Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Very Cool Graduation

I say it every semester, and every semester it's true: It's hard to believe that another Institute class has graduated. 

It was my 26th class. My second semester of overseeing all the student internship placements. A very different class from the fall class. And God showed up. We don't take that for granted: His presence every semester is what reminds us that this thing is not about us. 

Here are some special people: 

I got a chance to meet individually with all 5 of these ladies this semester. Mary Avery is in the center, and she and I met weekly (kind of :)) for some informal mentoring. She is in the process of switching from a major in nutrition to one in interior design. Oh, yes, and changing schools too. (Glad it's her and not me.) Through her work on her independent study in interior design, it was neat to see her passion for that work confirmed: she now knows that God has truly given her some gifts in that area. 

Below is my small group: Rachel, Maggie, Rachel, Kaitlin and Laura. As I told them during our last dinner together (at Red Robin!), the thing I loved most about our times together was the good conversation centered around the Word. These ladies were willing to really dig in, ask great questions, and be taught by Scripture itself. I think that was the primary thing that grew us together as we studied Community.

Also, Kaitlin and I were definitely outnumbered as the resident extroverts. Actually, our small group was quite representative of this class as a whole—a class where a good number of mature leaders were introverts. Made me think a lot about if/how the staff needs to function differently to lead a group of introverted leaders than when the group is more extroverted. Still pondering that one, but I think I will be more aware the next time that situation arises.

For the first time in years, I personally supervised an intern (not as the practicum coordinator, but as the actual site supervisor). I'd done that when I worked at Plugged In, but not since. So let me introduce Maggie, my intern. This is a classy young lady with lots of talent as an event planner. She helped me to pull of the first two iterations of a brand new event that the alumni office is hosting: regional retreats for our alumni. Planning two events long-distance and making sure things run smoothly when you're not there to troubleshoot is a pretty impressive task. Thanks, Maggie: I couldn't have done it without you!

And here is a very cool moment from the ceremony itself. One of the members of the class, Matt, started it, so I'll let him tell about it. It was a blessing to all of us. (I know you can barely see it, but the students are standing with arms linked across the front of the stage—the whole class.) 

Blessings to the class of Spring 2011!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

18 Week Ultrasound

Monday morning started out (early!) with our 18.5 week ultrasound. My doc intended to schedule it for 20 weeks, but somehow I ended up on the table at just under 19. No worries, we saw what we were hoping to see anyway. (But I'm going to make you wait until the bottom of the post to find out!) 

This scan was longer than any of the four I had with Lorien. I think it lasted about 45 minutes, and I loved every minute of it. Love watching this little one from every angle. This first picture is probably my favorite, because Lorien sleeps like this too: on her belly with her bottom in the air. We call it "turtle mode." So cute to see it in utero. 

So far it looks like everything is healthy. Lorien had two fairly common abnormalities with her umbilical cord: marginal cord insertion (cord attached to placenta near the end instead of in the middle) and a two vessel cord (instead of the normal three). The primary risk with both of these is slow growth rates, but clearly that wasn't an issue, since she was 9 lbs. 6 oz. at birth. :) All that to say: Baby #2 shows just the marginal insertion, but has all three cord vessels.

This one is also measuring about 4 days ahead of the due date I had calculated, and I don't think that means I'm wrong. I think that means I have another big baby. My doc assured me that we can do another ultrasound around 36 weeks to see what size baby we're really dealing with here, since all early indications were that Lorien would be around 7.5 pounds. That made me feel better.

And finally...the handsome profile. Yes, IT'S A BOY! He didn't let us see the evidence until almost all the way through the 45-minute scan, but once he did, it was pretty clear.

Josh was trying hard to be impartial about the gender during the ultrasound, but admitted afterward to praying for a boy. We are both very excited!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen!

Easter morning dawned bright, wait...this is Colorado.

Once again, we had snow on Easter morning. Every time it snows on Easter, I have two thoughts. One is from my childhood because I remember my dad saying that if it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain for seven Sundays afterward. I always think, "What if it snows on Easter? Will it snow for seven Sundays straight?" With as cold as this spring has been, I have been tempted to think so.

And now, as an adult, I always think of my pastor, who moved to Colorado Springs from Texas six years ago. He was so flabbergasted by the first few Easter snows—now I am sure that it snows on Easter just to mess with his mind.

We started the morning with Easter baskets, but quickly discovered that Lorien is not quite old enough for jelly beans (got a little choked up on one). She did really like the plastic eggs and the chocolate, though. I am so completely awed by the sight of her in her Easter dress—love having a little girl to dress up, and she had fun with it too.

An anecdote from sharing Easter with a not-quite-two-year old: among Lorien's favorite things right now are tunnels. At the playground, at the play place at the mall, at Whit's End, she will crawl through them over and over. So a week or so ago, she was looking at a baby Bible story book and saw the illustration of Jesus in front of the empty tomb. Her caption? "Jesus...In a tunnel!"

It is such a privilege to worship together with our church family, and I really enjoyed celebrating Easter morning with them. After church, we had a yummy ham dinner with Josh's parents, and Lorien received a baby doll as an Easter gift—good practice for her debut as a big sister later this year.

Carrot Cake...yum!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This past week, we’ve enjoyed a visit from Josh’s sister Christy and our nephew Macrae. The last time Lorien and Macrae were together was Christmas, and they are quite a bit more interactive this time than they were then.

It was fun to hang out at the mall (since it was too blustery to take the kids for a walk outside) and take Christy out for lunch on her birthday. My favorite Lorienism of the visit came after they left. After watching Macrae play in the johnny jump up all week, she renamed the contraption the “johnny bouncy mac.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transformational Leadership

Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a church leadership retreat with the staff and session (elders) at First Pres. It was sooooo good. Maybe because the cookies-to-people relationship was pretty hefty. :)

It was a working retreat, the first of two such weekends. We spent the time getting our bearings as a leadership team—discussing our distinctives and strengths as a congregation and identifying areas where we might be a little stuck as a Body.

Two things fascinated me: First in the process of identifying collective strengths, we were asked to break into groups and share pivotal stories from our time at FPC. We moved from there to sharing stories that have become "legend" within the congregation. You know: Those stories that get told over and over and everyone knows them, even if you weren't actually there when the thing happened.

Our facilitator said, "Just watch—even though you are split into three different groups and you won't all hear each other's stories, the same themes will emerge from all of the groups." Sure enough, that's what happened.

The other thing that really caught my attention was the way the facilitator defined "transformational leadership." Some problems, he said, are tactical problems. Change a simple habit or pattern and you solve the problem. Other problems are strategic—those require some change of vision or thinking to solve them.

And then there are the real sticking points—places where you can't seem to break out of a bad pattern no matter how hard you try. And the solution to these was surprising: leadership toward true transformation is about conflict management. You have to either introduce or allow conflict and then manage it as the people work toward resolution. The transformation comes through the process of resolving conflict, either internally or interpersonally.

Wow! That really resonated with me. Maybe because once it was highlighted for me, I could clearly see the principle at work in my own life. Because let's be honest. I am not going to really change anything at a foundational level unless I am so uncomfortable with the way things are that I have no choice but to change.

The process is perhaps messier when the conflict is external, but it's not too hard to see how the same principle applies.

At the next retreat (in May), we'll spend the 1.5 days talking about areas where our congregation needs some transformational leadership.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Jack Sparrow Kind of Day

We recently re-watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I was reminded how much I love the line at the end in which Jack Sparrow says to Will Turner, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.”

Our family has been waiting for an opportune moment for a while now...praying about it diligently for months...and yesterday it came.

Josh’s degree is in film and video production, but with the economic downturn coinciding with his college graduation, he hasn’t had the opportunity to work full time in that field. Instead, he has been working days in executive protection at Focus, and doing video work on the side. But he has always hoped return to the film and video world as his primary work.

Over the years, it has become clear that the people who are making a living in film and video in Colorado Springs are—for the most part—independent contractors. Making the leap from a steady paycheck every two weeks to self-employment was kind of daunting, but we were watching and praying for the opportunity to do so. At times, it seemed like it would never happen. But so many things have fallen into place over the past few weeks: small but important changes in my job that made it feel like I could continue to do it after baby #2 arrives, significant new freelance opportunities for Josh, and the chance for him to pick up some (unrelated) part time work this summer to help ease us through the transition.

The last of these puzzle pieces just fell into place on Thursday. We knew we had about a week to make the decision, but as it turns out, it didn't take that long. By Sunday night, we knew that Josh would be submitting his resignation to Focus on Monday morning. It was good for him to be able to leave under favorable circumstances: no hard feelings, no broken relationships, just the assurance that it’s time to begin a new season.

And so... a new season begins. If you need a good video editor, I happen to know one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Announcement Time

So, we made this announcement to our families back around Valentine's Day, and ever since, we've been telling people in person as we seen them. But I have not yet posted it publicly. I decided after the pictures in the last post that it was becoming obvious, so I better make it official:

In September, Lorien is going to be a...

Big sister!

Due date is September 22nd, so we have lots of good days to aim for: my brother Doug's birthday is 9/23; my Aunt Mary's birthday is 9/30, and Mom Keffer is 10/2. (As thrilled as she would be to have a grandchild born on her birthday, I really am not all that keen on beating my record of six days overdue with Lorien.)

No ultrasound pics yet, but we will post them when we get them. Seems that protocols have changed since Lorien was born, and by refusing the early Down Syndrome test (nuchal fold scan), I was also refusing an early ultrasound. So, we won't have one until 20 weeks. I don't regret refusing that test...just can't wait to get a look at this baby!