At long last, we finally got new cabinet doors for our kitchen, officially transforming it from weird-modern to happy-cottage, in my opinion. (I've trained my kids to say, "That looks cottage-y" whenever they notice I've changed something in the house.)
Jinna Rai saw Colsen give me a valentine today -- a note folded up with candy inside -- and then a little while later she came up and gave me this note, wrapped around a few pieces of gum (that she took from her brother).
I asked her what it says and she said, "For Mama. I love you. Jinna"
It might be one of my favorite pieces of paper ever. Never before have I received a valentine from someone who has only been my child for 4 months!
Later this afternoon I saw these two sitting together like this at the park.
Miles was supposed to be doing his homework, but upon further inspection, I found he had been doing this:
Sunday was a big day for Jinna, but in terms of hours spent celebrating, it was an even bigger day for Miles. We not only had family over for lunch after the big service at church, but also had a birthday party for Miles later in the afternoon as well!
Uncle Dan stepped in to lead the group in some awesome games. The party was high energy and full of squeals and laughter!
Miles picked out the food for his party. This:
Assembled by Poppa!
.... and this....
.... and an ice cream cake, of which I got no pictures. 12 hyper children clamoring for cake and a windy day that keeps causing the candles to blow out makes for a high-pressure situation, and sometimes the photo-taking has to be abandoned.
Then we sent out all the kids into the woods for a big Candy Hunt... and then we sent them home with all their sugar and sugared-up bodies.
So it was a very fun party! Happy 8th birthday, Milo!! We love who you are and who you are becoming!
Miles joined the church! After taking a class this past fall and being interviewed by a couple elders (including Pete), he was ready to take vows to join the family of Redeemer as a communing member.
Throughout the whole service I could see the hand of God at work. Over 7 years ago, when we had Miles baptized, the verse that Pete spoke over him was Micah 6:8. Just "randomly," one of the passages used in the church service yesterday was... Micah 6:8! And one of the songs we "just happened" to sing was "Holy, Holy, Holy," which I've always considered Miles' song; he learned it when he was about 22 months old.
We pray that God's hand will continue to weave His love and presence all through Milo's life as he grows and walks with God. May Miles truly learn to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God.
What a meaningful day for us today! Our two youngest children both had significant spiritual events. When Miles was baptized 7+ years ago we hoped and prayed that someday he would proclaim faith in God, which he did today. And today Jinna was baptized, brought into the covenant community, with the same hope -- that she will someday come to know Jesus as her Savior and Lord.
I told her a few days ago that Sunday would be a special day for her, and that she would even get water on her head. She giggled at that, and was very excited. This morning she was up and ready to go early, happy to wear a pretty dress, and telling us she was going to get water on her hair!
She took it all in stride -- as she has with every other new or weird experience since we met her. When the men brought her forward to do the baptism, I saw her pull up her shoulders as she braced herself for the water -- she knew what was coming. :) She loved the whole thing.
Pete's blessing over her included Isaiah 51:2-3 -- a passage our friend Awara shared with us last week. Just as God blessed Abraham, who was just "one," when he was called, but became a multitude, so we pray that the Lord will multiply his blessings to Jinna Rai, and that all her desert places will become fertile gardens. May she continue to thrive and flourish in this new life!
Some of our delightful dinner conversations tonight:
How to relieve intense testicular pain after getting hit in
the groin (get dropped on your butt); how to kill someone by hitting them in
the nose (so the bone stabs into the brain; how Vladimir Lenin is preserved in formaldehyde (described in
great detail); “dingleberry” classmates who say/do dumb things…
We've been able to ask Jinna Rai more and more about her life back in China, and we recently had a conversation about the people she lived with.
I asked her if she had a lot of friends there. "Yes," she answered. I asked her if she had a lot of aunts (or nannies) -- same Chinese word. "Yes," she said. Then she told me she had big brothers and little brothers and big sisters and little sisters. (At the orphanage I think they all called each other by these names.)
Then I was curious about whether or not she remembered her parents. (She was abandoned when she was about one year old.)
"Did you have a mama in China?" I asked her. "Or a baba (daddy) in China?"
"No," she answered quickly. She pointed at herself and said, "One."
That word "one" gripped my heart.
Even though she spent the last 7 years of her life surrounded by hundreds of other orphans that she developed almost sibling connections with, and dozens of aunts/nannies who cared for her, still she knew she was just one. An orphan. A family of one.
I'm so very glad we have her in our life now. And I'm so very glad she now has us, crazy and loud and imperfect as we are. Today she cried many, many tears because she misses her brothers who are currently in Ohio. Then she begged to go to her grandparents' house, and then she begged to go visit her great-grandmother, who she made a card for. At her grandparents' house, she delighted in looking at all the pictures of her multitude of cousins, repeating their names. On the way home she jabbered on the phone with another far-away cousin she has yet to meet.
Every night she prays before bed, ever since the week she arrived in our house, and she lists all the family members she can think of... usually at least 12 or so. She values family.
This girl who was just a family of one for so long is now part of a large, loving clan.
It's interesting how one's identity is so radically changed by this type of relationship. She "belonged" in her orphanage. She was accepted, she was cared for, she was probably even loved. She was part of a community. But still.... she had a deep-rooted sense that she was truly on her own. Just one in the great sea of life.
Being in a family changes all that. That relational status changes our identity. The "belonging" is on a whole different level. The connection is embedded in who we are.
This is what God offers to us when He adopts us as His children. Our whole identity is transformed.
The Church is more than a community. We are more than fellow orphans and care-takers. We are not little islands, little "families of one," needing to remain isolated and misunderstood. We are now part of a large, crazy, loud, imperfect family.... which can be both good and hard at times. :)
But the best news is that this family is Headed up by someone who is NOT crazy and NOT imperfect. He is Love, He is Truth, He is Light.... and someday we will see Him face to face and know Him fully, even as we are fully known.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. - John 14:18
Mark this down as another conversation I never imagined I would have:
Colsen: Look, Mom! I made this yo-yo string! It works great!
Me: Wait -- you made it? How??
Colsen: Well, I took the polyester thread from my fly-tying kit and used a length twice as long as I needed and twisted 6 strands together. I was going to use Dad's drill to twist them but I couldn't find. Plus... it's a power tool and I knew I shouldn't just use that. So I connected them to my yo-yo and spun it around a whole bunch of times until the tension built up. Now it works great!
Me: But... WHY are you making your own strings?
Colsen: Because then they're free! Or, only the cost of the thread.
Me: But.... do you need more than one string??
Colsen: Mom! I can go through about a string A DAY! Well maybe not quite that often, but I go through a LOT! I just paid $8.00 to buy 10 new strings!
Colsen: And you know, Mom, the color of the string really matters....
Me: Just be careful, Bud. I don't want you to get TOO obsessed with this.
Colsen: Oh I know! That's why I always have more than one hobby, so I don't get too obsessed. Like right now I have fishing, yo-yo-ing, soccer, piano and building with balsa wood. So don't show me any more videos, ok? I don't want to get any more hobbies! Actually... I do want to learn about kendamas. Have you heard about kendamas? I think you should watch some videos about them Mom... They have really cool physics involved! Can we look that up?