It makes a difference for this one…

A little over three years ago, Hubby and I took adoption classes.

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We were already open as a foster home, but hadn’t had any placements yet, and we were still unsure of which way would would go… foster care or straight up adoption… but we wanted to know all we could about both options, and be ready for whatever direction the Lord led us. And He led us to both fostering AND adoption!

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In those classes, we learned so much. We had the opportunity to talk with other families stepping tentatively toward the same goal… to hear their stories, their concerns, their fears, and their deep convictions about caring for children, whether it was for a few days or for forever. We learned that there are so many kids that need a place to call home and people to call family. The need is so big and so great that it sometimes seems impossible to make a difference, just being one little family with an extra bedroom. But then we were told this story…

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
― Loren Eiseley

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And now, three years later, we’re looking at the possibility of taking adoption classes a second time. Thinking about those starfish on the beach, and the handful of little people that have touched our lives in the past three years, inspired me to get out my scissors and start snipping.

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And gluing.

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And “resin-ing.”

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Make a Difference Pendants are now available in our shop!

Green Pastures and Still Waters…

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside still waters.
~Psalm 23:1-2~

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We live a pretty low key life at this point.

Home, and family, and church, and friends, and a few weekly appointments and activities that go along with raising kids. Our weeks usually feel rather normal and routine. I like the feeling of knowing what happens on specific days of the week. Sometimes, though, it does feel like the days and weeks run right smack into each other, without much of a real “stop what you’re doing and lie down” sort of rest. We had one of those this past week or so.

The Tummy Bug hit.

Hard.

Mom was the first victim, getting sick on a Sunday night, completely out of the blue. I spent Monday on the couch. Nana and Pop-Pop swooped away the active Toddler Boy, leaving me with just a Tiny Boy that stayed right next to me in the Pack ‘N Play or swing. As long as there were bottles and diapers and snuggles, he was happy. Hubby had to work, but he ran the errands and brought home ice pops, diapers, Gatorade, and a rotisserie chicken.

The next morning I felt a little better, but we called off Tuesday’s Tot School with the grands just to play it safe. Wednesday, Tyler was acting mildly sick and wouldn’t eat much, so we decided we’d better stay home from church and not spread any germs. And thank goodness we did… Hubby woke up at midnight with the same hard-hitting yuck that attacked me three days earlier. Tyler’s version was mild, so we kept watching him like he was a time bomb, waiting to explode at any moment. Thankfully, he didn’t, although he barely ate anything all week and was very droopy and tired.

The “yuck’ part of this lasted only a short while, but the “wiped out” part lasted for days. Every day I woke up feeling slightly better, but ended up needing to sit still after cooking something or washing some dishes or folding a bit of laundry. On Friday night, I turned the remnants of the rotisserie chicken into soup. By Saturday, I was feeling energized enough to go to the grocery store, but when I got back I slept all afternoon. We took one more day to rest on Sunday and then I began slowly pulling the house back together on Monday. The parents of the grands were still boycotting any potential germs, so Tuesday’s Tot School was cancelled again.

Ten Days of Rest.

Rest that interrupted our plans of fellowship, family
activities, and work, but evidently was much needed.

It made me think of how the Good Shepherd had to MAKE his sheep lie down and rest in the cool, green pastures. How He had to LEAD them to drink the cold, still waters. I wonder what those sheep were trying to do or where they were trying to go? Were they so busy doing sheep stuff that they forgot to rest and be still for a little while? Sometimes we all need a few days of forced rest.

Also… Isn’t it interesting that the prescription for
getting over illness is plenty of rest and lots of fluids?

Green pastures and still waters.

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What’s that in your hand?

Moses had a stick.

The widow had a small jar of oil.

David had a slingshot and five little stones.

A young boy had five little loaves and a couple of small fishes.

God was able to use those small things in mighty ways.

Choosing my “One Word” for 2017 took a little while. It was a bit jumbled up in my head… and even on paper… until I realized that “Stewardship” best summed up all my random thoughts.

To me, “Stewardship” means taking care of what I have… keeping it, managing it, organizing it, saving it. But more importantly, it means USING IT. Enjoying it. Finishing what I’ve started. Filling it up and not letting it sit idle and empty. Creating and building with it. Spending it down to the last bit if it will bring about something good and useful. Taking a risk with it rather than squirreling it away. Redeeming it and giving it back to the Lord with interest, like the two faithful servants Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Talents.

It might seem as if there’s not much you can do as a homemaker on
a tight budget with lots of little people hanging on your legs.

Or as a working Mama with barely a minute to spare.

Or as an emptier nester whose chicks have flown off.

But what’s that in your hand?

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A well-stocked pantry? A dining room table? Unfinished projects? Tons of craft supplies? Your home? An empty bedroom? A few spare hours? The nest egg you’re saving for a rainy day? Talents you’ve set aside during the busy and demanding years of life?

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That’s the question I’m asking myself this year…

How would the Lord have me use what is in my hand?

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Warm and woolly…

How is your January going?

Ours has been quietly eventful.

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We had snow last weekend. A nice quiet snow.

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Quite a bit of it, which happens only once in a while around here,
making it somewhat of an event..

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And in the midst of the snowstorm, a new little person
arrived in the world, and came to stay with us for a while.
A newborn in the house means lots of quiet naps…
and sometimes not so quiet moments, as Tyler and Nana are experiencing.

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We’ve had the snowy sort of quiet,
along with the newborn sort of “quiet.”

All that has kept me quite busy, but has also afforded a few minutes here and
there for journaling. I started working on my title page for January.

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Warm and wooly mittens and snowflakes seemed to be a good choice.
And a perfect chance to practice adding a bit of texture to my drawing!

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I pulled out a pair of hand knit mittens my daughter Kate made for me so I could have a visual reference. Warm woolly knitted mittens seems to have little “v’s” all lined up in rows.

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Tiny knit stitches were started with an icy blue marker.
I tried to follow the contour of the mitten as I dabbed them in.

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An ultra-fine black pen, along with a medium point
blue marker helped define the texture a bit.

Adding texture to a drawing takes a LOT of patience.

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It’s getting there. It’s not perfect, and I can already see some things I wish I had done differently. But that’s what art journaling is all about… learning and experimenting!

Art Supplies Used:
Copic Sketch marker B00 Frost Blue (Knit stitches)
Prismacolor Premier Marker Cool Grey 30% (Shading)
PaperMate Flair Medium Marker (Dark aqua details)
Pigma Micron 01 & Pima Brush Pen (Outlining)

Knowing your “why”…

Sometimes there’s a really good reason to slow down.

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The clearing of your schedule,
and the decluttering of your days,
and the un-obligating of your time
can be for a specific purpose…

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Your “why.”

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And sometimes it takes a while to figure out what your “why” is.

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For many years, my days were filled with simply living life with my family. When things got too busy, we trimmed back activities so we could live more purposefully. But as the girls grew older and eventually married and moved away, my days filled up with many different things. At first it was the incredible opportunities that came our way as a family and the many activities that come with teenagers and young adults. And weddings! And then there was finally time to start working on my art again, and to explore some things I had always wanted to do, and to finish my college degree. All good things, but for about five years, I seriously overloaded myself. I rarely said “No” to anything, and eventually I was in way over my head. And I do not swim very well… literally or figuratively. It was beyond the back float, beyond treading water. More like a furious doggy-paddle to get to the side of the pool, but the current was way too strong. Somebody needed to throw me a floatie. And fast.

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I knew deep down that I wanted my “empty nest” years to be just as fulfilling and purposeful as the filled-up nest years… but how and what and who were the big questions. It sure wasn’t a filled-to-the-brim calendar, or a massive to-do list, or packing and traveling to shows, because those things were draining me. So I started praying, and reading, and thinking, and journaling, and blogging, and eventually began paring back the things that weren’t necessary so I could have time for my “why,” whatever it was.

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I knew I loved working with kids, but wasn’t sure how that could fit in this stage of life. Teaching art classes or Sunday school?  Helping homeschool families? Volunteering with 4-H? A full-time job as a teacher?

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And then we had the wonderful opportunity to babysit a tiny little girl… sometimes even overnight… and a light bulb went on. Hubby and I absolutely loved having kids around, and we realized that kids were what this home needed. And we soon discovered there were lots of kids that needed a home. So we made a phone call, sent some emails, attended an information session, and suddenly found ourselves taking classes, being home studied, and finally approved to be foster parents. And life has not been the same since.

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It has been the hardest “job” I’ve ever had, but also the simplest. You have to ride a crazy roller coaster of emotions and behaviors and visits and court appearances and doctor appointments, but you also have to just plain love on them like they are your own and make lots of peanut butter sandwiches.

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And that empty calendar is needed, because a phone call can come at the most unexpected time. A fellow foster mom might need a weekend away. Or a social worker needs to place a child tonight… “Do you have room in your home… in your schedule… in your heart?”

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And there is still balance to be sought… There must be time for your kids and grandkids, for your family and friends, and for your church family, for yourself and for your spouse. Sometimes the pendulum swings far in one direction, and then way back to the other side, but knowing your “why” helps keep it ticking away gently in the center.

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What is your “why?”

Slow Down…

I read a blog post this morning about finding yourself.

Having turned 50 not too many days ago, it struck a chord with me… It made me think of the times in my life I needed to find myself again. Not a “new self,” but the real me that sometimes gets lost in busy-ness of life and the opinions of the crowd and the pressure of calendars and things-to-do.

Living for half a century definitely gives you a bit of
perspective and makes you reflect on the things
that you were purposed to do and designed to be.

And that’s when I start thinking about this lady.

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Nana Anne.

If she had a calendar in her home, it was to mark off days that had gone by rather than to tell her what to do next week. Nana got more things done before the sun came up than I could do all day long, but she never had a to-do list or a schedule, and you sure couldn’t pin her down to “every Thursday.” It was hard to pin her down to anything, for that matter, but she was always there when you needed her. She loved to go places on the spur of the moment, but somehow she was always home when you needed to raid her fridge for a piece of homemade pie. You were welcome to stop by even if her teeth were out. And there was always coffee. Nana never joined a club and never was on a committee, but she served and loved everyone she met. She would give you the shirt off her back, the food out of her cupboard, or the curtains off her windows if you had a need. And she’d beat you to the yard sales on Saturday morning to replenish her stock. Her theology was plain and simple, and only Nana could totally get away with having a sign next to her door that said “Jesus loves you” and another beside it that said “Be nice or go away.”

Because nice matters.

And Jesus does love you.

When I feel the need to get back to basics or simplify my crazy life or to get my priorities in proper order or deal with pressure to “do more” or “go more,” Nana is the person I think of first. She taught her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids the importance of being present. To enjoy every day and not rush around, ruled by a list or a calendar or the expectations of others.

She taught us to slow down and live life.

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Our Second Rodeo…

One of our dearest. lifelong friends…
(You have some of those, don’t you?
If not, you need to start cultivating some!
They come in handy later on!)
…has a saying when it comes to raising their second crop of kiddos…

This ain’t our first rodeo.

It makes me laugh every time I hear it, and now I’m finding
that Hubby and I spit it out every once in a while, especially when we’re feeling pretty confident and experienced about being a mom and dad!

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But sometimes it still sort of feels like the first time we climbed on the back of that bucking bronco called parenting. Because they’re all different kids who have their own unique personalities. Because they don’t come with an instruction manual. Because the first two were girls and now there are a LOT of Matchbox cars around here. Because I’m not twenty-something this time around. Because how in the world do you fold up this stroller ?!?!? Because foster care and adoption can change your family dynamics for a day… a weekend… a few months… or forever!

Really loving that forever part!
:-)

Getting back in the saddle, though, has forced me to put into use all those one-liners I randomly toss at my girls about being a mom so I can practice what I preach. It has put me back on my knees daily… especially when I get bucked off and land on my backside. (This might be taken literally as well as figuratively. You are welcome to donate Tylenol and Icy Hot.) It has made me realize just how wise our parents and grandparents were, and made me ashamed for the many times I brushed off their wisdom as “old fashioned.” It has forced Hubby and I to go searching through our own dusty-attic-brains for the timeless truths and ancient wisdom we finally learned about parenting, and then packed up neatly into storage bins.

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I have always admired the moms with 3 or 4… or 6… or a dozen kids, who slowly build their arsenal of child-raising techniques. They are truly experts at their craft, able to come up with an activity out of their heads that will entertain both toddlers and teens for an entire afternoon, while simultaneously handling housework, cooking dinner, and running a home business. I want to be that mom. However, when you raise two closely spaced kiddos and then jump off the saddle for a decade or two, you can expect a few bruises when you climb back on. (You mean you’d like dinner AND clean socks?) So, I thought maybe it would help someone else if we made a list of parenting wisdom as it comes back to us!

In no certain order…

  1. Take naps. (One of those “old fashioned ideas” I brushed off as a young mom. Seriously. Do this.)
  2. A package of Dollar Store pom-poms and a muffin tin go a long way.
  3. Strong, sturdy, sippy cups with non-removable lids. (No explanation needed.)
  4. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Be consistent about this.
  5. Pray. A lot. Get friends to pray for you too.
  6. Be Present.
  7. Pick your battles wisely.
  8. Make friends with “Boy Moms.” They are Very Very Wise.
  9. Limit the toy stash… Rotate if needed.
  10. It’s okay to be “old school.”

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Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass.
~Psalm 37:5~

Off to California… And back again!

We just got back from a two week visit to see our California girl, Jo, her hubby Luke, and their little men. Two of which are not so little any more. They grow up way too fast, and when you only get to see them once a year or so, boy, do they change by leaps and bounds!

It was a long trip, but TJ did really well on the trip out.

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The terrain is soon different from the east coast!

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But trekking all the way across the country is
worth it if you get to see these smiling faces!

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We hung out at home a lot…

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Ate yummy food…

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Explored a little…

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Got up close and personal with nature…

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Tackled a project…

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Got creative…

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And played hard.

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I think it took us three entire days to get back into Delaware time!

The journey home is always bittersweet…
It’s good to be back where you belong,
but hard when you left part of your heart
on the other side of the country!