5/31/10

My Circus




Staring Roman the Monkey boy and his trusty side Kick Silas. In this hallway are 4 doorways. Roman monkey's his way around to all of them without touching the ground using his toes and fingertips. I think I should get this kid to a climbing wall!
He aspires to be a break dancer, not that he's ever had a dance lesson. This music loving boy loves to dance, to move, and to contort his body in all sorts of strange positions. I may have too look into something sort of gymnastics or dance lessons next winter...if we aren't in Mexico. He would love it!




Roman is a boy with various unusual talents. One of his most recent interests is constructing. It has only been recently that his attention to detail and his fine motor skills caught up to his creativity. He now designs and creates the most fantastic..um..."things" with Bionicles, Legos, wood (yes his daddy gave him a drill, hammer, and a saw one afternoon). Actually he can create something with just about anything including a stack of garbage (which I now can't throw away because it will eventually be a "go-cart").


The detail and symmetry in his Bionicle "ships" are amazing. They even have moving parts that fold up. I can barely figure out how to attach two of the pieces together never mind build anything spectacular. I am always surprised at the precise symmetry of his creations. Not a piece out of place.


He looks a little stoned in this picture. Still cute...but burnt out. This is how he comes home from school everyday. Completely spent. He then disappears into his room to get lost in his imagination for a while. We have learned he needs to have some decompression time from his school day.


This is also how he unwinds and spends the rest of the evening. Upside-down. Usually in very little clothing. Free of every sort of conformity. Every since he was a toddler he has decompressed, processed his day, and de-stressed up side down. We may have to start calling him Mork.




He decided to add some balancing difficulty with the couch cushion...or maybe his head was getting sore. Either way...he just gets up there and stays that way...until little brother knocks him over and makes him mad. Making his big brother mad is one of Silas' unique talents.
The last several posts have been on the deep and heavy end of the scale. I am now going to purposefully position my thoughts (and posts) back toward the fun, "enjoying -my -very- blessed- life- to- pieces"..side of the scale.
Sometimes the deep and heavy topics are warranted. That is where my heart has been . That is the season we find ourselves in. In this season God is taking me to knew wonderful heights and depths of faith that I would not experience without the trials. I record them here to mark where I have been and to remember what God has taught me (I forget far too quickly).
At the same time life goes on. I have SO much life, love and laughter to enjoy. I have 3 healthy thriving kids. I have a beautiful little foster baby...who I am soaking up every moment of. I have a husband whom I love and who loves me. I have a big old family that knows me and has my back. I am a forgiven, blessed and cherished daughter of the King. I am so thankful for those things. I feel so thankful.



Today, I'm particularly thankful for this very agile and unique gift from God.





5/28/10

A Call to Anguish - David Wilkerson

Anguish. I now have a word for it. It's not a word we hear very often..especially in this context.
I came across this message, and although cheesy music and open displays of emotion usually make me queezy, this impacted me.
Mr. Wilkerson put into words the things that I've been wrestling with. Intimate union with the Spirit of God brings a mysterious dichotomy of both inexplicable joy and heart breaking agony. Even more mysterious is that joy is born in agony.

That realization struck me because, I now have a name for it.


I have been reading and studying in the book of Nehemiah on and off for about a year now. For some reason God has been bringing me back to that somewhat obscure book of the Bible.


Years ago I sincerely prayed that my heart would be broken by the things that break God's heart. I not only prayed it, I yearned for it.


Little did I know what it was like to go through life with a broken heart. In God's heart there is no apathy, ignorance or arrogant disdain. His is a heart of passion. Not reckless or given to fits and starts..... but steady and unchanging passion.




God's heart anguishes over the child who sleeps in the streets of a slum...fighting off the cold and gnawing hunger by sniffing chemicals.


God's heart anguishes over broken families. People who are supposed to love, forgive and protect each other ... consuming, biting and abandoning one another.


God's heart anguishes over the child who is abused and discarded. The child who doesn't know where his next bed will be or if anyone will ever love him.


God's heart breaks over greed, over sin, over injustice, over cruelty...
Enough that he came to redeem us out of our own mess. So often we think of the cross as merely physical. The nails piercing his hands. I think they pierced his heart even more.


How can we take the name of Christ and not also be broken over those things?


How can we sit in our comfy pews, sing our songs, and then go home unchanged by the Holy Spirit? It's so easy to put up our facades, paste on our smiles, paint our walls and on the inside be dead. A pretty painted tomb.


Satan wants nothing more than to make us impotent Christians. To make us apathetic, non confrontational , "I don't want to get involved" , or just plain too busy...kind of people.


When surrounded by ruin (close to home or much further away) do we feel God's agony over it? Not destructive worry, aimless concern, or bitter hostility..... but grief straight from the heart of God.


"You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace."
Nehemiah 2:17


The boundaries of Jerusalem had been destroyed. It's people were in danger. Nehemiah knew that this was not what God intended Jerusalem to be. Instead of a glorious city it was a heap of rubble.

Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed before God.
He didn't get ticked off or offended about the situation and then assume it was from God.
First came the agony and the love. Out of that came the calling and the action. He didn't have to be involved. He had a successful stress free life without caring about Jerusalem. It was the Isrealites own fault after all...hadn't they been warned? Hadn't they silenced the prophets? They had brought ruin on themselves, but still God grieved.

Nehemiah faced opposition, intimidation and ridicule because he knew what God's heart was for Jerusalem. Agony.


"Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."


Love the orphaned. Be a voice for the voiceless. Fight for the oppressed. Pick up that first brick and begin to build.


.....but first seek the heart of God.






(disclaimer: I happen to like kick butt awesome music in church :). The bigger picture Mr. Wilkerson is trying to paint brought me to my knees. )





Champion Juicer give away





I have never had a juicer but I think it would be really fun to have one. I realize that by saying that my definition of fun may be quite different than yours.
I get excited about finding ways to consume and utilize all the free food that is going to pop up in my garden this summer. I also think its fun to find ways to keep my kids as healthy and loaded up with disease fighting nutrition as possible. Having a strong healthy body.....well that's a good way to enjoy life to the fullest . So there it is...juicers are fun!

My blog chum Lynnette is having a give away on her blog. I have my name in the draw and my fingers crossed.

5/27/10

Jungle Guide



I found a post recently on another blog. It really encouraged me.
We have been making our way through the jungle for what seems like far too long.
I am tired.
Hearts broken. Hopes for healing crushed. Loved ones lost in the destruction. I'm tired of hoping. I'm tired of wishing it could be different.

I'm weary of the lead backpack we are carrying. I'm ready for some smooth sailing, for some journeying through a sweet easy meadow. I have been straining my neck trying to see the path ahead...hoping to catch a glimpse of a clearing. I want a grief free, stress and mess free life...or at least maybe even a short reprieve at an oasis. I'm tired of lurking dangers, uncertain footing and obscured vision....but this is where we are. It is what it is.

This post reminded me that maybe instead of wishing the jungle away and searching for a clearing.... I should keep my eyes more focused on my guide.

He won't remove the jungle but he will lead us through it.

I've discovered that sometime he even provides little miracles and moments of beauty along the way.

Enjoy the read. Maybe it will encourage you today.
I found a new song too. "Before the morning"
Thankyou God (and other bloggers) for ministering to my weary soul today.

"It’s a Jungle Out There
by Max Lucado

The story is told of a man on an African safari deep in the jungle. The guide before him had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Do you know where you are taking me? Where is the path?!” The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”

We ask the same questions, don’t we? We ask God, “Where are you taking me? Where is the path?” And he, like the guide, doesn’t tell us. Oh, he may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If he did, would we understand? Would we comprehend our location? No, like the traveler, we are unacquainted with this jungle. So rather than give us an answer, Jesus gives us a far greater gift. He gives us himself.

Does he remove the jungle? No, the vegetation is still thick.

Does he purge the predators? No, danger still lurks.

Jesus doesn’t give hope by changing the jungle; he restores our hope by giving us himself. And he has promised to stay until the very end. “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV).

We need that reminder. We all need that reminder. For all of us need hope.

Some of you don’t need it right now. Your jungle has become a meadow and your journey a delight. If such is the case, congratulations. But remember???We do not know what tomorrow holds. We do not know where this road will lead. You may be one turn from a cemetery, from a hospital bed, from an empty house. You may be a bend in the road from a jungle.

And though you don’t need your hope restored today, you may tomorrow. And you need to know to whom to turn.

Or perhaps you do need hope today. You know you were not made for this place. You know you are not equipped. You want someone to lead you out."

Come, Jesus, lead us out.

5/26/10

Legacy

This may prove to be a bit of a strange post, considering all the pictures were taken in a country grave yard.

As a child, I grew up only 1/2 a mile from this cemetery. Because we basically lived in the middle of no where, entertainment and outings consisted of going on "backpacking adventures" in the nearby gravel pits and strolls through the nearby grave yard. Our childhood adventures were only limited by our imaginations. The walks through the grave yard peaked my curiosity, imagination and sense of history.
I used to enjoy reading all the tomb stones, imagining who these people were and what their lives were like. All of the names and dates became familiar. So many of the last names still exist in our farming community. This cemetery is what is left of my pioneer history. They were the people who came out west to break the land, fight the odds, and make new lives for their families.

Because yesterday was Samuel's birthday, the kids and I (my hubby is on an adventure of his own right now) went for a drive to visit Samuel's grave.


Aili and Roman telling Silas about their brother Samuel.
We brought some tulips from our garden and a solar light to put next to his little head stone. I had hoped to re-do his headstone in honor of the 10 year anniversary. I would love to set the plate on a marble slab to get it up out of the wild grass further. I really love the fact that the cemetery is filled with original prairie grasses, sage and wild flowers but I would hate for his headstone to get lost under them someday.
Here are my kids exploring and running over to see the war memorial.
Maybe I'm strange but grave yards don't creep me out at all. I find them a fascinating bit of history. Maybe because I know they are only remains. Tangible markers to remember a person who was loved. The souls of the people who lived their lives have long since gone to their eternal homes.
My son Samuel's grave marker lies next to 2 sets of his great great grandparents, great aunts and uncles and will someday contain the generations in between. This is the new headstone of one of my great grandmothers buried here. She died 4 years before I was born, but because we visited the cemetery so often as children her name became very familiar to us. I love family genealogy, looking at pictures and learning about my history. It makes me think about the legacy of family, faith and strength that they left behind.

I told my kids on the way home that they have an amazing heritage. Generations of people who loved the Lord, loved their families and worked the land. My kids are a part of that legacy. That heritage belongs to them. With in an hour and a half drive, my kids have a grandma , a grandpa, two great grandmas, and a great grandpa. That is one amazing living heritage as well. That is a lot of family to love and invest in my kids physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I have beautiful memories of watching my grandma read the worn pages of her bible. The pages have been so used and marked that I knew it was more than just a prized possession. I remember sitting next to her while she read to me out of it's dog eared pages. I have precious memories of singing with her as she played hymns on the piano. She didn't just teach me about faith. She was faith to me.

I think the most powerful impact that strolling through a grave yard has is putting us face to face with our our own mortality.
Someday my gravestone, along with my husbands, will be set next to our sons. It will contain our birth dates and the dates of our home going. The two dates will be separated by a " - ".
The legacy we leave behind will be determined by what that dash represents. Will that dash represent years of brokenness and deception ? Will it represent a life lived in self gratification or the accumulation of "stuff" that we can't take with us?
Will our children remember us as a Godly heritage? Will they say "My Dad not only taught me about faith....he was faith....he lived it in every area of his life" ?

I realize how blessed I am to have a heritage of Godly generations before me. Imperfect people serving a perfect God. Faithful men who were committed to their families. Strong women who lived through trials with grace and tenacity. They didn't build fortunes here on earth but I'm sure they had some waiting for them in heaven. They didn't leave a legacy of material wealth but they invested in the lives of their children. That has produced a wealth of faith and unity in the lives of their grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.  

Many people don't have that heritage. Some may come from broken and fragmented families.  Some come from legacies of abandonment and abuse. Some don't have families at all.  I married into a family devastated and fractured by these things.  The effects of that broken legacy are far reaching and damaging.  We are doing everything we can not to let the hurts of past generations  affect us or the heritage we leave for future generations.

 Each generation can be the beginning of something beautiful. You can be the beginning of that lasting legacy. God loves nothing more than to bring beauty out of wreckage.

What are we doing with that dash between the two dates that will be on our own headstones?

Will future generations rise and call us blessed or will they shake their heads in pity as they attempt to clean up the mess we left behind? As long as we still have breath, we are able to choose or change our legacy... for the good or for the bad.  We each make our own decisions and will face the consequences of them.  The most important choice being, choosing to seek truth about who God really is, who we are, and how we come into relationship with Him.  Life doesn't end with that final date on our tombstone but our time to find truth does.  Not personal truth, subjective dialogging truth, whatever I find that makes me feel warm and fuzzy...but Truth.
  
 The sobering thing to remember is that our choices not only have lasting impact on us now and for eternity, but also on the generations that come behind us.  
Are we living in light of eternity? Living with eternity in mind makes living in the moment something meaningful.
Now if you'll excuse me I need to go take this moment to bake cookies with my son.


I will carry you

10 years ago, I became a mother.
It has been whole decade since I had the privaledge of carrying and holding my son.

This past year a song was written in honor of a mother who chose to carry her child, even knowing that the baby would not survive.
When I carried my son, I had never heard of such a thing.
There were no blogs with pretty pictures describing what to expect.
I was barely past childhood myself and I was faced with grief no one expects, and no one would want.
....but it was part of a bigger plan.
He had a purpose that in my sadness I could not see.

"I will carry you,
while your heart beats here.
Long beyond the empty cradle
through the coming years."

I vowed to carry my son as long as his heart was beating.
What I didn't realize was...
I will carry him as long as my own heart beats.
...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

"Such a short time, such a long road"

Happy 10th Birthday in Heaven my sweet boy.

5/24/10

Spring has Sprung...finally.

Spring fever? ....or a party girl who's very excited that birthday season has officially begun.

My little tomato plants are growing and waiting to move out to the garden (it froze last night...so it could be a while)
My tulips are blooming. The landscape of brown and grey is finally turning green with splashes of color.
My cherry bush is blooming.
I have my garden planted and the farm "seeding" season is almost done. It would have been finished Saturday evening but the work got rained out. Rain is always welcome in this frequently dry part of the world.



What has our pickiest eater smiling?

Fettecinni Alfredo (I used penne noodles), garlic fried scallops and edamame (the kids call them "pop beans"). I tried a new recipe that I had seen on "Dr. Oz". The secret to the Alfredo sauce is it is made from pureed cauliflower...instead of the usual butter and cream.
It was amazing!! Even I was surprised how yummy it was. You would never guess that it's cauliflower since you couldn't taste it at all. It tasted like creamy Alfredo sauce.


Here is the recipe:

Steam 1/2 head of cauliflower (cut into small florettes)
in a frying pan cook 2 diced shallots in 2 tbsps olive oil. (I also added minced garlic)
once they are translucent add 1/2 cup chicken stock.
Allow the cauliflower and shallots to cool a little and then puree it all in a blender.

Add 1 cup reduced fat parmeson cheese.
salt and pepper.

Pour over whole wheat fetticini or other pasta.
I dare you to try it! Yummy, healthy and really easy.

Even my husband thought it was delicious. No one could guess what the secret ingredient was. They all tried.
It was very rich and creamy but without the fat of traditional Alfredo. It also contains a big old serving of cancer preventing cauliflower.





...and there was no unusual side effects what so ever.

5/22/10

La Niña de Tus Ojos

I came accross this video and wanted to share it with you. It's a bit graphic but this is a song we sang quite often in our big church in Mexico. I love it. It's so simple, but so life changingly profound.

(make sure you scroll to the bottom of my blog and hit pause on the music first)

For the woman who is unloved.

For the woman who is invisible and without a voice.

For the woman who was used up and thrown out.

For the woman who carries a burden and is weighed down by shame.

There is a Father who will not abandon, who will not harm, who will love you unconditionally.

He loved you enough to die for you. He loved you enough to come to redeem you out of the wreckage. He came to give you your name. Daughter of the Most High King.

Here is the English translation.

The Daughter of Your Eyes.

You saw me when no one saw me.

You loved me when no one loved me.

You gave me a name.

I am your daughter.

Because you loved me.

You loved me , you loved me,

I love you more than my life,

So simple. So amazing. So much bigger than we can fully understand.

The Creator of the Universe loves you. The one who placed the stars also formed you in your mothers womb.

He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He longs for you.

He is enough.

From the ashes will come something of exquisite beauty. Out of mourning will come dancing.

2 Months

Last week Miss Cece turned 2 months old. Because we have no idea how many milestones we will be able to celebrate with her we decided to have a little mini 2 month birthday party.

This precious little girl is growing like crazy, becoming more interactive, and generally morphing from the newborn phase into the fun chubby baby phase. She is increasingly aware of and curious of about the world around her. She definitely recognizes her "mommy" and stares quizzically at "daddy" (who, because of the field work, she doesn't see all that often lately). I am very happy with her very normal development and progress.
The first two months of her life were rough. She has been a very gassy/ colicky baby that also has withdrawal issues that we are controlling with medication. She even gave Silas a run for his money at being the record breaking colic baby. I did try something different this time (which I wish I had the sense to try when Silas' tummy was all out of whack). My discovery is that pro-biotics work wonders on a babies sensitive, easily damaged, under developed digestive system. Especially in babies who have been on antibiotics or other medications that may have thrown off the natural digestive bacteria. I break open a capsule (of a pro-biotic mix) and pour about a third of it into one of her bottles each day. As soon as I started doing this we had major break throughs in the colic...when I ran out for a few days it was right back to screaming for hours at a time. Coincidence? Maybe. Either way, it's not going to hurt, it's natural, and I'll take what I can get. My other tricks of the trade are swaddling and bum patting. Those combined generally work wonders.

She has done so well as the dr. weans her off her medication a little each week. She is proving to be a bright, alert, content and strong little girl. She is a fighter. I suspect she will need to be. As usual I have no idea of what this little girls future holds. What I do know, I cannot share. She is my incognito baby...which is why I cannot show you all the multitudes of pictures I have been taking of her with my new camera...or give you her real name.


Just look at those toes! So yummy. Toe kisses are almost as addictive as big chubby cheek smooches. I'm a shameless addict. She is such a gorgeous little girl. She reminds me a little of a baby girl in Mexico that we knew. Beautiful almond eyes , jet black hair and delicate features. I've had a lot of fun shopping for her as she outgrows the newborn sleepers. I have no girl baby clothes to offer as hand me downs so....perfect excuse to doll her up with some new clothes. I have bought her little summer jumpers, sundresses and and a few other adorably girlish items. Am I having too much fun? Maybe. Don't worry, the night time feedings keep me firmly grounded.
Her and I have done pretty well at getting her on a predictable sleeping and eating routine. I'm not a scheduler by nature but having a natural predictable rhythm (that is flexible) with a baby is so important. Chaos and confusion is bad for mommy and baby. I know when she needs to eat, when she is just gassy, when she needs to go for a nap (before she gets overtired and inconsolable), and when she is getting over stimulated. All of those things can easily be confused for hunger...by mommy and baby. It's the subtle cues, that are so easily missed. I learn a little more with each baby. They are all so different.


The kids and I decided to throw together a last minute birthday party. They helped me make and decorate this cake.
Whole wheat chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate cream cheese icing.
Sounds strange maybe ,but it is a delicious recipe. It's so moist, chocolaty and rich (in good ways) that you would have no idea that I used whole wheat flour...or zucchini for that matter. I'll post a recipe someday.
I admit, I am hoping the "powers that be" forget that Cece is in my home. Maybe they will loose her file ( I don't think anyone else out there would notice. ) and never make that phone call requesting that I drop her off at their office. Yes, that is most definitely a little day dream of mine based completely on denial. I know better though. She is number 6 to come and go, taking a little chunk of my heart with them.
There is such an incredible need for foster parents where we live. The system is SO extremely overloaded with babies and children who need a loving home. Some for a short time, some for a long time...some for a lifetime.
It is a hard job. It is a selfless job. It is one of the most amazingly rewarding things I have ever done. I love it. I dread it. I'm in over my head. It's right where I want to be.
I hear over and over again things like:
"I would love to be a foster parent but it would be too hard",
"I don't know how you give those babies up, I know I could never do that",
"I know I would just get too attached "
....those are the nice, well meaning comments. I won't justify the cynical ones.
I honestly have mixed feelings about comments like those. I usually just smile and say,
"yes it is hard but it's not about me".
I try not to take the logic of those statements any further towards the suggestion that somehow I might have a heart of stone that does not actually get "attached". On the flip side, I am also not a super human saint that is more capable of loving than anyone else. The only thing I am is available and obedient to what God has laid on my heart to do. Love these babes to the best of my ability and resources. I'll leave the heartbreak, the goodbyes, the future of "my " babies, and the healing of my swiss cheese heart to the God who loves these babies more than I do.

This is the first time I've "gone there" with Cece. I live day to day with the awareness that the end of our time with her could be near...but I generally don't think about it. I don't know if I will be able to celebrate a 3 month birthday, a 3rd birthday..or a 30th birthday with my sweet baby girl. I don't know what our future holds. I don't want to think about it or talk about it...(so if you see me ,don't ask me). Typing about it...well that's different. You can't see the tears or the snot. I can maintain my dignity (What dignity I have left with spit up on my shoulder). Feel free to imagine me as a glamorous and stoic saint instead of the sweat pant wearing, unshowered, teary eyed, sleep deprived woman I am at the moment.
I honestly still grieve. I think about last years babies Kade, Peanut, and Cub all the time. There are little reminders of them in my home still. A toy left behind, an item of clothing, a memory. The goodbye with Kade (18 months) still haunts me. His tears, the fear in his eyes and his calling "MA" as I turned and walked away. I have no idea where any of those boys are. It's hard to have no real closure. I have no idea what has become of them. So many possibilities. I can't dwell on those though. I pray that they have someone to love them. In my heart they will always be my babies.
I fully intended to write about the merits and the joys of foster parenting, convincing others to get on board. I think I may have just done the opposite of my intentions. oops. I am real to a fault sometimes.
Despite the challenge, despite the uncertainty, despite the screaming colic.....
These kids need us. They need you.
These kids need a mom and a dad. They need to know that they will be fed, everyday.
They need to know that that someone will hear them when they cry.
They need to know that someone prays for them, believes in them and treasures them.
They need someone willing to get their hands dirty, to get their heart involved, and to love them through the nitty gritty details of life, as it really is.
"True Christianity breaks our hearts and makes us willing to embrace the inconveniences and pain and suffering for the people that Jesus cares about. And I think more than anything else, it is the children that Jesus cares about. "

In Matthew's gospel chapter 18 Jesus said very carefully "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in Heaven."
This gives us a glimpse of the incredible passion and concern God has for his tiniest creation. Their guardian angels always see the face of the Father.
I think as the heart of God starts to beat in our own bodies we can identify with that passion.
When we allow injustice, when we abuse or mistreat, when we turn a blind eye to suffering, when we are consumed with apathy....we are despising.
"It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should parish. "
Matthew 18:4


Whether it's the calling to be a foster parent, support adoption ministries, adopt an orphan, sponsor a child living in poverty, or invest into the lives of hurting children in other ways.......


We are called to be fathers to the fatherless and mothers to the motherless.
We are called to care for the weak, protect the vulnerable, advocate for those who don't have a voice, and love as Jesus loves.

How will you stand in the gap for on one the "least of these"?

How will your life be altered and turned upside down?

I have been asked how I "do it"...honestly I have no idea. It just takes saying yes and leaving the rest up to God to figure out.

5/21/10

Celebrating....

..my husbands birthday today! We won't be having an actual party and birthday cake until Sunday. Although we are nearing the end of "Seeding" season he is still hard at work. He has been working very long hours in the fields seeding Canola and Lentils. That is a LOT of hours in the tractor and a lot of evenings, early mornings and meals without my husband to help on the homefront. Today was no different. We did manage to get some rain yesterday. That delayed the field word for a few hours this morning , giving him a relaxing morning at home on his birthday. Perfect timing wouldn't you say?


After school, the kids and I took him a couple of homemade blueberry muffins and a travel mug of coffee. On the way we even stopped at the only retail establishment in our tiny town..."The Bar" to buy him a can of ROOTBEER (no drinking on the job!). A can of soda is right up there with cake and icecream in this family...a rare treat indeed. Something special.























Happy Birthday to my hard working, fun loving, and playful husband.














I thank God for bringing you into my life over 14 years ago. We have experienced a lot of life together. Our years have most definately never been dull.



I am so proud of the generous, loyal, compassionate man of integrity that the Lord has made you to be. God isn't through with you yet. I know as you continue to surrender your life, your passions, your ambition, and your will to him that He is going to do an amazing work through you...He already is. You are most definately a fruit bearer..(even if sometimes the fruit is a little prickly)



This past year has been full of incredible experiences (that included our 6 months in Mexico). It has also been a year filled with heartache and harsh realities as you courageously face situations that no man should have to face. Throughout it all you have been an example of grace , maturity and sometimes even humour.




Thankyou for investing in the lives of our children. For wanting the best for them even when sometimes the BEST for them isn't what the world says it should be. Thankyou for your consistent love and affection for our newest foster baby. You haven't been around much since she came into our home but you have still made the time to snuggle her and treat her like your little princess. It takes a special kind of man to open his home to a colicky newborn.





Happy Birthday my knight in shining Carhartts.
I love you,






5/13/10

New Camera!


It was a good Mother's Day for this mom!
Better than most I would say.
Some years the day has been an utter disappointment as it often gets lost in the shuffle of single parenting through our busy farming season.
Usually it's pretty uneventful.
This year, after being awake most of the night with a fussy baby and starting the day at 5.30am with a 3 year old who insisted at being up with the sun, I made breakfast, rushing around getting four kids and myself ready for church.
I received my home made cards from my kids (love it), and a "Happy Mother's Day" greeting from my hubby.
I figured that was it.
Wrong.
He surprised me with a Nikon D5000 SLR camera!
We had discussed how nice it would be to have a good camera but never took it past the wishing/someday chat.
I guess it's a good thing he didn't tell me what he was up to or I probably would have, being the sensible(cheap) person I am, convinced him of 100 other more practical and necessary ways to spend the tax return $.
I am thrilled though. In over my head technologically and photographically but thrilled.
I was made to feel special and loved in lots of little ways through out the day as well. A highlight being a 2 hour nap while the hubby looked after the brood.

Here are a few trial run photos. At this point I appreciate the automatic and scene specific settings. I have started reading the 235 page technical manual but may have to go buy the "Nikon D5000 for Dummies" book or "Nikon D5000 for Sleep Deprived Blondes".
I'm looking forward to doing some learning and experimenting with photography...now that it's so easy, available and inexpensive for novices like me (once the novice has a camera to play with). The beauty of digital.





"The best mom ever" Can you see it? It's there....sort of. Roman figured out how to write it all by himself.




My first picture with my new camera. Look at the detail and how the food on his face shows up so exquisitely. I realize that all my pictures lately are of Silas. Apparently he is my favorite child....or maybe it's because the other kids just aren't around as much now that they are in school. That's another blog post for another day.

***I have a prayer request for any of my praying friends in blog world. My husbands family has been going through a very difficult time lately. This has now been made exponentially worse by the rapid and very serious deterioration of his parents already fragile state of health. The 6 grown kids (and their families) are forced into situations, decisions and grief that typically doesn't happen for another 20-30 years. That's life though. Full of ,not so unexpected, surprises sometimes. Please lift this family up in prayer. Our family is in need of God's touch physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. We need God's grace, peace and healing on so many levels right now. It's been a hard week. ****

On a lighter note.
The sun is out.
The crop is being seeded.
We had some rain to take the edge off of the dryness.
Spring is here.
Our new baby "miss Cece" is napping regularly in her own bed....
and I had avocado and salad for lunch.
I'm trying to focus on the good.
Trying.

5/9/10

Thoughts on Mother's Day

To all the woman who are changing diapers,
adjusting to an empty nest,
or waiting expectantly.

To all the moms who's own mothers are in heaven,
who's babies are in heaven,
who's husbands are in heaven.

To the single mom with the strength to do it alone.
To the woman still waiting, hoping and longing....

To all the women who ever were, still are, or ever hope to be a mother.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Happy Mothers day to my mom.

Thankyou for loving me unconditionally,
for believing in who I am and who I will be.
Thankyou for supporting me through life's twist and turns.
Thankyou for all the years you put your children's needs ahead of your own.
Now that I am grown....
Thankyou for loving my children and taking the time to really know them and invest in them.
Thankyou for accepting, understanding and loving them.

Thankyou for being my friend.

I appreciate and love you so much.



The Love of a Mother:

- Lets her children eat the raisins out of her bowl of raisin bran leaving her with only a bowl of bran.

- Rinses poop out of underwear 5 times in one day and somehow still loves the child who refuses to use the toilet.

- Gently reminds her son EVERY morning that his shirt is on inside out and his pants are on backwards.

- Paces, rocks, and bounces coliky infants for endless nighttime hours while the rest of her family sleeps.

-Patiently teaches her children long division, the alphabet and how to wipe their own bottom.
- kisses boo boos with her magic kiss, but also pushes her kids to try again.

- Models for her children integrity, compassion, courage, grace, emotional consistency, hospitality and strength.

- Has the heart of a servant and teaches her children that same heart.

God designed a mother to:

Encourage,
nurture,
teach,
believe,
discipline,
build character,
seek to fully understand her children,
persevere,
protect,
and comfort.

That is an awe inspiring responsibility. We have one shot at this thing called motherhood let's not mess it up, miss our opportunities, or fail to rise to our high calling.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!

5/8/10

Normal stuff

Back to life as usual ....which includes lots of baking.



Hunting for big sticks (and dragging them home)
Playing with cousins.
Visits from family.
(My three sisters all came for a visit along with their kids...it was SO good to chat, giggle and share trench stories of motherhood)



Eating tape measures.
Enjoying the comforts of home and the love of our family.




Aili's new "big girl" room.
After 6 months crammed into a camping trailer with her brothers this girl is loving having her own little sanctuary of femininity.



5/6/10

One Million Arrows:



Struck down but not destroyed.

I don't have any cute pictures today. In fact I'm in kind of a picture taking slump. Perhaps because my decent Panasonic camera is still out of order. Or perhaps because ,compared to life this winter, my life at the moment seems a little mundane. Not that mundaneness stopped me before. There is beauty in the little things and the monotonous moments of life. I think I'm just forgetting to look.

I'm posting because I need to write. It's that or tear into an unopened bag of chocolate chips. I have no idea what I am planning on writing about. I will figure it out as I go....and I may or may not delete the whole mess afterward. If you are reading this I obviously chose the latter.

I am living in a bit of new baby sleep deprived fog right now. It has been snowing and or raining for what seems like an eternity. A combination of those two factors is making me feel slothful, unmotivated and like I have the physical composition of Jello. I need some fresh air , exercise and alone time which the above two factors are complicating. I have found that instead of exercise, food is a rather effective substitute for soothing an uninspired, tired, emotionally worn out mom. This is not helping the Jello butt issue in the least. Yep I said it.

Our new little baby "Miss Cece" is doing really well. She actually slept for 5 straight hours last night and is adjusting very well to her lower dose of drug withdrawal medication. As long as she gets a little prune juice every day we are all much happier. She has a head full of gorgeous black hair, beautiful dark brown eyes, big chubby cheeks and the cutest little cupids bow lips. As usual I'm madly in love already. She has made a virtually seamless entrance into the fabric of our family life.

On a different topic....

There is a situation in my life right now that has been a major burden. It has simmered unchecked for decades and inevitably it has escalated into complete chaos and heartache.

This blog is my journal. It is where I am completely transparent about who I am. The good, the bad and the jiggly. It's my glass house. My living testimony. As you know I am pretty much an open book. I am however, exceedingly careful not to open other peoples books. There are always things in my life that I, out of respect, cannot discuss.

This is my place to process and share my own struggles and heart ache as well as my joys, hopes, and silliness.

Within the walls of my home, my marriage, my sanctuary and my immediate family, we are all good, healthy and thriving. I thank God for that. The problem is that sometimes other peoples mess, hate, and bitterness infiltrate and threaten to take our peace. We find ourselves dealing with issues and situations we never imagined we would have to face.

I have personally, in my life, never been hated. I guess I never expected to be.

I'm sure there have been people who don't particularly like me or what I stand for, or find me annoying, but I've never been passionately hated...until now. It's a crappy feeling.

It would be one thing if I could trace the hostility to some sin, or actions of my own. I would repent, attempt to reconcile and move on. That is not the case.

My sin is loving someone deemed unlovable.
I have touched the untouchable.
I broke rank.

I am not a perfect person. In fact I am very candid about my mistakes and shortcomings. I am just some raw material that God is molding for His purpose. However, I continually give myself over to be searched in the light of God's holy love. As his Spirit works and grows in me there will always be things that he brings to my attention that need to be weeded out and dealt with. I think that when we are convinced of our own self-righteousness and ultimate wisdom that we run into trouble. Pride will always get in the way of knowledge and wisdom. It cannot co-exist with empathy and grace.

The rub is....I will never be able to defend myself or clear up the misinformation because my voice has been effectively stripped away....just like the voice of the last person that was silenced. My reputation, character, personality, sanity, and motives have been so twisted, distorted, lied about and slandered that if it weren't so hurtful and sad the absurdity would be down right comical.

We dealt with a lot of this mess, on the down low, while we were away in Mexico. It was hurtful, distracting and stressful. We decided we needed to separate ourselves from the toxicity and put up some healthy boundaries. We were in Mexico to minister to and love children, not to deal with toxic people thousands of miles away. We have done our absolute best at staying completely out of the frenzy, physically and emotionally.

Now that we are home ,we are once again facing a misdirected firing squad and I am at a loss of what to do but stand here and take it. Not quite what I had hoped for. Forgiveness and knowledge are hard work. Anger is easier.

We all make choices.

I will always choose to stand for mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, healing and truth.
... even if that means I will bear the wrath of others who choose to dwell in bitterness and blame. I can't just give lip service to those things and then live a life contrary to them. I'm pretty sure I can't fool God.

The funny thing about bitterness, hatred and ungodly rage is that it is generally rooted in fear and fueled by ignorance. There is nothing "righteous" about it. It is nothing short of sin.

Rage needs an object of it's wrath or it will be shown for the foundation-less, empty emotion that it is. If there is no justification for the rage it will make something up.

I am pretty thick skinned. I don't offend easily. I'm a strong and resilient woman. I used to think I could stand up under quite a bit.
The thing is, I can only be alienated, called hideous things, betrayed by those I love and lied about so many times before it starts to inflict some wounds. I think what is even harder to take is listening to hatred and slander being openly expressed about people I love.

I don't want those wounds to fester.

It hurts, but I refuse to succumb to bitterness. That would make me part of the problem. Instead I will choose to forgive...as difficult a process as that may prove to be. As those hurts turn to bitter thoughts I must take each one of them captive and not let them take hold.

My question is ....how do I balance healthy boundaries (keeping the bad out and the good in) with turning the other cheek and blessing those who curse me? Any advice? I will not and cannot be a scapegoat for someone else's sin and dysfunction. I will not allow my family and my children to be a part of that. It isn't healthy, in fact its toxic. That is not a legacy that I will allow to be passed onto my children.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

That's a tough one. It's hard enough to just tolerate those who curse me.. but bless? I'm going to have to mull that one around for a while. If any of you out there in blog world have words of Godly wisdom or experience please share them with me. I know where I need to be and where I need to go with my hurts but sometimes I'm having trouble getting there. I know I need to take them to the feet of Christ and let them go. Offense is the bait of Satan. It's so appealing and alluring to coddle our hurts, take offense and allow bitterness to grow but it leads to a deadly trap.

It goes against my nature not to stand up against injustice and cruelty. In fact it goes against every fiber of who God made (and is still making) me to be. In this situation it appears there can't even be a rational resolution or logical discussion to satisfy my desire for civil restoration. I don't like unresolved conflict, but even though it's directed at me, it is not something in my power to resolve. I accept that now. I can't reason with unreason.

I can't clear up misunderstandings and misinformation when they are already carved into stone.

That is uncomfortable for me.

Why can't I just let it go? Slide off my back and not let it hurt me? I think it comes down to my desire to be liked. After all, I'm a good person...shouldn't good people, with good motives and good actions be liked? I guess if you look in the Bible that isn't usually the case. In fact the opposite is often true.

Unresolved bitterness and un-forgiveness is cancer to the soul. Being that our body, mind and spirit are all so interconnected there is no part of us that will be not be unaffected by it. I won't live like that. I won't die like that.

I know without a doubt I have sought to keep peace as much as it depends on me. However, sometimes peace at any cost....comes with a high a price tag. Sometimes creating the illusion of peace means that someone will be sacrificed, people will need to be silenced and sin will need to be covered and ignored. That is not healing. That does not allow forgiveness or reconciliation. It's such a delicate and complicated balance to face issues head on in a spirit of grace and reconciliation. There's a pretty steep learning curve.

I have honestly never in my life been through a season of such strong spiritual warfare, such discouragement and oppression. I have never in my life been under such a barrage of fiery arrows meant to wound and destroy. Despite this, I have also felt God very close as I put on my armour and face the battle on my knees in prayer. For the first time in my life every word of the Psalms of David are direct prayers from my own heart.

I guess if I'm on Satan's radar...I must be doing something right. God must be up to something big if Satan won't let go of his death grip without a fight.

You can test a tree by it's fruit. Is the fruit bitter and sour or is it nourishing and life giving? The tricky thing is sometimes we judge the fruit without ever getting close enough to actually taste and touch it. We make assumptions based on appearances or what we have been told alone and judge the whole tree. Do our words give life and hope or do they tear down and destroy?

Out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart.

Still, it grieves me. It grieves me because the ripple effects of sin are always so far reaching and so damaging. It grieves me because this is not God's will.

 He has given us the freedom to choose. We can choose to be closed minded, heard hearted, and unloving or we can choose mercy.  God will not be mocked.

Life is messy. Sometimes it gets down right ugly and we have no control over that.

What I can control is my attitude toward others (even those who hate me) and my spiritual orientation which , like a sail to the wind, must be constantly re-adjusted.

So this is me.

Growing. Praying. Loving.

The world can spiral into chaos around me.

I have peace. I have faith. I have joy. I have loving relationships.

I have God's all consuming passionate love.

He KNOWS me.

That's truly all I need.

No one can take those things from me. No one can touch that.

I have a guilt-free conscience that has been laid bare and cleansed. I have peace that goes to the very depth of my soul.

I will choose to respect, forgive, and show grace.

If that's all I can do then that is enough. God is big enough for all the rest.

I can stand in the middle of turmoil and chaos and honestly say - It is well with my soul.


"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise and
I am saved from my enemies."






5/5/10

Happy Birthday Sis!

I never dreamed that I would ever really know you. Even after 13 years of marriage I doubted that I would ever meet my husband's only sister. I certainly never expected that you would become one of my very dearest friends and a true sister in Christ. It has been beautiful to watch God work in your life , transform and redeem it for His purpose. You exude true beauty inside and out!

God brought us all together in His timing, in His wisdom, and for His glory. It was all Him. I thank Him for that. Nathanael and I are both enjoying making up for the decades taken from us. You have been such a loving new auntie to my kids. They love you and their cousin already and we are looking forward playing together soon. I wish you lived closer!! I am so excited that ,even though the past is lost, the future holds so much promise for all of us.

You've shown me in a powerful way what faith can do....

You have been a blessing in our lives this past year and a half. In you, we have found a kind hearted, sincere, genuine and generous person. You have been not only an inspiration to me but an example of grace and maturity in the midst of turmoil and heart ache. We have laughed together, cried together, studied scripture together and spent countless hours on our knees interceding and seeking wisdom together.

The test of a true friend is someone who will challenge me to be a better person even if that means holding me to a higher account, lovingly challenging my bad attitude and redirecting me back to Christ. Someone who will risk being completely honest with me. The kind of friend who will tell me if there is spinach on my teeth or an unflattering and dangerous bitterness taking hold of my heart. Thank you for that. Thank you for your encouragement, prayers and sisterly love.



No one else makes me laugh until my belly aches like you do!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISTER! I wish I lived closer so I could give you a big hug, bake you a cake and make you feel super duper loved.

I picked out this new song especially for you...every word of it.


5/4/10

Back home (take 2)

The above photo is of our yard today.
May 4.
Spring where are you?
The grass was turning green. The snow was gone...again....and now this?

Our yard in April.
When we arrived back home at the beginning of April it was sunny, warmish, very dry and no snow. Other than being a little concerned about the lack of precipitation I was relieved that the weather back home was closely resembling the weather I had left behind in Baja Mexico. The kids didn't skip a beat as they pulled on their shorts and ran around outside in their flip flops. However a short while later...winter returned in all it's raging glory.
The problem was the kids didn't have winter snow gear. Fortunately it wasn't terribly cold and the kid managed to scrounge enough clothing to have a good time playing.
Our Canadian spring blizzard.

The yucky weather gave us lots of time to do some projects inside the house.
I painted Aili's room pink and turquoise. Nathanael finally finished the bathroom remodel. Our main bathroom (the other one is down in the basement) has been completely torn apart for over a year. Don't ask.
My talented husband remodeled every inch of it from the plumbing and dry wall to the tile and electrical.
It's handy having a handy guy for a husband.

Here's my handy man in training.
Or maybe my baker's apprentice.




With a little one on one attention along with the extra consistency of being at home all day, he's really blossomed into a very enjoyable well behaved little boy. I knew he had it in him ;) He has grown up so much in the last few months. He's still silly any chance he gets though. :)

The kids have all adjusted well to their new/ old surroundings. The first couple weeks were both wonderful ( I have a HOUSE!) and a little difficult for all of us. The kids all adjusted in their own ways. Silas became very insecure and afraid of everything...including his room, his closet, our house in general. He was rather used to us all sleeping in the same room.
Roman went into a "funk" for about a week and was ticked at the world and every one in it for no apparent reason. We know him well enough to prepare for it. For a very adventurous and flexible personality ...change usually affects him the most, in somewhat strange and subtle ways. He came around though and has been doing very well in his new routine (that includes going back to public school). He has really settled in and his maturity and responsibility have kicked into high gear lately. He's the first one up, dressed and ready for school in the A.M and he has been a big help around the house.
Aili merged right back into life as usual here rather seamlessly. She is already asking when we can go back to Mexico! I think as she continues to reminisce about and process our winter she is realizing what an amazing experience it was for all of us. She is eager to return although she is enjoying her life here. As she was explaining how conflicted she feels she echoed my exact feelings.
I miss Mexico. I miss our friends. I miss the kids.
But...
I am thoroughly enjoying my life as usual back home.
I am LOVING having a house after living in a camping trailer for nearly 6 months.
I am loving being a home maker (with a home), baking, cooking healthy food and spending a lot of quality time with my own kids. It's been great to just re-group as a family after so many months of ministry marathon.
I am enjoying the conveniences and luxuries of home.

The biggest change to our family has been just this past week.
We have a new baby.
She came to our home last Monday. She is just over a month old and has turned my life of relative leisure into nights of dealing with screaming colic (and drug withdrawal...baby, not me) and days of blurry exhaustion. She is absolutely precious and has already wrapped herself around my heart but I admit there are moments I wonder what on earth I signed myself up for. I think I was kind of spoiled with the last few babies we fostered. This little girl is definitely higher maintenance. It is fun to have a girl though after a so many boys.
My other three are loving having her. Silas has always been baby crazy and the other two are such big helpers with her. I am so proud of all of them! They have not only been willing but eager to love her and to share their parents with her. Actually we were only home a few days when the kids started asking when we would get another baby. Of course, as a mother, I still struggle with "mother's guilt" on occasion. The first couple days I worried how taxing this would be on them as far as having to share me. I think I feel more concerned now with the eventual, inevitable goodbye and how , particularly Silas, will cope. He understands so much more this summer than last but he also remembers the other babies leaving and as a result is very protective of this one.
As I attempt to write this post my family is succumbing to a sudden onset of stomach flu. I really can't do sick right now. ugg.
The baby just had her drug withdrawal meds. reduced today and is not liking it. It could be a long night.
Well that's a brief update on our re-entry into crazy life as usual.
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