Week 25: Summer

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I seriously wondered if summer would come this year. Months and months of winter bled into a cold almost spring and then one day I stepped outside and it was beautiful, sunny and warm….for a few days.

This apparently has been one of the rainiest Junes on record. Not great for the farmers….man those guys just need a break sometimes! Due to the cold spring many of my flowers have had a late start….I was beginning to wonder if my hydrangeas had made it…but there are green leaves showing themselves!

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The irises, that the chickens didn’t plow down, are in full bloom and just lovely next to the house. The lilacs had a poor showing this year but I believe that had more to do with the great need for them to be pruned then with with the weather. They have now been pruned and trimmed back and they as starting their preparations for next spring.

The peonies and hydrangea should bloom along with the clematis in the next month….fingers crossed….I’m looking forward to the continued bursts of color!

Crushing

It would be so easy and familiar to open the door and walk in again…
What do you do when the draw is strong and heavy again to walk back to a place that once did you so wrong. A space that, of itself, isn’t so bad….but who you were…who you have fought so hard not to be….the worst version of yourself….She lives there, in that space.

It strikes me that maybe this is how addicts in recovery feel…

It’s in these moments when I have to stare at myself and wonder….have I learned anything? Months of brokenness, wounds stripped wide…No. The resounding answer is just, NO…not yet…not enough….to walk back in would crush all that has started to thrive in this new freedom.

I knew it would come. Just not so soon….why so soon.

To know something that could be so good would crush me…oh and the voices ever louder, ever present…

The crushing is good for you. It grinds away the pride

When there is nothing left, then there is Jesus.

It is good to work hard, to stretch yourself. All work should be done for The Lord and he will help you walk it out.

These are the words of religion that scream at me. The things I’ve heard so many times…even from my own mouth. But what if it is not time for crushing? What if the time for growing in a new way has begun? How will I know if, in my humanity and frailty, I step out into that place of death again?

No, not yet….not now…

Tears…..mostly of joy!

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Grandma passed away last night. There is room for tears here…but if you knew her….there is mostly joy in her passing! ‘Cookie Grandma’ was a woman of deep faith. She prayed often and hard for her family, loved ones…life…well just everything. She was marked as a woman of prayer, who held this world loosely and was thankful for many blessings.

This attitude was all the more encouraging if you knew her story….Ruth’s life was marked by having lost two sons and both of her husbands. At 95 she was ready to go home to Jesus and to see her loved ones again!

Ruth loved me well….welcomed me into the family with open arms and frequently told me how happy she was the Mike had found me….I know that she prayed for me for many years before I was even in the picture! I am blessed for having known her, a picture, a reflection, in part of Mike’s father who I will not meet until I myself am heaven bound.

She opened her arms and heart wide to our children….in fact, I remember making the decision to adopt early on in our marriage while we were staying with Ruth. We would take walks around her neighborhood in the evening and dream about what the next steps for our family would be.

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Grandma, we love you and we will miss you so much! We also rejoice with you that you are with Jesus, the love of your heart and that you have been reunited with your loved ones!

Getting the garden in…

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Well, we got the garden in a few weeks ago, and I just haven’t posted about it yet. Last year we fenced a 60×120 area and put 10 fruit trees in on one end. Sadly, Mike thinks we lost 3-4 trees due to the harsh winter we just had. You can see the posts behind Mike, the fence is about 8 feet tall in an attempt to keep the deer out. This year we put in a 23×23 garden plot on the other end! So we didn’t just plant we had all the soil prep and border building to do.

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Have I stated how amazing my husband is? This man never grew up keeping a large garden, but this was a project that he jumped into. I knew my hands were full with rabbits and chicken and children so when he mentioned adding a garden I sort of sighed and told him that it would be his project.

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See the chickens in the background? They were even helping by digging at the compost! Stuff went flinging….they are amazing to watch. I can’t believe how quickly they can tun a pile of compost.

The deal is that Mike did the research and is largely in charge of getting things growing while I will help weed from time to time and when harvest comes I’m the one who will ‘put up’ all the food. So I’ve already been gearing up for the falls canning extravaganza with a group of other gals in the same boat. Many hands make light work!

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Did you notice the watering system? Yep, he is amazing! This guy’s skills I’m telling you I’m a blessed woman!

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Just a little side note….Mike built me a garden bed for some of the beautiful flowers I came home with from the Friends School Sale in May. (The sale runs every Mother’s Day weekend on the Minnesota state fair grounds it’s crazy amazing) I was able to get all of my plants in one weekend…and then the chickens came by…..

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Yep, CooCoo Cachoo….our resident crazy Maran took over one corner of the flower bed with an intense dirt bath! She must have needed it! Sad to say the poppies my mom sent home with me didn’t make it.

Week 24….Reminders

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Reminders…
We keep stones. When I say we, I mean our church family. We celebrate answers to prayer by dropping stones in a jar or placing them at the foot of the cross at our church….

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua,
“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man,
and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.'” Joshua 4: 1-3

And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.
And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’
then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’
For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,
so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Joshua 4: 20-24

There is a stone for each of our children….when we passed court and were able to bring A & A home from Africa. There is a stone for our house that sold. There is a stone for Mike’s job. There are stones for lives rescued and marriages saved. There will be stones for lessons learned in years to come…

Our children will grow up placing their own stones and adding to the monument of God’s work in our community. These are our reminders. We tell the stories…often, and we praise the God who gives and takes away.

Hair, hair, it’s everywhere…or can I just take a moment to be real about our hair situation?

Let me first say that there are about a million ways I could write this post. I hesitate every time I sit down to write on this topic….every time. I will likely offend you at some point. The possibilities for offense are endless and I AM aware of that. I’ve just come to the point where I am not going to tip toe around words or thoughts because someone will be offended…sometimes the thoughts are just too important not to share. So please, take a moment…breathe….and remember grace as you read. Please set aside you preconceived ideas about white women with black children and mixed race families….step down from the soap box, and think twice before offering your unsolicited advice…believe me….I have probably heard it, read it or tossed it out the window already. This is our story….our family…a glimpse into who we are and how we live. My hope…dear and true….is that just one other family will be encouraged and know that they aren’t the only ones.

Deep breath……..here we go!

Today a friend challenged me to consider writing about the hair struggles in our home. A few ladies were sitting around a table working on small crafting project at a local coffee shop and watching the children play. We chatted about many of the topics that moms share….so blessed by these women and their wisdom in the everyday.

I realized at one point that each mother at the table has had one connection or another with adoption. One mom is in the process of holding her breath for a court date in Africa! There is a 7 month old little girl who has a mama already loving her…separated by land and sea. She asked me about hair….did I know someone she could spend some time watching work with hair….

She has no idea! How could she?
I invited her to come…be a part…see what we do and the reality of hair in our home.

As a white woman who grew up in Minnesota I really haven’t had a whole lot of first hand education about other types of hair. (I think at times my own hair was a mystery to me) I don’t have as many friends of other races as I would like. I have traveled, and I put a high value on diversity but we just live where I don’t rub shoulders in the everyday with people of different ethnicities. I reach out to people in stores and have short chats, but it seems to come to little fruit.

I have a number of friends who have adopted. Sometimes this is helpful….sometimes it is not. As mothers, I think, we often fall prey to the voice that tells us we aren’t good enough….don’t do things right….and are constantly failing. So it’s hard to air some of these things….pride….ever with the pride!

So I dig in and do my research. My own mom always says I’m good at researching….but let’s be honest, the internet can’t hold your hand! In the hours that I have spent researching product and technique I have yet to find a blog that encourages moms….one that says,

Hey, sometimes this really sucks! Guess what you are going to be in just as many tears as your kids. It’s just part of how this works!

Nope! Haven’t found that. It’s all about how to fix something. How to do something correctly. Methods. I would just LOVE if someone was honest, and said it like it is with depth of compassion and encouragement. You can do all the ‘right’ things and still have it go wrong!

A&A are beautiful! They are amazing and bright with smiles that light up a room and laughter that is contagious! They have also been given soft scalps and curly hair that needs a great amount of attention.

As long as we are on the topic lets talk about reality. We live in a world that tells us lies at every turn! As a mother of two 4 year old girls I am already faced with it daily and as they grow the influence of the world will become greater. Be thin, be good at sports, get good grades, look like this unattainable airbrushed model….have hair like this….skin like that. NO! Just…NO! So every time I think about how we interact regarding their hair I think about more then just hair. I think about how it affects their self image. Will they grow up with a deep resentment for the way we fumbled things? Will they LOVE their hair? Will they look in the mirror as grown women with a firm knowledge of how to take care of themselves and be proud? What gifts can I give them now….what tools to help them as they grow?

This is the reality of hair in our home. A journey many adoptive families don’t talk openly about….likely because shame comes from all sides. Here is what I know….what I trust. They were made by the hand of God. Beautiful! His love and passion for them is much greater then my own. As a parent I can not protect my children from every ill. Many battles they will need to fight on their own….I will love them the best I know and give them the tools that I can, but they will choose to pick them up or not. So I hold these girls up to the Lord with my hands open. Because, it all belongs to Him…all of it….even hair!

One of the moms joyfully shared this video with me and the girls! They loved it!
I Love my Hair!

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Saying Goodbye

With all the crazy that has been going on in our lives over the past few weeks I haven’t had the chance to write this post until now. A few Sundays ago we said goodbye to some dear friends. And it was a moment in life that deserves a little reflection.

Zlata has been a blessing to me in more ways then I can count. She is marked by kindness and love for her family and a strength to dig in and accomplish things that would frighten a lesser woman! She is an artist and photographer on a level I have not before had the joy of working with.

Zlata’s work is jaw-droppingly stunning, and she was a wonderful resource for me as I began my floral design business a few years ago. We had the joy of doing a number of styled shoots together and my work was published because of her dedication and eye for detail.

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It was no real surprise when she grabbed my arm a few Sunday’s ago to tell me with excitement that they had signed a contract for an apartment in North Carolina! Oh the joy….oh the sadness!

Saying goodbye is never easy, but when it is for the good of another much off the sadness is lifted. During one of our last conversations Zlata. Told me that she was on the hunt for a film SLR camera with lenses. This would be of great value to her as she expands her skills and what she can offer to clients. As you may have guessed it is becoming harder and harder to find these cameras with lenses because they are just not produced for the market like they once were.

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Wouldn’t you know it, I had a bag with two DSLR film cameras and lenses just sitting at home. I had pulled them out a few weeks ago trying to figure out what I was going to do with them and deeply sad that they were no longer being used. The camera pictured above traveled the world with me! It holds a deep and meaningful place in my heart. It was a bittersweet goodbye to an old buddy…one I had seen the world from many years ago.

Zlata you and your family will be deeply missed! We love you and we are so excited for all that the Lord is doing in your lives! I am excited to see your future projects and beautiful work as you capture the people, places and life of North Carolina. ~love you dearest~

Check out more of Zlatas AMAZING work at www.zlatamodeen.com
And count yourself lucky if you are living in North Carolina on the receiving end of this families move!

The Bunny Tractor….an updated post from May 25,2014

Last weekend we had amazing weather and it provided us the opportunity to get a few projects done on Sunday! If you haven’t read earlier posts we lost our garage this past winter. This small devastation has left us with a number of unexpected projects on top of the ones we had already been planning.

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Here is the great news…we could use many of the old materials in our new projects. Mike pulled the rafters out of the garage, and we spent some time staining them for garden boxes. Per my personal request Mike dropped the extra money on an all natural stain and water sealer….NONTOXIC people! I’m a happy girl!

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We also used some of the wood and old siding for the new bunny tractor! Yes a bunny tractor! It’s just like a chicken tractor but it has a mesh bottom so the bunnies can’t dig out.

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I would guess that it is made of 80-85% recycled materials! Now that feels good!

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We used siding to create shade and Mike found a few old, small tires so that I could easily move the tractor from one location to another. You can also see the slit in the middle….there is a board that slides in to divide the tractor into two compartments. This allows us to put more bunnies out at a time…with out any shanangins.

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As you can see they are happy to have grass to nibble and fresh air. The little bunnies are fun to watch jump from one side to the other! A&A are also having a great time collecting ‘treats’ and giving them to the rabbits! They LOVE the new raspberry bush shoots!

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The little black bunnie is proving to be a handful. It’s a good thing we put the wire bottom on the tractor! She LOVES being outside!

Update: June 9th
The bunnies that we have been able to move out to the tractor are really happy. They are living there full time now that the weather is nice. We are in the process of building a second tractor and look forward to moving all of our litters outside once they have been weened from their mothers. Our buck will also be moving to this temporary home…..our girls need a break and he keeps busting out of his cage.

Introducing….bad, bad Leroy Brown

Well here he is…the new resident stud muffin! After debating what to name him for a few weeks my mom came up with the name Leroy Brown. This morning over breakfast the girls and I listened to the song. Leroy it is! However, he doesn’t really live up to his namesake.

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The hens are giving him a run for his money however, he is more comfortable now then he was a month ago when he first came to us!

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This morning I watched him stand his ground with the largest & craziest of our hens. It was an epic battle…he lost. 😦

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Our boy seems to have a soft side….one that I’m thankful for with small children and other animals around. He isn’t much for being held, but he freely allows me to do my work and would rather watch then start a fight.
Today I noticed that every time he comes into the front yard he stops to check on the bunnies! The youngest ones hop up to the edge of the cage to say hello and he just watches them.

I just have to wonder what he is thinking!

Week 23: Sisterhood

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So I just couldn’t pass up the chance to post this photo. This week’s topic was S. We were given the assignment to take a photo of an S word to share. Sisterhood was maybe not my first thought, but man is it appropriate.

I’ve never had a sister! I got these thugs instead…..

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Don’t get me wrong….I love these knuckle heads, but sometimes a girl just needs a sister and there are many times I have envied the relationship my brothers have.

As an adult it have been blessed to have a number of women stand as close to me as sisters….a sisterhood that we have chosen. Ladies, I am profoundly blessed by your grace, strength and willingness to speak true things into my life. We have carried each others burdens….walked in stride…who’s kidding, crawled….we have crawled in stride and we have shared many, many joys. You are jewels and I treasure you deeply. Thank you.