Category Archives: Family

Kisses from God- Part 1, In which we both become blithering Idiots

Last week we took our second trip to Alaska in two years. We had such an amazing time on the first trip we just had to go back to share it with our kids. Amongst everything going on there were a few little incidents that were kisses from God. You know, those events or moments that weren’t by any means necessary but tap you on the shoulder as being put there by a loving Father to remind you of His love. Yeah, we had several. The most spectacular one was for Brian. I mean, we were all thrilled, but it was definitely put in place to touch Brian’s heart.

Brian has a thing for whales; for years he wanted to go whale watching. In fact, that was what prompted us to take our first Alaskan cruise: his desire to see whales in the wild. That first trip we had a beautiful time hanging out in a cove with one mama whale and her baby, watching them repeatedly bubble feed. This time was different. It took a while to find the whales, but when we did, there six of them. Six! One showed up just as we were leaving to wave its tale at us as we drove away in the fishing boat we had hired, but the other five swam around, spouting and showing off their tails. (The photo above is one of these whales when it was positioned just right in relation to the sun and us to make a beautiful spectrum appear as it spouted.) I didn’t know until later that Brian felt like, as awesome as the experience was, it was a little incomplete because we didn’t get to see bubble feeding. But God knew.

After a lovely lunch of freshly caught fish and chips sitting on a restaurant deck overlooking the water, Brian and Amanda decided to take a walk on the rocky beach below before heading back to the ship, and Adam and I opted to stay on the deck enjoying the cool breeze. I was enjoying the view, thinking back on the morning’s adventure, when I noticed something strange in the water. There was a ripple. A huge, circular ripple, not more than 30 or 40 feet off the shore. My first thought was that it looked like bubble feeding, but it obviously wasn’t, since it was so close to shore. I kept watching and noticed the ripple was intensifying, and finally saw a huge bubble along the ripple, and realized it was in fact a whale about to have lunch.

At this point 3 conversations broke out in my head. Conversation #1 was with Brian and Amanda. It was “Hey, guys, look! There’s bubble feeding just a few yards off shore right in front of you!” The second was with Adam: “Hey, look, Adam! Down there by where your dad and sister are standing. See that ring in the water? That’s bubble feeding. If you watch, you will see a whale burst up through the center of it grabbing a giant mouthful of fish!” The third was with myself: “I can’t believe there’s bubble feeding so close to shore, but there’s no other explanation. You need to pick up the camera, turn it on, and get the settings right. You need to hurry; there are just a few seconds before it’s too late.” Yes, I had all those thoughts, all at once, as the world seemed to switch to slow motion. In the heat of the moment, though, all I was able to say, while reaching for my camera with my right hand, pointing with my left hand, and pushing my wheelchair out of the way with my foot, was “Look look look look look!” Not very erudite, but it was effective. Not only did Adam manage to look just in time to see the whale above water, but 100-200 of my closest friends/total strangers heard and ran (yes, RAN) to the railing to see whatever it was that was causing the crazy old lady in the wheelchair to freak out.

Brian and Amanda had a front row seat (to everything except my freak-out). The whale surfaced directly in front of them. Not up the shore a ways, but directly in front of them. What I didn’t know until later was that Brian noticed the bubbles right away, and knew Amanda might not notice since she hadn’t experienced bubble feeding before. Being the good dad he is he wanted to say “Look, daughter. See that ring of bubbles? That might be bubble feeding. Watch closely and we might see a whale.” Instead, he pointed and said, “Bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles!” Once again, not eloquent, but effective! Amanda looked in time to see the whole event unfold right in front of her. After that the whale swam along the shore a ways, gave us a wave of his tail, and was gone.

The whole family knew this was for Brian. It was God saying, “I know what moves your heart, son. I’m here. I love you.” Like I said, it wasn’t a necessary part of the trip. None of us prayed for it, or was even looking for it (before the babbling started, at least), but what a beautiful token of affection we were given that day! God is faithful and really knows how to throw a party!


Brian and Amanda, pointing excitedly as the whale swims away.


Brian and Amanda (lower left) watching as the whale waves good-bye

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Filed under Family, God Stuff, God's Love and Mercy, Photography

Brian, Scholar Extraordinaire

Please join me  in celebrating the latest Beattie college graduate, Brian!

Yes, it’s true. My beloved has completed college, and with a GPA of 4.0! Although he made a huge push the last 2 years to make this happen, it’s a journey that started over 30 years ago. He graduated from high school with high grades (graduating 15th in a class of 435 students) and dreamed of going to college, but the money just wasn’t there. Instead, he signed up for the Air Force, being assigned a job as a computer operator. He excelled at that (of course!) and ended up getting assigned as a programmer, writing a program that was used internationally by the Air Force. During this time he took college classes as he was able, and CLEP’ed out of a few other classes.

In 1983 he completed his commitment to the Air Force and got a job  working as a programmer. Now that he was financially stable, we got married and moved to the desert where his new job was. At first he wouldn’t take classes, because he felt bad making a commitment to anything that would interfere with us spending time together, but I encouraged him to go for it, knowing how much it meant to him.

Over the next couple years he took just a class a semester in order to not have his classes be a burden to me (although I wouldn’t have minded). When Amanda was born he took some time off from school in order to be able to with the family as much as possible, but he finally started back, one class at a time. It didn’t take long before he gave it up, not being comfortable not being fully available to his family. I felt bad about it, but he would have it no other way, wanting to be the best, most available husband and father he could be.

Through the years the subject came up now and then, but he refused to entertain the idea of going back to college, feeling the cost to the rest of us would be too high.  During those years money went for our kids to take dance classes, piano lessons, play little league, take gymnastics, and be homeschooled, but no college for Brian. Then it went to put both kids through Bible college. A couple years ago when God miraculously provided money for Brian to return to college, he fought it for a while, knowing there was much good that could be done for others with that money, but I finally convinced him it was his turn.

For the two years since then, Brian continued to work his full-time, high-responsibility job, and spent just about every free minute working on being a full-time student. I razzed him a little about it once, and he said, “I did NOT go back to school to not get A’s!” It’s impossible to not love a heart like that! He held on to that through the whole program, in spite of some dud classes and a couple dud professors.

But, don’t get the idea that Brian turned over a new leaf and started looking out for himself instead of his family. His sacrifice continued right up to the end. After three decades of working on his degree, wouldn’t you know that his graduation was scheduled for the same weekend as our son’s. In typical Brian- fashion, Brian chose to make the trip to Kansas City for Adam’s graduation rather than attend his own. So while his classmates were celebrated in front of hundreds a month ago, he will be celebrated tonight with just me.

Oh, and just so you know, there’s another thing that hasn’t changed in all these years. He’s still class clown…

 

 

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Adam Dances!

Yes, it’s true. Although he doesn’t talk about it much these days, Adam took dance lessons for a few years when he was a kid. I think he was about four or five when he started. (He also played the piano for a few years, but you didn’t hear that from me!) I guess being around dance studios and recitals from the time he was a toddler finally got to him.

I still remember the day I signed him up for classes. I walked into the studio and told Ms. Gloria Adam wanted to take dance classes. She turned to him and said, “So you want to learn to dance, do you?” to which he replied,”But Ms. Gloria, I already know how to dance!” She in turn asked him what kind of dance he did. He replied, “Wacky dancing!” then set about proving it. Ms. Gloria and I agreed that his dancing was, in fact, wacky.

Adam soon realized there was a great perk to being the only boy in the studio, namely, he was the center of attention for every dance he was in. His first year he was the teddy bear in “Teddy Bear Parade”. I won’t show you the photo of him in that costume, because I’d really like it if he was still talking to me after I post this! It was either the first or second year he also starred in the production number “Boy from New York City”. Doo wop, doo wop, doo doo dity. There’s something unbearably appealing about a preschooler in a suit and fedora! The dance started with the little girls in the class in a chorus line on stage, and as the music started Adam strutted in from stage right. As he stepped out from behind the wing curtain the crowded auditorium went nuts, with people applauding and cheering at his macho cuteness. He really was quite the dude! Be honest, now; wouldn’t you cheer for this strutting across the stage:

During his dance career, he had happy feet. I remember walking through  Sam’s Club with him tapping his way up and down the aisles. When we switched studios, the new studio required everyone that took classes to include at least one class of clogging, so that got folded into the repertoire. Yes, that’s right. Adam Beattie has appeared on stage wearing a sparkly cowboy shirt and clogging his little heart out. He also wore a shiny black suit to tap to “Men in Black”, and red lycra pants to dance to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, among others.

As he got older he decided to end his dance career, concerned that his baseball teammates wouldn’t quite get it, or let him live it down. While I was sad to see it end, I understood, too. Kids can be pretty rotten to each other with very little provocation. But, while he was involved in dance, he was really good, so my guess is it’s still in there somewhere, just waiting for a chance to be released and flourish once again. Maybe I should let someone in charge at Forerunner Arts know if they need a tap dancer, he’s their man… Or maybe not. Like I said, I’d really like it if he continued to like me… 🙂

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Adam the Superhero

Take a good look at this photo. It’s one of the last photos you’ll see of Adam in a button-up shirt.  It was taken on the Fourth of July in Houston, as we were waiting for the fireworks to start. Sometime in the following couple of years he went on revolt and refused to wear anything but Tshirts, except on the rare occasion when it was required, such as for a costume. It didn’t matter how hard we tried to convince him, he only wanted Tshirts. When he was older I asked him why he didn’t like button-up shirts, and he informed me they were too much work; Tshirts were easier. It wasn’t until he was 17, though, that the truth came out.

He had been working at Subway for a while, a job that required he wear a polo shirt with (gasp!) three buttons. He put up with it, I think because the buttons were nothing compared to the stench of cheap bread and pickles the shirts always carried. Through a woman at church he heard of a Christian bookstore that was hiring, so he applied after work one day. He got the job on the spot, in spite of the fact that he showed up in his Subway uniform, complete with stinky pickle essence! The one drawback to the new job? He had to wear a button-up shirt and tie. Adam made the wise decision that the job was worth it, so we made a quick trip to Kohl’s to buy a couple of shirts and ties.

He looked SO sharp on his first day of the new job! When he came home from the job, though, he was wearing a Tshirt. I didn’t think too much of it until it happened every day. I asked him what was up and he confessed that he was wearing a Tshirt under his work shirt and tie every day, and would pull the business wear off as soon as he got in his car. (You have to understand these weren’t your typical underwear type Tshirts; these were normal wear-on-the-outside kinds of Tshirts. And it was Tulsa, in the summer!) He informed me that the Tshirt was necessary, because it protected him from the shirt buttons. “Because, you know Mom, shirt buttons are my cryptonite!” and with that his secret identity was revealed; he is, in fact, Captain Tshirt. I offered to make him a cape, but he had seen “The Incredibles” and knew that capes are SO last century, so turned down my offer.

Although he doesn’t generally speak of it (because he’s humble like that) he is still Captain Tshirt. His feats of heroism remain a secret well kept, but I have no doubt but what they are amazing indeed.

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Adam The Brainiac

If you’ve ever met Adam it goes without saying, but just in case, I’ll say it anyway; Adam is super-smart. From the time he was very little he had a knack for figuring things out. OK, so it was usually how to get into something he wasn’t supposed to, but still…

One of his early brainiac conquests came when he was five. We had just made the decision to be a homeschooling family, so were in the process of bringing “smart” things into the house. For some reason I don’t remember, this included getting a wall map of the world. I put it on the kitchen table, then covered it with a clear plastic tablecloth so meals would be educational. (It’s a homeschool thing…) Adam immediately took an interest in the map, asking what the names of various countries were. Within just a few days he had many of the countries in Africa memorized, and requested a map to go on his bedroom wall. Of course I said yes! In less than two months he had a contribution to  make for our homeschool group’s Young Scholars’ Night. We brought in a world map and he successfully pointed out and named all of the countries in Africa and South America, in front of a room full of total strangers!

The next year a friend introduced our family to the awesome world of AWANA. It’s a sort of Bible version of a scouting program, where kids memorize Bible verses and such to earn badges, buttons, and “jewels”. By the time we heard about AWANA a couple months of the school year were gone, but Adam enjoyed it so much we let him join anyway, knowing he was a little behind. He was in the Cubbie category of the club, being the preschool/kindergarten branch of the organization. Since he would be in first grade the next year this would be his only year to earn Cubbie badges. Not wanting to miss out on any awards, Adam worked extra hard and memorized all the verses in the first book, did the repeat of the book required before going on to the next one, did the same in the next book, and went on to go all the way through the final Cubbie book. What normally takes two full years to accomplish (which is a ton of memorization) Adam got through in less than one! Here he is after the Awards Night at the end of the year, wearing his Cubbie vest, holding his completed books, certificate of merit, and behind him is the ribbon he got for completing his level. He was SO proud that night!

Adam’s brain caused a lot of pain, too. There was the time he was about four or five and he started a theological discussion by asking, “Mom, God loves everybody, right?”

“That’s right, Adam.”

“And God hates evil, right?”

“That’s right.”

“So does God love the devil?”

<stunned silence>

After much head-scratching, stammering, and trying desperately to come up with something wise to say (and hoping it would be truth) I hit upon the perfect answer: “Let’s call Grandpa and ask him!” Funny thing is, Grandpa, who has been teaching adult Sunday School since shortly after Noah built the ark, had exactly the same reaction I did! A few years later when we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Oregon Adam chose to sit in on Grandpa’s class with his dad rather than go to a children’s class. Adam’s super brain confounded the masses as Grandpa asked questions of the class based on previous weeks’ lessons, and Adam was ALWAYS the first one (sometimes only one) to raise his hand, always with the correct response. Grandpa and his class of retired ladies were quite impressed!

When you stop to think this is where Adam started his career as a scholar, is it really any surprise that he graduated Bible college with honors? I don’t think so either…

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The Natural

Adam has always loved sports. And I mean loved! Anything that even vaguely resembled sports would grab his attention. When he was 2 1/2 we took him to see his first professional baseball game. Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Rangers, and even at his young age, Adam knew this was a big deal. I have no idea how he knew it; he just did. Being a young, single income family, we got cheap seats in the outfield. It was something like, “See that little speck way over there, honey? Not that one! The one by himself in the middle. That’s Nolan Ryan.” Adam was spellbound through the whole game, loving every minute of it. Well, except the interruptions in the game to run to the men’s room. Being in the process of being potty trained, he had the normal little kid fascination with public restrooms. (And yes, Adam, I do know that’s TMI. But I had to be honest, right?)

We were stunned the next day to learn just how much Adam had gotten out of the game the night before. While the normal toddler throws a ball using only their forearm and hand, we found Adam in the backyard mimicking an actual pitchers movements! He had an appropriate wind-up instead of the exaggerated cartoon-style wind-up toddlers usually have, as well as a follow-through. I grabbed my camera and snagged a couple of snapshots. They’re bad quality, but they do show his amazing technique.

This love of baseball led him to a Little league career that started in T-ball and lasted until sometime in high school. As a 4-year-old, Adam had such a reputation as a power hitter the coach for the other team would make his outfielders go deeper into the outfield because there was no question but what that ball way taking a long trip! Later, he had seasons when he played first base, outfielder, pitcher, and catcher. It was playing catcher that really stuck, as I recall.  As far as I know, baseball is still top of his list of pastimes: so much so that he even asked us if we wanted to delay our trip home so we could go see a baseball game with him! Old habits die hard, I guess… 🙂

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Stone Soup Babies

It’s common knowledge that there are many children who have no permanent home and no “forever family”. Worldwide the estimates are in the millions. In the United States, numbers run upwards of 100,000. Like many Christians, I want to be part of the solution for these little ones, but have found it a daunting task to figure out how to help. The need is so big, and what we are equipped to do seems so small. While costs vary widely, the average range for an adoption in the U.S. is about $20,000-$40,000.

In the last week, I witnessed a financial “miracle” which enabled a family to do an emergency adoption. There was no wealthy benefactor that paid for the adoption; there were 182 heroes. These people gave anywhere from $5-$1200, with about half of them giving less than $30. All together, it was enough to fully ransom this little life, saving him from a life potentially spent in foster homes. Watching the Facebook updates posted by the amazing Tracie Loux over the course of a week, and seeing just how quickly we all could find money when properly motivated was amazing. (Click to visit Tracie’s personal blog here , and click here to see her adoption blog, where you can find information on newborns needing familes.)

All this got me thinking. Sure, $40,000 is a ton of money, but if we all consistently did a small part, we could make a major difference. For instance, the community at the Intertnational House of Prayer in Kansas City is made up of about 4000 people. This  includes IHOP-KC staff, IHOPU students, and FCF congregants. Sure, the missionaries don’t have piles of money, and the students don’t either. But, I’m guessing nearly everyone would find an extra $10 a month to throw in the adoption pot. Do you realize, if all 4000 of us gave $10 a month that would be $40,000, or one adoption a month fully paid for? When you add in the fact that some adoptions are closer to $20,000, just this one community could fully fund anywhere from 12-24 adoptions a year!

I realize that when you’re living on a tight budget even $10 can be a stretch, but think of it this way: The following are all about $10. Make one of these sacrifices in your monthly budget, and you could be part of a couple dozen kids having homes this year.

Things that cost about $10

a trip to Chipotle
two trips to Starbucks
a movie ticket
a sale price pizza
an everyday Tshirt
a cheap seat at a Royals (or other team) game
a car wash (with wax)
1/3 of getting highlights in your hair
1/2 a pedicure

Things $10 is less than

a  CD
 a bargain video game
a cheap haircut
a DVD
a trip to the zoo
a monthly gym membership
a shirt from American Eagle

So, what do you say? Can you spare a pizza to give a kid a home?

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Filed under adoption, Family, God Stuff, God's Love and Mercy, God's Wisdom, IHOP-KC, pro-life, Social Justice