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What’s left to say?  I LOVE LOVE LOVE summer!  Yummy strawberries almost every day from the garden… finally being able to wear tank tops and flip-flops…  making fresh margaritas and having BBQs with awesome-good friends… setting up massive croquet and badminton tournaments (yeah, we’re dorkey game players!!)… running through the sprinkler with the kids… spontaneous middle-of-the-afternoon trips down to the river to cool off… extended daylight until ten at night…  lots and lots of fresh flowers ready to cut and grace the table… and of course: enough sloppy, dripping watermelon to feast on until it makes me sick!!!

 Ahhhhh… yes, life is good. VERY good.







Like a lot of moms, I rarely get in on photos unless they are “official” family ones… and I know someday I’ll wish I had more snap-shots of me with the kids.  So, even though I’m not a big fan of being on the that side of the lens, I was happy the other day when Peter got out the camera and took these pictures of Henry and me playing around on the lawn.  We were both tired and dirty from working outside all afternoon, but we were having such a great time playing in the grass.  He was laughing and shrieking SO hard from being swung around!  I figured these pictures were a good follow-up to my last post —  I am wildly grateful to have this amazing little guy in my life!  🙂 

(This was Henry’s picture on the special needs “waiting kids” list last spring.)

This post has been on my heart for a few weeks… it’s just taken a while to actually write it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about unexpected “yeses” in my life — times where I’ve been faced with a decision where a yes seemed CRAZY!  But as I look back now, the yeses turned out to be some of the greatest blessings in my life.  Despite the risk.  Despite the odds.  Despite all the reasons why it didn’t seem like a “good” idea at the time.  

I’ve been thinking about this especially lately because of what was going on this time last year.  

A year ago I was in the thick of wrestling through a decision Peter and I had made a few weeks prior.  We’d said no to accepting the referral of a little boy on our agency’s waiting list after being unexpectedly drawn to him.  We’d taken the time to research his probable condition.  We’d stepped out of our preconceived ideas of how our adoption was going to go by even considering this little boy to the extent that we had.  But in the end, after weeks of researching, we’d said no because our fear of the unknowns surrounding his condition was too great.  

Maybe we researched TOO much?  I think sometimes our heads get the better of our hearts.  (*I’m not saying that it’s wise to leap without checking the depth of the water… but sometimes we can over-analyze our capabilities and stop ourselves short of tremendous opportunity.  If we can learn to face our fear of the unknown and trust the strange prompting to do something completely uncharacteristic, amazing results often follow.  It’s called faith.  Whew — that’s a whole post in itself!!)

But back to topic here…  I’m finding that the sounds and smells this month are bringing back the mixed feelings and intense emotions I had during that season… the heartache, the fears, the questions… I was really undone inside and definitely not settled with that initial decision.  I wrote this post a year ago.  Re-reading it, I remember the agony I was in — all the planning and prayers and desire to adopt came down to this ONE little life.  This one little boy.  It was immensely specific.  I remember thinking “how can people even make decisions like this?”  The future of a human life was in the balance and it weighed heavily on me.  

The last few weeks as I’ve been watching Henry run around outside with his sister — every inch an almost-two-year-old boy! — I have been very, very aware of how close I came to missing such an amazing blessing.  Granted, I AM a believer in God’s sovereignty.  But I also believe that I’m faced with choices every day.  I make decisions and I live with those decisions.  I’m very aware right now of how small a word “yes” is — and how huge the ramifications can be.  My heart is so thankful that Peter and I got a second chance to say yes… a second chance to take that leap.

This whole journey has made me stop and think about other things in life I might miss because I choose to stay comfortable.  It’s not going to help anything to be paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision — but I think it’s a very, very healthy thing to be acutely aware of the tendency to stay comfortable.  I WANT to live my life aware of the doors I almost didn’t walk through.  No regrets… but an awareness of the times that I had an opportunity to leap and didn’t (or almost didn’t.)   It’s funny, on one hand I tend to be pretty adventurous and willing to take risks… but it’s generally when I know that I am actually safe and I know what the outcome will be.  I’m fine climbing a rock face when I’m tied to a rope! —  but faced with a situation where the unknowns are seriously life-changing and permanent, I’m not so risky.  I play it safe… too safe.  I don’t want to be that person.  I want to be the crazy, sold-out and willing to follow Christ ANYWHERE person. 

Thank God for his grace to change, and grow, and leap!

Our yes to Henry was such a small leap in comparison to a lot of people’s “yeses.”  Seriously, it’s awe-inspiring (and just plain inspiring!) to think about the level of so many people’s dedication to following the road less traveled.  But, it was a HUGE step for us… it opened the doors to a lot of other “yeses” in our lives and is a daily reminder to stay open and surrendered to God’s plan.  It’s certainly not the easiest thing in the world to surrender our plans and hold our lives out openly… but we are learning that the unexpected blessings in it are incomparable.  This lesson has became intensly real and personal to us through this adoption — we really can’t imagine life without our precious, unexpected son!

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger (or heartache) is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller

(…and because I still haven’t finished any of my wordy-reflective-drafts!!) I thought I’d share a few more of my favorite shots from our “photo op” with the kids last week.  Peter and I took them down to the river so I could try to get some nicer portrait-like photos to frame for our moms (laaaaate mother’s day gifts…) 

The evening was beautiful and the lighting was unbelievable — it was actually raining just a little and there was a gorgeous rainbow arching over the water as the sun came out.  The kids were surprisingly cooperative (thanks in part to the antics of my husband standing behind me!) and I got a few shots (out of hundreds) that made the cut.  I am completely frustrated by how steep the learning curve is with the new lens Peter gave me for mother’s day.  (The lens itself is *amazing*! — but I have so, so much to learn… At least it’s fun experimenting! 🙂 )  







Yeah, I know you’re laughing!  🙂 

Sometimes it pays to take a zillion pictures of the kids — every now and then I end up with a funny one like this that couldn’t have been planned if I’d tried! 

Now I just need to come up with a good caption.  Ideas, anyone?? 

…that’s how far the mercury dropped last night.  Thirty-three degrees!  One measly degree above FREEZING.  IN JUNE, for crying out loud!!!!  Geesh.  Someone needs to turn up the thermostat. 

My poor tomato plants will NEVER forgive me for not covering them.   

I woke up Friday morning and it was pouring rain again — really, really pouring… consistent with most of last week, actually!  I was up earlier than usual and absent-mindedly grabbed one of the books I have sitting on my coffee table — a collection of stories, prayers and quotes by Mother Teresa.  I flipped open to the middle of the book and read words that I’ve read before, but they particularly stood out to me on Friday and I’ve been reflecting on them since.  They are just too good not to share…

Sacrifice, surrender and suffering are not popular topics nowadays.  Our culture makes us believe that we can have it all, that we should demand our rights, that with the right technology all pain and problems can be overcome.  This is not my attitude toward sacrifice.  I know that it is impossible to relieve the world’s suffering unless God’s people are willing to surrender to God, to make sacrifices, and to suffer along with the poor. 

From the beginning of time, the human heart has felt the need to offer God a sacrifice.  What is an acceptable sacrifice?  One that is good for the people of God.  One that is made on behalf of the world.

There are lonely people around you in hospitals and psychiatric wards.  There are so many people who are homeless!  In New York City, our sisters are working among the destitute who are dying.  What pain it causes to see these people!  They are only known by their street address now.  Yet they were all someone’s children.  Someone loved them at one time.  They loved others during their lifetime.  But now they are only known by their street address.

The words of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you,” must not only be a light for us but a flame that consumes the self in us.  Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.

Suffering is nothing by itself.  But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.

I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others.  This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts.  Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace to those around me.”

Such simple truth.

I make it too complicated sometimes. I get caught up feeling too small and unable to make the difference that I long to. And then I read words like these and I remember that it’s NOT ABOUT ME!  Even when I am wanting so badly to give more and do more, it’s still about ME when I am worrying about my impact. 

I think it’s easy to idealize lives like Mother Teresa’s.  I am profoundly inspired by her selflessness and her service and I long to live my own life in the same way — but I tend to view her opportunities for service as more noble than the ones I have around me.  I want to touch people on that level, but sometimes I struggle to see that I have the opportunity to practice that level of love EVERY day.  When I am up all night with a sick child — that’s being Jesus’ hands and feet on the earth (just so happens to be my kid — but still!)  When I visit the local nursing home and sit beside precious old men and women who have no one in their lives — that’s being Jesus’ hands and feet on the earth.  When I stop and talk to the homeless man on the street corner and give a little of my self and my time — that’s being a conduit for Christ’s love.  When I step out in faith and open my home to a stranger in need — that’s a chance to practice true love.  The opportunities are endless.   It doesn’t matter where I live or who I am surrounded by.  There is always an opportunity to give freely and serve wholeheartedly WHEREVER God has me at the moment.  There is always the need to be emptied of self and become a conduit for God’s love. 

It’s easier in some ways to excuse my selfishness when my selfish actions happen everyday with everyday people.  It’s easier to assume that if I was in a situation where I was surrounded by great and obvious needs, I would do whatever I could to physically, actually relieve as much as possible.  It’s easy to think about being the good Samaritan.  Yet how many times do I walk by the old man on the street corner without stopping?  How many times do I turn my head so I don’t make eye-contact? How many times do I turn from needs that are all around me because they are familiar?  Or write them off as not great enough…  or even worse, how many needs do I not even see because I am obliviously filled with myself?

Ouch.  So convicting — but necessarily so. 

Oh God, keep convicting me.  Keep showing me the areas where I am so self-focused that I don’t even realize the extent of it.  Empty me of self so that your love can be poured through me to all people.  Literally.  The near, the familiar and the far alike. Remove the pride that wants to serve in ways that satisfy some strange sense of idealism.  Remove ALL of me.  Remove ALL of my ideals and leave me with only YOU.  Fill me with your heart and your deep, deep love that consumes all. 

I have a great adoption fundraiser to share with you all.  (I know how hard it can be to find good, unique fund-raising ideas!)  It’s also just a great cause to support, even if you aren’t in need of a fundraiser…

Threads of Hope is a small organization started by a missionary couple selling hand-made bracelets from the Philippines.  They are literally saving lives and changing lives by giving struggling people on the island of Mindoro a chance to earn a living by making these bracelets.  My sis-in-law, Channelle, shared with us about Threads of Hope while she was here visiting last week — she has a lot of the same passions as we do and has been working with Threads of Hope for a couple months now.  Peter and I were really excited to learn about their philosophy because it goes right along with our desire to help empower local artisans in developing countries to make a living through fair trade commerce.  Peter called and talked to Alex (the missionary who started Threads of Hope) and they had a great conversation about ways we can get more involved and help them out once we get our site going.  Alex ended up sending us several thousand bracelets so we can begin selling them here locally as well as on the website eventually.

We are going to be selling them and giving all the profits back to their ministry, but Threads of Hope also sends out batches of bracelets for people to use as a fundraiser.  This is REALLY cool.  You contact them and let them know what you are going to be fund raising for (this gives them the chance to approve the cause) and then they send you as many bracelets as you think you can sell.  (No money needed up front — they are very trusting! 🙂 )  Then you sell the bracelets at local venues (church functions, schools, fairs, etc.) for $1 a piece and then send 60% of the sales back to Alex.  The rest is for your fundraiser!  It’s a total win/win.  People in the Philippines are earning a living AND you are able to raise money for your cause.  Reciprocal blessing — it doesn’t get much better than that!!

Check out their website and read the story about how it all got started.  It’s pretty inspiring what God can do when ordinary people see a need and choose to do something about it!

The bracelets are awesome, too, by the way.  Each one is so unique and the colors are gorgeous! (I won’t even tell you how many I bought for myself personally!!  🙂  The Threads of Hope website isn’t set up for small orders — and it’s not really a commerce site, so if you want to buy a few (anywhere between ten and a hundred!) let me know and I can send them to you in the mail.  They would make great party favors, or small gifts and the cause is a good one! 




A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

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"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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June 2008
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