It's that time of year

It's harvest time again.  Actually it's been harvest time for about 6 weeks now.  
Other years I've been more involved and had many lovely pictures to share. 
This year my hands are full at home and I've been too lazy to venture out to the fields to capture the process on camera.  

Cece and I did go on a little field trip one morning a couple weeks ago.  It was fun to go for a ride in the combine with Daddy and have her all to ourselves.  Just Mom, Dad, and our little farm girl.  She soaked it up.  

I snapped a few pics on my phone which is why they are such poor quality.  You get the jist of it though.

Daddy's girl. 

This fall has brought some changes to our family dynamic.  For the first time ever I have three children in public school.  My oldest is still homeschooling but the boys all get on the bus.

I wish I could tell you I'm all torn up about it.
I'm honestly trying not to sound giddy.
Bottom line is it's working out very well for all involved.  Change always involves some hard choices and a bunch of self doubt, but now that we're committed I couldn't be happier with the arrangement.  The only form of education we're loyal too is doing what we think is best for each child, each year.  Next year we will reevaluate and take it from there.

One huge down side of not homeschooling everyone is a loss of freedom to travel.
In years to come we may decide public school cramps our style too much...but for now the scales have leaned in it's favor.

6 wks into harvest time and I'm about ready to see the end of it.  The kids are missing their Daddy and I'm missing having a husband.  Such is farm life though.  

After my last post candidly describing how it feels to say goodbye to a foster baby I want to briefly update you on how the Lord is working.  Obviously I can't say anything about the situation itself but I can say that I have felt a complete and astonishing amount of peace since then.  Thankyou for praying dear friends.  I can't explain this strange sense of serenity any other way.  It defies circumstance and my own depth of loss...it makes no logical sense at all.  I have absolute confidence that God is good, He loves this little girl, and he's got this.  I can totally rest in that..even when we say goodbye. 


when the brave face cracks.

When the kids are finally in bed and the house is quiet.

I can stop pretending and assuring.
I can stop being brave and strong for them.

All I am then is wrecked.

All day I try to patch the breached damn with platitudes, positive perspectives, and head knowledge, but at night it bursts.   The torrents rush out.  The brave face crumbles.

During the day I can recite for you all the reasons why I am supportive of first families and long for redemption, healing, and reunification for foster kids. I preach to myself the gospel of sacrifice and of a God who is good and sovereign.  I can tell you of a Father who knows each hair on her head, and who sees even a sparrow fall.  I know there is a bigger story being written and I play only a small role.  I am aware that this is all part of the gritty world of foster parenting.  In my head I know these things.  Even in my heart they are deeply rooted.  I know this child is not legally or biologically mine. I have no delusions regarding that fact.

In a previous post I said "I'll let you know when that day comes" regarding how it feels to let go of a dearly loved foster baby, a baby who so seamlessly became a part of our family, who was as sweet as she could be, and who we though might someday be legally our daughter.

I'm not sure if words can adequately describe how it feels but this is my attempt.  Full disclosure and brutal honesty.

Torment.  Anguish.  Torture.

These are words that come to mind. Maybe that sounds like a heavy dose of hyperbole but if it is then, at this moment, I'm living in that exaggerated state.

It feels like being told that you must give away your baby.  A baby you can't even bear to leave with a babysitter without that maternal longing to return her to your arms.  You must give her to strangers and simply walk away.  You must do what is absolutely unnatural for a mother to do.  You wonder if they will know how to comfort her when she cries, or if they know that she is ticklish under her ears.  You wonder how she will spend her days.  You wonder if she will be safe, if she will be well loved.

It feels like being told your baby will die shortly after he is born.  The death of a dream.  The expectation of horror. Knowing you will have to figure out how to let go after such a short time, and walk away with aching empty arms.  You wonder how you will continue to breathe.

It feels like looking up at an ultrasound screen and seeing a silent heart.  A sudden awareness of all you will miss and all the experiences that will never be.

It feels like staring into the perfect face of a sleeping baby and suddenly realizing that you won't see her first teeth come in, or see those adorable toothy smiles. You won't be there to watch her learn to crawl, or take her first steps, or say her first words.  For the first time in your life you wish you could have the privilege of potty training or scrubbing her art work off of the walls.

It feels like staring into an empty cradle where a baby once slept.

It feels like being pushed under a wave and tumbling around in water.  You struggle to find footing, and you forget which way is up.  Your chest burns and your head aches, craving something that is essential but elusive.

Of course, in my head I know that this is all part of the "job".  This is what we signed up for.  We knew we would fill a role for however long a child needed us. I knew it would be hard because we've done this before.

I prepped myself and our kids as much as possible before our placement, with the reminder that '"this will be temporary".

This case was a bit different than we expected though, it blew out of the water all my best laid heart preparation.  Of course I can't explain details here but the week we first met this baby girl, back when she was a tiny 4 lb preemie in the NICU,  and heard some of the details of her case I told my husband this:

"This is either a perfect situation for God to bring another child into our family or it's a perfect storm"   

I knew there would be no protecting my heart with this one.

I remember that moment of stomach dropping fear knowing the storm that could come and choosing to walk into it, while at the same time praying that this cup would be taken.

My "this is only temporary" resolve crumbled when I saw a fragile little girl laying alone in a hospital room filled with other tiny babies being doted on by Mommies and Daddies.  She slept quietly in a hospital bassinet in the back of a room filled with babies being taught how to nurse, and receiving skin to skin "kangaroo care".  She was like a little Roo without a Kanga.  I knew then that I could be that Mama to her.  I have been.  For 5 months she has been nestled and carried next to my heart in a "baby wrap".  There was simply a vacancy that needed to be filled.

When you see me in person I should warn you that I will be wearing my brave face. It isn't very thick or strong, and it may crack on occasion but I will do my best to keep it in place. When I see you I will hold back the torrent, and I will stifle the wail.  My spirit will be keening as a mother losing a child but I will pretend I don't hear it.  Simply because I must. Please forgive me if I avoid eye contact, and make meaningless small talk. This is me boarding up the windows and surviving the screaming wind and pounding rain.

There is no rest for the weary other than in the One who is my Sabbath.
That is where I will find my joy and comfort, even when my feet keep moving, my hands keep reaching, my heart keeps breaking, and my spirit keeps trusting.

I will continue undaunted,
simply because there is more life to live.

It's not about me. I'm not the point.

There are more babies lying alone and there are more children forgotten.

The paradox of fostering.  It hurts like the pit of hell, and yet you know you would do it all again.

Soli Deo Gloria,


In the Dust

I expected to get a phone call this week.  It came this morning.

In my heart I knew what was coming, but yet I still held onto the glimmer of hope that somehow my fierce love and sheer strength of will would be enough to change what might happen.

We are beginning the "transition" of Baby Violet into her new home.  We are actually very thankful for a sensitive, competent, and kind case worker who understands that fostering involves real families, actual children, and real grief.  I am thankful for our five months with her.  I will always treasure the days that I got to be her Mommy.  We trust that God is good and that He goes ahead of her and goes with her.  Even though I feel like my heart is being gauged out with a spoon, I do have a sense of peace.  This isn't an unjust, or horrible move...it's what is supposed to happen.  That doesn't change the reality that we really love this little girl and will miss her terribly.

I don't have many words right now to process the emotions.
Right now I'm just trying to inhale and exhale.

Today also happens to be Elijah's 8th birthday....which is feeling less than festive at the moment.  I need to put on my brave face and not let the sadness overwhelm what is a happy celebration.  The timing isn't super awesome.

Thankyou for following along on our journey through foster parenting and for praying for our family as we feel the full depth of what we are called to.  This will hit some of my kids hard I'm afraid, please pray for their tender hearts.

I suspect I will find my words eventually, but for now I'm just resting in the One who doesn't need words to know my heart, and I can use the words of others to excavate Truth.

"In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship." Carl Trueman

There is a time to weep.  There is a time to wear the sackcloth, lay down in the ashes, and to just let brokenness be what it is. Even when we have to keep putting one foot in front of the other...and decorate a birthday cake.

"Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need"


Summer Summary

I have definitely not been good at keeping up with this little blog.  So much good intention, so little time and brain function to accomplish it. After posting so little for so long it's hard to even know where to begin.  It feels a bit overwhelming to jump back in.  I really want to capture our memories though...because goodness knows this is the only place my memories are safe.  My sleep deprived brain is leaky.

This is our summer at a glance.
Over all it was a cool, wet summer.  Everything is so unusually lush and green on the Prairie this year.  The mosquitoes and weeds in my yard particularly loved the damp weather.  We did get a few weeks of summer weather before our first frost hit a few days ago.  I'm hoping for an extra nice fall.  I'm so very not ready for the cold to return.

We prefer the summer.   

Cece was my little berry picker.  Our raspberry bushes produced a decent little crop this year.  

We did some camping with friends...in the cold and rain.

                                                               Note the winter hat and coats in June.

Some backyard play time. 

We camped with friends at Cypress Hills.  It was wet and cold..but pretty.

we celebrated being Canadian.

We celebrated 11 years of Roman.

My sister in law Brook and her son came up from Seattle for a few weeks again this year. 
We went to Arlington Beach Family camp as one huge family of 10. 

                                                                 I turned 37.
                                I really did think that getting old would take longer than it has.

We celebrated Baby Violet's three month birthday,

and her fourth.
When a future with her is uncertain and time is precious we are reminded to celebrate the little things in life,

like our daughter officially becoming a teen.

and no she didn't know what that was on the front of her shirt...

Aili will soon be taller than me.
Kids growing up also happened a lot faster than I thought it would.

Speaking of growing up.
Look at this big kid on his way to school!
This picture makes my heart skip a beat. 
Only a couple years ago he was merely existing, classified as bed-ridden, and hidden away alone in an institution.  
Here he is standing tall all on his own, a big smile on his face and getting an education.
Parenting this boy has it's share of challenges but when I stop to see how far he's come it puts all those small irritations into perspective.  Little by little his heart is healing and he is gaining confidence and security.  A year ago he never would have tolerated leaving my side and being taken away on a school bus.  It would have been sheer terror for him.  Now he trusts and understands so much more. It's been a big step for him but he's doing really well.  I'm excited for him. 

We are now in the middle of Harvest season on the farm...aka single parenting season.  I keep thinking "next season" will be slower....but I'm starting to realize that with six kids there is no "not busy" season.  There's just a fluctuation between hectic busy and chaotic busy.

It's good busy though.
I love my life.

Soli Deo Gloria, 


A letter to my baby Girl.

I referred to you as mine in the title of this letter.

When push comes to shove you are not actually mine.
I have no claim on you legal or otherwise, but you will always be my baby girl.

Although you fit so beautifully and peacefully in my arms you did not come from my body.
Although you soothe at the sound of my voice and are nurtured by my hands, I am not your mother. We share no blood or DNA.

It's true,

but it's also true that a love that bleeds is stronger than just blood.

As the Mama who has had the great privilege of loving you for these 114 days and nights (and hopes to for many more), I want you to know a few things.

You are loved.  Regardless of what the future holds, or where this life takes you, we love you. Always.We will be here for you. I will see you in every black eyed little girl I come across. As the years go by I will glance at each passing face for one that looks familiar.

I pray for you. So far, we have given you four months filled with kisses, snuggles and care.  In the years to come, should you leave our home, we will love you from a distance and we will pray for you each time you come to mind. We may not be able to see you, but He always will.

As much as we love you, God loves you even more. You are not an accident, and you were not a mistake.You were intricately and beautifully designed for a purpose. Your very existence testifies to God's glory and goodness. I am amazed at the work of his hands when I look you, and watch your sweet smile.

You are beautiful. Maybe I'm biased but you happen to be one of the most gorgeous babies I have ever seen. I have spent hours just staring at you as you sleep in my arms. Your big dark chocolate eyes captivate me. I suspect that you will be told that you are pretty by many people in your life. Someday you will learn that there is both power and peril in physical beauty.  What I want you to know is that your beauty is so much more than skin deep.  It will resonate from your joy, your kindness, your strength, and your compassion. In my heart I have given you a name that means "gracious and merciful", and another name that means "light".  I pray that your life would be marked by those qualities.

You are precious. Regardless of how your life began, or where your life will take you, remember this. You have value. You are a treasure. Don't allow anyone try to take that from you.

We will fight for you.  While you are in our home we have committed to protecting you and seeking out your best interest but ultimately we have very little say in what your future will be or where you will go. Should we ever discover that you are not being loved well, and if you end up with no one who will protect you, we will do everything within our power to change that. Whether you are 3 years old, or 13, or 30, you have a Mom and a Dad who love you fiercely.

No matter what.

Love always,
your Foster Mommy


My 2 cents on the Driscoll fiasco.

update disclaimer: Below are my thoughts on the subject as of a specific date, given the limited information I had. As the situations changes and more is brought to light my opinions on the matter change as well.  

My blog has been crickets and cobwebs this summer.

There have been many times I feel like sitting down to write but it has been so far down on the To-Do list that it hasn't actually made it on the To-Do list at all.  It's a busy season right now but I'm hoping  I'll be able to visit my little corner of the internet more often this fall.

So, what has compelled me to set aside my piles of laundry, let my garden sit, and prop my kids in front of the TV?

The latest Mark Driscoll controversy that has lit up the Inter-web.

I feel I need to lay my cards on the table and wear my heart on my sleeve for a minute.  Not because I want to ride this sick wave of rubber necking Christians, or join the ranks of people who think that their opinion on the matter actually matters...
or because I think you want to read another blog post on the topic.

In reality the whole things seems ridiculously insignificant compared to what is actually happening around the world.   Christians are being slaughtered in Iraq and Syria and yet a pastor using some profane language 14 years ago lights up the media and spurs the Church to collective outrage?
The silliness of that gives me a headache.

I'm mostly writing for me (I process through my keyboard),
and for those who might wonder or assume.

I'm heart broken over the whole thing, but yet I have a whole lot of peace and confidence.
This is why.

There is nothing shocking, scandalous, or nonredeemable happening here.  All I have to do is look in the mirror to know that we are all saved by grace and will continue to wage war on our sin nature until the day we die. Mark Driscoll is no different.  Sin shouldn't shock us, although we are saddened by it.

 There is no one worthy of our worship other than Jesus himself.  What we idolize we will also grow to demonize.  Neither is appropriate for a Christian.

Jesus promises to build his church and he will.  Come hell, high water...or a quick tempered Pastor who had some bad days.

In case you have been completely unplugged or are out of the Christian culture loop.  Acts 29, which is a interdenominational church planting network (founded by Mark Driscoll and now led by Matt Chandler and a group of others) has removed Mars Hill church from the network because of some issues with Mark Driscoll. The letter from Acts 29 to the leadership of Mars Hill was leaked into blog-sphere and a media frenzy resulted.  It has since been addressed on the Acts 29 web site.

I have confidence that the leadership of Acts 29 has much more information that I do and is doing what needs to be done.  I also know that this decision was made with an enormous weight of grief, a ton of prayer, a lot of deliberation, and an unwavering love for Pastor Mark and our brothers and sisters of Mars Hill church.  This decision also highlights one of the things that I love about the Acts 29 network.  They take high standards of leadership and integrity extremely seriously.  They can't be bought with public opinion, celebrity status, or a check book.

I love Mars Hill church and I know without a doubt that they will weather this storm and come out the other side refined.   This church is far more than one pastor.  It is made of up many congregations, pastors, and gospel communities living on mission with one another.  It is made up of people who love Jesus and love his Church.  They serve their communities, proclaim the gospel, have solid doctrine, don't compromise what the Bible says, and reach people that historically the church has overlooked...for God's glory and the good of their cities.  There is so much ridiculously awful untrue slander being perpetuated on both secular and "christian" media.  I have attended a couple different Mars Hill churches and have close family who are very involved and who's lives have been completely transformed by the love, discipleship, and careful nurture of the people of Mars Hill.  It's a family and we felt welcomed into that family...even if only as visitors and online extended family.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Driscoll for the truth he has spoken into my (and my husbands) life.  We began podcasting his messages a few years ago.  We were floundering and wilting in so many ways.  We were malnourished sheep.  I was absolutely blown away when I first started listening to his sermons.  It was like a bucket of fresh water to a parched and dry soul.  It was like drinking from the fire hose when I was used to squeezing water from a damp sponge.  His courageous preaching of the gospel, and gift for teaching the Bible spurred on my faith and spiritual growth like few others have.  Light bulbs went on as I heard my first bits of reformed theology, and for the first time in my life began to dive into the depths of the gospel and apply it to my life. The missing pieces started coming together in my head and heart. I honestly don't know where my family would be, or where my marriage would be without that timely nourishment.

Because of that growth and hunger for deeper teaching and genuine community, we began searching for a church to plug into. We had heard about Acts 29 and really liked what we had witnessed, the model of ministry, and the missional focus of it's churches.  Out of curiosity I typed "Saskatchewan" into the Acts 29 web site church search.  I was surprised to find a new small church plant about an hour and a half from our home.  We decided to go get a taste of it and see what God was doing there although we had no intentions of commuting that far to be a part of a new church family.  In one week we were hooked.  After knowing so much chaos in church and ministry...we were very refreshed to find something healthy.

We absolutely love our church and our pastors. We have a great fondess and respect for the Acts 29 network and it's leader Matt Chandler.  Three years ago my church community, Grace Fellowship, filled the first couple rows of the theater we rent.  Since then we have steadily grown, are busting at the seams for space, and are now sending out our first church plant.  With all the change ahead I know there will be growing pains and adjustments.  Church is messy sometimes, simply because people are.

  Over the years, as I have listened to his sermons via podcast, I have heard Mark Driscoll's love for Jesus and the church and his burden for the lost and hurting. I noticed a gradual softening in tone. Over the years the young intense prophet became much more like a gentle father. I've never heard a preacher be so honest about his own struggles and repent from the pulpit as much as I've heard it from him. He is a gifted preacher and a brilliant Bible teacher. He has a unique charisma and boldness that is a refreshing contrast against our PC culture. As his notoriety and numbers have grown he has carried an increasingly enormous burden of scrutiny and temptation, as well as administrative stress. It's a heavy load. In this age of technology I don't envy pastors. Everyone feels the need to dissect every word and action with a fine tooth comb, and then tweet, blog, and comment their vitriol laced opinions.  So much of what spreads on the internet is complete garbage.

 I have little interest in the details of every offense and knowing every mistake that he has made.  I have no desire at all to scan FB groups and websites looking for juicy morsels of gossip.

 From what I can tell, there are some major structural and policy changes that need to happen.

Beyond that, it appears that there is some repentance and reconciliation that needs to occur.

None of that...not a bit of it is my cause to crusade for.

I am not his judge and jury.
There are many faithful elders who are biblically holding him to account, and I trust that what needs to happen will happen...even if that involves a season of intense pruning and chastisement.

I refuse to join the pitch fork brigade and the giddy lynch mob made up of everyone from bitter liberal feminist bloggers, to ultra-fundamentalist pharisees, to a watching world looking for any reason at all to justify their hatred of the Church.  That is what breaks my heart the most.

Church, put down your stones...and instead get on your knees in humility.  Not one of us is beyond falling into the traps of control and pride.  How many of us would fair any better?

Enough of the crazy accusations and smug celebrations.  It's nauseating to witness from the very people who claim God's grace. 

I ache for the Driscoll family, for Mark, Grace and the kids.  Regardless of both the very legitimate and perceived offenses this is a difficult season for them. The wounds of a friend sting deeply...even if they are inflicted in love and truth.

I can't imagine the weight of stress that is involved when you stand in front of a firing squad of public opinion and have your sins laid out before a gawking world.  I know what it's like to have a few people slander me. It's a horrible feeling.  I cannot imagine how awful it would feel if thousands of strangers did so on a regular basis.

I have nothing but sympathy, prayers, and hope for the people of Mars Hill.
I have nothing but the deepest respect for the leadership of Acts 29, for Matt Chandler and the others.

This is not a feud.

It's a heartbreaking decision made by people who love Pastor Mark and ultimately desire restoration, but who are unwilling to compromise biblical standards and deep conviction.

It's brothers who have stood at the pulpit together, prayed for each other, and worked together on a common mission for years. This is one of those occurrences of tough love, strong leadership, holding others accountable, and telling the truth even when it's inconvenient and painful to do so.

I am unwilling to stand in judgement over the decision that was made merely because it doesn't actually involve me personally, and I'm not in a position to know the gritty details. I can trust that those who are involved are doing the best they can to work through this.

What I can do is pray.

I'm confident and feel peace about it all because I know God has this.  He is will continue to work through flawed servants like he always has. He will take our great heaping piles of manure (that are rather effectively hitting the fan this week) and use it to grow a bountiful crop for his glory and our good.

That's just my 2 cents.

Soli Deo Gloria,
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