Friday, November 30, 2007

New blog

I've neglected this blog to start another one. My new one will hopefully generate some extra cash. Fred and I were watching a segment on Good Morning America called "gray googlers." It was about "old" people (like us) turning a website into profit by allowing Google to post ads. If someone clicks on the ad, or better yet, buys something through the website, the blogger can collect money. Well, it's worth a try. I want to continue to write.

A friend of mine adopted a 10-year-old girl from Ukraine in May and she has a blog describing her daughter's adjustment to life in America. It is such a tribute to this special girl and I'm sure one day she will love to read back on her story and see her mother's enduring love for her. I started this blog as a spiritual journey to encourage others along the way, but lately I have written more about the girls. My new blog will be our homeschooling journey, and being inspired by my friend, I will write about day-to-day life with my own two precious daughters and create stories for them to read in the future. We will start with a short devotion for the new school day, then I will write about my worries and woes or joys and successes, depending on the kind of day we had. I will end with a quick recipe for dinner for busy homeschooling moms, exhausted after a day of teaching, but also for anyone else who might need a fast meal. I am targeting it to fellow homeschoolers, offering advice and asking for help, but anyone can take a peek. I plan to write 5 times a week. Whew! Lots of work to be done.

Right now the new blog is under construction and I plan to make a lot of changes. But if you want to look at it, go to I would love to hear feedback on how to make it better.

At this time I plan to keep this blog too and go back to my purpose in the beginning--to inspire others to trust in our faithful God and venture forth in courage and expectation that he is with us always. Life is an incredible adventure! Look for God's fingerprints on every experience.

At Christmastime our hearts are hopeful and right now all is well in my world. I know that is not true for many of my friends. There are grieving hearts and life doesn't seem so much an adventure as a tortuous journey. Jesus reminds us, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid...I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 14:27, 16:33.

When Jesus was born the angel said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14. There has never been peace on this earth. But peace in our hearts can be a reality when we trust in the Savior of the world.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More ghosts

Fred decided to paint the kitchen ceiling. He brought up his old drop cloth from the basement and spread it out on the floor. I was stunned for a moment--children's footprints in blue, red, green and yellow covered the cloth. The Russian children's feet from our Vacation Bible School last summer. (See July archives.) We had painted their feet and then they stepped on the back of their camp shirts. The footprints on the drop cloth were from them walking to the buckets to get their feet washed. Arielle said, "Let's see if we can find Diana's feet. I remember she had yellow."

Liana said, "Here are mine!" She stepped into a set of red prints. Only no, they weren't hers. These prints were smaller. Liana is so tiny so the footprints could only belong to Valeria, the little 6-year old Russian girl. I remember her precious little face and her older sister with the curly blonde hair. Their host parents planned to adopt them both, along with their younger brother, but then changed their minds. (For many reasons.)

I often wonder about those two girls and about Diana. I dream about Diana from time to time. In one dream I go to Russia to her orphanage. I'm waiting for her to come out to meet me. Such joy on her face! I hug her and tell her I'm taking her home. She is whole; she is healed in my dream, the girl God created her to be. But then I wake up. In another dream she rejects me and won't come with me. Then in yet another I am trying to explain to her why she can't be our daughter and she is sad. It must be cold in Russia now. I wonder if the children are warm enough.

My friend Connie recently received a video of the boy they plan to adopt. He looks healthy and is smiling shyly for the camera. He even thought to say hello to his new sister and brother. They hope to travel in March to bring him home.

To update those who followed our story about the hosting program--remember Anastasia, the 15- year old whose time was running out? She turned 16 and the clock is ticking. Where is the hold-up? Not in Russia. It's in our own Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some U.S. goverment official is sitting on the paperwork. Anastasia's new parents are doing everything they can to speed it along but are hitting a wall. Also, she moved out of the orphanage and is living in an apartment with three other 16-year olds. That sounds like trouble to me. Other families are working on the mountains of paperwork to bring their children home.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Weeds of regret

The inspiring church service I wrote about earlier had a turning point toward the end that I didn't mention. Our music director was talking about the Parable of the Sower and what kinds of things hinder our walk with God. He zeroed in on the weeds that choke the life out of us. One kind he called "weeds of regret." My eyes filled with tears.

My life is full of regrets. I failed at the one thing I most desired to do well--mothering. A couple of years ago Arielle was taking piano lessons two doors down from the home I lived with my four sons. I would drop Arielle off and then Liana and I would spend the time walking around the beautiful old neighborhood, passing my former house. I would look up at the windows and see vignettes of my former life in my mind. Even the yard brought floods of memories--the side door where we tethered our springer spaniel, the forty red maples we planted as seedlings on the hill (now a forest), the flower bed under the mailbox where my tulips opened to the sun every morning in spring. I saw my boys playing street hockey in front of the driveway.

As Liana and I walked, I noticed the streets were empty of children, now grown and gone. So many ghosts here! On every block I saw a familiar home. One, where Home and School meetings were often held, my neighbor's house where we would enjoy coffee after the kids walked to school. I remembered the weeping cherry tree in another yard, and how I wept when my best friend moved away to Cincinnati. I saw the brilliant Japanese maples I always admired and wished to have. The trees have matured, now lush and full. Liana and I walked the hill I used to cruise on my old red bike, sometimes racing with the boys. Damien's buddy's house, so familiar because I was always taking that boy home. The sidewalks know my feet because I had walked them so much-- back and forth to the elementary school, back and forth to Cub Scout meetings, or around and around just to spend time with a friend or a son. Then darker memories came. The swimming pool we ran to first to search when a little boy went missing. Another friend's house, the one I escaped to when my marriage was falling apart.

Recently I drove down the main road leading to the neighborhood and was struck by a sudden, intense yearning for my four rowdy, precious little boys. I so longed to turn into the driveway at my old house, walk up to the front door and be greeted by their small, smiling faces and excited voices. Sadness and regret overwhelmed me. Children do grow up, but it was more than that kind of pain. This was a story that ended too abruptly. We moved out when Jon was only 12. So many more years we could have had with all of us together as a family. We all still bear the scars of that ugly time. In the deepest, darkest hours of the night, I replay those horrible days.

At our wedding, Fred and I asked Dominic to read Psalm 103. It seemed so appropriate to start a new life with those words. "Praise the Lord...who forgives all your sins...who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love...He does not treat us as our sins deserve..." My God has forgiven me. My boys say they do. But I can't forget the pain I caused them.

After several years of traveling through a dry, desert place, God brought me back into a relationship with him. He gave me treasured gifts from the other side of the world--my two daughters. I look at them in awe, amazed that my God would give me another chance and such undeserved joy. Shortly after Liana was home, I came across this verse: "Be glad, O people, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before." Then, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you. Never again will my people be ashamed." Joel 2:23-26.

The passage is about God restoring his people after they have turned away from him. I saw my two girls in these verses. My first daughter, Arielle, born in autumn, has a Chinese name that means "merciful rain," the kind of miracle rain that comes after a long drought. Liana's name means "spring is here." The earth has been replenished with life-giving water and has come alive again with warmth and new growth.

The weeds need to be pulled. Our music director said they are a heavy burden. "Lay them down and don't pick them up again."