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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rejoicing In March

February, while it may not have brought all we wanted was still a really great month...don't you think? For us it went fast. Complete with swim lessons, playdates, better Mama happenings, and sun. Full of walks, blossoming flowers, and purposeful activity.

May March be as full.

I met a friend last year who, in the short time we've known each other has taught me much. This type of person is interesting. So dynamic and intricate yet down to earth. I commented to her one day that the way in which she is able to be so genuinely happy and joyful for others is truly admirable. You've never seen anything like it. Trust me. She basks in the happiness others are experiencing in their lives, regardless of what is going on in hers. (Don't get me wrong, hers is great...but she has kids and so with that, as with every walk of life there are up and down days.)

I remember we hadn't known each other for any great length of time when I shared with her that referrals had started. In December. Four months ahead of The Proposal timeline.

She stood there and tears welled in her eyes. Not a, wow that's great news or great or, when will you get yours?. This was genuine. Even if she had tried, she couldn't have faked it that quick. And I was blown away.

I recall the moment I found out about the number of referrals in January and thought to myself, I have to call her. (And of course I did.) And the sheer joy in her voice (I am grinning from ear to ear right now, she told me) was almost too much. I could literally feel the excited anticipation oozing through the phone lines.

So I asked her one day what her secret Because, it's a real gift to be able to be so authentically happy for others. And what she shared struck me and has since led me to purposefully, diligently, and unceasingly try to imitate this order for it to come as naturally to me as it does to her.

She explained that simply put, we are to rejoice with others. We are to find joy in the joy of others. Because if we don't rejoice then we are missing out. If we do not find elation in the success of our friends, our family, our acquaintances, we are basically being wasteful.

Rejoice with others.

Simple yet profound.

In your loss or a sadness, rejoice.

In your frustration, rejoice.

In your anxiety over unfairness or inequality because "they" have what you want, rejoice.

In your apathy, rejoice.

Rejoice with others and you will in fact find joy.

Perhaps not the way you intended.

Perhaps not tangibly the way you hoped.

Perhaps not how you anticipated.

But you will find joy.

Trust me.

I struggle with this. I find it hard to be genuinely pleased for others when I feel left out. I struggle to be pleased for others when I feel they are being gifted something that should be mine. I work hard. I strive to be helpful, honest, loving, generous. And I am pretty good at being happy for others. But I sincerely lack the quality of genuinely rejoicing with those who rejoice. And I want to be better at it. I'm not fake. I don't "put on" emotion. But I don't fully embrace the success of others to the extent that I should.

And this is a choice, folks. I choose selfishness over joy when I don't fully embrace the opportunity of rejoicing with others.

So as we open the doors to March so, too, I will open the door to genuine rejoicing.

I don't want to miss the opportunity to bless others through their joy. I don't want to miss the chance to smile if the alternative is to sulk.

Here we go.

The goal is rejoicing with others each day.

And March is one of those long months. You know, 31 days and all.

But each day I will seek the opportunity to genuinely, fully rejoice with someone. And, if opportunity doesn't come knocking (you know, on those rainy inside days) I'll seek it out. Maybe it'll be a phone call. Maybe a stop, kneel, and pray kind of moment. Maybe an encouraging email (I'll try to steer from those ones - they just don't seem as personal).

But each and every day in March I will rejoice.

Today I chose to be genuinely, intentionally, joyfully rejoicing with others.

Because it won't hurt me to be a better friend. It won't be a bad thing to set a great example for our kids. It won't harm anyone if I were to actually grow as a person.

Tomorrow, I begin 31 days of rejoicing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Home Ec Saturday

Last week I ordered this pattern.

Free shipping was the icing on the cake.

I found it (in Canada) here. And I will use this as my podium to rant and rave about Pink Panda Fabrics. They were great...I received an email answer to a question sent a mere hour or so earlier. The pattern came via snail mail (which is always fun!) within about 4 days, too!

I've noticed they are now sold out but you can always buy one from Bolt Neighborhood. No free shipping but just as efficient service.

This Tunic was fast, fun, and I was able to adjust it to fit this tiny Mama's size. I started last night and have been chipping away in between Gold Medal wins and 4 year old parties. I'm looking forward to finding a more exciting print...this one was a test product and although I am really really pleased with how it turned out, I'm thinking more vibrant colours are in order. (I added the back ties to give it a little extra time, I'll just adjust the pattern before cutting.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

For Now

  • it is pouring
  • i am feeling like a wet dog due to my negligence...note to self: always look outside before heading out for a run
  • the thought that february has flown by has me smiling...not at time lost but at the knowledge of time enjoyed
  • there is no bi-monthly update this week...that was last week...and it will be next week, too
  • prayerfully and hourly, i think of the 3 Imagine staff in Ethiopia checking in on the precious babes and working on our behalf and theirs
  • i am thankful for so many successful court dates over the past few weeks
  • i was wishing we lived closer to Toronto...the Celebration Of Hope in a month will be incredible
  • i am conscious of a slower referral month but rest at peace, knowing that not all months can be record breaking and when each and every one is ready for his or her family, he or she will be referred. there's no sense in rushing what is already determined
  • i am anxiously excited for march
  • the sewing waiting to be tackled has me giddy about the final outcome
  • our 2nd and final restructuring fee is in the mail and i am elated to know that our next $2000 will be sent upon acceptance of our referral...that in itself should be enough to send me to the moon with excited anticipation
For now I am seeking joy in the little things, happiness in what we have not what we want, pleasure in life's humour (like a 3yr old who swears that he sleeps under a "nuvet", not a "duvet"), and encouragement that with each passing day little ones are making their way closer to home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'm a daily recipient of the Anti-Racist Parent blog feed. If you're not familiar with it, it's a blog dedicated to helping us with kids (transracial families and not) to raise them in a colorstruck world.

And what I received today had me shaking me head in agreement of "how simplistically poignant". Most days I think the article or thoughts sent out are quite prevalent. Today, they were elementary, so fundamentally basic but yet something easily, and likely often missed by families. Sometimes it takes pointing out the obvious to really open an individuals' eyes.

Step One: Don’t talk about race. Don’t point out skin color. Be “color blind.”

Step Two: Actually, that’s it. There is no Step Two.

Congratulations! Your children are well on their way to believing that is better than everybody else.

Surprised? So were authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman when they started researching the issue of kids and race for their book NurtureShock. It turns out that a lot of our assumptions about raising our kids to appreciate diversity are entirely wrong:

It is tempting to believe that because their generation is so diverse, today’s children grow up knowing how to get along with people of every race. But numerous studies suggest that this is more of a fantasy than a fact.

Since it’s Black History Month, I thought it would be a good time to talk about race, particularly some of the startling things I found in this particular chapter of NurtureShock. What Bronson and Merryman discovered, through various studies, was that most white parents don’t ever talk to their kids about race. The attitude (at least of those who think racism is wrong) is generally that because we want our kids to be color-blind, we don’t point out skin color. We’ll say things like “everybody’s equal” but find it hard to be more specific than that. If our kids point out somebody who looks different, we shush them and tell them it’s rude to talk about it. We think that simply putting our kids in a diverse environment will teach them that diversity is natural and good.

And what are they learning? Here are a few depressing facts:

  • Only 8% of white American high-schoolers have a best friend of another race. (For blacks, it’s about 15%.)
  • The more diverse a school is, the less likely it is that kids will form cross-race friendships.
  • 75% of white parents never or almost never talk about race with their kids.
  • A child’s attitudes toward race are much harder to alter after third grade, but a lot of parents wait until then (or later) before they feel it’s “safe” to talk frankly about race.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

17. Seventeen. 17.

This came in the mail yesterday. It was a reminder that we are not alone in this journey.

Inside were words that warm my heart. They make waiting more bearable. They bring a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye and a flutter to my heart all in one go.

We've been waiting seventeen months.

How encouraging to know that others are right alongside us...counting the days, weeks, months.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mama Bag

Amanda, you've gone and outdone yourself again. The Mama Bag was too perfect and too enjoyable to make. I love it.

I'm going to tell (remind?) my friends about you...your book...your creative ways to make stuff with the kids and make stuff just for the Mama.

...what a way to start a week. (Oh - and did I mention we had a family day today...that made our Monday, too!)

Thank you...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cookies For The Kids

I'm always on the lookout for fun, new, healthy recipes for our family. I especially love the simple finds, so little hands can help out.

I was really excited to find this keeper the other day...though it's only a keeper now that I've manipulated it to what I want it to be. I tried it out and whaddya know, not only the kids but Ben loves them too.

I believe I googled Applesauce Cookies, as we have a ridiculous amount of applesauce in these parts. It's a great hobby of mine in the fall, (saucing that is...not googling) and goodness knows that because of my "holy crap what's going to happen with our adoption" slump this past September, I didn't take the time to can. That known, I can share with you that our freezer has been much too full of much too much applesauce for several months now. (As an aside, canning is definitely worth it - if only for the freezer space alone.) It got ridiculous enough that I began baking off trays and trays of Apple and Pear Fruit Leather - also a loved (and easy to make!) snack around here. (Note: it doesn't take up as much space in the freezer...)

I digress...

Here you go...if I were to name them (and I didn't...originally) in the long-winded fashion with which I write, I would call them:

Ashleigh's No Sugar Applesauce Cinnamon Raisin Cookies
  • 2 cups flour (I used a regular/whole wheat combo but I would guess that oat flour would be yummy and great for kids under 1yr - I think I'll try that next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (we like spice around here...)
  • 1/2 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter (the real stuff, people)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup sauce (add a little more if the dough seems really dry...oh - and mine happened to be apple/pear sauce...unsweetened!)
  • 1 apple, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375. Combine butter (slightly melted), egg, sauce, apple, raisins and mix well. Add all dry ingredients and stir until blended. Either grease cookie sheet or use a silicone mat (this is what I use) and drop cookies on to tray about a tbsp size...they'll look a little's okay, it just means they have character. Bake about 15-20 mins until brown.


*disclaimer: if a cookie simply ain't a cookie to you without a little chocolate I would say, great combos could be:
  1. 70% dark (or semi-sweet) chocolate chunks (about 1/2 cup) as the cocoa would bring out the nuttiness of the nutmeg
  2. white chocolate with craisins (total 1 1/2 cup...replace the raisins)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Yesterday I took 188 Photos

For you, my friends, I will condense the afternoon. And, rest assured that out of all those clicks and kodak moments capturing our adventure(s), there are always only a couple dozen (often less) which make "the cut".

We'll call these...

Adventures At The Farm

It was an afternoon which made me, (and my walking know, the owner of said farm) nostalgic for the times I never really fully knew. The one where kids would take off after breakfast and chores, returning only upon the call of the Mama or Papa at dinner time. It was a time when kids would run free - as kids should - without a care. Life was safe, simple, sacred.

Wide open fields.

Mud puddle amidst plush green grass.


Calling for horses.

Running without running out of field or rolling hills upon which to explore.

Embracing the freedom only a child can fully, and unknowingly understand and embrace.

Taking in, with each breath, the beauty of a place so simple yet so exquisite.

Yesterday was perfect.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tidbit From Ethiopia

My parents live in HK.

That's HK as in Hong Kong.

No it's not a new thing so this isn't some sort of bragging right. They've been there for over a decade now. My Dad started and ended his career with the same company. Banking. He was (is!), really good at what he does.

He's the HR guy to top all HR guys.

You know...integral, slow to anger and quick to encourage, he'll problem solve on a personel level and while everyone else is blue in the face he's just getting going.

After retiring nearly two years ago, he started his own business which surprise surprise is thriving.

I love some of the tidbits this line of work can sometimes draw from through the encounter of those from many walks and experiences of life. Yesterday my Dad engaged in a coaching session with an individual who has worked for the UN in both Somalia and Rwanda. (Whoa.)

My Dad shared a bit about our journey and his client responded by affirming what several of you already know which is that the Ethiopians are both physically and spiritually beautiful...

He then went on to share that in Ethiopia orphaned children are rarely said to be waiting for adoption. Instead, he shared, they are part of an "extended family".

Eloquent, isn't it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shower Thoughts

In our house, the unspoken rule is that while either one of us is in the shower the other will do what they can to keep the kids downstairs. Ok, it's not unspoken. We're in agreement that this is, some days, our only time "alone". (This is also - a lot of the time - the reason I make no excuses to run several times a week. Otherwise I risk no me time...and I need me time.)

I digress.

This morning was one of fun. We broke out of the usual get up, play for a few minutes, eat the routine bowl of cheerios/original shredded wheat/shreddies/blackberries combo. Mainly because we had only a spot of milk left and selfishly I wanted it for my coffee. (Coffee is also on the list of "needs"...right at the top with me time.) So, we goofed around and the boys polished off 8 of the carrot/raisin/banana mini muffins I made yesterday...with peanut butter. Followed by an apple each. (As a side note, I think I'll take a second mortgage out simply to pay our food bill by the time they are ten.)

After the fun, they decided to create envelopes in which they wanted to put the seeds from said apples so that when they took their seeds outside to plant, (which I believe took place in our sand/dirt pile an hour later,) they could keep them safe. Ironically but not suprisingly, Tait dumped his somewhere between the kitchen table and the dirt pile.

All this to say it was a fun morning and one which did not require me much "alone in the shower time". So well after Ben had left for work, I left them downstairs with tape (eek), paper, and felts.

I hopped in the shower, hoping for a few minutes before one of the two came upstairs either to play or to taddletale on the other. (I placed my money on the latter.)

I digress.

I was doin' my thing, enjoying the heat after a chilly, beautiful early morning run and basking in the knowledge that in no less than 3 days, one Mama will be united (at long last) with her daughter. Hers has been a journey I would wish upon no one. But they are meant to be together and in the end, that is all that matters.

The peace and the joy of the moment lead me to thoughts that have been but fleating ones in the past. Yet, instead of shrugging them off as usual and not trying to relish in what it will actually be like, I let myself in...I tried to feel what it would be like - what it will be like.

In that moment when this Mama will feel the joy of holding her baby; her daughter. The one meant to be joined with her two blonde brothers. The one whose birth mother went through the physical pains of labour, followed by the ache of knowing she would not and likely could not raise her...for one reason or other.

What will it be like?

To feel her skin touch mine.

To feel the soft, gentle baby silk hands, face, cheek touch mine. To smell the sweetness somehow gifted to every child by the grace of God. To hold her tight and close, and without a word communicate "I will never let go". To know that in order to feel this joy, this utterly unspeakable moment of wonder, another has felt an unspeakable pain. Tragic loss or rather sacrifice; a moment I could, nor will ever fully comprehend (simply because I was not there) in order to offer something more to her child. A mother's love knows no bounds.

I'm not trying to naively believe the moment we first meet won't be filled, quite possibly with cries and "who is this strange person" saddness. But when the dust settles, when we find ourselves gazing in to one another's eyes, knowing ourselves and finding one another as mother and daughter...

...I let myself go to that place this morning.

It was surreal.

Devastating while simultaneously wonderous.

Distantly real.

Yet, too far off to really allow myself to feel all there is and all there will be.

...Today - a day in which I find myself aching to know her - I let myself go to that place.

Wordless Wednesday

{things that bring a smile to this mama's face, today}

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Middle Mom

But, if we get down to the nitty-gritty truth, it is not the governments' job to care for the fatherless. It just isn't. The government isn't commissioned, the government isn't commanded, the government isn't equipped, and the government isn't empowered by the One who made it all to care for His children. The church is. We are the people that God has instructed to be different and to make a difference
You can find out more about Christie Erwin and her ministry here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Love Love And Love

So, while Valentines may have more of a romantic intention to it than the way ours was carried out, it was still perfect.


A date would have been nice but we did get out alone, together last weekend and you can't always have your cake and eat it too.

The only thing missing know.

I'll continue to wait. Patiently. For now. Because she'll be worth it. A million-fold.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Who Do You Cheer For?

We celebrated and shared the Opening Ceremonies last night, over at the Camp with many other staff members. There are currently 4 countries represented by our year round staff the summer that number doubles, often triples even.

I cheered last night for Canada...but as the host country entered the stadium last. I had already had the opportunity to cheer. And I am proud to say I did.

Go Canada

(Don't forget to tune in and watch Mr Robel Teklemarian at 3:30 PST on Monday...yes, this Monday...the 15th.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

People Are Children

“People Are Children” is a short documentary, a conversation really, that explores the voices and perspectives of many types of children of varying backgrounds. When we discuss discrimination and diversity we sometimes forget that the world we are living in does not belong to us, but rather, our children. They are the ones who inherit our fears, loves, prejudices, etc. They learn it by watching us. In this short, children remind us of how simple, complicated and absurd intolerance is. They inspire us to change.

Twenty Grand **Comments Closed: Winner Announced**

Let's play a little game, shall we?

The friend to prove he/she is the 20,000th visitor will win a small prize.

Just for fun.

It's getting close.

An emailed photo or screen capture would work nicely.

Happy Friday...

***The Winner is none other than a special friend - our cake building, gingerbread decorating, incredible adoption supporting - Tracy. (It's blurry but it's legible!)

Tracy won a gift certificate to Kiva which she quickly turned into a loan for the group below.

Thanks for playing along and thanks so much, Tracy for making the decision of which entrepreneur to support through this micro-loan, based on their geographic location (near Haiti) and the hard work Llama De Amor 123 Group is putting in to this, their third Kiva Loan! (Maybe you'd like to help this group, too?)


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blogger's Block

I seem to have come upon a wall. I'm stuck for what to say, what to share, and how to express some opinions. It's not for a lack of topics. No friends, there are are many things floating around in this head of mine. Getting them out - written...typed for that matter, seems to be a thing of difficulty. The week - last and this - have been quite full and I love it. Perhaps though, it's this keeping busy, (you know, to keep my mind off other things) that inhibits my ability to really get something meaty down on the screen in front of me. Maybe this is good. Maybe it's bad. For now, I'll look at it as a season and enjoy the moment.

Moments which bring warmth and peace as we move quietly and gently through February (which, by the way is going radically better than January) are these...

hearing the younger one say of the older one, "he is my best friend" and then watching as they share in the joy of words on the page...and finding Goldbug
the warmth felt inside simply by peering at the colours of the wool and cotton just waiting to be formed into something equally as comforting. the excitment that comes from scheming and dreaming what will come next is almost too much...and the wonder at the story behind these skeins (as they are almost all thrift finds) leaves me speechless
seeing to completion, the paper mache bowl
the reminder that spring - in all it's colour - is truly on it's way
the lesson that deer truly will walk up to your doorstep and enjoy all your hard work...tulips and pansies...that they do not like daffodils...and the reminder that rural living isn't always all it's cracked up to be...sigh
smiling at the knowledge that these new knobs will soon replace the more traditional ones, once this piece has been distressed and given a little tlc...I must get my act together on that one...and that this will be furniture enjoyed by one small sweet african small sweet african girl, someday
glancing at my favourite wall in the house each time we go up and down our stairs