Tuesday, August 19, 2014

michigan 2014

so every summer we pack up, load the van and drive to northern michigan.  it's visiting family and cooler temps, it's a road trip and vacation, but it's really just a circus transport.  i love every part of this…even the long drive.  i set up activities for the kids and we play games along the way and find interesting places to stop along the way.  i used to make this trip as a kid and i love that my own little crew gets to have the same experience up north at a magical little place called bay view, michigan.  my dad did this as a kid and my grandparents.  my kids are making similar memories to the ones i made and  that ones have made for generations past.   
i skipped some years going after matt and i were married and before kiddos.  we've been going back up there since hazel was born and now, this summer…it was gonna be the best summer.  we set up a sitter from home to meet us  there to help, so that matt could just work from up there.  hazel and anders are both old enough to do more of the activities offered up there.  lena loves riding in the trailer behind the bike and walking in the cool breeze.  i pictured running with my sister and sister-in-law along the trail that kisses little traverse bay and spending some mornings in a coffee shop all by myself.  
i re-injured my back on the way up.  this happened 2 years ago, before lena was walking.  and now, after she's struggled more in the last few months, i have scooped her 7 year-old self up a lot.  it's just what mom's do…when your kid is crying or needs you, you scoop them up.  i could've been smarter  with the scooping of a 50lb kid and that is easy to say now, i guess. 
and well, on the way to 4 weeks with family in a magical place...it was a bummer.  and saying something seemingly real laid-back-no-big-deal like "bummer" and laughing awkwardly is just all i can do these days.  now that we are home, surgery is likely and likely soon.  and when we wonder how we'll do all this, He will be near.  and that's how summer up north went as well.  i was hurting and we wondered how we were gonna make it but God didn't just show up, He was there all along.  lena did amazing, she was happy and content, even with my parenting from the sidelines and our sitter who came up was remarkable with her and everyone there.  my family helped a ton with kids and groceries and laundry.  hazel and anders did great and made great memories with their cousins.  
this is all so much grace, i can't even describe it.

i packed and was so proud and matt mooney still thinks this is too much for 16 hour road trip, 5 humans and 4 weeks away.  

they do so great on long trips.

i plan all these organized crafty-activities and anders doesn't do them…he rigs his drink and bulldozer on a string somehow.  such a little dude.

lena discovered pringles.

we stopped at a hotel/resort place outside of chicago with an indoor arcade, watermark and amusement park.  everyone was a fan.

some serious focus at the arcade game

hiking at starved rock state park in illinois…ya know, back when i could do things like hike (insert awkward laugh here)

finding pretty things along the way

after a day of driving, a day of adventures and another day of driving…we made it!

and cousins are awesome


lena loves sweeping and my dad is showing her how to actually sweep and not just bang the broom on the floor…he was a patient, kind teacher…and lena still prefers to bang the broom on the floor

papa tom's sail boat

bookshop fun at one of the best independent book stores, mclean and eakin

fun treats from the candy shop

this is our fearless and joyful sitter, michaela…i can not describe what a champ she was

cousins and aunts and duck duck goose

sometimes you go play in the park and your 4 year old boy finds a zumba class and joins in from a distance and then joins in close up for 3 songs.  maybe the most i've ever laughed in my life.

i loved how all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, adults around would think that kids weren't listening to adult conversations…this is never the case with hazel. 

sunday night vespers concert…not pictured: an attempt to bring lena because she loves music, but the first few songs were guest acapela singers instead of the orchestra and so she didn't last long

beautiful bay view

when the mom has a bad back and the dad and the sitter are doing everything, there has to be yoga, aka comic relief, when the kids go to bed

pirate day and she lost her first tooth!!!!

cousins and pj day at tot lot

lena louise, so loved and so hip

our friend josh came to visit and hazel jumped on asking him to swim with her all the way out to the buoy because he can't say no to our kiddos and no one else will stay in the freezing cold water that long…haaa!!

still managed to get some good time with ms lena even though i couldn't physically help her and be with her like we are used to

so crazy thankful for this place…no back injury makes this less beautiful.

Monday, May 19, 2014

these 2...

 God is always telling us in one way or another that it's good to remember...the people of israel set up stones from the jordan to remember that He made a way for them and that "the hand of the Lord is mighty".  Jesus has the bread and wine and said "do this in remembrance of me".  and when peter is encouraging the church he says he "considers it right...to stir you up by way of reminder".

so, i've been remembering.  when i see what He has done, worries of the now turn into hopes of the yet-to-come.  lena is just 1 of a little community in northwest arkansas of amazing kiddos with special needs adopted from ukraine.  it's pretty remarkable, really.  lena and the others, each with their individual stories, all that stem from some women who fearlessly follow Jesus (the picture before you push play on the video is a little fuzzy-headed blond girl in a blue shirt, this is little lena) into places to touch the untouched and be light in the dark.

it's funny the way He weaves stories together. our friends, the brills, have had paulina as their daughter for nearly a year now. our lena has been home 2 1/2 years. 
2 girls. 
from eastern ukraine. who laid in the same room together for years. now, both in fayetteville arkansas. in forever families who love them.  in forever families who happen to be friends with one another. i think about both of these girls and remember.

this is where they used to sleep in the orphanage

outside of the orphanage

paulina and lena, in december 2011

paulina in december 2011

a few months ago i got to keep paulina while the rest of the brill crew went to a basketball game. it was surreal. we see paulina and her brothers and sisters all the time.  they are friends with the rascals and go to school together & come over.  but there was something about this night...
having just lena & paulina together at my table that was so sacred and beautiful.  
they both signed eat (amazing, amy!) and they both like yogurt and the way a wipes bag crinkles and getting tickled. they don't engage each other much, but orbit each other with ease. they are so beautiful and i am so grateful for these two beauties at home with families who treasure their everything.