The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Foto Friday

Take That You Salamander!!

After 3 sessions in swim lessons, with the promise of goggles if the pending end result was a pass into Sunfish, he finally did it. He passed the Salamander swim level.

At the end of each month long session, there was a promised reward of ice cream. Simply for the effort put forth, (and there was a lot of effort put forth) there would be a small token of "A for effort kiddo"at the end. But the big dream upon achieving a "pass," was and always has been the promise of goggles.

So, as they exited the pool yesterday and Noah looked way up at his instructor with sweet, sincere eyes as only this kid has, he asked "do I get goggles?". His instructor looked at him as though he had rapidly grown a third eye.

"Don't worry about it" I said, as I whipped the report card out of the life guard's hand. (He was only holding the fate our how the remainder of our afternoon/evening would unfold.)

One quick peek at the "register in" line at the bottom of the written feedback and a grin swept over my face. SUNFISH. Finally, after 2 previous experiences of looking at "register in Salamander", this was the perfect ending to a soggy day. This was the ticket to his first pair of goggles.

Happy swimming little fish. I am so proud of you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In An Attempt To Distract Me...Advent Conspiracy

In a desperate attempt to stop checking my email obsessively, in hopes of a "yes you did" email from Imagine, I thought I'd post our first Advent Conspiracy video. By "our" I mean the clip we chose to share as our lead up to the first of four Advent Sundays at Warmland.

I have had the privilege of selecting the clips we will show over the next month of Sundays (and the one this past week as a "warm up"). And I have to say, I am pumped. Trying to tie in the four concepts to...
  1. Worship Fully
  2. Spend Less
  3. Give More
  4. Love All
...was no small task.

Yet each time I watched (and re-watched) the clips to try and match each one to the four concepts, I felt privileged and also guilty for our wealth. Not only material wealth but for the clean water that sat beside the computer for me to sip as I scrutinized each one over and over. The fact that I could see through my nearly full glass and that I didn't have to walk anywhere to get it was enough to nearly push me over.

So, Warmland is dreaming big this season.

I just got off the phone with our Pastor and after he suggested a specific financial goal, (because on a global level we're raising money to build a well,) my response to him was that he has more faith than I. He laughed, as I then realized that I can dream big, too. And if our goal is big we will work harder to achieve it. Plus, his point to me was that any amount we give (big or small) won't be noticeable to us, in comparison to the difference it will make in the lives of those who will benefit from clean water. A hundred bucks (or more) is not going to change us. It won't cause us to live differently - and if it does then GOOD. Because what's the point in all this if I'm not gaining a better understanding of the global crisis and sacrificing for others so they can live the way they should.

And, isn't this a part of the Great Commission? Isn't this how we live it out? I am pretty sure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Amharic Kids Support Imagine

Located in the States, I just found out that Amharic Kids will be financially supporting Imagine Adoption by giving 15% of all purchased orders between November 29 and December 5 to the agency. This applies to almost everything purchased on their, place an order between the above dates and Amharic Kids will send a free pack of Ethiopia Traditional Art Greeting Cards (which I happen to think are really great!).

The link to items which will profit Imagine will be posted on the site a (pre)adoptive parent or as a parent who wants to educate their children not only about Ethiopia but also about different cultures, races, and heritages this is the perfect opportunity!

I am continually amazed at the sincerity, generosity, and support offered nationally by many who don't know the families involved in this. I guess if we're on the hunt for a little Silver Lining, this would be it?!

Thanks For That, ABC

You may have heard of, or even seen by now, ABC's newest creation of a show "Find My Family", which aired/premiered last night. Created by the producers of Extreme Home Makeover, from what I hear they've gone to about the same extremes. (And if you've seen the latter you'll know that too much of a good thing is in no way, good.)

The show focuses on birth families and their search for the children they never knew, who were adopted out in what I would guess to be closed adoptions. They don't address the years of worth and love offered to the adopted children by their families.
For years, the adoptive community has sought to rectify the past vilification of birth-parents as people who gave away their children. Birth parents are now widely recognized as the First Parents of children, deserving of love, respect, and understanding. It is in no one's best interest to turn the tables and begin to portray adoptive families as second-class, or less-than' a family created biologically. This new series is a step back for everyone.

I won't go in to it too much, as I've honestly not watched it. Nor will I give it the time of day watch it. My time is far too valuable to be wasted in anguish. And that's not my belief that I am "too good" for anything, it's just the reality of the fact that there are children without anything, who are starving and my time is far better spent working to do good for them. If this series anything like the glorified episodes of Extreme Makeover I'd likely leave angry. It's hurtful and damaging to the adopted child and a tragic reflection of Hollywood's negative impact on our society. Don't take it at face value...or like me (and many many other adoptive or pre-adoptive parents, just don't watch it).
Unfortunately, the general public's opinion and understanding of adoption is largely shaped by the media. ABC's exploitive new series will focus on the most extreme issues in adoption, and is sure to have an effect on how our children's teachers, extended family, and friends view and accept adoption.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Movin' up there in the teens, fourteen is looking more promising that it's predecessor.

Cummon November 30.

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Adoption Day

Is Today.

Interesting that it's (also) International Children's Day, as stated by the U.N.

I'm thankful for how far we've come since that horrible horrible day in mid-July and I'm ecstatic to see where this journey will go and how it will evolve over the next 10 days. What a true testament to those who have worked together, so hard, giving sacrificially of their time and resources. Push on, I say. For the sake of children, who each deserve the chance at a happy, healthy and dignified life.

Roll on November 30.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brainstorming Conspiracy

Are you like me?

Do you find it hard to brainstorm 2D on a computer?

I just can't do it.

Obviously, I'm a technology lover, (hence the blog, my main waves of communication being email, work done mainly from through databases etc). I don't think I will ever be able to brainstorm on a computer, in a word doc, or in bullet point form. It just ain't gonna happen. I feel too restricted.

It's like when kids draw or colour pictures. How often do they create far greater work on a large, blank sheet, than when they are given a small 4x4 paper or "just" a colouring book. It all has a time a place but we like big, empty, tabula rasa spaces on which to work out our ideas and allow the creativity flow around here...most of the time.

So, when given a whack of packing paper by friends we set to work using it efficiently. The creative juices surge when crayola and packing paper meet. We eat our meals and snacks on our art, because the paper pretty much covers the area of our table. Don't like it? Just use it to start a fire, heat the room, and grab a fresh sheet.

So, when I was asked to begin brainstorming on how our church will approach Advent Conspiracy I grabbed a sheet of the big white stuff and got to work...yes, with crayons. Yes, alone.

There's something special about Crayola. The waxy chubby crayons bring me back to when everything just seemed easy, simple, child-like. And the best way often to be creative is to set ourselves in a child-like mindset.

It worked. My computer on one side, (navigating good sites and great video clips) and the basket of crayons on the other, I jotted down what I could find online and in my head. Oh - and in my heart.

And what I found excited me at first and then scared me. You see, there are literally dozens upon dozens of (Relief) Organizations out there. They are all doing something great. They are all very well intentioned. They are all making some sort of difference. A majority is focusing on the water crisis in Africa and also on (the welfare of) children.

And that frightened me.

Because here's the kicker:

The more knowledge I posses, the more responsible I become to take action.

Maybe it shouldn't scare me. Maybe I should face it head on and just go for it.

But what do I go for exactly?

You see, currently there are around 884,000,000 (that's nearly a billion) people in Africa who have no access to clean water. That number is anticipated to sit at 2 billion by 2050 and while 40 years may seem a long ways off, it's really not that far in the grand scheme.

So how does one go about making a difference so-to-speak?

I don't know yet. I'm working on it. One day, one idea, one focus at a time.

Because it's now my responsibility as an aware individual and I would be remiss to ignore the opportunity to leave this earth a better place than when I arrived.

How are you scheming? What exciting Advent Conspiracy plans do you have churning in your mind? What will you teach your kids? How will you share with others that Christmas, true Christmas is more than empty consumerism.

We're working on lots. I cannot wait to see what pans out. How our congregation, our family, our friends rise to the challenge to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all - this will make a difference somewhere.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If I were to need to get little girl toys, I would get this.

Well, not that one exactly b/c I can't seem to digest the thought of a $50 kids' stroller. But I would ask Ben to make her one. He could do that right? Doesn't look too hard. He's a smart guy. Plus, I'd get to chose the fabric.

And, not sure if you've noticed the Little Travellers on the side bar but they are just the coolest things. And I'm not in to "things". However, when 100% of the proceeds go to helping those with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, you can't help but think they are just perfect.
Stocking stuffers you ask? Why of course. And what a story you will have to share with any one who asks you about the individually, handmade traveller sitting on your diaper bag, strap, coat, or scarf. What about your kid's hat? We've done that before...remember the adoption pin? That one provokes a lot of conversations. It was perfect.

I'm placing my Little Travellers order tomorrow.

Why don't you do the same?

It will be the easiest life-changing decision you will make all week. I promise.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Goals Achieved

I have tears in my eyes as I type this.

BDO has just updated their site and it is fantastic news. The 3 Imagine delegates who have just returned from Ethiopia attained all goals set forth prior to their departure 12 days ago.

To say this is anything less than miraculous would be an understatement.

I'll share the biggies...

MOWA reassured the group that they are pleased and looking forward to continue working with Imagine Adoption.

Orphanage Updates:
Two orphanages have re-signed with the new Imagine. One of those two orphanages is comprised of 3 orphanages. The contracts stretch a 2 year period. They anticipate referrals starting sooner than originally anticipated!!
There are ongoing negotiations with two other orphanages than those mentioned above.

Key Staff:
Relationships have been re-established with the three key staff members working in Ethiopia.

Transition Home:
A new transition home has been established for children who [will be] referred, after acceptance of referral is made. It is located just around the corner from the hospital where children receive medical care.

Head on over and read for yourself, the Update on trip to Ethiopia - November 10, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only 199 To Go

We joked last night (ah hem, Ben joked - I am far too nervous to joke) that now that our Retainer and $$ is in the mail there are only approximately 199 more needed.

Come on 199.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Slick, Sunny, Saturday

In an attempt to not think about the only thing I seem to be able to think about, we headed out to the park for some real Vitamin D.

It was crisp, cold, and calming.

But please, someone talk me down, (or distract me).

I don't think I can hold out for 23 more days...

Please Conspire With Me Again

You may remember Advent Conspiracy from last year. I am passionate about this true reason for Christmas and the organization is fantastic.

The notion to post about Advent Conspiracy has been lurking in the back of my mind over the past couple of weeks but I didn't want to jump the gun.

Except now I can't help it.

I am moved again. Near tears, I am reminded of the materialism that seems to quietly embed itself all year and then show it's true, nasty face as it evidences itself around now.

So here we go.

Along the lines of the Be Rich Project which Katie is talking about, I would ask that you would join along with me to celebrate Advent Conspiracy in your own way.

Be touched as you watch the 2009 video and dig deep down inside to see what you can challenge yourself, your family, and your friends to do. We all have a responsibility to leave this world better than when we entered it. What a simple way to worship. What an easy way to better mankind. What a perfect example to set for your kids. What a contagious way to spread joy as the season approaches.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Perfection Of His Timing

And just when the load seemed nearly too great to bear, I arrived home this morning to the most overwhelmingly welcome of emails.

The supplementary Retainer Agreement sat in my inbox, just waiting to opened. Devoured. Savoured.

It even contained a few surprises...we will not have to wait until February 2010 to know if the agency will succeed. We will know by November 30. And because I know your math skills are just that great, I don't have to tell you that is only 24 days from today.

The bigger bonus still...the jackpot if you will...referrals can be realized sooner (than April 2010), should enough supplementary retainers and their accompanying fees be received before the deadline.

Please pray that there are enough of us willing this to succeed. Please pray for the hope that is this journey. Please pray for patience as we see the month through.

This is our final hurdle before our children can become ours. This is exhaustingly, exhilaratingly, nervously, giddily, excruciating.

This is it.

This is our make it or break it deal.

We can do this.

I know it.


I'm getting antsi.

Ok there you have it.

I'm still being patient but with perhaps a tad more edge.

You see, the new retainers were supposed to be out the week of October 19, then it was the week of October 26. And in no uncertain way do I want to have this thing rushed. It's huge. It's the first step (well actually about the fiftieth step) to the rest of our journey. But another unknown wait is really really tough.

And I'm antsi.

So, against my better judgment yesterday I emailed our agency. I say against my better judgment because I know they have about a quadrillion (yes, that many) things better and more constructive to do with their time than to answer this Mama's simple, impatient question.

I digress.

I filled the email with thanks, praise, and encouragement, then shared my concern/question.

When could we expect the new Retainer Agreement?

The reply...

It is still in it's final stages of being drafted.

And for me, right now this is enough. Simply put, it has to be. And, if in a moment of peace and rational reflection I contemplate the plethora of other directions this bankruptcy could have taken, I am content. The waste of energy expended on any other emotion would be just that: a waste.

While the distance is long. The time is great. The effort is incredible. The ending, our ending will be a happy one.

It's just gonna take a little longer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More Stuff On Swine

So, the guy (ok, the Fabulous Doctor) who helped get Matt and Steph around North America last year. You remember the journey? The 17,000km run?! Yes, he helped their poor aching bodies ache no more. He established relationships and appointments with doctors, naturopaths, and chiropractors around our continent.

Dr Don, we call him. It's not his last name but he's just not that kind of guy. I'll tell you what kind of guy he is though: A Brilliant One.

He's one of those doctors who will use what most doctors will grab immediately as you arrive at their office with your sicky symptoms...however, he won't jump to those chemical filled medications immediately. He won't even head over to that realm of medicine as a second alternative. He'll first offer many many many other avenues through which you can "cure" yourself. The guy is genius. No kidding. What he has done for just the few people I know who have gone to see him is incredible.

I digress.

So, for swine flu. An easy way to kill it before it enters your system?

Salt Water my friends.

Yes, gargle and rinse your mouth with the age old, cheap as dirt, salt and water combo we all know and despise.

The bacteria is killed in your mouth before it has the opportunity to enter and compromise your system. (Once it's in your system you're done for but if you can get at them before this then you're set. And all that hand washing and sanitizing will help keep them away from your system, right?)

So, gargle in the morning and gargle in the evening. It will be a tough one to get the kids to believe it...and I don't blame them. I'm trying to concoct fun ways to get my guys to rinse and spit. Our kids think straws are cool and we rarely bring them out so I'm thinking this may be the way to go. Or maybe a fun "spit bowl" they get to use only with this stuff? Or maybe even a sticker or something. It seems well worth it don't you think?

Upon talking to my Mum about it last night, she reminded me that even if I can't get them to participate in this routine, if I am around them with a bacteria free mouth that will make a difference. My kisses will be germ free therefore negating the possibility of passing along any nasty bugs. (You know, like the sore throat I've been nursing for 4 days now.)

So there you have it, all you have to do is invest in salt.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.
Rainer Maria Rilke,
Das Stundenbuch

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scared Of Swine Flu.

Ok, so if you're like me you're thinking about H1N1 way too much.

Each time you leave and then re-enter the house, you wash or sanitize your kids' hands. Each time they enter and exit the destination of choice (play group, school, grocery store) you sanitize again. You double check that they wash their hands before each meal; you've thrown out last year's still-good playdough; you've just finished washing their kitchen set toys. Or, ah hem, you've just had them finish washing their kitchen set toys. Because, you know, this way their hands have just been immersed in sudsy (therefore germ-free) warm water. Plus, aren't we all looking for creative indoor activities this time of year?!

Ok, maybe this is all just me...

But if you're friends with this girl, you have had your fears squelched...well, at least appeased a little.

And if you are friends with her, you know to take her advise and to read up!

So, my kids are now on Vitamin D (which I freely admit they've never been on before in their lives). Call me a bad Mum or call me a super duper healthy food feeder. Either way, I feel my kids get the majority of what they need through nuts, veggies, and fruit. We're also outside lots and getting fresh air.

However, with the panic that seems to have set in I am upping the daily dose of multi-vitamins and vitamin D...from, well, nada to what I would consider a safe, good dose. And, lucky for me (hopefully you're the same) my kids know that all they've got to do is stick out their tongues and I'll leave a couple drops of Vit D (a taste-free, slightly oily liquid) to suck down. The motivation is that the star shaped, orange flavour multi-vitamin is to follow. It's all natural too, so I don't worry about any sugar or food colouring additive.

If you're looking for a couple of good brands I would highly recommend SISU (mini vits are our multis) and Nutristart is the brand of Quick D that we use. The Quick D is a small (12.5mL) vial but each drop boasts 500IU so it will last you 365 drops. That's pretty great bang for your $12.95 buck. (Ours were purchased at Lifestyles Market but all the health food stores seem to be carrying SISU.)

It's pretty simple.

Just make your kids eat healthy. If they're hungry they will eat. So, hold off on the junk and offer different healthy options.

Wash their hands.

Discourage anything in the mouth except that which is edible.

Take them outside for a breathe of fresh air.

Up the Vitamin D dose.

It's worth it, I would say.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Because I Have Kids

I remember visiting my aunt and uncle when I was young...maybe 13...perhaps it was the trip I was 16. Regardless, I specifically recall a conversation my aunt and I about kids in the house, in her house. I'll preface this by saying my aunt is a phenomenal mother. Her kids are wonderful and she's just one of those people around whom kids are immediately comfortable. She was always encouraging and embraced the differences each of her (4) kids possessed.

Ok, our conversation: I remember we talked about her kids' artwork. Her counters were covered (not in a crazy cluttered way) with artwork and other kiddie paraphernalia...lunch bags, tupperware and the like. And she liked it that way. Everything was clean. And, she was happy with a bit more mess because it reflected the reality of her life.

And then she shared with me about her good friend, her neighbor, who also had a small handful of offspring. Yet, the difference between their houses was night and day. Her friend had no real sign of kids around. The counters were pristine. The pictures on the walls were professional. Every thing had it's place and every place had a nice looking thing. Her house looked very very perfect.

But it didn't reflect her life. And personally, I find that very sad.

Don't get me wrong. We all know I'm Type A. I like my counters clean. I like to walk from the kitchen to the laundry room without tripping over 5 matchbox cars on the way. I get that warm fuzzy feeling when I walk into the boys' room and everything is folded, put away, and the floor is dust bunny-free.

That said...
I. Have. Kids.

And my life needs to reflect that. Because if you can walk in to my house, and there is no sign of kids, then there is no sign of real life. My kids are my life. And that's not a bad thing.

So, while trying to figure out ways to make our house, into our home and give it that clean, Type A, yet kid-friendly feel that embraces the culture in our life, I found this idea...

...if you can look past the shag, you can see the real beauty in their work.

And the volumes this simple display speaks.

I can't site the blog I found it on. So I won't claim any sort of copyright laws or even say it was "my idea". It's really basic. A simple concept. But it shows my kids that I value them and I value the time and effort they put into their work. So even though we have a tack board in the laundry room full of their artwork, it is still in the laundry room. What does it say when I put stuff up in a place no one will see it unless I point them there? Maybe I'm over analyzing. But, I think they're going to clue in if I keep all that they make hidden so-to-speak, and present only "perfect, good looking stuff" out for guests and family to admire.

And thanks to a little sticky tack, a few clothes pins, and several minutes of their hard work, (let's not kid ourselves my boys have the attention span of a puppy) my kids know how much I value them. Without speaking a work, we are reminded daily that this is a kid-friendly house with kid-friendly walls. We are a home that welcomes children. We embrace the chaos that is this life. This is our life. It's messy. It's loud. And sometimes, it's not perfect. Actually, it's never truly perfect. But it's ours.

And that's how it should be.