I'm Different

This past summer, when Myriam was having some playtime at Papa and Nana's house, she made a statement that caught my Dad off guard and demanded follow-up when I picked her up.
We've never not hidden the fact that she has different color skin than the rest of us. We have a library selection of books that speak into adoption, skin color and how Jesus loves us all regardless of looks. We've had an open adoption from the beginning and continue to have some contact with a few relatives. Myriam's little mind has heard all these things, but we're seeing a new trend in curiosity and conversation about how she came to be.

"Papa, I'm different than the rest of my family."

This was the first time Myriam has acknowledged that her physical traits are vastly different than ours. It's the first time she's mentioned it to someone other than our immediate family. Sure, she notices we have different color hair and eyes, but she's always seen that as surface value.
This time was different when she made the statement.
I knew I needed to address it immediately and actually, the conversation continued for days later.
I approached it with a story about God's garden giving her a visual image to connect her emotions to truth.
I explained that when God created the earth and everything in it, He made things different from the very beginning of time. Jesus wanted a garden, His earth, to be full of life, full of color and having a variety of all types of flowers and animals.
Jesus wanted tall flowers, short ones, different sizes, colors, some with scents and some without. Having a garden of just one type of flower or color would become boring to look at and that's why God gave me white color skin and Myriam butterscotch.
"If you only had the same toy and nothing else, it would get kind of boring, right? What if you only ate the same thing all day long, every day?"
Myriam was intrigued by this story and concept of having a huge garden. My Dad amazed that I could so quickly turn it into a lesson. I reminded him to always go back to the automatic Sunday School answer; Jesus, God, Lord and Savior.

Recently, we had Myriam spit in a tube and submitted the sample for the 23 and Me test, which gave us genetic and ancestry results. We were a little surprised to find out that she's not what we had originally been told her ethnic background was, but quite rather something different. She still rings true to her spunky, curious and feisty personality which makes her exactly the daughter God wanted us to parent, but now knowing where she comes from gives us just a smidge more background of who she really is. Our Egyptian Princess if you may say so...Spanish and Liberian decent with small percentages from surrounding countries give us description into what type of flower our daughter is in God's garden.
We all want to know how we came to be; where we came from and to know our family history. When you have adoption in your story line it becomes somewhat of a challenge to figure out some of these details. Some are easier to come by than others.
With our two little girls it's been relatively easy to gather their story line.
We are so incredibly thankful for that as someday our girls will ask questions we'll need to answer.
Embracing the fact that God made us each for His garden and gave each of us our own purpose makes answering these questions a little less traumatic. This will not be the last time Myriam inquires about the differences she sees within her family. Our prayer is that we as parents, can instill the identity we have in Christ first before judging how we look compared to the rest of the world.

Baby girl, yes, you have much tanner skin than Mommy. But, I'm different from you too and that's exactly how God made it to be. 

Our Summer Dayz Recap

Another sizzling summer with high temps, seldom bored kids and nap times to squeeze into our playtime. Addison had many successful lemonade stands again this year and almost weekly dips with her bestie at Grandma's pool. Charlie continued his American Ninja Warrior training with all the neighborhood boys as well as more football card trading and cycling. The kids did the usual stop in for food, go to friends, grab more food, onto the next house and back again to make the rotation in the afternoon. 
A few more highlights were...
Addi and Annie volunteering at Day Camp while Charlie went as a camper
LC Basketball Camp
Birthday Parties
Swimming lessons with Teacher Shannon
Edaline Ice Cream 
3 on 3 Razz Festival Tournament
Charlie going on work trips with Daddy
Motorcycle Rides 
Blueberry Picking
and enjoying summers best with BBQ's.

 The little girls loved going on bike rides this past summer. Even if they were short rides around the corner or longer ones to visit friends; they ended with smiles or tears. Last month, when some of our Portland friends were visiting, Myriam insisted on riding her friends' bike with no training wheels. With zero prior help, and only time on Baylee's balance bike, our super girl Myriam adamantly said she could do this. And you know what...SHE DID! Tessa didn't get her bike back the rest of the afternoon as Mimi was so proud of herself and excited to be free of training wheels!


 { Celebrating cousin Ashlyn's birthday party with pony rides. These girls took many turns and loved "touchy" the friendly ponies. }

 { Traditional summer boat trip with Papa & Nana. This year they did the Ev Henry Point with a few tears and many memories of Auntie's favorite hike. }

 { Lake Whatcom beach babes. }

 { She either has me laughing with her or frustrated; this time she was rowing across the ocean. }

 { My parents have taken on a lifestyle of health and fitness this past summer. I can't be more proud. Didn't take much arm twisting to get Mom to join me on the Interurban to Larabee Trail on this sunny Saturday morning...she rocked all 13.5 miles with me! }

 { I don't know. }

{ Took birthday matters into my own hands and made the baby brother join me up Oyster Dome. }

 { The kids did great on this short, flat hike down to the beach where we explored crabs, shells, water pools, sun-bathing seals, pure sand and shallow waters. Of course the minor exploration demanded that we fuel back up at the C Shop with snow cones and ice cream treats. }

{ Good to know people. }

 { Addison took to the NW Fair this year with her girlfriends and families. 
Daddy met up with her later on in the evening. }

And just to reassure you all that we don't always have our tribe controlled and organized, here are a few of our favorite out-takes. I have no shame or judgment. I do sometimes bring peace offerings to our neighbors for the sometimes vocal entertainment that flows over into their homes 
or invites themselves inside for a visit. We keep it real. 

{ Summer out-takes. }

{ I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein }

{ Summer; it's been a real kick. }

It's a Teenagers Life Now

Addison summed it up herself when making this poster for above her locker. 
What I would add to this list is...
Compassionate, caring, always willing to serve others and her family, creative, talented, 
confident, brave and courageous. 
I'm struggling to believe we have a teenager in our home because I know that come tomorrow she'll be driving away to college. We kept the celebrations low-key, per her requests, this year with a trip to DQ for blizzards and a dinner of buttered noodles at her favorite, Olive Garden. If I had my way I'd have balloons, streamers and a massive cake, but that's simply not our daughter. Instead, we sat together early in the morning, on the couch, sipping our coffee as I got mushy with Mom-Talk about reciting how proud I was of our oldest baby. 
Yep, a baby. I still remember our first night together as new parents and driving Addi home from the hospital. She was just small enough to fit in my arms. Now she rummages through my shirts for something new. 
We are eager to see all the many changes that are to come this next year and celebrate with our teenager as she's hit another milestone in life. 
With this new transition to becoming a teenager, Grandma Judy gifted Addi an overnight in her choice location with choice friend as well. Addison quickly made plans to explore all of Fairhaven with her bestie sidekick-neighbor-we call 5th child, Annie. These girls had so much fun as I carted them to and from Fairhaven to downtown Bellingham and eventually taking late night dips in Bellingham Bay with Auntie Missy. Of course there were giggles, too many selfies, sweet treats and 
a bubble bath before bed...why not, right?
Happy 13th Birthday sweet daughter of ours...

 { Pottery, gelato and kisses. }

{ Exploring the Marina, sunset walks to Wood's and BuBbLeS!!! }

A Camping We All Must Go

With summer coming to an end, we decided to load the kids and gear into the motorhome for one last trip before school started. We found a few great camping sites, but settled in at the KOA campgrounds. The older kids quickly located where the arcade games were along with the candy store. I went into action preventing others from finding such treasures while distracting with walks and making new friends at the playground. 
I played a mean game of horseshoes with Addi while Charlie pedaled himself to exhaustion around the sites. He was so proud of himself as he paid with all his own money to sweat and gain tired legs. 
There was a decent swimming pool that both Charlie and Myriam enjoyed for sometime and of course afternoon snacks of hot chocolate and Oreos. 
We only had one mishap when Charlie took a corner too fast on gravel, swerved to the side in order to miss a truck and came face to face with a terrifying golf cart that nearly ran the boy over. The little man was held down as staff made sure he had no broken bones then was given a ride back to our site where he saved all the brave tears for his mama once inside. Poor man had road rash from head to toe on one side with Mom scrubbing to get all the gravel and dirt out before smothering him in Neosporin. 
It was such a sweet little get away with our family.

On our last day away, we hiked down to Dungeness Spit and explored the beach for a couple hours. Charlie and Addi quickly made way with building a drift wood fort while Myriam took all but a few minutes to find the water and jump the waves. Baylee and Daddy were busy playing with sand and occasionally pretending to nap on the awesome tree stump we made ours while beach side. I was unsuccessful in getting everyone on board to walk the entire length of the spit and with a broken toe, I was okay to sit and savor the moments of a beautiful morning. 

Our final stop on the way home was the Olympic Game Farm. I had great memories from this place as a child and was excited to take the kids here. With two loaves of wheat bread ready to go, we took to the driving tour with immediate sightings of wolves and bears. The zebras were behind the fence, but the yaks met us willing to eat. The brown bears waved and one had the decency to walk towards us, turn around, pass gas then poop right in front of the kids. Awesome. We all had a good laugh at that one! The bison were super intimidating with their bad breath, grayish black tongues and noses larger than my fist. The kids thought those were the coolest. After a walk through the aquarium and a few replies (gross) it was time to catch our ferry home. 

 We love simple camping. We do okay in silence. We love card games and camping snacks. Staring into the fire and engaging into deep conversations with the kids is something we treasure. Molding our hands around a hot cup of coffee early in the morning comes desired as littles stay sleeping inside. We may have come home reeking like campfire, but it was well earned and enjoyed. 
Thanks kiddos for yet another amazing camping trip.  

Paper, Pens and School Books

Addison Jean: 7th Grade
Ebenezer Christian School
Shoe Size: 8 
This makes the first year, aside from two years in preschool, that Addi is attending traditional school. This comes with some level of curiosity with many unknowns and moments of being uncomfortable, but overall, the transition has been going okay. I would dare say the biggest change after seven years of homeschooling is the long days beginning with catching the bus at 7:30am. 

Charles Douglas: 4th Grade
Ebenezer Christian School
Shoe Size: 7
This is Charlie's second year at ECS and he was nothing short of bursting at the seams to get routine going and see his friends again! Charlie's been a big little brother keeping tabs on his sister and showing her the ropes at school. This is his first year playing flag football and happens to have one of his Mp3 friends on the same team! Says he's playing tackle football next year...yet to be decided. 

Myriam Judith: Kindergarten
Fisher Elementary School
Shoe Size: 13
Myriam has the idea that the new school was built just for her and since has been able to explore the new campus with her teachers and friends. Friday was her first full day of school and it proved itself a tiring one as she was in bed before six in the evening. We are excited to see Myriam learn and grow with the aid of many on her team seeking the best for her. She came home on the first day of school already picking out the most handsome boy on the playground; the second saying she made no friends at lunch and yesterday stating she was too loud at lunch time with Charlie. This already proves to be an entertaining year!

He Provides

“And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “ On this mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” 
Genesis 22:13-14

It is an undeniable truth: we live in a land rich with fertile soil providing crops for consumption and fuel for our animals; landscapes to explore and gaze at in all directions with heights from snow peaked mountains to ocean waves lapping on the sandy shorelines. Communities of neighbors and relatives engaging, nurturing and entertaining each other. God will need to hand pluck me from this community if He ever plans on me going somewhere else, as I’m not sure it gets any better, other than Heaven. 

A few weeks back I took the kids blueberry picking to the family farm where the majestic Canadian Rockies stood bright and tall at the edge of the fields watching us as we went row to row filling our buckets full of plump berries. The sun providing a blanket of warmth on our summer bronzed shoulders; the birds singing a tune with every berry placed in our bowls. I melted into my Aunt’s arms as the emotion of another first-time without my sister hit me stepping out of the car. 
This was one of her favorite summer activities and places to visit as deep roots of family memories were planted from childhood through our adult lives at the farm. With every berry carefully hand-picked and placed in bowls, so were berries placed in mouths with sticky fingers and hungry tummies; even green ones tart and sour. We picked enough to supply ourselves a freezer full plus having fresh berries to snack on. It is amazing how many berries can grow on one bush. Loaded, hanging low to the ground. They don’t taste any better than fresh from the bush. 

Do you ever wonder if they had blueberries in Abraham’s time? Even earlier, did Adam and Eve experience the taste of Northwest berries like we do? When was the first blueberry bush discovered? Did you know that there are berry chemists who create new varieties every year? Is there a limit to how many more varieties we need and do old varieties ever retire naturally?

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”  Genesis 9:3

Some argue that up to this point in Genesis, men and women only ate vegetation (1:28-30) as man only began to eat meat after the great flood and even then kept to Levitical law 
not eating unclean creatures. (2:16) God had given Adam and Eve permission to eat from every tree before He gave them restriction after their sin. In considering how far our diets have come, it makes me wonder if we took the permission and restriction out of context and pushed the idea of providing for ourselves to far. Do we trust God to provide all our needs or do we lack faith and rely too much on stocking our own pantry with unhealthy varieties of nutrition?

This past year has proven, yet again, that God is gracious to those that depend on Him, and provided everything we needed in every situation regardless if we agreed with the outcome or process. Allow me to give you insight into a few of these situations where God has provided for us. 

There has been months of legal battles at work causing stressful meetings, what Tim believes to be angels randomly stopping by his office praying for the company and staff, hard decision making and countless extra travel miles to address issues at bay. The weight of this work has nearly sunk some of us under the stress and yet, there are lessons that have been learned through it all. Hard as it may be, we still believe there is purpose in this battle. 

The emotional difficulty and parental weariness of raising a child with trauma induced struggles has added to the pool of tears as well. Many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep with the guilt of not being able to protect our girl from an unhealthy pregnancy, resulting in daily battles of making less than good choices. We’ve made some good friends along the way teaching us new strategies to approach some of our daily struggles, but it’s exhausting when you constantly, hourly, remind others to be calm and gentle. 
It’s common to be judged by those around you and in social settings when your little girl looks normal from the outside, but inside she decides most every decision out of fear and panic. Last year at the Northwest Washington Fair we had a situation come up where I literally had mom’s four feet from me tilt their noses at me and say in a voice meant not to be heard, “Get it under control mom.” It took over thirty minutes to calm our girls body down with all the Karyn Purvis methods possible, regardless of the looks I received, and even then, she never returned to a neutral position. So in attempts to not one-up last year, we stayed home in a controlled environment. 
Recently, there has been frustration as our insurance company has chosen which therapy and tests should be approved regardless of the recommendations from our pediatricians and specialists. This only adds to the strain when we medically can’t address some of the basics. 

Adoption was never part of the original plan, but because of sin, God provides grace to His children and gave us the responsibility to care for our little girls. We are nearing the point of finalizing Baylee’s adoption after almost twenty months in care. There have been some strenuous moments in the process along with emotional hardships and tears over the lives burdened by generational sin. My mama heart has broken many times over and in the same moment sees glimpses of hope and change for those we have met in this foster journey.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

This week marked six months since my sister passed away. She wanted nothing more than to witness the adoption of Baylee. I may never come to a complete understanding of why Traci had to get cancer and leave this earth so early; never being able to experience having a family of her own. I will never come to agreement with the timing of her death. God’s plan is to never be questioned; some things never to be answered. 

Be as it may, God still provided through all of these things!!

The beauty of God’s provision can be found in the simplicity of a single blueberry. Some of the benefits have been proven to ward off heart disease, prevent cancers, lower blood pressure, maintain healthy bones and even improve mental illness along with fighting off wrinkles. (Can I get an amen to that?!!) As I went along the sagging rows of the Pangborn Farm, the word "Provider" kept coming to mind. For sometime, I’ve found myself being caught up in much of the hard stuff of life trying desperately to seek the joy in everything. I do see God in much of it all, but there is the human part of me that gets lost in emotions and quickly becomes buried under the weight of all that we have going on. 

What struck me on this day was all that God HAS provided for our family and continues to provide through some of the most simple forms of nutritional value. Yes, our home has some issues with wall paper being peeled off, floors popping up and unknowns hiding in our walls, but our home also provides stability for our family with a place to lay our heads down at night, protected from the elements of the outdoors. 
Our neighborhood has given our children a safe haven to play in on these summer days and share in the celebrations of life. We live in a community that provides nutritious value to the dinner table with fields of crops growing tall and we’re apart of a church that feeds our souls. We have a huge network of supportive friendships that speak encouragement into our daily lives and laughter to lighten up the heavy moments. 

I believe if Abraham came to visit the Northwest he would shout with such boldness and confidence, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On this mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” I can confidently say the Lord has provided everything we’ve needed over the past year through all the intense battles we’ve fought and will continue to fight. 
Even on the days where the smoke bogs our views from sight, I know that beyond the haze are those majestic mountains that remind us of the Creator who set all of this into motion. Not to say there haven’t been sacrifices along the way; there certainly has been. Part of me believes that some were due to us being risk takers and the other being God stretching our comfort zones in order to give us a glimpse of his affection towards us. 
Abraham was ready to sacrifice his own son - that’s a huge risk - but he was willing to make that sacrifice in obedience to God. He knew, without a doubt, God would still provide for him. I want that boldness in my faith; believing God will provide no matter what is given or taken away…He still provides. 

The challenge I give to myself is this: Whether its one blueberry or a freezer full, I look to seek a heart attitude of thankfulness for what God sees I need and trust that in everything, He will provide for my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. 

Confessions From a Campsite Playground

“This is my rubber horsey not my plastic one. It’s just soft rubber. I don’t mind if I share my horse with you. It’s actually not even a horse; it’s a pony. My Mommy only buys me the plastic ones because they're cheap.” said four year old Mia. 
With a few bangs inches longer than the rest, she continued to sputter her words at me with a slight lisp as neither seemed to bother her conversation or the fact that I was a complete stranger. 
“My Daddy didn’t come camping with us because he doesn't like to camp so he stayed home and worked on our house in said city because he does good work on a big tractor and my Mommy does good with a tent. That’s my friend, but I sometimes don’t like to share with her and these are her horses that she brought here.”
The girl with chocolate brown colored hair continued for another ten minutes telling me all about what seemed like twenty cats and dogs living under the same roof at one time, but then the story shifted as she went on, “Joey the cat got too close to a car on the road so the tire got him and then our other dog didn’t get along with Sophie the other cat and the cat didn’t make it because they couldn’t be friends. So then my Mommy got us this other cat…” For only being four years old this darling child had a zoo of pets at home whether alive or dead. 
I tried to get Mia to engage with the other kids, but she much rather would have sat there all day with me telling secrets of her home.
Cute thing went to grab some more toys from her campsite and instead got lost so she found me and took me on a walk looking for her Mommy. Well, it turns out I think the reason why her Daddy stayed home was because Mommy was on a camping date with her lady friend which clearly this four year old struggled to understand. 

Now enter truth teller number two who is entering sixth grade and was there with her sister and Mom. You may be asking where this jewels Dad was…well, let me tell you. They used to live in Georgia when her parents were married but then moved back here after her parents divorced. Her Dad wanted to live closer to his girls so they drove for a week in a car to get here to which the Irish youngster told me all about. I learned about the parking lots they slept in, food they ate, why the divorced happened in the first place and what school she'll be attending this fall. 
Her Mom and Dad get along really well now. Her mom works as a nurse and her Dad climbs trees. When her Dad went to Australia for three months she didn’t cry once, but then when he was gone for a day she cried all day long. Her older sister reads a lot which is why she has a huge imagination to entertain her as no one else wants to play. Her Dad gets mad at her step sister because she’s lazy, is only twenty-two and has two young babies. She loves babies but her Dad has to always give them money as the step sister can’t hold a job or make good choices. 
Irish also taught me about train safety. When trying to jump a train one must pull their legs up fast enough or they'll get stuck underneath and you'll get hurt like her Dad's friends did one time. Her Dad jumped lots of trains in his life. 
If Little Girl Irish wasn’t talking to me, she was busy playing with Baylee watching out for her on the tower play set. With her transitional glasses darkened and long hair tied in a pony-tail, Irish continued to tell me more about the details of her campsite, sleeping set-up and what she was planning on doing later on which included a bike ride and shower. 

I felt a little bit like Steve Harvey with these kids telling me all sorts of things I probably shouldn't have known. I didn't have a comfy couch to expose the family secrets; just a cement picnic table and some toys of our own. What makes me more nervous is wondering how often it's my own children revealing the secrets of our family and others choosing to blog about them!