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Posts Tagged ‘Happy Little Sigh’

We sat side-by-side at the edge of our bed, the mobile held up between us, on speaker phone.

“Three years old or younger,” we said adamantly to the adoption worker, with nods of our heads, “and not a year more.”

Three years old or younger–smaller than Little Bear. And it was our agency’s policy to only allow adoptions in birth order, anyway, and wasn’t I just longing for sippy cups, and unicorn onesies, and frilly socks? All the things I never got to have with a daughter of my own.

And so we began. First came the lists to review–the requirements for each country. Average age of adopted child. Common disabilities. Cost. And it seemed wrong to even choose a country, like one chooses a house, but before anything could be signed, and any path taken, decide we must.

My heart was set on Eastern Europe or Latin America. In these countries I had first seen children on the streets. Digging through trash cans at McDonald’s. Begging for a meal. And yet from all we were told, adopting a younger child from either of these places could mean a long, long wait–sometimes 5 years or more. And I knew that we could not.

And so after confusion, and tears of frustration, we settled at last on China. The paperwork was printed, our names signed on the dot. And hadn’t the children and I been learning Mandarin for the past five years? And didn’t we have friends who had adopted from there? And didn’t we long to see this beautiful country? And didn’t it all make sense?

And yet something in my heart felt the disquiet of a wrong road taken, and would not be put to rest. And so even as we started down one road, I found myself searching for something that felt lost. At night times I would pray, and scan the waiting child list, just searching for I knew not what.

Then came one night, at about eleven, all my scanning stopped. I stared at my phone, and staring back at me, the dark eyes of a beautiful 14-year-old girl from Colombia. I couldn’t sleep that night. Not one wink. And again, a few nights after that. Finally, I mentioned her to John. Everything about her–the description, the pictures, the smile–tugged deeply at my heart.

“After we adopt a toddler, we need to go back and adopt a teenage girl,” I said.

“One child at a time,” he said.

I smiled. But even after that, it was not enough to think of someday adopting some girl. I could not forget about this girl, today.

And so again, I brought her up. And all the reasons I had been telling myself for why she wasn’t right for us, and why this didn’t make sense, were echoed in his words. We wanted a toddler. We’d already decided on China. The deal was set.

Weeks went by. I couldn’t forget. Tears would come during the day. At night I’d tuck in the boys, kiss them goodnight, and I’d long to go and do the same for her. She felt like ours in a way I could not understand.

And still I felt the weight of it–the choosing of a child. This burden was too much. Not something that I, with all my limited wisdom, could possibly do. In tears, I laid it all before the Lord. He knew which child. He knew my heart.

And His answer was this: if you take the leap of faith to trust Me, you need to follow where I lead. I had told God that if he gave me all boys, I would know that there would someday be a girl out there who needed us. And He had answered. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t the type of girl I had expected it to be.

And I realized something else–Yes, this might be my last chance to ever have a baby girl. But we were likely her last chance to ever have a family. To have a future. To know the love of a mum and a dad.

In Colombia children age out of the orphanage system at 16. In other countries they are as young as 13. Most of them are much younger emotionally and mentally. A good many end up on the streets. Involved with prostitution. Drugs. And for those that manage to get a decent job, and make some kind of life for themselves, they will forever be without people. Their children will never have grandparents. There is no home to go for Christmas. They are alone in the world.

We didn’t need to adopt. Our perfect little life and family was quite complete without the addition of another child. But there are hundreds of thousands of children whose lives are NOT complete. And it is within our power to make a difference. To give them the unconditional love they all long for. Not all of us can adopt. But we can all do something. This is not only my heart, it is the heart of our God.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

~ James 1:27

And so, friends, we switched agencies. We switched countries. And we are desperately excited to share with you that we are working hard to bring home our boys’ BIG sister, hopefully by the early part of next year. We didn’t know, but God did, and we already love her so.

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Avonlea x

For more inspiration, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

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Finding beauty in the everyday 

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The great boot exchange, I call it. Snow boots hauled up, rain boots hauled down from their upstairs closet winter home. April now, and I’ll expect a spate of showers before the sultry of summer comes to stay.

The rain boots tumble from my arms. Frogs, and monkeys, and the green Hunters I like so much. Chatter, and light in my lads’ eyes as they recall past springs and puddles splashed.

Then I send them out with boots and brushes to wash away the winter mud, for boots must be stored away clean.

I peek from the dining room window and watch them sitting on the steps, lips pressed in earnest as their little hands scrub.

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Then I’m caught up for a while, sizing up which rain boots now fit who, and which can be given away—just another part of motherhood one wouldn’t think to list, though it takes an afternoon twice every year.

But I leave my work now, and step out. So new the spring, the grass yet a patch of green and straw.

Birdsong. Warmth. Flat blue beyond the branches bare.

I gasp. I’m gasping. And I cannot gulp enough of this sweet, this air.

And I watch my lads for a moment, as they laugh and run.

My curly top squats beneath our big old tree, and I’m called to see the wild violets growing there.

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A moment more, then in again to think of dinner.  And as my hands chop carrots into little discs, I think of this day. And I think of motherhood, and the labor of making a home. I think of how it’s disregarded. Seen as unfulfilling and of little worth. But I know otherwise.

And I sigh contentment for all I am and all I have. For the pleasure in this exchanging of boots. In this marking of the seasons, and remembering of dear times past.

I am building their memories, building their lives.

May my lads always find pleasure in order and in a job well done. May they find joy in little things. May they have thankful hearts. And may they one day go into the world with the strength that only a mother’s love can bring.

Avonlea x

Happy Little Sigh

Finding beauty in the everyday

For more inspiration, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

 

 

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March now, and so time to bring out my Daffodil needlepoint cushion that I bought my first year in Scotland. Time to replace my heart wreath on the porch with my Easter one. Time to purchase a hyacinth and marvel again as I watch it bloom. Little things that bring me joy, give my boys an appreciation for the passings seasons, and bring a bit of beauty to my home.

Beauty. That’s what my little corner of the Internet is supposed to be about. Opening our eyes to beautiful things–everyday, in the world around us. And I haven’t stopped looking, though I’ve been hibernating this winter, as much as I possibly could. The pause has done me good. I’ve been grateful for Arctic temps that meant canceled activities and an excuse to stay in. Grateful for the glorious sharp white light and blue winter skies that are so unusual for my state. Grateful just to rest.

But resting is not often simply resting, but often thinking, too. And I’ve asked myself again about this beauty and what it really means. And I know that beauty is more than a Pinterest-perfect home or wardrobe. More than an appreciation for nature. More than adventure, or being organized, or a success. Real beauty only exists in the external when it reflects the internal. Beauty, in its essence, is love.

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And so with the beautifying of my space comes the desire to lavish beauty on others. To welcome them to my home (or make my own family feel welcome here!). A space where they, themselves, are made to feel more beautiful because of how they are loved and served here. Loved and made to feel accepted and valued no matter what they’re wearing or what car they parked in my garage. Loved enough to be served a scrumptious feast on my best dishes–or enough to have pizza ordered so I can sit with them on the couch while they speak, whichever way is loving them best.

We do not always have to bring others into our home to bring them beauty. We can take it to them with a genuine smile, with a hug or warm handshake, with our focused attention as we ask about their life.

I’m reminded of a scene in Catherine Marshall’s book, Christy, when she visits the humble home of mountain woman Fairlight Spencer–“in a chipped cup she had put trillium and violets . . . ‘the very first,’ she told us, and unself-consciously reached out slender fingers to caress the flowers.” Next came gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts, and dulcimer music. The surroundings were humble, and the company could have been called that, too. But because there was yearning for the good and beautiful, and a desire to share it with their guests, the Spencer family lifted Christy’s heart.

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And that’s what real beauty–in our homes or on our faces–will do. It does not seek to invoke jealousy in others. It does not make them feel less. Instead it invites them into the beauty, makes them feel part of it. Gives them glimpses of the Author of beauty. Glimpses of His love.

May you find many a small violet or beam of sunshine to make you pause and smile this springtime. May the beauty you see bring you peace and make you both feel, and long to share, our Father’s love.

Avonlea x

For more inspiration, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

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Finding beauty in the everyday 

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We sat across from each other at the table for two. Busy Friday night hum. Instruments and speakers toted past as a band set up for a live show. Between us, two gluten-free Greek pizzas, lavender drinks, and so much to say.

We met on Valentine’s Day, age eight. Instant friendship. From then on, we were sisters–she, and I, and her twin sister, and her cousin. Four kindred spirits. Through the rest of childhood and the teenage years, we shared it all. Our secrets. Our dreams for the future. Our clothes. We blushed over boys. Cried hard tears on each other’s shoulders over heart-breaks and family drama. Made plans for many more adventures together.

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Then early adulthood, and choices were made. And we went our separate ways. I moved to Scotland. With an ocean between us for years, it wasn’t hard to grow apart. That, and we each had our demons to fight. But then I returned, back to the USA. We saw each other once, twice, then several times. And with each meeting came more trusting, more sharing of the parts of our stories we’d missed.

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And as we sat in that noisy restaurant last Friday night, we spoke again of the particulars of our lives. Of our mistakes, our regrets, and how we’d grown. She said something nice about my house. I smiled dreamily as she spoke of her daughter–something I’ve never had. And it occurred to us both–occurred to us that we can never see our own life as it looks from the outside. Did you hear that? Other people will naturally and unknowingly take what they see on social media, what they know of your possessions and your family, and the personality you portray in public, and for better or worse, will construct a movie-trailer-like idea of your life. And this, they will think, it what it must be like to be you. And we, in turn, do the same for them.

We look at other women, and so often we see only what she has that I don’t. That child. That house. That career. That husband. That body. That confidence. And we think because she has some of those things that we don’t, she must be happy. She must feel complete. It’s easy to miss the in-between bits. The hurts and the struggles. The tedious times. The longings each of us have. The depth of each human soul.

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It’s easy to forget all that. Easy to forget that others are praying for what we already have. That we, ourselves, once prayed for the many blessings we now enjoy. So today, instead of comparing your life to the false picture you’ve concocted of someone else’s life, let your mind dwell on the many blessings in your own life. For comparison is nothing but a thief of joy.

Avonlea xo

For more inspiration, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men,

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com

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Finding beauty in the everyday 

 

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A ginger-headed Brit and a dark-haired American–sound familiar? Yes, Harry and Meghan, but not so long ago this dark-haired American married her own Brit.  Apparently fair-headed British guys can’t quite resist us brunettes, American or not (we won’t mention the fact that Meghan and Kate are probably a good six inches taller than I 🙂 ).

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But in case you’re somehow clueless about what I’m going on about, Prince Harry, grandson of the current British Monarch, and American actress Meghan Markle’s wedding is coming up this Saturday, May 19. Another wedding as grand as this one won’t be seen until wee Prince George gets married. So whether you consider yourself an Anglophile or a fan of the Royal Family or not, no one does pomp and circumstance quite like the British, and I’m sure the wedding will be full of fairytale magic aplenty–though all in tasteful British style (unless Meghan decides to add a bit of American sparkle to the affair!).

So just for (so much) fun, my friends, plus a few tips on throwing together your own wedding breakfast tea party to celebrate, here are a few facts and speculations about Harry and Meghan’s upcoming big day . . .

1The Location – Harry and Meghan will be married at neither Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Catherine Middleton said their vows, nor St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed. Nope, Harry and Meghan’s “cozy” wedding will be at St. George’s Chapel, and the reception (for around 600 guests) at St. George’s Hall, both at Windsor Castle, a royal residence in the south of England. No Buckingham Palace means no iconic balcony kisses, such as we saw with William and Kate and many royals before (awww). And while royal weddings are traditionally held on a weekday, they are also breaking tradition by getting married on a Saturday. Following the reception, around 200 have been invited to a private reception given by Prince Charles at Frogmore House on the castle grounds (where Harry and Meghan took their engagement photos). 

 Your own living room, dining room, or sun porch will be just perfect for your wedding tea party (somewhere you can see the T.V.!). Don’t forget to add some British style bunting for a real British tea party effect.

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A snap I took of Windsor Castle and gardens when we visited before emigrating to the States

2. The Decór  –  London-based florist Philippa Craddock was chosen by Meghan and Harry to design their flower arrangements. And the bouquet? White garden roses, peonies, and foxgloves (two of the flowers I chose for my own wedding day!). The flowers will be locally sourced, in season, and reflect the wild and natural landscape of the surrounding English countryside. But one thing Meghan will have that I did not is sprigs of myrtle–from the very same plant used by Queen Victoria for her own wedding. Quite the family tradition! And of course there are speculations as to whether Meghan’s bouquet will pay tribute to Princess Diana’s.

 For your own wedding tea, why not gather wildflowers that reflect the beauty of your OWN local countryside?

@happylittlesighxt (5)Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, at her 1981 June wedding

3. The Reception  –  Though we won’t get a balcony scene to ogle over, Harry and Meghan will have a carriage procession through Windsor immediately following the ceremony. Afterwards, rather than the sit-down lunch for 650 guests that William and Kate held for their guests at Buckingham Palace, Meghan and Harry have chosen “bowl foods” for their wedding reception, with “mini main courses” (not sure about you, but if I were somehow lucky enough to be invited, I’d be terrified of dripping something down the front of my dress!). But a standing reception will allow Harry and Meghan more of a chance to mingle with their guests compared to a traditional sit-down event. I was a little surprised at this choice for a royal wedding, though it reflects Harry and Meghan’s less-fuss approach. And it seems that as sixth in line to the throne, Harry and his bride had more flexibility.

And on the menu? According to royal chef Mark Flanagan, Meghan and Harry have “been involved in every detail.” And apparently the local vegetables are all doing their part and coming into season just in time to land on the royal wedding table–er, in the royal wedding bowls. While the exact dishes to be served remain a secret, Mr. Flanagan did say that tried, true, classic foods will be most likely. One thing we do, know, however is that Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake, which will also be served to guests, is lemon and elderflower with a buttercream frosting and fresh flowers to decorate. Sounds delish, and much nicer than the traditional British wedding fruitcake!

The wedding will be early in the morning for us here in the States, so why not serve lemon pound cake or lemon poppyseed muffins (as tribute to the lemon wedding cake), along with fruit salad, sausages, quiche, and other breakfast foods for your guests to enjoy? You could also try to locate some sparkling elderflower juice for something new!

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Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s 2011 wedding cake

4. The Dress  –  The style and designer of Meghan’s wedding dress is undoubtedly the biggest secret of the day–and the most fun thing to speculate about! In a Glamour interview about her Suits television character’s wedding dress, Meghan said, “my personal style—wedding or not—is very pared down and relaxed. Classic and simple is the name of the game, perhaps with a modern twist. I personally prefer wedding dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic.” I’m willing to bet her dress will have less lace and beadwork than sister-in-law Kate’s–but will she be modern and relaxed enough to go for silky fabrics and a skinnier silhouette? There is also debate about whether or not Meghan will be wearing a tiara. I hope she does–a fairytale wedding wouldn’t be complete without one! And what about her hair–up or down? So much for us to wonder about, so much for us to look forward to seeing on the big day. 

A few things we do know–one tradition the couple will be keeping is that Prince Harry won’t see his bride in her wedding dress before she walks down the aisle. Also, Meghan will probably have two dresses–one for the ceremony and one for the reception. And last, but apparently not least, Meghan–along with Kate and the Queen–will most likely be wearing pale pink or clear nail polish. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a photo of Kate Middleton with red fingernails (although she sometimes wears it on her toes 🙂 ). And reportedly, the Queen has been wearing the same pale shade of polish, Essie’s Ballet Slippers, since 1989. A small thing for a girl to give up in exchange for being a royal. 

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William and Kate’s balcony kiss

You may decide to watch the royal wedding with your favorite mug . . . and in your favorite PJs. But if you are throwing a wedding breakfast tea, don’t forget to dust off your hat (or pick up one from a thrift store). You can always add lace, netting, or flowers. Or buy a headband and make it into a fascinator, taking inspiration from Prince William’s cousins, Beatrice and Eugenie. Don’t forget to paint your nails a delicate shade of pink!

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Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie at William and Kate’s 2011 wedding

Whatever ends up inside those bowls of food, whatever the shape of the dress, whatever the color of those soon-to-be-royal nails, the day is sure to evoke a few wistful sighs from us all. I’d so, so love to hear your thoughts and best guesses for the day! Also, I’ll be joining a few friends to celebrate, and would love to have you along! Comment below, or find me on Instagram or Facebook @happylittlesigh. 

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Me with my ginger-headed Brit on our own May wedding day

Avonlea xo

 

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Finding beauty in the everyday 

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A new royal baby, and isn’t it wonderful? And aren’t we happy for Prince William and Kate? But wouldn’t we all like a closer look than what the web or magazines let us see? A closer look at life behind those royal stone walls? And wouldn’t it be fun to imagine being invited to one of the royal homes–say Buckingham Palace?  What would one would wear? What would one do? And most importantly, what would Her Majesty be serving for lunch? Well, read on to find out. 

 I can’t claim to have extra info on the royal baby or what the new prince will be called (though I’m rooting for Arthur). But during the years spent living in the United Kingdom, I met more than one person who ran into a member of the royal family, or even got to meet them face to face. So for the rather charming little tale of my husband meeting the Queen, plus stories of run-ins with Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, check out Meeting the Royals – Part 1. And for today, I’ve reserved some rather exclusive pics from two other royal events—the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and her Annual Garden Party. So join me for a peek inside the walls of Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen. 

Buckingham Palace

First off, we need an invitation, or we’ll not be let through the gates.

Certificate of Completion

Now what to wear? The Garden Party requires more stately dress–for ladies, a pretty spring frock and hat or fascinator (pictured above) would be appropriate. For men, a suit and tie or dress uniform is a must. The picnic lunch in honor of the Jubilee, however, allowed for more casual summer attire. 

And what shall we do while we are there? Clearly the Queen doesn’t wish her guests to be confused, and so provides a handy timetable for the afternoon of the Garden Party.

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And for her Diamond Jubilee? First, the all import picnic on the lawns of Buckingham Palace. On the menu? Chilled British Country Garden Soup. Diamond Jubilee Chicken &  Tea-Smoked Scottish Salmon (toppings for the Fresh Bread Rolls). Oaten Biscuits with Harvest Chutney and a selection of Cheeses. Crunchy Seasonal Crudités (that’s veggie sticks to the rest of us). We mustn’t forget the Bubbly and Tea. And for afters, Lemon & Caraway Madeira cake, Chocolate Indulgence cake, and Sandringham Strawberry Crumble Crunch. A lunch not to be sniffed at. 

Afterwards, entertainment by a variety of performers, including Sir Elton John, followed by an impressive fireworks display over the palace.

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And isn’t it all lovely, and doesn’t it just make you sigh a happy little sigh?

Avonlea xo

For more royal fun, bookishness, and mad stories of life homeschooling 4 wee men, 

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com

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Finding beauty in the everyday ♥

 

 

 

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We can wait decades. Sometimes more. Hoping, praying, begging that God would make a thing come true. And you pray, and you wait. And sometimes you recall some sweet blessing, or some specific prayer that was answered in the past, and you faith is boosted a bit–just enough to keep you hoping, even when it all seems to fall on deaf ears.

Other times the seeming silence makes you feel you might crumble right down to nothing but dust. And sometimes dust is just what you wish you could be.

For the waiting, and the longing, they can work away like long years of labor on tender heart, leaving you just . . . tired. And the world, with all it’s beautiful places and beautiful faces can begin to seem like the only comfort you’re going get. And sin is drug-like, and it smiles so sweet, and the lies it tells you never look like lies at all.

Sin can begin to look more beautiful than . . . well, than God himself. And you find yourself wondering if He really is so good.

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.

But I’m here to tell you–as I’m here to tell myself–that whatever it is the world is offering you, it will never bring you the peace and fulfillment you desire. Whatever it is you’re being tempted by, God is better. He is BETTER. And He is GOOD.

Yes, I’m waiting. Long, long waits. And I’m asking God so many Whys–about family, and relationships, and these books, which I’ve written but have yet to land in a reader’s hands. And it’s ever-so-hard when a burning desire–an ability, a gift–we think God has given us, seems to bounce off the ceiling and land right back in our laps.

And I can’t give the answer to that for my own life, as I can’t give the answer to that for yours. But I am determined to choose what is BEST. No matter what the outcome, no matter if I go to my deathbed still whispering these prayers, I am determined to trust the One who gives me breath. The One who made me and placed me just as and where I am. The One who calls me His own.

May God give you the strength to do the same. For the dear ones in your life. For your own self. For the glory of Christ. May you determine to walk the narrow path of life. To “set your face like flint, determined to do His will.” Isaiah 50:7.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

Avonlea xo

Find me on Instagram @happylittlesigh or Facebook @happylittlesigh

MONTHLY Newsletter, Morning Cuppa Tea at happylittlesigh@gmail.com 

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