Monthly Archives: July 2017

Seeing Life for What it Is – Part I

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How is it nearing the end of July?  Seriously, it has not slowed down this year one bit.  We have finished a school core, painted the dining room, watched things grow (mostly kids, but some vegetables, and a puppy too.)  Taken a marriage retreat and a trip to grandparents, the beach, and two to the ER – not in that order.

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Happy girl just pulled her first cucumber from the garden

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She’ll be TWO in two months!

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Our new Sonlight core all set to start soon!

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Everyone loves 10-foot ceilings, until it’s time to paint.

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Perfect Day! First time to the beach for my youngest girls and my two Ukrainian-Americans :)

Lately I’ve been seeing life for what it is- a vapor. A fleeting gift.

A breath.  A vital battle. Time that should be spent with focus – sometimes we really need a time of refining to wake us up from our distractions.  ( I call it waking up from the Matrix).

The enemy is such a great distractor, as C.S. Lewis has described, (and the Bible warns us)

“You will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his (the human soul’s) wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers, or his work, or his sleep; a column of advertisements from yesterday’s paper will do.  You can make him waste his time… in conversations about subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room.”
(The Screwtape Letters)

And C.S. Lewis didn’t live in the age of screens and social media.

Life is just flying by at the speed of … life.  It really does go by as quickly as the Bible says it does, and we’re spending so much of it being overcome by daily distractions. (totally guilty here)

I bet only a handful of you will make to the end of this post without getting bored and distracted by something else (wink).

We’re just swimming (and drowning) in distractions.  And we’re also overcome with an illusion of our own power – power to control our lives (and the lives of others- again, guilty over here.)

Work. School. Career. Spending. Borrowing. More spending. Vacations. Renovations. Physical alterations.

We are caught up in the notion that we have the power to control the details of our existence – down to the shape of our noses and the wrinkles on our face, the strings of silver multiplying in our hair, and the size of our muscles – and our bank accounts… and our living rooms.  (Interesting side note: in America our houses and cars are getting bigger but our families are getting smaller…)

Just think about the current trend. Everywhere I look on social media we are encouraging each other about how much control we have over our own life and destiny –  how “strong” we are.

We are “enough”.
We are “bold”.
We are “fierce”.
We are “brave”.
We are “mighty”.

The truth is that’s what our hearts are telling us, but our hearts are deceitful, and can’t be trusted.  The truth is that we’re really not in control of much, least of all our own tongues, though that’s one thing God does tell us to control, but that’s another subject.

We think we can guard our turf, and the Word tells us to guard our hearts.

We revel in the advice to “set boundaries”, but Jesus tells us to think of others as more important than ourselves, and love them as we love ourselves,….  and to put others first, turn the other cheek, and forgive to infinity.

We like to wear our sign (t-shirt, tattoo, whatever) labeling ourselves “fierce” and Jesus tells us to be tenderhearted.

We like to put on our warpaint and our workout clothes (the ones that make us look good, of course) and tell each other how “strong” we all are, and yet God says

“My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

And we forget that when Paul said “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength” he was referring to being content in his difficult circumstances – not killing it at his job or his workout at the gym.

We are proud.  So very proud.  We actually take pride in being proud.  But God says He opposes the proud – He actually fights against the proud – and gives grace to the humble. Think about that for a minute. That’s a frightening thought, actually, but don’t push it away. Remember, we need to wake up from the matrix.

God loves humility.  Humility is beautiful. Imagine that.  We come close to making it a Bible principle that we should stand our ground and fight for our rights.  Jesus didn’t.
And God says, “vengeance is mine” – not ours to take.

This life   i s   a   v a p o r.

Poof. Gone.

And we as believers are awfully (deadly) distracted these days – maybe more than ever before in history.  And we look like the world more than ever before.  Lately, as the Lord has been bringing me through the fire of refining, I’ve come out with this renewed awareness that we are in danger of wasting our lives on building up our earthly bodies and homes- and neglecting to disappear behind a sign pointing the world to Jesus, who is really the answer for a dying world searching for the fountain of youth.

And neglecting to see the beauty of life that isn’t fixed-up with a “perfection” filter slapped on, with just the right caption to describe it. (me, guilty again)

I as a Mom have been in danger of neglecting to teach my children the dangers of pride, the beauty of humility, and the focus of eternity.

And the cruciality of true, face-to-the-ground worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Yaweh.

I have in my possession  1) a quiver of arrows to be sharpened and sent out into a dark world, 2) a very real enemy who “prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,” and 3) a short puff of a life to complete this task.  And a huge propensity for distraction.

I too get caught up in thinking about where in the world we want to travel…. how are we going to pay off student loans… what color should we paint the dining room….

Life is jam-packed full of things to distract us from the actually important things.  It’s time for (me, at least- I’m not sure any of you are left reading this) to w a k e    u p.

I need more than just a little #bulletproofcoffee & Jesus – I need to realize I am absolutely powerless to fight my own pride and win battles that actually matter for eternity.  And I need the covering of God, to be filled with His Word – not just the favorite parts that look good painted on the wall – but all of it.  Especially the “sharp as a two-edged sword” parts.

I need to wake up and disengage from the matrix of this glittered-up world and be on my face in prayer – throughout the day.  Not just a few sentences breathed over the steam of my mug while I find the right lighting and angle to post my devo to IG.

It’s time for me to come out of the fog and see this life for what it really is….. I’m not promised another breath of it.

If you’ve made it to the end – wow!  Thanks for sticking with me.  Join me tomorrow for Part II, where I share what I’m actually doing about this “wakeup call”.

 

 

 

Havin’ a Great Day

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I hope everyone’s having a wonderful Saturday!

We’re over here having a pretty standard weekend for the Hazies –laid back.

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Sisters forever. Forever reading.

It’s a rainy day, so there’s a lot of the above photo going on.  This is the only photo I snapped on the sly.

I gave all the big girls a haircut.  Lena really wanted bangs. I had to overcome my decades-old trepidation over having bad-bang-haircuts and just give her what she wanted.  She was very particular about what she wanted but I cut them long and sloping to the side at first.  Nope. She wanted them short and straight across.  I cut them again, short enough to style straight across her forehead, but still long enough to sweep them to the side.  She never wavered.  Shorter, still.  This pre-teen thing is not for the faint of heart, I tell you.

So I just went for it and lo and behold, what she wanted looked just right on her.


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I should have known, just looking back at…..

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I don’t know if she’d go for the GIANT bow now, though.  Wow, I can’t believe how much she has changed…

Jeff picked up a deal on a weed eater this morning…. brought it home, pulled all the pieces out of the box and had it together in no time. Last year we’d had some friends who have a lawn service taking care of our lawn, since our mower had died a few years before that.  But one day I started praying that the Lord would provide us a lawn mower to do it ourselves because we were in a stretch where money was kind of tight.

Wouldn’t you know just a few days later another friend drove up in front of our house and pulled out a nice walk-behind, self-propelled lawn mower?  He had gotten a new one, and decided to give his old one to us.  Just the kind I had hoped for, which would make it easier for me to cut the grass when Jeff was too busy, and also be something the older kids could learn on.  God knows, doesn’t he?  So now we have a weed eater to go along with our lawn mower, so we can get about our business of #adulting, because apparently this is a thing?

Yesterday our whole family wore matching t-shirts. I kinda loved it.

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We were given the cutest shirts by our local Chic-fil-A this week.  We had recently attended Cow Appreciation Day – you know, where the whole nation dresses like a cow to varying degrees (I didn’t know about it until the night before, so we had to go with the everyone-cut-out-construction-paper-and-tape-it-to-your-clothes route right after breakfast)…   Well, my whole little crew got their picture taken, and apparently when pics from the day were uploaded on the local CFA Facebook page, people voted for their favorite by “liking” the photos.  I didn’t even know this was going on, so it was to my udder surprise (sorry, I had to) when a friend messaged me and told me my kids’ photo was voted Best Herd.

"Best Herd"

“Best Herd”

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She likes her chicken.

She likes her chicken.

You can’t make this stuff up.  So much fun.  So they made these ridiculously cute shirts – and even threw in some for Jeff and me!

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Goofing off while he's snapping photos. Imitating a cow, maybe?

Goofing off while he’s snapping photos. Imitating a cow, maybe?

"Over the Moooon for Chicken"

“Over the Moooon for Chicken”

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I can’t say enough wonderful things about the folks at our local CFA.  We know the owners personally – they’re the kind of people who just stop by your house when they’re driving around that part of town – seriously, they’ve done this a handful of times.  They even came by one evening a few years ago and helped us with our bathroom renovation!  (That reminds me, Becky, we still have Mike’s hammer!) And they make every person feel like they are on the elite list.

Back when we were preparing to adopt Christopher and Lena, we held a fundraiser at CFA and they were super supportive and so excited once we got the kids home.  And we were just one family they walked with through the adoption process.

CFA Flier

Recounting all those memories this week just made me so grateful for community.

God sets the solitary in families. (Psalm 68:6)  And he sets family in community.  We’re meant to live this life together.

When re-focus on this kind of perspective, it’s hard not to have a great day.

 

 

A Brutally Honest, Awkward, Re-Introduction

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IMG_4989Well, I really don’t know how to get this post started.  So I guess the band-aid rip-off technique is as good as any.  I haven’t been here in Blogosphere for quite a while.  And coming back to it – well there’s no natural-feeling way to jump into it.
You know how you have those friends who – when you don’t see them in ages, you get together one day and it’s like you’ve been talking every day all along?  Yeah, getting back to blogging? Not at all like that.

It’s more like when you’re in the mall and you run into someone who used to be in your Sunday School class and you really *should* know their name, especially because you were the facilitator, and you can’t-for-the-life-of-you remember their name because you have a condition which causes your brain to freeze up and put a lock on all name-files you’re attempting to access, so you just smile and use phrases like “hey….. you… how are you, …. girl?”  Lame.

Coming back to blogging after so long feels a bit more like that.

I’ve kinda yo-yo’d a bit… stuck my toes back in the water here and there, eeking out a post from time to time.  But I haven’t been consistent at all in the last several years.  What used to be a joy to me (blogging) quickly became a non-essential when life hit us like a train about six years ago.

Let me level with you honestly with one sentence: adoption has been a harder journey than we could have imagined.  I’d love to share more about that, as it’s something I feel pretty passionately about and believe the Lord has really done a work in us – our family and our children specifically –  and showed us many things through and about adoption – but that’s a post for another time.  Maybe. If I can blog consistently again.  Lord-willig and the creek don’t rise, and all that.

Six years ago, our little family was… little.  And cute; I’m just gonna be honest. :) We kinda had our ducks almost in a row, and we felt so full and blessed – enough that we felt we had a surplus to pour over and bless others.  We lived in a cute little 3-br house with chickens and a privacy fence and a garden and a swingset. I blogged pretty regularly and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed making homemade items for our kids and sharing about it on the blog (which at that time was called “Our Blessed Life”).  I shared sewing creations and playdoh recipes and snippets of our life.

Some of you began following us in the next chapter, when we were led to adopt Christopher  and Lena (who, through the adoption journey were called “Kirk” and “Lori”) and you prayed for us, supported us, cheered us on, and watched from all over the world while we journeyed to Ukraine, met our son and daughter, and brought them home.

Rescued from the Orphanage in Ukraine

Then the train hit us pretty hard.

Post-adoption trauma.  And unexpected pregnancy – I was pregnant and neck deep in morning (all day) sickness on the 2nd trip to Ukraine to bring the kids home.  Once we got everyone home, I had two traumatized kids on one side of the breakfast table speaking only Russian – and only to each other – and another set of traumatized children on the other side of the breakfast table speaking only English and trying desperately to get their new siblings to interact with them.  And a toddler who never slept.  And all I wanted to do was sleep.

By the time we were all together as a new family I was experiencing a delayed culture shock (if there is such a thing) heightened by the pregnancy-nausea making everything unbearable to me, resulting in me not being able to stand the sight or smell of my luggage that I’d just dragged back from Ukraine.  It literally sat in a pile in the corner of the dining room for a month because I couldn’t bring myself to touch it.

A little box of half-eaten raisins stuffed into a zipper pocket on my carry-on, in case I needed them on the flight for Carson (who was then 18 months old) sat forgotten and rotting in my untouched, still-packed luggage while our attitudes sat rotting on display at the dinner table daily.

We were all going through our own trauma.

I changed the name of the blog to Our Blessed Broken Life.  Because already the Lord was showing me that this life isn’t about having the best, cutest one we can have – but about pouring ourselves out…

The Lord brought us through that and we found our rhythm, our new normal, but it was always more stressful, more strained, more tiring and more emotional than life had been before adoption.  Our baby girl Olivia was born and we were all in love.  Christopher and Lena watched in rapt interest as I nursed her – likely something they had never seen done at the orphanage.

We had outgrown our cute house and bought a house in a different part of town, and gave up our chickens, our privacy fence – and our swingset.  In return we got a hot water heater that didn’t work for a month, a bee-infestation in the wall of our house (still there, by the way), and plumbing needing to be replaced in every single sink and bathtub in the house (still one more to fix.)

We limped along.

In 2014, the Lord brought us through the journey of carrying our little Rebecca, whom we found out at the 20-week ultrasound had Trisomy 13.  So many people all over the world were praying for #babyrebecca.  Then we met her too quickly when I went through an emergency C-section to save my life around 30 weeks pregnant, the day before my 40th birthday.  We held Rebecca until she took her last breath about 45 minutes after she was born.  She weighed one pound.  There was such sorrow and such joy.

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Again, we were all going through our own trauma, and in the midst of it, still neck deep in making many mistakes in our adoption parenting journey, and dealing with attachment issues in our son and daughter.

Grief came in waves like the ocean, ebbing and flowing, and life went limping on.

Then six months later, to the shock of the entire world – okay maybe just us and some of our family and friends – I was expecting another baby.  I struggled with faith that I would actually bring home a little pink bundle and not a pink bouquet of sympathy flowers.  Almost one year to the day after Rebecca’s birth, I again went through an emergency c-section to save my life, and my daughter’s  (in a different, more urgent scene).  It was surreal and very traumatic in ways I wouldn’t even deal with emotionally  until a long time afterwards.  Even writing about these things now makes my palms sweat.

Jessa – our gift from the Lord – was born 8 weeks early, and was perfect.  She stayed 21 days in the NICU while our friends and family helped with our kids, with meals, with getting me back and forth to the NICU every morning and evening for feedings and skin-to-skin time with my own personal little tiny baby doll.  (I wasn’t supposed to be driving for 2 weeks after my surgery).  The family of God – the body of Christ – is an amazing gift.  I don’t know what we would have done without our family and church family.

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And during that time, we continued to make so many mistakes in our parenting, and one of our children went through the worst period (to date) of attachment issues, acting out in ways they never had before.  Twice, we even sent this child with trusted family for respite while we got our feet under us because we had nothing left with which to help our child.

The trauma subsided, and with us all under one roof again, we resumed limping, thanking the Lord for the gift of a baby girl we never expected to enjoy.

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The storm waters have been still for almost two years now, and in that quiet period, the Lord has been perfecting some of his refining work in us.  Quietly opening His Word to us, and showing us grace in a way that maybe we had been blind to before.  I feel that I am just now – almost 6 years after adopting – coming out of a mental and spiritual fog.  I feel like I am waking up from a coma of sorts.  I just recently looked back at the early years of my blog and even posts about the beginning of our adoption journey and found myself thinking who is that girl?

So as I step back into the Blogosphere and trust that maybe the Lord has something to do through my writing here (if maybe only for my own sake), …. let me re-introduce myself.

Just the Two of Us... in a sea of children...

Just the Two of Us… in a sea of children…

I’m Shannon.  Mom of 7, and 1 more who’s already gone on before us.  Wife to an amazingly patient (and funny, and good-looking) man. I don’t have my ducks in a row.  I know a lot less than I thought I did a decade ago.  I make a lot of mistakes, and thank God for his patience and kindness.  I’m living a life I never thought I’d be good at, and actually I’m not, so that’s good, because it’s HIS strength I have to lean on daily.  I’m a survivor of the adoption journey and an advocate for those who are broken and in need of a family and the Gospel.  Passionate about the nations.  And I’m a writer. ….. nice to meet you. <3