Monday, November 29, 2010



the arrival of something important or awaited


a coming


the season preceeding Christmas

Christmas is a rush, a blowing by of red and green, the up and down of trees and tinsel.  It's the heat of the oven as you bake Christmas goodies, interupted by the coolness of new fallen snow.  It is braving the crowds and racing for a parking space.  It is lists of gifts and lists of tasks.  It's pausing occasionally to consider a baby in a manger but mostly remaining caught up in the actions of preparing for a holiday.

For me, I think the weeks preceding Christmas are simply reminders of what my spiritual life looks like throughout the years:  the busyness of life interspersed with time of quiet and reflection.  It shouldn't really surprise me that I have trouble preparing my heart for the season of Christmas and daily remembering the birth of a baby who changed the world.

I'm hoping this year will be different.  I want my kids to not get lost in the sea of gifts and travel and food.  I want Christmas to be a time of reflection for our family, a time to remember how Christmas isn't just about the manger but that the manger rests in the shadow of the cross. 

A few months ago, I found a great little book in a thrift store, Countdown to Christmas Devotions for Families   It has over 30 days of readings and covers the days before Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the days following Christmas.  The readings are short, Scripture based, and are supposed to be connected to an ornament that the kids hang on an Advent Tree.  Each ornament is an object that represents a spiritual truth.  For example, today we read about newspapers and how God's important events are recorded not in a newspaper but in the Bible.  I don't have the ornaments but it was really easy to find pictures of each item.  We might make a garland or something similar with those pictures; I haven't decided yet.  And some of them are very common things that will be easy to use the actual objects and do a little object lesson with.  One of the days uses a pine cone and evergreen trees as a reminder of how God's love is ever present.  I'm pretty sure the kids will like holding and describing pine cones when we get to that day.  Another day is a balloon to represent how the Holy Spirit is like a mighty wind.  My kids are balloon fanatics so using their "windyness" to inflate a balloon and then play with it will make their evening, I'm sure.

It's a great little book.  And a thrift store find no less.  Here's to hoping it plants spiritual seeds in the hearts of all of  our family members.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shutterfly Christmas Cards...Good for You/Good for Them

We interupt this blog for a bit of shameless self (and Shutterfly) promotion.

I'm borrowing a bit from my friend, Cari, who made me aware of this special deal. This year, Shutterfly is making my (and possibly your) life easier & better! They are offering 50 free Christmas cards to bloggers who post about this deal in their blog-o-sphere. I'm game so here's my post.

I'm kind of a hit or miss Christmas card girl but if I'm getting something for free I'm pretty sure I can make this year a "hit" year.  And I have to say that since our family has grown since last Christmas, sending out some type of holiday greeting seems to be a necessity.  (Especially since I didn't send out any "adoption announcement".) 

So now the real question:  what to include in the cards/letter?   Ours will include our newest family portrait in some way.  Here are my ideas; tell me your favorites.  Or give me some new ideas based on cards you've received in the past.

1.  Card and letter with an acrostic with our last name, with sentences about the past year for each letter
2.  Card or letter featuring a collection of quotes said by our kids over the course of the year or featuring a collection of quotes from our kids about Christmas
3.  Card and letter with word search, made with clues that connect to our family
4.  Just a simple card, with no letter
5.  A card/letter formatted to look like a shape ie word organized to be a tree

If you need to view some options to get inspired, check out the regular Christmas cards, the photo Christmas cards, or the more generic holiday cards

And if you're a blogger and want to get in on the special:

Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… learn more: .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Thanksgiving Fare

Since I shared with you my pie selection for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd also share my side dish:  Three Fruit Relish.  Raspberries and apples are unexpected partners with the usual holiday flavor duo of orange and cranberry.  It's a tart version of cranberry relish so if you're wanting sweet, it's probably not for you.  But I'm guessing my aunt Sheree will make her cranberry jello salad whose sweetness will compliment this perfectly.

How to Make a Pie

Well, sort of.

I'm not a pie making guru by any stretch.  So really you probably shouldn't be taking advice from me.  But I told my mom I would do a pie for Thanksgiving and I really would like to get better at pie baking, so this seemed like a good opportunity to practice. 

The pie crust recipe I used was really tasty as dough.  I've never had dough that I actually wanted to eat prior to cooking and this was so good, I enjoyed eating the raw dough.  Now, let's hope that it tastes that good in a cooked pie...  The pie I'm making is one I've actually made before, but I'm guessing I used a frozen pie crust.   It's a combination of apple pie, cheesecake, and crumb topping.  (Recipe from Taste of Home.)  As to looks, well, my pie crust shrunk more than I would have liked and my fluting didn't come out well.  (High butter content, I'm guessing that is what made it not as clean and neat.  Maybe having the dough in the fridge for longer next time?)

Here's the main inspiration for my post though:  my spray bottle from Taliah Wajiid. 

I'm sure that's what most people have on their counters when baking a pie.  It's really just one I've refilled with water but my crust was a little crumbly and I wanted to add just a spritz of water.  At any rate, isn't that what you use your hair products for?  (And yes, my rolling pin has one handle.  It was my granny's, a gift from my grandma which if you know my grandma and her gift giving, it all makes perfect sense.  It need repaired but I've managed to make it work for the last ten years so you know...)

Cholera Update

This article does a great job of explaining the current situation.  Cholera has indeed crept into every corner of Haiti and will now be a problem for decades.  The article specifically illustrates how hard it is to control a disease in a country where there are not enough health professionals/hospitals and where so many people are uneducated and do not understand the basics of how diseases like cholera are spread.  It also shows how often people prolong treatment which is just not doable with a disease that can kill in hours.  It's a bit graphic but worth the read.  The same blogger also provides an article with many links to reputable organizations if you are interested in donating time or money to fight cholera in Haiti.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Microbraid/braidlocs in!

They've actually been in for about a week now.  I won't even venture a guess as to how many there are or how long it took.   But now they're in and I can relax for a bit.  I'm taking the no washing and no soaking route for a few weeks to try to help keep down the fuzzies.   So our routine is coconut oil mixed with olive oil twice a day and a little spray of water if they are looking too funky from sleeping.  They're not quite long enough to do two pigtails.  Almost though...I'm guessing that in a month, they will be.  I was a bit worried about the diameter, that they would be too small and prone to breaking, but they seem to be okay.  Conleigh does have some "trouble spots" where her hair was damaged and too short to braid so I just left that section alone since it's too fragile to really braid yet.  Her hairline is still growing in too so I kind of have left it a little frizzier so that I didn't have to braid in those fragile spots too.  It's in on cornrow in the middle and two braids on the sides right now.  Love it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

More on the idols of ideals

A few weeks ago,  I wrote about how easy it is to turn our ideals into idols.   We find something good and noble and lovely and cling to it with all we have, as if our devotion to that thing makes us righteous or holy or more godly.  (Or maybe our devotion to that idea just makes us comfortable.)

This week I got another reminder about turning our ideals into idols, from My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for Everyday:

"Beware of making a fetish of consistency to your convictions instead of being devoted to God.  The one consistency of the saint is not to a principle but to the Divine life.  It is the Divine life which continually make more and more discoveries about the Divine mind.  It is easier to be a fanatic than a faithful soul..."

It's a great reminder of how quickly we align ourselves with certain principles and ideas and how this can easily detour us towards devotion to a viewpoint and away from devotion to God.  It's also a great reminder of how our ideas and principle should be a bit fluid, allowing for us to grow in our understanding of what God desires for us.  It doesn't mean that we are like a man believes in nothing or who blows in the breeze of whatever thoughts we find appealing.  It does mean that we should not become dogmatic in our beliefs, especially in areas where there are a wide variety of interpretations.  Faith is a journey not a destination and if we think we've arrived, I'm guessing we're probably not in the place where we think we are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

God and Me-Small Things with Love

The past few weeks, D and I have just been out of sync.  We are usually very "in sync" with each other so it's very frustrating for me when we get out of the rhythm that is naturally who we are as a couple.   I've spent a lot of time pointing out to him all the things he was doing that I didn't like.  I've considered a bit that it might be partially my fault but haven't spent too much time really hanging out with those thoughts.  (I mean, really, who wants to accept partial or full responsibility when they can blame someone else?) 

It's all kind of come full circle in the last few days.  On Friday, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for Everyday was apparently written just for me.  Oswald Chambers writes about the new heart that must exist in us if we are in Christ.  "What difference has my salvation and sanctifucation made?  For instance, can I stand in light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I have to shuffle?"

Ugh.  1 Corinthans 13 has become a bit of a family code.  I constantly remind my kids about what love looks like by using verses from that chapter.  And the image of one loitering in the shadows of that verse was one that resonated in my heart.  It's watching myself shift around in order to avoid the light which might remind me of how unloving I can be.  It's thinking about what might be seen if my love were thrust into a spotlight that illuminates those powerful words, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

The truth is I don't think I really realized how stressed my husband is feeling and how that stress was affecting his actions.  He's sick. (Stayed home from work two days last week.)  That's also making him very tired.  And he's got a lot on his plate the next few weeks as he has mid term grades due sometime soon, an art show, bulletin boards that need changed, and starting soccer weighlifting/conditioning.  In addition to that, he is feeling a lot of pressure with his grandmother.  There are a lot concerns about her living at home alone and her health.  D and his brother are essentially her own living relatives and D's brother is in Boise so the reality is, D and I are on the front lines so to speak.   Dealing with all of that is stressful and make him miss his mom. 

As to me and the kids, the kids have been struggling with some minor behaviors that I'd like to nip in the bud.  One's experimenting with lying.  Another with disrespectful attitudes and body langugage. 

I've been working a fair amount which is good but also means feeling a bit like I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  Healthwise, my kids and myself are kind of going back and forth between "I've got a nose full of snot and feel like crap" and "I'm fine".

It's just been kind of a long last few weeks.  And what I realized was that I have spent a lot of time being upset that others have not made my life easier.  I have not been a very good helpmate to D.  I've focused a lot on how wrong he is or how great his needs are.  This week I'm working hard to love him better.  To love him with little messages like "I heart u" written in the palm of his hand, like we did when we were dating and first married.  To love him by catching him before he leaves for work and asking him what I can pray for today.  To love him by doing small things for him like stopping by with ice cream before the art show he had on Tuesday. 

What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.  The needs are great and none of us, including me, ever do great things.  But we can do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."  Mother Theresa

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Few Line from the Peanut Gallery

Conleigh really likes to say, "Yummy in my throat!"  To get the full affect you must hear it when said it a raspy three year old voice, with similar inflections to "Yummy in my tummy!"

Did you know that Tinkerbell and Woody from Toy Store have a thing?  Apparently they kiss a lot because "dem love each other."  For the record, it's Kenson who dreamed up and acted out this romantic liason.

Conleigh has started calling Kenson "buddy".  As in "Buddy, I got your coat!" or "There you are, Buddy!"  Again, it's better with the raspy voice.

We went to Pizza Hut with my folks last weekend and tried to get Kenson to count for them.  He counted to five which isn't as far as he can go so our exact words were "No, count as high as you can."  His little hand shot up in the air and he continued to count to five.  Again, we said, "No, as high as you can."  When he tried to stretch that hand up higher and higher, we finally realized he was reaching as high as he could and counting.  Which is almost what we meant.

We've been on a bit of a David and Goliath kick lately.  Kenson really liked to sing "Only a Boy Named David" at bedtime and then I showed him the VeggieTales version, Dave and the Giant Pickle.   So today I was priveleged to watch both of them act all of this out.  Kenson started by using a set of headphones as a sling (which promptly got taken away).  Then Conleigh slammed the bathroom door and told me to be careful because there was a giant pickle in there.  At some point, the kid sized chairs were taken into the bathroom to play the part of the giant pickle.  And then they started shoving papers under the door for the giant pickle.  The best part though was the giant fighting ensemble Conleigh picked out...I'm sure Goliath would have run far and fast if he had seen this coming.

(Aqua frilly skirt used as a capelet, pink pants with pink frilly skirt actually used as a skirt, cowboy boots, and a vacuum cleaner attachment horse...A pair of pink high heel princess shoes alternated with the cowyboy boots; you just got the cowboy boot version.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I know this is trivial.  I know it's minute.  I know it's actually just plain silly.

But I can't help myself.

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts?  Really?  I'm pretty sure pumpkin pie is quite offended.  I'm guessing that maybe even the Cool Whip is irritated.  Why on earth would you take a perfectly good dessert and create some type of hybrid breakfast food?  Do not understand...maybe it tastes great but it just seems a bit off to me.

photo from

Friday, November 12, 2010

Haiti and Cholera

My heart is slowly sinking as I think it is probably pretty certain that cholera has now made it's way into every village/town in Haiti.  I don't know if it's possible to adequately explain how great the potential is for a disease based disaster.  It's a bit like the earthquake.  Minutes after the first newscast and the death toll started coming in, I just looked at D and said that there was no way it would be so minimal, that the death toll would be immense.  Cholera leaves me with that same feeling.
Please pray for Haiti tonight.  For people who already been greatly impacted by death and who may be impacted yet again.  For kids who have already lost one parent and may lose another.  For kids who have no parents to speak of and are sick and afraid.  For moms who fear losing their babies.  For dads who fear losing their wives.  For health care workers who are too few, too far between, too tired, and too strapped for resources. 

Conleigh's orphanage started the day with two sick children who were transported to the hospital. One was confirmed as cholera and was sent home with IV's.  However, Evan is not doing well and has returned to the hospital.  And another child has started presenting with symptoms.  The "skeleton crew" that is running the orphanage is kind of a make do group as the directors are Stateside due to visa issues following the earthquake.  I'm sure they are feeling very overwhelmed.  They are also in need of a nurse who can do iv's as well as medication for cholera.

Real Hope for Haiti has just started seeing cases and has a posted a bit on what they are seeing.  Lori, their nurse, did not sleep last night.  Please pray for her strength.  Licia, her sister, has 4 children and will be leaving the area in order to try to keep the kid healthy.  She is torn as she wants to stay. 

These stories are playing out every day, every hour, in Haiti.  For me, it's what comes with loving my kids.  Loving my kids means loving these people.  It means being reminded of how easily my kids could have stayed in Haiti and how vulnerable they would have been.  It means sorting all of that out while they are snug in their beds, under layers of covers, cudding a favorite toy.  So for me and for my kids, love Haiti too.  Love her with a gift of money, given to Real Hope for Haiti.  Love her with your prayers.  Love her with your time, spent passing the word about the needs.  Just love her.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My New Favorite Hair Tool

Got any guesses as to what it actually is?  It is...drumroll, please...a latch hook.  As in what you use to do handicrafts.  As in what some little old lady used to do a massive picture of the Last Supper that hangs in the back of my parent's church.

I just used it for the first time on Kenson's locs.  His locs were in sad shape.  (Not really sad, just neglected.)  I had been tightening the new growth by twisting and palm rolling but his locs are so long, I felt like I wasn't having much success in keeping them tight.  And then I got behind in retightening.  So he had like 2 inches of unlocked hair in some spots.  It took me FOREVER to get through.  But I wish I had done the latch hook business earlier.  Basically you insert the hook end through the loc, wrap the loc around the loop end of the tool, then pull it back through the loc.  You repeat this process multiple times on each loc until the roots of the loc are tight against the scalp.  The roots of his locs look great.  The actual locs could use a little freshening up, either palm rolling or trimming the ends where you get little ballies of hair or the occasional stray hairs that managed to escape getting locked.  But all in all, they look great.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Summary of my day...

Okay I didn't spend my whole day doing this but a good chunk of it. 

These microbraids are the start of Conleigh's dreadlocks.  They look complicated but really they are just basic box braids, done with very small boxes.  Keeping in mind that I would want to put in barrettes and pigtails, I made sure to put in parts that go down the middle and parts that go from ear to ear, then I just started dividing those sections out into the smaller boxes.  Most of the boxes have a base that is a bit smaller than the eraser of a pencil.  I tried go as small as a could without risking breakage.

I've been contemplating it since she came home and have finally decided to take the plunge.  Yes, I'll be sad to see free hair go but I will be very thankful to let go of maintaining her hair in some type of style.  I also will be very thankful to have hair that can easily be pulled up, put in barrettes, etc..  

I'm probably not quite 1/2 done.  I don't know how many braids, probably over a hundred.  And when I say micro, I mean micro.  They are teeny tiny.  Even though it's a lot of work to put them in, I'm actually excited to finish and hope I can get it all done on Saturday.  Then onto ponytails, pigtails, French braids, and cornrows...all while her hair is in these itty bitty braids!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Easy Peasy Layered Satin Flowers

Sooo...we had scheduled family pictures for Saturday and I ordered a cute flower barrette off of just for the purpose of the pictures.  I ordered two weeks ahead of time and didn't think much of it until the Wednesday before pictures when I realized it hadn't arrived yet.  I contacted the seller who was easy to work with but the real issue was that I didn't have anything for Conleigh's hair for the pictures.  I was wanting something special, something that was unique.  The closest store is Walmart which has a pretty decent hair accessory selection but they didn't have exactly what I had in mind.  Next choice would be to drive 45 minutes to a larger town with more selection but I was just there on Tuesday and was going back on Saturday.  Really don't want to waste my gas just for a hair dealie.  So I decided that it might be time to try making my own satin flowers using a couple of different tutorials I had seen online. 

The first one came out a bit to large for Conleigh's head, but it was still pretty cute.  (See here for a great tutorial for a similar flower.)  The other ones are just layered circles which I've seen in a variety of spots.  These are the ones I ended up using.  I actually got two compliments on them at the photo place.  Anyway, I'm hoping to add some to my etsy shop so be checking there.  And I'm always happy to do custom orders if you'd like some for stocking stuffers.  Pretty cute, I have to say...

New Family Pics

We just got our first family portraits done in November of '09.  Who knew that a short three months later Conleigh would be joining us?  (If I had, I probably wouldn't have done the pictures in November.)  Regardless, say hello to our first formal portraits as a family of 4...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Fellowship of Motherhood and Idols

Homeschooling, a great private school education, being a very involved mom at public school...

Our children's behavior, our ability to control our children's behavior...

Appearing cute or pretty or put together, having our children appear cute or pretty or put together, having our homes appear cute or pretty or put together...

These are all things I've written about under the topic of Motherhood, things which I have found to be devisive issues among women.  They are things which tend to make people scramble to find a group of friends who shares similar beliefs, with whom to share life with.  They are things which tend to make people feel good about themselves and the choice they've made.

I've got another list going too.

Organic food
Being able to eat at nicer resturants than McDonald's
Cloth diapers
Cheap diapers
Providing our kids with the latest toys
Restricting our kids tv time and encouraging imagination
A frugal existance
New cars and new clothes
Church every Sunday
Family Bible time
A clean house
Just owning a house
A women's right to birth control
A desire to let God choose family size

In and of themselves, none of these things are necessarily evil.  They are all things that are matters of personal choice and conviction.  Paul describes these types of things when he writes,

"So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.  I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up."  (Romans 14)

But as I've said before, so many times these things start to creep in and become a part of our identities.  They are such good things.  They make us feel good.  They make others feel good.  The goal behind many of these things is something good.  But, somehow, they become idols.  They become so important that at times we're willing to sacrifice the feelings of others to show how right or good our choices are.  They become so important that at times we're willing to put aside our need to constantly be in communion with God and stop seeking out His will on these issues.  They become so important that at times, they cause us to fight for a belief rather than to fight for the Gospel. 

Courtney at Storing Up Treasures recently wrote a very heartfelt confession regarding such an idol.  Through a very painful process of losing an adopted child, she came to see how she had propped up adoption and her ability to successfully parent as an idol.  I loved her words.  Probably because I think it's something we all do, especially about things we feel passionately about. 

May we as women daily die, putting aside our personal preferences and matters of individual conviction, instead aligning ourselves with what God wants us to accomplish for each day.  May we not get so caught up in the big issues of life that we forget to make time for the small issue of intimacy with a jealous God.  May we choose to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices who should be consumed by the will of our Savior rather than us consuming Him with what we desire.  And may we remember that we're all in this together, that every other woman struggles with idols of the heart and idols of our passions, and to offer grace and mercy as required.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rockstar Challenge

Inspired to Action had a great post a few days ago.  Just plain and simple truths.  It reminded me of something I heard Maya Angelou say about kids.  That when your kids walk in the room, your face should light up and they should recognize how genuinely glad you are to be in their presence.  That those first moments of togetherness in a room teach your kids volumes about their value.  (It's something that has been an anchor belief for me both as a teacher and as a mom.) 

Anyway, read on and challenge yourself to slow down and be a rockstar...I had a rockstar moment yesterday as the conductor of a train made out of dining room chairs...

I’m A Rockstar on Tuesdays

I’m a rockstar every Tuesday at 11:30am. And again at 12:00pm.

That’s when I have lunch at school with each of my daughters. When I walk in, their eyes light up, they jump out of their seat and greet me with a hug that seems to require every last ounce of their strength. They pull their chair as close as possible and we proceed to hugeat for the next 30 minutes.

Hugeating is the process of putting food in your mouth while snuggling as close to your mama as you possibly can. My kids are professionals.

The funny thing is, it’s not just MY kids that get excited. Their friends do too. They rush to sit at our table. We play thumb wars, foot wars and we talk with funny accents.

This week as I was grabbing food for their lunches, I saw a leftover plastic pink table cloth in the pantry. I brought it to school and put it on the table before they arrived.

My oldest daughter walked in, put her hands over her mouth like people do when they’re presented with a BRAND NEW CAR!!! She squealed and smiled a Texas sized smile.

It was a pink plastic table cloth. It cost .99.

But my daughter and her friends acted like I’d given them the moon.

It doesn’t take much to make kids happy.

We don’t need to take them to DisneyLand. We don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on toys. We don’t need to throw a huge, elaborate party.

All it takes is 30 minutes and a pink plastic table cloth.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

God and Me-Love, the Hard Way

Oh the difference between the words "I love you" and actual actions!  I have a family member who is difficult for me to love at times.  It's easy to say "I love you" but it is so much harder to do it.  This week I have found myself questioning what it looks like to love this person. 

She is stubborn.  And passive aggressive.  And manipulative.  And has done hurtful things in the past to people whom I love.  But she's also scared.  And lonely.  And depressed.  And confused.

It is so easy to be bombarded by the negative, to want to strike out and love her "my way."  I think that means loving her in a shallow way, where platitudes are said but where my heart still holds her at an arm's length away.  It is hard to love her.  I want to pretend her circumstances don't exist and claim my time and my energies as my own, that she is not deserving of me spending them on her.  If it's not seeking to isolate myself from her, then it's feeling like if she would just do things my way, then all would be well.  (Actually I'd settle for her doing just a few things my way...)  Because of the circumstances, I find myself dealing with someone who says one thing and does another.  I find myself coming behind her and cleaning up messes.  (And no, it's not my daughter, in case you're wondering!)  It's more of a figurative mess than a literal one.  In short, I find myself feeling like I am repeatedly wandering in circles in my relationship with her.

As I've questioned, I've found myself stuck on the words "It is easier to control people than to love them." I really want to choose the easy way of love? 

And what does the hard way to love look like?  Especially with her.  More than anything, I think the hard way looks like grace.  Like arms outstretched on a cross while a calm yet wounded heart says "this is for you."  It's peace in the midst of being hurt.  It's letting someone else's mistakes make you look bad.  It's quietly saying "I believe you are worth my sacrifice."  And it's choosing to love rather than fix or rearrange or redo.

Oh but it's hard!  My heart keeps saying, "But really?  I don't want to do the hard way.  Grace and mercy?  A kind gentle spirit?  Invest time with her?  Allow her freedom to make choices that backfire and create problems?  Really, God?"  

May my heart let go of the easy way and embrace the hard way.  May I loosen my elbows and resist the desire to hold her at arm's length.  May I love her with Your love, in a way that she may not deserve but in a way that gives her what she needs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Haiti, Cholera, and the Hurricane

Haiti continues to weigh heavy on my heart.  The cholera death toll is about 440.   And Hurricane Thomas is scheduled to make land on Friday.  Conleigh's orphanage has been told to expect 96 hours worth of rain.  They felt that their temporary plywood shelters might not weather a storm well so they abandoned their cholera induced isolation in order to evacuate to higher ground.  

If you haven't seen these pictures yet, I highly recommend them.  They are beautifully taken and are such vivid reminders of what life is like for so many in a post earthquake Haiti.  Imagine our White House still being in ruins ten months after a disaster?  Or knowing that a hurricane was approaching and living in a tent?  We do not know the whereabouts of Kenson's birth family so as I view pictures like these, I can't help but wonder where they are and if they are struggling.

Walking Adoption with your Kids

We're probably a bit unusual in how much we talk about Haiti in our home, especially since Conleigh came home.  There have been stretches that have seemed to go on for months, where we have probably talked about Haiti every day.  I'm sure some of that has to do with having one who was just at the place where he was starting to be able to verbalize some things and then having one who just came home. 
Regardless, we are a pretty open family.  (Well I am.  D has just been corrupted by me and my extended family.)  Conversation flows freely on a wide variety of topics and in general, not much is taboo.  That carries into what happens with our kids.

There are times when I chose to be deliberate in bringing up Haiti or adoption.  Like when we eat mangoes, I point out how we all ate mangoes in Haiti.  Or if I make banan pese, friend plantains.  I usually say something about plantains growing in Haiti.  Or grilled bone in chicken.  That's become known as Haiti chicken in our house.  (Anyone else wondering why all of this revolves around food?)  It's not just food though.  It's in choosing to read books with strong adoption stories or with themes that might lend themselves to talking about racial identity.  In those times, I don't push my kids to think about the story in any way other than simply enjoying the story.  If they bring up something related to Haiti or adoption or race, fine.  But I don't force it.

We've also tried to create things that support a bridge between their past lives and their current one.  Both of my kids came home to small photo albums of "People Who Love Us" which had pictures of our family and pictures of nannies from their orphanages, their birth families, orphanage staff, etc..  That book was meant to be loved and was on their bookshelves to read anytime they desired.  They both have scrapbooks of their early years, full of pictures of orphanage life and pictues with their families.  These are in the living room and I usually try to monitor them when they look at them just so they treat them gently.  I should have made two copies of everything but it didn't occur to me until after the fact.  We also have the screen saver on one of the computers set to a slide show of our assorted trips to Haiti.  So often the kids will stop and notice those pictures and ask to hear about those trips.  Again, there isn't any pushing it.  It just seems like the kids decide to look at those things whenever they want.  And that if we're available, we try to walk them through what things are happening in the photos. 

Both of my kids call their Haitian Mamas by their first names.  Mama so and so.  Both of them ask questions about their Haitian mamas from time to time, often things that I don't know the answer to.  Like what her house looked like.   And sometimes they ask things that I do know the answers to.  Like if she loved me.  Or what letter her name starts with if she has the same letters in her name as one of the kids.  And both of my kids know the general sequence of their stories, that they couldn't stay with their Haiti Mama, that they were loved at the orphanage, that Mama and Papa flew in an airplane to come and get them.  Each time we tell the story, it seems like more details get added.

We've also read quite a few picture books that deal directly or indirectly with adoption.  A Mother for Chocoand The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story are two that Kenson instantly saw the adoption themes in.  Off the top of my head, we also have Tap-Tap, My Family is Forever and Jin Woo.  (And if you don't have them and are interested in buying them, if you buy using my links or my Amazon recommendations, I get a portion of the proceeds!)

I read once that what we say about our children's birth families in their absence is a very powerful thing.  I think that's true of their birth countries too.  What we say when we think no one is listening or what we say when we know the birth family/birth culture as a whole is unable to hear it are powerful messages to our kids.  While negative things are a part of both of my kids' stories, the way I frame them make all the difference in the world.  Choosing words that are life giving words, words about their histories that inspire my kids and bring life and light to their hearts and faces are so important and create a confidence within them that says "all of my life is valuable and useful to the Lord."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Blessings

We enjoyed Conleigh's first Halloween with costumes, pumpkins, candy, and a surprise visit from Grandma and Grandpa. 

The costumes were a steal.  I found them at a thrift store and paid like $3.23 for both of them.  I had to make a dinosaur head for Kenson and hem Conleigh's but they worked great.  (Plus they were nice and warm for the hayrack ride at church.)

We of course made a jack o'lantern.  Conleigh was quite keen on the guts.  And both of my kids actually ate a few roasted pumpkin seeds without complaining and spitting them out.

Sunday night we headed to church for the fall party.  Soup, candy, games, friends...perfect.  We didn't really do too much trick or treating.  We had a handful of people whom we know who we were going to go to but only one of them was home.  We've got a nice little stash that will hopefully be gone by the end of the week, depending on how much D and I sneak out of it.  And so far there's only been one slightly negative moment when the kids reported today that the dog ate a candy wrapper...