Happy Anniversary!

Ryan Kajus Mihaila– the day I met you a part of me ended a new part began. You are every part of me that’s good and tender and sacred. You are my sweetest joy, my greatest miracle this side of heaven, and the very best part of my day. I wake up missing you, and while there are moments when “you drive me nuts,” there are others where I just want to eat you up like delicious “Chick-lick-fil-a” (as you call it). Stay cute, stay sassy. “I keep you forever.” My baby you’ll be.

Love say first sight; the day we first met, my little love.
Your first day in Canada
Your first day in your new home. This picture was taken the morning after we arrived home in Canada a family of three. You were so cute and chubby.

Happy 2 year anniversary baby boy wonder. You are cause for great joy, as your name “Kaius” foretold!

Furniture shopping (posing) with mom
Playing dinosaurs with dad
Baking biscuits with Joanne Gains (and mom)
Milk and cookies
Chocolate lover… finger licking good
For the love of Baseball! #GoJays #LetsGoBlueJays

Junior Kindergarten
Baking with Buni (grandma) Marioara
Making friends and slime
Mr.Personality
At the movies with my BFF Emi

One year

One year. The bottom picture is us on the way to our apartment and temporary home across the country, after picking Ryan up at the orphanage last year.

The top picture was taken today- on the way home from a day of adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto ❤️ one year.

Our court date officially shows the legal adoption date as April 18…. but on a Good Friday, April 15, we became a party of three.

Praising God for this, and all His miracles and blessings that we have continued to discover in Jesus every day of this journey. Our hands and hearts have never been so full.

Oh, wow!! Ryan travels on a real train for the first time! #GoTrain

I have a dream….

April 4, Martin Luther King day.

On this very day last year (2017) I was on a plane flying towards Lithuania to meet my son for the first time, ever. To hold in my arms the child I had hoped for, prayed for, dreamed of, for so many years. My rite of passage into motherhood was an airplane ticket, and a 16+ hour flight-path. And even though I didn’t struggle through a painful delivery room experience, and the miracle of birth, my heart and mind laboured through the same hopes and fears as every other mother waiting to give birth to her dream.

It’s hard to believe how much a year changes things, how much it has changed me. How so many of those nagging fears and uncertainties still linger, and many days leave me feeling the residue of their adage, “not enough.”

And yet I have learned so much and have become more settled with the year that has come and now draws to a close.

I discovered that in weakness there is real beauty, the unexpected kind. Compassion is born out of a broken and contrite spirit, and multiplies in kindness when the heart’s soil is tilled just so.

The ones who love you stick with you and are not afraid to be near you, even through your ugly. And let me say, I have uncovered a lot of warts I thought had been “treated” and dealt with ages ago. All my own of course.

The sweetest moments are fleeting and our days are like vapour. We must seek to gain a heart of wisdom in order to “count them wisely” and appreciate their worth. Diapers won’t last forever, but neither will butterfly kisses and morning cuddles.

Expect a three year old to act like a three year old, not a 30 year old. And reset your expectations every day because old habits die hard; again, mine.

Being a women who works hard in and out of the home is exhausting. Expect that. My house and brain are in constant disarray and I’ve had to find creative ways to navigate my “new normal.” Post-it notes. Lots and lots of post-it notes.

Running late is a a reality I’ve had to own and stop loathing. A day may come when everything will run efficiently again and work out “just right” the first time. And if it doesn’t no one will really notice and I’ll be just fine; preparing dinner will be a delight (ha!) and I won’t leave the house with food stuck to either my hair or some remote place on my clothing that I fail to see until I’ve arrived for my meeting (late).

Being forgiven and loved by my little human is oh, so very humbling. He is so quick to extend grace and never holds a grudge– I pray for the same humility, and to never outgrow it.

I have an enormous appreciation for single mothers everywhere. You are impacting your kids in ways that will echo well into eternity. The resilience and willingness to get up and face each day with the courage and strength you display is truly nothing short of heroic. Every. Day. I see you. I laugh with you and grieve with you and hold my breath with you on this wild roller coaster ride called life. Amazing mommas like @Helloettajoy, and @LisaHarper, and so many brave and beautiful souls like you; you are part of this gloriously untamed tribe that points mommas like me to Jesus, inspiring me to be the best version of myself, and to show up each day.

Dad, you are irreplaceable. We need you- ALL of you, not the pay check you bring home or the opulence of your vocation; but, you. When you give time and love to this family above all else you might think we’re looking for you to give, you complete us, and our hearts do a little happy dance.

Jesus. You are everything and being Yours, remaining in You, enjoying You, means that ALL of this is satisfying, in all of its glorious messiness and frailty. Jesus, You hold me together when every version of my “self” completely unravels. You are the gentle whisper in my heart reminding me that in fact, I You are enough, and this, all of it, is Your grand design, even though it’s hard and messy. You’re in the hard stuff. The hard stuff is the stuff that holiness is made of. You still love me with all my ugly and speak volumes of Your grace and love everyday through this boy I get to call my own, Ryan.

And to the dreams yet to be born, I say, “welcome, can’t wait to meet you.”

World Adoption Day

It’s been some time since I’ve sat down to pen some updates and thoughts on our adventure of living life together.  I found this old blog post I wrote back in November 2017 but forgot to publish, so I’m adding it now to the chronicles of “our journey.”

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The month of November is “Adoption Awareness” month and November 9, 2017, is considered World Adoption Day.

It’s gotten me to thinking a lot about our journey – every Christian has been marked by adoption because we’ve all been brought into a family by the great price of Love. A love so good, so deliberate, that for me, it compelled me to give, to believe, to hope, to risk and to respond to the greatest affection and heritage laid on me by my own great heavenly Dad.

Is it hard? YES. Very. There is no fairy tale; every story is marked by grief and tragedy.  Every child, precious. There is much joy, marked by much sorrow; the brevity of life is that neither exists independent of the other.

Is it costly? YES. It costs everything, every day.  Every ounce of patience and love (and sanity). Every bit of “self” is spent in this magnificent labour of love.

What does it take? EVERYTHING. The unmaking of life as I once knew it. This was my “unmaking,” and God knows, I needed unraveling.

What does it give in return? EVERYTHING. The rebuilding of a life so full, and a love so powerful, it leaves me in awe to think how much I would have missed if I had let the fear of the unknown, the unplanned, the uncertain, to swallow up this life of hope.

And, JOY. Oh, the joy of every morning’s delight, when I quietly tip-toe into my boy’s room, and get to nuzzle his sweaty little neck, and cradle him in my arms as we wake up together to face the day.

If not for faith, if not for hope, if not for Jesus, I would have missed this miracle.

Children become sons and daugthers

Orientation

The word is “oriented,” not “orientated.”

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s get down to it.

Today was your Preschool orientation and you rocked it baby boy! I was so nervous for you, mostly because I didn’t want you to think we were taking you back to the “baby military.” This program will help you become even more comfortable with the English language, and you’ll rock the Preschool scene with your little buddy Chloe, I’m sure. You both have that sparkle of determination in your eyes. Mommy and daddy want you to make new friends and have a chance to get more creative and learn new things and that’s why we signed you up for this neat program at Stanley’s Preschool. You were so charming, and whisked your teachers, Miss Tammy and Miss Kim off their feet with your smile and inquisitive personality — you were quick to explore every nook and cranny of your new classroom and were happy to see so many kids. Miss Tammy showed you the bathroom too, fully equipped with little toilets and a small sink- I’m hoping this will help nudge your potty training strike to come to an end. PLEASE negotiate with me. I’m desperately wanting to settle this “not-so-collective-bargaining agreement” before I have to go back to work.

Your prized possession, your frog backpack, you didn’t want to take it off. In fact you were the only kid wearing one. I love that you march to the beat of your own drum and are not a “go with the masses” or “group think” kinda fellow.

Miss Tammy showed you where your very own special hook was and it had your name on it so that you can hang up your backpack all by yourself next time. I’m thanking God that you’re doing so well and praying for a smooth transition next week when mommy won’t be allowed to stay with you the whole time. I wonder who it will be harder for, you or I?

Remembering Us

My bff’s little baby, soon to turn 4, is heading off to kindergarten and it hits me that this time next year I’ll be that momma, wondering where the time has gone and why my baby “suddenly” feels so grown-up. Some days I want Ryan to hurry up and learn to do things on his own (like pedal his tricycle and do poo-poo in the “big toilee”- as he calls it), put on his own socks and shoes.

And then… then, there are sacred moments like now, where I’m laying here on my “big bed” watching him lull himself to sleep with his newly prized possession, his beaver stuffy (a gift from his cousin “Dom”), as he tenderly covers his beaver up with his blankey and then carefully rearranges it so that his own toes are also covered. My heart does a little flip as he looks so small and vulnerable. I don’t want to let him go. But go he must. In the direction that all of us before him have gone, to forge our own path and blaze a trail that only we can blaze; a story that’s been uniquely fashioned for only us to experience. My hope is that I can set him free with the confidence and courage and faith in Jesus and himself, to do great things and leave the world a kinder place.

But I just want to pause a moment and record the simple joys of my special time with you until now my little man.

I love how you are determined to drink out of big glasses and coffee mugs all by yourself but refuse to eat food on your own, or pedal your bike (though you love pushing it).

I love how juice makes you so happy, and how sparkling water makes your nose twitch and scrunch up. I love that you call oranges, “oh-wee” and that despite repeated prompting and teaching you say “oh-pee” (open) to articulate instructions about both opening and closing/shutting, and turning the pages in your books. But I totally get, on a personal level; English is my “second language” too.

I love how you say green (“geen”) and that you’ve mastered the pronunciation of the word “purple,” but won’t say (or can’t say) F or R (that’s a tricky one for all of us).

I love that you wake up each morning and want to climb into “Mami, Tati bed” and snuggle before we start the fury of the day. I love that you are the one to say “pay” (pray) when we eat “papi” and go to “big nani.”

I love that you want to drink your chocolate milk in bed each morning with daddy and I while we drink our coffee.

I am amused by how you automatically assume all green coloured food is “eeeww” and won’t even give it a lick before rejecting it — your signature way of testing out any new menu item is to lick it with your tongue before granting passage into your mouth.

I love how you sit with your books and call me beside you to, “sit down” and “reee book” as you point to the letters with your finger and mumble repeatedly “a-b-c.”

I love that you can’t resist throwing (anything) despite consistent and repeated timeouts to curb this. Again, daddy thinks it’s because your throwing arm is destined for greatness. So, as a concession I’ve given up telling you not to throw EVERYTHING and ANYTHING, and now limit my nagging to rocks and dangerously big or heavy objects projected towards other people or the windshield while I am driving. I think it’s only fair.

I love that bath time is still your favourite and that you’re no longer afraid of the shower, but have taken to holding it and hosing yourself down with it, and the ENTIRE bathroom. No joke. Like, every time. No matter how much mommy tells you not to make a big splash “outside the bathtub.”

I love how you scrunch your face and nose every time you take a picture, and say “cheese” with such confidence; and how you insist on seeing every photo and video, such that I can’t really take any while you’re looking because you’re kind of into yourself already…. crap. I’m turning you into a “selfie” king, although I sure hope not. I’ll just chalk it up to the fact that you’re just learning about photography and you’ve never before experienced the wonder of a smartphone.

Elmo is still your fav to watch and read about, and your trains are your favourite thing to play with. Although you also do a great rendition of Jimmy Hendricks on your “ni-ni-ni-ni tar” (guitar); you have four of them because like daddy, I too have a dream that you’ll take to music and be an amazing worship leader one day.

I love the look of pride on your face when I praise you for doing a good job or learning a new skill, or helping me to carry something heavy. You are so big and strong. A real life gentleman. I’ll always remember the way you helped Emi carry her water bucket onto the beach when we took our cottage vacation together this summer in Huntsville. Chivalry and nobility at its finest.

You take such delight in helping me and you can pronounce the word “help” so well!!! I’m SO proud of you. And that sweet sheepish little grin of your’s kills me every time. You could get me to do anything with that look. It’s a good thing you don’t know that yet.

And P.S. this “mommy brain” thing is real! I cannot for the life of me write one single blog entry without any grammatical errors that I then have to edit over and over. It’s because you get the best of me babe, and the rest, meh, the rest is all that’s leftover.

So you see, there is so much I want to record and keep track of little man….. like how whenever we go on the monkey bars at the “small park” by our house (that’s how you distinguish it from the “big park” by Buni Nona’s house), you start to sing the “no more monkeys jumping on the bed” song. Needless to say that one of your favourite pass-times is jumping on MY bed.

Every story reminds me of another story, another memory, something else I want to savour about our special time together, you and me bub. But we’re busy living our life with one another and don’t have time to chronicle every detail; hopefully enough to give you a sense of how special and amazing this season is for me, no matter how hard on some of the crankier days (more often mine than yours).

I want you to look back and KNOW that you are so loved and wanted and ENJOYED! That’s right, we enjoy you! Watching you sleep, and eat and discovering and running, and jumping and learning how to use your legs and that awesome throwing arm.

Happy Birthday

A momma’s letter to her boy.

Dear Ryan,

Today is your “happy buh-day”!

You turn 3 years old, and my heart is so full of gratitude and wonder at the amazing little man that you are. One day, when you’re older and grown, and have surpassed me in wisdom and technology savviness, I hope you won’t be too annoyed about my writing tidbits of our love story. You must know, and it must be chronicled, that you are the very best thing that’s ever happened to daddy and I since sliced bread (expression will likely be so dated by the time you read this that you’ll have to look it up).

You bring us more joy than our hearts can hold — we “LOL” a lot!

You have exploded in your language and communication, exclaiming constantly your sheer delight and exuberance at  EVERY. SINGLE. AIRPLANE (“Onu”) that you see, and every “Choo-Choo” you hear on the not-so-distant train tracks. You’re starting to put simple words together, mostly directives for your dad and I, like, “sit down,” “you move,” “come here,” “no more,” “all done,” and MANY others. Your word of the week has been “help;” last week it was “airport” after I explained to you that this is where the airplanes live and do “Nani” (sleep). Every time we drive over the hill towards our house, you confidently exclaim, “Nyan house!” You call yourself Nyan, and you refer to pizza as “pete-zee.” You love bananas and yogurt and smarties…. actually pretty well anything chocolate.

Today, as a special way to remember your “passing-of-age” we took you to the Aviation Day at Waterloo Regional Airport. You were on cloud nine. Dad and I were so happy to see you living such a full life.

While you were napping today, we were thinking and talking a lot about what an enormous impact you’ve made in our lives, and in the lives of all your family and friends (there are a lot of people you’ve touched with your spunky and loving spirit; you are a great cause for joy in many lives). Your snuggles in the morning and butterfly kisses on my “boo-boo’s” melt my heart.  You’ve rocked our world and turned it right-side-up in such a short time. You are a wonder to us each day.

We love getting to discover your gifts and abilities (daddy hopes that your impressive throwing arm is a sign of baseball glory days), your strong will, and resilient spirit (praise Jesus), and your unbridled love for life and enjoyment of every new pleasure you experience; chocolate milk, Nutella, ice cream, and juice, which is your absolute favourite food-group at this present time.

You are wonderfully and purposefully (some translations say, “fearfully”- as in, with great care and consideration).Psalm 139

Love you forever,

Mama

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Dedication

Today we brought Ryan to church "to do for him as is customary," "to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:22-23)." We were so thankful to share this special day with our sweet little cousin Eli Jacob Soica, born to Dani and Jenny on April 23, 2017– the same day Ryan also arrived home in Canada.

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We are beyond grateful to be living in the harvest of so many years' worth of prayers and trusting God to fashion our family. It is awesome to see your child growing up in the presence of Jesus. That's what I want most for his life. To know the love of God for himself, and to respond to it himself, to receive it as his own.

I was reading the words of Solomon this past week in 2 Chronicles 6:14-15, where he dedicates the temple of God after the completion of its building, and together with the people of Israel, the elders, and the Priests and Levites, they celebrate the faithfulness of God:

"Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven or on earth– You who keep your covenant (promise) of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in Your way. You have kept Your promise to Your servant…with Your mouth You have promised and with Your hand You have fulfilled it- as it is today."

I found these words resounding in my heart and mind as our Pastor Iosif Preda lay his hand over our son and offered up the benediction from Numbers 6 ("the Priestly Blessing). Truly,  God's Word and promises are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ; and He delivers good on His promises.

So today, I offer up the same words that Solomon's father, King David, also offered his own son as he commissioned him to build the House of God, to work for the Lord.

Ryan, my beloved son, daddy and I present you to the Lord; we return you to Him in praise and with thanksgiving, pledge to love you and share God's love with you.

Our prayer is that you would "devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord Your God…and do the work." Do the work He will call you to. Do it with kindness, do it with joy. Do it in love, and build on its lasting foundation. Most of all, don't lose Jesus in the midst of His cause. Seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." Finish well.

Love you so much little babe. At your best, and worst. Just like God loves you and me and daddy. He's the best part of us. He's the best of what we have; the best of what we could offer you for this life and the next, as together we stand today and publicly present you to Him. Our greatest treasure. For His glory, and your good.

P.S. There were so many wonderful people we love and appreciate that we didn't get a chance to take pictures with (and who were not able to be with us today)! I'm so sorry! Please don't feel unloved or less special if you don't see yourself represented in these few snapshots. It was a fury of love and blessings today. THANK YOU all for celebrating with us.

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Fix Your Eyes on the Eternal

2 Corinthians 5:15-18

The fog lifts and the haze clears, and I see in the natural what God has been trying to get my attention about these past few weeks: “Do not lose heart.” Though from the outside it looks like a “waste” — all this mothering, toiling, tearing, teaching, self-sacrifice, sleeplessness, forgetting to eat, forgetting to shower, forgetting that He (God) is faithful and full of grace for all those days when I am not.

“YET inwardly we are being transformed and renewed day by day (every day…with every temper tantrum, every successful and failed attempt at using the potty, every splattered meal and missed nap)… every day something is happening beyond the realm where my eyes can see. All of this momastry (masterful mothering- ha!) is achieving an eternal, unseen glory that FAR outweighs the momentary failures and setbacks. 

Lord, I see. I see beyond the temporary, and feel so horribly pathetic for missing what so many others have likely figured out already. Behind and beyond everything that in the moment feels like such a weight holding me down, I see an opportunity to sew into Ryan’s heart and future Your love, Your joy, Your kindness and mercy. 

And so, I “fix (my) eyes not on what is seen (spilled milk, scratched walls and furniture, cranky, fussy little rascally rabbit- which he really isn’t all things considered) but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your grace and kindness towards me when I’m fussy and cranky and out of sorts. Help me to keep sight of the great gift you’ve given me in the privilege of getting to raise up a son for Your glory, and his good. Make him a man of character, whose heart is fully committed to you and to the good of those in his world. 

And THANKYOU! Thank you for the front row seat to this great adventure, and hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Help me to steward his tender little heart and mind with great care and responsibility, knowing that no day, no lesson, no tear is wasted, but that it all is working in him as much as it is in me, to cause much thanksgiving to overflow to Your glory.

Amen.

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