Monday, April 30, 2012

Easter Traditions

This year we started some new Easter traditions. We wanted to enjoy all the fun of Easter but add to it the JOY of the celebration of the Resurrection. Christians ought to have the best Easters of anyone because the real reason for the celebration is so much better than chocolate bunnies and the coming of spring! So while we did the Easter egg hunt/dyeing eggs/etc, we also added on some fun new traditions of our own. Well, some of them were based off of pinterest. But what can I say? Most good ideas are. :)

First, the boys and I put together this garden.

 We gathered all kinds of greenery from the yard (in the rain!) on Good Friday. We talked about what Jesus' friends must have been feeling on that sad day. Why is it called Good Friday? What happened when Jesus died? (They were very interested in the earthquake part.) What did the disciples think had happened? Iain's response, that they were upset because they thought He was the king and now thought He wasn't, was pretty right on.

We also talked about how no flowers were allowed in our garden. Flowers are for happiness, and this was a sad, sad day. The tomb is a carved potato, which the boys thought was awesome. This garden was our table centerpiece on Friday and Saturday. By Saturday night, the plants were wilting. We talked about how long it must have seemed from Friday to Sunday, and how sad the garden was now.
 Then after the boys went to sleep Saturday night, I went to work with some babies' breath, transforming our sad, wilting garden into a place of happiness! The tomb was opened! And it was empty! And the flowers, which represent happiness and joy, were bursting forth! This is the sight that greeted our eyes on Easter morning--and the boys loved the surprise. And the empty tomb was our centerpiece for our Easter meal, and it sparked some good discussion over dinner, too.
 "The potato is empty! Jesus is out of the potato!" said Cory. Well, we tried. :)

We have debated Easter baskets every year. While we want to do tim because they're fun, we've also been hesitant since we don't want Easter Sunday morning to be more exciting because of stuff than because of the Resurrected Lord. This year, we hit on a way to bring some good symbolism to Easter baskets (thanks again, pinterest). As Jeremy said, even if they end up thinking this is corny, at least they'll know we tried to bring the gospel into everything.

We each took five rocks and put them in our Easter baskets. Then one by one, we took them out, naming a sin for each rock, and dropped them into one basket we called Jesus' basket, showing how He takes our sin. Then we covered Jesus' basket with a red cloth, because He covers our sins with His blood. So now our Easter baskets were empty.

The next morning, they were full of good things--because Jesus takes our sins and gives us good things instead. I know it sounds contrived, but the boys really got it. And it was fun.

So there you go. Our original (pinterest-based) Easter traditions. They went very well, and the Resurrection holiday seemed fuller because of the time and thought that we spent really thinking about what Jesus did for us and what it means. The Gospel is so rich and deep--we want our kids to dive into it. What fun, creating new traditions.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Adoption and Laina Update

I'm pausing to come up for air. During the past few weeks, I have been completely and totally buried in adoption paperwork--I mean it's been nutty. I don't know if it's really more paperwork than our Rwanda adoption; I don't think it's really more. But it feels like it is! Maybe it's the fact that I have been doing adoption paperwork for three solid years now. Seriously. I've had this insanely crazy job of writing essays, filling in blanks, calculating funds, gathering papers from every available source, hounding friends to write us recommendations, and getting us to fingerprint appointment after fingerprint appointment--for three years.


And while last time around, I was doing it with two kids, now I'm doing it with three, including one very active toddler. More on her later.

So here's where we are, if you've been wondering:
--we've applied to three agencies and two adoption attorneys
--we have two more to go
--we're almost done with one of our (many) grant/loan applications. I'm not sure how many we can apply for this time around since we don't yet have an agency (and won't until we're matched)
--we are, thanks to my dear friend Lauren, about to unveil our big fund-raiser. It may not be our only one, but it's the big one. Stay tuned!!
--speaking of fundraising, we will need about $25,000 for this adoption (hopefully a bit less). We're about a third of the way there. We're trusting Jesus to provide to bring this little girl home, just as He did for her big sister!
--making the family profile was challenging. The profile is basically a book about your family, addressed to a potential birth mother. You're trying to give a clear, accurate picture of who you are to help her decide if you're the right family for her baby. Hard to do! I'll do a whole post on that later.
--My kids are the best. Just saying. They are so excited about the baby sister, coming up with names all the time, praying for her, praying for money to come in, etc. Love their hearts.

So to sum up, adoption paperwork is intense, we're possibly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we need to fundraise like mad, my kids are great. Got it?

Speaking of kids, there's a certain almost-two-year-old who is talking up a storm. She says three or four word sentences now, and is as funny as her brothers. A sampling:

--When we saw a dog she didn't care for: "Scare you! Scare you! Scary dog! No thank you!"
--When I took away her empty bottle: "Mom! Gimme dat!"
--When she was mad at another baby in nursery: "Mama! Grammy bite you!" (okay, a little explanation: the boy's name was Remy, not Grammy. And he didn't bite Laina or me. She was mad because he got the toy she wanted.)
--When she's in a silly mood, she mimics the audio books in the car. Yesterday she started not only mimicking the words, but also the voices. Hearing her say, "Where's my treasure?" in her best pirate voice cracked me up.
--She loves knowing people's names and using them. She's very into calling people by name, and sometimes she just goes through lists of people she knows. Her favorites are herself and her brothers, of course, Benjamin (Ben-ya-min), Sam and Kate, Hannah, Abbey, James David and Bryar, and her cousins (Addie, Penny, Isaiah, Baby Titus). She also makes sure to yell out "Bye Dad!" whenever we leave him, even if it's, ahem, in the middle of the opening prayer at church.

One other funny Laina story, though it doesn't involve talking: at the grocery store, she spends her time trying to open packages. She's quite good at it. I've learned to stack the groceries at the back of the cart, but sometimes, when I'm not looking... So last time at Aldi, she reached behind her into the cart, grabbed a carton of eggs, and flung them. Yes, she did. The carton opened and all the eggs fell into my cart, most of them cracking and dripping all over the groceries, the cloth grocery bags, and the floor. Thankfully, Jeremy was with us (he doesn't usually come grocery shopping, but thanks to the mountain of paperwork, I've been doing that kind of stuff at night and on the weekends, so he's been jumping in), and he grabbed a roll of paper towels and we mopped it up. And bought a dozen broken eggs, and some slightly sticky groceries. 

But she sure is cute.

These guys are, too:

Don't worry, they'll get their own post soon. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Referral Day!

Today, one year ago, we finally got that much-anticipated, joy-filled email: our referral. We finally saw her face, and we fell in love. Soon after, Laina became officially part of our family forever. Today, we kiss her sweet cheeks and marvel at the goodness of the Lord in giving her to us.

I'm not going to post her referral picture, because I want that to be just for her and us to share. But this one, taken after we heard the email would be coming any minute, and before we actually saw it, makes me smile. What a wonderful, special moment, seeing her face for the first time. It was also so special because we all four sat on the couch and opened the email together.

It was a really, really good day. The start of a lot of really, really good days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Life Happens

I'll get that Easter Traditions post up soon. I'm sure you're waiting with bated breath...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

He is Risen!

What a special Holy Week, what a glorious Resurrection Sunday! As we've talked, as a family, about what it means that Jesus came and lived a perfect life, died in our place, and then hallelujah! rose again, it's become so much weightier.

While Laina's been home for almost a year, this was her first Easter with us. This time of year has me thinking so much about last year. Last Easter, since it was later in the month, we had already seen our little girl's face for the first time. This year, she's with us. Another reason to praise. And next year, Lord willing, a fourth child will be goofing off in the Easter pictures.

And this year!
He is risen indeed!
My mom made Laina's first Easter dress. I love it, and so does Laina!

Check back tomorrow for pictures of the newly-instituted Easter traditions at the Rock House...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Suffering and Good Friday

I was all set to write a newsy post about our life here at the Rock House. I finished half of it yesterday. But today, on this Good Friday, I can't seem to do it.

There is just so much suffering.

Failed adoptions. Rwanda closing its doors to adoption. Sickness. Marriage problems. Ministry troubles. Death. Financial loss. Heartache of every sort. These are the things happening to people I love. I'm in this weird, awful place of seeing the world collapsing for people I am close to, and my heart aches for them. And then when my mind goes to those places, to Rwanda, Mongolia, Uganda, Mexico, Thailand, places I have seen and loved where suffering is on the faces of the lost, hurting, broken, starving... first or third world, suffering is heavy on this earth.

And all I can do is thank Jesus for what He did on Good Friday thousands of years ago, in His suffering buying us relief from the fallen world of our own making. Paying, with His sacrifice, for the sin that kills and destroys and leads us from the God who is love.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you... (1 Peter 5:10).

Good Friday isn't about Jesus dying so we could have a life of ease. It's not about us and our comfort. It's about the goodness of our Savior, suffering on the cross so that we could know Him and love Him and worship Him. The relief of our suffering is in Him. His work for us, buying us freedom we didn't deserve, makes our sufferings temporary and our joy eternal.