Monday, December 10, 2012




*please click the "You're watching Come thou long expected Jesus" link instead of the "play" button to watch this incredible advent experienc.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

let's get it done

i like doing things. i like lists. i like checking things off lists. i like to do things and get things done. less talking, more box checking. that's my motto. maybe i should've been a bee. i'm not sure, but i am sure i like to accomplish. to show my work. to look back at it and let everyone else see it. a monument to what i've done. let's be honest, a statue to ME. we might as well just make the statue a sculpture of ME. my own personal tower of babel.

i know i have talked about this before. but this slavery to "doing" is quite a deep commitment there are thousands of layers needing to be shed and they come off slowly. one at a time. so bear with me as i again peel back a layer and use my blog as the setting.

my friend emailed me a link to "motherhood as a mission field". i have heard this concept before and it especially grates on me as i dedicated so many years of my life in committment to missions, training for missions, dreaming about missions. now that i have a decade of motherhood under my belt i feel confident in saying, motherhood is not anything like missions. well, not the missions i had in my mind. i read the article anyway and was interested to see the author didn't just rely on the typical cliche "your kids are your greatest mission field" line. she dug a bit deeper. and it got a bit uncomfortable. one paragraph was especially difficult to read...

"It is easy to think you have a heart for orphans on the other side of the world, but if you spend your time at home resenting the imposition your children are on you, you do not. You cannot have a heart for the gospel and a fussiness about your life at the same time. You will never make any difference there if you cannot be at peace here. You cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive."

motherhood- drab? simple? repetitive? um, yes ma'am. resenting my children as an imposition? um, ouch. yes ma'am. see, my children get in the way of my to do list. and not just the one on paper. the one that's much more dear to me. the great expectations in my mind and heart. the dreams, aspirations, things i hoped for. they are not being fulfilled. they are the things i was going to do FOR the kingdom. FOR God. instead he's asked me to be changed by the gospel and let that overflow to my children. with absolutely NO way to check a box. complete a goal. achieve an objective. and it's getting worse. at least when my kids were in school their teachers and school staff praised my cute christmas gifts and thoughtful teacher appreciation treats. now it's just me and the kids. and i see my lists blowing away in the wind. and no one's telling me i'm great. no one's appreciating my "talents". and everyone's asking for more drab. more simplicity. more repetitive. i'm doing more laundry. emptying more dishwashers. wiping more noses (and other body parts).

and if i truly believe the gospel. that HE has checked all my boxes. HE has said i am enough. not because i am. but because HE is enough on my behalf. then i don't need my lists. my towers. my statue. and i can rest in the drab. the simple. and the repetitive. which is exactly where my kids live. and want me to be.

and i can let God make great achievements from my quiet faithfulness. all glory to him. and not to me. just as it should be.

Friday, October 19, 2012


facebook post recently:

"Man busting a hole in our sidewalk...much more fascinating than any lesson plan I had for today".

this prompted lots of questions about how homeschooling is going.  i so appreciate those questions.  especially since i am asking them myself.  how IS it going?  i don't know.  i really don't know.  and my fear is, i won't really know for a long time.  like a decade or so.  i'm trying to be o.k. with that.  i am doing what we feel is best for our family for this year and results are yet to be determined.  a lot like most things in parenting, i think.

things i like about homeschooling...

even while doing bible work and a midst math books, light sabers are never far away.  you just don't know when you'll need one (or five)

controlling our own schedule.  there is no exterior force setting times for things and because of that-"rushing" (and all the ugliness it brings) has been almost eliminated from our home.  

learning with my children.  learning new things, learning what they're learning, knowing what it is they're studying.

the very best thing...

continuity.  weird, huh?  you'd think it'd be something else.  but, the truth is the thing i enjoy the most and see the greatest benefits coming from is the "wholeness" in our life.  we are now one unit.  we all have the same schedule, the same goals, the same experience.  it has brought a great reduction in stress, arguments, and general chaos while at the same time brought our enjoyment of one another to new heights.  there is unity.  and harmony.
of course there are still disagreements, selfishness, and such, but there is also a richer context and more time to work through these things.  

the fine print thing...

#1-i am a lover of school.  institutionalized, organized, traditional SCHOOL.  it actually makes me giddy just thinking about school supplies, teacher gifts, desks, lunchboxes and books passed down each year.  i LOVE the schools my boys attended.  could not love them more.  i miss them deeply.

#2-i "couldn't do this".  you know how you always hear about people doing something and you think-"that's cool...but WE could never do that."  well, i thought that too.  i knew i'd be an amazing classroom teacher, but i also knew what it took to be a homeschooling mom and i knew i couldn't do it.  frankly, i just couldn't be with my kids for that many hours (all of them) a day.  

the conclusion thing...

we're doing it.  i don't know how and i don't know if it's "working".  but, we do it every day and we do it together.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

milk and cookies

my boys are having birthdays AGAIN!  i must admit...i lobbied hard for the theme this year.  milk and cookies are my favorite confection (or edible item for that matter:) in the world.  i also thought it would make a pretty cute spread.  here's what we had:

 cookies.  cookies.  and lots more cookies.  chocolate chip, white chocolate oatmeal, chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia nut, and pudding chocolate chip.  
 of course you can't have cookies without milk.  these repurposed  frappecino bottles worked well for milk with straws.
 candles DO work in cookies:)
 i found free printables with the cookie and milk theme.  i created a bunting with paper and ribbon i already had.  this was the least expensive party i've ever thrown.  or should i say the most economic?  anyways, i didn't spend a lot of money.

party favors?  goody bags?  just give me some cookies to take home.  yummm...

Friday, October 12, 2012

that's a "good" day

we got the boys new bikes for their birthdays this year.  they've been hobbling along for years on a mish mash of hand-me-down bikes, bikes too small, bikes with chains that fell off more than they stayed on, and bikes that more resembled a toy, than a tool.  this did not stop them from riding, but it did add to the excitement in getting a new bike.  a bike that was sure to fit.  sure to work.  sure to fly.  

as we walked out of costco behind each boy wheeling out his shiny, new, world-opening bike, i noticed something interesting.  they were turning heads.  every few feet they strode another man or two would stop.  look.  and smile.  no less than five, FIVE different and unrelated men commented as we went from store, to checkout line, to parking lot.  and the fascinating thing is, they all said the very same thing.  those who spoke said, to no one in particular...."that's a good day."  some even tapped another man on the arm and pointed.  it was like i got a glimpse into the world of men.  they all rallied together in this common experience.  it was like their day was suddenly just as "good" because they knew what my boys felt.  i was so very glad they were there to make the moment even more momentous for my sons.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

there. and back. and there again.

(this is what you think a road trip will be like with kids...BEFORE you have kids:) 

in five weeks we traveled from:

okc to bellevue, kentucky 
from bellevue, kentucky to grand rapids, michigan 
from grand rapids, michigan to okc again 
and then from okc to grand rapids, michigan again 
and finally from grand rapids, michigan to bellevue, kentucky.

this was a lot of road tripping.  my kids don't particularly like road trips.  my kids rarely, dare i say, never sleep on road trips.  we even did one 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. drive and there was no sleeping involved.  the picture above was taken because it was such a rarity.  and lasted five whole minutes.

i never articulated this feeling, but i always operated under the assumption that if i provided enough DVDs, enough DS games, and enough fruit snacks, my kids should just ride in peace.  of course this assumption never proved true.  and of course in light of that, i got angry.  all of these factors made road trips not very much fun in the varela-mobile.  

this time around i decided to take a different approach.  i tried to start viewing my role as helping the kids pass the time.  maybe even entering into enjoying the time.  rather than my usual "do the least amount possible to make sure they're quiet" routine.  the results were amazing.  now of course i was not living out of this attitude during every minute of the trip.  but i did make some big changes that helped set the tone.  #1-i didn't bring anything for me to do.  that means no podcasts, no itunes playlists, no knitting, no nothing.  i was there to be with my kids and when they requested something or needed some assistance, i was available.  and therefore not annoyed.  and the end result was less anger, huffing, and general ugliness.  #2-i brought lots of stuff for them to do.  this was different than just loading them up on all the electronics and mind-numbing options i could think of.  i am not opposed to these on road trips, but have found over the years they only last so long.  my kids need more.  need to interact.  to get their wiggles out.  in a vehicle moving 60 mph.  we colored.  we played travel games.  we blew bubbles.  we sang to their music playlists.  we even had a family dance party.  rather than just isolating ourselves and trying to pass the miles, we actually like had fun and were happy to be on the road for some of the time.  

this is a fun story and even has some great tips for your next road trip.  but what i want to record and remember is this part of the story God has been writing in our family over the past few years.  this kind of shift is just one way i can communicate and remember the changes that are happening at a much deeper level.  we are choosing to be together.  not just be a collection of individuals that are in one family, but to be a family.  to see my children as my work.  not an interruption to my work.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

thoughts on putting your life in a truck

in one weeks time we decided to move.  traveled from michigan to oklahoma.  packed up all our earthly possessions.  prepared a house to sell.  said goodbye to all the rich relationships we had built.  made a dozen trips to the dump or thrift store drop-off and sold a half a dozen items on craigslist. and then drove back to michigan.

it was quite a week.  it was 110+ degrees.  my face was dripping with sweat.  or tears.  or both.  at all times.  i didn't think i was going to make it.  at all times.  we took a major, unpredicted financial hit during that week as well.  more sweat.  more tears.  in one of those moments where i was immobilized by my fear and just sitting, doing nothing, sonny reminded me that this is our condition all the time.  we are completely and utterly out of control and a total mess.  at all times.  we just create lots of illusions of security.  mirages of stability and cling to our hope of predictability.  all these paychecks, schedules, mortgages, and events i lean on can vanish in an instant.  at all times.  so why i let them give me such comfort is really a mystery.  

the way i felt and the way i lived during that one week was more true and more real than the weeks before or the weeks since.  i was raw.  at all times.  i was grateful.  so grateful.  for the things that mattered.  i was dependent.  i couldn't do it alone.  and i didn't want to do it alone.  nothing was more clear in that week than the fact that i do not have my stuff together.  and i never really did. 
 people swooped in to support.  others were gracious when i dropped the ball.  those who seemed important but maybe really weren't, revealed that about themselves.  things became clear.  

in the weeks that have followed i've been struck with how a simple session on facebook or a blog perusal will bring me such a sense of comfort.  like there is peace in the world.  and i am o-kay.  facebook and blogs are fine and i plan to continue using them, but to rely on them for a sense of rightness is very very wrong.  may my soul find rest in God alone.  may my family and those i've chosen as family be the ones i surround myself with and lean on.  may i live like i did that one week.  at all times. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

where have you been?

{Ari, Noah, and Judah in front of our new house}

well, here we are.  bellevue, kentucky.  
did we ever think we'd be here?  umm, no.  did we think we'd uproot our family and MOVE here?  definitely not.  as of a few months ago, were we anticipating anything but another start of school year in oklahoma city?  the closets full of freshly pressed uniforms, new backpacks, and stacks of paperwork filled out would suggest not.  so how did we get here? 

it's a long story.  and it happened in a short time.  so there were no spare moments to tell the story along the way.   i have been unable to find the words, the clarity, the precision necessary to communicate the story in under ten pages even though i've tried on many occasions.  since my linear thinking cannot post pictures of us settling in, exploring our new surroundings, or beginning to homeschool without first telling you we've moved i've decided to post this and allow myself to move on.  i hope to be able to tell our story in a concise and meaningful way one day, but for now, i think it is of more value to forge ahead and share our current voyage even with a piece "missing". 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

judah's first fireworks display...july 2012

The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense. The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea. "g k chesterton

what a privilege to see "all things remade" through the eyes of my little "human mushrooms".

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

tough shoes to fill

today at a school function a mother of a boy in noah's kindergarten class approached me poised to share an anecdote.  often i will hear stories about his classmates perception of sonny as the chaplain at their school, but this one takes the cake. 

her five-year-old came home from school one day and said slowly, and seriously...

did you know that noah's dad...
is GOD?"

Monday, May 21, 2012

end of the year

it's that time of year again.  time to tell all the school related people how much we appreciate how they've invested into our children.  i am always in search of ideas that express thanks without spending too much and thought you may like to see what i found this year...

noah's kindergarten teacher is getting a vase/pen holder made from a washed out can and a few packs of pencils.  i just hot glued the pencils all the way around (it took about 34) and tied a ribbon.  it would be super cute with colored pencils too.

i've  made these clipboards in the past and they're always a hit.  this one was for the school secretary, but i made personalized ones for the choir director (music notes paper), PE teacher (variety of sports themed paper), and headmaster (masculine brown paper with crosses) as well.

Ari's teacher this year was a man.  they can be a little more challenging to buy/make things for.  i found these "manly" key fobs on etsy that you can have any quote or scripture or message printed on it.  when a newsletter came home with Mr. B's favorite verse on it, i knew i had to place my order. 


and finally when i saw this idea on pinterest it just called out to me.  the Krazy straw cup with Kool-aid and the free "Krazy Kool" summer printable...i couldn't resist.  Ari's classmates will all get one of these tomorrow on their last day of school.

Monday, May 14, 2012

words spoken to moms at a baby shower

As a little girl, I always envisioned myself as a mother.  And to me, that meant doing.  It was changing diapers, taking walks, doing art projects, helping with homework, instructing in faith.  You see, I am very good at doing things.  This was going to be easy.  Actually I was going to be a great mom.  I am an achiever and this was my ultimate task.  I was going to outshine any mother before me.  And as you can guess, this did not work out so well.  I was very good at performing motherly duties, but I was failing my children. 

I always thought as my children grew bigger their need for me would decrease, but as my boys have gotten older I’ve only become more and more convinced of my significant impact on their lives.  I have watched as my attitude alone can transform an entire day for all the members in my home. I have watched as my calm has lifted a child out of a spiraling melt-down or as my impatience has crushed a spirit.  I have seen my power for good, and my power to destroy. 

Quite honestly, it scares me.  And I’d much rather dive into a bunch of craft projects, organizational chore charts, and making cool bento lunches for my kids.  I can measure my success in those.  I can show my work.  I can prove my worth.  But actually being the kind of mother that sets a tone of peace and love in her home….that I have found to be infinitely harder. 

I searched for help in this monumental task and found a reflection on motherhood.  I read this and found it especially interesting… “Where does a woman find help for such an awesome assignment? The Psalmist said it well: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”. 

God has special grace for mothers. You see, even though God is a father, he has a mother’s heart. He spoke to the nation Israel and said, “I will comfort you there as a little one is comforted by its mother” (Isa. 66:13). God comforts his children... just like a mom.”

It is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit of God, who basically performs this motherly function. Jesus called him the Comforter (John 14:26), and sent him to us so that we would not be orphans (John 14:18). And isn’t it interesting that our birth into the family of God is described as being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5, 6, 8,)? The Spirit of God is the one who bore us, who shared his divine life with us, who sustains us, comforts us, and teaches us.”   sounds a lot like the role I play in the life of my children.

The name Christ calls the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). The word literally means “one who is called in beside.”  I am the one beside my children.  Beside their bed when they go to sleep.  Beside them as they take on a new challenge.  Beside them as they suffer and beside them in their triumph.  I want to be with them.  To comfort them.  To give them what they need to grow in grace and truth.  And sadly, this is not a project I can find on pinterest.  It is not something I can do.  It is who I am.  Who I am creates the environment my children grow up in much more than any DIY project or healthy recipe I prepare.

I am the environment my children grow up in.   

 I am haunted by the wisdom a professor of mine said…”Our kids should be getting used to heaven by living in our home.  “family” is the outpost of heaven.  When our kids grow up and die, they should walk through the pearly gates and think “this feels like home”….just a change in geography.” 

Would my children feel a difference as they walk from life on earth to life in heaven?  Will it be a shock to their system, or will it be a seamless transition from home to home?

I plead with the Spirit, my comforter, to change me and make me the kind of mother that creates a culture reminiscent of  the Garden.  One that will prepare my little ones for their life eternal. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

you know how when people see moms out and about with their kids, and shopping list, and everything's all chaotic and they look at the woman and say..."wow! you've got your hands full!!"
i recently heard such an appropriate response...
 "yes, yes i do.  and i'm so glad they're not empty."

my hands and my heart are full.  and i have been in the company of enough women who's arms ache with emptiness to know that no matter how full and challenging, i'm so glad they're not empty.

Friday, April 27, 2012

eyes to see... part two

when i think about what noah did that day, well, pride is not a big enough word.  not deep enough for the feeling i have about the herculean effort he put forth to process his pain.  with each affirmation of his hurt he seemed to calm a notch.  his anger and rage seemed to melt a bit and start to morph into disappointment and longing.  he held his body in check as it wanted to lash out more, but he restrained himself in a way most adults are incapable of.  as my favorite blogger says, "the only thing harder than parenting a child of pain, is being the child." 

the paper tossed and turned, stuck together, folded up and onto itself several times.  i still tried to preserve it the best i could and took it home because i sensed it would be important. after i carefully unfolded and unstuck it this is what was left.

noah looked at it when we got home and wailed a little more at the sight of how different it was.  but his questions started morphing too.  he was asking things like...

what can i do?
could i make a new one?
it's going to be terrible.
it's not going to be the same.
we don't have the right brushes or all the same colors.

will you do it with me?

 the vulnerability it took for him to ask that was so profound.  what he had made was lost, never to be whole again and he wanted to blame me.  but yet he reached out to me to help him make something new.  

i went outside and found this later in the day.  he had taken a fallen window screen and put it over the painting.  such a vivid reminder that his pain needs protection.  it needs air.  it needs to be respected.  even if his pain is so painful to me. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

eyes to see

something happened today. it was one of those times, those rare and precious times, when the layers of reality seemed to be peeled back and i could see what was happening. what was really happening. and because i had "eyes to see" i could respond appropriately. meaningfully. beautifully.

we were at a children's art/play studio and with just moments before we had to leave noah decided to paint a masterpiece. it was very fun to watch. he took great care, used lots of colors, and filled the brush to capacity with gloppy, bright, paint for each stroke. the result was something to be proud of and he beamed. as i tried to lift it from the easel the paper groaned under the weight of all that paint. i shuffled over to the drying rack but realized i didn't have any time to wait. i had to load up, get home, put the baby down for a nap, prepare snacks, and quickly straighten up the house before guests would arrive. people i didn't know well and who had never been to my house. i loaded up my diaper bag, cooler, the baby and the hefty work of art that was literally dripping as i walked out. i was instructed to be very careful by the artist and careful i was. things were going alright until, well, we opened the door. you see, we live in oklahoma. you know where "the wind comes rushing down the plain". well, the wheat wasn't waving, but the large paper canvas sure was.

i can't really convey the far reaching impact of this moment. the paint didn't just smear all over my favorite sweater or the diaper bag and cooler i was carrying. it stained noah's new shoes getting into cracks and crevices and laces where no soap or scrubbing could ever completely remove. the sidewalk, the door of our van, the windshield, hands, feet, carseats all forever marked. it was an explosion of non-toxic, yet very permanent, non-washable paint. it impacted everything, even things it didn't touch, the paint actually flew off the page and muddied everything in its path.

there was no putting this off. if there was any hope of some kind of restoration i had to start scrubbing now. but there was an explosion of another kind happening simultaneously. and it required immediate attention as well. and it was not a physical one. it was of the emotional kind and the effects last even longer than non-washable paint. i didn't want to clean up an emotional mess. i was already behind schedule and very frustrated with the physical mess before me. and the emotional mess was expressing itself in an ugly tantrum. when i see tantrum i want to correct, to discipline, to bring my child to compliance. but in that moment i saw beyond the paint, beyond the tantrum, and right into the pain of my child's heart. the glimpse i was given was a gift. it was not of this world. i heard noah's words...

"it's ruined!!
its terrible!
it's not how i did it!!
it isn't fair!
i worked so hard to make it perfect!!
i used all the colors and did the sun just right and added birds!
i'm never coming out of here the rest of my life!
it's all your fault!!!
why did you do that!?!?!?!
you messed it up!!
now what am i going to do?!"

and then i heard what he was really saying.

"why didn't they love me?
why didn't they keep me?
why didn't things go the way they were supposed to?
who can i blame because if it's my fault it's too painful!"

because i could hear him, truly hear him, i could put aside the impending stains and the time constraints and tend to his exposed wounds.  to let him be hurt.  to let him express his anger.  because it's big.  and it deserves attention.  even at the worst possible time.  grief doesn't make an appointment.  so, when she shows up, my schedule must be cleared.  may God give me eyes to see every time she knocks on our door and let me invite her in and be a gracious host. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

charlie and the chocolate factory

during lent our church had a dinner each wednesday night and then had lectures for the adults and an activity for the children. this year they used the book and scenes from the movie, charlie and the chocolate factory to teach. each main character highlights the dangers of Greed (Augustus Gloop), Pride (Veruca Salt), Envy (Violet Beauregarde), and Sloth (Mike Teavee). Charlie Bucket models the traits like working hard, asking for forgiveness when he is wrong, and honesty. the boys got really excited by their lesson each week and after Ari read the book in one day i decided we needed to view the movie in its entirety.
we all signed the same contract the children did upon entering the chocolate factory and we shared a genuine wonka bar
chocolate dipped treats
wonka sweet tart jelly beans, chocolate dipped pretzels, and popcorn to munch on during the movie
before we sat down to start watching we got to make our very own chocolate (thank you bonnie for the kit!). it was so fun to participate in the process that the book talks about and actually touch real cocoa beans that were the oompa loompa's currency.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the montage

life is rarely like it is in the movies. man, it would be nice if it was. i guess i can live without the "happy endings" and everything wrapping up in 90-120 minutes. the romance doesn't really make my heart flutter anymore either. i have the love of my life who has seen me without "hair and makeup" and has heard my unscripted words and still loves me. i've used itunes to create my own soundtrack and i like it better than any hollywood one anyway.

the thing i do really wish would somehow translate to reality is the montage. do you know what i mean? the times when some really big project/challenge/ situation arises and it's gonna take a lot of effort/work/time to get to the other side. cue the inspirational music, no dialogue is heard, and snippets of the process are shown fading in and out as the characters eventually achieve the desired outcome. you don't get to really experience how they got there. you just know you feel all mushy inside and there's a grin on your face at the end. if you still don't know what i mean, picture rocky getting into shape and ending with the iconic image of him, arms raised, at the top of the steps.

we all have montage worthy challenges in our lives. the most daunting and long lasting for me at this point is parenting. 18 years and 9 months long to be exact. but there are others as well. weight loss/body health. financial responsibility. time management habits. no one plays music for me. no one compresses the entirety into a few short minutes on a screen. and no one is cheering or starting a whole building full of applause with one clap as i enter the room when it's complete.

the truth is it is just work. plain old hard work. and a lot of it. and not much glory. no moments of comic relief. and you can't see where you are in the real life montage. the music doesn't tell you when you're halfway or nearing the end. you just keep pressing on. plugging away. one foot in front of the other. bore-ing. not something anyone would ever sit down and watch with a bucket of popcorn. but what we're doing in those moments of longsuffering and faithfulness is actually life changing. more profound and lasting than any blockbuster. more emotional and gripping than the best tear jerker.

as the saying goes..."keep on keepin' on". for you never know how close you are to the top of those stairs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

keep the camera handy

remember this and this?

well, i may need to be reminded of my commitment to grab the camera rather than grabbing my kid and letting them have it for whatever mess they may have created.

now that i have a "toddler" the messes are much more frequent.
there was this jumbo glass mason jar filled with ingredients to make oatmeal cookies.
there was the almost entire box of wet wipes lovingly emptied on the floor

super adorable smile, i know. but what isn't pictured is every single tupperwear, gladware, ziploc container and lid that we own. on the floor.

at this point my "little one" is so clueless and so young that grabbing the camera and resisting the urge to be mad at him is pretty easy. but as the months progress i know it will get more and more difficult as i will start to feel he should have avoided it some how. the truth is even at the age of 34 i still spill. a lot. and i don't want someone to yell at me. and i never do it on purpose.

so as my family and friends i commit to you that when i stumble upon these mini disasters over the next months and years i will strive to reach for my camera before choosing any other reaction. who knows, the pictures could become a weekly (daily....hourly?) feature on this blog!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

st. patrick

as a fun event for Ari's house at school we hosted a celebration of St. Patrick. most of us know about shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold, but not much about the man that inspired this holiday.
St. Patty's Punch (sprite and lime sherbert)
St. Patrick actually isn't Irish. he was actually captured and brought to Ireland as a slave. even after such a horrible experience he returned after feeling prompted in a dream to bring the gospel to the emerald isle.
green and white fruit skewers

gotta have cupcakes with green filling :)

prizes for St. Patrick's Day bingo
the book we read to learn the true story of St. Patrick

Sunday, March 18, 2012

the end of days

every sunday morning after sunday school the boys know they get to have a doughnut from those leftover after adult class. this is of course a much anticipated event and is never missed.

(a friend relayed this story that transpired after sunday school this morning...)

Ari: miss bonnie, i had five donut holes this morning before church so i don't get to have a donut right now after sunday school
Bonnie: oh, well....aren't you glad there's always next sunday?
Ari: yes, unless of course Jesus comes back to take his church, then there won't by any more sundays.

not only would there be no opportunity for donuts, there would be no sunday school, there would be no sundays. no days, no constraints of time or place.

Lord, may i think more about your return then my next chance to score a donut.

Friday, March 16, 2012

adoption day

it's adoption day!!!

i love adoption. ever since i studied ephesians in college i have felt such a connection to the concept of adoption and such a deep desire to be an adoptive parent in light of the the way God has adopted me. he calls us "sons" and we are his family. we take on his name and are brothers and sisters with his Son. we have all the rights and privileges of a "biological" child and we have a great inheritance that is "legally" ours. wow.

sonny and i were ecstatic when we were told we would FINALLY become the official parents to our baby Noah. it had been a very long and trying 17 months wondering every day if this baby i had loved, changed, rocked, read to, peek-a-booed, and cared for would be mine or if i would drop him off never to see him again. the amount of joy and relief the day it was all final, and legal, and clear cut was palpable.
this child was ours and we were going to celebrate...and celebrate we did! we had professional pictures taken, announcements printed and mailed, invitations to two separate and equally elaborate adoption parties were sent out, one in california and one in oregon. a detailed scrapbook was created, cakes were ordered, food was prepared, and gifts were wrapped. oh what a day. we all smiled, laughed, posed for pictures and saved the pen we signed the documents with. when the judge asked us if this child's name was to be called "noah sonny varela", tears filled my eyes as i said "yes" under oath. he explained that he was required to inform us that this child would now be entitled to any inheritance we would leave. just like i was entitled to the inheritance in heaven.

the years went on and each march 16th we partied. we watched the video of the day in court, we looked at the scrapbook, there were balloons, cake, presents, and so much rejoicing. so thankful that things didn't turn out differently. so glad noah was ours. people always told us how wonderful it was that he got to be in our family and i always responded with how blessed we were to have him. it was all so perfect. rainbows were shooting and unicorns were frolicking.

of course, this is still true. there is much to celebrate. but this year, for the first time, there is much to grieve as well. for this year, my heart finally acknowledged what has been there all along.

adoption is trauma.

all adoptions. under any circumstance. it is a loss. for the adoptee and for those adopting. and when there is loss there is pain. the pain does not negate the joy or drown out the celebration. but to not give it it's due is to not fully love our child. this is part of him and always will be. he is mine because he lost those most dear to him.

today we sang, we danced, we remembered, but we also acknowledged the breaking of bonds, loss of what was supposed to be, and an ache that will never be healed in this life.

we love you noah.

Monday, March 5, 2012


saturdays can be rough at our house. we seem to thrive on routine, and when there's nothing but lazy, unscheduled hours ahead we don't do so well. i've decided that saturday mornings we now do something. anything really. just something. low stress. low commitment. but something.
this week we hit the home depot free project of the month for kids. what a success!

the boys got to glue, hammer, (stick their tongues out) and walk away with a race car they made!
we decided to continue benefiting from the generosity of our local retailers and went to krispy kreme where on saturday mornings kids can hand dip their own chocolate sprinkle doughnut.
no cost. (well to us)
no mess. (well not at my house)
and no fighting. (well, until we turned out of the parking lot)
it was a great morning.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

now lie in it

i like to help people. it feels good.

i like to align myself with a cause. i feel good about myself.

as long as the people are deserving. and the cause is worthy.

what if it isn't? what if the one in need is a teen mom or the cause is those incarcerated for their misdeeds?

today i heard the story of the good samaritan again. of course it stirred compassion inside me. for the sick. the impoverished. the orphans in africa. kids with cancer. make a wish. ronald mcdonald house. operation christmas child.

those are all good things. i have participated in them all and will continue to do so. but what if the person laying bloody and half dead in the ditch
did it to themselves? what if they aren't innocent. what if they aren't a victim of anything but their own poor choices? if i help them, won't it condone their behavior? won't they most likely end up in the ditch again?

today i was thinking maybe it doesn't matter. today i was challenged to marinate in the truth that i am that bloody, helpless, half-dead individual. and even more true is the fact that
i did it to myself. if there was ever a time to say "you made your bed, now lie in it" it was the moment Christ looked at me. if anyone were so perfect and anyone so sinful it was him and me. i couldn't even promise him that i'd do better next time. that i wouldn't end up run into a ditch again. i couldn't clean up, get a job, and show that i was ready for assistance. i couldn't do anything.

people that need help are often messy. addiction, mental illness, homelessness, foster care...they are not cut and dry like a disease who ravages an "innocent victim". there is no racing for a "cure" or no dollar amount to "sponsor" someone out of their needy state. but as a messy person in need of help because of my own foolishness i am so glad Jesus didn't pass by. and now i hope i will stop. and have compassion. especially when it is "undeserved".

Sunday, February 26, 2012

congo bars

i have a confession to make. i have been hiding something from you. it is truly the best recipe i have, and in all my years of blogging, i've never let you in on the secret. i feel tremendous amounts of guilt over this, so to alleviate this problem i present...

this is typed directly from my mom's recipe box. oleo, you say? yes, oleo. it's what people in the midwest call butter. please don't ask why. just soften up some of that yellow stuff that comes in a stick and throw it in a bowl with everything else.
yes. just one bowl. i told you this is the best recipe.
don't forget the chocolate chips

of course, this is the most difficult step so you will need someone to help by emptying every single bowl, pan, and lid out of the cabinet.after you've incorporated the morsels dump the blob of dough onto a large shallow pan. you can be fancy and butter a baggie or you can just use your "oleo" wrapper and push the dough down. think along the lines of rice krispie treats. just spread it out best you can into a thin layer. no scooping. no pan after pan of dough balls in the oven. just dump, spread and bake.

bake 15-20 minutes and as you can see i very scientifically did the "toothpick check" to assure proper done-ness.

these are DELICIOUS and so much easier than making chocolate chip cookies. very little work. very few dishes. and very large payoff.

you're welcome.