Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Trip

The Trip – Part 1

The packing. I’m awful at packing. You’d think after many years of trips to Canada yearly to visit family I’d be a pro – but no. I can make great lists of things to bring so I don’t forget things. My husband in the early years used to get fairly frustrated with me and the large piles of things I’d take back in our “small” vehicle. So – he became the packing pro. I’d set the piles in the living room then go sit and read or clean or do something so as not to hear his grunts of frustration as he made magic fitting everything into the vehicle. We wouldn’t have a lot of room sometimes and often couldn’t’ recline a seat or two. Having three children now – one in diapers no less, hasn’t minimized my piles to take along. This is a photo of maybe half of it. Magic maker got it all in the van and we don’t even have a topper for the roof rack! We are back on the active list for fostering and I quietly asked on the way…so we’d be pretty crowed with one more kiddo. No joke – but I know magic man would get it all in – he always does. OK – I had to leave the stroller behind! Figured – below weather wouldn’t need it anyway and I can use a cart at the mall!

The Trip – Part 2

Snacks. A good and generous friend brought me chocolate. She made me cry – as we hugged goodbye. She knows the chocolate if my fave and she also knows the importance of this trip that wasn’t planned for this year – but became important with the late summer diagnosis of brain cancer for my bro Jim….. the need to touch base with loved ones. So we hit the road with a Dew and M&M’s. Who needs anything else?

The Trip – Part 3

Van travel pics. God is keeping us safe as we travel. Thank you Lord! Naps, reading, some homework for Anthony, DS (of course!), magazines and napping – traveling two days to Canada is like a small spa retreat…oh except when Soph has had enough of her car seat and is screaming at the top of her lungs and throwing her toys and books on the door side I can’t reach!

The Trip – Part 4

Border crossing. Passports in hand and Soph’s Judge approval travel papers get us into the country without problems. Typical questions: What are you bringing that you are leaving and the value? Any citrus fruits like apples or oranges? Any tobacco, alcohol or firearms? Any personal weapons? (Mace - it is illegal to carry in Canada). Where are you going and the purpose of your trip? How long are you staying? Have a nice stay.

The Trip – Part 5

The arrival. Anxious excited grandparents/parents greet us. They always back out their vehicle so we can unload in the comfort of their garage. See how the kids have grown? Hugs and kisses of welcome. Feels so good to know we’ve made it safe and sound. Feels so good to not be sitting on our butts! FYI: In Canada butt isn’t a bad word like in the US where I have to teach my kids “bottom” so as not to offend the sitter and the school folks…. cultural adjustment I resent besides not using a “u” in colour and favourite…I know, when in Rome make like the Romans! I’ve lost my focus….oh yah, we made it. Dang it is cold here. We had more snow on the ground in South Dakota than here - the boys are disappointed but maybe it will snow this week….then I’ll have my fix so I can return to KS and prepare for Christmas knowing my soul was restored with a snow fall from my homeland…..I’ll pray for about 2 feet. God are you listening?

The Trip – Part 6

The week. Flies by…. swoosh. Memories full, highs, low. Laughter, hugs, tears, pain in seeing what cancer can do, sorrow in a future so unknown, joy in watching winter birds at the feeder, joy in time together. Joy in today. Joy in mittens and snow pants. Joy in a warm fireplace on a cold day. Joy in Mom’s good cooking and a pot of tea – always tastes better in Mom’s kitchen. Sorrow in parting. Steve won’t let me start to drive when we leave because he knows if I don’t cry in the hugs good bye – I’ll bawl before we make the quarter mile down the road to the stop sign. I’m usually composed by the time we hit the border, but this time I cried for the hurt in life that I can't fix, I cried for the distance between us and the time that will pass until we can hug again. I remember our first trips as newlyweds – I don’t think Steve knew what to do for his weepy bride – now he just knows it is apart of the process.

The Trip – Part 7

The road home – Kansas bound. Going home is harder the traveling up. The eagerness to get there and time to chill in the vehicle is a joy. But on the way home – we suddenly want to click our heels and say “there is no place like home” and be there. So…. it is harder. Day 2 is a killer and the kids are at each other and we could strangle them too – so it just isn’t as fun. All of it comes rushing at us – what lies ahead and what we left behind. Makes for a testy drive in the last few hours. Pick up the mail that was held and what a joy to see our home! Again, Thank you Lord for watching over us and keeping us safe. Reminds me of the benedictions said at the end of church. “Now may the Lord keep you and watch over you may his face shine upon you. May the Lord Bless you and be with you now and forever? Amen” And I sigh....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tobias" is a Greek version of the Hebrew biblical name "Tobijah", meaning "Jehovah [God] is good

I blog so much on “the little one” that I don’t want people to think I’m not paying attention to my sons. I love my sons greatly – so I’ll feature Tobias today.

Tobias is God’s gift to me as a reminder of compassion. This boy has a heart bigger than anyone I know. He forgives easily when wronged, is gentle and affectionate, while still a busy boy on the go. A Sunday School teacher once told me “Tobias has a heart of gold, there is something special with him” and I knew she “saw” what I see and can’t express with words very well. When I envision his future knowing his giving caring ways – I envision a Doctor, Nurse or Pastor. He is deep on his understanding and views of life around him – this 10 year old boy humbles me. When he prays from his heart – it is amazing and wonderful.

We received him into our lives on July 9, 1999 at 15 months of age. Skinny, scrawny, neglected, abused and unable to balance himself with eye issues – we loved him the minute we saw him and vowed to make his life better. Tobias has Duane’s Eye Syndrome and underwent one round of eye surgery in Feb of 2001. His left eye can’t go past center to the left. He is left handed like my husband and has always been skinny no matter how much he eats.

Tobias admires his older brother who is his best friend. The boys are 9 months, 12 days apart in birth and have a bonded relationship that is complex in my view. People still ask if they are twins – we’ve gotten these questions for years, (I’ve never seen their similarity in looks) I’ve always seen them as so different. Once after the 999,0000th person asked if they were twins Anthony asked me “Mom, when will we be twins?”

Tobias – he loves to read, loves cheese, loves basketball, loves to play with friends, loves to watch TV cartoons, loves to play DS when allowed, loves to travel to Canada and Colorado, loves soft animals, loves soft blankies (blankets), loves Jesus, loves his little sister he prayed for 4 years solid!

Last year Tobias wanted to see Santa at the mall – I thought they were too old but indulged them. For 4 years he’s asked Santa for a sister. Anthony was hesitant to go up (always has been) but Tobias drug him along. When they were done I asked Anthony what he’d asked Santa for – he said a Wii. Then I asked Tobias what he asked Santa for – he said “I asked him if he could make my Foster Sister my sister forever.” Right there in the mall – I bawled. Then I asked Tobias what the Santa had said and he told me he said “If I can’t do that, what else would you like?” Tobias answered a “Wii.” Sister – vs – Wii – same thing? Not. Too funny.

So – Tobias is my man of faith – his prayers have been answered and he knows God does answer prayer. Wishing you many answered prayers in your lives!

God’s words to Moses speak to Tobias Exodus 33:18-20 (New International Version) 18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." 19 And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

First Haircut

1. First hair cut - 15 1/2 months old.

2. WHAT is she doing? I think I might scream.

3. Trim, trim trim the baby fuzz.

5. Are we done yet?6. Aagghh!

7. Beautiful girlie girls! We made it! Deb did awesome with Sophia.

My baby got her curls whacked! I'm kinda sad.

KS Sunrise in November

Unaltered, untouched, in its glory - Hallelujah!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Natural Consequences

I painted a table pink for Soph to play dishes at. She loved crawling into the chair and out again – she really is into crawling up on everything. So I let her try it on her own and in a blink she tumbled, got a bump and cried sooo hard. No skin was broken and it was a light bump she experienced. I hugged and kissed her as she cried in my arms reaching my soul in her pain. See her little tears left by the eyes after Mommy soothed her? I don’t want her to hurt or be hurt and guard her very carefully….yet I want her to learn on her own and know there are times like this on a low elevation that the lessons of life kick in.

With the boys we’ve been to ER for stitches from events that we couldn’t prevent – that isn’t what I’d recommend for anyone! We have not (knock on wood) had any broken bones! Boys are rougher in their play in general too. Sadly Tobias has been the brunt of stitches both times on the head/face from his brother’s shenanigans. But Anthony has found his own pain – like this summer descending a mountain on a hike too quickly when a tree jumped out and smacked him – he still has pinkish scars from that experience and Steve said he didn’t cry until he saw me after the hike. Aahh, Mom’s bring that out in children as the safe harbor to let the pain free and receive affection much needed in the soothing process.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life and generally have learned from them. As a parent I want to protect my children from making mistakes – I want them to not have pain or experiences that can be avoided – but this won’t help them learn either if I guard them too closely and safely. The hardest part for me is sitting back and letting them make some mistakes to gain the knowledge of life through natural consequences. My first questions is always “Are you OK?” before I may berate them for the silly thing they did – my husband is quieter and doesn’t say as much – I need to learn more of that and let the lesson speak for itself.

God is the same way with us – don’t you think? He watches mankind and could save us from all our mistakes – but then how do we learn? He sent Jesus to save us - yet many still don't believe or listen. How do we learn to love others, take care of the earth he has entrusted to us and spread the word of salvation? How do we learn when we can’t look beyond ourselves at times and recognize our needs vs others? Yet as a parent, he has patience with us – letting us learn too and hopefully not giving up on us!

Psalm 40:10 & 16
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "The LORD be exalted!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

On the Crawl



4. - her greatest fans....

Gated Life.

Little Miss Sophia is a girl on the go and into everything! She clears books off the shelves, towels out of kitchen drawers, cookie cutters out of my crock. You name it – she will be into it. We have our stairs gated so she doesn’t fall down them. What we find funny is, if one of us goes downstairs, she’ll go over to the gate and put her chubby fingers through the holes – peeking her nose through too. She giggles and squeals with delight as you sneak up the stairs declaring “Peek-a-Boo” even when she sees you coming. The baby gate is part of our life now that requires us to open it and close it every time one of us goes to the basement – for the inconvenience, we have safety for Sophia.

Gates were used in bible times to secure cities behind walls – to keep people safe on the inside from outside elements of wild animals, a way to screen out people they didn’t want to enter their cities, from enemies and in times of war. All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages.Deuteronomy 3:5

I think people sometimes gate or wall their hearts – to be safe from opening up to people, to not see the poverty or sad things around them – it is easier to close the gate and not see needs we can’t begin to fathom how to help.

So – some gates are good in our lives, they can keep children safe – while others serve a reverse purpose of holding in what should be let free. I challenge you, my blog readers, to find the gates in your lives and ask yourself it is a helpful gate or detrimental gate? Then take steps to secure your gate or open it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shoes, Shoes ~ I Love Shoes!

I love shoes. Can one ever have too many shoes? Well yes – one probably can have too many as I recall Imelda R Marcos, First Lady of the Philippines had over 1060 pairs of shoes when they fled in 1986 from their home. She would travel the world to buy shoes when millions of Filipinos were living in extreme poverty. That is sad.

I’m not like that! I don’t have Jimmy Choos or anything that pricey or designer – but I do like shoes. The TV show “Sex in the City” brings attention to expense shoes and the love of them. So as I ponder my shoes I know there are limits and responsibilities in shoe purchasing.

I like to have the right color shoes for the outfit. I’m prone to not being able to pass up shoe sales – they just call to me. I love a good deal! I think I inherited my shoe gene from my mother. I do wear out shoes and as I age I can’t wear cheap shoes without an arch anymore – so comfort has become an issue. I won’t tolerate a look at the cost of pain in my feet. Shoes run a close 2nd to chocolate in my life. Like all good things in life - moderation is needed. I was reminded today that I have the knowledge, know the skill - but practising it is the hardest part. Restraint. A good reminder for myself as the economy is struggling and I wouldn't want to be called Imelda!

The price of a good pair of shoes can buy a Well for a family in a drought ridden land through MCC, or for some other creative giving ideas as the holidays draw near check out I know it is something I'll certainly think about!

Song of Solomon 7:1 How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


People have asked me – where is North? North is Manitoba , Canada . I was born in Winnipeg MB and raised Canadian - my teen years on a chicken farm. Yup – 10,000 laying hens. We “picked” eggs daily and our eggs shipped to the local hatchery. I am the only daughter of hardworking parents who left her country at age 20 married to an American. After 12 years marriage and on a green card in the US – I dealt with INS to become an American Citizen in 1995. (You could say it took that long to admit KS was home too!) Canada considers me a dual citizen. All my family live North of the border – I am a lone rebel in their eyes.

They have snow there already as we’ll be heading up to see family the end of next week and I’m sooo ready. Passports sit ready, luggage is ready to load and the special forms for Sophie from the Judge are ready to go too. The boys are excited; snow, skates and hockey sticks fill their dreams. We pray for safe travel. We pray for time well spent with my family – especially Jim who begins a new round of Chemo treatment plan. We take them Bath & Body products – we bring back chips/tea and Tim Horton’s coffee. (see blog in Sept on my favourite things).

This has been a wild week – too busy, stress all over the place, too many appointments, having to complete 8 hours of CPR/First Aid for our foster license suddenly that I didn’t plan on this week….I have had moments of regret with my children…..God give me strength as the weekend for respite draws near. I wish for quality time with my children and husband. It has also been a week of support from family and friends – couldn’t make it without them…..

I cry to God as David’s words in Psalm 57: 1-3, 10,11
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me.
I have looked for a place to hide in that is near to you.I will hide under the shadow of your wings until the danger is past.
I will pray to God, the Most High God, to the God who will finish his plan for me.
He will send (a word) from heaven and he will save me. He will stop the people that are trying to catch me.
God will send me his kind love and his truth.
Your kind love is great. It is higher than the clouds. Your truth reaches to the skies.
God, lift yourself up above the skies. Lift your glory above all the earth.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Family - Photograph by Organic Images

When you pray for 16 years “Dear God, just bless us with one child – only one” and he gives you three…..there are no words to describe the joy we have from our children. Our quiver is full. We finalized adoption on the boys in 2001 (Happy Gumball Day - another blog another day) and the race is on for Sophia if we’ll finalize this year or early next. God is good. We trusted him and of course he knew what he was doing! He prepared us for this journey we are on.
Proverbs 3: 5, 6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
As Thanksgiving soon passes by minimally recognized by some and Christmas surrounds us already – it reminds me of the greatest adoption story around – that of Joseph with Jesus! What love and direction Joseph bestowed on his son trusting God as well. So I try not to be ticked with all the “stuff” out there instead I turn my thoughts to what that adoption meant for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. It gives us eternal life.
Psalm 127:3-5aSons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today was a very windy day in Kansas making me think of all the ways wind is used in sayings like: “a lose your toupee day” "skirt alert" "wind burst" “don’t spit in the wind,” “windy city”, “shout into the wind,” “three sheets to the wind,” “wind before rain, topsails remain, rain before wind, top sails take in” “wind of change” "wind blown" "the wind is screaming" "the wind is howling" "whipping wind" etc. is a great link to a funny commercial about wind. What sayings did you have growing up about wind?

You can’t really photograph wind unless it touches something.

Man has lots of sayings about wind – God speaks of it too:
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8

I'm in Kansas because my “spirit” brought, blew and guided me to this place in my life. When I miss my Northern family – I read this scripture and know that I am where I am supposed to be. Sometimes that doesn’t satisfy my urge to move and blow North – this is when I know my soul needs to return to the land where I was born to soothe that need. A visit North always refreshes me and reassures me I am okay where my Spirit has guided me – small town life in Kansas is my destiny….for now…. Meanwhile, my soul is getting ready for that Northern trek to soothe my restless soul….

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted

I voted - did you?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Shakin' it!

I survived Monday – at least thus far! My friend decided we needed to attack our fat rolls – so off we went to a “Zumba” thing. I don’t know how to describe it other than I felt (more like looked) like Steve Martin in the “Jerk” when he was trying to have rhythm on the front porch with his black family! Lets say it showed I haven’t danced much in my life – at least outwardly (I dance inward much more!). I think our instructor used to be some Latin movie star with her tight muscles and moves – almost made me close my eyes a few times as I had visions of her dancing with a pole! That or the woman missed the turn off for "Dancing with the Stars." Sheesh…..if I could move like her my husband would be very impressed! Deb made me promise to go back again….so we’ll see if this ol’ woman can learn to shake it up and shake it off! Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Winter Wheat and Thoughts

I couldn’t resist stopping to take this picture of the winter wheat. I drive 26 miles a day one way to work through the country past many fields of pasture, wheat, soy beans, corn and milo. The fall is an interesting time when the yards dry up – the leaves wilt and everything “color wise” turns a neutral brownish palette of colors – then in contrast we have these sweeping fields of bright live green! Together they create a unique thought pattern of death and growth. Wheat grows, turns ripe in harvest, is harvested, nothing but brittle stalks remain, is burned and tilled, the soil is prepped and restored, the new seed planted and the cycle continues. Oh the symbolism – We can’t bloom green in our life until we die to sin and commit to Christ – then he gives us life eternal. We all are a part of a cycle of life. While many fear death – as Christian’s shouldn’t we hope for death so we can live eternally? That always perplexes me. We hold tight to our harvest here on earth dreading the aging process. I like the words from Nicole Nordman’s song: Legacy. I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to you? Enough to make an offering…..

I’ve been thinking about this as my oldest brother battles brain cancer and how he continues to “point to Him” in his daily walk, selfless and dedicated. It is a challenge for all of us to daily leave that legacy, choose to love and point to God.
Galatians 6:7-10 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

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