Friday, April 18, 2014

Thank You!!

 
Today I can't help but be incredibly grateful!  It's Good Friday and it's snowing and the wind is howling here in SK.  It kind of reminds me of how miserable a day it was over 2000 years ago when Jesus was nailed to the cross.  It seemed there was no hope.  But the story wasn't finished.  Jesus arose from the grave so that we could be redeemed!  How awesome is that!?!?! That is one of the reasons I am grateful.
 
The second reason is the hope in my personal, day to day life.  I know that many, many people read my post "The Ugly Truth And The Long Winter".  I know that many of you have been praying for us and for that I can not thank you enough!  Thank you!  Thank you! 
 
It's not as though all my stresses have disappeared.  They haven't.  But somehow there is hope.  Instead of feeling like I'm drowning, I'm treading water...and the water only reaches my lower lip.  It's still not easy.  I'm still not where I would like to be.  I'd like to be on the beach, soaking up some sun and relaxing.  Somehow with your prayers and the support of some amazing people, life seems hopeful.   Please continue to pray.
 
The third reason...Last weekend we attended a workshop presented by Forever Families of Canada.  You can check them out on Facebook.  (I tried to post the link, but it didn't work :( )  It was an incredible encouragement.  Slowly but surely the word is being spread that we are all called to care for the destitute...that there is so much we can do.  It was so encouraging to see parents come out to support their daughters in the process of adoption, to see friends come out to support their friends in foster care.  I can't explain what that did for us.  It was amazing!  That's really what it's all about...supporting each other! 
 
The fourth reason....The past few months I've really been focusing on being nice to myself.  I am my own worst critic and I tend to only take time for myself when everything else has been looked after.  It dawned on me recently that in the past few years I have slowly quit doing all the things I love...reading, crafting, scrap booking, quilting, playing soccer, and working out.  I still do a few of these things a few times a year.  But I realized I need to do more.  I need to take care of myself so that I have more to give.  So I have been doing a few things just for me.  I splurged on some David's Tea...Love Tea #5 is the best!  I bought some beautiful tulips.  I bought a book titled wish you happy forever by Jenny Bowen.  It's a book that resonates with me.  Jenny Bowen is the founder of Half The Sky.  Her organization is and has changed the face of orphanages in China.  She is an inspiration! 
 
I even took an online photography class...thanks Chantel!  You can check out her blog at http://www.aharvestofblessing.com/ .  I'm still trying to figure things out, trying to get out of my auto mode.  It's a challenge, but I'm slowly learning.  Here are a few of the pictures I took.  The first one is way over exposed, but something about it appeals to me.  It kind of reminds of how bright and amazing the tomb must have looked as Jesus exited it....and that is the main reason I can be grateful!!!  Thank you Jesus!
 
The other 2 photos are a bit better, still not perfect, but I'm slowly seeing some positive results.
 
 
 



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Malia's 8th Birthday Party...Finally!

A couple of weeks ago I finally planned Malia's birthday party.  I won't even mention when her actual birth date is.  It's too embarrassing!  Thankfully, Malia wanted the same theme as Raina had, so I was able to reuse most of the ideas.  Malia invited her favorite friends and they made pizza for supper, decorated cow girl hats, and had a blast playing!  It was fun to watch them play together!
 






Malia has grown up this past year.  She is no longer the chubby faced preschooler, nor is she the wide eyed grade one student.  She is gaining confidence and will usually smile a full smile, showing her teeth.  That was unusual about a year ago.  I guess that's what makes me love this picture!
 
  
 
She is very helpful and is often telling the youngest 2 what to do and how to do things.  She does try to boss the older boys around too on occasion, but with very little success!  lol!
 
Malia loves being home schooled...most of the time, except when she gets called on things she would have gotten away with in public school.  She is a great little reader and has recently discovered The Magic Treehouse series.  She works very independently and is finally beginning to ask for help when she needs it.
 
Malia loves riding her bike, playing in the play fort, playing with Lego and dreaming of horses.  Malia loves playing with Raina and can hardly wait for recess each and every day!  She has an incredible imagination and often talks in her imaginative play voice...which drives me buggy!  :)
 
Malia has an amazing sense of humor and sees the humor in things before the rest of the family.  And then she giggles, and giggles...and can't stop!
 
I can not imagine life without our sweet Malia!  She is honestly one of the kindest, sweetest, most stubborn kids I know!  She adds so much to our life!  I thank God for her!!  We love you so very much Malia!!
 


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Ugly Truth and The Long Winter



I am completely overwhelmed!  I feel like my head is about to explode!  So many things to do, so many things to think about, to plan for, to prepare for.  I think I am ready to have a big ole pity party!  Then again, that is rather pointless!  So instead I will blog. It usually helps me gain perspective. 

I know I'm not the only one feeling like this. So hopefully, if you're feeling like I am, you can be encouraged through this post.  Or if you're not at this place in life, perhaps you could reach out to someone you know...to encourage them, to lend a listening ear, to be a friend. 

 I've had numerous times over the years where I've felt this way, but never to the point where I am at now.  Life seems to be a constant battle to keep our heads above water.

Recently we have been talking about taking a weeks vacation.  We REALLY need to get away to get our heads above water for more than a few hours at a time.  We need a time to relax, soak up some sun and enjoy each others company.  As you may know, being self employed rarely offers the opportunity to take vacations during the summer.  Winter vacations are more expensive.  That results in very little vacation time.  We've outgrown our camper and I have absolutely no desire to squish 7 people into a small space for a week, tripping over each other, trying to cook and keep everyone sort of clean...you get the picture.  It's more stress thinking about it than it is to stay home.  Anyhow, we had thought to take a week off in early June seeing as the kids will be done school early this year.  However, I just got a call that means all of our summer vacation plans will be thrown out the window.  And I feel like curling up in bed for a good cry!  But I won't...cause that won't help at all!  Instead, I do what I have done these past few years...I cry out to God...and pray that we will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know this sounds absurd, but on some level I can relate to Job.  I know I haven't lost my family, and everything I own...but, there is so much going on that I am exhausted...I can relate.  I can't go into great detail.  I respect my kids' privacy too much.  But for those of you who have kids that have faced a lot of trauma, bullying, and hurt...you know what I'm talking about.

I've decided to go out on a limb and share a post I wrote a few weeks ago.  I know I am making myself incredibly vulnerable.  But I feel compelled to share...perhaps it's time we all get very "real" with each other...


It's been a very long and extremely cold winter out here in Saskatchewan.  I tend to not complain about the weather, cause that's just pointless (but then again, I suppose that's the case with all complaining!).  For the most part I like winter and the cold.  It gives Martin some time off and it allows me to have some down time to rejuvenate and sometime to let the creative juices flow. 
 
However, this winter, with all it's "indoor" days, homeschooling 3 kids while trying to entertain 2 preschoolers, dealing with sickness on a weekly basis (I think we've had all of 2 weeks without someone being sick since the beginning of October)a new addition, some renos (we found mold behind our tub surround...wonder if that has contributed to us being sick for so long?), an average of 6 medical appointments a month, etc has left me practically crawling up the wall!

 Too many days have been filled with too much anger, not enough grace; too much tiredness, not enough sleep; too much sickness, not enough health; too much loneliness, not enough friendship, too much criticism, not enough compliments, too many harsh words and actions, not enough encouragement. 

As you know, I have struggled with my health in the past 6 months.  I have been to the doctor numerous times.  I have also visited my homeopathic doctor.  Between the 2 professions I have been able to piece together what is happening in my body.  When I was so ill back in October, it was most likely some sort of virus.  Add to that an awful lot of  daily stress, with little to no down time to rejuvenate, has resulted in my bodies' adrenal system suffering.  Combine the two and you have the perfect storm resulting in constant tiredness, which leads to irritability and hopelessness.  To top it off, my blood work showed that I am slightly anemic.  Oh the joy!  Not!!
 
Needless to say, the "ugly" in me has come out like never before.  I despise this ugliness!  I hate what it does to me...but mostly, I hate what it does to my kids.  I hate how it messes with their lives!
 
I have spend more than enough time crying, venting (poor Martin!), and beating myself up.  In fact, I'm to the point where I really don't like myself (now that should make some people happy...and that makes me angry!  However, the more I think about it, the more I am embracing this new perception of myself.  When I see myself through God's eyes instead of people's eyes I do like myself!  For some reason the past few years have been filled with too many people voicing their thoughts on everything from how I parent to choices I make...making it difficult to see myself through HIS eyes)  I've always been confident.  Perhaps overly so at times.  And now...now I know, like I've never known before (and trust me I've known this for a VERY long time), that I have absolutely nothing to offer...without HIM!  How can I face the next day, knowing how I failed the previous day?  How can I parent my kids with grace and mercy when I feel so beat up and exhausted myself?  How can I feel worthy when someone thinks it's their business to tell me all the areas where I fail? 
 
Some would say it's not possible, at least not until I like myself.  But here's the interesting thing...somehow it is working...I do succeed sometimes, but that's not what changes the whole equation.  It's the blood of Jesus that changes everything!  He is the one who has redeemed me.  He is the one who takes my ugly and makes it something good.  And He does it in the most fantastic ways!  All I have to do is take one look at my kids.  I know without a doubt that they love Jesus, that they are kind, gentle, caring, generous and loving.  They are the best kids any parent could ever ask for. 

I see it in myself.  Without Him, I couldn't bear to go on for another day...but, somehow I can NOT give up!  I keep getting up each time I'm sent flying onto my backside!  Now that is what He does!  Cause on my own, I sure couldn't do it!  I see how He is changing me.  How me perspective on what's important and worth fighting for, talking about, and doing, is changing.
 
I'm NOT sharing this so you can pity me.  I'm sharing this for 2 reasons...so that you can glorify God for His redemption, mercy and grace...and so that perhaps you can learn from it as I have.
 
Here's what I have learned:
 
Don't write a note or send an email telling someone where they fail.  Truth is, if God really wants you to approach someone about there sin...make sure it's sin first. Then make sure it's actually an issue that will benefit from your words.  Most often they only show one's own shortcomings.  Not only that, it destroys friendships that are difficult to rebuild.  Instead, write a letter of encouragement.
 
Acknowledge the life changes happening in the lives of those you know.  It is not acceptable to not acknowledge the arrival of a child...whether it is by birth or adoption.  It is no more acceptable to justify the actions of the above mentioned people.  All it does is make one look like you feel the same way.  The hardest part is protecting my children from this mentality....still not sure what to do.
 
Never underestimate the power of a listening ear and an encouraging word.  A few days ago I ran into a gal I know on a surface level.  Within seconds she had touched on several things that had contributed to the ugly in my day.  I walked away feeling understood and uplifted.  It was that extra boost I needed to go on.
 
Don't tell someone what should/should not bother them.  Sometimes the feeling is legit...sometimes not.  What ever the case...feelings are real.  And it's ok to listen and even agree that something may be hurtful, annoying or frustrating.  By doing so, you are very likely helping the person deal with the feeling appropriately, instead of adding more frustration, hurt and annoyance.

Help out even when you think the need is very little.  The need is probably a lot greater than you think.  I am so grateful for the people that have brought us meals, babysat our kids, and taken the time to call.  Sometimes it is these things that give us strength to make it through another week.  Trust me!  Those acts have a long lasting impact!

Pray!  Pray like you've never prayed before!  Pray for those in your family, those in your community, those you run into in your daily life.  We could all use a little more prayer.
 
 
Most importantly...LOVE...even when you think the other person doesn't deserve it.  Truth is...you have "ugly" in your life too and are no more "lovable" than the next person.
 
I keep telling myself, over and over and over again...that "ALL things work together for good to those that love God!"  And we do love God!  I hang onto that promise like never before!

I recently read a quote that really sums up where I am at.  Lisa Qualls over at "One Thankful Mom" blog said, "loving the broken hearted has broken my heart, loving the wounded has wounded me, and loving orphans in their distress has brought distress to me."  It's not a bad thing to have this happen to me.  It's just difficult.  And sometimes those of us dealing with broken hearts, the wounded, and loving orphans in their distress simply need a little more understanding, a little more patience, a little more prayer, and lot more kindness.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jackson

 
After my last "heavy" post, I think it's time for some super cute pictures of my most adorable (apparently I can NOT say this...Morgun has an issue with it!!  LOL!) son!  Recently Rachel, over at https://www.facebook.com/pages/RPphotography/140975642670656 took some fantastic photos of Jackson. I wanted some photos to remember all of his cute 2 year old self...those toes, the pudgy cheeks, little fingers, dimples...the little things that we want to remember and that we only get to enjoy for such a short time.  I try not to live my life regretting never seeing him in his first 2 1/2 years of life.  However, I still do grieve this loss.  How could I not?!?  We missed out on some of the most important developmental stages of his life!  Having said that...for the most part I focus on the present and enjoy every moment we have with him!
 
Rachel did not disappoint!  I had a difficult time narrowing down which photos to post.  Here are a few of our favorites! 
 
 


My sister Kathy made this adorable sock monkey for Jackson.  It is the sweetest sock monkey I have ever seen!  His tail goes on and on and on...he is perfect!
 










Love those dimples!  They melt my heart every time! 
 

 
 
Jackson is slowly beginning to talk in 2 or 3 word sentences, although most of what he says is still very difficult to understand.  The more we enunciate our words while he is looking at us, the clearer his words become. We have an appointment with his ENT coming up  the second week of April.  We're hoping to have some more information and possibly the beginning of a plan in how to best help Jackson hear better.  Preliminary testing shows that Jackson is profoundly deaf in one ear and moderately deaf in the other.  This would explain his speech delay.  So far the options appear to be either an implanted bone conduction hearing device or a hearing aid type bone conductor.  Whatever the case may be, I am praying that Jackson will soon be able to hear better and that his language skills will improve.  His lack of language skills result in a lot of whining and crying...his best way of communicating at the moment...and it drives me nuts!!...but not for long!  He is usually very willing to show me his beautiful dimples when he is finally understood!  :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

There is a Need



You ever have one of those "Ah ha" moments that Opr*h talks about?  I have numerous times.  Today I had another one of those moments. 
 
 I've been really down on myself lately.  Actually, more down on how sinful I really am.  Sometimes I feel so dirty and icky.  Not because I've sinned some "big" sin, but rather because of the Holy Spirits' nudging that something isn't right in my life.  I find it difficult to actually pinpoint what it is...usually because I really don't want to admit my sinful behaviour/thoughts/beliefs. 

It began with a discussion on FB in regards to raising funds for an adoption.  As you know, I've had many a moment of being discouraged about our finances.  Especially during and after an adoption.  Well, in this conversation on FB, I mentioned the burden of 2 of our adoptions resulting in major debt.  I'm guessing I was the "water on the fire" so speak.  I honestly didn't mean to be.  I'm sorry if I was.  I felt bad for my response.  Something about the conversation stuck with me...but I couldn't put my finger on it...until I listened to this....





Let me just say that I have long prided myself in not believing the lies of the Prosperity Gospel.  Oh,oh!  Did you catch that?  Sin number one.  Pride.  Anyhow, this short little video made me wonder if any of my beliefs are a complete lie.
 
If you don't mind, I'd like to back track a bit.  I grew up being taught that God does not give us more than we can handle.  I've often heard the expression given to those who have lost someone or something.  Us evangelicals are very good at explaining all the unpleasant and horrible things that happen to us.  I'm willing to bet that most of them are lies.  And I know first hand, that most of the lines we use are of very little comfort to those grieving or in a crisis.
 
It was only after losing my parents within a year and a half, that I really understood this to be a lie.  Watching a parent die a painful, ugly, yellow skinned, disgusting smells,  sunken eyes kind of a death is not pleasant.  It is horrific.  The images are forever etched in my memory.  It was more than I could handle.  And yet somehow "I" handled it.  I'm alive.  I live a mostly content and happy life.  But it's not "I" that helped me.  When I was at that "down in the dumps, life is absolutely horrible, I'm gonna have a break down, bottom of the pit"  place...GOD took over!  GOD handled all the stuff I couldn't!  It still amazes me!  I have come to realize that when I give it all to God...that is when true worship happens.  It is when true peace is felt.  It is when God's love is most evident in my life.  However, I still find myself trying to "handle" things on my own.  Which takes me back to where I started.  The conversation on FB about raising funds for an adoption.
 
In all of our adoptions I have heard "God will provide", or "You'll have all the money you need, when you need it".  I think most people say it because it's what we've been taught to believe.  I know the Bible clearly says that God will provide all of our needs.  So does that mean He will provide all the money we need, when we need it?  I would venture to say the answer is "no".  Perhaps I'm wrong.  Perhaps I'm not.  Hear me out...
 
From my experience, the money isn't nearly always there when we need it.  Not even for an adoption, which we would probably all agree is a direct reflection of God adopting us as His daughters and sons.  That has been the case for us.  I've often wondered why?  Where we bad stewards of our money?  Did we lack faith?...and the list goes on.  Truth be told...we manage our money as best as we know how and we have as much faith as we know how.  We live our lives as best as we know how.  So...is it possible that in ALL of this God is trying to teach me to make HIM my ALL.  That ALL I need is HIM?
 
Here's the interesting thing...we have always had food, warmth, a roof over our heads.  Everything we needed to stay alive.  We say it's because He has provided.   Imagine with me for a bit.  What if we lived in Haiti?  Or Africa?  What if we died from starvation?  Would we still believe that God always provides the money when we need it?  Or the food when we need it?  Ummm...we "died"!  Obviously, the money and food weren't there.  Does that make God less than He is?  I don't think so!  It still makes Him who He says He is!  After all, doesn't our life truly begin when we see him face to face and live forever in Paradise?  I happen to think it does...not because "I" believe it, but because the Bible says so.
 
I guess what I'm trying to say is that perhaps the line "God will provide all the money you need when you need it" is a lie.  That perhaps the focus should be "will our faith in God grow or shatter if we don't get what we need?"  And hopefully our lives will show growth.  Perhaps it takes more faith to trust God when we don't "have" or get what we "need", than it does to have all of our "needs" met. 
 
The interesting thing is this...
 
...had I known we would face this kind of debt load, would I still have brought my children home?   The answer is a resounding YES!!!!!!
 
...coming to this realization makes me feel free.  I'm not worried about our debt anymore. (at least for now...I know the moments will come when I will be tempted to doubt, but I will have stronger ammunition with which to fight my sinful thoughts!)

...somehow God's promises always come true!  He really does work all things for good to those that love Him!  Yes, we have debt...but who really cares?  My kids are safe at home, not in some orphanage/foster home waiting for us.  And that my friends is worth it!

...generally it's the people that believe God will provide if you do the right things, that are the least willing to help out.  I suppose it shows where "your treasure is, there your heart will also be".

I'll sum this up by saying this...if you happen to know someone in the midst of something...whether it be an adoption, foster care, missions trip, or simply everyday life...and they ask for your help...please, I beg you, please help!  Most people do not ask for help unless they desperately need it.  It takes an awful lot of "need" to ask for help.  And even if you think they don't need your help, ask yourself this question...can you go wrong by helping out?  Are you judging the person in how they handle their time, finances, life?  If so, you're probably in the wrong.  1 Corinthians 13 gives us a very clear picture of what love looks like.    And last of all...I'll ask the question again....can you really go wrong by lending a hand?...probably not!  We can not go wrong by loving others.
 
 
 







Saturday, March 15, 2014

1000 Gifts

A year ago I decided to take the challenge to record 1000 things I am thankful for.  I'd been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts and was inspired by how her life changed the more grateful she became.  I loved the idea of noticing all the "little" things in my life.  The things that I know I will long for when they are no more.  The things that are at the root of making my life wonderful.  The things that inspire and motivate me.  The things that draw me closer to my God.
 
If you've been following my blog in the past year you will have seen a few posts where I have mentioned some things.  Here are a few more...
 
 
499)  My 3 littles coming upstairs (even though they were happily playing) to join me in listening to Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace.
 
565)  Clean sheets.
 
580)  Jackson falling asleep in my arms.
 
617)  Martin...his being my "soft place to fall".
 
 
725)  Malia's sense of humor.
 
763)  Alex helping Raina and Jackson paint.
 
797)  Doing puzzles with Raina.
 
840)  Kids being tickled to read through all the papers in our "Thankfulness" jar.
 
846)  The end of a horrid day.
 
892)  Malia reading her Bible.
 
923)  Restful and much needed nap.
 
958)  Taco Salad.
 
982)  Skiing on a warm and sunny day with my boys!
 
995)  Malia not waking Raina in the morning.
 
1000)  For how being thankful is changing me!!!!!!
 
For those of you that know me well, you will know that this past year has been the most difficult year ever!  I wrote a post about that, but haven't shared it.  It was more of a way to vent, to put things into perspective.  I'm not sure if I'll ever share it.  It is very personal, (or at least it feels that way to me) and I would hate to step on peoples toes or cause others to feel sorry for me.  Keeping a thankfulness journal has been one of my coping mechanisms and it has worked incredibly well!!
 
If you haven't read Ann Voskamp's book, I would strongly recommend you buy it and read it.  It is a "must have" kinda book!  I would also like to challenge you to record 1000 things you are thankful for in the next year.  It really doesn't matter when you start.  What matters is that you start.  Somehow taking the time to write things down, makes us slow down and see the wonder of every day. 
 
 
Oh, and please let me know how you do with this challenge. I would love to have feedback and hear how your life has changed by doing this!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dress Up

My girlies LOVE to dress up!  Anything princess will do. They are very creative and have been know to use belts for head bands and bracelets for earrings.  They would have made great fashion consultants for Princess Diana.  :)
 





I thought Malia would definitely be more interested in all the girly stuff than Raina.  I have been proven wrong.  Raina will wear jewellery most days.  The more of it...the better!
 
Some days I'm not sure what to do.  I'm so not a girly girl.  I wear makeup when I  go out, style my hair only when I go out...well sort of!  I think I will embrace my girls' fashion sense...it could come in handy some day!  :)