Now You Are Six

The night you were born, the longest night of the year as my doula liked to make much of, one of the midwives flipped up the towel that was covering you before I even got a chance to look at your face and exclaimed, "It's a girl!"

My immediate thought was, "But I don't know how to do girls. Boys I have figured out but I have no idea what I'm doing with a girl."

I'm sorry to say my lovely daughter, but I still don't know what I'm doing. I'm just muddling through as well as I can. You are such a foreign entity to me and I am slow to catch on to you and your needs and your emotions.

You need more affection than your brother ever did, more snuggling, more closeness, more time to just chat. I'm getting that part figured out now.

You are laughter, fancy, joy and charm. You seem to inhabit an entirely different reality than the rest of us. You a girl of great lows and great sadness often over things that seem trivial to the rest of us.

Yesterday I had to explain to you as you fell asleep that not everyone is as good at telling what the people around them are feeling as you are, and that you can't expect people to just know how you feel if you don't tell us. It just doesn't make sense to you. You are so intuitive about things like that that you can't imagine that anyone else isn't. Which means that if someone accidentally hurts your feelings you imply deliberate intent. I'm doing my best to walk through this one with you. I hope you will figure it out soon.

You are a quick student of what makes a person smile, and you are sure to do those things when you want to be kind. Sometimes this ability turns to the dark side, for you also know what will make a person sad. But usually you use your powers for good.

We made fairy wings at your party.

You are very creative. You love crafts and drawing especially horses, cutting and gluing. You invent your own projects to do all the time. Which is good, because if you had to rely on me you would be waiting a while. In your wake is a trail of tiny pieces of paper, glitter, feathers, and shiny costumes. You love to dance as well, and you have a natural talent for it.

You love to dress up to wear pretty things. You could care less about style. So long as it's shiny and soft and swishy you are content.

You and your brother invent games that go on all day and involve all of your toys and elaborate scenarios. It's fun to eavesdrop on your imaginary world.

You are attentive to Little, and use her as an accomplice in your schemes, prompting her to ask for the things you want. You are pretty good at convincing her that she wants it too, but I know it's you behind because you cry the loudest when I say no.

You are stronger than you know, both physically, and mentally. How many 6 year olds can walk a 3 mile trail, straight up hill and then down again without a word of complaint? You are tough when in pain, not crying or flinching when you have a cut that needs cleaning or sliver that needs pulling. It's the imaginary aches and pains that hurt you the most. You hope they'll keep me near you longer, keep you the center of my attention. What you don't know is that you don't need imaginary aches and pains to keep me near. One day it will be you who wants to leave me. and I will be the one who tries to keep you close.

I love you fiercely, my beautiful, sensitive, compassionate foreigner. I'm slowly learning your language and how to make sure that you know that, every single day.

your mama


The Weekend in Pictures

This is a gratuitous photo post. Mostly for the grandparents who are in Canada. Here you go. Here are pictures like I promised.

Birthday dinner.

Auntie Kallee made her paper dolls.

Beema makes each of them a blessing quilt. The squares are decorated by family members and friends with blessings for the child. She sews it all together into a quilt. This one came to Canada with me when I went two years ago. So it has blessings from my side of the family on it too. She finally finished it.

Auntie Ana crocheted her this bear in a day.

Stages of the princess cake.

I had my mom on speaker phone during the last stages of decorating this. Which is funny, since she made me so many when I was little. It was not going well for a while.

See mom, it turned out alright.

Dad, this is the gift you bought for her. (wink, wink. I remembered to give her the card. I think she likes it.)

Now I have a fairy party to throw together by 3pm tomorrow for the Girl. I'm going to be a bit busy for a while here. Catch you later.



Three years ago today I was laying in Beema's bathtub giving birth to you.

Oof those cheeks. So kissable.

 Now you are tall, speak in full sentences and are the life of the party.

Still have those cheeks though.

We all laugh more because you are here. Sometimes so much that I wish you would cut it out, but that's mostly at bed time when you whip your older brother and sister into a frenzy of excitement trying to get them to play some more when they ought to be brushing their teeth.

You color, meticulously, keeping it all within the lines. You don't want to play with puzzles and blocks during school time. You instead squeeze yourself a space at the table and scribble on one of the old work books that I kept for you. Every 5 minutes or so you yell, "Teach me mommy. Teach me what to do next."

My favorite of your many distinctive phrases is the way you say, "Oh, I DO wike dat mommy." It sounds so old fashioned and formal that I laugh to myself every time.

You are firmly in the middle of, "No, I do it! I do it by mysewf!" It's most funny when you insist like that and then a minute later hand me the offending item and say, "I need you to do it mommy."

You are flirtatious and coy in that unselfconscious way of many toddler girls. You make eyes at people all the time. I don't think you intend to do it. You just have such big eyes, and one slow blink of those lashes is so dramatic that you can't help but be noticed when you stare at someone. I love your smile too.

You still love to nurse. I sometimes despair of ever weaning you. But you were so brave and big when I told you no more during the night. You frowned a little and nodded your head seriously and went to sleep holding my hand. The next day you reminded me several times. "I big, I don't need to nurse at night any more."

I like how you grin when I lay close to you, press your forehead to mine, wrap you arm as far around my neck as it will go and pat my back. You sneak your eyes open to see if I am looking at you and if you catch me you smile big and keep smiling as your eyes close and you go to sleep.

Tomorrow we will throw you the party you have been planning ever since this summer. We will have "a pwincess cake at da pwaygound wif all my, my, fwends. I don't eat it all. I share it wif dem."

I will make you a cake with a doll in it like my mom made for me probably every year 'til I was 10. I hope the good weather holds.

I love you,
Your mama


Give some joy this Christmas-*updated*

Wow, you guys rock. 5 more bunks beds donated and 5 more for clothes and shoes as well! That means we've only got 5 beds to go, and 3 kids left to buy clothes for. THANK-YOU so much for being such a blessing!

I was going to post this at the beginning of December. But then I got a few glitchy paypal emails that led me to believe that the entire cost had already been covered by a few very large donations. When I actually checked two days ago I found to my dismay that it was a mistake. (I know, I should have checked earlier, but I've never gotten inaccurate emails from them before so I was trusting the info.) So we're still short on beds and clothes for the kids at the children's home for Christmas day. The worst part is that we already told them there was enough to send and there really isn't.

So I'm sending out a last minute SOS. Can anyone help?

The full story is here.

The short version is this. We're barely able to provide food every month for the 35 or so kids at the Charis Home. We're not up to budget yet with sponsors. They catch pigeons to supplement their protein intake.

Some of our very faithful and supportive long time sponsors asked for extra things they could do for Christmas. Well, one of the main things they need is beds that are up off of the concrete floor.

This is what they sleep on right now.

The floor is covered in shelf paper in case you're wondering. 

They also need warm clothes and new shoes since it's the cold season in Thailand right now.

One welded steel bunk bed that sleeps two kids costs $75US. (That's the cheapest option.) The mattresses are $15 each.

Donate $75 for a bunk bed now.

Warm clothes and new shoes costs $15/child.

Donate $15 for warm clothes and shoes now

At current count we have 27 kids in warm clothes. We need 8 more.

We have 5 beds paid for. We need 10 more.

These kids are so sweet. Every day they pray for the people in the west who give money to help them live. They play in a dirt lot, eat pigeon and rice for dinner and are happy and cheerful and work together to get through meals and clean up and homework. They sleep on concrete without complaining. They've lost parents, been abandoned, and witnessed things you and I can only imagine.
Will you help make their lives a little easier this year?

We have gifts cards that we'll mail out if you want to make a donation in someone else's name for Christmas. Just give us an address, and leave a note.

If you can't do a bed go ahead and donate $15 for clothes. Once we reach enough for each child to get clothes we'll put all of the rest of that toward bunk beds as well.

Can you help?


I just think that songwriters should think about what the words teach, that's all.

There is this cute little song that my kids learned to sing at church last week. It has little actions to it and the tune is catchy. The lyrics go like this:

I wanna be like you
I wanna be like you Jesus (Repeat ad nauseum)

Less of me,
This is my prayer.

More of you...
(something, something blah, blah, back to chorus.)
I made them stop singing it. Because the words bother me so much. They reflect a common and dangerous misconception in the church that irritates the snot out of me.

It comes from the place in the gospels where John the Baptist says, "He must increase and I must decrease." John 3:30

A critical reading of this passage makes it obvious that he's referring to the scope of his ministry vs that of Jesus. However, not as many Christians are critical readers as would be desirable.
We get people praying, sincerely, believing it a good thing to ask for, that they would decrease, that Christ would increase in them. We get silly songs that have a whole chorus of "more of you and less of me". It's like they envision their attainment of Christ likeness as a final emptying of all that makes them human, of their very will, so that the Holy Spirit can move through them as it wills and they will be perfect.

But that's not how it works, and there is no place in scripture that actually suggests that it does. It does say that God inhabits our humanity, that God fills us with His Spirit. Nowhere does God empty. ALWAYS GOD FILLS. It is in the being filled with God's presence that we first become become truly alive, truly human, and truly ourselves.

So I won't be letting my children sing a little silly Sunday school song that teaches them to expect anything else. For it is always through our filled up humanity that God reaches to touch this world. It is always through our will in conscious cooperation with his that he changes and transforms. To want to be emptied is a cop out, a desire to avoid the work of sanctification.

To desire to be filled is to ask for the power to move through our humanness, to participate in it's redemption and to become true sons and daughters of the most high; fully human, fully redeemed.

I told them they can sing "Fill me up" instead of "Empty me" if they want to keep singing it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:15-19


One Thousand Gifts-Week 41

holy experience

We remembered Nicholas the Bishop of Myra this weekend. A man who so loved and found joy in secretly giving to the poor that after he died those who followed his example and gave in secret claimed it was he who was the giver. How appropriate then that this year the day to remember him falls during the love week of advent. Inspired by Beck's account of keeping this feast day from years past we did it as well this year in the way that works for us.  Our adopted daughter Hannah was able to come for the night and she studied while the kids and I baked molasses cookies and made apple cider. We wrapped the gifts the children purchased to give to Jesus for his birthday this year the night before and I told them about St. Nicholas, the real story.

I put a little something in their shoes the next day, only to ruin it entirely for the Girl because I couldn't pretend it was anyone other than I who had filled the shoe she left on the outside step. "But mommy." she asked as we were carting all of the gifts off to church to give to Bridge of Hope to distribute too refugee kids this year, "why did you fill them? Why didn't you wait to see if someone else would do it?" Then my heart cracked open a little to glimpse how much of a capacity my girl has in her for wonder.

"I must remember about wonder" I thought to myself. "I must find it again."

This list is part of that journey.

  • The Girl choosing the gift she most loved and wanted for herself to give away to another little girl
  • Hannah telling me that I'm the only one who has given her a gift that she really likes in as long as she can remember.
  • Aaron making dinner an event as only he can.
  • Everyone gathered together at the table, all my kids under one roof.
  • Little's long skinny legs sticking out from beneath her dress, clad in too short red and white striped tights.
  • Voices blending and harmonizing as we practice singing together.
  • Beema watching the kids on Saturday.
  • Sunlight making a flower on the table as it reflects off of a plant holder.
  • The Boy and Girl imagining together what would happen if they used his bird song book to call other birds.
  • So many people we like over to share a meal and some time together.
  • Little with her gauze wrapped, cracked open chin bouncing on the trampoline in her jammies the morning after her fall off the bench.
  • A gift to the Charis children's home from a donor and friend that blew me over with it's generosity.
  • A reader contacted me to donate 500! of these children's books he wrote to give to the kids at Bridge of Hope this Christmas and shipped them for free!
  • Long lazy Sunday afternoon naps snuggled next to Little
  • Advent hymns.
  • The Boy's slight lisp with his front teeth gone.
  • The exquisite beauty of her small face.
  • "For God so loved the world that he gave..."

The gratitude community is here @ a holy experience.


Learning to be Content

One of the hardest things about the past month was dealing, not only with the loss of a baby, but with the truth that we aren't going to try and have another one again any time soon. That was perhaps much harder than the initial loss.

Yet, as Aaron reminded me every time I went off on a tangent, forgetting our reasons, we have very good reasons. (Those lilies above came home with him one night after such a conversation.)

As it stands right now, I do most of the work for The Charis Project. Aaron can't do it all and work long physically demanding hours to support us at the same time. Though he does do a lot. We have to assume that another pregnancy would be as debilitating as all of the previous ones have been, which means I am barely able to function for several months. We can't afford for me to take a leave of absence right now. At least 35 kids are depending on us right now. If I stop working they go hungry. It's that simple.

How selfish would it be then to choose a pregnancy right now, when things are are so unstable for them?

I'll be honest though, for the first time this last month I started to resent it. It was no longer a privilege to get to help someone in such a meaningful way. I wanted to quit. I was angry that I couldn't quit, or that my conscience wouldn't let me. I wanted someone else to come and do it for me.

But then I remembered all those times when I was home with two very little ones and I would cry I was so frustrated. I loved being with them, most of the time. But I would read and hear about children starving and suffering in other parts of the world and I would feel that just taking care of my own middle class, healthy, and happy children was not enough. I wanted to do more.

I was discontent and constantly trying to figure out what I could do. Gradually I learned to accept the season of life that I was in, and I embraced it. I realized that it wasn't forever and I learned to be content raising my own children.

Now I have what I longed for then, and I was wanting to just go back to that season of "just" being a mother again.

Then, I laughed at myself and wondered if I would ever learn to be content with where I am.
I'm closer this week than last.
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