9/28/13

Strength in Weakness

I'm experimenting a bit with my writing, and trying my hand at this blogs first "series".... which sounds better than "cluster of posts that are vaguely connected in theme".
At least "series" is shorter to write.

My previous post was titled "Raise strong kids in a world that plays it safe".   The tricky part is how we define "strong".   I know I'm not feeling particularly strong right now sitting in a recliner with my broken leg up in a cast, and my house crumbing into messy chaos around me.  I'm learning to rest....only because I have no choice in the matter. God has a funny way of knowing where I need to have some sanctifying work done.

As I continue with the theme of "strength", especially as it pertains to parenting,  I have to take a look at what kind of strength we want our kids to have.

That made me really wonder, and caused me to investigate the concept of strength.  What can make a young person go to the ends of the earth proclaiming a message that could get them killed? What sort of strength causes a person to adopt 9 special needs orphans?  What sort of strength is needed for just the daily grind of a faith filled life?  What can we instill in our kids now that will serve them well later?

After running endless points, and examples, through my mind I realized I needed to just start at the very beginning.

1.  Strength in Weakness   (1 Cor. 12:9)

It may sound absurd or backwards but the starting place for "standing strong", is to know that we are weak.  Bear with me.   Like the song I hear sung in my house on a daily basis "Jesus loves me"  states, in it's simple truth,  "they are weak but he is strong".

We have a whole world telling us how wonderful, strong, and good we are.  We have more than enough people telling us that with God on our team we can soar to new heights, be all that we can be, and get all that we can get.  The problem is that Jesus merely becomes another tool in our tool box of self interest, and self improvement.  So I'm not going to tell you that.
Sorry.
That's what we have Oprah for.


The number one thing our kids need to embrace a risk taking strong faith, that will persevere, is to understand their own weakness.  {Jer 17:5-10}  {Romans 3:10}

I'm sorry if that just burst a carefully constructed little self esteem bubble. Don't come after me with pitch forks, and don't fret, it turns out we don't actually need it anyway.

Don't confuse weakness with lack of value, that's not at all what I'm referring to.

In 2 Cor. 6:3, 2 Cor 11:23, and 2 Cor. 11:30  Paul doesn't make much of his long list of credentials and impressive resume because he knows that his strength is not found in his accomplishments or what he has to offer God.

When we come to Jesus with our hands already full, assured of our own righteous worthiness, we are not in a position to receive grace, and marvel at his strength for us.  Fortunately for Paul, Jesus pursued him and loved him enough to show him exactly how weak he was.  As he sat stunned and blinded on a dusty road, I'm sure his impressive ministry credentials didn't mean much.  In recognizing his own blindness, he was given sight.  Strength in weakness.

As a parent, prone to weakness, this is incredibly good news.

Reading about Pauls difficulties makes me wonder what we would say to another mom who was experiencing that degree of trial, trauma and stress with her children? Would we softly, but condescendingly, tell her she needs to get her act together?  Would we assure her that God wants her to overcome every single weakness, so that her life will be easier and her kids will all fall in line?  Would we declare her victory, as if by sheer force of positive thinking we can change her circumstances?

Paul was weak and subject to trials just like us.  The difference is we do our best, as parents, to hide our weaknesses, and we encourage our children to do the same.  In a society that worships success, achievements, and excellence....we assume that the only thing that can possibly glorify God is Teflon coated, squeaky clean, seamless parenting that produces immaculately behaved, well dressed, honor student, children.   In that atmosphere there is little room for admitting defeat, asking for help, or sharing our struggles.  Basically there is little tolerance for being real.

It seems we have made God too small, and ourselves too big.

The weakness, the failures, and the sins in our family are where we learn that we need grace too.   If we dont' realize that ourselves, we can't teach it to our children.  It is in the mercy of affliction that God teaches us to rely completely on Him.   God's sustaining strength is seen and developed in our weakness, and failures.

Letting go of our pride is a freeing thing.

Whether it feels good at the time or not, it truly is a mercy for God to demolish our confidence on our own sufficiency, and strength...or as the case may be, our own preferred parenting method.

It is only when we arrive at that dreaded place of weakness that we realize the surpassing power of Christ.  ( The great thing about parenting is it provides daily proof of my own weakness, and plenty of pride crushing scenarios.  You parents know what I'm talking about....think a busy Walmart during toddler nap time, with 5 kids. ) 


 This knowledge changes how we view and deal with the inevitable humiliating moments of motherhood, or rebellion, or struggles we have with our children.  They become a chance to lean in that much harder and see God at work.  There is value in being dependent, in being brought low.


  "for when I am weak, then I am strong"


The good news of the gospel, and the work of the Holy Spirit produces a truly humble submissiveness of heart.

That, my fellow parent warriors, is the repentant, desperate, heart that takes hold of the gospel, clings to it, and is regenerated and renewed by God's amazing grace.

That is the place to begin.
Our ultimate strength begins with truly understanding our own frailty, and being able to rest in the sufficiency and strength of the One who stands for us.


Until next time,
Carry on, even in your weakness, brave warrior parents.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. There fore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me, That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults , in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  {2 Cor. 12:8-10)







Soli Deo Gloria,

9/27/13

Raise Strong Kids in a World that Plays it Safe.


Hello friends,  I want to take a few posts to discuss some priorities for Christian parents, for my own reminder and benefit as much as anyone else's.   Keep in mind that I'm also teaching this to myself as we go along.

This summer I was asked to teach a session at a Family Bible Camp with the topic of "Parenting kids who stand strong".   The overall  theme of the entire week was "Kingdom Rock" which also happened to be the kids VBS theme of choice in churches all around Christendom, complete with draw bridges, and styro-foam castle bricks, and flowing banners.  I figured the two themes would tie in fairly well together...minus the moat, and the strange medieval costumes.

I panicked slightly, because really...who am I to teach anything, especially being that my kids are still young.  They have not yet entered the fiery trials of adult life. We are still just planting seeds, nurturing small seedlings, and praying for roots to grow....the coming crop remains to be seen.

 Despite my hesitation I decided to do some reading, and studying.   The statistics I found were alarming regarding the droves of young adults who "leave the church" once they leave home.  It made me wonder how many were really part of the Church to begin with, and how many were just along for the ride.  Regardless, it is extremely sobering as a parent.  We cannot, as parents, continue on with status quo.  We no longer live in a "christian culture", actually we no longer even live in a Christian tolerant culture.  The battle for our kids remains the same, however the battle field has changed completely.  As parents we must take on a wartime sense of priorities, urgency, alertness, and focus. This is not a time to kick off those marching boots, in exchange for flip flops.  Church, this isn't a time for sullen retreat, it's a time for humble repentance, genuine regeneration, and bold resurgence.


Our goal as Christian parents should be to raise up strong faith filled adults, not ill-equipped, fragile or fearful ones.  Of course our attempt to do that will be imperfect, and most certainly done in weakness, but we trust that the Lord's strength will be magnified even in that.

In this series, I'm going to start with a list.  Because, well, who doesn't love a good list?  These are some tips I came up with while I studied.  In later posts I'll dig a little deeper into a few of the points.  Basically the big idea is we have to lead the way ourselves.  Please don't think for a second that I have these pegged as a parent.

This post is simply meant to encourage you, to help you set your eyes above the relentless noise, the dirty diapers, and the overwhelming chaos of parenthood, and onto a higher prize.  Eyes on the Prize.



Raise strong kids in a world that plays it safe:

 1.  Don’t hobble your children’s faith by giving them every worldly  “advantage”.  Our children should not grow up in a happy little sparkly bubble, where they perceive that the world revolves around them. Let your children struggle; allow them to experience challenges, natural consequences, and heart breaks all under an umbrella of loving guidance, invested involvement, and wise supervision. Don’t hide the reality of a broken world from them.  Don't let them grow up believing that the world, or God, owes them anything.  That undermines both the harsh reality of the world, and the undeserved grace of God. {1 Peter 1:6-7}

2.   Teach your children from a young age, by example, to love and serve others out of an overflow of how Jesus has served and loved them.  We cannot entertain our children enough, guilt our children enough, or coerce our children enough to “keep them in church” once they become young adults.   They must know what it is to actively BE the church long before they leave home.  
{2 Cor. 5:14-15}

 3.  Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, by stepping out of yours.  By allowing them to see you step out in faith in a way that relies entirely on God's provision and mercy, they are witnesses to how good and faithful our God is.   If you haven’t gone there yourself but rather keep everything in your life carefully calculated,  what you tell your children about trusting God will be mere words.  If you call yourself Christian but live like an atheist when it comes to your priorities and perspective, that will not be a contagious faith.  Don’t settle for being a “Sunday Christian”.  Jesus isn't a good luck charm we stuff into the pocket of our Sunday suit.  Our kids are great at sniffing out hypocrisy and they will know what our treasure is.  Let them see without a doubt by your priorities, actions, and words, that your treasure is Jesus. {Rev. 3:14-18}

4.  Dig deep into the Gospel with your children.  The gospel (good news) is not merely a “Salvation message” for unbelievers…it is THE message for believers as well.  We never, ever, ever, get past our need for the roots of the gospel of God’s saving grace, our redemption, and the atoning work of the cross to be driven deeper and deeper into our hearts.  Ever. We need to be reminded regularly where our only hope is found, where our real strength comes from, and what our identity is.  The saving work of Jesus isn't merely the admission gate to get in, it is the entire pool.  Jump in.  Be changed by the Holy Spirit renewing your mind and transforming your heart.   Jesus didn't come to give us an upgraded image of God, to be your hobby,  a good teacher,  your personal fire insurance plan, merely a moral example, or a snazzy knick knack on your shelf…he came on a  rescue mission.  Jesus didn't come to make good little boys and girls better, he came to make dead people alive.  {Col. 1:3-14} {Titus 2:11-15}

5.  Give generously, and let your children join in.   The finished work of Christ on the cross, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live in  radical generosity.  We serve a wealthy King who became poor for us, so that by His poverty we might become rich.  As we bask in Christ’s sacrificial gift for us, we find ourselves transformed into his image and freed to be radically generous.  When we believe and understand that all we have is Gods, when we know that our ultimate treasure is Jesus, we can joyfully live with open hands and outstretched arms, asking Him how we should steward His money.   We give generously because we have received generously.  To give generously first we must also have the humility to receive generously.  {2 Cor. 8:2-4} {2 Cor. 9:11-13}


 6.  Let your children see you repent.   The Christian life begins with repentance and continues in that direction.   Genuine repentance (turning from sin) and belief are the only appropriate posture toward the Lordship of Christ.  Because we know we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, we don’t have to hold onto our pride, control, insecurities, and flawless reputation….even in front of our kids.  They already know you’re a sinner, your not fooling anyone, so let them see you marvel in God’s grace.  {Mark 6:12, Isaiah 30:15, Luke 3:8, Rev. 3:1-3, Rev. 3:19}

7. Remember it is Jesus who saves our children.  It is the Holy Spirit who draws them to Christ, but we should not neglect our God given post as shepherds over our little flocks.  God’s sovereignty does not our negate human responsibility and obedience.   We are commanded to make disciples and that begins in our homes.  We are intended to be the primary influence in our children’s lives.  Keep dazzling them with the love of Jesus, keep pointing them toward a faithful God, teach them diligently, let your home be grace saturated, and lovingly lead them to the cross…and then show them, by example, how to pick up their own and follow him.   {Deut. 4:9, John 16:7-11}

 8. Let your heart be changed by the renewing of your mind. {Roman’s 2:12} {Ephesians 3: 1-6}  You can’t give to your children knowledge that you do not have.  Study the Bible, seek the authors intended meaning in the text, pray for answers while digging deep.   Theology is simply seeking to know God for who he has revealed himself to be.  When studying Gods Word, the role of the Holy Spirit is to soften our hearts to receive truth revealed in the text.  God is not honored by unfeeling, joyless intellectualism, or by unthinking, uncritical emotionalism.  Both are needed- minds that are gripped with knowledge and truth, and hearts on fire with intense love for Him and his glory  {1 Cor. 2:14, Romans 5:14, 2 Tim. 3:15-17}}

9. Rest in God’s sovereignty and grace.   As a parent that is the most freeing truth, as well as slightly terrifying.  We prefer methods, rules, and fail proof cause and effect promises, but there are no biblical promises that "good parenting" in guarantees righteous children out.  God never encourages self-reliance because that would be trusting in something other than Christ and his grace and mercy.  The way of the Lord is always by faith, faith in his goodness, mercy, and love.  Our faith is in him, not our perfect parenting.  (Thank God for that!) Rest in the knowledge that God can do the impossible in our children’s lives, no child (or adult child) is beyond his reach.   {Romans 9:14-20, Matthew 10:29-31}

10. Pray with, over and for your children.  Let them see that they can talk with you just as you talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  Let them see you bring things to the Lord, so they can also experience the joy at seeing how the Lord provides for you and them.

Until next time,
go forth mighty, shaking- in-your-boots, parent warriors.  Onward!




Soli Deo Gloria,

9/23/13

Busy Season and a Broken Fibula


These pictures are from last week...
at least I think it was last week, harvest is all becoming a bit of a blur to me.

The good news is they're almost done. Although I'm not really sure what exactly "almost done" means.  I guess it means there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we're almost to the other side.


We went out for a quick Daddy visit, and to take him some food.


This was Elijah's first ride in the combine.  He was nervous at first....that is one big loud machine, but he is a tractor kind of a boy.  He loved it.  I think he could ride in there happy as could be all day.  Maybe next year I'll have to try out that theory if I get grafted into the harvest crew.






It's an excellent crop this year.  Lots of grain. 
It's not our farm, but a good farming year is good for job security.  
It also makes harvest time more fun....and at the same time more work to get all that grain hauled off. 

The weather has held really well, a nice late summer.  Dry and hot are good conditions for getting the crop off..although it also makes the dry crop more flammable.   There was a combine malfunction that caused two fires.  Nothing adds some excitement to harvest time like a prairie fire sweeping across the field. 



My hardworking man coming home late at night.



They don't do any threshing without the water tanks and the discers ready to both douse and dig, waiting in the same field...just in case.



The harvest on the home front is also quite bountiful.  I have boxes full of tomatoes ripening faster than I can manage to do anything with. 



I've been making and freezing salsa.  I had planned to do more but...
well, I'll get to that part of the story.





On Friday we also dug out all the carrots still left in the garden.  It took hours.
But I'm very thankful I didn't decide to put if off until this week.


On Saturday the Hubster, a couple of the kids and I skipped out of work and went to a wedding.
It was beautiful. 




We got home super late Saturday night, then got up bright and early to head back to the city to meet with our church peeps.   We had a busy afternoon in the city planned after church.  We dropped two girls off at a birthday party, one boy off at a friends house, and two other boys at another friends house to be babysat.  We had signed up for a "redeeming your marriage" class. It was the first one of 6 sessions. I was looking forward to meeting with some of our friends  and working through a Paul Trip course on marriage.  We were child free (for the first time in ages), running late,  and there was Tim Hortons coffee waiting for us.  We pulled up to the little rental room our church was using for the class and hopped out of the van.   That's where things went bad.

I didn't realize our van was parked along the edge of a curb, making the drop off out of our lifted van even further (and unexpected).   I hit the ground really hard.  It was so fast I wasn't even sure how I managed to dismount so badly.  

The pain was instant and intense.  So many ouch sensors were triggering all over my body it took a minute to even figure out where I was injured...and what was actually a serious injury.  I had a scuffed knee (ripped right through my pants), a scuffed/ bruised elbow, a twisted scuffed left foot, and an injured right ankle.  Both my feet were bruising and the right foot and ankle was swelling. My hubby lifted me back up into the van and I think we both hoped I could shake it off and limp my way into the class with a funny clutsy story to tell.  As the minutes passed the bizarre nausea, profuse sweating, hot flashes, shivering, and pain got worse and I realized that this wasn't something I could shake off and tough myself through.  I told my hubby that I needed him to drive me to the ER.  I was not ok.

That's when the panic set in.  Worse than the waves of pain was fear that I was broken, and stress over the prospects of being busted.  
The Mama can't be broken. 

All I could think about was:  I'm a mom of 5 kids,
one child with a physical disability,
  I have a husband trying to get a crop off and working long hours....
boxes full of produce needing to be dealt with,
A messy house, full piles of laundry,
an empty fridge,
a mess of dishes from a couple rushed days, late nights, and an early morning scramble out the door for church.

I was not prepared in any way to be out of commission!
I wanted a do-over.  I really could get out of the van in a much more coordinated, careful way.

I felt so stupid...
clumsy, frustrated, and helpless.

We decided to head for a small non emergency drop in clinic that has an xray machine.  We only had to wait two hours.  If we had gone to the hospital it would have been several hours.  I remember too clearly the many hours I spent in an uncomfortable waiting room with a busted up 1 year old Silas (we waited from early morning until after supper time, just to be seen).

I was initially scared that both my feet were injured. 
My husband had to go get a wheel chair to get me into the clinic....although I couldn't set down my right foot on the foot rest.  I had to hold my knee to keep my foot dangling without pressure on it.  
It was kind of miserable.  I have never broken a bone before.




I wasn't surprised that it was broken...I would have been surprised if it wasn't.
It is amazing though how one little bone can cause a persons entire body to freak out.  That tip of the Fibula is what broke.  

So now I'm home, hanging out in our recliner with a big old boot on my foot.

I'm very thankful that my left foot is just a bit twisted but not sprained or broken.  It hurts if I move it wrong, spend too many minutes on it, or tweak it too much.  I've never been so thankful feeling for one decent foot. 

 I'm thankful that I can hobble to the bathroom and back with crutches.   It's the little things.

I'm also thankful that none of our kids were with us when Mama crashed out of the van.  It would have been much more logistically stressful to try to drop kids off somewhere before heading to the ER.  

I'm thankful that the break wasn't worse and that I didn't need surgery.  Phew. 

So now we figure out how to do stuff without mom's help for a little while.
The stress and chaos level was pretty high last night (getting home late with five kids and a broken wife), and this morning was a whirlwind of chaos and turbulent emotions.

Silas missed the bus and was late for school, although he did manage to eat breakfast get a lunch packed.  Cece packed her own bag to go to Grandma's (with mom dictating and making sure her inhalors and skin medicine/ lotions got into the bag).  Daddy dropped Silas off at school, and Cece off at Grandma's house on his way to work. Things seemed a bit calmer after that.

Until Elijah started freaking out.  Even small changes in routine, household structure or family population cause him major stress.  This turned apocalyptic for him for a few hours.  Having mom sitting in a chair with a broken foot, unable to help him and do the things with him that she does every day was just too much.  So much of the melt down behaviors are simply rooted in fear.  I have to remind myself of that, or I end up overreacting myself.  Aili did her best to help him, and I'm encouraging him to do more himself...but he wasn't having any of it. 
 "No thankyou! Mommy help me!"
Poor guy.  I had to call Daddy to come home for a bit.  I was afraid Elijah was going to hurt himself (or me) and he wouldn't let Aili anywhere near him.  Daddy tucked him into bed for a nap and although he didn't sleep, it was a good reset.  
The afternoon so far has been totally fine.  In fact the house is eerily quiet with just Aili and Elijah home. 

Last night when we stopped at our friends house to pick up the boys, Elijah was so sweet.  He was shocked to see me using crutches (that kind of blew his mind a little) but he just kept rubbing my arm asking "ok mommy?" I could tell he was panicking a little so I kept assuring him that I was ok.  I told him I fell down and had an owie foot but I would be ok.  Right away he put his little hands on me and started talking to Jesus.  He explained all about how mommy fell out of the van and broke her foot. and ended with a big "Amen!".  It was pretty sweet.  He has trouble understanding a lot of things, and my life is a series of re-explaining the simplest of concepts, but yet he didn't miss a beat in knowing who to go to with this little crises.  He knew who could help us get through this little trial. 

And help He has.

Last night I cried myself to sleep feeling quite desperate, wondering how this was going to work.  Today I know we'll survive.  That may sound overly dramatic...maybe it's the pain talking...but when so many people depend on you to be in top physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual form...it's scary to get knocked down to being dependent. 

Today I'm thankful that my mom is watching Cece and Silas for a few days, and that Roman is still at a friends house.  I'm extremely thankful for Aili who has been at my beck and call, has been doing dishes, doing some laundry, and looking after Elijah.  

My mom brought over supper, and took away a box full of ripe garden tomatoes that were threatening to rot untouched in my kitchen. 

I'm thankful that I'm generally so healthy and able bodied, that I have the luxury of  taking it completely for granted.  

I'm thankful that my husband took a break from hauling grain to come home and help me figure out this air cast I have...and then he went to town to get groceries.  We usually stock up Sunday afternoons while we're in the city...that shopping trip didn't happen and if we wanted to eat something other than carrots and tomatoes groceries were needed.  

I'm telling ya' this little trial is going to teach me a lot about dependency, setting aside my pride, and learning to be still.   None of those things are in my nature.  I'm a stuff done kind of a gal...not a sit in a chair all day, feeling about 100 years old, popping Advil, accepting help from people, kind of gal.  

I've also realized that if you hit the pavement hard enough to break a bone there are all kinds of other places in your body, and muscles, that are going to hurt the next day too.  Meh.
I'm feeling really pathetic and useless.

I can no longer BE the house keeper, child care, physical therapist, cook, gardener, baker, kid chauffeur....
maybe I can still teach school, I'm going to give it a few days though.

So now, for a while, I get to just be.  

I get to be the student learning some hard lessons in weakness.





Soli Deo Gloria,

9/21/13

Elijah's 7th Birthday




This week we celebrated a very special day.
The day that a very special baby boy came into the world.

We weren't there that day.
In fact, no one, other than a mysterious woman in a far away land, knows when that day was.
When I think back 7 years I try to picture my boy as a tiny baby.
I remember our own family 7 years ago..
Aili was starting Kindergarten,
Roman an active three year old,
and Silas was making my belly big and round.

A cloud of mystery hides those first days, months, and maybe even years.  
I try to imagine it.
I bet his birth mother is beautiful.  Sometimes I try to picture her.
Was she young?  Was she poor?  Was she thrilled to hear "it's a boy!".  As the months past did she try to hide what she already suspected?  When did she realize that he was not using his left arm, or sitting, or crawling when he should have been?  How crushed was she to make that choice to leave him? 
He was not he son she had hoped for, and the son she needed to have.

I can't even imagine how she must have felt, or the pressures put on her by other family members, or the dreams that had been crushed.

 I have a vivid memory of removing the comforting weight of my own son's body from my arms, laying him down, and walking away.  It is a wretched sort of agony.  Wishing it could be different.  
An utter aberration of God's design for mothers and sons.

Was this toddler boy of mine watching as his Mama walked away? 

I am reminded of these things whenever I fill out medical history paperwork at a Doctors office..
unknown
unknown
unknown


What I do know is this,
the One who created him knows the exact moment that this boy took his first breath. Those moments when something went wrong, and injury happened, didn't go unnoticed. 
Father was there with my boy as he lay alone on the side of a street.  He was protected, and his life was preserved.  

Every bit of his story is known, and every bit of that story has a glorious purpose.
Even disability.

So, we celebrate.
We celebrate the life of a little boy. 




What a wonderful celebration that was.



We gathered together with friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  
We ate hotdogs, and cake....and Chinese noodles "for long life".  

Our church worked, gave, prayed, and encouraged us throughout the process of bringing our son home.  We wanted to thank them, and invite them to celebrate with us.  We were amazed how many people came for the picnic.



It's overwhelming to us that our son is so completely accepted and loved by this great group of friends.  To the point of adults taking the time every Sunday to stop and talk to a little boy, who is mostly unable to clearly speak back. He gets his share of high fives, fist pumps, and smiles every week.  It's no wonder that he moans about it for a week if we miss a Sunday.   He is treated with dignity and worth  That does a mama's heart good. 




We've noticed that Elijah gets really stressed out, and a little hyper possessive, when it comes to being given things.  It triggers stuff and doesn't bring out his best, so we thought it probably was best that he didn't receive a whole stack of gifts to open (besides my house is already filled with stuff).  We stuck to just a few presents to open and asked that people bring a donation instead.

I'm darn tootin' excited that we get to help another family with their adoption.  Another child will know what it is to be loved, and will have birthday parties, and bed time snuggles.  

Our church is relatively new, and relatively small (under 200?)t's grown exponentially since we discovered this rag tag group a couple years ago.  Despite being new and small, we have celebrated four completed adoptions this year!  Two from foster care and two from China.  There are also other kids who were previously adopted.  Not only do we preach the gospel, we get to mirror it through adoption.

How awesome is that?
God knew exactly what kind of community we needed to raise our diverse little family in.  I love that in our church we have so many nations represented, we have different abilities and disabilities, we have different generations all serving each other.  People that look like they would have nothing in common...
but they are united in Christ's love.

I'm so stinkin' happy that we opened this can to find $600.   I have a feeling that it's just the beginning, as we rally around another family that has made the choice to step out in faith, and open their home to a child .





It was a beautiful Autumn day.


Silas even got some Cricket coaching.


When you have the globe represented in one group of people you get to witness strange sports like Cricket.


Grace Fellowship's two newest members.
Two handsome little Emperors.


Elijah loves this little guy, and calls him DiDi (little brother in Chinese).  I have a feeling they're going to be good buds.

We were obnoxious enough to attempt a group picture.





He really likes trains so this was my attempt at a "Train cake".  It was made late at night, and just about got dumped in the garbage on a couple occasions.  It came together eventually though...and served it's purpose.




I also baked extra cupcakes to feed the masses.
Next time I'm splurging and buying the cake,
I am not a pinterest mom.


I love all the little friends in the pictures.  I was so busy and distracted at the time that I didn't stop to appreciate the view of all those sweet kids.  Kids who have been so precious, and adorably curious, and so beautifully inclusive.  We couldn't ask for better little friends for our son.






It was a really beautiful day,
celebrating a beautiful little boy.

I am overwhelmed with God's goodness in allowing us to be his parents.  
It is such a privilege and a joy to be his Mama.

Happy Birthday sweet boy.




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