Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.
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Location: Oregon

The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Hunt

Plastic eggs dotted the thick grassy patch near our home. Yellow, blue, and purple mixed in with the lush green. We lined the kids up on the sidewalk and gave Kiki and her little friend, Ryan, a head start on the hunt.

“On your mark. Get set.…Go!”

Karly and Ryan’s older brother, Kyle, flew past the younger ones without looking back. They were focused—eggs, candy, eggs, MORE candy!!

Karly raced toward the lamppost, climbed under bushes, and pushed back leaves, quickly filling her white basket with color.

Kiki picked up a pink egg and grinned, holding it up to me.

“Good job,” I said before egging (smile) her on. This was a hunt, after all. A race for more. “Get another one. Go. Go.”

By now, Karly had already plucked up ten...or maybe fifteen. Kyle’s basket was loaded too.

Clutching her pink egg in one hand, Kiki meandered through the grass until she saw another egg. Orange. She reached down, picked it up, and presented it to me with a smile.

“Great job, Kik. Now put it in the basket so we can get another one.”

She pulled the egg to her chest and hugged it. “No!”

Karly bolted past us like lightening. There weren’t going to be many eggs left.

I pleaded with her. “C’mon, Kiki. Don’t you want some more eggs?”

She held out her two eggs, gazing down at them like they were precious jewels. Then she kissed them. “No.”

“But, honey, you’re supposed to put them into the basket so we can get some more… (more, more, more).”

What was I doing to my kid? Why did she really need a basketful of eggs? Here she was happy. Satisfied. Completely pleased with her find. I was the one breeding discontent, begging her to want more.

A local church recently did a sermon series on the idols we often worship unaware. Two of them were the idol of instant gratification and the idol of consumerism (always wanting more).

Ouch! Here I was pressing these idols (you can never have enough Easter Eggs!) onto my almost two-year-old without even thinking.

Instead of pushing her forward again, I knelt down and gave her a giant hug. Then we admired her two plastic eggs. She was so proud! And I was proud of her. She’d done great, and she stopped when she had enough--one for each hand.

Besides, who really needs more than two plastic eggs?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mein Berliner Freund

Every time I walked by the old Berlin Wall, I wanted to talk to a woman who’d lived through it and listen to her stories of growing up in Communism. What was it like to be a child in East Berlin? Go to school? What did she know about the world? Did she want to get out?

While our flat was in the former East Berlin (and we were surrounded by East Germans), no one I met spoke English—the GDR government required students to take Russian in school instead of English. The few German words I can mispronounce would hardly start a friendship. And my Russian…

We left Germany blessed with wonderful new friends from the former West Berlin as well as from around the world. But I’d REALLY wanted to befriend someone from the former East as well. I was disappointed, but what could I do?

Jump forward a few months and here we are in Southern California. I’m at a park a mile or so from our home and Karly decides to borrow sand toys from a little boy three days older than her. The boy’s mom and I start talking. When I lean down to say something to the child, his mother says,

“He speaks German.”

“Really. Vas es du namen?”

“Johnny. You know German?”

“Very little. We just moved here from Berlin.”

“I’m from Berlin,” she says.

“Where in Berlin?”

“The East side.”


So we start talking about the great city that was divided for fifty years. Our five months living there. Her years growing up. The wall came down when she was ten, but she remembers. She tells me that people have no idea what life was like in East Berlin—and most people don’t care.

Our conversation was interrupted by our kids—and the darkness that had settled over the park. Time to go home.

But it turns out we live in the same neighborhood, one street away, so we met back at the playground a few nights last week. The kids play. We talk. I love it.

I had to move from Berlin to California to meet a former East Berliner who speaks fluent English. And now a wonderful new friend. A small world? Maybe. A God plan? I think so.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Changing the World

We went to lunch this weekend with my dear friend, Brenda, and Mitch, a friend I haven’t seen in ten years. A quiet lunch between friends...and our two beautiful girls.

Our youngest daughter is the perfect lunch date. Kiki isn’t quite two yet she sits sweetly at the table, smiling as she listens to everyone talk. She’s content eating and enjoying the conversation, exuding (as Mitch put it) peace and tranquility.

But Karly…Karly doesn’t have a tranquil bone in her energetic body. Never has. She couldn’t even wait to get to the hospital to be born, arriving in the world five minutes after her birthmother went into labor, ready to get a jumpstart on life.

Karly is all about life. She seizes it. Embraces it. Not a moment passes untouched by my almost three-year-old. A wonderful thing…until Mommy and Daddy want to catch up with a friend.

Minutes after our arrival at lunch, Karly was building a tower with chopsticks, counting (and then crushing) her rice cakes, bouncing on her seat, and laughing hysterically at Mitch’s jokes. I was praying the waiter was rushing our order—especially after a half-eaten apple was launched across the restaurant’s hardwood floor.

By the time our food came, my end of the conversation had turned shotgun—firing off bullets of information while I snatched flailing silverware, sponged up yet another spill, and apologized for Karly swiping one of Mitch’s mushrooms, licking it, and politely returning it to his plate. (Don’t you want to have lunch with us??)

We crammed ten years worth of info into ten minutes, and as we were preparing to leave, Mitch smiled and said our children were a joy (how nice is that?). Then he turned to Karly and said, “And this one. This one is going to change the world.”

You see, Karly isn’t (always) trying to be bad. She’s so full of joy that she leaves a piece of it where ever she goes. Most people don’t forget my daughter after they meet her (how could they?). Her grin makes everyone else smile. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her hunger for life inspiring.

It’s impossible for Karly to leave a place unchanged.

Before we left the restaurant, I scrambled to clean up the mound of crumbs and chopsticks and juice boxes under her chair. When I looked up, she had wrapped her arms around Brenda, giving her a huge hug and then a kiss.

I love the way she loves other people. I envy the way she paints every minute with vibrant color. And I’m all for her changing the world.

But sometimes I wish she could wait to change it until after I eat my lunch.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jesse's King

My friends lost their five-year-old son to a brain tumor this week. I can't even describe how much my heart aches for them.

Why would God take a sweet child so soon? I don't know the answer, but I do know that this boy is wrapped in Jesus' safe arms on his final journey home.

For Jesse:

The King, My King is coming
He’s just around the bend
A trumpet song proclaims
The arrival of my friend

Jumping high, I crane my neck
Shout the news that it’s today
Drummers beat a steady march
A royal band parades our way

The King, My King is nearing
The choir starts to sing
Cymbals crash, bugles blast
Melodic church bells ring

The crowd cheers, I know he’s close
In seconds I will see
If his horses and white chariot
Will stop in front of me

The King, My King is smiling
Reaching down, he takes my hand
Then whispers that he loves me
In voice both soft and grand

Underneath his simple crown
His eyes are turquoise blue
With gentle arms, he hugs me
My child, I’ve come for you

The King, My King is leaving
Kind sir, I’d like to ride
He nods, I kiss my family
He holds me by his side

The crowd divides, our horses race
Suddenly the faint wind roars
Up rocky hills we gallop
Over mountaintops we soar

My King and I are sailing
Past curled clouds we fly
Until I glimpse his castle
Shimmering silver in the sky

The chariot turns, and I feel sad
For those I’ve left behind
Don’t cry, I’ll see you soon
In a world where there’s no time

The King, My King is singing
About Heaven’s glorious state
On starry wings we glide
Through a wall of pearled gates

Angels dance on golden streams
Rubies glitter across a lake
In honor of the King
Rainbowed flower gardens wake

The King, My King is waving
Another soul needs a guide
It’s not goodbye, he tells me
He’ll never leave my side

Light soothes away all sadness
Glory shining from His throne
Thank you, dear King, for loving me
Finally, I’m home

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Kiki Picking Strawberries, Karly's First Pony Ride