What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, September 27, 2018

In Which We Eat Cake. Lots of Cake.

Corynn and Judah went ahead and turned another year older on September 2nd, though I have repeatedly warned them that they should slow down on that sort of thing.

Judah loves bisons so I knew I wanted to try to make him a bison head cake.  It looked more like a baby bison, with a face only a mother would love, but when candles were being blown out and everyone was encouraging him to "hurry up, hurry up!" and he said "No wait!  I just want to look at it some more..." I knew it had been a success.

Corynn requested an old-fashioned peanut butter cake and I assumed she wanted it decorated like the photo on the recipe-with just a few nuts sprinkled on top. Until she said- a few hours beforehand- that she had wanted me to surprise her!  ACK!  Well, I scrounged around for a squirrel and tried (and failed!) to make a chocolate tree trunk to hold a bunch of hoarded nuts.  When that failed- she got a squirrel plunked in a corner.  (wow.)  She's a good sport though.  And it WAS delicious- which is the most important thing.

I laughed when I heard their birthday dinner requests:

sausage- both link AND patty.
home-fries with LOTS of sauteed onions and tomatoes and fried cheese.
tomato, cucumber, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar salad.

Pretty eclectic palate, but I didn't hear complaints from anyone at all.

Among other gifts, Judah got a pretty amazing handmade bison bag from Aunt Holly which he rarely is without and I crocheted up a birthday hat for Corynn pretty quickly using a yarn that has favorite colors in it.  Since she is my hat girl, I hope to see it often.

(BONUS: When I have a project to put on ravelry, Corynn poses as HERSELF and not in a disguise and with genuine smile to boot!  Reason alone to make her yarn projects!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sewing Buttons can be hard...

All that is left of these little sweaters was to add the buttons, but for some time now, I couldn't seem to muster the courage to do it.  (Courage...for buttons?  That's odd.)

Those little sweaters were a part of a dream that I had been holding on to very tightly, a wish that ALMOST came true.  Woven in the fibers of each stitch were countless prayers for two teensie little ones that I may never meet, each one further etching them upon my heart as if my own flesh and blood.  Putting on buttons and sending them off feels more like mourning to me...mourning the death of a dream, saying goodbye to the hope that I have clung to these past few months, of bringing twin girls into our family this fall.

I have wanted to adopt for decades but have always been prevented from doing so for one reason or another.  We weren't 'settled' enough for Matt, it wasn't a good time.  Finances.  International adoption is so super hard and the broken foster care system (which I grew up smack dab in the middle of as my parents were exceptional foster parents for all of my teenage years) mostly just makes me super mad.  So, it seemed a lost cause for me.  Something that would never be.  God would have to orchestrate everything *just so* to ever give me the pleasure of having this dream come true.  The challenges seemed so insurmountable that I tried to give it up.

And then, one day, a Mama was pregnant.  With twins.  And a neighbor told me of her niece and in one fell swoop, I heard the orchestra playing right there as we sat on the porch.  And it was amazing that God really COULD orchestrate everything just so- despite insurmountable odds (Insurmountable to me only.)-and that it seemed He had done so for me.   It was incredible!  My heart immediately dove into the idea and, though there was certain concerns- the biggest being Matt's feelings on the subject- I trusted that, if God can plunk this situation right on my lap as I rocked in a rocking chair visiting with a neighbor- on a random day of a random week within a random month of a random year... then He can certainly work out the details that still seemed insurmountable to me.  I began to pray, almost incessantly, for these girls and their Mama and their Grandma.  I would wake up at 2:00am every morning and not be able to find rest until my weary eyes would spy the alarm clock and it would be sometimes after 4:00.  Like clockwork.  And I used those hours in the dark to say the things I could say to no one else, not even Matt.  I poured out my heart.  I pour it out still.

Little by little, the insurmountable details were worked out just right and every prayer was answered, all except the unspoken one.  The most important one.  The little detail of their Mama not needing me after all.

As the days grew into weeks and then into months, I grew to love those girls.  I mean really LOVE them.  It is a mystery to me...I can't explain it and no one who hasn't felt these same things would understand what I mean.  They aren't born yet, they aren't even growing in my own womb.  I've never met them or seen them and yet, they feel to me like my own dear children.  And that, I suppose, is the most devastating part.  Because I made myself vulnerable to them, because I bared my heart to them, I also opened myself up to the heartbreak that comes from not having them.  And now it is pain that feels...insurmountable.

Why does God do this?  Why did He do it to me?  How could He dangle my dreams in front of me just to snatch them back again a moment before I reached them?  Why did He go to all the trouble to so beautifully orchestrate PAIN?  Wouldn't I have been better off living my life, oblivious to the fact that there is a hurting mother with two sweet twin girls that I might have been able to help?  I hate this.

But then I remember that God orchestrates our lives for His glory and that has to be enough.  He does what He does for our good.  And it doesn't have to make sense to us.  We can not even see what is right in front of our faces- how can we see out to the end of the greatest story ever told? Our brains are so small yet we think we ought to be able to comprehend the plans of an infinite God.  We are blind fools.

Our lives don't have to be pretty or feel good for Him to be good.  That is what trust is.  That is what faith is.    We live in a world wrought with pain- and He wasn't the one who made it so.  Yet, gloriously, He is the one who promises to be there for us, comforting us, guiding us.

Had He not put the twinnies in my life, I would have missed the great dependency I felt to Him as I fervently prayed, more fervently than any time in my life.  I drew closer to Him and my soul rested in Him in a way that I had let slip past me for such a long time in the busyness of mothering and homekeeping and being a busy wife.  I realized what it means to love your neighbor as I begged to be given the chance to love these particular ones.  I realized how poorly I love my own husband, my own children, my own brothers and sisters and neighbors and friends.

Last Sunday, these words struck me cold...  

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."  (Mark 8:34/35)

It occurred to me that losing your life doesn't just mean being martyred nor even (as I think we often translate it in our days) being willing to be treated poorly by unbelievers.  It means dying to self.  And it follows that if I refuse to die to myself and the wishes, hopes and dreams that make up who I am but that are contrary to His will- no matter how virtuous they may be- I am denying Him.  His plan for my life is good.  And my plans for my life are dust.

I have heard nothing from that faraway Mama.  I don't know if the twinnies (as I have nicknamed them) are born yet.  If not, soon.  From her silence, I presume she has decided to give it a go despite the many odds against her.  The not knowing, the wondering, the hope one moment, losing hope the next...it's a most terrible place to be.  Opening my heart here, finally putting a voice to my secret thoughts, will maybe help me to move forward?   So, I have to sew those buttons on and I have to send my love off, though I can't see through the tears, to girls I will probably never know but desperately love. 

Those girls are woven in my heart and will be for always.  I will never stop praying for them or their Mama.  And I don't know that I will ever stop grieving for myself at not being able to show them how very loved they are.

But even in my grief, God is good.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Amusing Knoebels

This probably could have been included in the Month That Was: August post but really, a bonafide trip to an AMUSEMENT PARK warrants its' own post, don't you think?  Particularly when this trip was such a special and very touching one. 

A couple from our church decided to bless the entire congregations' socks off by paying for everyone to go to Knoebels for an overnight camping trip and for unlimited rides at the park for an entire day and bonus night too!  Now, our church IS small but that must have cost a fortune!  And yet, bless us they did.   The costs to go amusement parks is prohibitive to several families in our church, including our own, so this was the first experience at an amusement park for many of us.  And since our congregation is in large part children, and children are never so reserved in their excitement as grown-ups, the rewards this couple reaped in excitement, smiles and gratitude were multitudinous.  They gave us all such a gift; such a wealth of wonderful memories and moments of thrill and togetherness. 

It really is amazing to think about how good the Lord is and how bits of Him sparkle out of the eyes and fingers and mouths of others in how we live for others.  God is good.  And Anto and Roberta take after Him.

My camera has been broken for a while but I continue to *try* to make ago of it.  Here are a few of the many, many smiles caught that were actually in focus out of a sea of blurred ones.

Corynn hates that I am posting this picture.  But I kinda love it.  Seeing these four exuberantly happy children make me smile every time.

I know it's a bit much to take three consecutive photos within a ten-second moment 

but look at that big handsome fellow and the littler one too...

and tell me I shouldn't.

It's an exhausting business, amusing ourselves to death.

Adele wanted to ride The Impulse- a rollercoaster which has a horrifying vertical drop.  And she did it!  I learned that the girl I always took to be the fragile and fearful one, is neither!

Although it may have scarred her for life.

As such, Matt decided we ought to have professional documentation of the event.

And while the biggles and middles were racing to every single death-defying ride, Ineke and I managed to tame a fearsome dragonbeast.  So that's pretty impressive too. 

Just two weeks earlier, the whole place was underwater.  Even getting there when we did was pretty challenging with so many roads and exits being closed.   The drive in is the only part of this weekend I refuse to remember ever again.

Having never been to an amusement park with my family, I thought myself very clever indeed to have everyone wear bright colors.  I never anticipated that 90% of all mothers told their children the same.

As we were leaving the park, Corynn asked me to take a picture of her favorite roller coaster for posterity's sake.  Maybe one day, old rickety friend, you two will meet again.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Crafting On

A few days late for the crafting on yarn along but that's how I roll...

Finished up sweater #1 and realized the pretty lace pattern on the bottom gets swallowed up in this particular yarn.  I decided to do sweater #2 in a slightly different pattern to avoid the lace bit at the end.  I finished that one up this morning and it is now being blocked too.  Just needs a few buttons sewn on and then both will be done.  What happens after that?  I wish I knew.

Bought the book Adopted for LIFE: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell Moore a few weeks ago and positively devoured it.  I am forcing Matt to read it now.  ;-)   I think this book ought to be a MUST READ for every pro-life person and, most especially, for every.single.Christian to read.  As adopted sons and daughters, we know firsthand the great joy that adoption brings to the fatherless- as we once were.   And as sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father and King, we have a perfect example to emulate. We, His church, ought to be at the forefront of the fight for the orphaned, widowed and unloved.  Russell Moore gives a stirring call to all believers to not just love the idea of caring for orphans- but to actually be DOING it.  And he encourages believers in all circumstances to do their part- and explains so wonderfully how everybody has a "part"- even if they are unable to adopt themselves. 

Just really good. 

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Month That Was: August

kiddy ziplines::  Hanging with Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Mary:: new puppies:: juicy peaches:: pony rides:: hottub sitting:: amusement parks:: animal parks:: camping with friends:: flowers ablaze:: berry pickin':: skinny dippin':: driving, driving, driving:: tomatoes ripening:: handmedownridingmowersthatdon'tmowbutdohaulhappychildrenhitherandyon:: flooding everywhere:: firewood splitting:: swampy overgrown gardens:: August.

It was quite a month.

Out of breath and head awhirl, I have to somehow rein in the jumbled, weedy, untended mess that my mind, garden, children, chores and home became this summer.  It is time for organized school shelves.  Cool weather clothes.  Weekly school schedules.  Structured days.  Bookwork.  Brainpower.  Mopped floors.  Dusted corners.  Prioritizing not procrastinating.  It's time to turn my attention to all that I've been neglecting.

I feel ready for the end results, perhaps...the structured school days and the learning and the tidied home and the sweaters and canned tomatoes and the fallishness in the air but I don't feel ready in the slightest to do the dirty work of 'getting there'.  And there is a lot of 'getting there' to be done before any thing really productive can happen.