the winter of long shadows

here near the 45th parallel of the earth, way north of the Equator, it’s COLD. Today the windchill in parts of Minnesota will reach 40-50 degrees below zero. This happens every year – we trade gloomy, grey days with “warmer” temps for bright, sunshiny days with no-bottom-to-the-thermometer temps.

Today is the latter. And in the winter, way up here in the northland, the sun casts loooong, long shadows. From morning til evening, the sun stays low in the sky and the grey shadows of the trees and houses and humans stretch long and lanky across the snowy landscape. They’re beautiful. The sunlight is golden and softer – not the fierce brightness of midsummer.

January and I don’t get along very well, historically. Like the scene outside, it usually casts a long shadow across my soul, and this year is no exception. Lots of hard, sad, heavy things are being carried by lots of people I know and love. I’ve been dealing with challenging things personally too, and every circle of my life seems to have some kind of drama or difficulty in it. I’m fighting for joy and trying to get my face pointing toward the sun, but the shadows are long and keep moving back over my heart.

But THIS is where I am. This is the season. As much as I dislike winter, I cannot fast-forward to spring. And while the shadows it casts are long, there is beauty here.  To keep in the light, and out of the way of the tree trunks of drama and obstacles of my own sin that are casting the shadows, I must move and adjust and reorient myself. I mustn’t get complacent or sit in a pity party, simply wishing for the shadow to pass, though it will eventually. My Savior is the Light of the World and I want my vision filled up with Him.

I’m glad that I’ve lived enough years to know that while the days are short, the nights are long, and the weather does it’s best to make me cold body and soul: winter doesn’t last forever…Aslan is on the move.

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the miraculous and the mundane

It’s so weird how the miraculously holy and completely mundane co-exist and intertwine. Like how Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born in a barn and the whole sky shouted the news? Yeah that.

Today I’m in sweats and I’m doing laundry. Tomorrow we will stand before a judge in pretty clothes and promise to love and care for our daughter forever. And then that brief spectacular moment that changes our lives and hers forever will pass and life will go on in the everyday moments. Just like that.

And in both the holy and the mundane, Emmanuel is here. God has been and will be with us as we continue to figure out how to be good parents to the kids He has given us. What a beautiful wreck my life is.

Big magic in the mundane: big love happens in the small moments. (music credit: JJ Heller)

taylor is seven

43348586_10155507603977471_1398994805358329856_nToday you are seven, Taylor girl! Last week, you had your two front teeth taken out at the dentist because your new ones were coming in on top of them, so now you have the classic seven year old smile that we love so much. 🙂

You started first grade in September at Phoenix Academy and you’re enjoying your first “real school” experience so far. You really love art and music, so this school is a good fit for you!

It was hard for you that we moved this summer – you really loved our old house and it was the only one you’ve known! But gradually, you are coming to appreciate our new home and we’re so glad you can still play with your neighborhood friends just across the road.

Tay, you have been a spark of light and joy in our family from the minute you arrived. Your heart is big, your smile bright, your desire to create is insatiable, and your curiosity keen. You love her family, your Savior, and your friends with a passion.

Some of your favorite things this year:

  • Crafts of all kinds.
  • Making up and singing great songs about God and other things.
  • Painting your nails with Mom.
  • Playing with your friends: Morgan, Noelle, Libby, Anna, and Ella.
  • You learned to read! By the end of K, you were figuring it out. 🙂 More learning to come!
  • Making art to share with people you love.
  • Having Grandma Meri and Papa Keith here so often.
  • Special sleepovers with Grandma Char and Grandpa Rick.
  • Wearing matching outfits with Maddie – its fun to have a little sister!
  • Ballet! You started this fall and seem to enjoy it a lot.
  • Dressing up, and carefully choosing outfits.

We love you, Taylor! And we are excited to see how God will work in your heart this new year of your beautiful life. We pray you will follow Him always!

 

jackson is nine

37286641_10155349938322471_438463405838303232_nHow did our first baby grow up so quickly? Jack, you turned nine in the middle of a busy summer of packing up our home and moving to our new one just a week after your birthday.

The weekend of your party you and your North Branch Blue team fought hard at your summer baseball tournament, coming in second after losing to your arch-rivals, North Branch Navy. We’re so proud of how you left it all out there and even though your team lost the last game, you tried your best and had lots of fun.

We’re so grateful for you, Jack! God has given you a smart brain, an athletic body, a kind heart, and we are excited to see you grow and change over the next year of life He has given you.

Some of your favorite things this year:

  • The Magic Treehouse book series
  • Ninjago, StoryBots, and Swiss Family Robinson
  • Trying new foods
  • Baseball
  • Friends: Josiah, Logan, Zack, Simon
  • Ripsticking
  • Playing outside with your friends
  • Reading upside down and hanging off furniture
  • Math
  • Popsicles and ice cream bars
  • Going to the lake to swim

oh, and lets always remember how bright blue frosted make trips to the bathroom a little shocking later in the day. haha! We love you, Jack. Happy Ninth Birthday!

a quick family update: june 2018

Little Man
I was able to go visit Little Man in Haiti last month and it was wonderful to see him again! We’ve been blessed to have my mom and dad in Haiti throughout this waiting time – they’ve faithfully gone to visit him once a month, a 3-4 hour round trip from their home in Cabaret to his creche on the hill in Kenscoff. It’s been such a gift to be able to Skype with them and Little Man at those visits, but nothing compares to getting to hold him in my lap, listen to his voice, and hear his heartbeat while he sleeps. I was so glad to see how much he’s grown since December, and to hear about what he’s learning in school, and to spend time together, short though it was.

We’re praying for continued forward movement with his case in Haitian court and an adoption decree that legally makes him a Puelston before summer ends. It would be amazing to be able to bring him home before his birthday in November, but more realistically, it will probably be the end of the year.

Babiest Girl
Our foster daughter is doing so well. She’s 2.5 and full of vim and vigor. We are coming up on events this year that we did with her last year when she had first come to us and was still a big, bubbling mess of dysregulation and trauma-effects. It has been truly amazing to see how far she’s come! She stays closer, listens and obeys more quickly, has less of a hard time calming down when upset, and so many more good things. Witnessing her heart, mind and body change over the past 15 months has been an amazing thing (and challenging/frustrating thing too, TBH).

This fall, Lord willing and the paper trail is laid quickly, she’ll become our girl forever and we’ll get to introduce you to her. We will also be able to quit hiding her face behind dumb red emoji hearts. She’s stinkin’ cute, y’all. She’s one of those “so dang cute, how could you possibly ever get mad at her?” kids. But look out, because the minute after she’s charmed your socks, she’ll steal and eat your chapstick, then paint your front door with nail polish. ❤

House
We’ve been praying about moving, or adding on, or being content with the space we have in our decade-old home for about four years now. Pretty much the whole time we’ve been in the adoption process/been foster parents, we’ve felt like our walls were shrinking. A bigger number of kids in a medium-ish space will do that to ya. Also #firstworldproblems, I know.

Over the past few years we did several things to make our house work better for us, but with the reality of five kids and wanting to have space for family and friends to visit/host events for church and our neighbors, we just felt like maybe something else would be better. But nothing was coming up! We love our neighborhood, the kids are going to a school here in town in the fall, and I was not going to the trouble of a move just for something “slightly better” than what we already had going on.

But….God.

About a month ago, a house not far from us came on the market and I looked it up online. Then another house came up under the “other homes like this in your search area” heading, and I was intrigued. The asking price was kind of out of price range, but I looked at the listing anyway. It was around the corner and down the block from our house – we can actually see the trees in the backyard of that house from our front yard. They had an open house that weekend, so Kyle and I went.

We liked it. More bedrooms. More space. Bigger kitchen. A MUD ROOM. A beautiful deck. Woods. Storage space. Space for kids to play downstairs in the winter. Did I mention SPACE?

We hemmed and hawed and thought and prayed and talked to a lender and talked to my parents (who would really like a place to stay when they’re here from Haiti), then decided to just put in an offer and see what happened. A “less than asking price” offer. Which in this market is pretty much not a thing people accept. Because why would they?

The sellers took our offer, contingent on us selling our home. I cried. Happy, shocked, surprised, amazed tears.

We hustled and got our house ready to list in four days. Thankfully, there wasn’t a ton to do, but I worked my little tushie off painting and cleaning and boxing up the extra junk and putting it in the garage for those four days. Friends helped, Kyle did what he could when he wasn’t working night and day, and it came together!

Off we went for some much needed family R&R up to Duluth (already scheduled before we decided to jump on this train!) for four days. Our house went on the market, no showings for the first 3 days. Then the weekend came and we had two showings on Saturday. The first person that saw it put in a “more than asking price” offer hours later and was dead earnest about wanting our house. We accepted.

Y’all. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

Impossible comes true, its taking over you.
Oh, this is the greatest show
We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

Just about half an hour after our realtor called us with the offer, as we were driving home from Duluth, we were listening to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack and the title track came on. I heard the words with a new perspective, because I feel like God is putting on a big, beautiful show of His great glory and kindness right now. This whole thing isn’t something we planned or even could have imagined.

This is the greatest show on earth to me: being God’s child and watching the wonder of his plan unfold. I’ve gone through some pretty dark days and some intense anxiety, even physical manifestations of anxiety, over the past couple years. It’s not all roses and sunshine as we walk this broken earth, not by a long shot. But walking through the fire and the flood with Jesus by my side has been far more comforting than walking alone.

And now He’s held my hand as we’ve stepped out into the light of a new thing, a new day. God’s not just opening doors. He’s blowing the proverbial hinges off of them and pushing us, gently, through them. We’ll close on our house and the new one at the end of July. Thanks be to God for His kind gift. We are very, very grateful.