Just Laugh Mom

Sunday afternoon Tim and I hosted a simple Christmas dinner for the YWAM staff here at home. To make life easier, my parents took the younger girls and requested an overnight sleepover. 
Sure. Sounds innocent. 
Yeah, not so much. 
Our guests left and I quickly checked my phone to see how the little ladies were doing. I believe my initial response was something like, "OH NO!" I think Tim thought something much more terrible had happened. 
"I only left her for a minute," said Mom with tears. 
I'm not sure who or what she was more afraid of; my response or how it would be fixed.
There is no recovering from something like this. 
Let me reminded you all too, this is the third offense with the scissors. 
I quickly called Mom and hearing the terror in her voice, I reminded her to laugh because in the process of this horrific act being committed, no one was 
sliced or diced with the craft scissors and somehow it will grow back. 
In Myriam's defense, she was trying to look like Nana which she accomplished quite well. 

Thankfully, Myriam has an adorable face that makes up for the awful fixer upper haircut. I fired Myriam as my hair client years ago due to her wiggles. Having to rehire her and claim this cut is painful. I don't even want to tell people I tried to fix this. There is no way to get around something as unevenly cut as what this firecracker accomplished. Myriam's hair has always grown fast so she has that going for her. 
I do believe the worst part of this new do is the bedhead. Upright in every direction.
So, if there is any take away from this bad choice I guess it would be this:
Nana, grow your hair out.

 { She's so proud of herself. }

{ "Twins" The desired Nana whom Myriam was trying to copycat. }

{ Bedhead beauty. }

November Recap

Highlights of the month:
Our Election Party
Thanksgiving at Papa & Nana's
Afternoon's with friends
Issac's (Charlie's friend from Mp3) & Talan's (cousin) Birthday Party
Perch & Play fun date
Holiday Starbucks Drink menu
Painting Addison's room - little girl to tween
Kids surprisingly getting along really well! Success!

We decided to turn the mayhem of the election into a little family party which led to some history lessons and education on the process. The girls helped make the star cookies as I worked on getting the jello to set. We went for the all American blue and white theme for dinner having little smokies (a step up from hot dogs), potato salad and fruit kabobs along with sweet treats and red vines symbolizing our country needing to stand together no matter what the outcome. The kids really enjoyed watching the news as many questions were asked and the opportunity to explain in a healthy way laid before us. As like many of you, we started to fall asleep and didn't make it all night. The big announcement was a delayed replay with the kids by our sides watching speeches and quite frankly, laughing hysterically at Trump's son who clearly should have gone to bed himself. Poor kid was yawning, shaking himself awake and doing head bobs. 

{ Ice cream Daddy daughter dates at DQ. }

Tim made his way back to Cambodia once again to make it possible for couples to hear the truth about marriage, have opportunity to grow together and to also encourage Pastor Sophea in Phnom Penh. Erik Vanderpol, co-worker and life long friend, came along this time, as well as Hans and Star Molegraaf to lead the marriage conference. The kids and I kept busy decorating for Christmas, preparing for Myriam's birthday, visiting with Auntie and hanging out with friends. More on this trip to come!

{ I placed less then ten ornaments this year. Addi & Charlie did the rest. } 

{ Keeping busy while waiting for the girls' well checks. }

 { Visiting Papa and Nana for dinner. }

{ Celebrating Talan's B-day at the Sportsplex. }

{ A quick snap after church. }

This concludes our month of November. 
Welcome Winter (well, colder weather and twinkling lights.)

Super Sister Turned Five

It's hard to believe it's only been five years since Myriam was born and yet, the moment we held her for the first time seems just like yesterday. 
The moment we were given opportunity to lay eyes on our daughter and check all ten toes and fingers, pull the cap back to see if she had any hair and to believe that this really was happening after all the paperwork and waiting. Our Thanksgiving five years ago filled our hearts with such delight and gratitude; that Thanksgiving five years ago changed the dynamic of our family forever.
Lately, I have found myself grieving for not being able to control the first nine months of her life. Not being able to hug my swollen belly and to sing lullabies to soothe the restless life inside me. I feel guilty for not being able to protect our daughter from harm and choices. 
Myriam is joy, laughter, she's whimsical and compassionate. Myriam is creative, imaginative, inquisitive, mischievous and sensitive. Myriam is strong-willed, confident, defiant and loyal. As often as she can be the reason for my worry and stress, she can also be the reason I melt and soften to her embrace. 
Understanding how God designed our daughter has been the hardest thing we've done in parenting thus far. Finding our own voice to navigate the best approach through avenues that can offer therapies and advice in order to give Myriam her own voice in life has been an adventure. There are days I feel out of control, completely exhausted and not qualified to be her Mommy because I'm not seeing her the way God does. There are days where we both surprise ourselves when good choices, listening ears and regulation have been achieved verses complete chaos and hands tossed in the air. 
I often wonder when we'll look back and say, "It felt like decades but it was only a few years..."
But then I remind myself, God chose me to be her Mommy; He chose Tim to be her Daddy.
God gave us the chosen job to love this little girl like she had our own blood and genetics running through her veins. He chose us to love her the exact way He created her to be; a life vibrant, full of energy with an abundance of love to share with others.
And in that moment of being Mommy, Myriam's forever and always Mommy, my grieving stops and turns to laughter with every joke said, hug squeezed, kiss given and personality displayed. 

My prayer, our prayer, is that you sweet girl never stop looking up to us with those deep, dark brown chocolate eyes. That you would extend grace to Daddy and Mommy when we don't get it right the first time. That you would feel the immeasurable amount of love we have for you and in return, never stop loving Jesus and others in the big, bold way you do. 
Myriam, may you never stop looking up to the One who created you exactly as you are;
perfect in His image. 
Happy Birthday baby girl. 

{ Three months old. }

{ Birthday morning with family. }

{ Post-turkey dinner birthday movie - Moana. }

{ Super hero five party begins in 3, 2, 1...}

 { Deep in wishful thoughts. }

{ Party people enjoying the sweets. }

Not An Orphan Anymore

Today we celebrated Orphan Sunday. I almost hate to use the word 'celebrate' as the current crisis of children without homes, parents or people to call family, is staggering. For many, it's easier to not know than to be haunted by the faces of those needing arms to snuggle in after scraping a knee or a place to sit at around the family table. 

{ We came with just these items. }

This past January I received an email with a list of children needing immediate placement. These emails are daily; some with a few kids and others having multiple lists from here to Seattle needing placements. Three hours later after a few phone calls, family prayer and a mad dash to get a few things ready, Addi and I headed into the local DSHS office. We knew very limited information about the child we had said yes to a short term placement; two to three weeks was all that was needed. Thanks to Skookum Kids, Miss Bee came with a few outfits, burp cloths, formula and bottles aside from her own diaper bag and own car seat. Weekly visits began a couple weeks later along with court room appearances and home visits with our social worker. Our family was quickly thrown into a new routine that all 
foster families become familiar with when caring for children. 

{ We left with this precious life. }

Figures from Children's Administration show:
In Washington 1,419 children became part of their forever families between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.
About the same number 1,556 children are "legally free" and many of these children are waiting for a forever home. 
Nearly 8,800 children were placed in out-of-home care living in foster care, as of mid-August.

Most people are surprised to learn there are 153 million orphans worldwide. 
According to UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund), if orphans were a country of their own, the population would rank 9th in the world - ahead of Russia. 

 { Myriam Judith two weeks old. }

Even though our Myriam was a private adoption, her journey to our home is just as significant as any other child's. Myriam's life is a miracle in and of itself. She was originally going to be terminated, but by the grace of God, that choice to end her life was detoured. When we were chosen to be her parents, there were two other families that were presented to our birth parents. They, for whatever reason, backed out of the situation leaving us as the option. God had perfectly carved the path from our birth parents to our family. It was a month after we met each other that we stood outside of the hospital room listening to Myriam's first cries. 

{ Myriam at three months. }

There are many ways a family can expand their dining room table; foster care, domestic or international adoption, biological children. Not everyone has extra chairs; 
not everyone is meant to take a child into their home. 
I often think how the orphan crisis would be changed if every church were to take in more children, locally and globally. How did it get to be so many kids left without parents? Why is there not more attention, more focus and priority in placing these lost children with families?
My heart hurts for the girl whose mother left when she was a baby herself. For the child that questions themselves as to why they don't have their own forever family; who grieves for their biological parents. I struggle knowing that the three year old little boy cries at night because his favorite blanket was left at his home when he was removed or placed with a different foster family. For the little girl who is afraid of the dark and just needs a safe adult to rub her back until she falls into a deep sleep not knowing why she fears the nighttime. For the kids not in stable homes experiencing family traditions, 
movie nights or to have family pictures. 
 How does God feel when He looks down at His children?
Does He want you to do more about this crisis?

In the end, I know this much; our family was blessed by simply saying yes to uncomfortable situations that grew our family to a hefty six pack. Our hearts were stretched; our ideas changed by experiencing life outside of our own. Our arms stronger from holding, bonding, and 
hugging the kids we know to be ours on loan from God. 
And come soon, things will be finalized and our family will be able to call this little one our own. 

"Defend the cause of the fatherless."
Isaiah 1:17

Sixth State Success

{ Sixth State Race. }

My goal is still far from being reached, but that doesn't stop me from continuing on towards my 50 by 50. 
When Tim travels for work I usually check local races for the area to see if any of them could potentially coincide with his schedule. 
The I Am Second Run was an hour away from the job site and the details of finding sitters for the kids worked out perfectly. I quickly registered us both for this race and organized the hand off of the kids in order for the weekend to be pulled off with success. 
Tim has been in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth working on a large project so I knew when I went down with him I would be a bit on my own. This is no problem for me as I like to explore...and with no kids SLEEP IN! Funny thing is when you have the chance it never happens as you wish. My body was awake by six am and ready for coffee once my eyeballs opened. 
As for the race I requested one thing; NO WALKING. My Love is not a runner so asking for him to run with me and then to push himself to run with a smile on his face was not only speaking my language, but a huge ask physically. I was so incredibly proud that he ran the entire race and had gas in the tank to even sprint to the finish line. I'm not expecting a trend to start anytime soon. Happy to have ran this race with him and also to have our own I Am Second in our personal lives as Jesus truly has given us a second start to life. 

 { Always running for my sister and others in the fight. }

{ Proof that we finished! }

Once we got back to the hotel, I quickly cleaned up and then headed to Waco where I had the chance to visit Magnolia Market; better known as the Fixer Upper Silos. I was fully prepared to go by myself when another employee spoke up with his excitement for Chip and Jojo. Ian and I took to I-35 and found the Silos where he left me to do my thing. Oh boy, this place is awesome. Unfortunately, the line for the bakery was around the corner long so I eyeballed and drooled over the sweet treats others were walking out with instead of enjoying myself. The grounds are beautiful with nothing but hospitality greeting you. Families playing soccer, volleyball or siting at the picnic tables having lunch in the center courtyard. Food trucks around the outside property lines offering coffee, lunch and other sweets. The garden in all it's whimsical state was inviting to enter and have a look around. The old barn crowded with men and women checking out the sales on site. Inside the main building is where all the fuss is about displays, Christmas decorations and shirts stating Demo Day. It's a good thing I only brought a small suitcase because I could have gone crazy here! There was indeed a few small items that did make it home with me. 

{ 2191.2 miles from Lynden & 1416.3 from L.A. although Ian originates from England. }

On the way back we stopped at the Stockyards to have a look around searching for boots. The dutch in me stopped at looking only as this was the real deal. Turns out that during the day the cattle still run down the street in the Stockyards. It was here I saw the real cowboys with everyone in boots, some carrying open beer bottles down the street and most wearing hats. I wish I took a picture but it slipped my mind. 
The funny thing is this...Tim had the idea that I would come home with a new pair of boots to strut with summer dresses and denim. To my delight, the only thing I came home with was new Christmas pillows that are currently being shipped home. The day before he had arranged for another customer to take me shopping for these talked about boots. Donna introduced me to a new store which is where the exchange of boots to pillows came into play. Shopping with a complete stranger, driving me around the area and not knowing if we'd get along was a little uneasy, but once I met Donna I realized we would be just fine. Donna is as Texas as it gets calling everyone Sugar, Sunshine or Honey. 
Later that day we met up with the crew for dinner where we shared many laughs together. 
Overall, my weekend of running and relaxing was a success. Seeing firsthand the project that is underway, meeting new friends and having some fun walking around was exactly what I needed. 
Mom and Dad survived the weekend too with all four blessings giving them reason to nap possibly for a few extra hours this week. 

{ A message in the dust to the kids. }


There are people who crumble with a paper cut experiencing tears for days and
needing band-aid changes to dress the wound. 
People who collapse with emotional pressure or fearing the worst case scenario, paralyzing them from ever experiencing life.
Then you have those that rise above the bad news and become shining stars. 
That's my sister...
Traci Lynn Van Dyken. 

Traci has experienced far worse then paper cuts under going multiple surgeries to cut the disease out of her body. Scars that show the journey she's been triumphing on over the course of almost ten years. With every blood draw she receives the pressure of results showing success or defeat. Continual chemotherapy treatments to maintain the progress or to treat aggressively what has taken over her body. Recently, giving up three weeks to full brain radiation to treat the progression of the disease in her eye and brain. The unfortunate part of treating this one area is that the other areas were left untouched. Since then, the tumor markers have traveled over a total of five hundred points higher and an obvious shortness of breath slows My Hero's steps. Scans confirm that the cancer has grown in her liver and lungs.
With all these changes, struggles and setbacks, there is one variable that has never applied pressure:
A faith that is indestructible. 
A faith that pulls us out of the spiral of despair and fear from the unknowns. 
My Hero proved once again that her faith in our God that moves mountains, splits the seas, heals the blind and raises from the dead CAN conquer anything with
Jesus as the one breathing life into her lungs. 
It's just a mask, but to Traci it's so much more. 
The mask that protected her during radiation was a tangible way to remind herself, to show her nieces and nephews, and to tell cancer...
screw you. 
My God is bigger then the damage you can cause my body.
Jesus can fill the voids all my cancer has stolen like He fills the oceans with water and the day with light. 

I find the irony of the radiation mask not shattering much like Traci's faith. 
A 102 foot drop from the fire bucket, being crushed under 70,000 pounds of steel then ran over back and forth and finally placed between the jaws of life,
the radiation mask. 
The intense pressure Traci has encountered should break anyone after a few months. 
Not our Rock Star. 
She continues to rock this journey with fashion, style and a tremendous respect from everyone watching her faith carrying her through this journey. 

Traci's story is not over yet and as a sister I ask one thing...
Don't stop praying.
Pray that we as a family continue to find joy in the pressure of this disease and that we can bind together to fight when Traci becomes to weak to do this on her own. 
Nothing is impossible.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

Sugar Bugs and Costumes

{ Harvest Carnival 2016 }

Do we? Don't we? 
The question of whether we allow the kids to get dressed up and beg for sugar bugs and cavities or stay home with the lights off eating carrots and apples is one we ask every year.
It's not something we put much energy into and I hate spending tons of money on something worn for a few hours. This year we scored some deals at the local consignment stores and found some play makeup at the Dollar Tree to add the finishing touches. 
Myriam loved being a cheerleader and Mom became "totally awesome" as I squeezed into my high school uniform for a little play time. 
Charlie was our Seahawks super fan while Addi fashioned the Mad Hatter. That leaves our little Lady Bug who wasn't crawling at all yesterday. Yep, we have a beginning walker on our hands!
Thank you North County Christ the King Church for providing a warm, fun, inventive and safe environment for our kids to hang out in last night. 
After a few stops at Grandma's and some friends, we neutralized 
the highs with some burgers and bedtimes. 
And now begins the game of stashing candy in places so the kids don't eat it all in a day...

 { All smiles before the games. }

 { Face painting for the win. }

{ Because every bug loves a peek-a-boo with Dad. }