Dashing Through December

We are dashing through December at a rapid clip and I wish there were more hours in a day to just relax and enjoy this beautiful and spirited season.  The boys are counting down the days until Christmas vacation and dear Ava cannot wait to make pink cupcakes for Baby Jesus. I’m thinking were gonna need sprinkles too.

I shared time this morning with two precious friends discussing all things parenting, adoption and missions and it was so wonderful to let it all out. Air it all and be open with our many fears and/or flops when it comes to raising children. It’s serious business shepherding little lives in this wild world. There is layer after layer we must build up and sometimes peel back in order to know who are kids are or what they are thinking or doing. There is little time for rest and often a days work feels like a thankless chore. Yet each day I wake to the various moods of my children and I am reminded that there is no greater mission in the world than to be raising the next generation of parents, workers, leaders and followers of Christ. It’s a mighty task and I am grateful that I can surrender to Him who gives me peace and strength on the journey.

Here is the very special Miss Renee who was so instrumental in helping us get these two girls home. She was our social worker and did so much to help guide us through the process. Abby and Ava had great fun creating masterpieces on her arms.

The last few days seem like a bit of a blur in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut and while I have so much swirling around in my head I find myself having almost nothing that I can truly articulate.  There are so many around the world trying to make sense of such a disturbing act and as a Mother I continue to struggle to find the words to comfort my children.  I see the names and faces of so many innocent lives and I just want the world to become more still and quiet when instead we are now further embroiled in debate and noisy opinions. I just keeping hearing bluster and fear ring out from most {myself included} and I wonder how we will ever rework the most delicate fibers of our society back into anything smooth and acceptable.  I long for the day when those we hurt can be comforted and the least, lost and broken will be made whole. My only hope is that of a savior whose birth we are soon to celebrate on Christmas day.  Nobody can explain the how and why of random and senseless loss and suffering throughout our world other than to say that sin is real. Mental illness, loneliness, pain and unthinkable actions are real. They are a large part of our broken world.

This week it seems we are all searching. Trouble is we humans might only search when the darkness comes and we are desperate for answers. I’m not pointing fingers because as I look in the mirror this week I am acutely aware that I should care far less about the comforts of this world and care more about strengthening and loving those in need, spiritually, socially and financially.  I can do more to be a voice for the mentally ill or maybe I can better educate myself about what video games and movies are being marketed to our children. I know I can do more and my prayer is that God helps all of us to live sacrifically in many categories of life. Maybe in doing so we will look more deeply into the hurts of another, maybe we will pay more attention to which guns and specific ammunition are ranked top in sales and begin asking why.           WARNING… tangent: {From the little research I have done I just don’t get it. Even if people want to possess a weapon for protection or hunting who on planet earth needs a military type weapon in their home? And please do not tell me that our Constitution is in jeopardy. There is no founding father who could have anticipated the types of weapons sold today when the second amendment came to be.}         Maybe we need to put our money where our hearts are in the wake of yet another tragedy and not support the violent garbage that shows up on television and in the box office.  Let’s encourage more gaming that is educational and active without all the degrading and demeaning graphic violence that so many young people are playing today.  Let’s act on the notion that what we put in is what we get out and that violence does not positively contribute to compassion and tolerance.  What if we just said no and demanded something better? By now I sound ridiculous I’m sure but how did things get to the point of anything and everything goes?  Dare to step off the merry- go- round of constant chaos and pick a few things that you simply will no longer tolerate? Together we could make changes that might just count and we could encourage others to come alongside us.   I trust that God is breaking our hearts for the very things that break his and while I have few answers I am grateful for motivation and ideas.  I no longer want to sit around wondering why so many young people cannot seem to cope.   I don’t want to keep asking why the large retailers where we all love to shop won’t rethink their influence and pull the violent nonsense that seeks to mame cops or force women into prostitution. Do the reasearch and see how many of these games are sold in the USA. Be afraid. Be very afraid for our children.  Let’s spend our energy and dollars demanding more of each other and those who influence and lead us and the generations to come. What can we change as an individual, a community, a culture, a nation that will build up another and help us all to heal?

So is it the guns?  300 million guns are owned by American citizens. The same gun laws exist in Canada and Switzerland and yet they do not have the same gun violence. Gun violence kills 10, 000 Americans per year and now we have seen 31 mass shootings since Columbine. Of course the guns are part of the issue. On the other hand we cannot talk guns without discussing the culture of violence that we as a society have been forced to accept. I think it has happened slowly and without even thinking about it we are all living in a fast paced world where there are few rules. From what I see much of our culture is selfish, hurried and always needing more and more to be fulfilled.  Maybe we will someday figure out that it is our culture of selfishness and violence has increased the number of people struggling with mental health breakdowns.  Combine that with an entitled spirit, a broken mental health care system that many cannot navigate, an unpredictable economy, violence and stimulation at every turn and there you have it… Maybe we are finally reaching a breaking point and it’s time to stop the madness and regroup. We need a culture shift!   Forgive my venting but I have learned this. The more God asks me to spend my life on His behalf to invest in the wellness of others, the more I find the true meaning of my life. It is not about faster, better or acquiring more to fill up our lives and make us feel safe and whole. Those things are not working and it’s clear that something really needs to give.  Engage in all ideas and listen more openly.  Act in a positive direction. Pray for guidance and strength. We can be the change that is needed in this world.

So I am clinging tight to the next few days and of course having our now 18 year old Ethiopian home has helped us to view this entire season with fresh eyes. Oh the stories I could tell if only I had the time, about how wacky some of our Western Christmas traditions feel with Tadesse in our midst. I love the challenge he has brought to some of our traditions and when it comes right down to having to explain the jolly fat man who slides down the chimney I find myself questioning if we should have ever fibbed to our kids. Just sayin.’  We have been teaching some of our Christmas traditions and there is nothing better than answering his questions or watching his face light up when his little sister is teaching him “We wish you a merry Christmas” complete with hand motions. So in these days of struggling for answers and wishing we could go backwards in time to the days of simplicity and safety I want to remind you all to fix your eyes on Jesus. His birth is the reason for this joyous season and in Him we can find mercy and wholeness. It does not come from any place else no matter how hard we look.

Hoping a  few of these photos will make you smile if you are still reading this now that my rant is over. I was not going to go there {so to speak} but in was all bottled up inside and just came flying out. Send me your thoughts. We can all learn so much from one another.

why not bring snowballs into the house?


Fun with Christmas photoprops


Santa Daddy…

a first look at snow…


the reason for the season…


Ho Ho Ho…


ready for a real snowstorm


Merry Christmas!