4
Oct

Gratitude (updated)

UPDATE!

WE ARE APPROVED!!!

Just waiting for it to be mailed to our agency’s office and then we can get our Dossier mailed off to our facilitator for translation and notarization.

Tick tick tick… we just might make it on time! 

:)

(Read below for what all the hoopla is about.)

We had a very busy, very fantastic birthday here this weekend.  Complete with visitors from near and far and a stage show right here in our schoolroom. I’ll post (complete with photos) later on today, but I wanted to get something else up here right away, before my day got away from me.

We are waiting to hear from our agency that our provincial approval letter has been issued.  It has been under the surface in my head all weekend.  This morning I decided to choose to be thankful today, no matter what the outcome of the day.  And this is what He showed me:

Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O LORD God.  For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all we have heard with our ears.

2 Samuel 7:20 (ESV)

I choose gratitude today – no matter the outcome.

Love to you all – more on that special birthday later!

18
Aug

Protected: Growing a Family (part 3)

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17
Aug

Protected: Growing a Family (part 2)

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16
Aug

Protected: Growing a family (part 1)

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6
May

A Show in Three Acts

 

Faith and her friend J have been very busy for the past 6 weeks or so.  They decided to hold a show in our backyard for their friends and family.  A script was written which consisted of two dance numbers and one drama.  They created a backdrop, chose costumes and wrote and delievered invitations.  A snack booth and a tag sale area were also set up.  And then they practiced. 

They practiced almost daily.  The most amazing thing was seeing their excitement and teamwork.  I mean these two 9 year olds really dedicated themselves to putting on an amazing show, dress rehearsals and all.  I know Faith prayed for good weather.  She hardly slept all night.  And then yesterday dawned rainy and cool. 

In the afternoon, we saw a clear break and we set up our yard and placed the chairs.  I set off to deliver Garnet and Faith to their classes and that’s when I drove into it.  A sheer wall of rain.  It was a downpour and it was headed our way.  I quickly called James at home and begged him to quickly take down the show area and bring everything inside to the schoolroom.  I felt sick.  Off I went to pick up Faith early from her class and let her know we’d had a change of plans. 

As I picked Faith up, we were still hopeful that it would pass us by.  We talked about how God could make the rain go by us and into the draw just behind our house.  We talked about trusting Him to know best and yet asking Him as our Daddy to do the right thing for us.  We drove down the main road toward home and only a few hundred feet away from our turn-off the rain stopped!  Our hearts soared and Faith was cheering in the backseat!  And then we turned the corner onto our road and were hit by another wall of rain. 

I pulled the van in to the driveway and Faith was off to call J.  Would anyone still come?  I didn’t know if the neighbour kids would be here but I knew their family would (including Stephen who was currently driving over a mountainous highway through that same storm to get to the show on time).  Duct tape in hand the back drop went up on the school room wall.  Faith gasped!  Oh yes she did.  Tape on my wall is a huge taboo around here.  She told me, “You must really care about my show Mom if you are using duct tape on your walls!”  Sigh – yes I am a a bit, umm particular about my paint.  Anyway, back to the main story…

We ran around and set things up the best we could.  The girls were so nervous and excited.  The energy was very high around our house. 

And you know what?  Kids came, quarters in hand.  My schoolroom was full with neighbour kids, grandparents, parents, siblings, an auntie and cousins.  Popcorn was popped and purchased.  Lemonade was drank and bracelets, books and knick-knacks and treasures were purchased.

Act 1: Here We Go Again

A hit.  Some nerves, but they pulled it off with smiles.  Lots of popcorn refills from the crowd.

Act 2: Cheetah Sisters

They hit their groove.  Extra flair.  Again more purchases made – handled by their two stage managers (and yes, they thought of everything!) – one sister and one friend.

Act 3: The Country of Doom

A vampire drama (ahem, not my choice of content, but very funny).  Three songs were sung (written and again, choreographed by the two girls).  Smiles and laughter were shared.  Two Moms cheeks were a bit pink.  As J’s Mom mentioned, I don’t think either of us would have had opportunity or nerves to put something like this on.  And the neighbour kids?  The best part was a comment I overheard from one of the older boys as they headed out the door.  That was SO cool!

 

Flowers from Daddy

Watching the video I took afterwards.  Healthy Pride.

One more thing.  Something for me to treasure in my heart.  Faith announced last night in an off handed way.  You know, I think it worked out better having it in the house.  I’m so glad! 

Yes honey, that’s right.  Your Daddy knew all along. 

2
May

Crazy Love hits close to home

A few months ago I had the privilege to read an incredible perspective altering book, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.  At the time I read it with maybe a more outreach based mentality.  Today we had a speaker come to our church, with the focus of his talk being on kindness.  I nodded along throughout his message, but when he closed with the clip, “What is that?”, I lost it – along with pretty much the entire congregation.  Now that hit close to home.  Suddenly I saw God’s example, His call to us, for Crazy Love, come to roost in my own household. 

So, here it is.  Sit down.  Prepare your heart and mind.  Oh, and grab the kleenex box.

 What is that?

(Oh, and if someone can tell me how to find a plugin for video embedding that is compatible with the newest version of WP, please let me know!)

 

30
Apr

Decisions, decisions

We are in the midst of our annual two day homeschool convention. 

I so look forward to going every year.  It’s so affirming to literally walk amongst a large group of like minded families.  The kids have their own mini, Christ centered educational camp.  The youth have workshops and receive hands on teaching from a number of the keynote speakers from the adult conference.  And Stephen and I have a chance to share a tea and puruse great books, seek out direction for our  next year and take stock of how the past year has gone. 

This year has been challenging in a new way though.  Last year I remember being curious as to where the kids would be at, particularly our newest addition.  What would she know already?  What would her interest bent be?  What is her learning style?  How quickly would her language be at a level that we could move beyond the basics to all the fun projects, etc. 

And here we are.  One year later and still many questions. 

I shouldn’t be surprised about this.  Each year brings new questions regarding the next year’s direction.  In many ways I enjoy the discoveries we make and the ways that we tweak their learning paths.  But, yet again, I am reminded that my family is not the “norm”.  Is there a norm?  You know, I never thought so, but somehow the reactions from others suggests to me that there must be.

Each vendor booth at the curriculum market makes me think this when they begin searching for details about our kids in order to begin to narrow down what they might be able to sell us offer us for the benefit of all of our children’s educational goals. 

They begin by asking our children’s ages and genders.  This is followed by questions to gain an understanding of what they have studied prior to this.  Sometime soon after this we find it necessary to divulge just enough about our kids that they begin to visualize the specific needs of each of our four and then they begin to either:

a. Scratch their heads.

b. Look at us in disbelief.

OR

c. Begin to convince us that no matter the wide variations in our children’s learning needs and backgrounds, theirs is the o.n.l.y. curriculum that will not only gain our children entrance into an elite university of their choice, but do it while allowing me to have time to catch up on my housekeeping, pursue a degree of my own and gain back all the blonde hairs I’ve been trading for grey as of late. 

Anyway, we seem to pose a bit of a problem to others.  We don’t fit into a neat and tidy little curricula box. 

And I like that about us.

I think it is what makes our family just that – our family. 

Over the years it used to stress me out a lot more than it has today and I am really thankful that He’s brought me out of that dark and weary land of curricula chasing and into a new era of realizing that He knows what my kids need and box or no box, I’m the woman He’s chosen to use in their lives to bring them into closer awareness of their part in His – story. 

Did I mention that I think I have the best job I could ever imagine myself doing?

(This is not the job I dreamed of, but He knew better.  Anyway, that’s a post for another day.)

So, tonight I pore over catalogues, click through the review sites, fill in my spreadsheets and pray and ask for wisdom.  He knows my kids intimately.   After all, I am only a tool in my Potter’s hands.

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.  Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In another answer to a prayer I prayed many years ago, we were able to meet with the Independent Graduation Counselor from our school of registration.  In our province it is widely expected that students will enroll in the publically funded distance learning programs, as a home edcuated, Ministry of Education supervised student.  The family will receive a portion of the funds allotted to that student and by completing the required provincial outcomes, that student will receive a highschool diploma.  It is assumed that a teen will need the diploma to enter a program of further study at a college or university. 

However…

After meeting with the Grad Counselor, we have been told that by collecting samples of the work that our kids complete along the way, the school will approve that an appropriate level of work has been maintained (an informal rather than formal evaluation).  The school in turn will create a completion transcript for the student and recommend to the admissions counselor that the student be given entrance into the college or university.  The only requirement for entrance beyond the transcript?  An English placement exam that is designed for English Language Learners and for which there are numerous online samples and ministry supplied preparation materials.

He directed our steps in this when so many of our peers have gone the mainstream route.  We have been going on faith that God would be faithful as we headed down the unknown path.  And today He showed us His faithfulness in the flesh. 

I’m so thankful.

9
Apr

Revelation

Tonight James is sleeping over at a friends’ house.  Faith is having a friend from the neighbourhood come spend the night.  So, as is our custom, that means the kids without a play date arranged get to have a sibling sleepover. 

We  Stephen had just blown up the airbed and I was asking Grace which movie she had chosen to watch.  She had the Easter Storykeeper’s video out.  She flipped it over and told me all about the “kwhy” (bad) guys and really, the whole story of Easter, ending as usual with, “Jesus is alive!” 

Such precious words to hear from my little girl.  But, I carried it on and asked her a question that I figured I probably knew the answer to. 

“Did anyone tell you about Jesus in China?”

“No”, she said, “but I *love* Jesus!”, hugging the video tightly to her chest. 

*sniff* <happy tears swallowed>

Yes, such sweet words from our little girl.  It is only the beginnings of God’s revelation to her, but as with all of our kids, it is my favourite part of their growing that we get to walk alongside of.

30
Mar

An 8 year old sermon

I am amazed yet again at how God uses seemingly inconsequential things in a life changing way.

I picked this book up from the library today.  I had been meaning to read it for some time and had forgotten that it was on order.  When I flipped it open this afternoon, I read something at the bottom of page 231.  It went like this, “It was a sermon preached by an old family friend, a pastor named Richard Porter.” 

Soooooo? 

Well, Richard Porter was the name of the head pastor at a church we attended about 7 or 8 years ago.  We had just come out of a very difficult place in our spiritual life.  We had given a lot and been hurt a lot and it was in Pastor Rick’s sermons that we found balm for our wounded souls.  We grew a lot during that time.  So when we moved to a new town in the fall of 2002, we were amazed to hear that back at that church there was some major upheaval.  It blew us away as it was so different from what we had experienced there only a few months prior. 

I encourage you to read the whole story, but in the mean time, let me give you a glimpse into the work that God is doing in me these many years later through a second hand retelling of Pastor Rick’s teaching.  Apparently God used these same words to make an enormous impact on Phil Vischer as well.

“… what does it mean when God gives you a dream, and he shows up in it and the dream comes to life, and then, without warning, the dream dies?  What does that mean?”

And this is where I am at right now. 

The happy part in this?  The answer to that question?  Well, read the book.  Bottom line, it isn’t about the dream at all, but instead it is about the dream giver.

28
Mar

Hope Reborn Pt. 2 – Hope in the Midst of Confusion

Please read Hope Reborn Pt. 1 first – this is so long, that I split it up a bit.  :)

God laid her heavily on my heart one morning. I was literally physically sick with the grief that MP did not have a family and sick too, that Grace and MP did not have each other.

Stephen and I talked it over and decided to petition our agency to allow us to adopt 2 within 1 year – a rule breaker for sure in this province and one that would require a special waiver from our ministry here. And then we waited to hear back from our agency, as the administrator was away at the time.

A few days later, as is my morning ritual, I did my prerequisite blog drifting and landed on the RQ site (those familiar with China IA will know what I mean). And first thing I noticed was a fellow mother from Grace’s CWI who had posted MP’s info and a photo on her blog. My heart dropped about a million miles. By the time I had even looked at the forum, hundreds of people had viewed her post. One family in particular was asking their agency to view MP’s file. I sat at my computer and prayed. My prayers were two fold. One: Thank You so much for providing a way for MP. Two: Why did you bother stirring me up about this? Why God?

Over the course of the next couple of days, we had numerous difficult things occur.The thoughtful, tenderhearted advocate Mom felt terrible about the controversy. For that I am so sad. I am so thankful that God moved in her spirit to step out for MP and others. She has blessed everyone in the process and I am so pleased to be called a believer with people like her to stand alongside of – truly!

Our facilitaing agency offered to go to bat for us with China, something that we are so thankful for.  Their zeal in finding families for the children in China’s WC program has been truly inspiring.  We got excited and then walked away from their offer, concerned that we were jumping ahead of our local agency.

The family who had asked to view her file offered to back away from the pursuit of MP’s adoption for us. We declined their offer and told them to proceed. We had not heard back from our agency and we desired first of all that MP would be united wth a family. After 2 days of attempting to gain more insight into her medical condition and having the hopeful family e-mail us for personal information (which I felt very resistant to giving out until an official match had been made and now I see why), they attempted to lock her file and found that her file had already been locked!

And that leads us to MP’s new family!

Once I received word from both the advocating Mom and the first hopeful family that her file was already locked, I went back to the original forum where MP’s  info had been posted and suddenly I felt I knew who they were. After following her link to the family’s blog, making contact with her and reeling from the reality that our pursuit of MP was officially over, I randomly went to their blog archives and picked a date. And then I threw down the gauntlet to God.

“Why God? Why did you put me in the middle of all this? Grace is grieving her friend. I don’t know why I care as much as I do. Why did I feel such a hesitation with the first family? Medically they could have offered her so much. What are you doing?  Show me that this is a family who will love her, who will understand her, who will connect the girls so they can continue their relationship.”

And then He answered me in a very personal way. Out of all the posts, many many months ago, MP’s new Mama had posted a reference to a children’s book. Something so personal and meaningful to me.  Something obscure.  Something that only I know.  MY FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOK. And yes, I am screaming. :)   

 (And in case you are wondering, the name of the book is Verdi, which is not exactly Green Eggs and Ham, as far as popularity goes.)

My God is just that big. There is no coincedence with Him. He gave me a guidepost. Something to hold tight to. He did not have to answer me in any way shape or form – but He did. And in the time since, I have spent much time reading their blog. They are a fun, loving, sensitive, God loving family. MP is going to not only be loved, but she’ll have brothers and sisters (one who even shares her country of birth) and a Mom and a Dad who are delighted with their new blessing and a heritage of faith. What more could one ask for?  Well, in retrospect, the icing on the cake is our proximity to them.  One long day’s drive away.  We live much, much farther from each and every one of the other girls who’ve left Grace’s orphanage and joined their forever families.  Only God.

Now, back to Grace. The one who, in *my* world, it was all about in the first place.

Grace has opened up a lot over the past few weeks. She’s seen me cry openly. She’s heard me speak even more boldy for the orphan crisis in the world. Funny how I’ve suddenly had additional opportunities to be bold.  She has seen my heart be truly broken and she seems to be able to trust me with more and more of her stories and cuddles and thoughts.  She has no idea why, but I do.  God does.  It is Hope Reborn.  God opening our hearts so He can do His own special brand of heart surgery.  Softening the clay before it (we) are molded into His image a bit more closely.  Giving us hope in the midst of confusion.  For my daughter.  For me.  And hopefully, most of all for a little girl awaiting her family in an orphanage in China.

I hope to close this post, this chapter of the story once I hit publish.  I plan on writing one more thing.  Something to MP’s new family.  I hope they can see God’s hand even more clearly.  And alongside them, I will pray MP home.