Friday, January 29, 2010

The little ones

These girls melt my heart.
Kaitlyn and Mary.
Mary and Kaitlyn.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tent city

In warm weather, my kids play outside all day long. When it's cold, they're usually indoors, and come up with all sorts of creative games and activities.

They LOVE getting out their bedspreads and pillows and making forts in the playroom. (I'm not sure where Anna was this particular day, it's possible she wasn't up yet. Usually she's the activities director of the group.)

I love that my kids can come up with things to do on a cold snowy day. Come rain or shine, they have a blast!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My friend Joanie asked me yesterday about our decision to baptize our children. (I don't come from a church background that does this, although Kevin does.) I'm not a theologian but I'll explain our reasoning. :)

First I should tell you that we've been on an interesting spiritual journey over the past few years, or at least it feels that way. I've come to further examine certain beliefs I always just took for granted. At some point along the way I wanted to understand why there is a division among believers over baptism, and discovered that the majority of Christians around the world baptize infants and children (Roman Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, etc. These groups do however disagree on the details of infant baptism, what it is etc.) In the Bible, entire households were baptized. After doing some reading and praying and looking at both sides I came to believe that baptism is a sacrament that God uses to impart His grace to believers. It's commanded by God and is the sign of the new covenant (the old being circumcision, which was of course for infant boys.) I think it's more than a mere symbol. And it's about God doing a work in us, not us doing something for God.

Up until we moved to Denver, we attended a nondenominational church that didn't baptize babies or small children, thus our kids were not baptized. When we moved we wanted to join a liturgical church that, among other things, held to this historical Christian view on baptism, and landed at a Presbyterian church downtown (which has since changed denominations and is now part of the Reformed Church of America.)

So in November all five of our kids received the sacrament of baptism. It was precious. They were all so excited. Except for Mary, who slept through the whole thing. :) Our senior pastor ended up going out of town at the last minute so our friend Ben, one of the associate pastors, did the honors. We were so incredibly blessed to have Kevin's cousins Steve and Tanya with us that morning.

A book that I have really loved (I've mentioned it before) is Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God Through Liturgy and Sacrament, by Thomas Howard (who happens to be Elisabeth Elliott's brother.) He grew up in evangelicalism and eventually came to join the Roman Catholic church. Even if you don't agree with his end conclusion, it's a great read and a beautiful introduction to the sacraments and liturgy.

I also read a couple of short booklets, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism by John P. Sartelle and Why Do We Baptize Infants (Basics of the Reformed Faith) by Bryan Chapell. Both were amazingly helpful, super interesting, and made for a great study on baptism from this perspective.

One of the things I love about this faith tradition is that children truly are considered part of God's family and part of the local and global church. So that's our story!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A marriage examined: Part II

For Part I, go here.

During our dating days we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. Kevin and I had extremely similar values, and (as we later confirmed with a personality test :) ) similar personalities. We both liked to laugh, we loved to read, we went to the same church and came to have many friends in common. (Prior to meeting each other though we actually didn't have any mutual friends. It is actually thanks to Kevin that I ended up meeting Lara who would become one of my best friends.)

So yes, we were a lot alike. Both of us:

thoroughly disliked school, but loved learning.

thought seeking God mattered more than anything, even though we didn't do it perfectly.

were cheapskates.

had been raised in rural areas.

were extremely stubborn.

thought Seinfeld was really, really funny.

were introverts.

We did come from slightly different religious backgrounds--I was raised amidst evangelicalism, and Kevin grew up in a Lutheran church. Although he didn't identify himself as a Lutheran and didn't really hold their beliefs per se (the church we met at was non-denominational but I guess he didn't really believe all of their stuff either), I had this occasional paranoid feeling that he was suddenly going to revert back, we'd never be able to go to church together because the Lutherans wouldn't let me take communion, and that the church would someday force me to baptize my babies. Ha! (On a side-note, have you ever read much about Luther? He was a rather..."interesting" fellow. On another side note, all five of our children ARE baptized--that's another story for another day though.)

But that never happened. :) What did happen was that we had a lot of conversations about religion, and Jesus, and books we'd read. (I'd had God in an itty bitty box for so much of my life and it was fascinating being exposed to some different ideas.) God worked in our hearts to bring us--independently--to many of the same conclusions.

And overall I'd say we got along really well. We really believed in mutual respect within our relationship. (Later we'd also come to embrace the idea of mutual submission in a marriage relationship.) The disagreements we would have (nothing overly serious, don't worry) came mostly after we were engaged.

The stakes were higher.
It's hard work building a relationship and preparing for a life together.
We were young.
No one else we knew was really in our life-stage.
And quite frankly I think we waited too long to get married, period.

Yes I know those last two don't go together, but we knew we would marry, and I think the stage we were at in our relationship just didn't match our level of commitment. We were obviously very close--best friends, really--, engaged for nine long months, just plain wanting our life together to start...It was sort of like a holding pattern or balancing act, and while that can be a good thing, in our case it just wasn't. Not to mention we were committed to practicing abstinence outside of marriage, and that's a hard thing to fight for. Or at least it was for us. (Our reason for the nine month engagement was to minimize the amount of time Kevin would still have in school after we got married, which ended up not mattering anyway since he graduated earlier than expected.)

Still, we made it, got hitched and moved to Santa Barbara. We pictured living a simple life together that would include Kevin not being married to his job and me eventually at home, raising our 2-3 kids that we'd start having five years down the road--you know, we had to give ourselves time to really be together as a couple, to make our marriage really strong before adding children to the mix. While living out in the country, of course.

Ha, ha, ha. Hee, hee, hee.

So we didn't have everything figured out. (Not that we thought we did.) Turns out there was a lot God had yet for us to discover, an entirely new path and new way of viewing life. And marriage. And God's calling for us.

More on that soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It really is the little things

If you've been to my house, you know that I'm not good with seasonal decorating. Not that I don't WANT my house to look all festive, I just don't usually have the energy or creativity to pull it off. I keep telling myself "next year", but it has yet to happen.

Thus, I had no plans for a nice centerpiece or fancy place settings for our Thanksgiving dinner this year. It was just going to be us, and I didn't want to drop the money or exert the effort to find something worthy of being in the middle of the table. When the day arrived, I'd assumed the table would be bare.

At Anna's homeschool program earlier in the week though, she'd "woven" a placemat (blue and red construction paper). We happened to have some pumpkins in our cupboard from a co-op share someone had given me. And a random candle just sitting around the house. At the eleventh hour I figured a last-minute, makeshift centerpiece was maybe better than none at all--at least the kids would maybe like it, even if it did look funny.

I soon, however, discovered that Anna was SO PROUD of her placemat, and the centerpiece in general. Thrilled, really. The kids thought it was amazing. Which totally cracked me up.

Well, weeks later, Anna came home from the homeschool program and showed me a story she'd written in school that day. I believe the writing said, "The food was so good." Above that was her simple drawing of our Thanksgiving table. And in the center of the table: her placemat. And the assorted pumpkins, and the candle.

I share this silly little story because in my mind, a desirable centerpiece would have been something expensive and/or creative, that I wouldn't have let my kids touch. Instead, at the center of my table was something that ended up meaning a whole lot to my daughter. Maybe she'll always remember the year she made the centerpiece. I know that I, as her mommy, sure will. I'll also remember how we all went around the table sharing what we were thankful for, and my kids' answers included family, and grandparents, and Jesus.

Relationships and love and meaningful traditions are so much more important than material goods or status or...dare I say, Thanksgiving table decor. Thank goodness for our children and for the simple ways they teach us!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life's purpose ramblings

I'm home from church with my girls again this morning and for some reason I'm reflecting on my life's purpose. And purpose in general. (I know, leave me alone and I start thinking. They say introverts have a "rich inner life", which is how I've decided to start describing my neuroticism and self-analysis. Heehee.)

Yesterday Kevin and I had a conversation about our family. We have those a lot. :) It went something like this:

Him: So when we adopt again, what are you thinking? What are the specifics?

Me: Oh I don't know, medical needs, probably siblings, at least one girl this time.

Him: We'll have to get a bigger car and figure out what to do with our minivan and Corolla.

Me: Yeah, I don't know. What are YOUR specifics?

Him: Oh, the same. We should adopt siblings. And I'm open to both having medical needs.

So now you know what we talk about over pancakes on Saturday mornings. :)

I think I'm finally becoming more comfortable with the idea that my family's purpose in life is...different than I imagined it on, say, my wedding day. I feel like I know so many people (in real life and online) who have similar situations, that it's not unusual or strange. (I know people with 11 children, and 10 children, and even twenty something children. I know people with HIV+ children, or children who have various other medical needs. None of that strikes me as uncommon.) But then I find myself in certain situations or settings where I realize, oh yeah, this is not the norm. (By "this" I mean having so many children, and being open to having more children, and having the desire to adopt more children.)

A few years ago I really wondered what God's purpose for our little family was. Kevin and I would have conversations about where we felt God wanted us. (Not that you ever probably fully discover that this side of eternity.) When we adopted our sons it didn't make sense to some people. "Why would you do that?" they wanted to know. (I also got my fair share of, "Do you have hired help?" questions, which always cracked me up. "You're looking at it!", I wanted to say. Instead I just awkwardly replied, "No"--and hoped they didn't think ill of my husband for not hiring me a live-in maid. :) )

Then when I got pregnant with little Katie Jane, everything became more awkward. Surely she must have been an "accident" (ugh). No? Well, then, now we must really be "done." Of course along came Mary Lu so apparently we were not. :)

At some point I started telling people that so long as there are children sitting around without families, here or abroad, I will never unequivocally say that we are done. (I also occasionally tell them that we don't use contraception, just NFP occasionally, but that's a whole other tangent.) How can I speak for God? I don't know what He has for us. I DO know that I can not officially shut down my heart and my home--both of which ultimately belong to the Lord--and say no with any degree of certainty. At the orphan care conference I went to last year, people kept talking about how God made children to be raised in families. And He wants them raised in families. My body, my finances, my heart, my time...yeah...all belong to Jesus. And I want to remain open to His call. Every day.

Now that we have five children I feel like people don't expect us to be "done" so much anymore. We've crossed some invisible threshold. It's been nearly four years (four!) since we brought Yosef and Biniam home. Mary is still small, and our wanting to adopt again is still just a pipe dream. Saturday morning breakfast table talk. But I feel like God is confirming and revealing more and more what our purpose is, where His heart is, and how we can respond. It's amazing and terrifying all at once. Life with Jesus is like that. And I love it.

What about you--is your or your family's purpose something you sit around thinking about? I would so love to hear about it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lazy Saturday

We're just home today, all seven of us. The three girls all have yucky colds, and so we're home. Kevin made apple cinnamon pancakes this morning, and we got to read for awhile, and now we're rearranging our living room furniture.

I love working on things arond the house with Kevin. Good thing, I guess, since our 98-year-old house is quite a project. (Let me be clear that Kevin does all of that stuff. I just give ideas.)

Anyhow, it's shaping up to be a quiet weekend. And here's a random question for you: how do you store your fruit? We eat a lot of it, and so I buy quite a bit at once. I just stack it on my counter, or sometimes put it in a huge bowl. What do you do?

Friday, January 22, 2010

A marriage examined: Part I

So I feel like I blog a lot about our family, and my kids, and adoption. I even have the occasional rant. I also like sharing about books I'm reading.

I DON'T blog about marriage all that much.

It's not because I don't have anything to say on the subject. I think part of it is, I'm a very private person (with a blog, I know, it makes no sense), and for some reason talking about my relationship with my husband feels more vulnerable than sharing what my kids ate for lunch, or than hounding people about adoption. Also, I am so not a cheesy, mushy sort of gal (nerdy, yes. Sappy, no.)

But I thought I would do some posts about my husband and me, since our relationship is obviously a huge part of who I am. I've been having so much fun reading the story of how my friend Jenny met her husband, and really, who doesn't like talking about relationships? (Okay maybe that's just my inner-aspiring-psychologist talking. So let me rephrase: I like talking about relationships.) So, without further ado:

We met in college, at church.
We got engaged about a year after we met.
We both think that was too long.
We were engaged for nine months.
We both think that was too long.
We've been married for seven and a half years.
Thankfully neither of us think that's too long. :)

In some (most?) ways, our dating relationship was more like a courtship than anything else. (Doesn't that sound old-fashioned? What can I say--we were the young, idealistic products of Joshua Harris' books. Remember him?) Kevin and I met, randomly hung out a few times,
the first being when we ran into each other at a Weird Al concert--don't judge,
Kevin eventually announced to me that he was "quite taken with me" (I'll never forget that use of words, or where we were when he said it: on campus sitting on some stone benches), and that he wanted to know if I felt the same because he wanted to pursue a relationship with me.

I acquiesced, but got cold feet later. He felt insecure at the Bebo Norman concert. Things got real awkward real fast. We exchanged some long emails and determined that we'd just get to know each other as friends first, pressure-free. (I am very, very noncomittal and indecisive. Poor Kevin.)

About a week or two later, we had what can only really be described as a business meeting at my apartment to reevaluate the relationship (as in, he'd done some thinking and praying and had written down some notes ahead of time. Oh yes. We are so awesome.) Through those long emails we'd exchanged, and over the week or so that had passed, I'd felt like God had shown me that this Kevin fellow was someone pretty great. (I didn't want to date for fun. Did I mention I'm noncomittal and indecisive? The thought of casually dating random people and having to maybe break up did NOT appeal to me in the least. Ever. It also felt like a huge waste of time--I'd rather be hanging out with friends. Or reading a book.)

One of the things we discussed at our "meeting" was the purpose of our relationship. I came out and said that I wasn't interested if it was just this random, date-for-who-knows-how-long type of deal. I thought dating should be to find someone to marry. (Check out how serious I was! At age 19 no less. Again, this was probably thanks to Joshua's ideas.) Kevin told me he felt the exact same way and that he wouldn't be pursuing me if he felt like he wasn't in a general place to make a commitment in the not-terribly-distant-future. (He knew Joshua too apparently.) Whew.
Funny thing is, this makes it sound like we are super serious people, but one of the huge things that attracted me to Kevin was his ability to make me laugh. Which he does He cracks me up. I think he's darn funny. Life is nothing without humor--don't let anyone tell you otherwise. :) Like I mentioned earlier, I guess we were just idealists in certain ways, and knew what we wanted, and what we didn't.

Interestingly, even during the time period where I felt unsure about starting up the relationship, I found myself looking for excuses to visit the bookstore where he worked. I'd feel excited when he'd drop by my apartment. I even went grocery shopping with him and his friend at 11 pm one night. (We had many a date at Albertson's.) I always looked forward to seeing him at college group midweek, and I always felt comfortable with him.

In the end though, I think what won me over more than the laughs or the late night Albertson's trips was his strength of conviction, and his kindness. He was kind to everyone. He didn't care about looking cool or what people thought about him. (Still doesn't, actually.) And he was so committed to Jesus and to living that out in his life. And, still is.

Deep down, both of us probably knew by the end of our business meeting that we were together for good. Not because we naively thought relationships always last, but because it seemed God had put us together and that there was substance to what we were doing. Still we committed to not becoming overly emotionally involved outside of engagement or marriage, because that seemed unwise. We never really called each other "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" (I always hated that, it seemed so corny and lame), I made sure not to call him too often, and to let him take the lead. We didn't talk about the future. We didn't say "I love you"--the first time Kevin told me was when he was down on one knee on a beach in Cambria, asking me to be his wife.
We DID have a great time together. We hung out, read the Bible, went to the beach, watched movies, talked (and laughed) for hours, spent time with dear friends, and yes went to Albertson's. It was an amazing relationship and a wonderful, treasured time in my life.

I was 20, and Kevin was 21 the day we got married. So many more thoughts to share, and I'm looking forward to doing that here in the days to come!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Doctors and Thursday tangents

So today I took Anna to the dermatologist to see about this little bump she has on her nose. To make the appointment, I just called up the first guy that my insurance showed would be approved, and his office is at Children's Hospital in Denver.

When I got there, I discovered that I apparently booked an appointment with the chief pediatric dermatologist there. Ha! I felt like I really got my copay's worth.

And can I just say that this hospital is A.MAZ.ING? Oh my goodness. It's ranked as one of the best children's hospitals in the country, and the facility is seriously remarkable. The doc was super nice, and prescribed a topical medication that'll make her nose get all red and irritated, and then hopefully the thing will go away. He actually couldn't say exactly what the bump is, so he wanted to start with this.

Poor Anna is tired of kids (and adults) asking her, "What's on your nose?", and I don't blame her. But honestly I think I'll miss the bump a little bit when it's gone.

Begin tangential discussion:

Today I was reminded of the crazy huge blessing it is to live in a nation where we have access to quality medical care. Maybe it's that I've been thinking about Haiti...or that I have the perpetual medical needs adoption bug...but I couldn't help picturing all the children sitting in orphanages around the world who need a family, and medical care. I read today that many, many people are stepping forward saying they want to adopt a Haitian child orphaned by the earthquake. Who knows how/if that will come to pass what with all the legal/ethical issues involved, but I find myself desperately wishing that people would step forward like this for all the children waiting for families around the world, orphaned by AIDS and the effects of poverty and disease. My goodness, what if we all just said enough is enough with the global orphan crisis, and got approved for foster care, or began the international adoption process? Kids are waiting. Waiting. There are no lines, or long waiting lists for families. The process isn't too hard for you to navigate. You're not too old/young. There are grants available, and organizations that can help you fundraise.

End tangent.

After leaving Children's, I stopped by Starbucks (which I have all of once a year or so) to get Anna a hot chocolate and mini scone. I told her she'd lived with a bump on her nose for the past several months, and was a great companion this morning, so she ought to have a treat. :) You'd think I'd given her a million dollars. (And I have to admit, as I sipped my annual peppermint white mocha I felt like I'd been given a million dollars too. :) )

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Helping Haiti necklace!

My dear friend's kids, Mia and Noah, are making and selling these gorgeous necklaces here. They're $10, and all the proceeds go to relief efforts in Haiti! I just ordered mine, so hop on over there and get yours!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And encouraged

So after my last blogpost, I just had to share that Mary has been napping, IN HER BASSINET, for hours. Hours, people! The longest nap she's ever taken. By far. What a gift!

I think I've used the time wisely. I:

relaxed and read blogs
vacuumed the entire downstairs
got two loads of laundry going
cleaned both bathrooms
enjoyed listening to my older four kids playing Barbies together

Tonight we're having leftovers for dinner, Kevin's on his way home, and this has sure shaped up to be a great afternoon.

Even if Kaitlyn just gleefully announced that she threw up. Now she's gleefully cleaning it up. Herself.

Life as a mom is an adventure. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And throw up or no throw up, my baby has been napping all afternoon, so I remain encouraged!

S t r e t c h e d

I so don't want to whine on my blog.

But the last couple of weeks have been hard!

We're settling back in after having been gone for 2+ weeks. Mary's awake a lot more during the day, and lately is really only happy when I'm holding her. This is difficult when you have four additional children, are trying to homeschool, and maintain a clean home. Not to mention I've been fighting off some sort of sinus infection. And taking care of Anna, who has a bad cold. I guess I just feel a little discouraged.

And stretched. Not like I have too much on my plate or anything, because I really don't. But stretched in the sense of feeling like I have very limited freedom to do the few things I need to do. I spend a lot of time sitting on the couch with Mary--yes, it's quite nice, but it's also hard because other things aren't getting done. It's actually revealing because I'm learning things about myself, most of which are not so great. :)

Like, I'm impatient. (Okay I already knew that about myself!) And I've internalized far too much of our culture's value system. There are probably others. Such as a crummy attitude, and a proclivity to doubt myself or decisions I've made (homeschooling for example--wouldn't it just be so much easier if my kids were away during the day?)

But the thing is, I really do want to give myself, all of me, away to Jesus. I don't want to withhold my life, my resources, time or affections from God, or from building His kingdom. I read about what's happening in Haiti and I'm reminded that I can't AFFORD to hold back, there is so much to be done. That includes meeting the needs of my sweet 3 month old.

Some days you just grit your teeth and hang on for dear life. Instead of hating those days, I'm trying to find ways to embrace them. Maybe I wouldn't CHOOSE them, but God can redeem them. We serve an amazing, huge, powerful God and unfortunately I forget so often why He created me and what my purpose is. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Neither is following Jesus.

So what does my day look like today? In a minute I'm going to get a cup of coffee. I'll take a shower, do my daily Bible-in-90-days reading, get the kids lunch, make Anna some jello...and try get rid of my ridiculous litmus tests for what a "good" day looks like. Productivity is not the be-all, end-all. Some days, my job is to simply sit and love and serve. Not such a bad gig, if you think about it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nighty night

I love pictures of sleeping babies. This was Mary Lu taking a nap in her favorite spot (my lap) on Thanksgiving weekend.

Nothing really to share. Kids are tucked in. I'm about to watch Beetlejuice with Kevin. Ice cream forthcoming.

No matter what kind of day I have, nighttime is most definitely always sweet. I love the time I get to spend with my husband, and it never, ever gets old.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why now? (And, why NOT now?)

Something I'm thinking about today is all the attention focused on Haiti since the earthquake happened. Lots of time and money and prayers invested, thinking about these precious men, women and children...we've been shaken from our usual complacency. That's a good thing. Maybe.

See Haiti wasn't really on most people's radar screens before this earthquake happened. But it was hurting. And incredibly impoverished. Countless orphans waiting for families. People dying of what should be preventable causes. Many hungry and starving. God sees these things all the time, but we only see them when we want to. Or when the media tells us to look. (I will again recommend Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains. It's awesome.)

If we care about the vulnerable children of Haiti, let's really DO something. After we send our money to Red Cross, let's pursue an adoption of a waiting child somewhere in the world. Or become a foster parent. Or give away a bunch of money to build a well somewhere. Or commit to permanently downsizing something in our life in order to continue giving to Haiti, even after CNN has stopped talking about it.

I'm wondering if our hearts start becoming numb to people and tragedies, if we simply endure one media frenzy after another, give a few bucks, and then go right back to our lattes and iphones and "reality" TV shows?

Sorry if I sound cynical. I'm thankful that the world is focused on Haiti right now. I feel so sad for Haiti, but some of that sadness is over the fact that it's taken their capital city getting obliterated for the world to take notice of their situation. (Of course I know that any time there is a major natural disaster, attention will shift there, and that IS a good thing.)

Guess I just wanted to remind everyone, including myself, that there are kids sitting around all over the world today waiting for families. There are hungry women unable to feed their babies, there are families struggling to survive in refugee camps. Instead of despairing or just wringing our hands, we can do something. And we should.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A challenge

Our church is doing this thing right now called Read the Bible in 90 days. Oh yes. The whole Bible. It averages to something like twelve chapters per day, and I'm really trying to do it.

I'm a pretty fast reader, but even so, it's daunting. I'm excited because our Community Group is pretty into it, and it was so fun last night to talk about the various stories in Genesis, what we thought about them, etc.

Overall we're really liking our church. We've met some wonderful people and I love love love the emphasis on liturgy and sacrament, which is something I had not fully experienced in church before. A really great book about this by the way is Thomas Howard's Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament. (Don't be scared by the title--even if you don't agree with his particular end conclusion, it's not a preachy book, just his observations and experience.)

So, yeah, I'm attempting to read the Bible cover-to-cover in 90 days. Yikes. (Don't think I won't be skimming the various geneologies and temple requirements though. Even if Kevin says that's cheating.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where my thoughts are today

Right now I really ought to be cleaning my kitchen and putting a load of laundry into the washer. Instead I'm reading articles and praying and now blogging.

About Haiti.

As if things aren't difficult enough there...and now this.

Just a couple of resources for anyone interested. I've read this blog off and on for years. It's the Livesay family living in Haiti. They're amazing. Today I'm hanging on every word, because it's like having a bird's eye view of what's happening.

Then, I read this interesting article--the title caught my eye. I LOVE this quote from St. Jerome that the author included:

"I cannot help them all, but I grieve and weep with them, and am completely absorbed in the duties that charity imposes on me. Today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds. Instead of speaking saintly words, we must act them."

Please remember the people of Haiti in your prayers today, and consider making a donation. You can donate through Compassion, World Vision, Red Cross, and at the end of the article I linked to, there are three additional organizations. (I'm sure there are many more as well.) And if you're interested in learning more about Haiti, I definitely recommend the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. I started it a few weeks ago and it's excellent.

Not sure how to wrap up this scattered post. As I go about my daily routine, hopefully I'll remember to pray for Haiti, and to thank God for the blessings He gives me that I inevitably take for granted.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Siblings and friends

One of my biggest fears when we adopted our sons nearly 4 years ago was that my children wouldn't get along with each other. Probably not unusual to worry about that when your 2 year old daughter gains two 16-month-old brothers literally overnight. And it wasn't like they were little babies or anything--Anna's new brothers were her peers.

In reality, anytime you think about the prospect of having several children, you think about their quality of life. Especially when you yourself are an only child and have no concept of siblings, period. When our family went from one to three children, we knew it was what God wanted, yet still I worried about how that would look for our kids. And when Kaitlyn was born, again, I was confident that every child is a gift from God...but how will the bigger kids feel? Then, when Mary came on the scene, I wondered how Kaitlyn would feel? Will life be reduced to mediating squabbles and trying to calm resentful kids who just want their own bedroom?

Happily, the simple answer to that is "no." My kids are friends. Best friends, really. They play together literally all day, every day. From day one really, the older kiddos have included Kaitlyn in their activities. Not because I asked them to, but because they want to. In spite of the fact that she's two and a half years younger than Yosef and Biniam, and three years younger than Anna. And that has translated into her being part of the group, self-confident and terribly in love with her older brothers and sister.

Now there's a new baby, and the only strife that has come from adding #5 has been the occasional argument over who gets to hold her. :) Not a bad problem to have.

Please don't get me wrong. My kids argue, have trouble sharing, and hurt each other's feelings from time to time. (Which drives me nuts.) But in the general day to day life around here, they're friends. I can't predict what the future will hold, or if they'll always be close, and I don't know what the recipe is for getting your kids to get along. I DO know that God calls children "good", and that if you're considering adding a child to your family through birth or adoption, you can feel encouraged. That by God's grace, having a large-ish family doesn't automatically sentence your kids to constant fighting. It DOES, however, mean your children will have the potential to have lots of friends. Hopefully for life.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A first time for everything

Thursday, January 07, 2010


(I cannot hear the word "motivated" without thinking about a scene in the original British version of The Office where Ricky Gervais' character is talking about him getting people "all motivated." Because he's "an entertainer." Heehee!)

So I am having a HORRIBLE time settling back in after our trip! There's no shortage of housework to do, things to put away, meals to plan, or groceries to buy...but I'm just plain unmotivated. I'm not sure why it's so difficult this time around--maybe because we came back on a weekday, Kevin returned to work right away, and there was no down-time? I have no clue. I DO know that my poor kids desperately need a bath, and I MUST get to the store in the next couple of days.

I think I at least have a meal plan for tonight (which will hopefully include homemade baked beans, which I have been dying to make but never think of in time, since it's an hours-long process), which is a huge load off my mind. Is there anything worse than not knowing what to make for dinner? I think not.

What I AM motivated to do is sit around in my pjs and read. I just started No Greater Love by Mother Teresa, which is So far I've just read the first part, on prayer, and there is so much to think about...I am always so challenged by her wisdom and her faith.

Now it's time to stop blogging, retrieve my crying baby already awake from her (brief) nap, and get some stuff done. OR maybe I'll sit down with my book...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The honest truth

I recently received this award from my friend Kristen! And so, without further ado, here are ten honest things about me:

1.) I love being home. As in, I'm a total homebody. I can go days without going to the store or whatever and be perfectly content.

2.) I'm a tourist at heart. I love visiting historical or famous places. I've even been known to take a detour if I see something interesting on a roadtrip, while Kevin is napping in the passenger seat. Shhhh.

3.) I am terrified of flying. Yes I still fly when I need to, because I refuse to let irrational fear rule my life, but I hate it. The entire flight I'm sitting there paranoid that the plane is going to crash. Or be hijacked by terrorists. SO STUPID, but it is what it is.

4.) My husband and I don't use contraception. Years ago we came to some convictions about it, and then more recently were inspired and challenged by a book called Covenanted Happiness. (The book is written by a Roman Catholic and, among other things, explores the traditional church teaching on contraception throughout the centuries. Did you know that Protestants and Catholics were united on this until the 1940s or so?)

5.) I have no desire to own a pet. I'm so not into them. And I must admit to feeling a little annoyed when people refer to said pets as their "kids." Um, no. Kids are kids, and pets are, well, animals.

6.) I could very easily become a vegetarian. Meat is really not my thing, in general. I'm that person who thinks the various side-dishes are the best part of Thanksgiving, I prefer spinach in my lasagna and veggies on my pizza, and I could basically live on salad. Oh how I love me a big salad!

7.) I enjoy watching strange things on TV, like surgeries and specials with titles like "The World's Fattest Man." You can have your Heroes and So You Think You Can Dance (neither of which I have ever seen), but as for me, I would rather watch educational programming where I get to learn interesting facts--kangaroos have three vaginas, for example. (We don't have cable, or satellite, so I don't tend to catch these things too often.)

8.) I think most magazines are ridiculous. Cosmo, Glamour, People, etc. Give me a break!

9.) I think the movie A Mighty Wind is I quote it all the time. Best in Show is great too...Basically, I think Christopher Guest is a genius.

10.) Kevin was my first real boyfriend. We met in college. I had lots of good friends in high school, but never dated. It just seemed like a waste of time if you weren't in a place to be looking for a husband. (Apparently I'm all about efficiency.) And when Kevin and I started going out, we mutually decided that it was a process to decide if we would marry or not--in fact, his asking me to be his girlfriend came on the heels of what can only be described as a business meeting. Because we're cool like that. And clearly it all worked out. We've been married nearly 8 years and I'm so, so happy to be the wife of such a great, Godly, funny guy.

So there you have it. Ten assorted, random truths about me. If you're reading this, you can consider yourself "tagged"!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


After a whirlwind two-week trip to both Northern and Southern California, we are back in Denver.

We had amazing times with dear friends, some of the best people I know.

There were people we wanted to see, but ran out of time. Hopefully next year.

Christmas is always ten times sweeter when it's your baby's first.

One year ago on December 31st, I lost my baby. This year on December 31st, I got to watch Mary Lu nap in her grandpa's arms. God is gracious in ways I will never understand.

And it's good to be back in Denver. I do feel lonely for our old life in California, but thrilled about our current life in Colorado. I suppose it's a blessing to love where you come from AND where you are now.

I'm hoping to do a bit more blogging going forward. I cherish this way of remaining connected to friends near and far. Right now, though, it's time to hold Mary. Finish making dinner. Put some more laundry away.

It's good to be home.

Blog Template by