Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Becoming a Person of Color

If you've known me for any length of time...you may have noticed my addiction to wearing black and gray.  Does this speak to a deeper issue (“issues” I should say)? Probably!  There’s certainly always tell-tale signs, isn't there?

In fact...this was such an obvious theme for me that I was caught off-guard when a few years ago at one of my baby showers, all my friends were instructed to wear black to the shower – just to show support for my dearly beloved policy in women’s apparel. 

In a rare moment I didn't show up to the shower in the total black.  The hostess was so surprised! I said, “Really? Everyone was supposed to wear black?”  She said, “Julie!  Honestly!  You ALWAYS wear black!” Somehow that fact had slipped by me.

I reasoned to myself...Black is slimming!  Black is classic!  Black should be the obvious first choice for everything! Every clear-thinking person is aware of this.

Note: As Americans we often avoid using the word “black” in any kind of reference to anything.  But here in Africa “black” is a perfectly fine descriptor – so I can say with confidence I LOVE BLACK (OK...I still feel a bit uneasy admitting this so freely). Just bear with me here.

It wasn’t just my clothes – my house was decorated in black and white. Sure I had some accent colors – but black was the constant, immovable theme.

And then last year I was in the process of shaking off some old and hurtful habits and I thought, “Is it possible to reinvent myself at this point? This life needs an overhaul!”

Don’t get me wrong – I still love black with my whole heart. But I decided then and there to become a Person of Color.

I remember last spring this pink and white dress was my first $20 purchase toward a life change – representing so much more than a change in clothing or home decoration.  

I wanted a physical reminder that even me...who hates changes and holds on to the past with white knuckles...could REALLY CHANGE and to prove it to myself I decided to incorporate COLOR everywhere I could! 

Black still creeps in there, but now (on most days), I do my laundry, paint walls, hold birthday parties and get on the floor with my girls in festive colorful dresses.  

This one may be slightly "bridesmaid" - but why not??

It’s a little “1950’s house wife” I agree...but sometimes you need a serious “Self Intervention” where you confront yourself and conclude the only thing left to do is pull a George Costanza and do the opposite of everything you have ever done – in order to get different results than you’ve always gotten.

So enjoy this photo of tour of color in my life...as I seek to embrace a little less control, a little less pursuit of my own rightness, a little more joy, a little more remembering to stay in THIS moment. 

Speaking of THIS MOMENT...I had the stark realization yesterday there isn’t “more to get to...eventually” – there isn’t more. 

I’ll say it again (mostly to myself) THERE IS NOT MORE. There is just now.  THIS is it.  THIS moment.  THIS conversation with my husband. THIS little girl wanting me to tuck her in and hold her hand. THIS prayer. THIS really is it. THIS is my life. I will embrace it for what it is right now. Not for what it could, should or would be.

This is probably too much information on the minutia of my life so please feel free to scroll to photos (I haven’t told Karl this yet)...but in the spirit of that realization – I am really going to attempt to have a 5 minute conversation with my husband every day that is just a “fun, nothing conversation.”  You know the kind you would have with a boyfriend – where there isn’t any actual point but to enjoy each other’s company (I do love a good point!)...a conversation without logistics (grocery lists, kid schedules, budget questions, or scolding’s etc.)! It’s embarrassing that this is so revolutionary to me. I tried it last night and was reminded again how easily Karl can make me laugh if I just put down my agenda for one tiny second.

My footnote for the day...a  life well lived is creating the harmony between “this must change” and “this must be embraced for what it is.”

Without further ado...

Even in creating my “garden house” – I’ve resisted the temptation to slip back into my old black habits.

Dining Room Bench (recycled wood from pallets) Note: we are thinking about selling these type of pillow covers as part of the Motherhood is Beautiful program - want to buy some??

Entry Hall/Dining Room
(table - recycled wood from pallets) 

Dining Room Hutch
(with South African Designer Fabric bunting - new product??)

Our Bedroom

Our dresser
(recycled pallet dresser)

The Jelly Bean Tree (Jensen and Emme's Room)

The Lollipop Garden (Jensen and Emme's Room)

The yellow stripes (Adi's Room)

I want to be a person of color...shaking off the every day gray and fully embracing the different hues of joy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Karl's Eulogy to His Mom

Guest Blog Post by Karl Ostrand

Read by Karl's close friend Kevin Atkinson at Joan Ostrand's Funeral (March 1st, 2014)...

As I approached the South African customs agent in preparation to board the plane home, I was doing everything I could do to keep it together. I handed her my passport and she asked why I was going home. With tears streaming down my face, I explained that my mother had literally just passed away hours before and I was returning home for the funeral. 

At that moment she stopped and looked straight into my eyes and said son….”You are returning home to celebrate a life.” And thus, as I have learned many things from my African brothers and sisters, I know this to be true…we are here to celebrate a life!

The last family trip we took - went to Great Wolf Lodge (spring of 2014)

On behalf of my father, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends, I thank you for being here to do just that.

In the last week, I have heard so many amazing stories about my mother. With stories come adjectives. Loving, joyful, kind, caring, sincere, thoughtful, willing, trustworthy, steadfast, reflective, knowledgeable, helpful, generous, faithful, encouraging, brave, compassionate, affectionate, amazing….the list could go on and on.

As I’ve thought about what stands out to me about my mom, it was her love. The definition of love says… “an intense feeling of deep affection”

Mom and Karl (Christmas 2014)

It was this feeling of love for family and friends that has touched us all. She would do anything to show you her love. In the same respect, to show you her love, meant she wanted to share with you her most prized possession. And that possession was her eternal faith in Jesus Christ. It’s what motivated her in life and compels me in her death. 

If she was standing here today and I asked her, “Mom, what do you think of your funeral?  Without a doubt she would say, “I want the love and power of Jesus to be known.” Everything else would come a distant second to that request.

My dad and I were reading a journal she was keeping which demonstrates her love and faith in Jesus. As she battled the evils of cancer, she wrote these words…

I miss my mom with words I cannot express but I also rest in the peace and assurance that she is sitting at the right hand of God.

So mom, rest assured that nobody will leave your funeral without hearing about your prized possession…the love of Jesus that exists for everyone here!

I love you mom!

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Karl going with his mom to chemo (summer 2014)