10/31/10

Trick or Treat...anyone got an Epi-pen?

         
 Buzz Light Year was woken up from his nap to go outside ....and the velcro from his hat rubbed his chin.   Life is hard sometimes.  And his wings kept falling off.
                                    Not off to a great start on his first time  "trick or treating."
Once he got  to the first house and was handed his first package of sugary goodness the world was a better place.
                        I think Cece is a little turtle off of Nemo.
                                  This little lady bug isn't one of mine but I had to show her off because
she is about as cute as it gets. 
             We had a nice time walking around our tiny village with some good friends of ours.
I'm not a huge fan of Halloween but I fine with claiming it as a few hours of community and family fun.  We don't "celebrate"anything on this day.  Not anything that has to do with Halloween anyway.   We don't celebrate darkness, we don't make death into something scary and goolish.  There is a lot that goes along with this day that I endure, cringe, turn the channel,  and choose not to participate in but at the same time we aren't condemning  finger pointers that hole ourselves up in our house marking this day as "Satan's birthday".
   "This is the day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it" so I will dress my child up like Buzz Light Year so we can go greet , wave, and smile at everyone in our community.    We live in this culture, as bizarre as it sometimes is.  If we lived in a city or else where our tradition might be quite different.
We missed Halloween altogether last year because we were in Mexico...and none of us missed it one bit.

The kids came home with a bag of loot each.  I quickly sorted through it all removing anything with peanuts and other nuts (all the good stuff).   When you have a kid with severe allergies everything gets a little more complicated.   We haven't been hyper vigilant because we've been really lucky for the last year.  It's  too easy to get lazy.   There is  just so much grey area.  There are the "safe" "Nut -free  candies on one end of the spectrum .  There are peanut M&M's on the other dangerous end.   In between are lots of candy that don't overtly contain nuts but may be contaminated (the "may contain" catagory)...and the fact that they are all in a bag together may make it nearly impossible.   Some people's threshold of sensitivity is much higher than others.    Some kids will swell up like a blow fish just being in the same room as a peanut...while others may tolerate trace amounts but would die if they ate a Reeces pieces.   We may have to rethink this trick or treating thing next year.   
He wolfed down two candies (a gummy hamburger and a foil covered chocolate ball) while I warned him about peanuts and cleaned the danger out of his bag.  Part way through the gummy hamburger he started drooling and cried "YUCKY".   He ran to spit it out and then proceeded to act like he was choking.  As he gagged and drooled I didn't know if he was being dramatic, choking or having a reaction.   His last allergic reaction (to musty Canola seed) actually caused him to vomit.    I gave him some water and watched him for a few seconds.   He then started crying "I need medicine!".  This boy is getting smarter than his mama when it comes to his allergies.   I gave him a good dose of Benadryl and made a mental note of where his epi-pen was.  

 Poor boy started to look rough.   His eyes didn't swell and he didn't get the welts all over that he sometimes gets.  I think they got itchy though.
Not feeling so good. 
                                                               Mommy...my lips feel funny,

Fortunately it was just a minor reaction and he was fine after about 1/2 an hour.  Needless to say I put away the rest of the Candy.
He is already at the age that he is figuring out what he is allergic to and routinely asks if something contains "peanut" or "cinnamon" or  "eggs".   It's kind of cute.  My poor little freak show.  It's a tough concept for a 3 year old.   Certain foods are poison to him but everyone else can eat them. He's at the age though where he remembers how bad it feels and is almost paranoid about eating something dangerous.    I think he thinks it's because he is small....that when "I'm big like Roman I can eat peanuts".  
His big brother and sister where more than eager to throw away their dangerous loot as well.

Happy "After Today I can start looking toward Christmas and be done with this Halloween crap" Day

 These are a couple pictures of Aili and Grandpa riding horses yesterday.   We are "horse sitting" Aili's horse this winter for a nearby kids camp.  It works out great because she needed an old "camp horse" to learn to ride on and to take to 4-H with her.  We aren't exactly horse people (notice the lack of cowgirl duds) but I enjoyed riding as a kid and Aili is really enjoying it as well.   (I think Grandpa like passing on his cowboy skills onto his granddaughter too)
 We've  had such a nice family weekend.  The sun was out and we were all just home hanging out.   Saturday evening we rented "Karate Kid" (the new one starring Will Smiths adorable son).  We all enjoyed it.  I think the kids could relate a little to moving to a new culture, being surrounded by kids who speak a different language and feeling a bit on the outside.  I think most of us can relate to getting bullied at one point or another.
The boys LOVED the fighting scenes.
It has sparked my boys normally boyish behavior into a new found passion.


 Add to the pictures a lot of sound effects and sweat and you can imagine what my house is like
...post Karate Kid.  They are careful not to actually hurt each other (not intentionally anyway).  Silas holds his own surprisingly well.  He's determined to scrap his way out from under big brothers shadow.

Speaking of big brother.  This is another highlight of the weekend.
Mutilating a pumpkin.   Mr Sensory-seeking Roman couldn't keep from squishing, squeezing, kneading, tasting, and smashing the pumpkin guts.
Mr. Sensory-Stimulation-Avoidant Silas was horrified at the suggestion that he put his hands down inside the slimy pumpkin. 
Eventually we wore him down and he had fun with it.
He was the first to wash his hands though.



                                             Roman having way too much fun...as usual.


                                                                 The finished product.
                                                                   Barfing pumpkin.
                                                            
                                        

Now I'm off to beg for candy at our neighbors doors for candy and to deal with the inevitable sugar craze that will follow.

10/29/10

Unredeemed

Since writing my last grumpy post I have felt God's sustenance in a new way.  Although I'm sure it was not because  I whined and complained on my blog...maybe in spite of it.  I decided to once again take it to him.   The lead suitcase,  the ongoing battle, the heartbreak for loved ones, the fear of the unknown, and the sense of feeling overwhelmed by even the smallest daily responsibilities...are too heavy.  I am a slow learner.  I'm pretty sure I've been taught this lesson before.

My broken cd player finally started intermittently working again on Wednesday.  I popped in a cd I hadn't listened to in a long time.  I think I have missed music breathing life into the monotony of my day.   As I listened (and sang obnoxiously loud) to Selah this song brought me to tears.   I had never really noticed it before.  This time I sang and prayed every word.
I will continue to cling to this truth.
Ultimately God is able to redeem that which has been most shattered.  The person we, in our human understanding, would toss away like yesterday's garbage, God can raise up for his glory.  God is raising up for his glory.
Darkness, fear, shame, brokenness, betrayal, cruel disregard, injustice, death...
they are all places where, once we surrender them at his feet, he will show us just how amazing and limitless his grace truly is.
Sometimes it's the waiting for that day that is hard.  Faith runs dry.  Despair wells up.  Hurts start to fester.
My focus shifted to the pit instead of  the one who rescues us from it.

I have been reminded of the beauty within the journey...and the restoration that lies ahead.
Thankyou Selah.

(p.s don't forget scroll down and hit pause on my music before you hit play on "Unredeemed")




TThe cruelest word
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache
The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled 
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see 
It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame 
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every *life* that gave up hope
We live in the shadow of the fall
Find More lyrics at www.sweetslyrics.com 
But the cross says these are all
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled 
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see 
It will not be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled 
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see 
It will not be
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

10/27/10

Might be the weather

My two Littles bonding over a Nintendo DS.   Brings a tear to the eye doesn't it?


 Help I've fallen into self pity and I can't get up!
Ok, I'm mostly joking...mostly.
It's been one of those weeks that I just can't kick my grumpy mood.
I hate feeling this way and I'm trying to get my head squared back on.
I need to get out from under feeling overwhelmed by life in general.

It feels like recovery week.   Getting the big kids focused back on their school books after a week of touring Seattle has been a bit of a challenge. Getting me immersed back into my normal laundry-piled-high-screaming-teething-baby-messy-house-one-volume-children-ADHD-infused-multiplication-drilling-phonics-nagging-often-chaotic-life has proved a little less than seamless.

I'm usually a rock emotionally.  Steady as hours in a day.  I REALLY dislike feeling stressed out, depressed, discouraged, and just plain exhausted.  It doesn't feel like me.
 I feel like I should feel better than I do...physically, emotionally, and mentally.

 Maybe it's something as simple as low iron levels.  Maybe combined with  my  typically low blood pressure that would be enough to make me feel like sleeping the day away...or like passing out when I stand up.  Maybe it's wacky hormones.  Is 33 too young for wacked out hormones?  I should maybe get some blood work done.  I don't think I've seen a Dr. for me (other than obstetric reasons) in years.
Maybe it's just the grey, windy , snowy, cold weather.
Maybe it's the fact that I wish we were heading to sunny, warm  Mexico to see our friends instead of staying in this Artic wasteland.
Maybe I'm giving nasty, mean people too much control over my emotions.
Maybe it's a choice.
Maybe it's the fact that I haven't had any physical exertion or mind clearing exercise in ...well...I don't remember.
Whatever it is..I need to get over it.



My kids have seen more than their share of ugly mum this week.   Her voice is shrill, her temper is short, and  she looks a bit haggard.  I don't really like her much.  I'm pretty sure my kids don't either.






 It seems we are all a little on edge lately.   Thats the thing with grumpiness...it's contagious.




Although, some are coping with the
change in weather better than others.


 These pictures of brotherly love really should brighten even the most blustery, snowy day.   Shouldn't they?
We are currently working through a Bible study, with a group of our friends , by John Ortberg.
Last night we discussed our thought life and how the "voices" we listen to makes such a difference in how we relate to others and to God.  
"Every thought is either enabling and strengthening you to ...live a kingdom kind of life, or robbing you of that life.  Every thought is- at least to a small extent- God breathed or God-avoidant;  leading to death or leading toward life. "John Ortberg

Cultivating the kind of mind where God dwells takes effort.   I may never have  a brilliant mind (I had to re-learn long division to teach my 4th grader!)  but I want to have a beautiful mind.   
A beautiful mind doesn't dwell on thoughts of bitterness, worry, envy, anger, insecurity, and problems.  It isn't resentful or prone to judge harshly.   A beautiful mind is in tune with God.
Not every thought, inclination, or idea that pops into this pea brain of mine comes from God.  I need to regularly discern the voice of my Shepherd.   Am I seeking him...or do I have my mind made up already and am going to stamp "God told me" on it?   Does what I'm thinking  and feeling bring me closer to God, to love, to truth, to joy, to patience, to self-control,  to grace, to peace,  to life.....or does it take me closer to bitterness, to division, to worry, to fear and to death?  Does it bring me closer to God or take me further from him.  God won't speak to us contrary to His character or to His word.  He won't give me thoughts that aren't a part of who he is.   God doesn't worry there fore I don't have "Godly worry"...I have sin.  God doesn't throw temper tantrums...therefore I don't have "Godly rage" ...I have sin.
I think I've been allowing those negative thoughts to crowd out the calming voice of God.  
"In his pride, the wicked do not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God"  Psalms 10:4
I have a lot of thoughts in a day.  My mind is always wandering, thinking, assesing, and dreaming.  
I need to "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ" .  That is a lot of taking captive.
I need to train my mind ponder His greatness, think about His faithfulness, meditate on His closeness. 
Even when dinner bubbles over on the stove because I'm cleaning pee off the bathroom floor.  

"Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny”



10/21/10

Do the Next Thing

Do The Next Thing

Elisabeth Elliot

“At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing.”



10/20/10

dirty cup

"The hypocrite is always hoping that people will not find out what his heart is really like. But the believer knows that what is happening on the inside is far more important than what seems to be happening on the outside”. - Philip Ryken


"Hypocrisy is the act of persistently pretending to hold beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually hold. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie."




I came  across this quote and it hit the nail on the head so well I decided to pass it on...and knowing my tendency to over-think things and over-write about them , add some of my own thoughts.  Hypocrites be warned.


Such an ugly word.  A word that is thrown around a lot (unfortunately quite often in malice  by other hypocrites)


  Jesus had very little patience for hypocrites, in fact, he saved  his harshest words for them. 

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."
"on the outside you appear as people of righteousness but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness".


The outer life is cleaned and polished while the heart is a tomb wreaking with death.  We work at trying to clean ourselves up on the surface while ignoring the things that stain us on the inside.  The things we are powerless to change on our own.  The best we can do is polish the surface a little harder.  Make more rules, come up with more good deeds, and do more penance.  Sometimes that makes us hypocrites and sometimes it just means we don't have the right cleanser.  The best we can do on our own is good deeds with sketchy motives. 




I don't like hypocrisy.   Like nails on a chalk board.   It rubs me the wrong way.  
I have little tolerance for phoniness, facades, masks, self righteous legalism, and deception (in case you haven't noticed).


We are all sinners.  We are all screw ups.  Period.  
Thats why we need Jesus.  Period.
Only through him are we made clean...on the inside.


As His cleansing light illuminates those dark places of our hearts the outer life begins to show the results.  It overflows into our lives, our attitudes, our priorities and our actions.    Although it is much easier to sterilize the outer life and ignore the inner.   
With that being said...
  I still stumble.  I trip on my own pride.  I continually scuff my knees on selfishness.   
I need God's grace.


Ultimate  hypocrisy is claiming God's grace but refusing to extend it to others.   We excuse, hide, condone, or deny the sin that rots inside of us.... and  at the same time have our ropes ready to lynch someone else. I'm not talking about condoning or overlooking blatant sin in other believers...that would not be biblical (there is biblical mandate to judge and and lovingly hold to account).  
I'm talking about how we relate to others.  Do we forgive them, love them,  take their hand and help them back up when they fall?  Or do we snear and kick them while they're down.   Assuring them we do not associate with their kind.    
   
 We polish our shoes, tuck in our shirts..... and kick dirt in the face of the leper. 
Do we criticize the scuffs and chips on another cup without ever getting close enough to look inside?


We all want mercy but we all want to dole out justice (or our version of it). 
Justice is a good thing.   So is mercy.   The two  mixed together with wisdom and love...are how we relate to others like Christ.  Sometimes getting the two to coexist is tricky.  Don't confuse justice for malice and bitterness.


As we forgive others we share some of Jesus love with them.




As believers, we are given a new heart.  We have what it takes to clean the inside of the cup....although sometimes we choose to stay dirty.  
Although ultimately freeing, a heart cleansing can be uncomfortable.  Probably right up there with colon cleansing.  A little embarrassing, may cause some unpleasant side effects,  but once the crap is gone...you're a new man.


My new heart loves Jesus and it hates lies.   I hate what the "Father of lies" does to people.    
We are sanctified by truth but we are ruined by deception. 


"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for you brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and enduring word of God  For, 
All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."  1 Peter 1:22-25






Without sincere love, without genuine honesty, our actions mean nothing.  They are only the motions of a hypocrite.


 My new heart sincerely desires to be purified, to grow up in holiness, to learn, to repent and to change.  


My new heart is NOT anywhere near a  perfect heart...but by the grace of God is can be a pure heart.    
We can choose to give mercy, one sinner to another.   



" Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind." 
1 Peter 2:1


Without intentionally, passionately pursuing the cleansing light of God,  our hearts naturally slip into deception of ourselves and others.   We live in blissful denial of the filth in our own cup.  
The problem with that is -  that filth is  like a cancer to our spirit.   It rots us from the inside out.  It destroys individuals and it destroys families.  




"the believer knows that what is happening on the inside is far more important than what seems to be happening on the outside”


(I just realized that this is a pretty good philosophy for parenting as well. ) 


Fortunately for all of us lying, gossiping, slandering, deceitful, hypocritical, selfish, bitter humans, there is hope.  
.
There is NOT ONE person in the world who wants a clean cup that Jesus would turn away...not even the hypocrite.  








   



10/18/10

A song almost heard.


This picture is from the archives.   A picture of a little boy I loved and said goodbye to.   A little boy who still owns real estate in my heart.  
        I am relatively new at foster parenting and even more of a rookie in the world of adoption.   We have cared for 6 children in our 3 years of fostering.  Cece is our  first attempt at adoption.   We did not set out to try  to adopt a baby this year.  It was not in our 1 year plan...even if we had such a thing.   In fact we had other dreams.  Hopes that included returning to Mexico  this winter.   

       One thing I've learned to let go of is planning what we will be doing next year, 5 years from now or beyond.  I have hopes, aspirations and dreams  but all of them have been laid in God's hands.   I have learned that following His lead, instead of my own, is far more satisfying. 

       Our only plan in life is to be available.   We don't want to be so caught up in creating our own little world that we miss what God is doing around us...or could be doing through us.  

       When we returned from Mexico last spring we opened up our home once again to foster parenting.   Not knowing where that would lead us.   

       I have always loved the idea, the concept, of adoption.   It was a "someday" dream of mine. A dream that my husband did not share.   Not until more recently anyway.   The possibility of adoption came as an unexpected turn in the road.   A wonderful little side journey that we are beginning down.
    
        I have no idea where this road leads.   I have no idea what dangers, pits, or road blocks lie ahead.  We don't know to what extent our sweet girl carries the "sins of the father" in her body.  We have no idea how she was affected by the choices of her mother.   Thankfully, she has been spared the trauma of developing attachment disorders, neglect and abuse in her first year.   Those things are so hard to over come.  However, that doesn't mean that she won't carry in her mind, spirit and body a legacy of brokenness and damage.  Come to think of it, my own biological children were born into a generational legacy of  sin and brokenness....a  legacy we are mucking our way out of , and allowing Jesus to restore and redeem. 

         People wonder what we are getting ourselves into.   People question our wisdom.   People refer to every horror story that they have witnessed so as to be sure we are not naive.  Although we are definitely walking by faith not by sight, it is not the same as being blind.   This isn't a lolly-pop, gumdrop road we are skipping down.  It is the road of obedience and love.  Being blind is choosing  not to acknowledge reality, sin, or the ugliness that corrupts even the most beautiful creation.   Obedience is counting the cost, looking reality in the eye, and choosing to love and show mercy regardless.   
       Although heartache  is something we may experience  in the future with Cece ,right now our life together is defined by joy.  Suffering is a road  we are currently on in another completely unrelated area of our life.   It seems there is a theme running through our circumstances the last couple years.  Once again... none of it in our five year plan!   It's funny how God prepares  us for things that we don't even know we will face until we face it head on.  

        I could be fearful of the road ahead.   I could fret, worry or loose sleep...but so far I'm not.  I'm sure there will be days...or seasons where I will struggle with that.  Right now I feel peace.  I have peace in knowing that whatever lies ahead for us, for Cece...we are being led by the one who knows the road.  We are being led by someone who has walked the road of suffering, and who died for us at the end of it.  The road may lead to another heartbreaking goodbye...it might  lead through the rough terrain of FAS or teenage identity crisis.  

        It may look to some that we are on a collision course with disaster, that we are setting ourselves up for heartache.   Maybe we are.  Only God knows.     On the flip side I  see "good Christian families" who are oblivious that their own biological children are on a collision course with ruin.  Sin and twisted priorities can mess up, spoil and destroy even the most surface sanitized family.   God can redeem the most hurt, wounded and broken among us, although  that road  is  far from safe or sanitary.    

I recently read this post on one of my favorite blogs.   She links it to the original post.  This  family is real, raw and currently living through a season of unexpected grief.   It is one of the best posts I've ever read relating to the call of living out the gospel by loving the "least of these"...even when it makes us vulnerable.   It deals with suffering, adoption disruption, dispointment, FAS, and the unforseen pitfalls that some adoptive and foster families WILLINGLY (or sometimes naively) face.  

Here is a little tidbit from that post.  Just an appetizer.  For the full course go to Storing up Treasures. 

It is such a profound way to look at the reality of sin and suffering and living the gospel of Jesus Christ right smack dab in the middle of it all.  I have read it over and over.  Maybe my  reading comprehension is slow..maybe it's just THAT good.   Maybe, it just speaks to the fallout of sin  we are mucking through right now.  The same drama that I keep begging God to get us out of.     Could standing in the middle of  suffering, rejection, and relentless scandal  really be an invitation to ache and bleed for the broken along with Christ?  


"I went home that day aching with the reality of undeserved pain.   I used to think that suffering came to other people – fiery preachers in strange lands, broken old sinners with ancient debts to pay - not to people who opened their hearts to the orphan.  The stories swirled in my mind of families who’d dared to love the least of these and been worn down by the ceaseless, thankless reality of disability and brokenness.  It was tempting to be angry at the unfairness - and yet I’d learned through my own trials that there was another way to understand the suffering.

 You see, each of us had wanted to live the gospel…and God had answered our prayers. 

The gospel life is an invitation to come and die.  It is first of all a story of brokenness.  Before the beautiful redemption there is misunderstanding, rejection, loneliness, disappointment, frustration, and betrayal leading to a painful, bloody death.  There is sorrow, burial and mourning.  Yet somehow, though we prayed to be like Christ, we were surprised when the pain came to us.   We were surprised when the gospel story was repeated in our homes, in our hearts, in the children we thought to rescue.  

When we look at scripture we see that even the apostles had to learn this truth.    Beaten, arrested, thrown in prison, their dreams of greatness crushed, their reputations tarnished, their missions disrupted, they opened their mouths and sang in praise.  Eventually they understood that of all people they were blessed…for they had been counted worthy to suffer with Christ.

What my friend needed to know is that her troubles are not the marks of failure, but of Christ-following.  Christ’s love leads us into places that no one else wants to go, where the stench and the mess and the heartache push out the well-dressed and the well-behaved.   She and her family have been invited into the mysterious blessing:  to suffer with the reality of sin just as Christ suffered.  To those on the outside it carries the taint of scandal - because this kind of love suffers alongside the liar, the abuser, the thief on the cross.  It brings the foul-mouthed, rule-breaking, rage-riddled, impulse-driven, broken-hearted, least of these, right into our homes.  This love works and tries and believes when everyone else has given up and slipped back into something more comfortable.  It aches and bleeds, it is misunderstood and rejected and lonely."



10/15/10

7 months - A letter to my girl



My littlest girl will very soon be 7 months old.   It has occurred to me lately how quickly her first year, her baby year, will be coming to an end.   I love this age!  I think I could keep her 7 months old forever....although I love watching her grow up too.   I already have her 1st birthday party planned in my head and  ideas for her own little girl bedroom.  I envision tea parties, pink rubber boots and  tu-tus.  I imagine a chubby cheeked little girl with dark curly pigtails pushing a little dolly stroller down our driveway.  

She is developing and growing wonderfully (maybe I'm a little biased).   She loves her bath time.  She adores her daddy.   She thinks her siblings are hilarious (they finally have an audience who appreciates their antics).   She has never met a morsel, spoonful, or bottle of food she didn't like.   It's a new experience for me to not have to practically force feed my baby. 

  Speaking of food....I've been cooking up lots of sweet potatoes and acorn squash lately for her.   I bake them, run a batch through my food processor and then freeze the puree in silicone muffin pans.  Once they are frozen  chunks of colorful goodness  I pop them all out into a plastic bag and store them in the freezer.  So easy.  Super cheap.  So much tastier and more nutritious than store bought baby foods (not that I don't keep a few jars on hand just in case).   She also loves any other fruit, fresh berries, veggies, or even vegi soup squished through my little manual baby food grinder.   She is loving feeding herself and has been working on those fine motor skills necessary to get the puffed wheat from the highchair tray into her mouth.   It is fascinating to watch her try ,and try again ,to get the timing just right.   
Miss Cece is sleeping through the night most of the time and generally takes 2 good naps a day (sometimes a 3rd power nap). I couldn't ask for a better little sleeper...although sometimes she kicks up a protest in the evening.  She has grown quite attached to her little sleeping buddy "bunny".  I may need to buy a couple more "bunnies" because she is threatening to teeth it to pieces. 

I have not made her a baby journal or yet started a baby scrap book for her (I guess for now this blog is it).  I think at first I assumed she would be leaving soon and then I just kind of held my breath...afraid to start something.  Now it's just a matter of getting pictures printed out and an album bought (and time to do it).  
Naughty mommy.   Maybe I can blame it on being a fourth child. 
With each of my other children I wrote occasionally in a baby journal documenting milestones, personality, development, my feelings, and what they were like.  From Aili to Silas that journal became much  more sparse.    Now Celina doesn't have one at all.   I guess it's not too late to start.  
Even if she leaves.   
It's probably even more important in that case....although I don't know if a future adoptive family would value my love poured out in words.   I know she would appreciate a record of this first year though, in an album where I don't have to cut out her pretty face. 



                                    She gets about a million of these smooches a day.   The fact that she giggles when I kiss up her cheeks and neck makes it that much more tempting.

I recently bought cloth diapers off of ebay.  20 new diapers for $100.  So far so good.  They are so soft,  and I like the soft fleece lining  next to her bottom.  Seems so much more comfy than paper.  They have micro fiber inserts that I can double up during nap time.   I really don't even notice the extra laundry.   The only down side is they aren't the Hoover dam like disposables are ...I have to actually change her after she pees.  

Letter for sweet Cece
You have been part of our family for half of a year now.   How is it possible that in only that amount of time you have become so deeply ingrained into our family?  You have grown from a tiny, scrunched up, screaming stranger into our chubby, snuggly, playful girl.  You are precious to us and will always be our unexpected treasure.  You have brought so much joy to our home.

In loving you this much,  I am very vulnerable.    Some things in life are worth risking heartbreak for, and you, my sweet girl, are one of them.   You did not come from my body.   You were never nestled in my womb,  but you are no less part of my heart than my other children.   You are a blessing to our family.  You are adored by your  daddy and you are doted on by your siblings.  Each one of them profoundly loves you.   You will always be their little sister.  

We pray that you will be a physical part of our family forever.  I dream of  the day when you will be forever ours.   When we can give you our name and claim you as our own.  It makes me smile to think about it.    If life doesn't happen the way we want it to...you will always be our daughter  in our hearts.  We will love and pray for you from a distance. 

As you grow there are things that I never ever want you to hear from us, or to feel.   You are not ,nor will ever be, seen as a burden.   I never want you to feel indebted or like somehow we have saved you from something.   All children have their challenges.  All children are inconvenient at times.  All children have unexpected difficulties,  whether they are brought into our family through birth or adoption.    Our life together may have it's share of bumps and bruises along the way but I promise it will also have a lot of love, grace, and fun too.
You are not our charity case.   You are our child.  
You are adored.
You are loved.
You are a blessing to us.  

love forever, 
Mommy

10/14/10

My Own Little World


We turn off the news when we don't like what we see.
We plug our ears and close our eyes when life gets ugly.
Draw our lines.  Close our hearts.  Protect ourselves.
Shut people out.

If I open up my heart, love, listen, reach out....I have to set aside my own hurt and fear.
Thats hard.  The wounds go deep.
Living in a Land of Make Believe is easier.
My own little world is safer.
I choose who can enter...and who I will shut out.
Who is safe and who is not.
Who will allow  me to be blindly comfortable and who will take me face to face with reality.

I don't want to know that there are millions of children living unloved, unwanted and alone in the world.
I don't want to know that sin can take hold of any heart and destroy any family.
I don't want to know what kind of evil humans are capable of.
I don't want to see suffering and pain.
I don't want to know that babies die of starvation, while I complain my jeans are too old.

That kind of reality makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under my sheets.
Real life makes me tired.

I don't want to hurt.   I don't want to feel the pain of others.  I don't want to feel the heart of God breaking.
...but at the same time I do.

I want to feel the heart of God breaking in my chest.  I want to be His hand and feet.  I want to love like he loves.  I want to forgive like He forgives.
I want to plant my feet on the Solid Rock , stand tall and look reality in the eye,

but at the moment my spirit is curled up on that  Rock...and I need His strength to stand back up.


10/11/10

Thanksgiving 10/10/10

Filled up with thanks.


For the newest member of our clan (my adorable nephew)

For pumpkin pie and real whipped cream ....or bowls full of whipped cream if you're allergic to pumpkin pie.

Love and acceptance of family.
The  girls in my life...


and my 'guys'.
A Thanksgiving day feast.
Full bellies and hot coffee.



Children who keep us amused...

...even when they spill their juice.

A beautiful summer day in October!

10/8/10

Like rain on dry ground

 My days lately have been a blur of fall work, single parenting, phonics, multiplication, diapers, teething,  and snotty noses.
My handsome (very dirty) hardworking husband has been working long and hard on this years harvest.   His 80-90  hour work weeks are a rush of trucking grain, fixing machinery, and occasional hours in the combine.  It's a grueling season for both of us.  This is farming.  Things will slow down quite a bit once the grain is in the bins and the snow falls.
I miss having my husband around for meals, for reading to the kids at bedtime,.... for the  structure and discipline that Dad is best at providing ornery rascally little boys (for some reason mom just isn't as effective).   I'm missing half my team.    We're almost done though...I think.  It has been a rough week as far as breakdowns go.  The machinery and the crew seem to be limping to the finish line as winter looms close by.
The weather this past couple weeks has been perfect.  We've had summer in October!

During this harvest season we have had the pleasure of a couple different visits from some very special people.  Even though is seems like an inconvenient time for hosting house guests they brought unexpected  refreshment and spiritual nourishment with them.  They were a blessing and encouragement to us in so many ways.

First, I'll tell you about our most recent guests.
     Last night my hubby took a break from farm work and we all went to see the African Children's Choir perform.  It was .....I'm trying to find a better word than amazing but I'm too tired....It was amazing.  It was energy.  It was joy and hope and faith and life all wrapped up into one hour.   In the tiny bodies of some of East Africas most vulnerable children (many of whom come from pasts filled with severe poverty,  grief, and even violence) was more energy and enthusiasm than I could summon in a year (and a lot of coffee).  They sang their hearts out, danced their cabinas off, and smiled from ear to ear.   The drums and African dancing was spectacular.  They are still missing half of their group because the kids from Kenya are still waiting on their visas.  It made me want to hop on a plane and go to Uganda.  It made my husband miss the countries (Kenya, Uganda Rwanda) he spent time in before we were married.  Places that were etched in his heart  but that he hasn't thought about in years.


The best part was we were able to host two of the little girls and their chaperon (who just happened to be an alumni from the same bible college my husband and I attended).  
Our visit was brief.  It would have been nice to visit with them longer
...actually I wish I could keep them both  ;) 
I'm greedy that way.
They were precious .


By the time we all got home last night , got ready for bed, scarfed down a giant bowl of popcorn....it was time to say goodnight.   This morning was a rush of breakfast , getting packed up and driving back to town to meet their group.  They found a few minutes to play though.  There was also time for a lot of hugs.

                                                            They LOVED Miss Cece.
Saying goodbye to the girls.


 It was fun to watch all the kids playing as they waited for everyone to arrive.
My mom (right) also hosted some kids.   It made her miss the daughter they are still waiting to bring over from Haiti.  I'll write more about my new little sister someday.  
The kids are selected to spend a year touring, travelling and performing with the choir.  Its a busy year but they are LOVING it.  What an amazing experience for them.  They are cared for by "Aunties and Uncles" (chaperons) who travel with them.   They are loved on , taught and parented by the chaperons.   The Aunties and Uncles are doing a fantastic job.   After their whirl wind year they head back to their home towns and "music for life" ministries provides education all the way through university for them...as well as other basic needs.    The money raised at the events supports many other diverse ministries back in their home countries.  "Helping Africa's most vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow!"

 These are Africa's future leaders and professionals. 

Introducing, our other harvest time house guests!
Our friends from Mexico were  in Canada for the summer for the birth of their second child.  He (Saul) is from Mexico.   She (Amber) is from Canada.   As a couple they have lived in both places.   "Home" for them is  Mexico though.
                         Silas was SO excited that his amigo Kayden was coming for a visit!  Two silly three year olds made for an entertaining household.  I wrote a little about our seal beach trip last winter  here ...and here.
Amber and Saul's newest addition Brielle is gorgeous!   So tiny next to my chunky monkey.
 Saul spent some time out in the Canola field keeping my hubby company.  Back at the house, he was the trampoline hero.


It was refreshing to spend time chatting with another mom who also has a passion for ministry, children and loving "the least of these".   This family sacrifices material comfort, financial security, and so many things that Christians in our culture prioritize at the top of the list.    They are living breathing examples of faith.
They live wisely ...but at the same time recklessly... loving, going, and obeying God's call on their lives.  They go without a retirement plan, without a salary, without knowing all the details of how their needs will be met.  They work hard, they love harder and they leave the rest up to God. 

       I have developed a little bit of a parenting philosophy...a theory, that I acknowledge with words but when it comes right down to it I still  struggle to live out.   

 I cling to self-made security, possession's, and comfort.   Those things aren't bad, but I think the question is would I give them up?  Could I lay down my Isaac on the alter and trust God with it?

      We so often hear about ,or use  examples of, people sacrificing their families to serve others.  They have ministered to others at the expense of their children.  We've faced that same criticism as a family at times.  
 It is wrong to neglect our first ministry (our spouse and children) for service to others but I think many times we do nothing....and sacrifice both.  We use that as a cop out. We think that if our kids don't have the trendiest clothes,  top of the line electronics,  a fairy-tale-worry-free childhood, and a schedule designed to give them every social  advantage in life, we are sacrificing them.   In Canada, we love our kids with stuff.  That is the standard of 'good parenting'.   We aspire that they  become adults that are "successful" in the worlds eyes.   This is us taking care of our first ministry.  Right?
Maybe not.  Maybe it's doing the opposite.

       I think in reality, when we aren't willing to give up our inner circle "quality of life", our possessions, our security, our pride, whatever we cling to,  it is because those things have become our passion.  Our idols.  We    tuck God neatly into the pocket of our Sunday suit.  We thank God for blessing us, throw him our tithe,  and ignore the rest of his call...whatever that might be.   We don't want to give up those things and  it breaks our hearts even more to allow our kids to struggle, to sacrifice, or to go without. 
   I know it does for me...
even though without struggle, sacrifice and discomfort character traits like compassion, generosity, empathy, courage, respect and true gratitude cannot develop (not to mention creativity, ingenuity, and imagination).  Those are what I want most for my children.  Those are the traits I want in my children as adults...whether they are successful in the eyes of the world or not.  
            If our children don't see us loving, serving , giving, or stepping beyond our own comfort into a life of faith, we steal from them the chance to see what a  big God we serve.  In our attempts to give them every "advantage" we  hobble them spiritually and stunt their ability to develop strength of character.

The world needs us to raise strong kids not safe kids.   One way of doing that is leading the way ourselves.  When we have a strong hope, a dangerous faith, and a significant purpose in life...our kids will see that.  It will be irresistible.  That's my theory.   Our example will have a greater impact than any legalistic rules, heavy handed hypocrisy, or self indulgent apathy coated in religion.  Actually the impact will be great either way.   Our kids will either learn to trust God or learn to despise him.  

I think doing ministry (loving, sacrificing, serving, reaching out) WITH our kids, as a family, is an incredible chance to give our kids every real advantage in life.  Once you lay those things down,  you'll realize the real blessing God gives us isn't in our possessions.  It's the indescribable joy His purpose in our life brings.  That's living a blessed life.  

wow...I really didn't mean to write all that.   I was basically going to provide light commentary on photos. 
I guess it was all bottled up waiting to come out.
Anyway...
It was spiritually inspiring and refreshing to spend time with a family who ,by most Canadian's standards of success and parenting, would be considered irresponsible...or even negligent.   By our societies standards they have their priorities backwards and upside down.  By God's standards they are at the top of the  ladder.
Follow their adventures in faith here  at saulyamber.wordpress.com     


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