Through the Smoke

I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of illusions and how prevalent they are in our society and in our human nature. In the past few years of my life all innocence to the existence of deception and facades has been annihilated. That is not at all an enjoyable thing to experience. The world is a much more pleasant place when all we see is pretty colorful masks.

It seems every time I turn a corner I see and hear about another example of people with deep dark secrets. Secrets that they were able to keep hidden from the people closest to them...spouses, best friends, children.

The church elder who had a secret "sex addiction" and spent his retirement savings on prostitutes without his wife knowing.

The woman who had the illusion of the perfect home, perfect family and perfect life but on the inside was broken and looking for love outside her home.

The same woman who could look her husband and her closest friends in the eyes and most convincingly assure them that she was definitely NOT having an affair with another man. Even the suggestion was an insult to her.

The trusted and respected teacher who molested children when his adoring fans weren't looking.
The father ,admired and respected in his community, violating his own daughter behind the closed doors of his phony life.

The man with two completely separate lives, two separate families...who had no idea that the others existed.

The handsome charming young man with the best voice in the church choir who beneath the mask was wicked and perverse.

I could go on and on. All it takes is watching the news to see people with secret addictions, secret scandals, and secret sexual acts that they managed to hide from everyone who "knew" them.
If someone is determined to hide something they are ashamed of or don't want to be caught in ...they will likely succeed in doing so. Often they do this by making their unreal life seem more real. They polish their mask and they paint their image. They respond with defensiveness, more lies, blame , accusations, and even dramatic displays of hurt...when the reality beneath the farce is ever exposed or suspected.

As humans we want to believe what we see and what we have been told. We trust our eyes. We see neatly painted picked fences, beautifully arranged china tea cups, home baked cookies, smiling faces and "perfect" families. How could anything else more sinister exist behind that image?
How could child abuse exist in a "good Christian family"?
How could a PTA attending soccer mom be secretly addicted to drugs?
How can good and evil be mixed up together in one heart?

When we are deceived by illusion we are prone to be cynical, severe and cruel in our judgement and treatment of others. We obstinately see the world in black and whites. In pretty tea cups served with a smile or in vicious monsters out to destroy. The two worlds never cross. They never mix. People are either completely good or the embodiment of evil.
BUT....the disillusionment which comes from God brings us to the place where we see men and women as they really are. We can look at reality and yet feel no cynicism and we do not have biting bitter things to say. We see people as broken , hurting humans in need of grace and redemption. We see bad choices, entrapment of sin and un-dealt with hurts. We see fallible human beings that struggle with every kind of temptation. We see the same capacity to sin in our own hearts.

So many of life's problems stem from deception and ignorance. When those qualities of deception and ignorance exist in partnership...we are not true to one another in facts...we are only true to the ideas and perceptions we have of one another.

So many times we gasp and exclaim "It can't be...he would NEVER do something like that!" without actually knowing the truth of the situation. We see everyone as either lovely and good , or ugly and villainous. The unfortunate part of that type of categorizing is that so often what we see as good and beautiful is only a mask, an act, and a farce.
Sometimes the bad co -exists with the good and both are reality. "Good"people do bad things and "bad" people do good things.

We sometimes write people off as "dangerous " without ever actually looking past our assumptions to the reality of their lives or who they really are. Without ever walking a mile in their shoes...or ever even looking at their shoes.

As humans we are prone to judge. One thing to remember before we categorize people as either lovely or horrible, villain or victim, is that there is always more going on than we can see. There are always things that we are not aware of, things that have been hidden, or things that we have not taken into account.

If we love a human being but do not allow God to break our illusions, we demand perfection of that person and when we do not get that we become cruel. There is no room for mistakes, for struggles, for unexpected hardships. What is it about our society and our human nature that wants to idolize people and put them on a pedestal?

When people are courageous enough to share their struggles or to unveil their hurts we become bitter self righteous judges. When people keep their struggles, their sin, their shame cloaked in darkness we are more comfortable. We would rather live with pleasant lies than ugly truth.
The only way to face life in the realm of reality is to come to terms with the fact that there is something in human nature that will laugh in the face of every ideal you have. If you stubbornly refuse to agree with the fact that there is something self-seeking, spiteful, and wrong at the heart of human beings (even the ones with the prettiest masks)you will never know people as they really are. You will never see past that mask.
The recognition of human nature and sin does not destroy relationships, it provides the foundation for reality and a relationships based on that foundation.

Even so, it really hurts to learn that what you thought was real is only a land of make believe and the people you love betrayed your trust. There are steps of grief involved when a mask is removed and the person you thought you knew never really existed...not in the same way you saw them before anyway. However that is where real life begins. That is where the hard core stuff of acceptance, decisions, grace, forgiveness and healing happens. With our masks still firmly in place and our heads deeply rooted in sand all that we have is quick judgments, assumptions and fairy tales.

Jesus never trusted in human nature, but he was never cynical or cruel when he came face to face with the ugliness beneath the mask. He trusted absolutely in what HE could do for human nature.

 Adults have no business being innocent to reality. Virtuous, pure and blameless , yes. Head in the sand ignorant , no.  It is a detriment to remain blinded to the reality of sin in the lives of ourselves and people we love.

Deception is an ugly word...but the reality of deception is it is usually made to look lovely and innocent. I don't believe Satan is a pitch fork yielding hideous looking creature...he was an "angel of light". He is now the father of lies and deception. He is the creator of the first mask. His mask is the cloak of harmlessness and innocence. Those who practice deception, those who are unable to speak truth, wear the same cloak. On the surface we see alluring beauty. We see distracting fingers of blame pointed in so many different directions that we miss seeing what is not so deeply hidden.
Lies and masks are like a self preserving smoke machine. The smoke spewed is so thick and continual that ,when we are in the middle of it, we can no longer see what is real and what is illusion. We become unable to see what is going on behind that cloud. The person creating the smoke feels safe and the secrets stay hidden. Slanderous gossip, lies and angry blame are also forms of smoke meant to distract us from reality. Those forms of smoke are particularly stinging ,confusing and damaging. Can we see past that smoke long enough to really find the truth?

Are we living our lives in honesty or are we pasting on our phony smiles and shoving more skeletons in our closets?
Do we share our shame and struggles with those closest to us or do we hide them?
Do we have people in our lives that ask the hard questions, keep us accountable, and redirect us when we stray?
Do we keep our spiritual eyes and discerning minds open to difficult reality or do we prefer comfortable smoke, time worn rhetoric and easy answers?
Are we living real and genuine lives before God and others?

Where people are involved, things will not always be what they seem. The fact is, people hide things they don't want others to see. Ever since Adam and Eve hid in shame from God in the garden of Eden. Ever since a young man murdered his brother and pretended not to know where his brother was.

  Sin and deception go hand in hand.

We cover our dirtiness with masks instead of allowing ourselves to actually be cleansed and forgiven.
People hurt. People disappoint. People fall.
That is why people need a Savior.

This is a bit of Hebrew poetry written by an Ancient King named David. It provides a glimpse of how God feels about deception. This was written before grace came to us, born in a stable, able to redeem even the vilest sinner.

  God never white washes and pretends sin doesn't exist. He is able, however, to remove the darkest stain.

"You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
blood thirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.
But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.
Lead me , O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies -
make straight your way before me.
Not a word from their mouths can be trusted.
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave.
with their tongue they speak deceit.
Declare them guilty o God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name
may rejoice in you.
For surely , oh Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield." Psalms 5:4-12


Baby Cece and dorky kids

Spring time seems to get crazy busy for us. It seems we returned home from Mexico in April, hit the ground running and haven't stopped. Nathanael spent a month and a half worth of long long days in the fields seeding Canola and lentils. At the same time we added a newborn to our home. Between year end school functions, soft ball practices and games, regular trips to the pediatrician (for baby), and just normal everyday life....I feel like I'm barely keeping up some days.

My garden is gorgeous with all the rain we've had this year but the lawn and the weeds are growing so fast that they threaten to turn my yard into a jungle. I suppose I'm doing my part in oxygenating the atmosphere...or if left long enough maybe I will be recognized for my back lawn re-forestation efforts.

I am so proud of my garden this year. I made it bigger and sacrificed even more of my front lawn to accommodate our food production (less mowing and a smaller grocery bill works for me). Next year I'm adding some raised tomato beds in the back yard.

We already have as much lettuce as we can consume. Within the next couple weeks we will have more fresh produce than we will have time to process or eat. I'm sure we'll get it used up somehow. The thought of all the raspberries, peas, and beans that will need to picked almost daily...makes me wonder how it's all going to get done. I think I will be recruiting some big kid help. I don't really mind being out working in my garden. I find it relaxing and peaceful. What I don't find peaceful is the baby wailing in the stroller, the 3 year old pulling out my bean plants trying to help weed, and the hordes of voracious prairie mosquitoes that manage to eat their way through my has-mat suit. It's been a nasty mosquitoes year! Have I ever told you how much I HATE those things. I think they should go extinct.

Here is a sneaky peak of my littlest princess, miss Cece. I am so painfully in love with this little one that it scares me (not that I wasn't head over heals in love with the last babes as well). After over two months of being mommy to this little girl she feels like mine in every way. With a new foster baby the bond takes a little time. A fondness and sympathy for a tiny stranger can develop within minutes but a genuine, ache in your heart when they cry, pick boogers out of their nose, love takes a little longer. There is a very profound shift from feeling like a babysitter to feeling like the mommy. The symptoms come on subtly..the mother bear protectiveness, the slight ache when separated, the urge to smooch and snuggle incessantly...
I admit I now have a bad case of baby love.

Miss Cece is now over 3 months old and is doing great. We have gotten past much of the colic that plagued her newborn stage. I admit, the first evening after I brought her home I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I wondered if I could trade her in for an easier baby the next morning. We made it through and she is now a smiley, cooing , joy to have around.

She is drug free as of this week! Cece has officially graduated from baby rehab. She was born addicted and to ease the ugly symptoms of withdrawal she was prescribed morphine. She was on morphine for 3 months. The length of time the babies are on that depends on how much drug use they were exposed to in utero. I've noticed her really blossom these last couple months as the last of the drugs leave her system. She is developing and interacting at a fairly "normal" rate right now. The specialist expects her to make a full recovery.
Cece is growing like the weeds in my garden, almost visibly bigger everyday. At just over 3 months she is almost 14 lbs and 24 and a half inches long. She is about 85th percentile for both weight and height! I'm so used to the scrawny babies who struggle to stay on the growth chart at all....Silas was only 3rd percentile for weight for most of his babyhood.

She is gorgeous. Maybe I'm a little biased but her wavy, wispy thick black hair, rosy cheeks, and perfect cupids bow lips are about the cutest I've seen. Her slightly exotically shaped eyes are so dark brown that they almost match her hair. She does stand out in our blond as it gets family. We get our share of quizzical looks and comments,especially when I'm out shopping with my two littles. One with almost white hair and one with jet black. Honestly, to me she doesn't seem out of place in the least. To me, she fits completely.
Her cheek fits into the crook of my neck.
Her little chubby body fits snugly in my arms.
Her eyes fix on mine as I feed her. The only thing that reminds me that she did not come from my body is that I cannot experience nursing her. Other than that....
She feels a part of me and a part of our family regardless of her beautifully different DNA.

This is me blissed out, reading a book with a sleeping baby. Normally she naps in her crib but on occasion we indulge each other. I am a big fan of encouraging good independent sleep habits in babies. Solid deep sleep makes for happier babies and saner mommies. Cece is a great napper and has on occasion started sleeping through the night. Now that she doesn't need a midnight dose of morphine (she had it every 6 hrs) the nighttime wake up time will disappear soon. Fingers crossed. We've come a long way from screaming all night. As of this past week, we have tried to have a regular earlier bedtime as well. I am hopeful and excited about the possibility of once again having a couple of evening hours to myself! Exercise, shower, computer, TV, read....oh the things I miss doing alone. The possibilities are thrilling.

Even though I'm not personally a big fan of co-sleeping and baby wearing (I do put her in my Ergo carrier when it's convenient)...I am a huge fan of loads of snuggle , interactive play and rocking chair time. Of course I fill our daily quota of cheek smooches as well.

One of the reasons I am so hopelessly smitten is that I've allowed myself to consider her as a long term part of our family. Of course, with some of my other foster babes I've imagined or fantasized the possibility. This time, we have actually discussed it as a definite possibility with the powers that be (case workers). So far ,there has been absolutely no interest, involvement or visitation from any bio family. The plan is to work toward a permanent family for her. My heart hopes that we can be that. Of course ,there are no guarantees that a relative won't come out of the woodwork and claim her but at this point ,we are it. We are the only ones who want her and love her. To the rest of the world she is just another drug baby. She is a problem and a statistic. I know she is so much more than that.
In every sense of the word, except by DNA, I am her mommy. My husband is her adoring daddy (she is a daddies girl already!) At this point she knows who belongs to her and that includes a shaggy haired 3 year old , a silly faced 6 year old and a doting 9 year old sister.

I try to remind myself that although she feels like my daughter, she isn't. Not yet anyway. Maybe not ever. I'm the only mommy she knows but I still have no legal claim on her.

This picture could be labelled "because kids live here". The boys lined up every toy in the toy box until they made a train that wrapped through the kitchen, living room and down the hall.
I am realizing by my photos just how seldom Roman is actually dressed at home...and how normal that is for us. Is that strange? If it is, I'm ok with that.
We tend to make kids that are a little unusual anyhow. Cute but odd.
Weird but happy being who God made them :) That's the joy of childhood...it lets them get the dorkiness out of their systems.


Color makes me happy

Painting not so much...
But I love a new fresh paint job once it's finished. Our new basement family room! We are loving our gigantic sectional. We have revolutionized family movie time from a broken futon padded with pillows off of our beds...to this. Room for everyone...plus more.
I love this green in my kitchen...the living/dining room is a pale greenish yellow. I'm not into biege or even more horrible, hospital white walls. Our prairie landscape is either white or brown 90% of the year....but my home is a sanctuary of color. Soothing, relaxing, cheerful, inspiring..even bold. I admit that sometimes picking a bold color turns out great...sometimes it back fires. Totally worth a try though. You can always re-paint.
Our new bathroom...I love the Mexican accents.

I think God likes color too...


Church Camp Weekend

Silas and his buddy enjoying camp treats while sharing a lawn chair.
A highlight of this past weekend was definitely the rock climbing wall. Guess who has been obsessing about this wall for the past year? Roman couldn't wait to get geared up and scurry his way to the top.
Silas ...not so much. Actually he was too terrified of the young man with the shaggy hair and black hat to go any where near the harnesses or wall. He watched from a safe distance. Could two boys be any more different?

Aili surprised us all by decided she would give it a try. She swore off climbing after trying it last year. I was proud of her for getting up there again.
Roman went up all the routes he thought were the hardest...even the one with the "lumps". Of course he made it to the top each time without even a moment of hesitation. Scurried would definitely describe how he climbed.

We joined a whole big group of our friends for a weekend of camping at a local kids camp. It is the same camp that my kids will go to for days of parentless fun this summer.

It has been a VERY wet summer. In fact I don't think I've seen this much rain in this usually dry part of the world since the year I got married (1996). The campground has had 18 inches of in the last couple months. It dumped the day before we arrived so it was nice and muddy. The facilities and the main cafeteria/lodge are great though and we spent loads of time sitting, visiting and drinking coffee while the little ones entertained themselves for hours in the nearby beach volley ball pit...turned giant muddy sand box. It was fascinating how one rubber made tote filled with sand toys and trucks kept an army of little ones happy. The sun did come out on Sunday and made for a lovely warm day to enjoy the swimming pool and all the other activities.

The kids went through A LOT of clothing in one weekend. I thought I had over packed but we ended up running out of some essential items. The kids had a blast getting dirty, muddy, wet and running around with all the other kids. Our church group is largely made up of young families. There was quite a big group of us that made it out this year despite the weather... and I think children made up half of the population.

I had a really good weekend despite the mud and the mountains of laundry waiting to be washed when we arrived home. So often our church family is just a bunch of faces we see on Sunday mornings, we shake hands, greet each other and go our separate ways. This weekend is one more way that we make an effort to form deep lasting friendships, share our lives, and offer support and encouragement.
It was even kind of fun to be back in our trailer again. I was a little apprehensive about packing ourselves back into it after living in it for 6 months this past winter. It felt like home in a way though. Silas even asked me part way through the weekend if this was where we lived now. Poor displaced little boy assumes that anywhere we park our trailer is our new home :) I make good gypsy children.
Miss Cece did fantastic sleeping in the trailer too. It was fun to take her on her first camping trip. She is teething though (started at 2 months and has many bottom teeth almost through at 3 months!) and has been a bit fussy lately. She did great all weekend other than one gassy fussy evening....which I'm totally used to by now.
We are loving her to bits though and she is rewarding us with lots of smiles and even some giggles.


The Fathers in my life

We spent this Fathers Day weekend camping with our church family. I'll post more about what a fun weekend we had later. Right now I want to honor the Father's in my life, a day late. :)

I am so proud of my Dad. He has always been a quiet force of strength and stability in the life of his family. I love his strength of character, integrity and the love he has for his children and grandchildren.
I am have been especially proud to call him my dad this year as he has worked tirelessly in Haiti before and after the devastating earthquake. He has also been working hard to bring home their 5th daughter and 6th child....my new Haitian sister. We are all hoping to welcome her to Canada and to our family soon. She is currently living in an orphanage but has known my parents for years, has spent time living with them in Haiti and calls them mama and papa.

In a world where too many men sacrifice their children out of convenience , or personal gain....he has spent his life sacrificing FOR his family. At the same time he has provided an inspiring example of someone who lives life to the full as he strives to grow stronger spiritually, relationally and physically. His "grey hair years" have found him running marathons, competing in canoe races way up north( that last for days or weeks) , adventure races, and triathlons. He can be found running the hill behind his farm in Canada or hiking the mountains of Haiti. He is not afraid of discomfort and is always ready to do what it takes no matter how daunting the task might seem. That holds true both in recreation and in his life.

This picture is my Dad holding his 4th grandson Silas. Your Grandkids love you Dad!
I'm thankful that for (almost) 33 years I've experienced my father's unconditional love and unwavering protection. In the early years I learned the value of firm boundaries, self discipline and perseverance. I am thankful that my father has also been a example of solid faith, authentic integrity, and a life lived genuinely.
His legacy will live on for generations after him.

Happy Fathers Day to my husband. The other Father in my life.
You have a fathers heart and compassion that extends beyond your own children and includes others in need of a fathers love. You have been a dedicated father to your own children as well as a father to the fatherless. You are a combination of playful childlike qualities, firm boundaries and and open approachable relationship with your children. Our children love you and so do I.

You teach our daughter what it means to be loved, respected and valued. A healthy father daughter relationship is so important in the life of a girl. As you encourage and nurture, challenge and guide her ,you help call out in her who God created her to be. You help her discover who she is. With you she learns that she has a voice, how men in her life should treat her, and that she has unlimited potential as a child of God.

You are our kids best playmate. I love how you challenge them to do things that they think they can't do, take them on adventures, laugh with them and have such open communication with them. With you they feel protected and valued.

I took this picture this weekend. I thought it was cute how my hubby was walking Roman back to change out of his soaking wet clothes so they could go to the climbing wall. They had fun playing in the lake. It was cool and rainy so we didn't get out the swimsuits but spontaneity makes life more fun. :)

You encourage our boys to be the best that they can be, to push past barriers of fear and conformity to discover the unique individuals God made them to be. You provide freedom within boundaries, consequences wrapped in grace, and a whole lot of fun along the way. Together our goal is to nurture them into men of strong character, bold integrity and an unquenchable spirit.


Another important aspect of fathering is how a father builds the framework through which a child will later view God. If a father is domineering, impatient and controlling....a child will often grow to view God that same way. A child will emotionally and sometimes physically flinch and twitch around their domineering father and will respond to God the same way. If a father is critical and demeaning...a child will learn that they will need to strive for perfection in order to be loved by God. If a father is manipulative, abusive, and disrespectful.... a child will have a hard time learning to trust...people as well as God. If a father is physically or emotionally disconnected, absent or uninterested....they may grow to see God the same way. The way we parent our kids should represent how God parents us. Grace, truth, unconditional love, firm boundaries, uninhibited joy, enduring patience, freedom to grow and make mistakes, trust, sacrifice and hope should define our parenting. We may have our good days and bad days....but at the end of the day these things (and more) should be a part of the framework of what we strive for.


just for fun

Let me explain why posting pictures of myself is fun. My blog chum Lynnette asked us to post pictures that represent ourselves (and actually are ourselves). Just for kicks.
So here goes. I realized by doing this how often I'm the one behind the camera instead of in front of it.

This is me with my three kidlets and two others that I sponsored in Mexico. I love Mexico and I love kids (at least sometimes)
Another mommy picture. There seems to be a theme.
Yikes! Now thats a mommy picture! I was annoyed that my husband was taking a picture of me in my early morning, severely sleep deprived state. You can't tell by the look on my face can you? I think this picture is funny because it's so real...and because my coffee and laptop made it into the photo. I live a glamorous life.
My family and I looking a little more prepared for a picture.
um..ok. I don't know who that is.

Happy Place. Last spring my husband and I took a very spontaneous (booked on Friday, left on Monday) trip to Puerto Vallarta Mexico. You can see some more pictures here and here. It was the best trip we've ever taken together, childless...not that there have been very many of those. Relaxing all day by the pool....by the beach...eating at taco stands. mmmm. Happy me.


Summer is here!!

Finally...after what seems like endless days of clouds, cold and rain.
Summer arrived.
What better way to celebrate than bringing out the sprinkler.
Really, nothing strikes more hilarity into a child than ice cold water shooting up the backside.

We are loving this weather!


Back yard construction

After many years of begging, our kids finally have an outside play fort! We put up the posts for it a couple summers ago but it wasn't completed until this past weekend. The rainy weather has given the hubby a little extra time for things like building tree houses.

Its really high...well high for a kids play structure anyway (the crows nest floor is 14 feet from the ground!).
In case you are wondering ...that is indeed my sexy sweat pant clad legs and couture foot wear.

The minute the structure was complete they ran to the house to grab some costumes and props.
Roman has a toy guitar slug over one shoulder, a wooden rifle over the other and is wearing some sort of vest. Silas is ready to catch minows or something.

Since my carpenter husband designed and built it I have no doubts as to it's strength and attention to safety (within reasonable limits of still being thrilling and fun)

Aili and Roman spent many hours helping dad on the project. In this picture they are almost finished with the railing. Next came the main ladder and then the crows nest ladder, which covers the lower ladder hole (to keep kids from accidentally falling out.)
I think I'm just as happy about it as the kids are. Probably for different reasons. My happy thoughts tend to wander to countless hours spent with the children entertaining themselves (and probably half the neighborhood) outside. When they whine that they're bored, or want to spend summer vacation lounging in front of the tv I can point to the play fort. As long as they get their imaginations involved there really is no limits to what adventures they will have in this tree-less treehouse.


Darkness to light (shocking stats every parent needs to read)

I am posting on a topic that is not only very taboo but that also stirs up strong emotion in many people, whether shock, anger, horror, guilt, fear, denial or grief. It is something that runs deep through the fabric of our culture as humans. It is an often ignored stain that invades all races, genders, socio-economic status', and religions. There are no social barriers when it comes to child sexual abuse. It is not always an "other side of the tracks" problem. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the issue because there is a generally prevailing ignorance to what it actually is. Among those who know all too well what it is...there is a prevailing shame and fear that prevent people from talking about it. As a society we would rather just not know. Because I am not overly concerned with societal taboos...I will go there.

As foster parents, learning about this topic is something that is mandatory to our training and education. We are front line adults who will at some point care for abused children. When we minister at the children's home in Mexico, we are surrounded by wounded and damaged children.

As parents we are all front line adults. Every parent needs to know what falls under the umbrella of sexual abuse and what to watch for to protect our children. We so often focus on the paranoia of "stranger danger". We teach our kids "not to talk to strangers" etc. but the real danger is often much closer to our home or community. For many years the issue didn't even hit my radar. I didn't know much about it...and didn't want to know.

Now, as a mother,my radar is always on. Anything less is a betrayal to my children's trust. I am not a hyper-vigilant-paranoid person. My kids attend summer camp, go to sleep overs at friends houses and are active in different outside the home activities but I remain alert and aware. My eyes will stay open to the dangers that might be lurking around the corner or the subtle seduction that might be luring my child. As a mother that is a part of my job.

Because I will not always be with them physically, I am vigilant in training my children not to be victims. At their age they know nothing of R rated topics but they know that their bodies belong to them....and no one else. They know they can say no. They know they can tell me anything thats bothering them without anger, judgement, or being dismissed. I try very hard not to cultivate an untrusting, suspicious or fearful spirit in my children (I don't want to scare them) but without them even really being aware of it I am cultivating in them strength.

Some ways of teaching healthy physical boundaries children is respecting their "no's". An example would be in innocent wrestling, tickling, or other playful affection that we do with our children. That is a healthy part of parenting. However, when your child is tired, feeling hurt, or uncomfortable during our play time do we allow them to respectfully say "I've had enough" ....with out more forceful play, guilt or manipulation? I have also never felt right about forcing my children to hug or show affection to people they are not comfortable giving it to. So often parents do because we are embarrassed that they won't kiss great aunt Suzie or sit on uncle Wilfred's lap. I will never force or guilt my children into showing physical affection to anyone. Not because I am suspicious of great aunt Suzie, but because I am teaching my children that their physical boundaries can be respected. They can be respectful and kind....without giving up their own physical comfort zone.

Another way is teaching them by example and our words that secrecy and lying for others is never ok. Never ask your child to cover for you. Never ask your child to "don't tell mom I bought that...or did that" (something like a surprise birthday party is totally different). It gives kids the wrong message and sets them up to be victimized. They learn that secrecy and lying to cover for someone is alright...those are the trade marks of child abuse victim. Victims are methodically taught to lie. That is part of the grooming process.

A perpetrator will spend time building trust, grooming and testing a child's boundaries. They will lure, woo, buy gifts and generally build trust from both the other adults in the childs life ,and the child. They will be whatever people expect them to be in order to fly under the radar. That may mean being an outstanding citizen, being actively involved in a church, quiet and basically unnoticeable, or a clean cut charmer. So often we think of child abuse as a violent incident with an obviously creepy character, rather than an ongoing perverse controlling relationship with a trusted adult. Both happen but the former is much much less prevalent than the latter.

We must teach our children to be assertive and able to say no to something that they are not comfortable with. A perpetrator is looking for a child that is compliant and easily manipulated. If our children have healthy ,strong physical and emotional boundaries, as well as a very trusting open relationship with us and other safe adults they are much less likely to be targeted.

We must be mama bears for our children. The stakes are SO high. Child abuse does not just create bad memories it creates extremely damaged lives. That is not acceptable for my children. No one wants this for their child but I think that not knowing or understanding the issue is where so many parents miss the chance to protect their child.

Children who are abused are at a huge risk for every kind of addictive behavior. They frequently suffer from dysfunction and lack of control in many areas of life from sexuality, to eating and financial habits. It often results in depression, suicide, loss of trust, shame, fear, guilt, unhealthy relationships, and various self destructive behaviors. Children who are victimized are at a much higher risk to re- victimize. That is NOT acceptable for my children. My child being victimized will not only potentially scar and even ruin my child....it can damage many generations beyond my child. That is not ok. Prevention is so important. If the unthinkable does happen, despite our efforts, we need to be our children's best advocates. We need to help them heal in any and every way we can. We need to protect them from future abuse. Sweeping it under the rug, choosing to turn a blind eye or even worse, calling our children liers.....has devastating and traumatic consequences.

Take a quick read through these statistics. They are shocking but so important to dispel some of the myths and assumptions we make about child sexual abuse. I thank God that I was spared this trauma in my own childhood. I was one of the lucky ones. However, because I have dear friends and a few close family members that were victims of abuse, I have seen first hand the damage it causes in individual lives and families...often for generations. My own life has not been untouched by the ripple effects of that sin. The ripple effects are always far reaching.

There is a short video documentary here that is a must see. It is not at all graphic considering the topic. It gives a few peoples stories, how they felt, what the situations where and how they finally brought their secret hurt into the light and found help. It really gives a very eye opening overview of how it can happen to anyone and touch any family. It gives very good insight to us as parents on how we can protect our own children and be advocates for those who have been abused.

These were copied directly from www.darkness2light.org

"The statistics are shocking

  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
  • 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet. (30, 87)
  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under. (76)
  • An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today.(1)
Even within the walls of their own homes, children are at risk for sexual abuse
  • 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member. (2, 44, 76)
  • Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (1, 44)
  • Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.
Sexual abuse can occur at all ages, probably younger than you think
  • The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old. (64)
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8. (76)
  • Nearly 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under 12. (74, 76)
Most children don't tell even if they have been asked
  • Evidence that a child has been sexually abused is not always obvious, and many children do not report that they have been abused.
  • Over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE.
  • Young victims may not recognize their victimization as sexual abuse.
  • Almost 80% initially deny abuse or are tentative in disclosing. Of those who do disclose, approximately 75% disclose accidentally. Additionally, of those who do disclose, more than 20% eventually recant even though the abuse occurred.
  • Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 1% to 4% of all reported cases. Of these reports, 75% are falsely reported by adults and 25% are reported by children. Children only fabricate ½% of the time.

The answers to stopping this plague are responsibility and courage.

By learning the facts. Could you spot an abuser?

By minimizing opportunity. Abusers groom their victims and their families before they act.

By talking about it. Kids don't know they can say no.

By staying alert. Learn how to spot signs of abuse.

By making a plan. Believe the child. Very few reported incidents are false.

By acting on suspicions. Trust your intuition. Ask questions.

By getting involved. This is a huge human challenge that can be impacted by collective power if you know what to do.

Sadly, child abuse is a generational curse. But it can be stopped if we shine a light on the problem and expose it. Abusers depend on our innocence. They hide in plain sight.

Consequences of child sexual abuse begin affecting children and families immediately. They also affect society in innumerable and negative ways. These effects can continue throughout the life of the survivor so the impact on society for just one survivor continues over multiple decades. Try to imagine the impact of 39 million survivors.

  • The way a victim's family responds to abuse plays an important role in how the incident affects the victim.
  • Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who "tell" and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems often lasting into adulthood."

When a child's most basic physical boundary, his own skin, is violated and vandalized....the child learns bounderylessness. Instead of seeing them self as an individual with a sense of control and choice in their life. They see themselves as helpless, dependent, pawns under the manipulation of others. This translates into so many areas of life as they grow. They become stunted adults.
They have trouble distinguishing where they end and others begin, psychologically, emotionally and physically...often leading to problems with control, co-dependency, passivity, being manipulative, lack of self responsibility, not understanding delayed gratification or having healthy internal boundaries and limits. This sets them up for a lifetime of unhealthy social interaction. Unless intensive help and healing is pursued. This sets up future generations to feel the effects. As you can see this is so much more than just some bad childhood memories. However, it isn't a death sentence. I have witnessed victims of abuse not only survive but thrive. It takes a lot of gut wrenching honesty, therapy and work though. I would also suggest that it takes the healing hand of God.

Sexual boundarylessness is prevalent in so many ways in our society even among seemingly upstanding citizens. Whether its promiscuity, "sexual addiction", addiction to pornography, visits to prostitutes, affairs, child molestation, incest or rape. It is the sign of a broken person.

Often this broken person has a secret life that even those closest to them know nothing about. There are so many examples in the media and in people around us.
How are broken souls created.....generally by other broken souls.

As parents we can stop that cycle.


The cause of the fatherless.

This is borrowed from another blog. Such great insight into God's heart for the orphan and the parentless child.

"Caring for orphans reflects the heart of God. From Isaiah’s call to “defend the cause of the fatherless” (1:17) to James’ placement of orphan care at the heart of “pure and undefiled religion” (1:27), the biblical mandate is clear. But this is not merely God’s expectation of us; it is a mirroring of His own character. “He defends the fatherless,” declares Deuteronomy 10:18. Describes the Psalmist, “He places the lonely in families.” To be like our heavenly Father, we’re invited to do the same.

Caring for orphans makes the Gospel visible. At the heart of the Christian story is the God who pursued us when we were destitute and alone. He adopted us as His children, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters. Perhaps nothing makes this truth more tangible than when Christians follow in their Father’s footsteps, opening heart and home in unconditional affection to the child that has no claim upon them but love.

Caring for orphans defies the gods of our age. Darwinism’s sole ethical imperative is to ensure one’s own genetic material carries forward. So like Gideon tearing down his father’s idols (Judges 6), we assault this dictate when we seek to ensure the survival, and thriving, of a child that does not share our genes. Meanwhile, the purposeful sacrifices required to love this child flout the demands of other gods also, from materialism to self-actualization to comfort. The cost must be counted. But—compared to the depth and richness found along the path of caring for orphans—these false gods are shown to be as lifeless and unsatisfying as statues of bronze or wood.

Caring for orphans invites a journey of discipleship. “I see these kids changed,” explained a woman who helps Christians get involved with foster care, “But I think the parents are changed even more.” It’s true. Every family I know that’s opened themselves to parentless children has not gone unaltered. And though the road can be hard, even painful, virtually always it leads closer to Jesus. Expressed one adoptive mom recently, “People have said, ‘Oh, aren’t they lucky, you rescued them from whatever.’ And I think, Are you kidding? I’m the lucky one. I get to be their mom. And I get to be daily rescued from my selfishness, and my impatience, and things that are just as disease-ridden in my soul.”

Amen to that!!

Celebrating 100 years of Hickville!

What better way to celebrate than a parade? If you have never been to a small town parade then this will give you a glimpse of what you're missing. If you have been to a small town parade...this is even smaller. We live in a teeny tiny village with dirt streets and a population of about 100.
The population increased exponentially this weekend as a large centennial celebration/homecoming weekend was planned in conjunction with our annual "sports day".
Hoards of Hickville ex-patriots came to reminisce, reconnect, and honor 100 years of this little farming community. On the Canadian prairie our little village now is a rare one. Most communities like this have become ghost towns and have virtually disappeared over the past few decades. For some reason the population here has stayed steady. Our village and the surrounding farms are made up of many young families. The community is active, thriving and everybody knows everybody. That in itself is a great benefit of small town life....it is also a down side of small town life :)

Whats a parade without a John Deere high clearance sprayer?

The RCMP from the next town came for an appearance. Always impressive to watch them march in their uniforms....even if there are only 2 of them.
Aili (in the green bonnet) rode on the Happy 100th Birthday pioneer float.

Proof that anyone can be in a parade....even skunk people.

My husband helping Silas...I mean Spider boy...through the gravel streets.
Judging by the fuel tanker driving behind him in the parade, probably a good thing.

Local Mennonite Church VBS.
A summer tradition here in Hickville.

A local passion....Roughriders.
Farming equipment...old school.

The bike gang. Roman and Silas and a bunch of their friends road their creatively decorated bikes down the parade route. Roman is a knight on a horse.

After the parade we made our way to the village "Sports Grounds". This is the train that entertained the kids after the parade. It is an annual favorite of both the kids and parents! Otherwise known as the free babysitting service. Plop your kid in this baby and they will be happily entertained for most of the day. As you can see our tiny village is very fertile in more ways than just agriculture.

Back at the parade.....

Silas making sure that none of the candy being thrown goes to waste.
Look out for the stubby floating grain bin girls!

Another sure thing at a small town sports day is food. Home made pie, hamburgers, hotdogs, coffee.....

The day also included horse shows, ball games, various musical events, viewing of a documentary done about our town by NewYork film makers (no joke), meals, and of course the dance (which I was too cheap to get a sitter to attend....also after a day like this the thought of staying up late wasn't that appealing).

Well that was just a taste of our small prairie town culture.