Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas and an Upcoming Surprise

Christmas brings the ultimate Gift, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. And, we get to have His Spirit reside in us. Are you kidding me? The Creator of the universe allows this? Desires it even? Flabbergasting. 

He knew that while we lived in a fallen world full of twists and turns, sickness and death that we'd desperately need His Spirit to guide us and comfort us and to reveal answers to our questions and our longings. Our hearts ache to spend much more time with our little Ashanti, but the Lord knows what His good and perfect will is, so we trust Him and thank Him for the moments we do get to have her. One day He'll ultimately rescue us, and we'll all be together in eternity, but for now, we can experience communion with Him if we seek Him wholeheartedly. Gratitude.
In the meantime, His kingdom on earth continues to flourish, and we are blessed to be a part of serving others on this homeward journey. Friendship Club has been a big part of our lives for about fourteen years, and our developmentally disabled friends teach us weekly what it means to honour God. They simply trust, simply love, simply grow, and simply believe. When we are weary of preparing, attending, and just doing our schedule, we always drive away from there a little humbler, and full of a little more joy. 

Growing God's kingdom is never lacking in work, and therefore, neither are the astounding opportunities that result. I received a call that there was a pregnant girl who was in need of a family to support her. She is twenty years old, a full-time student and already has a one year-old. She is a Muslim and has lost family ties because of her choice not to abort her children. Enter: the baby-loving Vanderkruks. God knows :)  This little girl is due the first week in January, and we have promised to partner with this sweet, responsible momma when her baby arrives. Only the Lord knows the details of how it will all transpire, but while we wait, we enjoy dinners with Momma and babysitting darling big sister. What an exciting surprise from God in the midst of the heartache!
  
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:15

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Growing and Learning and Presenting

Change must come. Children don't stay little. And, learning is compounded upon past learning. I look around our small homeschool group, the ones my children grew up with, the ones they've loved, and been loved by. I steal candid shots when they're not looking, and when they are, a few straighten up and smile, while others hide their faces and bemoan yet another photo. There are a few newer families to our posse, but with most we've been presenting our projects since they could barely spell their names. A couple have moved onto high schools away from home. Nine years of homeschooling. My heart overflows. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Entombed

Entombed and protected in ice, our world now sparkles with the calm and light after the storm. A little like life, don't you think?

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 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.