Friday, November 4, 2016

Scuffling

Her feminine little work boots scuffled through the tissue-paper crunch of fiery painted leaves, alerting my hearing to an unappreciated sound. I had overlooked the fragrance, colour and crisp loveliness of fall out of fear and selfishness. I missed some of autumn this year because of dreading the winter. When the last leaves were drifting to their final resting place, I glanced back at a season I had hurried through, and mostly stayed indoors for, and I longed to have a re-do. The picture of life became clearer as I realized I can miss what God is offering me in the present by being so busy planning and thinking about what may come. Although, I love many aspects of winter, and I don't have much to fear of the future, that I am aware of, I allowed myself to become less than grateful for the serenity and brilliance of fall days. With all my normally regular woodsy walks and practicing thankfulness, I don't know how I succumbed to this attitude--but I did. 
Looking back at photos--the very few I took--I regret not savouring, and yet, I know I can apply that gratitude to this moment, this season, no matter how long and cold it may seem. There is a gift in the everyday, in the little things, in the wilderness, in the seemingly less beautiful. And, so I pray for the wisdom and joy and openness to embrace today. Scuffling helps. Watching children helps. Gratitude helps.

Gratitude:

1995. fire in the leaves
1996. Holy Spirit whispers that wake me up
1997. new seasons, new chances for thankfulness
1998. cold weather (yep, speaking words of life!)
1999. how children see the beauty in every season
2000. how I blinked, and my toddlers jumping in the leaves turned into big kids still jumping

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Reunion

We said, "Amen," and one hour later I received a text answering that very prayer: Ashanti's momma was connecting to say we could see her. I was a four and a half hours drive away at a girlfriends' weekend, but worked out all the details to be back home to collect my family and race to the meeting location. A group-hug and blessings were placed on me as I left the women who cared enough to pour their hearts out to God on our behalf. 

Terry, the kids and I speed-walked through the hallways of the mall, and Oliver was the first to reach our precious girl in the food court. Ashanti turned at his voice and grabbed his waist and held onto him with all her might. One by one, the rest of us caught up to him and she jumped from arms to arms clinging to each of our necks with silent tears brimming in her sweet black eyes. 
We hung out for over two hours in that place until every store closed and there was barely a soul left. After eight weeks of tears from one person or another missing her terribly, our tears of joy replaced those of loss. We drank in every word and every smile and every hug until it was this nearly-four-year-old's bedtime.We squeezed her and her mother goodbye...until next time...and strolled back to our truck, tears stinging, but hearts full and grateful.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Two Barbies

Soap-caked and scraggly the black Barbie and her white Barbie sister lay at the bottom of the dried up tub. Abandoned, and slightly stuck to the inner side where they were less conspicuous, it had been two days since they bounced and swam with force by three year-old hands through the warm bubbly water. I stood staring at them and my eyes burned with the filling of another set of tears. I had scrubbed her chubby body quickly while explaining where she was about to go, that she was leaving us for awhile. She had cried and I cheerfully chatted on about all the fun she would have, first at her Grandma's, then to Mommy's (where she loves to visit anyway).  I told her how spoiled and loved she would be. I was careful not to let a smidgen of my heartache slip through my voice. It would be unfair. She wouldn't understand, it would confuse her, and it wouldn't be fair to her momma who was taking her back. Two Barbies--one black, one white--a symbol of two families united. Now, as they lay in my tub, her absence was even more obvious. I left them there and walked out of the bathroom. 



Prayer is a powerful thing. We knew when we brought little Ashanti into our home two years ago that it would be prayer that would sustain us through the tantrums and sleepless nights. We knew crying out to God would be our only choice when we were faced with big questions. It would be deep and sincere prayers of gratitude that we would utter because this exuberant and adorable girl changed our world and our family for the better. And, now, it will be in prayer that we feel our Father hold us tight as we mourn the everyday loss of her sweet presence. It was prayer that took her from us too. Good prayers. Fasting and petitioning God for His wisdom for what was right for this tiny person. We felt that growing up with her birth-momma would help her to know where she came from, that the woman who brought her into this world loved her and wanted to raise her, that she had a heritage. We knew we had been a good temporary substitute, but we prayed for strength for the day her momma would parent her full-time. And that day came. 


We sat around the table on the deck last night and my husband asked our children how they were feeling about Ashanti leaving. There were honest responses about annoying little preschooler behaviour they wouldn't miss, and then there were the stories. The stories made us laugh and then the voice imitations of her raspy little sounds led to even more hysterics. I reminisced about all the surprising and beautiful things Ashanti's mother taught me about her African culture. We had agreed and we had disagreed on a few things. She had questioned Canadian ways, but we always respected each other. 

Our girl was deemed our "goddaughter" by her mother and we had stood by at Ashanti's dedication to the Lord when she was just a few months old. This was a very important title to her mother, she said, and so, she has promised to share her little girl's future with us. How loving and giving of our God to allow us the privilege of rearing a child for a couple of years and then keeping us connected to her so we can see the profound things He will do in her as she grows. All good answers to prayer, no matter how the emotions wash over in this moment.


Two Barbies still lay in the bathtub. One is black and one is white. Two families are united and God is in the middle of it all. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Goodbye Grade Eight

Music composition flows from her like water as her tiny nailpolished fingers strum her guitar. We catch on to the songs if we listen very closely. She doesn't like to perform, which disappoints all of us who ache to hear the last one she wrote, and maybe even the one before that? But no, we must remember the little diddies from rare moments of her singing aloud in our presence. When that happens, we're all walking around humming the cute or profound tunes Molly writes. 

This talent from her Creator was the focus of my speech at the two-family graduation dinner. Molly begged to not have to walk across a stage in front of a crowd like her big sister did. So, we arranged for our girl and her friend, Elizabeth, also a homeschooled grade eight grad, to have some pampering and dress shopping and then a small ceremony with grandparents. My mom and I gave short speeches and so did Elizabeth's mom and then we presented elementary school certificates. I touched on some of my girl's accomplishments and leadership roles, her talents and loves. But, it was that song writing that I was feeling most drawn to as I was composing my speech. My guess (and prayer) is that the Lord will use this one in a big way. 
We love you, Molly! We pray you will always listen for the Lord's voice in all you do and follow Him with all your heart. Congratulations and have fun homeschooling in grade nine! Ha! See you soon  ;)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Finding the Bluebirds

I grasp Annie's arm and stifle a giggle. We spot him at the exact same moment and two sets of binoculars pop up and lend us a nearly perfect view of the golden-crowned kinglet. She verbally describes the lores, the wings, the stripes on his crown. The description helps to confirm that what we're seeing is really the species we believe it is. We high-five and are eager to carry on down the path, but a tiny three year-old hand pulls on mine and I'm reminded we've been here quite awhile. I'm grateful she lasted this long.


We do the bird count as we meander back; "ruby-crowned, golden-crowned, horned lark, meadow lark..." It had been a successful hour of birding in our estimation. But, I wanted a bluebird, the sweet whistle-chirping beauty with the blazing cobalt feathers. Of course, I'd have to pick a dwindling species to be my favourite. Later that day I'd find him and even capture him with my camera--a little extra gift from God, I am certain. And while I am overjoyed in catching sight of new and returning flying creatures, I'm always on the lookout for my darling bluebirds.

Friday, April 22, 2016

All The Rage

They're smelly, puffy, sticky and cheap, and my children want them OH.SO.BADLY. It's all the rage in our world. They're sticker albums, and it's the thing that makes them do their chores quickly and whip through more pages of schoolwork than ever before. Every kid wants to trade them and my sister and I have got this thing mastered. We figure it's an easy reward and even an inexpensive gift and so, we scour dollar stores and craft stores for the latest and greatest. Sticker power is in our hands and we're rolling with it! What we didn't expect, after I'd found my old album from grade seven, is that we'd join the exchange and the competition would end up being between the mommas--history repeats itself :)

serious business
 smelling the "smellies"
"I'd like this one, please."
 a few of my favourites 
Holly's son, Ben begged her to get a book to trade with him since his brother, Sam became more of a collector than a trader--AND, he was not about to trade with 2 year-old sister, Clara, who was not a "real person". Holly obliged, and thus began the sister trade. All of our kids were thrilled. While I joined the fun simply to make my kiddos happy, Holly actually has a page of "untradeables" and won't budge on them!
 Oliver and Ben became daring and traded whole pages! Wish I'd caught the laughter over those deals.
 involving Clara and trying to teach her that she has to give one in return
Emily being sweet with her little cousin
A page from my old album (31 years old!). Remember these?
Did you trade stickers as a kid? Do your kids trade or collect?

The sticker rage is growing and it has spread to our co-op group and gym class. No one can wait to get out and trade. They're learning who makes the best deals, who really is just a collector and who gives away for free. The momma-chatter is now centred around which store and which aisle and what chores did your kids do before you woke up this morning? Simple joys. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Don't Worry, Mommy's Coming Back"

She's talking to her dolly about how she's going to go but she'll be back. Her dolly is telling her she doesn't want to be sad. The sleepy girl notices I'm listening and then she turns and giggles. She loves it when I sing, "My Mommy Comes Back" and sometimes repeats it to her babies. Quiet moments before bedtime happening here, and I'm thankful. 

Gratitude:
1992. how she loves her babies, just like my girls did
1993. that smile, every time 
1994. hanging out quietly after a very busy and noisy day