December 2, 2013
This year we hosted my family at our place for Thanksgiving for the first time. Well, there was the year that I was pregnant and throwing up constantly and miserable, and Matt was preparing for a huge show, and we realized too late to ask people to come here that there was no way we’d be able to travel anywhere, and my brothers had already made plans to go to Wisconsin, so they celebrated with my mom there, and my dad got a flight that landed here mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving day, and he and I and Matt went out for a mediocre meal at a local hotel…but let’s not count that. This year we hosted for real. And it was a success. I like planning kind of a lot, so I had my meal planned and grocery list made the weekend before, and I mapped out a schedule of when everything needed to start cooking in order to be ready to go at dinner time. It all worked out, and I was thrilled
I definitely didn’t have as much of a sense of gratitude and thankfulness and contemplation of God and the good gifts He gives as I had hoped…it turns out hosting is a fair amount of work And on top of that we had some obviously unexpected illnesses come up - not everything can go as planned!
Overall, though, we had a week of celebrations and fun with family. My mom actually arrived the Friday before Thanksgiving to spend a night with us on her way to visit her sister, who had just been released from the hospital after surgery. We were obviously thrilled to see her and enjoyed the few hours we got to have with her that evening!
She left the next morning, and we had a few days on our own before she’d come back and everyone else would arrive. The girls and I took some time one of those days to bake cookies for ourselves and our guests!
David and his boyfriend, Jeff, arrived Tuesday evening; my dad arrived Wednesday morning; and my mom was back with us Wednesday evening. We did some advance preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, but overall, Wednesday was pretty laid back!
Thursday was a bit more intense Unfortunately, Miranda had started running a fever Tuesday night and was feeling pretty yucky by Thanksgiving day, so she spent most of it curled up on the couch with whoever was available to snuggle.
We did, of course, watch our Packers suffer a humiliating defeat, but beyond that, much time was spent in the kitchen with plenty of hands to help
Others of us thought that it was an opportune moment to take down a rotten tree in our back yard (I think the pictures demonstrate pretty clearly whose idea this really was and who was primarily along for the ride).
But the result of the day was a beautiful feast
Food was good, company was great, and I think we all enjoyed celebrating together
Unfortunately, Thursday night brought difficulty sleeping, more coughing, and weird breathing noises for Miranda, so she and I were off to the pediatrician’s office first thing Friday morning.
The doctor realized the “weird breathing noises” were stridor and that Miranda had croup. On the way home, we picked up her prescription steroids, the source of much consternation throughout the weekend, as they taste horrible, even with the flavoring the pharmacist added. We won’t dwell on that, though
When we returned home, Jeff had gotten out his clarinet and was playing a bit for everyone and letting CaiQun have a try, as well, which she loved.
David and Jeff had to head back to Cincinnati on Friday, but both of my parents were able to stay a bit longer.
Miranda seems to be recovering gradually, and while CaiQun started running a fever on Saturday evening, so far her cold has not turned into croup, and we’re hoping it stays that way!
We missed seeing Danny and Sharon this week – they spent Thanksgiving with her family in New Jersey – but we were very blessed to have both of my parents and David and Jeff here. Fun, games, play time, good food, snuggles on the couch, and more It was a good week, and we are thankful!
November 25, 2013
A couple weeks ago I shared some of what Matt and I have been thinking recently about where we’re headed next and promised a part two to that post. You can read part one here.
Now that life feels a bit more stable, we’ve been talking about what comes next for us, in particular, when and how we might be able to add more children to our family.
A huge part of me wants to work as hard as possible to go back to China to adopt another child as soon as possible. Pretty regularly I hear stories that shatter my heart. Today I read this story about a little boy who may literally die if not adopted and provided with good medical care and who is, in the meantime, dying emotionally due to the stigma his medical issues have within the community. Last week I heard about a precious little girl – a friend of a boy who was adopted by a friend – who died in an orphanage in China without a family. And a few weeks ago there was the post in a Facebook group to which I belong in which a member shared a picture of a little boy and explained that he had been her son’s foster brother, and she had other pictures and videos and information she could share, and she asked, “Is anyone interested in him?” How can there be people on this planet, small children created in the image of God, in whom no one is interested? How can that be? And how are we okay with the fact that this is the reality in which we live? My heart longs for us to be able to add another child (and probably another..and another…) who has no family into our family.
And yet I know that, barring the miraculous, it will probably be a couple years before we’re able to do that again. We just aren’t in a financial position even to start the process, in terms of both our monthly obligations and our savings (or lack thereof). And we would like to travel with our whole family again – we saw how incredibly beneficial that was for both Miranda and CaiQun. However, there were aspects of it that were hard, even with my mom’s presence with us in China. I think it would likely be even more difficult – and potentially unwise – to travel to adopt another child with two children as young as Miranda and CaiQun until they get another couple years behind them.
And in the meantime…I’ve actually had a desire to have another biological child. That has honestly taken me by surprise. I am so passionate about adoption and so hopeful (and determined) that we will adopt again that I’d thought we would likely not have any more biological children. And part of me feels guilty even thinking of trying to have another biological child. At some point we are going to reach an upper limit on our capacity for the number of children we can parent well – and by having another biological child, would we be decreasing by one the number of children we might be able to adopt? We might be. But I’m also not sure that God works in quite that way – giving each couple a set capacity for number of children and simply plugging kids into those slots. We’ve even talked in recent days about our capacity potentially being higher than we originally thought it might be, particularly if we had some space between our children, allowing the oldest ones to grow to an age at which they could actually be helpful with younger siblings. So we’ve actually been talking about the possibility of trying to have another biological baby. We’re not ready to do that right now either, due to some of the same constraints that keep us from pursuing another adoption right now (notably our high monthly financial expenses and the consequent high need for work hours from me), but we’d likely be able to do that sooner than adopting again, so we’re at least discussing the possibility and praying about it.
Right now, I think that the next “big thing” for us is continuing to pursue a “long obedience in the same direction.” It may not be as exciting as an announcement that we’re going back to China or that we’re pregnant – but that’s what I think we’re called to right now. We don’t know exactly where we’re headed next. We don’t know with certainty whether God is calling us in any particular direction. That’s strange for me – for at least the last 5 years (and even longer than that, to at least some degree) there has been a pretty clearly defined major goal for us – first to pay off enough of our student loans that we’d be comfortable trying to get pregnant; then getting pregnant and preparing for Miranda’s arrival; then beginning to figure out this whole parenting thing; then researching and beginning to pursue an adoption journey, which culminated in CaiQun joining our family. And through most of that, we were engaged in a substantial amount of ministry within our church community, mentoring others, offering pre-marital counseling, serving at the local soup kitchen, Matt leading a community group and eventually becoming an elder, me meeting with other women frequently. There was always something new and exciting happening. Now that we’re not doing much of that, there is more of a quiet-ness to our lives. They really seem to be more defined by the regular rhythms of teaching (for Matt) and family life – cooking dinners and making bread, home-schooling and reading books, shepherding small hearts and working and praying toward character development, building towers and putting together puzzles, doing laundry and dishes. I want to be open to other things God may have for us – but I also want us to be okay with where we’re at in the here and now – pursuing Him, enjoying our marriage, delighting in our girls and seeking to parent them well, and interacting with others outside of that as we have opportunities to do so. I obviously think that passion and excitement and pursuing goals are wonderful – but I also know that Moses needed years in the desert before he was ready to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. I think God is preparing us for what comes next. And even if we don’t know what it is, we want to be faithful in what He sets before us so that we can be prepared for whatever is coming up on the horizon.
November 13, 2013
I know I promised an actual update on our lives and our thoughts about what comes next for us, and I will get to that soon. However, tonight’s discoveries are too good not to share.
My mom has been saving for both of my brothers and me boxes full of items that we might someday want, whether for sentimental or practical reasons. This summer, when she and some family friends came for a visit, they brought a stack of my boxes, and tonight I took some time to sort through a couple of them. Some of the finds were utterly sweet – for instance, the candles we used for the unity candle in our wedding.
Others provided firm evidence that my mom was a true Pinterest mom long before Pinterest existed. Check out these shirts she made for me.
(The second was obviously sans stain back in its glory days.)
And this is just a sampling of the shirts for which she arranged opportunities for me to make (again, some were decorated and worn pre-stains).
And here’s one that I can’t remember whether she or I made it. Regardless, long live puffy paints! (I do think this has to be one of the coolest things ever made with puffy paints.)
And then there was the pile of clothes from circa 1990 that I had loved at the time and I’m sure made my mom promise not to discard. Some of them just might show up on certain now-three-year-old girls in a couple years…
…because who wouldn’t want to wear a unicorn sweatshirt with a built-in front-fanny-pack pocket…
…or an ensemble that has it all – stripes, cats, hearts, and even a bow-shaped bead?
Others may appear sooner than that.
And for still others, this is probably their last blog appearance before they make their way to the “give away” box.
It has been an entertaining evening here at our house
November 9, 2013
I had thought, when we were in the process to adopt CaiQun, that there was a high likelihood that we would return to China to adopt another child within the following year. If you return quickly and agree to adopt a harder-to-place child, you are able to re-use your entire dossier (with minor updates), which saves significant amounts of time and money, and I had interacted with a number of people in the adoption community who were going that route.
We seriously contemplated it, though I don’t know that we were ever close to pursuing it. There were times that was hard for me – as someone who likes to be “good” at things I do, it was difficult to acknowledge that just because others might be ready to go back and adopt another child didn’t mean that we were…and probably meant that I needed to consider whether I was falling into that horrible trap of making comparisons between us and others. And beyond that, I wanted to go back. Whether it was wise or not, a huge part of me wanted to get back there to adopt another child as quickly as possible. I had seen the faces of children, little people whose bodies and souls were knit together by the God of the universe, packed into row after row of cribs in cold rooms without parents. In the midst of the crowd, each one is alone. How I ached to be back there welcoming yet another, and another, and another child into our family.
But it didn’t seem like that was what God was saying to us. What we felt like we were hearing was, Wait.
Both Matt and I had the sense that regardless of how quickly others were able to turn around and go back to add another child to their families, it wouldn’t necessarily be wise for us to go back yet. We didn’t have a house full of helpful teenagers but rather a two-and-a-half-year-old and a two-year-old (now a three-and-a-half-year-old and a three-year-old), and our closest family members live 8 hours away. And finances have definitely played a role in our thinking – not only whether or not we had the money saved to pay for the costs of another adoption (which we don’t), but also our monthly expenditures. We’re still paying off some of our student loans from our college and grad school days. We’ve only in the last couple months acquired a car large enough to transport more than 2 kids, and since we did not have all the money we would have needed to pay for that purchase in cash, it has been a stretch to our budget, as well. To have enough money coming in right now to meet our monthly expenditures requires that I work a little over ten hours per week, which isn’t a ton, but those hours still need to fit into my days, which is sometimes a challenge and would obviously be an even greater challenge – if not impossibility – with additional children.
And beyond finances, we’ve also needed time to settle into life as a family of four. We needed to examine what commitments we could really make. We found that we needed to pull back in some areas (like church leadership roles) and figure out how to continue to be involved in other areas (like the local art scene) with our current family dynamic. We needed to see what life as a homeschooling family would look like. A number of our friendships have changed over these last 9 months, and we’ve needed time for that to settle. I needed to adjust to life as a mom of multiple kids, as opposed to having just one constant companion. Matt needed to sort out more of that work-and-family balance.
We still have a few things to iron out. I’ve been able to start exercising somewhat regularly again, but we haven’t found a great time for Matt to do that. And there are times we both schedule too much and realize that we’re not getting enough family time or downtime. And we’re both still working out how friendship relationships fit into all of this.
But overall, we’re doing well. The girls are doing great, but that’s been true from the beginning. Both of them seem to be able to take things in stride; it’s Matt and me who require a bit more time to adjust But now I’m usually able to get in the work hours we need for me to have. We’re getting back into a groove with having fairly regular date nights. Both of us are enjoying our children and our time together as a couple. And we’re each able to have just a little bit more time for thoughtfulness and contemplation than we used to get.
And so we’ve started to talk about…what next?
And I’ll share more about our thoughts on that with you next time I write
November 8, 2013
A few weekends ago, Matt was out of town for a few days. Among other things, the girls and I bundled up and went with some friends to see the Mizzou homecoming parade.
While Matt was away, I also used some, shall we say, creative strategies to entertain the girls, one of which was to suggest at one point that we all pretend to be cats and walk around saying “meow.” Another time we all pretended to be ducks and said, “quack, quack!” to each other for a while. Out of this experience has come a narrative from Miranda in which she explains that she and I are cats, while CaiQun and Matt are ducks, and both girls sometimes substitute the animal’s sound for the name of the animal. CaiQun has embraced this story even more fully than Miranda and now often asks me to call her “little quack.” For instance, I’ll ask her whether she’s done eating lunch, and her response will be, “Mama, say, ‘Are you done eating, little quack?’”
And this week has brought another new – and entertaining – development in the story. The other day at lunch, one of the girls turned to me and asked, “Mom, where’s our other quack?” I was momentarily confused until I realized what they meant.
“Oh, you mean Daddy? Our other duck?”
“Yeah!” they responded, “Mei mei is a quack, and Daddy is our other quack!”
Matt and I are both highly amused
October 30, 2013
It occurs to me that, other than a brief update on Miranda’s progress with reading, I have not devoted a post to our homeschooling progress since the first day of our school year, so I thought I’d offer a bit of an update!
The condensed version: The girls are both learning a lot, and they love our school time, and I love it, too.
Usually our school day starts with a Bible story and some discussion, and then we move on to reading. In the last couple months, we’ve made it through more than 1/3 of our Sonlight curriculum for the year. There have been only a couple stories that neither of the girls are particularly interested in reading more than once. Overall, they are really enjoying the reading. Some of our current favorite stories are Madeline, Curious George, Jack and the Beanstalk, Pete’s a Pizza, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We return to those again and again. I often let the girls alternate choosing stories with an occasional choice from me to make sure we’re introducing the new ones and making our way through our checklist.
One of the most rewarding aspects of homeschooling has been seeing them learn and retain knowledge and incorporate it into their lives. We learned about digestion, and both girls will now spontaneously talk about what happens to their food after they eat it. One day they were sitting together in the dining room, and Miranda turned to CaiQun and jokingly asked, “Mei mei, are you an intestine?” to which CaiQun responded, “No, I eat my food in my mouth. Then it goes down to my butt.” I was amused and impressed They really are absorbing these things.
And they love it They – especially Miranda – regularly ask to do school and often want to continue beyond the time constraints of our day.
Another sweet development has been the continued growth in their love of reading.
I’m also continuing to work with Miranda on fine motor skills – cutting, gluing, and writing. We’ve made our way through her Leapfrog workbook and have started the first of her Rod and Staff workbooks. Doing the workbooks has definitely reinforced for me that I don’t want workbooks to be our kids’ primary method of learning, but they are helpful for the skills she needs to develop at this age – drawing shapes, using scissors, and writing letters and numbers. She’s doing well – she can write most letters fairly recognizably now. And by and large, she really enjoys seeing herself make tangible progress as she goes through the pages, though she gets frustrated when she doesn’t understand the point of the directions. We’re using that as an opportunity to work on cultivating respect and obedience…but I’m also modifying the directions at times, because sometimes they really are silly
When I step back and look at it objectively, both girls are making great progress. Both of them are able to sit through increasingly longer books, and they’re able to talk about what we’ve read. Miranda is growing in her ability to read and write. And CaiQun’s vocabulary continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I read the other day on Babycenter that my three-year-old should now be using longer sentences (3-4 words) and have 300-1000 words, and I rejoiced, because my little Madeleine CaiQun, three years old but exposed to English for less than 9 months, is developmentally on track with her peers! This is huge. I’m so excited to see both of them developing.
And yet I wonder if I should be doing more. I work with Miranda on reading only sporadically. And though she’s picking it up fairly well, I don’t have any dedicated time set aside to help CaiQun learn letter and number recognition. There are days when we don’t get to Miranda’s workbooks at all. What if this isn’t enough??
And I remind myself that they’re three. They need time to play.
And academics aren’t everything.
And I hope we’re doing alright
October 24, 2013
First of all, a clarification. It has come to my attention that I was rather unclear in my mention of the “relational drama” going on around the time of this post, and I may have given the impression that I was referring to drama in Matt’s and my relationship, which was not and is not the case Matt and I are doing well, our marriage is doing well, and if it weren’t, that certainly would not be substance for a blog post for either of us. This relational drama was more of the friendship variety, which is not fun either, but Matt and I are doing great
And now on to the substance of this post!
One of my cousins got married last weekend, so the girls and I made the trip to WI to be there with them to celebrate the beginning of their marriage – and to see family, of course
Like he did in July, my dad offered to fly into St. Louis to drive with us so I wouldn’t have to travel alone with the girls. Unfortunately Matt’s teaching schedule this semester made it practically impossible for him to come with us. The same was true for my brother David’s teaching schedule, so we missed getting to see him, as well. The drive with my dad went well, though, and we arrived in the Milwaukee area in time for dinner. The girls, of course, were thrilled to see everyone and jumped right into play time!
Friday morning Danny, Sharon, the girls, and I went to The Domes. Here are Danny and Sharon posing with the girls outside.
And here are a few shots of us enjoying the desert dome.
The tropical dome was closed, but we spent quite a bit of time in the special exhibit dome. A small portion of that time was spent looking at the flowers…
…however, I must confess that most of our time was actually spent playing at this gazebo.
It was, as I was informed by Miranda, my house. I was to stand inside, and Miranda and CaiQun would line up outside. Miranda would push an imaginary button and say, “ding dong,” and I would welcome her inside. CaiQun would then push the same imaginary button and say, “ring bell,” and I would also welcome her inside. It wasn’t long before Danny and Sharon were also instructed to take part in our play. Once everyone was inside, the girls would devise some appropriate activity in which all of my guests should engage. Sometimes they would make a circle around me. Other times everyone was to jump continuously. Danny’s jumping was often not quite continuous enough for CaiQun’s standards, and she never failed to let him know, pointing her finger at him and commanding him, “jumping!” It was obviously great fun. I love to watch the girls’ creativity growing…though we are also working on respect and courtesy in our communications with others
And because I can’t resist, here’s one more picture from our time at the Domes, this one of the cute couple.
And that night we had a laid back evening at my mom’s.
Saturday was the wedding day. It was a long day for everyone, and my girls don’t have many that are packed that full. CaiQun still managed to get in a brief nap snuggling with her grandma – a very sweet moment
Miranda, not to be outdone in the contest for sweet moments with Grandma, announced as we sat at our table at the reception, “Grandma and me are glued together. We’ll be having kids soon. We’re married.”
And then there were the light sabers! For their grand entrance to the reception, my aunt and uncle walked in to the Star Wars theme and dueled each other with light sabers, which my cousin Kevin later found under their table and passed on to my girls, who, from that moment on, had no intention of ever letting go of them.
They were actually quite a blessing throughout the evening. All I had to do in order to know exactly where my girls were at any given moment was look around the room for the 2 shining blue lights I was able to have many more conversations with cousins and aunts and uncles than usual!
And the girls had a blast at the reception. Danny and Sharon had offered to dance with them, and they were thrilled. They absolutely loved it. I don’t really dance – though they did get me to come out with them for a few songs – so it was really fun for them to get to do that with Danny and Sharon.
On Sunday my dad and Danny and Sharon went to the Packer game, and the girls and my mom and I watched from home. In an incredibly sweet gesture, Danny and Sharon made sparkly pink cheeseheads for the girls (and Sharon). The girls absolutely loved theirs.
They even tucked the cheeseheads into bed after they had played their part in securing a Packer victory.
Monday morning we got a bit more time to hang out with Danny and Sharon before they had to head back to DC.
That evening we spent with my parents, and the next day my dad and the girls and I drove back to Missouri! It felt like a very quick trip, but it was nice to see people again It can be a lot of work to get everything packed (and then unpacked) and get everyone there (and then home) and keep up with the girls in different places (and then help them get settled back in at home when we return), but I’m thankful for the opportunities we have to spend time with family. I enjoy them, and I am glad the girls are getting a chance to develop these relationships, as well!
October 10, 2013
I’m never going to be able to capture a record of every important event in our family’s life on this blog, but there are some that are too important to miss, even when I can’t get a post up about them until almost 2 months later – and this is one of those events!
This August we celebrated our little Madeleine CaiQun’s third birthday!
This was her first birthday home with us and thus extra special We tried to make it truly about celebrating her, who she is, what she loves, and what we love about her, as opposed to about our (my) ideas of what a birthday should be. To that end, instead of dressing her up in one of my favorite outfits for her, I let her wear her favorite shirt – “the baby shirt!!!”
She was delighted with her gifts, even the smallest of them. She has such a sweet heart.
We knew she’d be overwhelmed by a big party, but we invited our friends Aarik and Brooke to join us for CaiQun’s birthday dinner, pizza being her choice. We attempted to go the partly-home-made route (crust and sauce and toppings from the store but assembled at home), and alas, it was not very good, but we still enjoyed our evening celebrating our girl
Thankfully the cupcakes were more of a hit
My mother, along with some long-time family friends (think cousins except not really related) arrived soon after her birthday and brought along what may be her favorite gift of all – twin beds (handed down from my brothers) to allow for the girls to begin sharing a room again, along with new bedding, of course!
Both girls are happy to be sharing a room again, but CaiQun loves it. She loves the new sheets and bedding that Grandma brought especially for her, and she loves having her jie jie nearby. She has slept so much better since we put the girls back in the same room, and she just loves it overall. I’m really glad we did it.
I think our little MCQ enjoyed all her birthday celebrations She asked us to sing to her over and over again and seemed delighted to be the center of attention, and yet she was also willing to share her new toys and experiences with Miranda. Everything was a joy to her. She’s such a sweet kiddo.
At Miranda’s birthdays, I find myself reminiscing about pregnancy, remembering what it felt like to anticipate labor and birth, how I reveled in those first few hours of holding her and studying her and rejoicing over her presence in our lives. And as Matt and I wrapped presents and prepared for CaiQun’s big day the night beforehand, I found myself wondering about her birth family and about the circumstances of her birth and about so many questions to which we will probably never know the answers. I don’t understand the juxtaposition of the sovereignty and goodness of God and the specific interplay that led to this tiny girl-child, born half a world away, celebrating her third birthday in a living room in Missouri. But I trust Him regardless and cling to the reality that while there is of course loss associated with CaiQun’s joining our family, there is also goodness. He is there. And she is here. And I get to have her as my daughter forever, and I’m oh so thankful for her presence in my life.
Happy birthday, Madeleine CaiQun, our little mei mei. I’m so glad you’re my daughter.
October 4, 2013
Sometimes we need to begin the healing process before we even realize that it was necessary.
It’s so easy to slip, and in the ease, the deadliness is masked. It’s easy to begin to manage instead of love. To keep a record of the wrongs that you tell yourself your love is covering. To prioritize the cultivation of other relationships. To do nothing wrong according to the letter of the law in all those rules and priorities and tips for a better marriage you’ve memorized but to know that your heart is losing its tenderness. To see yourself as a separate individual, responsible for yourself alone, not as an inextricable component of that covenantal one flesh unity.
And yet God steps back in to remind us. What is your hope for this relationship?
And so you decide to risk it. You take the first step, wading into an ocean full of who knows what.
And you find that you remember how to swim after all.
And it’s beautiful and wonderful and glorious.
There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we’re working it out
So come with your love and wash over us
September 17, 2013
It’s been a long silence here, but not for lack of subject matter. The past couple weeks have been incredibly intense and so full that they’ve left me without much time to write. Let me summarize for you. Since the beginning of September, this is what our lives have looked like:
- One of our cars died.
- We found out the next day that said car could not be repaired without spending more than the car itself was worth.
- Matt spent the first 5 hours of the morning of his birthday at urgent care and then in the ER (don’t worry, he’s fine).
- We spent countless hours researching minivans.
- We spent countless hours researching financing options for car purchases (our finances haven’t exactly recovered from our adoption expenditures yet to the point that we had accrued savings to put toward the minivan purchase we knew was going to be a necessity at some point soon).
- Our other car died. Thankfully, AAA came and jumped it, and it has been running fine since then.
- I woke up at 3:00 a.m. one night feeling horrible and certain that I had another urinary tract infection and was never able to get back to sleep (but thankfully got antibiotics the next morning).
- A few days after my middle of the night UTI wake-up call, Miranda woke up around 3:00 a.m. feeling sick and spent several hours throwing up. The next night both girls seemed to be having bad dreams, and we all slept horribly. Hello, sleep deprivation.
And in the midst of all that, we’ve had some relational drama that wouldn’t be appropriate to elaborate on here but has been sufficient to suck most remaining emotional energy out of me.
These are all first-world problems – but we live out our lives in a first world context, and these are the ups and downs that have tremendous effects on the ways in which we do so. To say that these past few weeks have been rough would be an understatement.
In the midst of it all, I see the grace of God. Ann Voskamp wrote on her blog recently, “God only allows pain if He’s allowing something new to be born.” And I see that.
I see the unfurling of new realizations in my heart. I see Him cultivating some relationships I have with other women. I see myself drawing near to Him and being challenged to trust Him in new ways, to choose whether I really believe that He works all things for the good of those who love Him.
And I see His grace in even the timing of some of our September disasters. We were about to arrange to spend hundreds of dollars for trailer rentals for Matt to transport artwork around the mid-west for some upcoming shows; now our minivan will be capable of handling that. We’d already arranged our schedules to allow for me to put in a few additional work hours but had not yet gotten around to updating our budget to reflect that additional income; now it can go toward our car payment.
And because we needed to drive to St. Louis to pick up our new (to us) minivan, we were able to make a quick stop at the St. Louis zoo, to which I’m now very excited to make a return trip at some point. I’ll leave you with some photos of our time there, as well as the promise to be back again soon to catch up on some of our more fun summer experiences, including CaiQun’s first birthday at home with us
Here’s a photo of an elephant family that the girls loved watching and talking about. Getting to see the baby elephant with (presumably) its mommy and daddy was such a treat for them.
And here they are checking out the hippos and the fish.
And I’ll be back soon with more to say