Friday, February 28, 2014

Songs of Marriage

We tied white satin bows on the backs of one hundred chairs and the guys rigged scaffolds to hang the tulle. The place was set for an evening for the knot-tiers and better halves and life partners of our church. The stories behind the marriages of those who squeezed around rose-red clothed tables went mostly unspoken. But those committed relationships were honoured as Matthew and Sarah sang love songs that echoed the beating of the married hearts in the room. The young couple shared their sweet and difficult testimony and serenaded us with lyrics that were written of their love but ones with which my husband and I keenly identified. 
It was the words of the songs of marriage that stirred in me a desire to thank my Lord for the gift that my marriage has become and as we nodded in agreement to their beautiful voices, we clasped hands and counted another year of watching God write more music in us and through us.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This Longest of Winters

She tosses black oil sunflower seeds out over her snowy yard from the porch and in seconds, feathered ones from every direction flutter in for their free lunch. I watch from the window and I know that even though this little ritual cheers her heart, this longest of winters is taking it's toll on her. My mom's injuries from the accident have continued to grip her like a thick icicle that won't let go. The surgeon says she won't get well unless she has  invasive surgery that will perhaps put her out for a year. There are other complications to it as well, and so she waits and prays and tries to decide what to do. In the meantime, she does her best to walk the icy roads for exercize, drive with trepidation, and clean her home in stages, as not to incur too much pain. 
A good, full winter with its extreme cold and mounds of snow is normally her favourite. My mom prays for snow and her grandchildren are reminded of her when they hear the song, "Let It Snow". But this time, the relentless harshness of the season has been discouraging. And so, we feed birds, take photos and thank the Lord for how He cares for us like He provides for them. She smiles, watches carefully and exclaims when the cardinals return. They didn't come all summer and now she has a splash of red in her dark winter--the cardinals, saved for such a time as this longest of seasons. Hope flies in and God whispers that He sees her in that little chair, gazing out the window into the bleakness.
More about her accident here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Presenting... Kids At Work

These are the days that inspire our children to achieve a higher standard and these are the days the mommas realize they are not alone in this home educating adventure. We gather every couple of months to present whatever they are working on and preschoolers to highschoolers listen intently to each bold demonstration and every quiet appearance. When these kids know this day is approaching, they work just a little bit harder so they can show off what they've learned. (excuse the phone pics)
Katie shows her alphabet work and we all sing 5 Little Monkeys with her. 
 Sara's project on whales was detailed and lovely.
 Oliver introduced himself like a professional and told how each of his winter art pieces were made. 
 Maysie read her book report on her favourite book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and held up props to help us remember. 
 Emily also showed her art, focusing on slightly different areas than Oliver.
 Eden opened up Magellan's suitcase from his voyage and she read from the perspective of a slave on the ship.
 Each piece was significant to the voyage.
 Emma Grace shared her fox chalk drawing.
 She confidently talked about how she created it and a homemade chalkboard too.
 Calvin read his research report on Hiroshima and told us of the true story of Sadako
 Samantha asked us questions about elephants then told us what she had learned about them. 
 Molly shared her beautiful winter art too.
 Auntie Lisa, Olivia and Mama came to be a part of our presentations. 
 Jack made a stop-motion movie with Lego people and told us how stop-motion is made.
 Caleb showed us the beginnings of his Tudor house from his Renaissance unit.
 Chris is making a mock company on cross-fit training. He showed a video of a Christian Olympian performing.  
 Brooke shared her Shakespeare section of her Renaissance unit...
 and the detailed Globe Theatre she designed to go with it. 
Jake had a book of drawings that were his renditions of Da Vinci's.
He did a great job.
 Jillian proudly held up her fox chalk drawing. 
 Some of our crew :)
Enjoying the presentations
I'm so grateful for these families who parent and teach intentionally and spur me on to be a better mom and home educator.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Open-Adoption Love

She assured me the baby could say, "Ma-ma," so we worked really hard to get her to say it again for the video. I scooted in close to her highchair and that beautiful adoptive-momma and I leaned over her, me with iPhone in hand, encouraging new words from Julie's eight month-old girl. We elicited smiles and coos and yes, even a "Ma-ma" Then I realized I hadn't flipped from photo to video on my camera and we laughed ourselves silly over how both of us are techy-challenged. We ate from the salad bar of the quaint Dutch Mill and then attempted another video.
That gorgeous, dark-skinned, little one put on her show for us and babbled and bubbled all on my now-turned-on video screen. Adoptive-mom, Alicia, gushed over her daughter, cheering on each chattery sound, "Say, Mama," Alexandria! Say hi to Momma-Julie!" Allie babbled more and Alicia sweetly roused, "What else do you want to say to Momma-Julie? Come on, what else?"
I shot a quick peek from my screen to Alicia, and internally noted yet another moment of wisdom from this new mother. My husband and I had fasted and prayed and sensed that this baby was not to be ours and Julie had felt peace with that. The Lord led her to exactly the couple He had chosen. Every time I see them together, I perceive God's plan so much clearer. And now, here was this  woman sacrificially and lovingly sharing her child's first precious word with the birth-mom. Would I have been so accommodating, so giving and kind? I think I would have wrapped that baby in my arms, twisted around and wished away a birth-mom's consistent presence.

I gazed at Allie, who was now banging the highchair with chubby hands, while Alicia giggled at her beloved human gift. I ended the video that I had been creating for Julie and again God whispered in my spirit that His plan was perfect. I was to remain connected to spunky, quirky, loveable birth-mom as a mentor and friend and this prudent woman would raise her baby. I hugged Alicia and Allie goodbye in the parking lot and texted Julie to watch for a soon-coming video.

The sun sparkled on the snow as I drove home that day and I pondered the lesson God was teaching me that I would never have fathomed in my own limited experience. I had based all my reasoning on the culture's norm in these situations and not by His great love. Of course the Father's limitless love would intend for the inclusion of birth-mom and adoptive-mom lavishing affection on a child in harmony! If it's as beautiful a story as this one, of course! I'm astounded by how obvious this is, now that I witness Alicia's willingness to include Julie in Alexandria's life. Furthermore, she welcomes her knowing Allie's future questions are better answered with her birth-mom available. I remembered the photo I took of Julie that Alicia had developed and framed in Alexandria's nursery. I stood amazed then too.
All things work together for good for those who love the Lord. I am still learning, but I know I've become a better momma because of this entire experience. I believe healthy boundaries are important, but God reveals those in each individual, open, partially-open and closed adoptions. At this time in my life, though, I am fully aware He wanted me to comprehend openness so I could understand His all-encompassing love. He adopted me! I'm so grateful Alicia and her husband are teaching me so I don't have to experience a painful lesson or hurt a precious birth-mom in my selfishness. Although we are not pursuing adoption at this time, I glorify God for people who live in a way that demonstrates the Father's love.