Saturday, October 27, 2012

reminders of grace

I love these little girls dearly.  They remind me everyday to run with joy the race set before me. They speak frilly fun, God-sized Grace, loveable laughter, and abundant joy.
Praying you have lots of reminders of these in your life today,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

needed perspective.

Today we had a talk on the phone with an adoption agency here in the states. It brought back so many feelings of the past 7 years. Of an adoption journey that has meant broken hearts and unmet expectations and reminded us of what everyone has told us. Adoption is rough. It means believing in the sovereignty of God in new ways. It is an emotional roller coaster. All true my friends, but not until you are "in it" do you feel that in your soul. There are so many unknowns and questions and doubts that I can feel like I am drowning. We are seeking wisdom and direction and I feel shaken and like we are starting over. But I know this is part of our journey and God sees it all. I need to remember His vantage point is not mine. I explained the word "omniscient" to Annikah and then still proceeded to cry about the unknowns in our lives right now. Easy to say, hard to believe in the everyday; both the massive and minute. Perspective is needed y'all.

I write all this without censoring much because I think just sharing can allow me to take a deep breath and gain perspective. And maybe in a small way invite God to heal things I do not even know need healing and show me how much more of my heart He wants. To reveal how much I think I have it together that He wants to unburden and release and usher in more of His peace. I need this perspective. The One that sees ahead of my short sightedness and fear. The One that gently reminds me this is for my good.

I have also been thinking a lot about this season of parenting and how He is refining me and teaching me. I am feeling totally inadequate and a compete mess when it comes to homeschooling. And I freaked out the nice ladies at the home school group when they asked me "don't you love homeschooling?" and without thinking I blurted out "no, I actually hate it." Yikes, there it is but I know this is what He is asking of me for right now. And I am known for my teensy flair for the dramatic. I am asking Him for contentment and peace in the everyday and the every minute. And in other things parenting related I read this article and watched this video and said "Amen sister!" I have shared some similar feelings about parenting in Africa vs. the U.S. with many of you (of course much less eloquently) but I thought I would share...
What do you think? I am remembering that as I struggle to parent both the kids I have now and the kids God has for our family in the future (inshallah) being dependant and needy and desperate for Him is right where I should be. What makes you desperate today? What can you give to Him that you have been carrying by yourself? I know what I am giving today,

Friday, October 19, 2012

we're wild!

We took a last minute field trip to Brookfield Zoo yesterday (free admission on Tuesdays and Thursdays right now inspired us!)  It was an amazingly fun day full of family good stuff and adventure that was needed.  Not to mention reinforcing the recent science lessons which makes this Teacher/Mama happy.  Anni toted her notebook and pencil from exhibit to exhibit searching for examples of nocturnal animals, carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, predators, and endangered species. Watching the girls scream with glee and gasp with delight throughout the day was a great reminder of what a blessing it is to have sweet children in our lives (we can momentarily forget among the endless bickering, responsibilities, and the seemingly endless resistance to all things parental).  It was a deep breath for our family and I am grateful to God for perspective.
we talked to these birds for quite a while and they talked back y'' real!
Tropic World was a big hit especially the Africa room.  Upon entrance Annikah screamed "Mama, it even smells like Africa!" Hilarious.
we just "went" to Bali last week with our passport activity (more on this soon since it is so fun and I wanna share!) and learned about the reticulated python and then we saw this homeboy! Holla!
"Mama, gaaarafes!!" = Happy Evy Imani.

In the difficult moments of home-schooling over the last weeks (and there have been many if I'm being honest) yesterday was a reminder that this is also a huge blessing for our family. Here's to many more adventures that remind us that rich learning often happens outside the classroom,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

some tears

So, Ummm, yeah....the twenty first chapter of Charlotte's Web was as traumatizing as I remember it.  Never thought our read-aloud would give us so much to discuss and cry about but a spider dying was the thing tonight.
Promises of making our own candy corn while watching the movie when we finish the last chapter tomorrow seemed to weaken the sobs but perhaps we are all a touch emotional around here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

falling in love with fall

The chill in the air has me a little a lot freaked out because I know what follows; a long cold winter.  But my girls are enamoured and enthralled by the changing colors, the cool in the air, and the decorations everywhere.
And a little time outside with warm coffee in hand, gathering and crunching leaves underfoot,
and searching for the just perfect one
has me remembering why falling in love with fall is more fun when your children remind you of the magic.
Happy Fall,

Monday, October 8, 2012

join the mutiny.....

From the day I picked this book up until the day I put it down (which I think was about 3 days later :) I was "in."  I have always been too into crap and collecting it.  I think if we are really honest we all are.  That darned sinful nature.  We have closets full of clothes we don't wear and piles of junk we don't use anymore but just had to have, and spend tons of time online managing our image and comparing ourselves to others.   If you look at our lives it would seem to an outsider we worship comfort and our image.  Ouch!  

So Jen took seven months, and focused on eliminating excess from seven different categories: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress (which is where the subtitle comes from: “An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess).  I personally recommend everyone should read this book (and not because I get a cut, although Jen, can we make that happen?).  But 1.) because she is hilarious and really, in the daily life of diaper changing, working, cleaning crunched up crackers out of the carpet, cooking, cleaning, and the daily grind who can not use a good laugh? 2.) she is a real chick struggling to live out this whole "die to self" thing and is real about how messy it gets.  She makes me realize there is hope for even me; the Mama who not only doesn't have "it" together but does not even know what "it" is most days.  She is my kinfolk.  My tribe. 

I read somewhere that America is the land of "lifeless toil and useless consumption."  While I realize that is not true for everyone it hit home.  But how much is enough? What responsibility do we have when we know how many people in the world suffer and struggle to provide basic needs for their families? I think we are often afraid to ask these questions because the answers require action not just talk.  I have a new found appreciation for these questions after living in the developing world.  I totally agreed with her assessment of American or Western culture being excessive in so many ways that are actually damaging the people we become and the children we raise.  But I am not interested in just complaining about America.  Believe me I also have a new appreciation for the options and choices bestowed upon me just because I was born here.  But I am interested in questioning they "why."  And not just questioning it but doing something about it.  In community. As I eluded to earlier I have been wanting to get together with other women trying to figure this out. Not because we all have to agree or to make one more thing to check off a list or a rule to follow but because we want to listen to the Lord and struggle with what we hear together. Recently I watched this documentary and a brave woman; who herself escaped a brothel and now fights for other young girls trapped in this horrible, dark place in Cambodia said something that stuck with me.  She said "so many times you say I cannot do everything so I will do nothing." May that never be said of me. 

The community part is also because I know I am a cheater whose pants may be on fire if I do not have some accountability up in here.  And because I have found most things of life are worth doing with others.  Relationally. I am still trying to figure out and pray about how we should do this thang.  I have talked with some of you ladies and am open to ideas.  I am thinking a combo of meeting together at my place (for Chicago folks), prayer walks, a facebook group, a bi-weekly blog topic discussion...hmmmmm. What else?

So, who is in?  Email me, call me, leave a comment and we shall embark to lay down more in order to live more abundantly. 

Who wants to join the mutiny?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Half the Air exhibit

We went on an adventure today. We are prone to do that as often as possible!  We visited an art exhibit that was a big room filled 3/4ths full of white balloons here and it was free!  It was as cool as it sounds. And was only made better because we went with dear friends and ended the outing with stuffing ourselves full of Mexican food.
I always knew I was a loud mouth but geez...
It was awesomeness. "If you have the means I highly recommend checking it out"

check it out!

veiled seme
If you are in or around Chicago this weekend come check out Semeiotic 2012 Veiled; an art gallery of juried pieces part of Andersonville Arts Weekend (the artists involved are listed here and you can check it out on facebook here). Some of my photographs will be part of the gallery...I'm a little super excited!

Tonight is the opening night......See you there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

a traveler in this world's journal

I needed to get out of the house this morning. Reading lesson was like pushing toothpicks under one's nails slowly and deliberately and Evy was running amok occasionally throwing things at us.   I was counting down the minutes until bedtime and it was only 9:45am.   I felt exhausted and all alone.  And at the precise moment I was conscious of those thoughts, it occurred to me that a million other mamas probably feel the exact same way.  Now some are baking cookies while their perfectly behaved offspring cuddle and read Shakespeare but I do not know of any. Most days I cannot find my keys or my phone. But I don't think I am alone even though the enemy wants to make me feel that way some days.  Trying to live this Mama gig under the impression that somehow all the other Mamas out there have it all together is life sucking and makes us lose heart. I need to embrace that I simultaneously love being with my girls; teaching them, watching them discover their world, and guiding them, and at the same time feel the need to give up some mornings before the oatmeal has been heated and the apple juice has been poured. And living in that tension means I need Jesus more in the everyday.

It was one of those mornings today so we skipped out on read aloud (I know, don't tell the homeschool police) and decided to head out for a long walk with no particular destination in mind.   We ended up at a local coffee shop (who was I kidding this was probably a predetermined eventuality). It was a quick pit stop on the way to a park.  I had a Mexican Latte and the guy said he made me a medium even though I only paid for  a small and I could have hugged him.  My latte was heavenly and the girls shared fruit snacks (AKA espresso for the ankle biting set) and we sat on big pillows spilled across the floor.  The place was decorated with different currency and Anni and Evy scoured the joint for Tanzania money to no avail.  We made promises to bring some in on our next stop and then squeezed our stroller, my big camera bag, and Anni's hula hoop (don't ask) out the small glass door.

The sign on the door said "A Traveler's Cafe" and I wanted to cry. It was all a bit apropos and enlightening and ridiculous.  All at once. I don't want to be esoteric about this but it encompassed the swirl of emotions I was feeling. I really do not know why I feel like tearing up at any given moment.  I guess it is the in between-ness.  The where do I fit in or belong? gnawing at my soul.  But it again occurred to me we; who are blood bought by Christ, are travellers in this world.  In this text the words are exiles and foreigners. Being a foreigner is tough and it strips away comforts.

I yearn for community.  The type we experienced in Tanzania.  Community that is packed into buses, teeming out of small brick and mud houses to visit, sitting on mats with plenty of time to just catch up and be together.  I yearn for community; the kind we have experienced in the U.S. at many times but there is no short cut to real community.  I am feeling isolated, yearning for what we had but knowing that I am called to be here.  Fully present.  I am invited to invest again and start over even though it is difficult. I am called to be contented in all circumstances.

There are amazing folks here and I struggle to even express how I feel because I do not want to make anyone here feel like they are not enough.  That is not it at all.  I am just struggling to know how to fit into it all again.  Life has a different flow here and I feel like I forgot the rules and have been out of the game for too long.  J and I tried to discuss our schedule and work out some dates and I felt like my head might burst.  I realized the sheer amount of possibilities here is crushing me.  The plethora of choice actually can be stifling in America when it forces us into self absorption in deciding what to do, what to buy, how to spend our time.  There is just not a lot of choice in the majority world and although I pined for some of that choice when we lived there now I feel chocked by it. Ironic, huh? The lesson in it is one I have been learning for years (I am a slow learner): God is good and He is enough.  Period. No matter what.  

I am trying to find my place between isolation and over commitment.  I never want to confuse busyness with Godliness and it is a real threat that can creep up on us. I want a life dictated by relationships more than by commitments.  Led by love and defined by a desire to seek God's peace and call.  The busyness is hovering around me and with good reason.  If you don't schedule things with folks way in advance you don't really see them but if I have my calendar full I sorta feel like my throat might close instantaneously.  I am seeking the place where our family can thrive and not only survive. There is an underlying sense of purpose and struggle for peace that is just below the surface of this all.  I can feel it too. I want to understand more and more of what really matters and let the rest fall away.
Praying for peace & discernment & more Mexican lattes with friends and family while I fumble through figuring it out,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

so this happened....

Evy and I spent the better part of yesterday at the hospital.  Yeah, no fun.  While I am grateful that we did not have to take a boat to arrive at said hospital it was still a drag. The 411 is that Miss Evy feel out of bed during her nap last Thursday ( I know, I know and we did not take her until Monday......I am considering running for Mother of the Year!).  We really thought she just bruised herself because when she initially fell  she was crying but after we gave her some pain meds and hit the park she seemed fine.  She had full range of motion and we thought we would wait and see.  But as the weekend wore on she did not seem to be feeling better and when we dressed her she would whimper. We gave her pain meds but it was hard to discern if she was really in pain or asking for "medsin" because of the addictive candy taste of that children's Tylenol  Like kid's crack I tell you.  So when she refused to swing on the monkey bars and other death defying feats she usually engages in with eager gaiety we thought we better take her in.  After examining her our paediatrician thought there was no way she had a break of fracture he ordered an Xray to be safe.  And after about 10 minutes a technician came out and said that after hearing the results our doctor wanted us to head straight for the ER.  Never a great sign.  So, the low down is that poor Miss Evy Imani has a complete fracture of the rid mid clavicle and the distal end of the clavicle is also displaced 1.3 mm.  Pole girl!   But the ER doctor said this happens all the time, that is hard to know for sure if it is broken, and kids heal quickly which made me feel a tad bit better about not bringing her in right away.  Only "treatment" is taking pain meds (she is pumped!) and trying to convince her to keep this little sling on.  And clavicle fracture or not you cannot slow this one down.  Never boring around here.
We are praying for quick and complete healing,