Sunday, October 30, 2011

10Yr Anniversary Getaway (Part I)...

We were recently able to piggy-back a little anniversary getaway with a work-related course Blake completed in Portland, Oregon. Traditionally a very rainy season in OR, we were not certain how many outdoor adventures we'd be able to coordinate but (PTL), the weather was amazing! Cool. Crisp. Partly sunny/partly cloudy. And the fall colors against the background of evergreens exceeded our expectations.

I took lots of pictures, of course! since that is my favorite way of documenting life. Here are a few teaser pictures of our time away -- more to come when I can steal some additional moments for editing/posting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Little Man...

Blake is out-of-town for a few days.

While talking to him on the phone this AM Alexander overheard me saying, "I miss my man."

The X-man gently laid his hand on my arm and said, "I'm right here, Mom."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Camping with Friends!

We went on an adventure this part weekend, camping with four kids under age 4. Good times! The weather was absolutely amazing. The leaves beautiful. The friendship a treasure.

So fun to get to know this little guy (Brady) and parents (Shayne & Emily).These binoculars (also called 'BEE-knock-lers' and 'knockers' this weekend) provided entertainment & opportunity for strengthening sharing skills :) all weekend long. displaying the 'love' portion of their love/do not love relationship...Xander is alternately fascinated/scared to pieces by One-Eyed Jack. The dog, not the man!this one appears a bit 'posed' but this happens often; Xander loves giving hugs to the M.girls :)Jami had the patience of a saint while trying to 'play cards' with these of my FAVS from the weekend -- love these boys!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

That Time of Year...

Taco Salad. Taffy apples. Hot chocolate. And, s'mores! It is officially 'cookout' season! Xander and I recently spent a Sunday afternoon at the's with friends from church while Blake was out-of-town.These high school boys, among others, found themselves followed about by a 3-foot high admirer for most of the evening. Thanks, Jade & Nelson! Oh, and the last picture is sweet little Theo, too cute to resist posting :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reflection On Safe Family: Jonathan

I recently shared this testimony in the Titus2 publication; thought some of you might be interested in a reflection on our initial Safe Family placement.

It is not about you. It is not about you. It is so not about you!
These words, whispers from my Father, have circled about my head and heart in the recent weeks. Relentless words. Convicting words. Uncomfortable words.

On a Thursday evening in late June, we received a phone call about a 15-month old little boy who needed a temporary home. We had only completed the required paperwork/certification for the Safe Families program a few days prior. We were equal parts excited & anxious about our first placement as we drove to an apartment complex in a nearby suburb.

Within a matter of minutes, as we buckled Jonathan into our car, we changed from a family of three to a family of four. Alexander became a [reluctant] big brother. The first night of Jonathan’s stay, my heart ached with compassion for this little boy at the center of circumstances vastly out of his control. He trembled in my arms as I rocked him, or rather, attempted to rock him to sleep. He cried & cried, big teardrops rolling down his bright red, chubby cheeks. He clung to my neck. Whimpered with fear. As ugly or self-centered as it may sound, I was kind of endeared by his emotional distress. This is what I/we signed up for, right? To repair what is wrong in a child’s world? To show love amidst hurting & pain?

While I had completed the required on-line training over the course of the previous few weeks and had a good understanding of the Safe Families program, I must admit I had some looking-thru-rose-colored-glasses plans of my own. #1 I was going to change a child’s life, wrap them in love like they’d not known before. #2 I was going to witness & minister to a hurting and impoverished family, share Christ and His awesome/redeeming love with both the child & parents.#3 I was going to fix what was wrong! Mend what was broken! Make everything all better!

Uh...I mean, God and I, of course. We were going to do all these things. He had called our family to this ministry, right? We were doing His work, right? God would certainly bless us (rose-colored-glasses translation: make everything easy), right? Or maybe not...

Upon waking the next morning, reality entrenched itself within our home. Crying. Whining. Pinching. Outbursts. Tears from Jonathan. Defiance from Alexander. The week continued to unfold. Interrupted schedules. Paperwork/documentation. Home visits. Parent/sibling visits. More home visits. Things just didn’t go according to my plans. I wanted Jonathan’s parents to call [often] and lavish [grand] words of gratitude upon our family. They did not.
I wanted Alexander to be thrilled about his new role as big brother. He was not. I wanted Blake to understand both my complete mental and physical exhaustion at the day’s end. He tried his best.

This Child! Oh, what do I do with this child? I would ask myself several times a day during the first weeks of our family’s expansion. I can’t do this. Not a minute more. Seriously, what do I do with this child? This child, this stranger who has invaded my home but not [yet] my heart? This child who demands my undivided attention; who wails when I turn away, who follows my every movement? This child who takes (and takes, and takes!) seemingly giving nothing in return? This child who has disrupted my [safe] routine and my [perfectly fine] schedule? And, perhaps hardest of all, this child who has ‘stolen’ my own son, eliciting behavior both new and far from admirable? What do I do with this child who needs me but is not my own? So many times I found myself looking past the giggles. The lopsided grin. The sweet curls and chubby cheeks. I glanced at the child whose life suddenly intersected with my own and I saw only the hard things. The unlovable parts.

It is not about you. It is not about you. It is so not about you! It was not until about 5-weeks into this journey that I began to allow myself to listen, truly hear the words that God had been speaking all along. Shame flooded my heart as I recognized my crummy, un-Christian attitude towards this innocent child. The ugliness of my pride. The stench of my self-centeredness. The repugnance of my sin. The lack of my faith. I saw myself thru the eyes of God as He revealed my weakness and His strength. What was I to do with this child? The same thing that God modeled from the very beginning. “We love.” (IJohn 4:19)

God loved me before I even knew Him, before I asked Him to be my Lord of my life. He loved me when I cried. He loved me when I whined. He loved me when I was afraid. He loved me when I hurt others. He loved me,unconditionally. He loved me, not because of anything I had done but simply because of who He was/is. What was I to do with this child? If I had been searching in the right place, I would have discovered the answer was present all along, found in the truth of His word. “The King will reply, Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” What was I to do with this child? Love him. Accept him. Pray for him. Show him Christ. Nothing more & certainly, nothing less.

I am humbled to acknowledge my struggles. To recognize, and share with you, my failures. And yet, I am grateful to have learned a valuable lesson. It is so not about me. Rather, it is so about GOD in me.

What lessons will the next journey bring?