before I forget…

Alfarado has been home for three weeks today.

HOME. ❤ How much do I love that word? He’s no longer in Haiti, far away. No longer without a family. He is home.

It’s been a rollercoaster of an adjustment, but God has been with us every step of the way. Some days are full of challenges and tantrums, others are bright and shiny with hope and happiness. But before I forget some of the sweet and cute things that have happened in these three weeks, I gotta write them down.

  • Who knew that escalators are the coolest thing ever? They. Blew. His. Mind. the day we traveled home.
  • also, going places in the van is very, very fun. After a lifetime of mostly going no further than two doors down the street for school, to be able to travel in a car on a regular basis is really neat. 🙂 He even asks if we can go places sometimes. “Ah-lay, machine, Mom?”
  • Often, when we get home after driving somewhere, he often tells me, “Good job, Mom!” as if it is a very good thing that I can drive safely there and back.
  • Curiosity is big right now with all this new stuff to see and experience: “What iz dis?” “Weh me see!” “Foh me?”
  • Having his own clothes and a place to put them is a happy thing.
  • He is obsessed with wearing socks. He didn’t wear them/have any at the creche – can you imagine the laundry for thirty kids if socks were part of the equation? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Also, don’t really need them in Haiti. Sandals work better. But here, “chosets” are awesome and we will wear them all the time, TYVM.
  • Ice cream = love.
  • He will eat rice, “wot dogs” (hot dogs), and/or spah-get-eeeee as often as we let him. Not so much into American sandwich bread, pancakes, or most carb-y breakfast foods.
  • He loves to match whatever the other boys are wearing, but prefers pants over shorts when its anything less than about 75 degrees.

and I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting already, but I’ll be back with more.

Alfa, we’re so glad you’re here in our family. We love you so so so much. Mwen renmen anpil anpil. Forever.

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.

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!