6/30/12

Actively waiting



Learning to wait with patient endurance seems to be a recurring theme in our lives, but our adoptions have pushed us into a whole new stratosphere of learning to wait
 (or maybe just into a new level of obsessive psychosis) 

I should start by saying, I naturally suck at waiting.  I'm a go for it, get it done kind of person.
Waiting and being forced to be still when all I want to do is sprint is sometimes a bit crazy making.  I am learning though...


There is some progress being made in both our foster adoption and our Ch*na adoption, albeit seemingly slow progress (by my clock anyway).   I know that our God is never late though.  His timing and perspective is so far beyond my own narrow little agenda.  


So while we wait for files to move, for court dates to be set, for a Dossier to go to Ch*na...
we prepare.  

We're preparing for the child that we trust God will bring to us.  We are preparing to raise an older child who may come with various physical, behavioral, and emotional special needs (by reading every book and blog on attachment/bonding, therapeutic parenting, and adoption I can get my hands on.)

Although we are still waiting for our referral, and our preparation will be much more focused at that time, it does feel great to get a few things done.  To feel like this is actually happening.

We have a grubby little man cave room in our  basement.   It is a utility room/ storage room/ man junk dumping sight room.   We decided in order to make more space in the upstairs bedrooms (3) we needed to create another bedroom for our oldest son who is very eager to have a little space of his own.     After a few trips to the dump...my husband began framing a small bedroom and the rest will stay a utility room.   We are doing it on the cheap...fortunately our son isn't at all picky and likes a "rustic" look.


The finished product will be fun.  A "man cave" for our biggest little man.  



Another part of waiting and preparation has included scrounging money any way we can.  

We are selling our 2003 Expedition (still for sale)....we bought a used 12 passenger van a few months ago (another way we're preparing and making room)


We sold our Thule (that was only a few months old and only used on our last trip to Mexico)


and the hardest thing to part with....
The Hobiecat.
You can see pics of it flying up in the corner of my blog header.


My husbands baby has been a part of our family for several years now.  He fixed her up and enjoyed many summers of sailing it.   However, even before we began our adoption process, he felt he just couldn't justify the alone time he needed to keep up with his hobbie.  Our summers are too short and our family is too large.  

I was so proud of him, although a bit sad, when he volunteered to sell his Hobie to help fund the adoption.   

"It's just a thing, people are more important"

I could hardly watch as someone came and picked it up (what was worse is the person wasn't very nice)....but we joyfully added a few more thousand dollars to the adoption fund.  We were able to sell the fixed up version for more than we paid for it originally. 

We trust in God to provide for this adoption in whatever way He sees fit, but that doesn't mean we will be exempt from sacrifice ourselves.   If we are recipients of the most sacrificial love, how can we be unwilling to live sacrificially in order to love?

We consider it a privilege to be a part of what God's doing...even just in this small way. 

"Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favour that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. "

Martin Luther



{a final goodbye}

So as we wait we are not passive....we prepare, we trust, we pray, and we persevere.

Patient endurance is active.  It's persevering. 

I must admit I didn't realize  the level of utter resolve an Int. adoption takes.  

Not only do I have to battle my own selfishness, apathy and laziness...we have to battle a world system that is mostly opposed to (and entirely suspicious of)  adoption...and makes it as difficult as possible.   We battle doubts, fears, discouragement, opposition, criticism, financial mountains and impossible situations....but we know that we do not battle this alone, in fact we are entirely dependent on His grace for each moment...and we consider it all joy.  

Our eyes are set unwavering upon the work of Christ, as we journey the course that has been set for us, and open our hearts to the child that He will choose for us.  

"Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never by lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  Romans 12:9-12


"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins"  Col.  1: 10-14




6/27/12

As Christ loves the Church





Ephesians 5: 22-29

"Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her" (v.25)

I wanted to share something with you that spontaneously happened this past weekend as we camped with our church family.   Our church is a smallish group, a newer church plant,  but we are very diverse in race, national origin, age and demographic. Despite all our differences we are a family.  I would say that the biggest demographic in our church is a lot of young families, young couples and university students.  We have tons of kids under the age of 6.  It's an exciting and vibrant church to be a part of.




One afternoon as we sat around the campfire one of the young men, a newly wed of 1 year, confided in the other men something he wanted to do for his wife.  They decided it was something they needed to do too. 

The wives were invited to sit down in a row of lawn chairs, as a row of  men stood in front of us. 

The first young newly wed, began with tears in his eyes to confess that he had not loved his wife as she deserved to be loved.  He bravely took ownership and responsibility for the turmoil of their first year of marriage.   He told her he had not loved her unselfishly and sacrificially as Christ loves the Church.  He humbly asked for forgiveness as he looked into the eyes of his wife.   They knelt and embraced as they kissed the tears streaming down each others faces.


Then on down the line, a brotherhood of men, new believers alongside elders and even our pastor.  Each spoke to his wife, each vowing , by the grace of God and empowering of the Holy Spirit to love her more unselfishly, asking for forgiveness for the areas where they failed to do so.  The areas where they had chosen their own comfort, apathy, or laziness over loving her well. 

As if that wasn't enough....they pulled out tubs of water (similar to the picture above,...although that picture was one I swiped off the internet...we weren't dressed that glamorously!)
and gently washed each of their wives sandaled, dirty, camping feet.  


It was an act of love and service, not one of domination by either gender.  It was a perfect picture of loving leadership described in Ephesians   It was complementarian structure of home and church at work in the everyday grubbiness of life.  

The funny thing is we could all look at these committed, Jesus loving, hard working, mature family men and justify that they are a cut above most men in our world.  They could also look at all the pathetic excuses for men in our world and puff themselves up with pride saying, "I'm way better than those guys....she should be glad I don't do the stuff he does".   Fortunately, as Christ followers, we have no business comparing ourselves to others....the only mirror we have is Christs perfection and God's holiness.  Next to that we all look pretty wretched.    As the Spirit convicts , our life becomes one of repentance and transformation to look more like the one we follow.  

I'm so glad to be a part of a church that encourages our eyes to focus on Christ, and continually draws us to a life of repentance.  That is what keeps us from growing luke warm.  Our understanding of our own imperfection keeps us utterly focused on the generous grace of God.



Complementarianism   ( a word used to describe a biblical structure for marriage and church) gets all kinds of flack from those who do not understand, and have not witnessed it at work.   It is much maligned and hated by femanist culture , which sadly has also influenced much of the Church (universally speaking).   Fortunately we hold to the Bible as authority rather than culture and it is amazing to see the fruit of that in both healthy thriving churches and families. Of course it has to be more than just lip service, or even worse a twisted distortion of God designed marriage.




When you look at the Acts 29 church network (which our church is a part of), or other churches who hold this high standard for men to lovingly lead their homes ( rather than to dominate, oppress, selfishly remain uninvolved, or passively ruled over by their wives).....women thrive.   Daughters thrive.  Boys thrive under Godly example of how to love, protect and honor women.   Our marriage has thrived as my husband has found a brotherhood of young men who he can not only respect but who pull him closer to Christ in every area of his life. 

It's a beautiful thing.  

 Like my daughter wisely observed "I know when Dad has friends like those guys he could never ever get away with sinning against his family, they love him too much to let him. "  

That's the power of community, the corporate body of Christ loving and speaking truth to each other.  

I love that my sons watched as their Dad humbly vowed to lead and love his family, and lay down his life for his wife.  My daughter watched her mom humbly submit to, and accept that love as she also lays down her own life to serve and honor her husband.


Marriage, Biblically, that is modeled after Jesus relationship to the church,  isn't a partnership of friends who stay together as long as they are both benefiting from the arrangement. 

Christ gave his life without requiring anything in return.  It is a covenant of unconditional love and service....and for every covenant there is one who bears the responsibility for it.  That is self sacrificing leadership, and I joyfully submit to that love.  

I think many husbands think of giving their lives for their wives as some hypothetical action movie scene where they run in front of a moving train or into a burning building...as noble as that may be, a man who gives his life unselfishly to his wife and children each and every morning, in all the little moments and decisions is much more heroic.   He is not whipped into being a servant by a nagging "goddess" who demands to be served....but rather a voluntary, courageous taking of responsibility for the well being of his wife and children.  

That moment was such a genuine display of love and humility.  
It was Jesus love at work in his people.  












6/26/12

A beautiful afternoon







This past weekend was a pretty special one.  

I had the privaledge to witness my oldest daughter be baptized.
It is something she has been asking to do for a while now, and this year she was unwaveringly serious it was something she wanted to do.  My first instinct was to say "you're too young" but I chose to squelch my knee jerk response in favor of a more prayerful one.  We had some long conversations, and did some Bible reading together.  Our wonderfully gracious pastor sat and casually chatted with her on a few occasions about her desire to be baptized and asked he lots of tough questions.  We didn't do any formal "baptism classes", quite honestly the Bible doesn't make a huge formal deal about preparing for a baptism...the only qualification is salvation, faith in the finished work of Christ. I believe that she has a repentant heart, she confesses Jesus as her Lord and savior, and she is showing signs of a heart regenerated.  Believe and be baptized...and that's exactly what she wanted to do.    This is a girl who knows what she wants.  We supported and encouraged her. 



So with her Daddy and our pastor by her side she made her own faith visible through the testimony of baptism.   

I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for this little spit fire.  She is passionate, creative, ambitious, and  she has a huge heart full of big bold dreams.  She is counting down the years until she can go care for  orphans in China, or teach school in Africa, or serve the poor in Mexico... she's full of big ideas.

 I'm praying that this little light would not grow dim but would shine for His kingdom and glory.  May she live up to her name as she bears His light.  

Baptism does not save us.  It doesn't "seal the deal", it doesn't push us into some new level of Christianity...it is obedience.  It is an outward sign of an inward work.  The Holy Spirit knows that inward work in her heart, we can only take it at face value.  

As we have been brought from death to life spiritually, baptism is a beautiful picture of dying to ourselves and being resurrected with Christ.   That new life is one of repentance and humility.  It is a life of joy, as we become adopted children of God, even though we aren't in anyway entitled (through our own effort or works)  to sit at his table or benefit from his great mercy and grace.  We live in great awe of his grace each day.


It was a beautiful afternoon.
That is one proud Daddy.  


Actually it was a beautiful weekend.

We spent the whole weekend camping with many of our church family.   

We've been blessed to be a part of this fellowship for nearly a year now.






Church isn't a place to go on Sunday mornings, a building, an event, a social club, or a political agenda platform....it's Jesus' people.   The bride of Christ.

I happen to really love His people. 




I've never seen a group of people serve each other so completely and joyfully.  I've never seen lives so genuinely transformed by God's grace from the inside out.  It's genuine. 



We share communion every Sunday as we fellowship together.  This weekend we joined together after the baptisms to share in the cup and bread, which is a celebration that always points us back to Jesus.  


It was a super fun weekend as we shared our hearts, lives, kids, smores, hotdogs...and even some fresh fish.


( This is a video made about our church.)

Acts 29 and C2C Saskatchewan from Crimson Filmworks on Vimeo.




6/20/12

Boys can have tea parties too






Especially when they have a 2 year old sister that they adore.


Love can make a man do all kinds of crazy things.




6/19/12

My Little Entrepreneur



A couple weeks ago Aili set up this little store on main street of our tiny village hoping to raise some money to bring her new sibling home from China.


She invited her cousin and brother to come and help staff her little store.  
She sold home made chocolate chip cookies 
as well as ear rings and other beaded necklaces (the hand crafted jewelry had been donated and was left over from our previous garage sale)


After only about 1hr out in the mosquitoes and drizzling rain she had sold all the cookies and a few pieces of jewelry.

For a grand total of $26.00 to add to our adoption fund.

Thankyou Aili!  
Your generous spirit, soft heart, and creative ambition makes your mama proud!
You are such a delight to have as a daughter. 





6/18/12

It's pretty awesome...


It's pretty awesome to have a Dad that is willing to drop what he's doing to slam out a sword and shield....just because he knows it will make you into a brave dragon fighting knight.



It's pretty awesome to have a Dad that will find the patience and time to sit and play battle ship with a table full of kids who have no idea how to play battle ship.


Yup, It's pretty awesome to have a husband who loves his kids this much. 


It's pretty awesome to have a  husband who generously embraces being a father to the fatherless.






In a world that is desperately short on men willing to be Dads....
it's pretty awesome to be married to one that 
loves being a Daddy,  a Baba,
a Tio, 
and an uncle to a bunch of kids that need a glimpse of what the Father's love looks like.  






6/16/12

A moment captured


"I'm never gonna do it"

(A classic Silas picture)



"Here Si, I can help you"






"This is how it's done"


"wait up guys!"


"Now you try"



"Hooraay! MOM, HE DID IT!"
"Go Silas GO!"







6/11/12

A 1/2 hr slice of my life

A 1/2 hr  slice of life at home with four kids.

A shriek comes from the basement as a protective big brother tries to remove a game piece out of a toddler's mouth only to have said toddler react like a pit bull trapping his bleeding finger in her mouth.  Fortunately this cannibalistic little girl is sensitive enough to burst into open mouthed, remorseful tears at one cry of "NO!" from mommy.   One finger bandaged, one reminder to the big kids to clean up their game, and one toddler scolded "No biting, No eating games!"

Moments later I hear a quiet "mommy...mommy?" only to look over and see a puddle of pee running down a toddler's legs and into the carpet.  One pee puddle scrubbed, one more load of laundry started.

As I load the basement washer I'm pretty sure I just hear the very faint sound of glass shattering.  I assume I'm just hearing things ...until the blood curdling screams coming from upstairs tells me otherwise.  

A big brother shrieks and points at a broken french door window pane, as a pale faced wide eyed little brother looks with quiet horror at the broken shards of glass...until he notices his bleeding foot.  Then shrieks of "I'm gonna die!  I'm gonna DIE!  I can't do this, I can't do this.  Please don't let me DIE!" start to pierce  my ears as I carry this terrified child, and his bloodied foot, to the kitchen sink to assess the damage.  I happen to notice, during my examination, that his other foot has 3 large slivers in it from him running around outside barefoot.   As I shove bloody paper towels into into the garbage bin I notice that it's nearly overflowing.

One foot bandaged.  3 slivers removed.  
What's left of one window pane removed from the frame.   
One living room vacuumed.
One garbage emptied.
One rant by mommy about how "I've told you so many times not to rough house near that door!"


Deep breaths.  One phone call to Dad.  

Naked toddler forgotten in the chaos redressed in dry , pee free, clothes.  

Snack time...

followed by a good solid nagging to my oldest daughter that she needs to stay caught up on her school work if she wants to finish it all this week. 

A jug of juice removed from the hands of a 2 year old, that has effectively removed it from the fridge, resulting in a rather impressive tantrum.

Run over my mental "to-do" list...and think I should actually start to accomplish something today.  







6/8/12

New Hair


Me in all my glorious frumpishness.
Desperately in need of a make over....or at least just a hair cut.  It had been 9 months since I did anything to my mop.
It's in a pony tail every. single. day.

(note to self: when having a child photograph you, stand them on a chair so everyone isn't looking up your nose.)

Well, you get the picture...and it ain't pretty.




After
Another farmers wife, and mom of young kids, a few miles away set up a hair salon in her home (after owning her own business in town for years).  It couldn't be more convenient for me...Aili can babysit since it's not very far away and I don't have to take the travel time to get there.  Less time, less gas, and I don't have to find a babysitter!  I may actually have to get my hair done more than twice a year now!


I got quite a few inches off, lots of layering, and highlights.
It's brighter and bouncier.
It makes me happy.


My husband said I look 7 years younger and much less haggard.  I'll take that as a compliment.  

He also told me quite a few times how pretty I looked.   I was ok with just looking much less haggard.



6/6/12

Quiet Down


This is what happens after a bunch of really late nights and busy days.  A little boy who never naps, konks out in the middle of a busy noisy house.  


My little baldy.  The summer buzz cut had a little mishap and well...he's now mostly hairless.  Oh well, it'll grow.  Hard to believe this is the same shaggy little boy who had hair down to his shoulders for about 4 years of his life.  He was my only bald baby though, so his bare little head doesn't seem all that unfamiliar. 
Such a little boy...dirty feet, camo pants and a Darth Vader shirt.



On the adoption front, not much to update or movement forward on either one.  In fact, with our China adoption we find ourselves going backwards and having to re-do some of our Dossier.  Not a major hurdle like some others ...just a set back...another delay.  I realize these sorts of things are all just part of the battle.  I knew the process would be difficult but I don't think I realized how much utter resolve,  dependence, and endurance it would require.  This latest set back feels like running a marathon only to find out the the mile markers were switched and you are actually a few miles behind where you thought you were...a bit demoralizing.  

 I find myself taking a deep breath as I go on with my days,  I suppose trying my best to exhale the growing impatience, helplessness, and frustration I feel.  I send my heart cries up to my Father and give my aching and longing over to the one who sees, and knows, and rules over it all.  I release it over...and over...and over again.  

Each step will be in His timing and not my own.   It may feel like I'm wandering through an endless wasteland but I believe that none of it will be wasted.  Each trial along the way will refine and prune.  


The last couple days have been crazy blustery, fiercely windy and the spring storms are rolling through.  I feel a bit like the chaos outside my windows, and the chaos inside my noisy busy house threatens to spill over into my spirit.  A tornado of fear starting to spin, clouds of discouragement rolling in,  the winds of doubt starting to whip and bend my faith like the firmly rooted trees being pushed toward the ground.  

However I know that these are but "light and momentary afflictions".  I will persevere, and bend, and fight, and dig my roots that much deeper still.  I will trust that the One who began this work in us will see it through to completion. 

I call out to the one who calms the storms...
and He speaks "Peace be still" once again into my soul. 

After SO much provision, and seeing his faithfulness time and time again you would think I'd have an easier time remembering...but my flesh is so weak.

Yesterday I prayed 
"Please show me your mercy today Father, I need to see it...
I'm fighting to keep my eyes off of the waves as I walk across this water, my faith is so weak that in a matter of hours I can start to doubt, and fall, and sink.   I want to keep my eyes on the face of my Savior but I'm slipping, the water is rising, and I fear I might drown!....grab me by the hand and be my strength in this weakness.  Be my peace.  Be my faith where I am so lacking."

...and He is.  Over and over again.



In all my 34 years living here on the Canadian prairie I don't remember ever seeing a "flock" of Monarch butterflies.  I don't think I've ever even seen one.   I don't know if the crazy wind blew them in from their migration route or what, but my lilac bushes were covered in them yesterday evening as the wind turned to complete stillness.

I could hardly believe my eyes.  They were so big...and exquisite and graceful.

I grabbed my camera and then sat outside and watched them.  A quiet moment of beauty in the middle of a storm.

The One who designs the intricate beauty of the Monarch wings, and creates the scent of lilacs, for no other reason than to show us His glory and to lavish us with his love has not forgotten the child in a far away land locked behind the bars of a crib.  He has not forgotten the abandoned little girl living in my home as my daughter, but still not mine.  He is knitting all our lives together with intricate beauty.   He hasn't forgotten the ache in this mommy's heart. 
 Love costs, and forces us to lay on the altar the deepest parts of ourselves.  Maybe that's what makes it so beautiful.  Pain and joy all woven together each making the other more vivid.  


Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”And I said,  “Here am I. Send me!”




"For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:17




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