Monkey Kids Show Day

I love this handsome little face!  Although the boy it belongs to is growing up awfully fast.  
Here is spider boy in his element.

We're not fans of being overly busy with activities and sports.  Our family is minimalist when it comes to  signing them up and running them around.  I suspect it's a combination of cheapness, laziness, a general disdain for structured business,  and fundamentally different priorities that contribute to the preservation of family home time and unstructured childhood play.  However, they usually do one sport type activity during the school year.  Gymnastics was a great fit for us this winter.  One day a week we drove  40 minutes to town where all three took a gymnastics class.  Cece and I did our grocery shopping while the kids worked on their flexibility, balance and most importantly burned off some energy.   It was inexpensive, and convenient.  They really enjoyed their first year in this gymnastics program.   The last class of the year the parents were invited to come and watch the kids show off their skills.

Roman is a natural gymnast.  He LOVED it.  The more he can throw him self around the better.

It was so good for this lanky, vestibularly challenged girl to work on the things that don't come so naturally to her.  

It was a challenge for Silas to stick it out and get through the year but it was good for his courage.  There were a few weeks he didn't make it past the front door, but most days he looked forward to it.  He is mister competitive and took his "show day" very seriously.  He practically ran across the balance beam so he could "win"... because it's always about speed. 

They made their mama proud.


Chronic Ache

   It builds up over time, the inexpressible ache, the isolating preoccupation.   The longing, that if spoken of, would only confuse those around me.

This transparent journal is the place I attempt to form this crazy roller coaster into concrete words.  We are in the active process of two different adoptions.  The vulnerability I feel with both is immense.

The world around me questions our decisions.  They judge our lack of 'good sense'.  With raised eye brows,  accusing questions, or even sometimes more hurtful...silence.

I don't expect anything from anyone else, this is between us, our children, and our Father who sets the lonely in families.  This has NOTHING to do with getting attention, good karma, cosmic brownie points, or gaining favor.   The reason we're so open about our experiences is to bring God the glory , and to challenge others to follow their Savior with reckless abandon to the death of their own comfort, convenience, or worldly common sense.  It's not to make ourselves showcase trophies.   On the contrary, if anything, it's to prove that God specializes in using ordinary  repenting sinners...who struggle to pay the bills,  who snap at their kids,  who get impatient, grumpy, and lose focus too easily.  He uses us, in spite of ourselves not because we're something special.  It's not our light we're shining, it's His.

Tomorrow we have another home study meeting for our Chinese adoption, this one discussing our motives for adoption and reviewing our "range of acceptance"....not that we haven't already given great consideration and hours of research, prayer and discussion to the topic. It's been a process, over the last couple months, of allowing the Holy Spirit to strip away our fears, to convict us of our self preservation, and to open our hearts and home to "special needs" that not too many years ago I would have prayed fervently against our home ever being touched with.

Our Dossier is almost complete and ready to send away.  I find myself in a chronic state of trying (unsuccessfully) not to imagine the child that will become ours,  because the longing, the ache, and the impatience is too uncomfortably sanctifying.  Trying to control my fierce maternal passion is exhausting.   It is forcing me to dig deeper, to trust more completely, and to lay aside my own desire for control.   I go between railing against it, to succumbing to the refining process and thanking him for breaking me a little more.

I know our Father's purposes cannot be frustrated by human inefficiency or derailed by demonic powers that seek to destroy the weak.  Throughout history, from the front page of creation to the return of the risen King his purposes stand...despite our sin, in spite of our weakness, in the midst of opposing powers and principalities....His rescue mission to call out his own has not changed.   There is nothing that we will face, that has not already been through the filter of his love.  There is nothing that comes against us that he has not allowed.  We can rest in that truth with so much joy and peace.  We know he is good.  He is just.  He is merciful. Even if we can't always see the road ahead.   Even if that road doesn't lead where we think it should go.

"If there's any part of my shaking heart
to see this journey through.
It must be You."

"If we are out of our mind,
It is for the sake of God...
..For Christ's love compels us.
2 Corinthians 5:13, 14


Introducing my new sister!

{My Mom, Dad, Aili and my new sister at the airport}

 After several years of seeing photos of her and hearing stories from my parents.  After two years of adoption process,  after a lot of waiting and a lot of prayers, she's finally home!

{Aili meeting her new Auntie}

She has only been home for a few days but she's adjusting to her new world so well.  Just taking it all in stride.  I'm sure it helps that she has known my parents for years, and has lived with them for months at a time in Haiti.   She is a courageous young woman, who has a generous smile.  She is adapting to this change with an incredible amount of poise.   In the last few days she has experienced so many firsts...an airplane ride,  hot running water, a dishwasher, apple juice, Walmart, vacuuming, a house with carpet, wide open spaces, Canadian weather....such a different world than where she came from.  

We are enjoying getting to know her and look forward to many years of friendship ahead. 

{Me on the right with 2 of my 4 sisters)
We had a little pizza party this evening.

I think she'll fit in just fine.   The kids already adore her.  Silas asked me after his first time meeting her 
"Why is she so pretty?"   She is a beautiful young lady.
I'm so happy that she now has a family, a future, and a place to belong.

This little girlie is my sweet niece.   Cute like her mama.


Sunshine and Chickens

Just to prove that our Spring is extremely extreme.  A couple days after my last snowy post...summer showed up for a visit.
So beautiful.  So warm.

We got a little yard work done.  

We spent some time playing outside.

We cooked some food over a fire.

We visited some friends and their chickens.

The flip-flops came out of storage.

We are SO ready for summer!  

Seeding season has officially started on the family farm.  The Hubster will be spending the next few weeks in a tractor.   So far parenting solo during bedtime/ evening  has been going really well.  It seems to be smoother than it was for the last couple years.  Probably because Silas and Cece have grown up so much since last spring.  The spring before that I had a colicky newborn so this year seems easy breezy.  I'm sure by the next post I'll be singing a different tune.   Most likely it will be a desperate cry for help from a mom convinced she won't make it through single parenting season alive.   


Split Personality Spring

Spring here in the great white North gets easily confused.   He's a bit lacking in confidence and follow through.   Just when we think he's finally got the hang of things and is ready to take over from Old man Winter he slinks off and disappears for a few days.   Mind you Old man Winter is a tenacious old fellow who doesn't easily give up control.  

We might see Summer arrive before Spring can get his act together.   The forecast says 20 degrees Celcius tomorrow and 24 degrees C for Monday.   I'm dreaming of flip flops, and lilacs.


Messy little hands

Sticky little fingers poking holes in the butter.  Skrawny little arms flexed as they try to kneed the soft bread dough.  Chubby little hands awkwardly dumping flour into the mixing bowl while spilling half of it on the counter.  I take a deep breath, and think to myself..." I could get this done so much easier myself, with so much less mess".  I fight the urge to chase them all away, sacrificing the prize, for something of lesser value.

It would be so much more efficient to not let them "help".  After all, this is my kitchen and they generally make a huge mess of things.  I have every right to assert my standard of peace and order, in which they always seem to complicate, but what I'm seeking is not a perfectly arranged house, or a batch of evenly shaped cookies, it's the hearts of my children.  I want them to learn, to be challenged, and to enjoy my company as I delight in theirs.

Today as I winced at spilled flour, and was tempted to mutter unholy things under my breath, I was reminded of how Jesus invites me, with my messy little hands and my clumsy efforts, into his work.  It humbled me once again.  How often do we, as Christians, puff up our little chest and think we are doing God a favor, that somehow he NEEDS us.   It's more laughable than the two year old squishing flour between her toes being convinced that she is an integral part of the baking process.

God lets me be a part of what he is doing because he is relational, and loving, and cares about the growth of his child.  It is a gift to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.    The more my clumsy little hands are guided by his own, the more I realize that this "kitchen" is not mine.  It's his.  He chooses to allow us to join him, learning to do things that we didn't think we could ever do.   I am so thankful that Jesus cares more about bringing us into his presence than he does about efficiency.

It is my absolute joy that he delights in using my messy little hands.

Every day these kids preach the gospel to me as they mirror my own self absorbed, stubborn, short sighted, mess making nature....and remind me how far the Father's love is willing to go to make a wretch like me his own.  


Expectant - a letter to my child

It's a helpless feeling to be here.  While you're still there.  So far away.  If only, by shear force of will, I could project my love across an ocean.  I would wrap it warmly around you as you sleep and comfort you with it as you wake.   I ask the one who knows the very hairs on your head, and created your sparkling eyes, to light an ember of hope and warm you with his love while we wait for the day when you will come home.

It's a very strange thing indeed to fall in love with a child I have never held in my arms.  To love a child I have not yet been introduced to.   Although, it feels similar to waiting for a child hidden in my womb, a cherished mystery that I long to discover.  A loved child I long to gaze at... face to sweet little face, and caress with my mother's hands.  Only you are there, and I am here.    As I wait, I am reminded once again that my children are not my own.  They are cherished gifts to be released moment they are given.

I think about you every day my child.  I wonder if you're ticklish, and what your giggle sounds like. I wonder what your eyes look like when you smile and what your voice sounds like when you say "mama".   I imagine you wrestling with your brothers, and being doted on by your sisters.   I wonder when I will be able to name you as my own, because in my heart I already have.  You see, even though I have never sang over you in a rocking chair, or stroked your silky hair...I hold you when I dream.   I make up my lists of names and wonder if we'll know which one perfectly suits you once we see your little face.

You are an unexpected gift.  The reply to a sacred invitation.
 I'm coming baby!

Love, Mama


Happy Resurrection Sunday!

"At the first glimmer of dawn, Mary Magdalene and other women headed to the tomb to wash Jesus' body.  The early morning sun slanted through the ancient olive trees, drops of dew glittering on the leaves and grasses - little tears everywhere.  The friends walked quietly along the hilly path, through the olive groves, until they reached the tomb.  And immediately noticed something odd - it was wide open. 
they peered through the opening into the dark tomb. But wait.  Jesus body was gone!

...The angel asked them " What are you doing here?  This is a tomb and tombs are for dead people".
The women couldn't speak.
"Jesus isn't dead anymore! he said "He's alive again!"

And their hearts leapt.   And then the angel laughed with such gladness that they felt, for a moment,  as if they had woken from a nightmare.... 

.....and it seemed to her that morning, as she ran, almost as if the whole world had been made anew, almost as if the whole world was singing for joy - the trees, tiny sounds in the grass, the birds...her heart.  

Was God really making everthing sad come untrue?  Was he making even death come untrue?

She couldn't wait to tell Jesus' friends.  
"They won't believe it! " she laughed."

(Children's Story Book Bible  "God's wonderful surprise")

"It's the Truth that overcomes the terrible lie.  God loves his children.  Yes, he really does!"

 "This is our king!  The Lamb who died, so we don't have to - our Rescuer.  All Honor and Glory! Forever and ever."  (pg. 345 "A Dream of Heaven")



The Sun Stopped Shining

Today is "Good Friday" on the calender.  What does that mean?  Sometimes we complicate things so much that no one has a clue, or simplify them into meaninglessness. I appreciate how a certain Children's Bible beautifully simplifies the entire story of God and his children, God's rescue plan, and points it all back to Jesus, the beginning and the end.

As I reflect on the cross, God's incredible rescue plan, and His great mercy this morning...I wondered what I could write here.   I decided that instead of coming up with poignant words to write, I would share with you what I read to my children today.

Jesus story book Bible pg. 36,  

You see, sin had come into God's perfect world.  And it would never leave.  God's children would be always running away from him and hiding in the dark.  Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.  In another story, it would all be over and that would have been..
The End. 
But not in this story.  
God loved his children to much to let the story end there.  Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan - a magnificent dream.  One day, he would get his children back.  One day he would make the world their perfect home again.   and one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.    

You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children

 - with a Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever love.  

And although they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God's children would miss him always, and long for him - lost children yearning for their home.....

.....  One day God himself would come.  

(Jesus Story Book Bible, pg 304, The Sun Stops Shining)

"They nailed Jesus to the cross.....

"you say you've come to rescue us!" people shouted " But you can't even rescue yourself!"

But they were wrong.  Jesus could have rescued himself.  A legion of angels would have flown to his side - if he'd called.

....Actually, he could have just said a word and made it all stop.  Like when he healed that little girl.  And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.  

But Jesus stayed.

You see they didn't understand.  It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there.  It was love....  

...."The earth trembled and quaked.  The great mountains shook.  Rocks split in two. Until it seemed that the whole world would break.  That creation itself would tear apart.

The full force of the storm of God's fierce anger at sin was coming down.  On his own son. Instead of his people.   It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

The Jesus shouted out in a loud voice,  
"It is finished!"

And it was.   
He had done it.
Jesus had rescued the whole world.

"Father!" Jesus cried. "I give you my life."  and with a great sigh he let himself die.

Strange clouds and shadows filled the sky.  Purple, orange, black.  Like a bruise.  

Jesus friends gently carried Jesus.  They laid Jesus in a new tomb carved out of rock.

How could Jesus die?  What had gone wrong?  What did it mean?  They didn't know anything anymore.  

Except they did know their hearts were breaking.

"That's the end of Jesus", the Leaders said.

But , just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb.  They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb.  So that no one could get in.  Or out. 

*to be continued *

(a song from "The Story" sung from the perspective of the thief on the cross.  The man who hung next to Jesus)


Summer Preview

Today felt like summer....or at least a beautiful spring day.  It was amazing.  It's ridiculous how much a beautiful day out soaking up the sun can re-energize me.  I'm convinced I'm solar powered....and after 3 months basically cooped up inside I was nearly dead.  I'm glad we at least had that month in Mexico, or I might not have survived!

Roman is thrilled to have his bike out again.  The kids have been playing outside until bedtime the last couple days.  I love it!   

Roman couldn't be happier.  He barely survives winter.  Seriously...by the end of winter he is depressed, sullen, and generally miserable to be around.  We even installed a bar in the basement to try to help him...not THAT kind of bar, although after a winter cooped up with this kid it doesn't sound like a bad idea either.....a chin up bar.  He spends a crazy amount of time on there.  The other day he was struggling through school work and we ended up, kind of by accident, practicing his multiplication tables orally while he did chin ups.  Instantly he could focus.   Something about extreme physical exertion, it's like the on switch to his brain. 

 He's elated that he can now climb his trees, build his forts, jump his bike...
and best of all dig his trenches.   
This boy LOVES to dig.  He could do it all day.  

It was such a gorgeous day,  that I decided to wash and put away all the winter gear.  
I had a very cute little helper.

This week has been paper work crunch with our home study.  We had the first of our 4 required visits last weekend and our IP gave us the personal questionnaire forms to fill out and get back to her by the end of the week.   She needs them before our next visit.  Our 4th and final home study visit will be May 5th. 

{how awesome is this guy?..he HATES filling out forms.  That's a Baba's love right there.}

We've also been working on gathering the other letters, forms, and documents that we'll need for our Dossier (the information package we send to China).  We have also sent away our forms to the CIC (Canadian immigration).  Hopefully it doesn't take too long to hear back from them.  The cool thing is that our child will have Canadian citizenship before he/she ever sets foot in Canada.   It will be nice to have all that done in China.  

So this month is home study crunch.  Hopefully we'll have most of what we need for our Dossier by our final home study visit.   After that  it's sent to our Provincial office for approval, then it's sent to our agency for translation and other such things.  About a month later it gets sent to China (DTA...Dossier to China) for their approval.  
The child proposal or matching process is  a bit different for kids on "wait lists"...hard to place children, older children, and children with special needs (especially boys) so we're not sure when we will receive our child referral but we assume it's after our Dossier is logged in in China.   We're wide open with our age range, gender, and special needs so we're excited to see who we'll be matched with.  The wondering and anticipation is both a little nerve wracking and exciting.   It could go pretty quick if everything goes as planned....which it never does.   So I'm trying not to give this thing a timeline.  It's all in God's hands and in his timing.  

One step at a time,  one fee at a time...

I can't make the steps move fast enough.  I'd make them a sprint if I could.  


Signs of Spring

Mommy yelling,  "Get out of the mud with your church shoes!"

Rediscovering sand toys.

Spring here is like an environmental identity crisis.  Flip flops one day, and snow boots the next.  
I'm tempted to pack away all the winter gear because the snow is mostly all gone....but the forecast is calling for "flurries" this weekend.  Maybe I'll put it  all away anyhow.... as my form of protest.