Monday, December 19, 2011

Before Christmas

I have spent the last hour catching up on my favorite blogs.  They are my favorites because they point me again and again to Jesus.  In a time of swirling to-dos, general parenting angst and normal life stuff, it's good to sit back and read and watch and meditate on Jesus.  Especially now, before Christmas.  

We did not do Advent calendars this year or have the tree up on schedule or read nightly around the Jesse tree, and I still do not have my Christmas shopping done or my cards sent out.  But in God's great grace and wisdom, He is giving us glimpses of the profoundness of Jesus's birth anyway, and He's given us some precious memories too.  A timely devotional email.  A powerful testimony given at church on Sunday.   Sweet moments with friends.   The school Christmas program.   Christmas music.   Ethan putting up our lights and the tree, my boy turning man before my eyes.  Gia, a constant reminder of God's lavish blessing upon our family.  A weekend away with William.  Watching Christian gently talk and play with G as I try to get stuff done, warming my heart with his sweet spirit.  All evidences of the abundant life Jesus told us about, when He came so long ago and walked on this earth and gave us Himself.  A year ago, Christian was diagnosed.  Tonight he looked at that year-ago blog post with a SMILE.  

Today the boys and I watched lots of videos on iamsecond.com.  I watch these videos in amazement.  How God pursues His loved ones! He redeems and restores broken lives and hurting hearts, He gives purpose and meaning to every life.  The boys see this as they watch.  We marvel together at our Savior. 

And then I read the blogs, some written by friends, others by strangers, but all glorifying God, shouting His praises, whether struggling through tough times or rejoicing over the simple moments of life.  Authentic life pointing to Jesus, Our Savior, Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father who adopts us as His children!!!  The stories of adoption cover almost every blog I read, adoption being lived out in real time by people who have chosen to step out in faith and surrender everything comfortable and "normal" in favor of the uncertain, unknown and oftentimes difficult, yet fulfilling, path of adoption.  People who are adopting older children, children with special needs, and they obediently enter into God's adventurous plans for these children, empowered by Him to live out-of-the-norm lives, sacrificial lives.   I am inspired to do more.  I am reminded of God's heart towards orphans.   

For today, I am done reading blogs and watching videos.  I return to my own reality as a daughter of the Most High.  Jesus, full of grace and truth, and me, a sinner saved by beautiful grace, tightly woven together forever, the cords of his love strengthening me, purifying me, making me lovely and strong.   In Him I live and move and have my being.  He loves me radically.   Always.  He has a good plan for me, my husband, my children.  Not easy, but good.  We have tread on uncertain ground, and He has held us up.  He is Faithful and True.  It's Christmas.  May Jesus overwhelm our thoughts this week with His glory.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Little Smock on My Little Girl

My smock from preschool way back...love it on my girl now.  We've arrived.  Potty-trained and joining mommy for art time, Gia is embracing all the newness and fun and so am I.  Love you, sweet G.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

mid-october...


Her face says it all.  She's like her mama, wearing her emotions on her sleeve.  That's not such a good thing when you're supposedly a mature, well-adjusted adult, but at two you can get away with it.

Christian has decided he wants to make something every Wednesday.  Today it was pb cookies.  Last week it was calzone.   He did the cookies by himself.   After all, it only involves reading a recipe and following instructions, right?  I'm happy to report he followed them well.  The cookies were delicious and I think I'm going to like his weekly creations in the kitchen.  The boys came in from a wet bike ride home from school, I came in from Re:new, and we were all ready for some cozy warmth from the kitchen.  Ethan made apple pancakes first, and we munched on those to warm up. 

Type 1 has been throwing us for a loop lately.  Crazy numbers, scary numbers, some shaky times with both boys.   I am tempted to ask why.  But that never is very productive, so I focus on God instead.  He is good.  Always.  Every moment He has the boys under His watchful, loving, pure eyes.  I return to being grateful for every day, every breath, every cozy moment in the kitchen with my precious three.  I am grateful He is the ultimate problem-solver, a very practical God.  Thankfully, peacefully so.

As we call on His wisdom, our whole family, I remind the Lord of Daniel's prayer and make it my own:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
   wisdom and power are his.
 He changes times and seasons;
   he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to the discerning.
 He reveals deep and hidden things;
   he knows what lies in darkness,
   and light dwells with him.
 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
   You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you...

I love you, Jesus.  Thank you.





Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

Oh, glorious fall.  I would break out into a poem about it, if I were a poet.  But I want to write a sentence or two about our weekend.  G's two later this week.  We celebrated her birthday this beautiful sun-kissed weekend...and went apple picking and, of course, watched the boys play baseball and football (both teams won!), and hung out with friends and saw seven lambos and one ferrari (one particular family member would have to include this in our amazing happenings of yesterday.)  Sweet times.









Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October Sun


The last glorious days of warmth are here this week, and we're lingering outside just to soak it in.  There's that distinct fall feeling of heat in the sun and a sharp coolness in the shade.   On Monday, after rescheduling a photo shoot for Re:new three times due to rainy weather, we were blessed with barefoot weather.  The kids did great.   Professional photographer extraordinaire Chrystl McClure donated her time and got some great shots of the apparel the refugee ladies are sewing this fall.   I marveled at three of our little models, three little girls running around barefoot and carefree,  all adopted.  Their little minds were camped on snacks and trying their best to stay still while the photographer snapped away.   I think of the millions of little ones, just like them, some right in our own backyard and others in far away places, whose little minds are on thirst and hunger.  And that's it.

I am excited about an upcoming adoption conference in Chicago involving many, many churches and the initiative in our own church to propel the body of Christ to follow the command to care for orphans.   Since Gia is now getting into foil and trying to break into the applesauce...my time is up.  More later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Intercession


God has ordained human intercession as a part of His redemptive work in the world because it requires our faith, which pleases God and brings Him glory.  So this morning we intercede. When we look back in five years, my love, what will we say?
Psalm 25:20-21
Guard my life and rescue me;
   do not let me be put to shame,
   for I take refuge in you. 
 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
   because my hope, LORD, is in you.
I Peter 2:17
Respect everyone, love other believers, honor God...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shakespeare Play {the boys}


Last night we enjoyed Clapham's production of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.   I have to admit, I didn't know what to expect beforehand.  I'm not a Shakespeare fan, and I'm definitely not a fan of Shakespeare-performed-by-kids.  Until now!  It was GREAT!  Funny, flawlessly executed, worthy of a much bigger audience than the parents and school staff!

Weeks ago, when it was announced that Classes 5-7 were going to be taking on Shakespeare, my boys were less than excited.   Acting is really not their thing.  But as the countdown began to the performance, I could sense their enthusiasm.   They did great on the big night, acting with gusto!  I am very proud of them.   Who knew Shakespeare could be so fun?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christan's BD...In Pictures









Dear Father, Christian's birthday was great.  A trip into the city, dinner at his favorite restaurant and a late night birthday cake, all wrapped up with goodness and love and each otherness... So proud of my guy.  I love his tender heart, his brilliant mind, his ocean eyes.  Your grace and favor cover him and his smile tells a thousand words when he talks about You.  Thank you, thank you for him, such a gift...

The Long Version of Easter 2011

As I stare out the window and see yet another dreary day, I am especially thankful for this last weekend.  Today I have already vowed 10 times to be thankful for rain, clouds, more rain and clouds.  After all, the grass is greening up and at least it's not snowing.  
Good Friday was dreary.  It was fitting.  We were late to church and ended up in the standing in the lobby the whole time.   But in the dark atmosphere, all eyes on the large cross in front of us, Kelly recounted the story of the crucifixion, how Jesus was innocent, and how Barabbas was guilty.  We are all Barabbas.  That is, until we come to Jesus [believe in, rely on, trust in, depend upon Him] and He exchanges our sin for His righteousness and frees us from the gunk that would otherwise muck up our lives.  Christian was riveted.  He stood, leaning against a doorframe, his body still (rare).  Even after the glorious celebration Sunday morning, he said the Good Friday service was his favorite.  I don't understand fully how God used it to touch his heart, but I'm thankful my heavenly Father, who loves us so radically, knows my boy far more intimately than I ever will.  I don't think I will ever forget the sight of him leaning on that doorframe, still, God working something deep in his heart.   I am reminded of Mary, how she loved to just be still with Jesus, soaking Him in.
Ethan was more like Martha on Good Friday, concerned about the people coming in late like us, helping set up chairs and probably wondering about the fire code, like our friend who was ushering that night.  I love his servant's heart, and yet sometimes I fret that he's missing the wonder of a moment that I personally feel is not to be missed.  


Thankfully, again, God wired him to be how he is and is always reminding me that HE causes the growth and draws Ethan.  And Ethan was drawn.  The Sunday morning Easter service was like no other, and this time we were up front, only a couple rows back, and Ethan was riveted.   In a nutshell, Kelly laid out why Christianity is different from all other religions and methodically went through each major religion in the world, what they require for salvation and their remedy for sin.  I left thinking how GRATEFUL and BLESSED!!! I am to be a follower of Jesus.   Ethan felt like that too.  
And little G.  We grabbed a quick picture with the Easter bunny in the park on Friday.  She toddled around with the other little ones in the nursery both Friday night and Sunday morning.   We woke up to sunshine Easter morning, and I grabbed some pics of the kids on the back porch.







Easter dinner was enjoyed with family, lots of family!  I chased Gia around most of the time, but it was good to catch up with everyone in little snippets of conversation.
Lord, you are GOOD!  You are the One and Only One who is mighty to save! I give thanks to You for moving in my family this weekend, surrounding us with sunshine and family and HOPE.  Amen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gia: At Spicy 18 Months!



Our sweet and spicy G is fully embracing her age.  She’s a bundle of energy and emotions, discovering her world and learning more day by day.  I love this age.  She is beginning to say more words, but mostly expresses herself with her body language.  One minute she’s gently kissing someone or something on the cheek, the next minute giving “the look” and whacking the air, herself, or me!  She hears “Gia is sooo gentle and kind” many times a day.  Mommy is saying that about herself too.  And praying a lot. 

The hair.  Oh, my.  It’s crazy.   We love it.   My Sudanese friend frequently comments about how I should be braiding it, and she can’t resist braiding it every time she comes over.  She says it’s the African thing to do.  I’m afraid I’m failing miserably in the braiding department.  It’s on the list of Things To Learn this year...along with a slew of other Important Things.
G has discovered the piano.  She begs to play it.  So she sits there and rocks the house, her whole body involved in the music.  We have a dancer on our hands, hip-hop hands down being her favorite music.  It’s what happens when you have two older brothers.
She loves her boys.  Her boys love her.   She, I’m certain, is the greatest gift they’ve ever experienced, ever been given.  It’s a tender sight, seeing them laugh with little G, care for her and lead her around by the hand.  
I continue to be amazed that God has allowed us to walk this path.   It is challenging at times, yet none of us could ever imagine life without her.  She infuses our family with joy and is a continuous reminder of the sheer amazing grace of our Father.  We love you like crazy, sweet daughter.  You rock.  Jesus has BIG plans for you.   
Jesus, what can I say?  You already know the breadth of emotions I have when I think about my daughter, as I care for her and watch her grow.   Children are a gift.  You have chosen to bless us richly.   I love you.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico was a pleasant surprise.  Lush rainforest, pristine secluded beaches and warm weather...all of it delighted our senses. 

The best things, though, were the simple things:  munching fish tacos while overlooking the ocean, waking up to yet another sunny day, flip-flops and sunscreen, and our rented Jeep.  Togetherness.

Each day we hopped in the Jeep, fired up Shelly (our faithful GPS) and went on a new adventure into unknown territory.  We met some really nice people, saw all sorts of creatures you just don’t see in the Midwest, ate some interesting food, drank lots of Diet Coke with lime,  and took in the landscape.

Little G was such a girl.  Here’s what she thought about sand:

She experienced lots of firsts: glass elevators, the ocean, seashells and fried food and no schedule.   By the end of the week, she was okay with all of it and even stood by herself in the elevator and stood by herself in the pool...wow moments for a little 17-month-old!



Christian de-tailed half the lizards in Puerto Rico, accidentally, of course.  Chasing lizards, counting the snails on the trees and spotting iguanas...he loved every minute of it.    He and Ethan snorkeled on a beach tucked in a sleepy town in the northwest corner of PR, definitely off the beaten path.  We were the practically the only ones there.   They saw colorful fish, huge sea urchins and lots of coral...really amazing.


The rainforest was a highlight.   Waterfalls and green as far as you could see...


Another highlight: Dorado, where we stayed, was hit with around 5 inches of rain in one hour.  Sheets of rain poured out of the sky, warm rain.  My boys, of course, couldn’t resist and actually swam in the pool until I made them get out.  The pool ended up flooding and was closed for a couple days.  I will never forget peering out into the storm and seeing only two dots in the pool, tossing a ball back and forth, and willing them to get out of the pool with a prayer!   It was an amazing storm.  The picture below is before the storm.


Father, thank you for our trip.  We loved it.  You are an amazing creator of beauty and majesty.  Our time together as a family was priceless.  We are grateful.

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