that suimsuit doesn't fit Korah anymore if it just about fits Micah. I'm taking it out of the system.

One night after everyone was in bed, Korah came to us and reported, "Micah was playing around with toys and fell asleep upside-down!" It looks like he gave up on the Rubik's Cube and passed out. When I lifted him up onto his pillow, he had a really firm grip on that ladder. He always has preferred to be upside-down!

Oh, and his laugh is amazing...the best sound in the world!

JOY. That about sums it up. It's freezing cold and we weren't really doing anything that exciting at the moment, but this is how Micah felt! It's contagious!

...And I love him to bits & pieces. How much more does God love him?
Micah means who is like God.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
John 3.1-2