Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tooth Fairy

So, I had a tooth pulled yesterday, and I commented to my girls (Noah is at Calvin Crest for the week) that I was going to leave it under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy. I didn't, but when I got into bed last night there was a quarter under my pillow. Josie had left it for me :-)
I love my kids!

Friday, June 22, 2007

What a Friend I've Found

by Delirious

What a friend I've found

Closer than a brother

I have felt Your touch
More Intimate than lovers

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Friend forever

What a friend I've found
More faithful than a mother
It would break my heart
To ever lose each other

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Friend forever

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nothing Is Worth More Than This Day

On June 19th, 1988, I was saved from defeat, lies, darkness, hopelessness, abandonment, loneliness, despair, death. I came to life.
A friend invited me to Hume Lake Christian Camp, but because my mother was a semi single mother who worked as a waitress, camp wasn't financially possible (I mean we got the free cheese- those of you who got free cheese know what I'm talking about). Then a week before camp, the same friend who had invited me, called and said a girl canceled, the church had to pay for her spot, an they wanted me to go in it.
I can't say I wanted to go to a Christian camp. If there was a God, I had a question for Him- "why did you give me this life, I didn't do anything to deserve it."
From birth my dad had rejected me, and over the years has made it clear that I am not his daughter (My dad was a drug user for 27 years, until he was arrested in 1998, and found to be mentally ill. A paranoid schizophrenic, he now lives in a state hospital). A weekend visit to my grandparents at the age of 3, turned into a 3 year stay, as my mother decided she couldn't care for my younger sister and I. After returning to my mothers at the age of 6, she continued to "look for love in all the wrong places," married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, engaged, separated, married, divorced, married. I've had 7 dads. No one stayed. No one loved me and stayed. No one gave up their life for me and stayed. No one said I was enough, beautiful, lovable, wanted... everything they did said I was anything but these things.
And so I went to camp, desperately wanting a week break from it all.
It was amazing! Games and activities, being part of a team, 3 meals a day, singing, beautiful mountains, people pouring into me... It felt that I had really breathed and lived for the first time in my then 14 years of life.
That week the speaker , Steve Russo, spoke about how "God is a father who will never leave you or forsake you," he said. "that nothing can separate us from the love of God." (tears- It still gets me). I needed that. So, I took my first steps to my Father, while singing "Oh Lord, take my life as an offering, let it be molded by your own hands, fill me with your spirit and your grace to quench a thirsty land, thank you for always being near even after I've done you wrong, Father please use my frail life now for when I am weak I am strong." And He breathed new life into me, and He called me daughter, and He promised to love me, and never go. 19 years later I can say that "His love is better than life." And I have one question for Him, "Why did you give me this life, I did nothing to deserve it."

Thank You! To all of you who serve in the camping ministries, every part of what you do is important. Thank you to those of you who pay for kids to go to camp, and for those who pay for kids who can't pay for themselves. Your saving lives.
Check out some of the fabulous camps in our back yard-
Calvin Crest
Summit Adventure
*Camp Oakhurst
*Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp
Sugar Pine

* camps my husband and I have worked at

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness." Anne Lammott

"The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." C.S. Lewis

This is Holly, or Mama Holly as my family lovingly refers to her.

Holly and I met in 1994. We were acquainted through Young Life (she was on the committee, Michael and I were leaders), and through the preschool her children (Nicole and Taylor) attended, which I taught at. And that was it, we were just acquaintances.

In the summer of 95' I had been living with a friend who I love, but some people just shouldn't live together :-). I prayed one summer Sunday that God would provide me with another home. The next Tuesday Holly approached me and said, "I have been praying for someone to come live with us, and you came to mind. I want you to come live with us." The following Sunday I moved in. After moving in I met her hubby Dan and their almost 16yr old daughter Erika (I mention this because I think it is kinda crazy that I had never met Dan or Erika before this- I should also mention that God provided another roommate for my friend).

In hindsight I see that God was meeting a need for me. I was a 21 year old girl, almost engaged, and desperately in need of a mother. I needed a mom to hear and see my hurts, then walk me through them. I needed someone to show me what loving your children first looked like, what staying looked like, what making a house a home looked like. I needed a mom to tell me I was more, and could be more, and would be more. Holly did this everyday. She does this everyday. She adopted me as her daughter, made her family my family, makes my family her family, and even after 12 years, she is committed to me, as if I am her very own... (tears), I feel as if I am. She is my God- Mommy.

Holly is always smiling, even when knocked down, she is smiling. She laughs at herself, and doesn't take herself too seriously. She is always hoping. She is always learning. She is passionate, she is compassionate, generous, considerate, and tender. She lovingly wants people to know the Way, Truth, and Life. She takes Jesus and people seriously.

Monday, June 11, 2007

5 more weeks

In 5 weeks I will be going to the Flores, Azores. So here is a little Denise history- I was privileged to be raised by my grandparents, Antonio & Josefina Teodosio (Yes, my Josie is named after her great grandma, or "Vava" which we call her), from the age of 3-6. My mother realized she couldn't care for us, and decided that my dad's parents could provide a home for us. My Grandparents (and Dad) are from Flores, Azores ( an island in the Atlantic Ocean off of Portugal). Their story and how they made a home here is amazing, and I will share it over the next few weeks. Their constant love and care for me has shaped my life. God was generous in writing them into my life. But first I'll tell you that my grandmother is a talented crocheter and knitter, and that over the last 33 years she has crocheted and knitted into me the Portuguese language, foods, smells, festivities, and stories of Flores. I have seen many pictures of Flores, and imagined myself in every one. I have spoken to relatives with hopes of meeting them, I have dreamt of seeing the hot springs, hills covered in hydrangeas, the soccer field where my young grandfather played "futball," the cliffs he dove off of, the fields they worked, and so much more. We have had many discussions about "when we go," but because of circumstances have never had the opportunity to go, till now. I will be traveling with my grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, and my daughter Emilie. I am overwhelmed! Because in a way I am going home, to a place I have never been, but have always known. Is there any where you've been waiting to go? Is there anyone who has woven your heritage into your life?

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Yes, they bug be- literally! I get into bed and this is what I see.

On other nights I pull back the duvet, and there waiting for me are bugs, snakes, and occasionally small dinosaurs. Last night in the middle of sleep-ville, while nestling into my pillow- bugs under my pillow!! I often assume that it is Noah who does this, but it is usually Josie. She takes delight in making mommy jump! :-)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Eat This Book

I am currently reading Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson.

He says- "we put one foot in front of the other as we follow Jesus, and in order to know who he is, where he is goin, and how to walk in his steps, we reach for a book, the book, and read it...these words are to be taken in, tasted, chewed, savored, swallowed, and digested...the word gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism, justice in Jesus' name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the son."

This is a little of what I ate today- II Corinthians 6:11-13, The Message

I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but your living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

In the NIV, the final verse says "Open wide your hearts."

Hmmmm, I know that I need to open wide my heart. I need to consume the Word, so the Word can consume me. I long to live in the wide open spacious life everyday!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

God has been very generous to me in the friends He has given me. From time to time I am going to highlight one of these gifts (friends).

This is Kelli Ramsay! AAhhhhh I LOVE HER!
I met Kelli in 1994 at Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp, where (my boyfriend at the time) Michael was working. She moved here in 95, and we were fast friends.

In Henri Nowen's book Reaching Out, he describes our friendship beautifully..
"When I look at you it is as if I am in the presence of Christ... It is the Christ in you who recognizes the Christ in me...Yes, He indeed is in our midst.. and from now on, wherever you go, or I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground."

I praise God that He wrote her for my life. It is freeing to have a friend with whom I do not have to be any more or less than I am when I am with her. We listen, encourage, understand, give grace, mercy, room to grow, pray, dream, cry, fight for each other, laugh, hope. When I am with Kelli it is as if I have been near God, and I come away reminded of who I am.

Kelli currently works for Summit Adventure, and is preparing to go on the mission field with PIONEERS. Kelli's heart is people, and loving them to Jesus.