Tuesday, January 19, 2016


He will be nine in February. One video clip shows him haltingly climbing stairs and flashing a peace sign. Another captures a grin as he surprises the viewer with carefully worked arithmetic sums. We have known of his life for only 9 months, yet he has been waiting for a family for nearly 9 years. And next month, three of us will travel to China and return as four. Milo is coming home.

And...yes, I know. I have thought of each and every -- every -- scary scenario you might have imagined after reading the words above.  And...yes. I know this won't be anything like our experiences in bringing home a baby or toddler. And...yes. I am afraid. If I didn't truly believe that the God of the universe didn't have a plan for this child's life, then I would stay beside my woodstove with a stack of library books and a safe plan for the remaining days of winter. Because none of this is safe and tidy. And I love safe and tidy. We weren't planning on this. Yet, here we are, laughing that the most scripted of all ventures -- an international adoption -- is our "surprise pregnancy." And...yes. I have thought about the impact on the children in my home. I don't know what the future holds. But, this I do know. Five children have saved up chore money, helped build him a bed, learned some basic Mandarin, gathered favorite toys and made space in their rooms, in their hearts, for a kiddo they have yet to meet. I am aware that he is already having an impact on them. And I am so grateful.

On February 11, we will fly to Beijing, bringing with us our Monte. At fourteen, he is looking me in the eye these days, and we are thrilled that Milo will first learn from him what brother means. Our bags are half-packed -- medications (that we pray we won't need), comfort foods, Monte's balloon-tying supplies, the start of our stack of books, including Chinese Cinderella by A. Yen Mah, The Crunch-Time Guide to Parenting Language for Chinese Adoption by LaMons & Diggins, and  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I don't feel ready, and yet...I feel like we have been waiting for this day for years.

I wasn't thirty when we first applied to adopt internationally. We had planned, so long ago, to adopt from China. And, yet, my age was an issue...I was too young. As that door closed, Vietnam opened, and our MyLinh entered our lives and hearts. She will be nine this year. And ever since we first said "yes" to China, Milo has been waiting. Finally, we are on our way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.
Orville Prescott


We are reading a lot these days, some of us more than others. In April and May, I attempted to read N.T. Wright. We parted ways amicably before the book was over, but I don't think we will meet again. Right now I am knee deep in Wilberforce's work, Practical Christianity, but wading through his rich language is proving too much effort for my snatched moments with a book. I am embarrassed to admit that, but it is so, and I am taking pleasure in realizing how much reading is going on around me.

This month as a family we thoroughly enjoyed Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. The mystery captured us, and clever characters and fascinating history kept each child in turn asking for another page. Monte B. has been working through a stack of titles this spring, but when I tucked him in tonight, he was enjoying Bruchko, while Malcolm poured over his new favorite, Nature Anatomy: the Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World. MyLinh is rarely without a book in hand. We are so grateful for our library's extensive list of downloadable audiobooks, and in the last couple of months she has listened to several titles from The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place series, Peter Pan, Anne of Avonlea, Because of Winn-Dixie, and Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes. She has poured over the first Nancy Drew titles, Mr. Popper's Penguins, a handful of Beverly Cleary books, and Anne of the Island. But the very best reading that has happened over these sweet spring days has been her reading aloud to me... Little Women. She has been chuckling outloud at Jo's adventures and lamenting her troubles, and I am delighting in her discovery of this, one of my favorite books.

What a gift to read...and to be read to.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Meaning of Marriage

As I looked ahead at my year in January, I was also looking at my bookcase and my "to read" list. Both held titles that I have wanted to or needed to sit with, to think through, books that required more mental or emotional energy than I found when the quiet moments of my day allowed for pages to be turned.

This year, I decided to tackle one "meaty" book a month...just one. I wrote about January's, and February's books here. In the past four weeks, I have read the beautifully poignant Lila by Marilynne Robinson and the useful and delightfully penned manual Family Dog by Richard Wolters. I have bookmarks in half a dozen titles just as diverse as those two are from each other.

But the book that I mulled in March was The Meaning of Marriage written by Timothy and Kathy Keller. Alex read this aloud to me over the early spring weeks, and it was such a gift to be the one just... listening. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God was written for married and unmarried folks alike, and that perspective made it especially refreshing.

The Kellers point always to Scripture:
"...when the Bible speaks of love, it measures it primarily not by how much you want to receive but by how much you are willing to give of yourself to someone."

They draw on other wise teachers, my favorite being C.S. Lewis:
"The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the greatest secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."

For a culture attempting to define and understand marriage, this book is an excellent read... and I did not take for granted that it was read to me by the man who loves me so patiently and faithfully.