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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Father's Day


Just as I did with Mother's Day, I wrote a tribute to my dad for Father's day. And again I encourage you to write one of your own and share it with your dad or, if he has already passed, with your siblings, his siblings or anyone else who knew and loved him. I hope all of you who know my dad will enjoy this as much as he did.

Dear Dad,

Over the years you have taught me so many lessons in so many ways. Most happened while we just spent time together, some from hearing of your own experiences, some came from your sage advice and others from some embarrassing moments. All of them, though, have influenced my life. I find myself trying to recreate some of those memories with my own kids, I can’t wait to tell them stories about myself as a child, sometimes I scare myself when I sound just like you and I giggle to myself when I think of how my kids will roll their eyes at me someday.

One of my first distinct memories is following you down the driveway. I remember staring at my bright blue shoes with the yellow stripes on the sides as I followed your footsteps. No doubt we were on our way to the garage to work in the shop. Sitting in the sawdust with a pile of nails, a hammer and a scrap 2x4 taught me the value of working with my own two hands. The play house and sea-saw you made us taught me that homemade toys are just as good as store bought, probably better. The notorious incident when I tried to jump to you off the porch and foolishly stuck my feet out into your stomach taught me that cement porches are really hard and that butterfly bandages and a French braid are a good fix for scalp wounds. I remember hiding behind the front door to surprise you when you came home from work. Although I’m pretty sure you knew I was there (top to bottom windows and sheer curtains don’t hide much) you feigned shock every time. You taught me the importance of humoring your children. I still remember going shopping for my first compact of blush and my Hot Miss Daisy bike. I learned you could see my future better than I could; someday I would grow up and wear makeup and someday I would ride a two-wheeler. After you punished me for the crimes of drawing on the wall and lying about it, you showed me how to ask for forgiveness when new evidence came to light, namely Victor’s confession. You taught me that God is a god of second chances when we sat listening to Benny Hester’s record and you passionately sang along to When God Ran. I remember the retractable colored pencils you gave me before you left to take the job in Fresno and how I cried at school when someone broke one. I learned gifts are more than gifts when there is sentimental value in them. I remember the night Uncle Craig told us that Alan Jeli was killed in a car accident. I learned that daddies cry too. I can still remember listening to you read the poem you wrote for Alan’s funeral, it was then that I learned that “stepping stones lead down paths unknown” and that they can “give us bumps and bruises” and putting my pen to the paper is a wonderful salve. When we heard that Clarice was killed that same year I remember sitting on your lap in the entry way and crying on your chest. Years later I watched you hold Shauna after her sister was murdered. You held her just like you held me and let her cry on your chest as if she were your very own little girl.

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was lie in bed as you told us stories from your childhood. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy to tell about the wrong decisions you made, but your honesty about your mistakes and the pain they caused you kept me from making many of the same. I learned that when your mom tells you not to play football while she is gone, you should listen. While your little brother might not bite his tongue in half every time, your mom will find out and make good on her threats of punishment. While drugs and alcohol may make for some crazy stories they aren’t worth the trouble you will find yourself in. When you took the cop’s billy club away during a brawl I learned you should defend yourself against excessive force. When you did the harder, but right, thing and turned yourself in after the fight, I learned about integrity. When you defended yourself in court you taught me about standing up for truth and injustice. And most importantly being found not guilty by the court and the Savior who met you in your jail cell is both redemptive and priceless.

I remember lying on the living room floor with you, practicing my handwriting and crying because you wanted me to do it again, neatly. I definitely learned that “El flojo trabajo doble” (The lazy man works twice). I remember you coming in from the garage and asking Mom if she had seen your pencil. We giggled when we saw you had one behind each ear. No doubt you needed them so you could “Measure twice and cut once”. I can’t count the number of times you spotted me on a back-hand spring and if I ever made an excuse for why I couldn’t do it, you were quick to warn me that “Excuses are like armpits and feet, everybody has them and they all stink!” When you found out I had decided not to take the entrance exam for honors English and later the AP test for Government you promptly called the teachers in each case. After short discussions with both of them you told me not to sell myself short and take them. It was good advice. Those 2 tests enabled me to graduate high school with 9 units of college credit. Pretty much, when it came down to it, I just needed to “Stop being a knucklehead” and “Fly right”!

I’ll never forget the day you walked into my work wearing black socks with your brown sandals, bright, mint green, corduroy shorts, a white t-shirt with a red and blue logo, and a black and purple hat with a green frog on it. I thought I would die of embarrassment. You taught me that, while I should not trust your fashion sense, Dad’s are entitled to embarrass their kids every once and a while. Like the time we brought some friends to meet you at Buchanan to watch the fireworks on Fourth of July. I don’t think any of us were quite prepared to find you in the parking lot, standing on top of The Yak (his 1970's motorhome) with out your shirt on. Or when we were at Dodger’s Stadium celebrating our win over the Giant’s to clinch the division, I turned around to find you after Finley’s grand-slam and there you were with your shirt off, swinging it wildly around over your head. I may have hung my head in shame, but you taught me to have pride in my country and my team.

As a dad you taught me all of these things and so many more. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned was on my wedding day. I’ll never forget the way you hugged me before you walked me down the aisle. You cried and said you were going to miss me so much. I ‘m sorry I tried to minimize your statement by saying I wasn’t moving out of town and that you would still see me all the time, I was trying to keep my make-up from running. But I knew exactly what you meant because you taught me that there is nothing like being daddy’s little girl.

I love you, Happy Father’s Day.



Sunday, June 13, 2010

So Long Ol' Chums


My life has been full of people who have helped shape my life into the glorious chaos it is today. But this blog is dedicated to a family that has impacted my life so greatly that I put them right up there with my parents. While my parents are responsible for the clay of my life; the content of my character, the substance of my person, both physically and metaphorically speaking, the Chumley family is responsible for what I became, the mold God chose to shape me.

I met David first. He was our church's new Jr. High pastor and I was 15 when we sat next to each other at summer camp and he saw me signing a song to myself during worship. I had always liked signing songs when I was little, Jesus Loves Me, God Is So Good, whatever my Sunday school teachers taught me. But it had been a long time since I had signed anything. That summer though, I had seen a woman signing a musical performance and when I saw a sign language book at a friend's house I picked it up and taught myself a new worship song we were doing in youth group. I can't remember what the song was and it probably wasn't anywhere near conceptually accurate, but I loved signing it. It was like my special secret language with God. When worship was done he asked where I learned to sign. I shrugged and said I just taught myself. I had no idea how fateful that small interaction would be and it wasn't until his wife, Lucinda, spoke in our High School group later that year and said both of their daughters were deaf that I realized the meaning behind his question.

I didn't have much more contact with David until the following spring when he headed up a youth missions team to Romania. The moment I heard about the team I was chomping at the bit to go. And go we did. After months of team building and drama practice we were ready to head out that August. It was an adventure to say the least. He kept his cool and made us laugh for hours when our non-English speaking bus driver abandoned us on the side of the road in the Romanian countryside to go syphon gas from a tractor. He didn't freak out too bad when I forgot to tell him my hotel room number and he couldn't find me and my roommate when we overslept the first day there. On the trip he and his best friend nick-named me zug-zug, from some bizarre Ringo Star movie called Caveman (which I still haven't seen, nor do I care to), and introduced me to my first real boyfriend. Today I still have an email account using my nick name, Scott and I are good friends, I can still recite The Champion and do my best kung-fu demon impression, although I don't have the long hair to swing around anymore. That trip was the first of 6 missions trips I would go on with Chumley. In fact I haven't been on one without him! Romania, Mexico, Mexico, Australia, Mexico, Albania. It would be weird to go without him and I would miss his silly self-portraits showing up in my pictures. I can't count the number of us who suffered that penalty for leaving our cameras out!

After that first trip Chumley asked if I would consider babysitting his girls on Sunday nights while he and Lucinda ran the college group. I was eager to learn more signs and what 16 year-old girl couldn't use a little cash and a chance to talk on the phone with her new, long-distance boyfriend without her parents hanging around (after the girls were asleep of course)! Lucinda started teaching me more signs, practical things like "Time for Bed", "Brush your teeth" and "Stop fighting". After all, "Hallelujah" and "Amen" were only going to get me so far with the two chatter boxes. Tali was 7 and Taylor was 5 when I began watching them. They would often get frustrated when I didn't understand what their furiously flying hands were trying to tell me, but we always found a way to communicate. Soon I found myself falling in love with this family. I loved it when David teased me about Scott. I loved chatting with Lu when they came home at night. I loved watching Tali swing to her heart's content, her blond curls trying to keep up. I loved lying with Taylor on her bed until she fell asleep. It didn't take me long to realize I wanted to become a sign language interpreter. Since then, I can't tell you how many times people have asked me what made me choose this career and every time I get to share the story of this amazing family. Every interpreting job I have ever taken, conversation I have had with a deaf person, or worship song I have signed has had their fingerprints all over it.

Lucinda was the one who really encouraged me to pursue interpreting and over the next several years Lucinda and I became fast friends. She was there for some of the highest highs and lowest lows in my life. One night they came home to find me crying on the couch after I had broken up with Scott. She hugged me and cried too. Lucinda also encouraged my husband to consider dating a younger girl, hinting I was interested (Thanks Lu! I don't know that he would have ever gotten around to asking me out). I'll never forget the night at camp when Lu, the original "dirty horse", was making her rounds as the girls dean and came to hang out in my room. The four of us high school girls and her made such a ruckus that the cabin counselors had to come tell us to be quiet and go to bed. Lucinda had to hide behind the door, hand over her mouth, to keep from getting caught. She also had the unfortunate job of telling me one of my best friends was killed in a car accident. I still remember the sound of my forehead hitting her collar bone and crumpling like a rag doll in her arms. She prayed with me when my grandpa was diagnosed with brain cancer. She snuck into the brides room on my wedding day to pray with me and my bridesmaids.

Jeff worked with the the Chums for 8 years and we served as a couple for four of them. And when the time came that God called us to another church we cried with them and they blessed and released us. Even after we left we kept in touch. David faithfully visited Jeff in the hospital when he was sick and Lucinda brought us grape juice and crackers to share communion before he was discharged. I had the great joy of interpreting for Tali her freshman year of high school and the even greater joy of naming our son Levi David later that year. When the Chumleys planted a church it seemed like we should be one of the first families there but we felt like God had already called us to a church and we needed to stay where we were. But I helped out and interpreted at a women's retreat for Grace Place. While there, God gave me a word for our next child. Hope. I didn't know what it meant at the time but God gave it and I received it. It seemed only fitting I receive it while with Lucinda, after all, her life embodied having hope. Especially when Sarah Hope (their surprise, post-vasectomy baby) showed up. As the months went on though, it became apparent that our next baby was not going to come the traditional way, but we were OK with that. Knowing that David was adopted always inspired us. And we did the same, almost 2 years later we brought home our daughter, Mila Hope.

Earlier this year we were so excited to hear that the Chums were possibly moving closer to us and we definitely were not shy about voicing how we felt about this, telling them of every house for sale in our vicinity and relishing the thought of being able to see them more often. But God obviously had different plans. God has called the Chumleys out of Fresno. As heartbreaking as it is for us. We have learned by their example that God's will is always the best place to be. So, what can I say to a family that has obviously changed my life in innumerable ways? (Cue Ray Boltz's Thank You) Thanks. Thanks for teaching me a new language. Thanks for challenging me to grow and give of myself. Thanks for being part of my life and allowing me to be a part of yours. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for being shoulders to cry and stand on. Thanks for letting me interpret Taylor's high school graduation and bring my interpreting days for your family full circle. And most importantly thanks for being obedient to God's call in your life, to come to Fresno and, now, to move on. (Cue Michael W. Smith's Friends) I know that our friendship will live on through Facebook and email long after you have left town and for the rest of my life you will have a special place in my heart. I am forever grateful and count myself blessed for having been in the wake of your impact. David, Lu, Tali, Taylor, Sarah and Tom (the only cat I've ever liked) I love you all. So long ol' Chums.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fantastic Fruit Salad


This is probably my all-time favorite fruit salad. I came up with it last summer when I went on a second-trimester ginger-lime kick and thoroughly enjoyed it again as we kicked off summer on Memorial Day this year. It's bright (in color and taste), sweet, full of flavor and perfect served ice cold at a picnic or BBQ. Again all measurements are approximate and suggestions.

Make Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms Amazing Mango Fruit Smoothie
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (juice is optional)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Mix ingredients and refrigerate while you prepare the fruit.

10-12 cups of fresh fruit cut into bite-size pieces. I recommend...
  • Fresh pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Blueberries
  • Green grapes
  • Mango
Other good options are
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honey dew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Red grapes
Gently toss the fruit. Stir in dressing just before serving. If you are making this ahead of time cut and add the strawberries at the very end (they tend to be mushy if cut too far in advance).

If you are lucky enough to get leftovers place them into a resealable plastic bag and lay flat in the freezer. When the fruit is frozen gently break it into pieces. Keep frozen and blend with orange juice and/or yogurt for a great smoothie!