8/27/12

Every Single Stone will Fall







When we started our adoption process, we knew that it was impossible for us in every way.   We knew it would test our faith, resolve and endurance like no experience ever has.   Even then, we had no idea what we would face along the way.   We kept trusting as we put one foot in front of the other squinting ahead to catch a glimpse of the Promise.   For so many months all we've seen is blowing sand, but the Lord has been faithful as we cling to Him.

"be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go" Joshua 1:9

We now stand at the edge and wait.

Ahead of us I see the Promised Land, behind us the fierce desert...but directly in our path the towering Wall.   The Wall that has looms between us and the Promise, that has threatened to send us back where we came from,  but it is going to fall.   Not because of anything we have done, or can do, or will do...but because our God is mighty and He will be glorified.  

It will be spectacular!

"But Joshua had commanded the people, "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.  Then SHOUT!" Joshua 6:10

...and shout we will!  From the rooftops!

"in a week it's crazy how everything can change"

So as we cry out to Yahweh, and watch in awe at his deliverance, we know that we have not walked one step of this journey alone.

"In the time of my favor I will answer you, 
and in the day of salvation I will help you.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, 'Come out',
and to those in darkness, Be free!"   Isaiah49:8-9


"But this is what the Lord says:
Yes captives will be taken from warriors, 
and plunder retrieved from the fierce,
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and you children I will save".  Isaiah 49:25







8/23/12

My Last Day with 2 Kids




This week I have only had two children at home.  My "Bigs" are away at camp for the week, so it's just me and the "Littles" hanging out.   My Hubster is also away from home until late at night so it's just been the three of us.   What a change that is! 

It's been an easy week...less laundry, less dishes, no real meals made (unless popcorn counts), less noise, less bodies banging around the house.   

I miss my oldest kids though...I'm so not used to them being somewhere else, with no contact for a week! 

Here is a sampling of our last day with just the three of us:

The above photo was taken when we were taking a walk down to pick up the mail.   Little Miss Cece decided she was going to throw a fit (I have no idea why).  She decided to just sit in the middle of the road.  So I did what any good mom does...I took a picture, and watched her with amusement as she contemplated the threat of being left behind sitting in the road.  Fortunately she is more dramatic than she is strong willed.  


We made another batch of buns so we have plenty in the freezer for Daddy's sandwiches that he takes to the field during harvest.


Silas showing off his triple layer start shaped loaf.




My little helpers.   Celina said she was making pizza for "gampa"


Cece running to comfort Silas after he did a nose dive into the coffee table.  She has such a tender heart, and so much natural empathy.  She loves to look after (mother) all her older siblings.  It's pretty cute. 


We did some climbing..
playing...
and digging...


 Then we took the carrots that we dug up and combined them with some mangoes and peaches.


We shoved them all into our juicer made some yummy juice.  Silas named today's concoction "Super Sunshine"

The finished juice (which more resembled a smoothie) on the left, and the pulp on the right which will be made into carrot/ fruit muffins.  

mmmm....it tasted like it should have a little umbrella on the top.




It's been so nice to have some special time with just my Littles...who get a little less little every day. 





8/18/12

Family Day




We managed to sneak in another lake day today....even though Harvest has begun.  Things aren't quite in full swing yet so we had a day to have some fun.  Even after just a week of Daddy working long harvest hours the kids were glad to have his attention again.


Our little sailboat (Tanzer 22) is parked at a lake about  1 1/2 hrs away, so that's were we decided to go spend the day in the sunshine.  Unfortunately  (for the sailors in the family) there was no wind.  I was happy just to beach the boat and let with kids play.  


We tried the sails for a bit and let the kids take turns getting pulled behind the boat in the life ring.  Like I've said before, my kids are easily entertained.

Silas is usually a little nervous at first but he was mister brave in no time.



It was such a beautiful day, and the lake was so quiet and gorgeous.   It was so peaceful.



We're not only soaking up the last bit of summer weather but the last bit of family time as well.  The next month will be a busy one. 

When I stopped to think about it, it's been quite a while since we did something fun, with just the 6 of us.  Just our crew.  

It really was just what I needed.  It's been a stressful week, on the adoption front, and somehow that translated into things falling apart between me and the kids.  I have been so preoccupied with the child I don't yet have in my home that I've been pretty good at being unpleasant to the children I do have in my home, and they responded by being little beasts right back.    Anyway by the end of the week, we were having trouble liking one another, never mind actually enjoying each other's company.   I love how days like this remind me how much I love being a mom,  how much I love my kids....and even how much I even like being with them.   







8/16/12

My other kids

I have been writing about these kids since our trip to Baja in 2009 (which you can find back in the archives if you so desire).   They are "the kids that call me Tia" or "My kids from Santa Fe"...for lack of a better description.   I have become their Auntie and my husband is their Uncle.   I'm not sure really how and why God brought us into their story, but looking back I'm so honored to be able to share in their lives...even for only brief periods of time and from a distance.

Back in 2009, we adopted the two oldest as honorary family members while we worked at an orphanage (where we also met Amber and Saul).  Upon the children's return to live with their mother we met a whole house full of children who all call us Tia and Tio.  We promised them we'd always be family.

Three years later there are 7 little ones, we have maintained our relationship with them and we continue to love them.  It's note quite definable.  It's rather unusual.  It's kind of hard to explain.  They are our kids.  God brought us into each other's lives.


Baby number 7 was born this spring.  
Our friends in Baja have been so very kind to be our go-between...taking pictures for us, passing messages and letters back and forth, and even helping to look after this family while the single mother was unable to work in the last trimester of her pregnancy (She does hard manual field work, and the field boss told her not to come back until after the baby was born).  Where they live there is no disability insurance, unemployment, welfare, maternity leave, or food banks.  They don't have a pantry full of food to live off of like most of us do.  If you don't work, you don't eat.   When you have six other little mouths to feed the situation gets bleak very fast.   I'm so glad that God positioned our friends, and others who helped support this family, right where we all needed to be at the right time.

This spring I waited anxiously for the news of our newest little niece, and celebrated this precious little life from far away in Canada.   I was told they were calling her Esperanza (Hope) but hadn't officially given her a name.  I loved that they were calling her Hope.  Hope is a hard thing to find where they live.  
Desperation, yes.
Heartache, yes.
Fear, yes.
Addictions, yes.
Depression, yes.
Real poverty...plenty,
but Hope.  Such a beautiful tribute to our Saviors work in their lives. 

A few weeks later my friend wrote to me that they had officially registered her with a name and her name is Carla.  
What?!  
It was so unexpected!  It actually brought tears to my eyes.  My little honorary niece name shares my name.


{handsome Alvaro looking so grown up, holding a letter for Tia and Tio}

These are photos that were taken by Amber and sent to me.  It's been so great this time to have someone there watching over these kids for us.  Last time we left Mexico in 2010 we had no contact with them for a year and a half until we showed up in their doorway this past December. 

We've done what we can for them over the past few years as far as making sure they have basic food, water, and shelter, but I think what's been so much more rewarding has been giving them ourselves.  Relationship.  Knowing that they are loved, that someone sees them and cares....and pointing them toward someone else who sees them, and cares more deeply than we ever could.



This woman, worn by her years of hard living, has so much of my respect.  I have moved from a place of judging her for her lack of parenting and nurture of her children, to sympathizing with what her life has been.   I see a light and a hope in her that she didn't used to have.  I pray that the Holy Spirit is working in her bruised and battered heart.


Sweet baby Carla.  I still get a kick out of that!  She reminds me of Miss Cece as a baby.


The beautiful Minerva, and little sister Gabriella.




And my treasure, the little mama of the home, Carmela (literally she looks after the babies and preschoolers while her mom works)



I miss these kids, although I must admit the longer we're away the more the ache subsides and the easier they would be to forget....to just ignore as "not my problem", "we've done our share"  
but I won't.
Because they're my kids.





8/14/12

I want to stay with you forever



A bedtime conversation with my littlest boy,  my little worrier.

Mom, what happens when I have to grow up and move away? 

You'll start your own life, maybe you'll go to college, or find a job you like to do.

 I don't want to leave you, even when I'm an adult. 

Well, by the time you're about 18 you will want to be out on your own.  5 year old boys aren't supposed to want to move away from their moms.... but little boys grow up and change their minds. 

 I don't even know where I'll live. I don't have a house. 
 Do I have to build a house or do I just buy one? 

Some people build houses but a lot of people buy their houses.

I don't know how to build a house.  That would take a long time.   Did you buy your house or did you and Dad build it?  

We bought our house.

How much did it cost?  

A lot.  

Did it cost $100?!

A bit more than that. 

Did it cost $116?  

yeah...it cost $116

Woah...that's a big waste of your money.   I don't want to move away.   What if Jesus tells me it's time to move out but I don't want to yet?

I guess if Jesus tells you something you'd better listen.  If he tells you it's time to do something he'll make you brave too.

Well I just want to stay here with you forever.   
{skinny little arms wrapped firmly around my neck}

Ok my boy,  you can stay here with me as long as you need to.


Can you snuggle me for a while?  {coming from the little by who used to hate to be hugged!}

I'd love to.


.....because too soon you'll be that big 18 year old boy who moves out and builds his own home.








8/11/12

I used to have 5 kids




Ok, that title may be a little misleading.  They weren't actually "my" kids...but for a season of our life we did in fact have 5 children that lived in our home.

I'm pretty sure that only another foster parent would appreciate what it means to have some sort of continuing relationship with children who spent 8 months in your home, even if it's just seeing Facebook pictures once in a while.   It means a lot...but it's not typically the case....at least not for the other babies we've fostered.  

Knowing that reunification sometimes works as planned, that kids are thriving, and actually having any sort of knowledge about where they are and how they're doing is so encouraging to a foster mom.  

It does help that these kids are distant cousins, little twigs on my big old spread out family tree.   







After leaving our home 4 years ago they moved across the country.  I didn't know if we'd ever all be in one place again.   
We were thrilled to have them stop in for a quick visit on their summer road trip.




It was so great to see these 5 kids together again.  



Our little visit brought up all kinds of great memories of my time loving on these kids.  
It was a crazy, busy, bustling household.  When they arrived, I had five kids, five and under.  


Silas was just a baby back then!  


I had two babies.  


...and two mischief making super heroes.


When I shopped for groceries I had one in the cart, one strapped to my back, two little boys strapped into the shopping cart "car" and a little girl trailing behind.  

One was still breast feeding, two being spoon fed, 2 crawling, 1 potty training, 2 in day diapers, 4 in night diapers, 5 children who never stopped moving, and only one able to effectively dress herself.  

When I start to stress over wondering how I will survive with 5 children again,
 I just think back and laugh. 


These two were such little Loveys.  Some of my best memories was just sitting on the living room floor and letting them crawl all over me.  Having so many little ones forced me to engage....I couldn't do anything but sit and play with them.  No computer, no tv, no time to shower or some days even eat... it was BUSY and hard...but I loved it.  


 They've all grown and all our lives have changed so much since then...
other than our ugly couch.   Unfortunately it hasn't changed...other than become a little more worn.  


It's fun to look back and remember how much I loved these kids!

Even though I really don't know them anymore, and  I'm totally ok with being a virtual stranger in their lives (that's what we do), I wish them all the best and continue to love and pray for them.  

I smile when I think of how God used that time to open our hearts and home to continue fostering. 

  Some people ask why and how we started fostering.....these kids are it. 
We saw a need, we decided to give it a try and even though we were desperately green in our knowledge, training, and experience God used that time to change our life course. 

I love how God writes our stories, and uses even unfortunate circumstances for his purpose in our lives. 


Oh, remembering the cuteness is almost too much!





8/9/12

pity party


So I've been contemplating throwing myself a pity party lately.  I'm usually not much of a moper or a whiner...but this adoption waiting purgatory has suddenly given me the desire to crawl into my closet, slide the door shut and post a sign on the locked door that says "wake me up when life is less difficult".


I would commence my pity party by picking a theme...not so much a "poor me" theme as a "Lord please make this easier, I've had enough of this waiting, this not knowing, this uncertainty, this aching....I'm tired."

I suppose if I waited until this world was less difficult I would have to stay there until Jesus return, so I'm trying to avoid the cowering in a corner technique as a coping mechanism.   

That doesn't mean it isn't hard.  At the moment we have two different types of adoptions being processed in two different countries. Both have not been with out their bumps and road blocks along the way.  I can't write the details of the journey we're on, or even testify to the incredible work that God is doing here because of confidentiality issues but I can write about the refining work the Holy Spirit is doing my my own heart and life.

 I'm rediscovering that the wilderness God leads his people into is not only a place of great difficulty but it's a place of great growth.  It's where I see God's miraculous provision and intimate nourishment in a way that I can't experience it when life's road is smoother.

The stakes are high.   The ache is real.   The cost is felt.   The longing is all consuming.
The risk involved just might be more than I want to bear.

It's tempting to want to lay down and give up, to be crushed, to despair when faced with hard reality.

There is no power of positive thinking, boot strap tugging, or self assured resolve that contend with the depth of human depravity and suffering.  There is no staying power in do-good philanthropy when faced with placing your own heart in a wringer, and your life on the altar.  My comfortable little Christian bubble is burst when I enter into the suffering of another, into the suffering of Christ....at that point I feel the stinging splinters, and burning blisters pressed under a rough wooden plank flung over my shoulders.  
...and sometimes I stumble under the weight of it.   Sometimes it just plain hurts.

So what's a girl to do when tempted to throw a pity party?

Something that doesn't some naturally when inwardly consumed and focused.  Something that can stand face to face with heartbreaking reality.

Worship
Seeing with my mind, my heart and my spirit, Jesus in all his power and glory sitting on the throne.

"Holy, holy , holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come." Rev. 4:8

When I know that I can't win this battle against such overwhelming evil,  I'm reminded that Jesus already has.
...I worship and stand in awe of my victorious King.

When I know the road is long, and hard, and uncertain.   I'm reminded that he is sovereign.
...I worship my Lord who works all things for his glory and my good.

When I fall to my knees and weep for an emaciated little boy in an orphanage too far away.    I am reminded that He is a Father to the fatherless...that he sets the lonely in families....that he knows every stubby hair on that shaved orphans head..and there will be justice.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"  Rev 21:4

When I doubt that I can raise another child with special needs, and I start to realize how truly inadequate I am.   I am reminded that He is the only one who is sufficient and He now lives in and through me.

When I look at who He is, in light of eternity....all these trials become "light and momentary afflictions" and my eyes are set on a prize so much greater..Jesus.

When I worship my Lord for who he has revealed himself to be,  I know that nothing can stand against  him.   I know I am safe in his perfect will, even if my heart and my flesh may fail.

Saying worship (of Jesus for who he reveals himself to be in scripture) is the answer to suffering may seem too trite and simple, but it is intentional.  It is sacrificial.  It is surrender.   It is pure JOY.

My pastor has been teaching through the book of Revelation this summer and it has been such a time of nourishment at a point in our journey that we need so desperately to see Jesus Christ.  Pulling back the veil to see the war we are actively engaged in and refocus my eyes on the Lamb that was slain, the coming King, and our risen Lord.

I've learned SO much through this series, but one thing that stuck out to me was the author's situation. John was an apostle.   When he was given the "revelation" he was a tired, physically worn old man living as a banished prisoner on a remote island.   He had been  boiled alive for proclaiming the gospel... but he didn't die, so they sent him into exile.  Sounds like an ideal time for a big old pity party to me.

Jesus met him there.   The funny thing is Jesus didn't come as an inspirational motivator, or feel good therapist, he came in His glory.   He took Johns weary eyes off of himself, his pain, and his situation and onto things beyond what his eyes were able to see.   (Rev. 1: 9-19)   The message he was given was meant to be read to the suffering Church as a blessing and encouragement to them.  Rev. 1:1-8

"Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever!"

Some other guys in a pretty wretched situation, named Paul and Silas, had been stripped, beaten, and flogged.  Then their bloodied feet were fastened into stocks in a filthy stinking dungeon cell.

Sounds like an ideal time for a pity party.

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them"  Acts 16:25

wait...what?  

They weren't moaning, and wailing in despair.... strategizing and planning an escape...or even declaring and decreeing that Kings kids cannot be treated in such a degrading manner...

nope.

They turned their eyes off of themselves to their great Savior and Lord and out of that flowed genuine joy infused worship.

While they worshiped, God was executing a miraculous escape.

Did they worship because they knew they would indeed escape suffering?

um...I think that would be a no considering they were already battered and shredded, they had watched Jesus crucified, and their buddy Stephen had recently been stoned to death.  Unlike many "church" leaders now they had no delusions that following Jesus meant a comfortable, affluent, stress free life.   They knew it required dying to self daily.

As we pray "break my heart for what breaks yours", we have to be prepared to have our hearts broken for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.    Around the world, not only hearts are broken, but bodies as well.

When Nehemiah heard of the crumbled wall of his homeland,  he "sat down and wept"..."mourned"..."fasted"...and "prayed before the God of heaven"

He was broken.  He wasn't in denial, he didn't fool himself with positive thinking, he didn't shrug and change the channel on the tv.   He was wrecked over it.  He felt God's heart for that situation and he felt it deeply.

There is a definite difference between a self absorbed, despairing pity party and a deep grief over the pain of a fallen sinful, lost world.

Could Nehemiah have ignored the call saying "not my problem"...he sure could have BUT he chose to enter into it.  He chose to join what God was doing, and obediently hear what God had purposed for him to do.

Next he repented and cried out for God's mercy for himself and for God's people.   (A step we love to skip in our modern, watered down, self exulting, sin celebrating, idol infested, version of Christianity)

Then he got up and put the burden he felt into action, knowing he would face all kinds of opposition along the way.

Why?  Because knew the glory of God, and he remembered His faithfulness.

"Blessed be your glorious name,
and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the Lord.
You made the heavens even the highest heaves, and all their starry host,
 the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that it is them.
 You give life to everything and the multitudes of heaven worship you." Nehemiah 9:5-6


"My soul, consider the mightiness of the Lord, who is your glory and defense. He is a man of war; Jehovah is His name. All the forces of heaven are at His command. Legions wait at His door; cherubim and seraphim, watchers and holy ones, principalities and powers - all are attentive to His will. If our eyes were not blinded by the limitations of our flesh, we would see horses of fire and chariots of fire surrounding the Lord's beloved {see 2 Kings 6:17}"
~Charles Spurgeon





























8/4/12

First sailing day of the summer





 Last summer we spent so many days on our little sail boat but this summer has been shorter, stormier, and wetter.  The vessel's captain also had a broken ankle for much of this summer.   

Today was the first time this summer we've had the boat out.  This is also the last weekend that my sister in law and nephew will be with us...they head back to Seattle on Monday.  I'm glad we could fit in a sail day before they leave.  



We drove for a couple hours down to the big river, then ate our lunch and waited for a bit while  Daddy rigged the boat, and hoisted the mast.   

I sure do love this pack of kids!

I can't help but try to picture another little face joining us on our boat next summer.


The big kids are becoming quite a knowledgeable little crew.





Silas didn't quite "get" sailing...."I wish we had a tv in here".  


Captain kissing


It was such a beautiful day...






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