Q and A Part 1

Now that you have experienced parenting foster children, bio children,internationally and domestically adopted children will you give us the high and low in your opinion of each situation?

That is a question that would take more than a blog post to answer I think.  I've tried to be pretty honest and vulnerable over my years of blogging with our experiences with each of these things but hindsight does offer some perspective lacking at the time as well.   Some simple truths that stand out are.....every child is so unique, and some kids it seems are more "unique" than others requiring a whole new set of parenting tools.  Just when you think you've got it figured out you enter into a new phase.  

 Adoption is not a condolence prize for people who "can't have their "own" kids".   It isn't second best, or pretending to be a parent. Adoption comes with it's unique challenges, particularly when children are adopted from difficult histories, but even with biological children I am very well aware that they certainly come with unexpected challenges as well.     I have learned that although the bonding process is different with children I carried in my womb for 9 months, than it is with a foster baby that I have no idea I will eventually adopt,  or with a new child who is 6, my love for each is just as genuine, and grows just as deep and passionate.    It has amazed even me.   The one thing I did miss with my adopted children is not nursing them as infants (or in Elijah's case..not knowing him as an infant). 

Love is first and foremost is a decision, that sometimes means loving actions proceed loving feelings.,..but that feeling eventually comes.   I have deeply loved each of the children I have had the privilege to care for... from the tiny little guy in blue sleepers in the previous post who stayed with me for two weeks, to my son who lived an hour outside my womb.   Saying goodbye to any child I've been a mama to is hard, so hard....but it has also been so worth every bit of heartbreak I had to carry to have also experienced loving them.  

I don't know if we'll foster again in the future.  We need to put it on hold for a bit anyway, because of Elijah's insecurities and fear of coming and going...but I would love to again.   I also love permanency, and adoption.  
I'm glad that we have been able to experience both adopting one of our foster children, as well as diving into international adoption and all that goes with it.  My eyes and heart have been torn open in so many ways as I see the vast need for children to have loving families both here and abroad.     The positive of foster adoption was that it didn't cost us any money, and we had our daughter with us while we waited...the down side was waiting on a gov't system to process the adoption, and all the uncertainty that goes with knowing they could move her or change her long term plan at anytime.   The pros of international adoption for us was that  we had a chance to see God carry us through something that we had no way to accomplish on our own.   We had a chance to stretch our faith, and learn to wait, and grow to love a child we had never met.  Both were nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. 

 I would like to hear your thoughts on this article: http://www.kellehampton.com/2013/04/a-faith-for-my-children.html

My first reaction to that blog post is that it's very sad, on so many levels...and I kind of don't want to bring it any more attention.  My other impression is that she has a very sweet family, and beautiful blog.  She writes eloquently, honestly, and with humility.
It's sad that she has viewed, or been taught that the Bible is a book of stories and moral lessons.  It's sad that she has viewed Christianity as a religion of rules and ways to earn our way to God, and seems to have very little grasp of the true gospel of grace (which includes the very real problem of our sin, rebellion and death).  Without that foundation it makes sense that she would reject all the rest because it's meaningless.  It's sad that church is viewed as a place or an event.  It's sad that she represents SO many in my generation that have turned away from Jesus, to embrace a self designed spirituality that worships a self created love god.   It's sad that she, like so many else, has been burned, turned off by, and seen through religious legalism and hypocrisy that defines so many churches...left with a bunch of disjointed pieces to try to piece together without a guide.  Maybe the "bath water" was so murky with all of those things that she never quite saw clearly the "baby"...the Treasure.  Jesus for who He is. I pray that she, and the many like her would see that her experience, her doubts, her failures, her hurts with  have very little to do with God's great pursuing love that is faithful enough to save even those with faith the size of a tiny seed.   I browsed through the comments and became even more saddened.  I am greatly encouraged however that there ARE churches (Jesus' people living like family, loving God,  on mission together loving others) like the one we are members of that are healthy, and full of young passionate followers of Jesus who were often once "I left the church and "organized religion" people.  It doesn't have to be a choice between cold, fear based religion or psuedo "I'm a good person" spirituality....somewhere beyond  all that murky bath water is the prize.    One book that I've found very helpful and really enjoyed reading this month is "Stop asking Jesus into your heart, how to know for sure you are saved"...the title is a bit strange sounding, but I promise that the book isn't.  It's very refreshing, easy to read, and filled with SO much basic but profound theology.  It discusses some of the pitfalls and blind spots of modern evangelicalism, as well as deep lasting faith bolstering assurance of God's goodness and sovereignty...even in our questioning and wanderings.

I guess my question would be, how do you do have the energy?? =)

Haha, I wish I did!  Some days it's a struggle and I want to sit in the middle of my laundry mountain and moan in defeat.  I struggle to get out of bed with the Littles at 6 am.   The short answer is coffee....I wish I had some superwoman exercise regime or special diet to report that keeps me in tip top condition but I don't.   I sometimes stay up to late at night, enjoying the peace and quiet of my house, with too little respect for the next day's relentless demands.  Self discipline to get enough sleep goes a long way.  I try to remind myself to treat my body like a tool.  When you have a demanding job to do (like parenting) we need our tools in decent functioning condition.   I have to remind myself to steward what God has graciously given me.   When I notice I'm feeling really chronically sluggish I start taking supplements again...particularly some iron and B vitamins I notice make a difference in my energy level.   

 What it comes down to for me is rarely a lack of energy but a lack of motivation, feeling overwhelmed, selfishness, or just plain laziness...these things can be paralyzing if not dealt with by finding my joy in the reality that I have been served, and loved so well by God.  When I daily die to "self"...my own agenda, my own comfort, my own idol of appreciation, I am able to take my eyes of my self and put them back where they belong. Jesus, my Sabbath, my rest. 

And with that, I shall go to bed..
Good night friends,


Ask Me Anything...I dare ya

Hey there friends.
Spring hasn't melted our snow yet, and "Spring fever" has nothing on cabin fever in April...
so I had the idea today to open up my blog to questions.  It will provide a nice distraction from the piles of soggy snow pants, and muddy mittens.

No topic off limits.

Is there something that you've always wondered about me or our family?  Questions about my kids, homeschooling, farming life, or raising a multi-racial family?   Questions about our faith, family life, frugal living finances, adoption, fostering, parenting, or our trips to Mexico?

Anything.  I can't promise you I have brilliant answers but I promise I will do my best to satisfy your curiosity.

So don't be shy, and help a girl out.  You curiosity might just provide me a cure from the boredom of monotony.
Ask me whatever you want to, be completely honest.   I'm not afraid of different views, or questions you would be too embarrassed to ask me to my face, but no one appreciates mockery or attack, so my only rule is play nice.

You can ask me in private at the email address


or leave your question as a comment below.  I will open my comments up for Anonymous just for this.


He matters

                                                  {picture not my own}

 Before I met my son, I loved him.  Before I held him, I felt passionately protective of him...but then, one afternoon my love for him changed.   I suddenly knew him all fleshed out in front of me.   I knew the sound of his giggles, the smell of his hair, and the curve of his toes.  He was real. He was mine.

Late one afternoon in Guiyang, at the height of the sidewalk rush hour, we ventured out to find somewhere to eat.  The sidewalk was a carpet of motion, people bustling every direction, heads turning to take in the strange sight that is two white people pushing a Chinese child in a stroller.  I could see my little boy wilting under scrutinizing scowls,  he knew they were looking at him.  It made me want to scoop him up and run away to a place where he was just a kid.

As we walked, I saw something that caused me an actual physical reaction.  On the sidewalk ahead of us was a boy, he was small, but he was probably a teenager.  He sat with his skinny legs bent at unnatural angles out on front of him.  His face was down, eyes fixed on the pavement, and a little rag was laid out in front of him to collect Yuan.  

I have seen people begging in poor countries before, but this time, as I pushed my son with his skinny legs bent at unnatural angles out in front of him, it was different.

I felt my stomach rise to my throat, my heart rate increased, and my hands began to sweat.  It was all I could do not to stop dead in my tracks and sit down on the sidewalk next to this boy.  I wished I spoke his language and could tell him that he is so much more than his suffering, that he has value, that he is not a dog on the street to be kicked and mocked.  He is not in-valid.  I wanted to scoop him up and take him away to a place where he could just be a kid.  A kid who didn't have to hide his face and stare at the sidewalk.  I hid my gaze as we were pushed along by the crowd, our guide continued to tell us stories about this city.  I pretended to listen.

My ears were ringing with the thought,  that beggar could be my child.

In 8 years Elijah would have "aged out" of the system.  He would trade the orphanage crib bars for...
I hate to even guess.

Maybe begging on the street, exploited by someone who would use him as part of a trafficking ring, taking for themselves any pity money he happened to bring in.

The boy sat there, and no one even broke stride.

Two different boys, dealt similar hands in life, but with two very different futures.
Two realities painfully colliding inside my head and heart.

It felt something more than pity, it was personal.  Grief.  Deep grief for the ones who will never know what it is to be treasured.  An ache for the countless others tossed aside like trash, the imperfect ones.

This is one of few options that await our worlds most vulnerable...children who are abandoned because of their special needs.  The ones who are "lucky" enough not to spend what remains of their lives in an adult institution, will end up on the street.

This could have been my son.

It's easy to judge a society that, for a variety of reasons, feels that it is better for children with special needs to be raised in state care, but if we take a closer look at our own society, and even more so our own prejudice filled sin corrupted hearts, it's a little harder to point fingers.

  I don't know how many times the notion has been suggested to us, from a variety of sources, that somehow our child coming to Canada with medical needs is a "burden on the system" and somehow unfair to Canadian born children...like he might steal their piece of the compassion pie.  So you see, we too have a "survival of the fittest" warped human nature, deep within our hearts.  We value strength, talent, beauty, and productivity...but yet we miss seeing beauty and strength in the most unlikely places. We completely miss seeing the beauty in weakness, vulnerability, and dependancy, our own or others.

We build up our walls, and preserve our own kind.

The life-poured-out, strong became weak for the sake of those who could not help themselves, gospel of Jesus Christ turns this world system upside down.  I'm so thankful that God in his great overflow of mercy brought me to his table, despite the fact that I was not entitled to a single good thing he had to offer.

When we first brought Elijah home it took a couple weeks to venture out with him into our small community, where everyone knows everyone else.  I didn't want to be the object of anyone's attention...negative or positive.

 I cringe at "You're amazing. He's so lucky.  That's so good of you to take him in"... it's so very uncomfortable and inaccurate.  I'm not amazing..seriously.  Luck had nothing to do with him coming home, and only God is good.

I also had to gather enough fortitude to weather the ignorantly negative comments and remarks I knew we would receive.

I just want people to see us as regular parents, and Elijah as just one of our kids.

More than anything I want people to know my son for who he is, and see him as just a little boy.

 He is Elijah....not "that boy from China"  not " the boy with Cerebral Palsy".
He's a Burlando kid.  He's my son.
 He's a boy that had a rough start, has been through more than I may ever know, who happens to be affected by cerebral palsy (which also makes him the strongest most resilient person I know), and has an amazing God glorifying future ahead of him.  God wasn't asleep the day he was born, his purpose remains. He doesn't need pity, any more than we need admiration.

My boys life and future has changed dramatically through adoption, it's true.  I am overwhelmed to the point of tears when I think about it, I am so extremely thankful...so thankful that God worked past my own fears, and self preservation, and see fit to choose us as his parents.   Now that he's here in my arms, I can't hardly even bear to think about him being alone, or scared, or hurt, or hungry.  We are so blessed by him.

He matters.

So does the boy sitting on the sidewalk that, despite walking that same sidewalk several more times, I never saw again.

Adoption matters because kids matter.

Soli Deo Gloria,


Easter Photo Dump

This post promises to be somewhat random and entirely disjointed.
It's been one of those weeks that feels like Friday, when it's only Wednesday.
I should probably be in bed....but I had an itch to catch up with my blog friends.  
Whoever you might be.   Hi. 

Yesterday was a big day for my little man.  He had another PT appointment and this time they pulled out a tricycle for him to ride.  He was THRILLED.  We're going to have to figure out something for him this summer.  I only wish we had pavement instead of gravel.  

After that he saw an orthopedic specialist and had several xrays taken.  
We were relieved to discover that he does not yet have scoliosis...although he's pretty crooked.  His muscles are so lopsided in tightness that it's just pulling his spine and posture out of whack.  She emphasized (as well as the PT) that proper seating is essential.  Cerebral Palsy is non progressive (the brain injury can't get worse) but the effects of it can do more and more damage to joints, bones, and muscles.   We're trying to reverse some things, as well as prevent future problems like scoliosis and damaged joints. 

We're now on the quest for proper car seating..right now he has a full backed booster seat but he looks miserable in it and slouches over sideways, as well as slides forward too much.  So the professionals tell us that he needs something better in the car (we spend many hours a week in it) and at home for him to sit in.  

We're also thrilled that his hips look totally fine...which means no surgery on them needed.  phew!  He will likely need a more minor surgery to lengthen his "heel chords" and possibly hamstrings.  A priority is to get him straightened up, balanced, and walking.  Surgeries will set him back a bit but long term will make a big difference...I hope. 

After that appointment he was casted for some new hinged AFO's (Anke foot orthotics).   We should get them in a couple weeks.  I'm excited for him. 

It really is so great to see him getting the medical attention he so very much needed.  Getting past the front lines of the system was a bit of a gong show...but once we get back to where the specialists do their work, we've been so happy with the care he's getting. 

This little farm boy LOVES trucks and tractors.   His favorite place to go is to town with Daddy to hang out at the John Deere dealership.   He gets to sit on all the tractors, and the first time he went the guys who worked there even sent him home with some toys.   He doesn't care for animals at all (they're all scary to him) but he squeals with delight at every large vehicle he spots.  

He'll be home for two months on April 7th.  He's coming more and more out of his shell with each passing week.  He is such a little treasure and it's really hard to believe he's only been a part of our family for a couple months....I guess in our hearts he was part of our family before we ever met him.   Anyway, it kind of seems like he's always been here...just one of the crew. 

On the other hand we have our moments and days when the pain is real, and we get glimpses of the wounds he tries hard to hide.  In my head I've started calling those molting days.  I've noticed that new breakthroughs and growth typically are preceded by some really hard days. Just when it seems he's coming all apart and this situation is coming unglued...I notice something new.  A renewed hope.  This boy has a lot of tough shells to break off,  but underneath is the vulnerable, afraid  little boy who's heart needs to be reached.  

Happy Spring. 

We had the coldest March since about 50 years ago.   I think that's worth some sort of prize.  An average temp of -13 Celcius is I think what I heard.  To darn cold anyhow.  

We also have a crazy amount of snow.   

It's finally starting to slowly melt...
I just hope it doesn't melt into rivers that flow into my basement. 

If I see one more person posting pictures of tulips and daffodils on Facebook I think I might die.  

My cuties watching their favorite cartoon on the ipad.  "Dora"
Elijah might learn Spanish before English.  
He already calls water "agua"...
he learned that from Cece who picked it up on our most recent stay in Mexico.  
My kids are so brilliant like that ;)

Speaking of brilliance...check out the master piece eggs.

I thought it would be less spilly to paint them with little sponges.  

Good times had by all.
It is so fun to share these "firsts" and little family traditions with our newest son. 

I've been asked more time than I care to answer whether he's either in school or going to school in the fall.  
I can't say for sure what his schooling future holds, but I suspect we will be homeschooling him with the older two.  If there was an excellent program he could go to for half days that included his therapy etc. I would be open to that but with his extreme anxiety and abandonment issues it just wouldn't be beneficial for him right now.   
Our priorities for him are learning to be secure in our love and living as part of a family.  Learning English and his speech challenges.   Getting his medical, mobility, and physical issues addressed and worked on. 
In the context of those things I would say he's also being "unschooled".
Basically parented with lots of room to learn, play, explore, and work on problem solving. 
So much of our day, whether during our stretching time, or baking with mom, or playing with some game pieces includes basic pre-school type lessons and skills.  

He's learning to count in English from 1-10.   We're working on English colors...grouping them and the names.   He enjoys simple puzzles and doing educational activities on the ipad.  There is always something to learn, and for the most part he is eager. 

My bed is calling me...and the pile of dishes still in the sink are heckling me, so I'd better sign off.
Goodnight folks.