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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Forward Facing

I'm not a fan of making New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's because it often feels like we break more than we make. Or, we sometimes set ourselves up for failure...putting so much pressure on those three words, we attempt the near impossible. Set our sights too high and fall short, in our opinion.

I do, however, love goals. I don't often share them for fear of falling short but when I do verbalize them, I force myself to carry through (...hence a full marathon...hence a "this may end us" adoption succeeding...etc). And so, while the ironic (planned?!) word "goals" may seem like a silly cop-out to you, I'm posting this and the word "goal" sits better than "resolution" to me. Plus, "resolution" makes me feel in many ways, like I've failed and must re-attempt certain things. I don't regret anything in my life and don't feel a "redo" is necessary. So, for my peace of mind and the sake of an argument...they are "goals" people...and they are being concocted on the cusp of a new year.

And so, while looking back at the most up and down year, which is ending as possibly "up" as we could have imagined, I want to enjoy every moment - all the while, never losing sight of new goals, desires for self-improvement, and seeking to find maybe just a wee bit more joy in each day.

I want to run again. Yes, the runner...ah hem...falling behind. It's been a busy fall. Isn't that everyone's excuse though? Seriously though, it's been nuts. And, in the same breathe I apparently haven't prioritized all my time. (Of which there isn't that much to play around with!) Babies (sorry, a baby)and cross-Rockies moves will do this to a girl. But it's been three months (has it really already been three months?!) and we have settled into routine so I now need to find my own rhythm and routine during the non-kiddie-waking hours. More diligence is needed for sure. Here and there I've found time - made the time?! - but it needs to be consistent. Perhaps an hour less sleep wouldn't actually kill me.

I want to say "yes" more. Pause during whatever important (and likely not as important) task I am doing and reply "yes" to whatever my little people are asking...a game, help with a word search, a story, yes even a whimper to be picked up at the end of the day or in the throws of making supper. "Yes" should predominate.

I will raise my voice less.

I want to clean my house at night more - you know, the end of the day tidy that is often just too much at the end of the day - so when we get up in the morning and come downstairs, everything is in it's place. Well, nearly everything. I'm human after all.

I'd like to eat less sugar. We don't eat much but it's of no use to our bodies and serves no purpose in our lives.

I'd will dress a little nicer. Not for me. For those who have to look at me, I will choose a sweater over a hoodie some days. I will chose the dark wash jeans instead of the acid wash pair (way to branch out, eh?!). I will leave my hair down (literally and perhaps figuratively speaking) more often. I will give just a minute more to my appearance than I do now. Not because I'm vain but because we often feel better when we look better. And that makes us healthier and when we're healthier we are happier and when we are happier we are better friends and I want to be a better friend. (Wow. That got intense.) And, while these little people have no dress code I don't like my four year old asking if we are going somewhere on the days I haphazardly chose a sweater over my Lulu attire.

I want to be more purposeful in what I do. Less Facebook (stupid Facebook) and more constructive use of my time (hence the running thing). More time spent on learning, feeding my heart, soul, and brain. Educating me on my passions. I want to help others more through this. I've started and can't wait to see fruition.

I have to do something for our daughter's country, orphanage, cause (the cause of the orphan that is), and/or family who raised her before we were passed the privilege. To not do this would be nothing short of disrespectful and ungrateful. And the ache of removing her from her first never ceases.

As I face the year ahead I want to feed my Holy Discontent...and somehow, I'd like to fumble around in the dark less (in search of said Discontent) and be silent while perhaps waiting for it to make it's way to me. We often lose sight of such phenomena don't we? In search of that which fuels the fire, we busy ourselves. Over-involvement. Here there and of course, everywhere. In hopes of finding that one extraordinary thing which calls our name quietly at first and then more intensely as time passes, and which quenches the desire to make a difference in our world, family, life, liturgy.

So there.

Facing forward I am so very grateful for our year.

And looking ahead, with anticipation, I know there are Great Plans.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's My Birthday. I Have Wrinkles.

Today's my birthday.

I don't share that for a bunch of well wishes (feel free...but that's not the point).

I don't share it so I get a bunch of "oh, you poor girl - so close to Christmas".

I looked the other day in the mirror...or maybe it was a photo...whatever.

What I saw: Wrinkles.

(Yep, with a capital "W".)

What?! Uh huh. True story. Crow's feet, are they called? Yes, mainly crows feet.

Either way, they're there. And, barring needles, injections, and a large bill following, they're not going anywhere. In fact, I'm quit certain they are here to multiply. And I have to say, I actually take comfort in them. (That's not a request for more or an anticipated peek into the future, rather it's the truth of the matter.)

I like them because each one tells a story, each one holds a moment in the history of my life. Each one depicts an emotion - which means there have been many. And they've been real. Mainly, I love them because when I smile they are exaggerated. Which means, hopefully, I smile a lot.

Not enough. I know I don't smile and giggle and deep-in-my-gut-laugh, enough. But it happens. From time to time and that's so very good and healthy and in that I take great comfort.

It's comforting because over the last several years there have been many (!) moments of fear, stress, and uncertainty and well, some days not so much joy. But if we - if I - only get one shot at know, this phenomenon we call Life...then I want to make the wrinkles. I want proof that there's been joy and that each year is to be celebrated and each moment lived like it won't be experienced again. Because truthfully, it won't right?

So here's to 32. (What?! You have wrinkles at 32?! I know, right!)

May it be a fantastic year.

May more wrinkles form - be formed!

May joy multiply.

May purpose - my purpose - be continually found and lived.

May there be more deep-in-my-gut-laughing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Coming Back

The other day while gingerbreading with our little people, a (new, sweet!) friend briefly recounted a conversation she had with my sister a couple weeks back at, The Birthday Party. The line of thought was regarding my sister's year long running journey and how a person re-enters her "old life" after such a life changing expedition as that.

How does one come back to what was normal before such an epic sojourn?


Currently feeling stuck somewhere in no man's land, I find myself empathetic to that conundrum. To an outside observer, life has not changed all that significantly, save the addition of one more little person to round us out and nearly even the gender scales.

Yet to us, to me every.thing.has.changed.

And, nothing will satisfy if not

Going about daily tasks and routines, I find myself wanting more. The thought, concern, fear (!) of consuming without giving back, living without deep gratitude in the form of's hard to swallow. Doing anything without meaning, seems, well, kinda' pointless. This season perhaps brings out the ache a little more when the consumerism with which we are often surrounded is sickening.

The thought of living a "normal" life doesn't sit well. Because, how can we return to our "old normal" when we aren't? The blessing of following our ache, our Holy's indescribable and beautiful and incomparable and addictive when we see it through.

We aren't normal because we've endured and experienced and rejoiced in the unthinkable. And what we have seen...well, because of it we are responsible to do greater, better, inordinate things.

And so I am stuck in this place of profound gratitude and unfathomable joy, yet all the while wanting more. Content? Yes, the feeling of contentment and happiness and satisfaction pervade, though there is a fear within me that perhaps I will not push myself and strive to stretch my faith. That I will miss that Still Small Voice telling me to press on for greater things, telling me to seek harder, to look deeper, to live more silently, and to hear the Voice guiding.

Maybe that's what it is. The faith muscles were stretched to the brink of collapsing but they grew and took on more and now, well, they haven't been pressing as much as was necessary many months ago. And the fear of weakening is enough to constantly keep my guard up and there is an incessant wonder of "what next". Not "what next" because there's a void but "what next" because if the journey that brought us here was so incredible then we must give back, we must rejoice, we must give thanks, we must continue to stretch the faith muscles. We must have a "what's next" in our future...somewhere.

Proof that we are made for so much's in our history now. It's evidenced on the pages of the book of this little family and we cannot let that slip away.

Yet through this, I am constantly reminding myself that our painful, faith building, exhausting part of the journey is a mere eleven weeks behind us. Living in the now and enjoying each second is such a fleeting part of the journey. Not missing a second of what we strived for, for years. That is so very important.

So, with eyes fixed upward we continue...content.

But, with eyes fixed upward we continue...seeking only that which is Great and offers more and builds those muscles.

I can't figure I'll find much satisfaction otherwise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Makings

I love this time of year for the excuse to make and create and bake for others. Getting a little more creative, taking extra time and care. It's a joy. Little hands often make it a messy joy but the lesson is there to be learned and the gifts are in need of being shared.

I wonder often, this year, in this somewhat cookie cutter land we now call home, if a sideways look we will receive. A certain bread winner in this family has already earned the title of tree hugger at work which is in itself something to chuckle at. And I, well it's frequent I receive a sideways look when others find out not only is our child adorning cloth diapers but she's wiped with terry cloth also. (No, I'm not a freak.) We're country kids trying to make our way in the city style of life here. And, most of the time we're doing okay. And even more of the time, we're loving it.

So I question whether these gifts will be received with gratitude for time taken to caringly create, or if they'll be received with a question mark like-look of 'why wouldn't you simply buy something'. Either way, they are wrapped and ready to go. And, there's one certain four year old - in the throws of it all - who cannot wait to pass around the love.

{peppermint bark...a second batch nearly necessary, no thanks to the nibbling along the way}

{a new granola this year...equally as delicious as it's partnered gift above}

{several of these skirts made it out the door and what a joy to see her wearing them...finally}

{what a privilege to sew more of these sweet things than i ever imagined...aren't they lovely?}

Of course this year is super crazy extra special for many families, ours included. Yesterday, we were gifted with another piece of Makeda's puzzle which makes the journey more full, more complete, more heart wrenching - the reminder of the reason for her (most) adoptions brought to the very forefront.

Yet, another piece to her. Her life. Her beginnings. A gift more weighted than we could describe. And for that, we are oh so very grateful. And I ache to go back. A feeling suppressed often...daily...prevailed yesterday. More raw than in recent weeks, we hugged her a little tighter and held her a little closer and looked a little deeper into those dark brown eyes of hers while putting her to bed. The people, friends, kindred spirits met along this's inexplicably divine, I will admit. Not to be dramatic.

And so, this year we celebrate with many edibles and enjoyables comprising our gifts. Wee ones will open a little more, we make sure of that. We'll celebrate the true reason for the joy of this season. We'll rejoice in five...As Five. We'll be grateful for that which we have, all that we have. We'll look ahead with great anticipation - knowing the year behind was full of mountains and great challenge and reward, and praying the next will be as such. Well, perhaps slightly less so.

We will continue to be. As Five.

With joy and gratitude in our midst and shrieks of delight, we will continue to be, as five.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Race

I've been thinking a lot recently (while elbow deep in gingerbread dough, mostly) about the one thing I truly feel this race...our human race...seems to view in a parallel fashion. It always hits me this time of year, but this year more so than in the past. Perhaps it feels closer to home due to much recent change in personal circumstances...the past several months have been ridden with change for this family and we've been forced to grow and stretch in ways never anticipated. All for good. For lots and lots of good and growth...but challenging and paradigm shifting and eye opening nevertheless.

From different cultures, creeds or religions, backgrounds, philosophies, world views, circumstances, joys. Regardless of age, gender, or colour of collar we wear to work. Whether in the sticks or cookie-cutter-ville.

We all, I believe - or rather, feel I have observed - maintain one paralleled worldview.

And, it is that of equality or rather, justice of (and for) our race...our species. Provision. Supercilious of our motivation, there seems to be a trend, passion, ache, desire to provide for those who cannot do so for themselves. This is obviously apparent in the journey of adoption and becomes more apparent of course in the months leading up to Christmas which, tragically for many is of course a season of frivolous greed. Of course whenever we see a natural disaster, instinct takes over and we see this desire to provide and seek justice prevail as well.

And I just think it's really...well...interesting. We are able to put aside our differences...different try and provide and seek survival on behalf of those unable.

Motivation different. From a giant, long spectrum. Yet goals and desires meet. Many working together for the better good. For our kind.

I know this is true because if I had a dollar for every person (regardless of their beliefs, background, or whereabouts) who put this up on Facebook, I'd be one rich Mama.

Wouldn't it just be surreal if we could assimilate perspective and cooperate on more than this solitary reality? I wonder somedays how that would look. How would the world change. How the human race become, well, better. I think I will always wonder that.

And I wonder what it is that we all must innately possess, that makes us so intrinsically and acutely aware of the realities that are becoming the norm. And I wonder how we all know it's so bad and so wrong and so desperate. And I wonder how we all long to do something, anything for this one cause - this one calamity - regardless of pretty much anything else. And I wonder what it is I can do, to make the ache of feeling helpless go away. When faced with such a Goliath, don't you wonder what effective means you can offer? The options are endless, really.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Lull

Excuse the quiet. I actually do have some more intense topics to share but they mean time and that, I just don't have in abundance at this moment.

The lull is due largely to vomit, laryngitis (energy decrease due to said illness), that fun snow, Christmas makings - can't wait to work on more as soon as any sort of time presents itself - this could be in the form of the wee hours of the morning, Daddy heading slightly west for a few days and a desire, therefore, to pack our schedule more than usual. (Which by the way, I love. Busyness = Happiness.)

Yes, apparently when there is one less adult on the scene I feel the need to up the anti and pack our days. It's fun. Tiring. Yet, distracting. Plus, when it involves a lot of gingerbreading (yes it requires a tense at this time of year), what's not to love.

{several of these wee ones have made their way through my machine recently...}

That is all part of tomorrow's fun. Today is cleaning and baking and rolling and cutting in preparation.

Oh and tests. They do take up a lot of time, those tests. There's lots of studying taking place in these parts - and if you think I'm talking about anyone other than one small first grader, you're wrong.

Monday, December 5, 2011


#1 Read to his siblings - The Paper Bag Princess - all by himself.

#2 Hammed it up. Wouldn't expect anything less.

#3 Splashed her little heart out. Shrieked with delight at the novelty of sharing the tub with her siblings and at the knowledge that in the past 8 weeks she has gained 1.3 kg and grown 4 cm in length.

{today's trick: learning to blow kisses...
she still misses her mouth from time to time but rome wasn't built in a day}

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Hair. Oh, That Thick, Beautiful, Curly, Knotted (!) Hair.

You can't necessarily tell from the photos but Miss Makeda has the most incredible, tightly spun (that part you can discern from photos), course, looooooooong ringlets.

They are beautiful.

And they can be a lot of work...if I don't keep on top of it all.

Especially in a dry dry climate such as the one in which we now live.

Have I mentioned how much I love it here? In this new climate...ah hem...province? The sun shines, the snow falls, then the sun shines again. It's cold but different cold. Not bone chilling. I was out in a sweater today with a scarf around my neck (in the snow at zero degrees). And, while many around me looked my way as though I...well...forgot my coat before leaving the house, truthfully I didn't. (And I wasn't planning on standing out in it for hours on end, either.) It's just a dry cold. And yes, there's a crack on my thumb as proof that the weather is horrifically dry. I've been fighting it going on three weeks now and after many attempts with different crazy wonderful moisturizing products and such, I've now resorted to what finally seems to be working: Lansinoh.

Yeah, eat your heart out.

Ben suggested I go to Lee Valley and get some cow utter type cream that apparently wood workers often use due to dry skin as a result of the job. So, I put on my thinking cap, (and also wanted to do anything to avoid going to Lee Valley - just not my kind of gig) and thought I'd wander downstairs, grab a tube left over from four years ago (also recently used to Lanolize some wool longies knit by a fantastically talented friend). Not only would I save time and money, the salvation of my sanity would also be in the mix. (I'm still navigating my way around the big big city, preferring to stay within the limits of our big city.)

You get the point: it's crazy dry here.

I digress.

I've always loved hair. Long hair, braids, creative styles, care, you name it and I've been fascinated...and able to successfully create and complete a lot of it on myself. But let's be honest, African hair is a whole other ball game. I read up a little, prior to and throughout, well, everything we've just journeyed through.

The theme which pervaded all the reading materials: moisturize. Keep it lubed. Don't wash too often. Saturate daily with quality product. Be kind.

And so always once, often two or three times daily Miss Makeda enjoys (ah hem? endures?) a hair routine.

Because of all the craziness in our life...which I don't see changing any time soon...I went with a company I knew I could count on. This mother has experience Ethiopian hair first hand, she's in Canada, and...well...she's a Mama. That's a fantastically deadly wonderful combo. I sought some "Whoa, there's a lot of choice what you would you recommend" advise from a couple of adoptive mamas...and here's what this Mama is loving right now.

Patty Cake Conditioner is fantastic during her bath and after applying it, I usually brush through those curls using my Tangle Teaser before rinsing. (This is when we see how long her hair really is...inches people! No kidding.)

I am loving Itsy Bitsy Spirals Baby Curl Moisturizer. It's easy to dribble on and seems to really get soaked well into her hair. It looks like oil but there's no real residue such as that which oil would leave. Her curls take on a shine which lasts until nearly nap time (at the end of which we often reapply).

However, often in the mornings as she sports her bed sheet lint I will spritz a bunch of this Curly Q Moisturizer/Detangler in order to avoid tears as I run my fingers through the fuzz. The sheen her hair takes on is to be envied! (Note: I do have a sleep cap but don't think she'd keep it on or appreciate the reason behind it so will wait until she's a little older.)

When I picked Makeda up in Ethiopia she was the only baby in the infant room with hair enough (or hair at all!) to braid/corn row, pony tail, or style in any which way. And I took heart in the fact that the nannies cared enough for these children - this child - that amidst all the diaper changing, sheet stripping, feeding, bottling (yes, I just gave that a tense), comforting, stimulating, and I'm sure a million other things, they made styling Makeda's hair a priority. I'm sure part of it for them was a treat. One nannie in particular mothered our child. And I recall the day after I had taken Makeda with me for good, we returned and I took her for a nap in the infant room. I handed her over but the tables had turned. I was now officially the mother. Twenty-four hours earlier this had not so much seemed the case. I was now the mother and so the nannie (through translation) who spoiled our daughter with touch and attention while doing her hair - and who undoubtedly took pride in it - now asked my permission. "May I braid her hair?". I was thrown a bit. Yet, for respect of the system I was also of course grateful.

I want to make Makeda's hair, (skin!) and quality of product a priority as did the nannies and orphanage in which she lived for so very many months. I am currently loving the 'baby afro' basic, quick, simple style which is constantly receiving complements. I know, however, as time goes on I will want to attempt new (time consuming!) styles.

And so, for now I will purchase quality materials with which to care for her outsides as we continue to seek to do our best to care for her insides...her loss, her attaching, her heritage, culture, personality and the like.

After Christmas, once the "to make, sew, knit, and create" list is accomplished, wrapped, and gifted, I will attempt this fantastically looking Hair Elixir.

I truly can't wait!