Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

thankful update


many people ask us how we are doing after several months in our new state.  i thought thanksgiving could be no better time to answer that question as thanksgiving summarizes every aspect of the last season.

sonny-working as the assistant chaplain at casady school has been such a wonderful fit for sonny's gifts and he is really enjoying his position.  what we have gained as a family from this change in vocation is priceless.  time.  sonny has a set schedule and more days off than i can mention here.  whenever ari is home from school, so is sonny (right now they're eating monkey bread and watching dora together).  there is peace in his work, there is peace in our schedule, there is peace in our home.  this is a priceless gift and we are so very thankful.
kristal-in addition to enjoying the benefits of sonny's new job, i am delighting in our home.  this house was an incredible gift to begin with, but it has truly become the first "nest" i have ever had and i love it.  i cherish the ability to stay in my home, care for my family, and make our house a place of rest, a sanctuary.  
ari-this is ari's very first school experience and it is wonderful.  i was very nervous about this transition, but because of the montessori environment and the gifted teachers at casady it has been such a positive experience.  he is learning and growing academically and even more socially.  he is reading like crazy and looks forward everyday to the exploration he knows awaits him.  we live just a few blocks from the school and noah and i love dropping off and picking him up each day.
noah-some may have worried that noah would be distraught without his buddy, ari, all day, but quite the opposite has proven true.  noah is thriving with the one-on-one attention and is loving all the outings we get to do because of the friends God has blessed us with.  noah has not one, but three boys his age we see regularly and he is very excited about baby hannah coming out of miss bonnie's tummy in january.  (i hope hannah is ready for the "love" she will be receiving:)

i have left out so many things in the interest of not making this longer than it needs to be, but God's hand has chosen to orchestrate blessing after blessing, good thing after good thing in our life during this time.  i pray we will have thankful hearts in feast times such as these, but especially in the famine.  he is so good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

another year closer...

each year on their birthdays i take a picture of the boys in one of sonny's shirts.  each boy gets the same shirt each year so that we can watch them slowly grow into it.  here is year 3 and year 6...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

national adoption day


national adoption day is traditionally the saturday before thanksgiving, but this year was moved a week earlier in honor of the assassination of JFK.  since i didn't know about this change i am still celebrating this special event today.

i love adoption.  ever since i studied ephesians in college i knew i would adopt.  the picture of taking on a new family, a new name, a new inheritance and becoming a chip off a new "block" is so parallel to my adoption into God's family that i couldn't help but want to experience it myself.

if you already know our story then you can stop reading and please remember the orphans today.  you may never become an adoptive parent, but you are called to love and care for orphans.  i am too.  it is not a box to be checked (otherwise i'd be done).  it is a lifestyle.  if you have any ideas on how to care for orphans in your everyday life, i would l
ove to hear them.

if you haven't heard our story, here is the brief summary in honor of national adoption day..

may 2005-sonny and i begin the process of becoming certified foster parents in bakersfield, ca.   we are pursuing this with the intent to adopt.  
fall 2005-we are certified and ready for placement.  we receive three placement in that season that we prepare for, but never come to our home.  we start getting a taste of the "system".  little did we know in our frustration, on october 13th, our son noah was born at memorial hospital that we drive by on a regular basis.
december 13th 2005-i get a call around noon.  i sit at our dining room table as our social worker says there is a baby boy who needs a temporary home.  we don't want to be temporary, but she says the current foster mother has been in a 4-wheeling accident and can't care for the baby and we can continue to wait for a permanent placement if we take this one.  we don't know his name, his age, his situation, but we accept.  i ask her what the arrangements are for transferring him.  she asks me to call the current foster dad and set things up in the next few days.  i call him and ask when a good time might be to pick up the baby.  he says.... "uummm....now?"  he has three other boys, an injured wife in the hospital and a job.  a newborn only adds to his stress.  
sonny, ari (3 yrs old) and i pile in our car, dig out a carseat that we hope will work, and drive to the house.  we walk in, the man hands me the baby and two bottles.  no schedule, no instructions, no diapers, wow.  we walk away from that house signing no papers...just taking a baby and it feels weird.  we go home and sonny returns to work.  he had an event that night so i load up this baby and my 3-year-old and we're off to target for a stroller, carseat, diapers, formula, clothes, one of those nasal suction bulbs and anything else i throw into the cart thinking a baby might need that.  i struggle to load all the things and children into the car and drive home.  what have we done?   
february 2006-the months go on and of course we fall in love with this precious boy.  his bio mom starts to not show up for visits and we learn she has not done any of the court's requirements for the reunification.  on her court date she is not present and the judge rules that the county will no longer fund her rehab, but she has another 6 months to complete it on her own.
september 2006-still no word about noah's 
bio mom, but there is a court date at the end of this month to continue or terminate parental rights.  bio mom is not present but her lawyer points out that no one recorded their
 presentation of the letter of notification to her for this date.  the judge gives another 2 months.
december 6th 2006-another court date.  we have had noah for a year now...the first year of his life.  we have had his first birthday party and watched him smash cake everywhere.  we sit before a judge that holds our future in his hands.  he terminates parental rights for both mother and father and rules for a 60 day appeal period.  that's 60 business days.  man that's a long time.

february 2007-it's mid february and i'm cleaning the house.  noah is playing, ari is napping and sonny's at work.  the phone rings and just like that a social worker tells me noah is ours.  the elation i feel is indescribable.  it is done.  i run to noah and swing him around, dancing and singing.  he looks at me a bit confused but goes along with my joy.  i call sonny.  i call my mom.  i call my best friend.  all voicemails.  this moment is just noah and i.  
eventually the calls are returned and i share this amazing moment with all those who love noah and have been praying for his bio family, for us, and for him.  
february 28th 2007-we sign papers in the presence of social workers and a notary.  we now wait for a judge to be available
march 16th 2007-we stand with dozens of friends before a judge as he pronounces our son will be called noah sonny varela from this day forward and has all
 the rights and privileges of a son.  we raise our right hands and swear to care for and protect this precious gift.  oh what a day.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

frequent visitors make for a clean house


i was cleaning the bathroom this morning and my husband walked in and oh-so-innocently asked..."who's coming over?"

ouch.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

do the "write" thing


wow.  i got to write a verse in a soon to be published copy of the NIV.  my original handwritten rendition of deuteronomy 33:16 will be displayed in the smithsonian.  it was really an honor to join with so many others in the bible across america experience and make history.

here is the podium with the paper and lines underneath to help guide where you write.
this is bonnie, your friendly, local, write the bible assistant
here i am copying my verse
and here it is!   
16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,on the brow of the prince among [a] his brothers   
do you see it?
this certifies that sonny and i participated and specifies which verse is "ours".  the copies should be for sale by christmas of '09.  this was a super cool way to insure that at least 31,173 people will purchase this "new" NIV...they want to see their handwriting!
the most thrilling part of today was watching from behind the podium as person after person (mostly casady students) came up to copy a verse.  it was so profound to see people get their hands on scripture.  to really think about the history of the bible, its translation, and how we see it today.  what bible across america gets to do is experience God's word as it has been for most of its life.  written painstakingly by the human hand, carefully packed away, and then brought to the next community of people.  it was a beautiful vision.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

don't mess with texas part two

the pics from  yesterday were from papa's (erin's dad) camera so here are the ones i was able to capture from our trip down south...

five kids, three leapsters, two dvd players, and lots of snacks...we're ready to go!
oh bliss. 
oh bliss, part two. 
(see all my cases of organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup?  it's gonna be a yummy winter)
each child got a gift bag from mamma d. to fill with "treasures"...most of which they threw into the lake to watch the splash, but boy was the hunting fun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

don't mess with texas


ari didn't want to leave texas!  he had all fun, no work, limitless sweets and papa even let him and anna kate reel in the fish he hooked...why would you ever leave this place?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

road trip!

tomorrow i will experience what i have heard so much about....the country of its own, the lone star state, the place where everything is bigger and better.  we're going to texas!  erin and i are embarking on a major road trip alone, with 5 children.  yes.  we're crazy.  we've gone mad being deprived of costco and ikea for months and we're willing to do anything to get there.  along the way we'll be stopping by erin's good friend holly's house as well as her parents infamous home/property called "sunfish".   today i'll be cookin, laundering, and packing for this adventure.   i'll be sure to update you upon our return.  unless, of course, i change my citizenship to texas since it's obviously the best state in the union:)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

want to be a scribe? part 2


remember this post where i told you about zondervaan's campaign to get the entire niv written in the hands of everyday people (and the presidential candidates, billy graham, and w. to name a few:)?  well, when i heard about it i knew i had to copy a verse.  i would stand in line, appease my 3-year-old with candy and juice, withstand torrential rain, WHATEVER i had to do to get a chance like this.  
when my husband heard about it, he thought, hmmm....i don't just wanna participate, i want to HOST this event!  he blows my mind with creativity and seeing things as bigger than what they are now.  he sees things not as how they are, but by their potential.  (maybe that's why he married me:)  
i am proud to announce that the Bible Across America event in Oklahoma City on Novmeber 18th will take place at casady school with my love at the helm.  we are so excited!  we find housing for the staff traveling in the RV, provide them with meals, organize publicity and logistics of the day, refreshments for all participants and general oversight for the day.  i will update you with pics and a report of how things went and HOPEFULLY tell you which verse i had the privilege of copying and when you can look for it on the shelves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

children and spirituality

this is ari, yesterday, getting ready to lead all the children of the church in processional and for a special blessing.  this position is called a crucifer.  it may look odd to many of you who have not been in "high church" (episcopal, catholic, lutheran, presbyterian, etc) but if you can get over the initial wall this  puts up, it is actually quite cool.  
ari was the first to volunteer for this position last week and was looking forward to it every day.  when he got his reminder postcard and it said to be there by 9:05 to put on his robe he shrieked..."i get to wear a JEDI robe!?!?" i felt like it would be a disappointment that is was in fact, NOT, a jedi robe, but he actually took it quite well.  to him, it was a special "costume" to perform special duties.  it set him apart from the others for a specific task.  just like a jedi.  
he wore and carried a cross to signify following Christ and ari was the leader of the body that day.  they all walked behind the cross and into the place of worship.  after they received a prayer they went downstairs to a chapel that is a miniature of the sanctuary.  the children go through an entire anglican service, with all the pieces, just shorter and designed more for kids.  i really enjoy this.  i am accustomed to children's programs being filled with games, loud music, segregated ages and few adults.  here there were adults for every 2-3 children and the kids were guided through the service in a way that was appropriate for them, but still slowly preparing them for one day participating in the full service.  i'm not saying one is better or worse, i just appreciated many of the aspects of this style.  i know when i left "children's programs" (high school youth group) and was expected to attend "big church" i didn't know what to do.  i had never seen worship modeled in this way.   i had only attended services that catered to me.
one of my favorite topics to wrestle with is children and spirituality.  i just wonder what is the best way to expose them, teach them, give them a love for God and his word without leaving them feeling manipulated and bitter at the end.  a way to inspire and instill instead of indoctrinate and create mindless habits.  yesterday was one more piece to this very large puzzle i've been working on for years.  
it was a good piece though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

in case i was thinking too highly of myself....

i have been wearing my hair with a bunch pulled back from the front middle, scrunched forward a bit and pinned in place.(as pictured below)  way more than you even wanted to know about my hairstyling, but necessary to understanding this post if you haven't seen me in a few months.
thursday morning

ari (6): mom, you're hair is so pretty.
me:  thank you, sweetie!
ari:  is that like a rainbow growing out of the top of your head?  how does it stay like that?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

no....thank YOU!


i don't know if you can read this receipt, but it says i filled out tank completely for eighteen dollars and sixty five cents.  i don't know how, why, or for how long this will happen, but i just want to say, i'm so happy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

lion cubs...

thankfully we took advantage of the most magnificent fall day on monday and truly enjoyed our zoo.  noah and finn seemed to like playing with the baby lions...these ones didn't growl back, though.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

to flip a cabinet

while the rest of the country is debating over who will be our next president and who his new cabinet will be, i've been into a little cabinet work myself.
meet....my ugly entertainment cabinet.
i have despised her light, blondish color and ridged doors.  her splotches and stains.  she is just not pretty.  she was given to me at the great price of free and so she has remained.  but oh how i longed for her to be on extreme makeover, cabinet edition.
with lots of inspiration, encouragement, and coaching from my friend jeana (you HAVE to check out her furniture flips) i gathered the supplies she said i needed, i got out the drill, sandpaper, and hardware.  noah came running with the bob the builder hat and goggles.  he's so safety conscious.  and i was off!
i first spent hours trying to drill holes for the hardware.  jeana said to do that before painting.  i tried.  i drilled, i pounded, i screwed....those holes were just not being made.  after hours and several emails to jeana i finally tried this switch on the drill and "wa-lah" it started drilling forwards, not backward as it had been the past two hours.  it then took 3.5 seconds to drill both holes.  
then came the painting.  after shaking the can (as per the directions) i proceeded with a confident push on the trigger only to be welcomed with a spray of black krylon paint right in the face.  it evenly peppered over my lip and chin and looked just like a goatee for several days.
this is cabinet after one coat.  already a vast improvement.  i tried to follow jeana's instructions and use a steady flow, and always keeping the can moving.  since she recommended the krylon for plastic paint i didn't even have to prime it!
this is her as she stands now.  imperfect, but oh so much more beautiful than before.  and you better believe i feel a connection to this piece of furniture now.  she is much more a part of my life than obama or mccain will ever be:)

Sunday, November 2, 2008