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Archive for December, 2009

anticipation

As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child this evening, we are also eagerly awaiting the birth of another sweet babe.

Ava likes to put her face right up to my stomach and say, “Mama, don’t you wish it was like an oven so we could turn the light on and take a peek?”

Hoping that your Christmas is filled with laughter, wonder, and worship.

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Rachel, Nate, & Ava

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winter blooms

I love that in Minnesota, Christmas truly falls in the dead of winter. All vegetation is either encased in ice or locked under the frozen ground. Snow covers the rooftops, the sidewalks, the railings and the lampposts. And by 4:30 in the evening this world of white is shrouded in darkness. These are the darkest days of the year.

The celebration of Christmas is the bright, shiny moment during our dark winter months. I love how this reflects the story of Christ’s birth. While we were still lost in darkness, the Light of the World came to us as a babe to bring us new life.

Each year I like to pot paper white bulbs, small white flowers that bloom while everything else is dormant. It’s like bringing a little bit of life into a sleeping world. Not only do they fill your home with fragrance, they also make great little hostess gifts, neighbor gifts or teacher gifts.

Besides her classroom teacher, this year Ava has two dance teachers, a choir director, two Sunday school leaders, a reading teacher, and two teacher’s assistants. So last weekend, we had a little paper white potting party.

First you need some bulbs. Most nurseries carry them. I usually pick up mine at Home Depot–so romantic, I know.

Next you fill your pot with moist dirt. I found these perfect little pots at IKEA.

Then with a twist of your hand, you nestle the bulbs into the dirt. Make sure the stem is facing up.

Now for the messy part. Cover the dirt with moss. We used Spanish moss, but any moss will do.

Add a little embellishment and a gift tag with instructions.

Paper white care could not be easier:

  • Keep in a sunny spot.
  • Keep soil moist (water 1 or 2 times a week).

Finally, prepare yourself for this conversation.

“Wow. Thank you. What is it?”

“A paper white.”

“A paper weight?”

“Paper WHIte. It’s a little white flower that will grow and bloom.”

I realize that it little late for you to give these as gifts this year, but it’s not too late to bring some winter blooms into your own home. Let these little budding flowers nestled in moss remind you of the new life offered to you from the little babe in the manger.

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mayflower makeover

Before Thanksgiving, Ava’s Kindergarten class was studying the early explorers. They stowed away on the Nina to learn all about Christopher Columbus adventurous voyage and then they packed paper trunks to join the pilgrims on the Mayflower.

Yesterday, I was helping out in her classroom and noticed that they still had some pilgrim art on the wall. I wandered over to see if I could find Ava’s. Each child had colored a pilgrim couple and attached to the drawings were quotes from each student describing what their job at the new settlement would be.

Many of the boys were going to chop down wood to keep people warm or go hunting for meat. Some kids would plant food; some would gather it. One sweet girl wrote that she would build a church. It was clear that if you wanted to bring twenty-two five-year-olds to an uncharted land, this would be your crew.

As I searched the wall for Ava’s name, I found one that said that she would grow food for people to eat.  I was so proud at that moment. All my instruction last summer on seeds and soil, water and weeding had taken root.  But as I studied the picture I realized the coloring was off. It wasn’t quite detailed enough.

Then I found my Ava’s. While all the other children had colored their pilgrims in the traditional drab hues of browns, grays, and blacks, Ava’s pilgrim’s had rose stripes, gold sashes, and aqua polka-dots.

And if Ava had landed at Plymouth, she would have “helped them make ribbon for clothes.”

Something tells me she is not going to be a contender in Survivor 2024.

But if you need a hand with accessories, she’s your girl.

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This is a post that has been sitting in the queue of my heart for a long time. You could say that it is long overdue.

I have wrestled with whether I should write again about losing babies and the longing to have more children. I want to be faithful to the story that God has given me, and I hope to encourage those of you who have expressed how these posts have been helpful to you.

I remember walking into an advent season not knowing if there would be a little heart beating on the other side of Christmas. That was four years ago.

Four years. It is a long time to wait. And much of our journey has been recorded here.

One part of our story that never made it to the blog was our attempt to adopt a little girl from Russia. Almost two years ago we started the pile of paperwork. Six months later our home study was completed, our passports were ready and we were waiting for a placement. Another three months past and the whole thing got thrown up the in air and came down in pieces. That door has shut.

And if you or anyone you know has gone through the adoption process you know how much hard work, heartache and hope each one of those brief sentences encompasses.

When it was clear that this adoption was over, it became very, very black, and very, very quiet. I remember last winter feeling like the Lord was so silent. At so many other points in this journey, I had felt his nearness and comfort. This was the blackest part of the night.

It says in the Proverbs that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart was sick. I could not understand why he would lead us down this path only to hit a dead end.

I remember telling my friend with fists clenched that I was going to keep kicking at his door until he answered me—it wasn’t that I had to have what I desired, it was that his silence was unbearable.

About this time one of our pastor’s wives spoke at our moms group. She told the incredible story of her daughter’s adoption from South America. Her story carried the same themes of longing and waiting, hope and disappointment, and even at times God’s silence.

She explained that often when we are weary of our struggles, whatever they are, we want redeeming grace. Grace that will rescue us for our situation. She encouraged us not to disregard enduring grace. Grace that keeps us running to him. That keeps us crying out to the Lord.

At the end of her talk, it was evident that though at times it appeared that God had abandoned them, he was indeed holding them and guiding them. God knew that this was to be our daughter and that she would go home with them. He also knew each heartbreaking disappointment and setback was in fact the very steps through which she would come home. She could not have been theirs without each painful part of their path.

The very next morning I went to my Beth Moore Esther study and the key passage was Isaiah 30:18

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to how you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are those who wait for him.”

For the first time I saw that God wasn’t on the other side of the door I was banging on. He was on the same side as I was. He longed for the door to be open; He longed to be gracious to me. Had I not heard this mother’s story, I would not have seen the meaning of this verse so clearly. God longed for her and her husband to have their daughter as much as they did, but he knew that they had to walk through their long and lonely journey in order for her to be theirs.

Isaiah 30:18 became the candle with which I walked that long, last dark months of this journey. I didn’t have any promises of or news of any more children, but I had something better. I knew that God was on my side.

Oh, this post is so long overdue. I have crafted it in my mind too many times, and somehow it never makes it to the keyboard.  I know many of you, if not all of you, already know, but I want to officially share the wonderful news that God has given us another child. We are hoping to meet this baby at the end of January.

Before this pregnancy I thought if I was to get pregnant, I would be so enthusiastic and anxious for people to pray that I would tell everyone right away. Then when we found out, I was overwhelmed with joy, but it got caught in my throat. I felt paralyzed. It was like I was holding a bubble in my hand and I didn’t dare move or breathe lest it burst. For so long we didn’t tell anyone. It was like keeping it a secret inside of me was keeping it safe.

Slowly we began to tell people as we saw them. Summer slipped into fall and before I knew it my belly was making my announcement for me. One of my friends was overwhelmed as we told her. She looked up at me and said, “Rachel, you don’t understand. This isn’t just good news for you, this is good news for all of us.” And she’s right, this isn’t just my answer to prayer, it is an answer to many of your prayers as well.

I don’t know all the reasons why we have endured this long wait or what purposes it has or will serve. I don’t know why at times the Lord was silent, but I do believe that he has longed for this baby to come to us as much as we have.

Today, I’m 32 weeks along and home to very busy baby. I still have a hard time believing that this is really happening—that there is a sweet baby coming at the end January. After nearly four years of waiting, this pregnancy is going by remarkably fast! How can I already be 32 weeks? God is good, and we are praying that we will hold this little one soon.

Nate and I feel so humbled by all the people who have been praying for us and especially that this little babe would join our family. Thank you so much for all your encouragement and prayers these past few years. Lord willing, there will be a new character in our story in the New Year!

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