Alyssa's birthday celebration became quite drawn out this year. Her party had to be resheduled due to the fact that so many of the attendees were ill. Since she and I weren't sick, we met the only other well family members (my sister-in-law and niece) at McDonald's for dinner - hence the first celebration. We finally were able to have the real party a few days later, and a week later I got to bring cupcakes to her classroom. As you can see from the expression on her face, that was probably the highlight of them all. So there's the birthday wrap-up. Most of you probably get tired of all the family photos, but a few of my readers (hi mom!) require them!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Can I just tell you how much I love artificial Christmas trees? For many years I was something of a Christmas tree snob and just couldn’t bear the idea of forgoing a real tree for the holidays. Growing up, our trees were always real and both looked and smelled wonderful right on through the Big Day. However, I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned that I’m a native Washingtonian. In case you haven’t heard, the climate there is significantly different than my current environment. Southern California tends to be quite dry, which is great for outdoor play and my mood, but not so good for Christmas trees. What may start out as a beautiful decoration the day after Thanksgiving will be a pile of tinder by the time Christmas finally rolls around. For several years Dan and I compromised by picking out our tree on my birthday in early December. This satisfied my need to have the Christmas décor out early while avoiding a fire hazard on the holiday. However, the trees still got quite dry, and man are they expensive here! So, in time my frugality and fear of fire won out, and I finally broke down and bought a fake one. Or rather, make that two. I purchased one on clearance in the after-Christmas sales a few years ago ($14.99 I think!). When I pulled it out the next November, however, it turned out to be a cute, but very stubby little tree. So that became our “kids” tree for all the homemade and miscellaneous ornaments. Ultimately a handy thing to have, but not the Christmasy masterpiece I had envisioned. I then went out and purchased another of significantly greater stature (not on clearance), and have been in love ever since. The thing goes up in a matter of minutes, it fits perfectly into its custom-made stand, there’s no cutting, watering, falling needles, or asymmetrical spots. It comes pre-lit, the branches can be contorted to any position you desire, my Margaret Furlong collection can be protected from little hands with one little bend, and it can stay up for as long as I want. I’ve even solved the problem of smell by purchasing a real wreath from my favorite store. Of course, I am sacrificing a little character, I know the fake ones aren't as "green" as some would like to think, and my kids may not know the joy of searching for the perfect tree, but its not like LA has a lot of “over the river and through the woods” kind of tree lots anyway! And yes, I know these are the same pictures as last year, but they really haven't changed - another plus! Just imagine one more stocking hanging on the mantle.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I’m relieved to see that I’m not the only one who has neglected their blogging duties over the long weekend. Between the holiday times two (Thursday for Dan’s side, Friday for mine), Alyssa’s birthday, a nearly 2-week break from school, the Family Plague (which hit 11 out of 16 family members), Black Friday, and decorating for Christmas, blogging just hasn’t been a priority. Judging by the lack of posts on my normal blog-roll and dip in traffic here, I’m guessing mine isn’t the only hectic life. So I trust I’ll be forgiven, and hope to come up with something meaningful to say here one of these days. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don’t neglect to continue thanking the One who gives us life, joy, and the opportunity to find peace with God.
Monday, November 19, 2007
About this time five years ago I was recovering from one of the most exhausting and rewarding experiences of my life: giving birth. I was in labor for 2 days, pushed for 3 hours, and was finally blessed with the sweetest, most beautiful newborn baby girl I had ever seen. All of our family was there – those who couldn’t be in the room had their ears to the door – and within hours of Alyssa’s arrival we had dozens of friends stop by to see this precious gift. Dan and I were overwhelmed by the love demonstrated to us by so many of those close to us, but even more in awe of this tiny little body God had entrusted to us! Looking back at pictures she was as funny looking as most brand-new babies are (especially those who have spent that amount of time in the birth canal!), but I thought she was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t wait to get her home, dress her up, take her out, and show the world what an incredible gift we had been given. But as proud I was of her that day, I am infinitely more proud of her on this day. She has already proven herself to be a beautiful young lady, inside and out. Her confidence in who she is and what she knows is both admirable and humorous (Daddy thought he would have at least a few more years before his little girl would start correcting him). Her love for her siblings and cousins is evident in the way she talks about, shares, and serves them (though you shouldn’t think that means they don’t bicker!). Just as all parents think their children are brilliant, I’m convinced she is, but more importantly Alyssa loves to learn, is respectful of her teachers, and is anxious to soak up the truth of the Scriptures. Alyssa exhibits care in her appearance and loves to dress up, but isn’t affected or afraid to play in the dirt. She is excitable about something like a birthday party, but patient and humble when it has to be postponed as a result of the Family Plague. Many of my own character qualities are bound up in this little life, but she has enough of her daddy in her to make her incredibly likeable. Already I admire the lady I see emerging from the precious girl God allows me to mother. Already I am thankful for the pain of that day 5 years ago, and the indescribable joy He has brought to our lives as a result. Happy Birthday Baby Girl!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday was a big day! Alyssa got to ride on her first real school bus and go on her first real field trip! The bus was actually a more anticipated event than the play we attended, and the field trip in general has been talked about even more than her upcoming birthday. Needless to say, we had a good time and I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to be a part!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
A favorite worship song of mine is taken from Micah 7:7
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
While singing this chorus on Tuesday at Bible Study, I thought of how diligently I watched in hope for Reagan, and how diligently I don’t wait for God my Savior.
Throughout those many months (years!) of waiting for our adoption to be completed, I could not be torn away from my computer. I scoured the internet for any information about adoption, Vietnam, adoptions in Vietnam. I hit refresh more times than I care to admit, hoping that some e-mail about our process would be waiting for me. I tied myself to our agency’s forum with the sense that our adoption somehow became more real as I watched others complete the process. My heart leapt each time the phone rang, hoping it was some news about Reagan. Most of my blog posts are about The Wait. My idle thoughts often went immediately to Reagan. Even my worship of God was colored by His gracious care of her and me during that trying time. My sense of hope for my third child was almost palpable.
My conviction now is that I might learn to cultivate the same sense of hope for Jesus Christ. His return is far more certain than the promise of a child ever was. As I witness the dramatic developments in Vietnamese adoption over the past week and the possibility of a shutdown at some point, I realize just how delicate the balance of international adoption really is. In stark contrast is the promise of Christ’s second coming which is guaranteed by God in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 - “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God… and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” The joy that Reagan has brought to our lives pales in comparison to the joy I will experience when I am finally united with Christ. Through Him I can rejoice even when I suffer, knowing that “when His glory is revealed, [I] may also be glad with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).
Yet even in light of those promises, that precious hope, I often fail to anticipate His arrival with anywhere near the longing and urgency I felt for our daughter. Perhaps the thousands of intervening years between His first and second coming have lulled us into complacency, but we are commanded to be ready (Luke 12:40). The gospels are full of tragic parables of those who thought they had time to prepare themselves for His coming, only to be told by the Lord “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12). My prayer is that none of you, my precious readers, will ever hear those words. I pray that you intimately know the grace of God that brings salvation, and look with me for “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Monday, November 05, 2007
but I don’t. The only thing I don’t like about having a blog is the pressure to keep it going. This is just one of those weeks when there are a lot of things floating around in my brain, but there’s not enough time or brain cells available to put anything coherent down on “paper.” I’ve been thinking about the intense conversations going on over at Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity about the potential for corruption in adoption (specifically in Vietnam) and what a truly ethical adoption looks like. I have my own, somewhat unorthodox views and a related post that’s been in the works for some time, but it’s just not ready yet. I’ve been thinking about our friends, the Kostjuk’s, who are facing the possibility that they may never get to know their newborn baby girl. I’ve been thinking about the babies we lost through miscarriage. I’ve been rejoicing in the glorious way God used that pain to lead our hearts ultimately to Reagan, and how without their deaths we never would have conceived Alyssa and Parker. I’ve been falling more and more in love with my newest daughter, almost to the point where I can say I hold the same affection for her as for my eldest two. I’ve been thinking about whether God will ever lead us (or rather Dan!) to adopt again, and when that time might be. I’ve been wondering whether our family is complete and what it will ultimately look like. A lot of fragmented thoughts, but like I said, nothing really cemented enough in my brain to compose a post in and of themselves. So maybe some day I’ll expand upon these thoughts, but for now you just get this little dump.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Though Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays (just why do people have to decorate with tombstones, and what are we supposed to do with all this candy?!) the kids really do love dressing up! Even Reagan tolerated her slightly-ridiculous-but-very-adorable goldfish costume, and Alyssa has only shed her scrubs for the few hours she was at school this morning. I had this great idea for a themed Halloween when I saw the fish costumes on clearance at Babystyle, but Alyssa was set on being a doctor and I just never found the time to create a fisher-girl outfit for her. So alas, no theme. They still looked pretty cute though and are already busy deciding what they're going to be next year.