Monday, January 31, 2011

Pure Joy


Watching this little boy conduct his heart out - and with such phenomenal artistry and enthusiasm - has brought me pure joy today. I don't know who he is, but what a blast to play in his orchestra someday. Enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cousins are For Keeps!

One of life's funnest blessings has to cousins. I have a lot of them and they are some of my favorite people in the world! I want to tell you about my cousin, Jenny. Our boys call her "Cousin Jenny" and they actually know her better than any of their own aunts, uncles, or cousins.

(Jenny is on the far right - I'm so lucky to be related to all of these awesome women!)

When we moved to the DC area from Germany four years ago, Jenny was the one who met us at our hotel (all jet-lagged and lolly - us, not her!) and hosted our first night's experience living in America after six years overseas. First stop: dinner at Taco Bell. Main menu: a night driving tour of the Nation's Capital. Soundtrack: Local radio Christmas music. (It was December 1st, after all.) The experience was so dream-like and all the monuments and architecture and iconic buildings so larger-than-life in my memory. It was so hard to believe that just the day before we'd been in our little farming village with cows, a tractor path, and windmills behind our house, surrounded by neighbors who spoke little to no English. Suddenly there we were looking at the White House, hearing familiar Christmas songs in English, and best by far, we were with JENNY!

Now if you know Jenny Reeder, it won't surprise you one bit that she was able to do this - drive all over DC at night (with two kiddos in carseats in the back) and be able to tell us the names of each building and monument - after only having lived in the area for four months herself! This is pretty much the essence of what Jenny is all about - diving headlong into life's experiences (without plugging her nose first, like I do) and making it as meaningful of an experience for as many people as she can take with her along the way. And then reveling in the memories (or at least laughing about it), taking life's lessons learned and gratitude for the little things along with her to the next adventure.

Jenny has been this way for as long as I can remember - I think she came that way - and I have always looked up to her and taken strength from her example to have courage to do new, hard things and love it. She just makes life fun!

This past October we had to say good-bye as our family left Northern Virginia for California. I can not say enough how much Jenny made those four years something special for me. I thank the Lord that He gave us that window of our lives together and what a comfort it was to have her so close.

Less than three weeks after we said good-bye, I got a call from my mom that Jenny was in the hospital having a blood transfusion and that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia. Shocked doesn't even come close to describing it. We were at our new house with the movers unloading boxes and wanting to know which rooms to put them in when I got the news, and I couldn't even see straight. I didn't care anymore what went where. Jenny. She was all I could think about.

I am thrilled to report that through the weeks of treatments, tests, transfusions, (and trauma I can't even imagine) Jenny has beaten the leukemia! The trials are far from over, though, as she has two years ahead of her of continued chemotherapy treatments. She has pulled through this in amazing Jenny-like fashion of facing it with courage, faith, humor, and hope. She's keeping a wonderful blog that will have you laughing, crying, and feeling inspired all at the same time. I love that she titled her blog "Tender Mercies" long before this chapter in her life came along, as a way to recognize and remember the beautiful things that happen in an otherwise overwhelming, difficult world. I love reading about the tender mercies she is being blessed with along this part of her journey, as it certainly strengthens my faith as well.

To help Jenny make a dent in her medical bills, some friends of hers have organized a "We Love Jenny" Auction that will be held on Valentine's Day. Along with many other cool, beautiful, and fun items/services that have already been donated, I am donating three of my "A Time to Love" violin CDs to the auction! Jenny and I share the same musical heritage that began with our Great-Grandad, and she also plays the violin. "Meditation from Thais" is one that she played with Grandad as well, so this recording belongs to her, too!

Go to the We Love Jenny auction blog for instructions on how to bid on February 14th. Feel free to pass it on to your friends or post the button on your blog; there's a lot of cool stuff there to bid on already! And all the proceeds go straight to Jenny. If you already know her, of course you love her - and after reading through her blog, the rest of you will, too!