Monday, January 26, 2015

Movie Review: Boyhood


Last night, John and I watched the film, Boyhood.

It is the story of a boy (duh) and follows him through his formative years, from about 3rd grade to going off to college.

What makes this film unique is that it was filmed, a little at a time, over the course of those years, using the same actors throughout.  

It had lots of bad language and things that make it inappropriate for kids and people who can't hear a story if it is wrapped in bad language.

(I have a similar problem; I can't hear a story if it is wrapped in bad grammar.)

It was, I'm afraid, an all too familiar story in America: single mom, there/not there dad, drunken step-dads, "poor choices," bad advice, drugs, pre-marital sex, heart-breaking consequences.

On the other hand, nothing ever seems that bad.  Many situations that could have been tragic were merely sad bumps in the road of life and everyone moves on, moves forward, makes the best of things as they come.

Toward the end of the movie, the main character has just graduated from high school and he asks his dad - who has turned into one of the most steady, positive influences in his life - what it all means.  If we're just going from one life event to the next and if by the time we're 40 we have no more idea of what it all means than when we were 18, what good is it all?  

A good question.

His dad's answer?  I can't remember exactly what he says, but it's basically, "D***ed if I know."

And yet, impossibly, the movie ends on a positive note, the boy's life seemingly full of possibility.

And the secular world claims that Christianity is based on faulty reasoning and wishful thinking!

The movie is well-done, the acting convincing, the characters engaging.  I'm sure it deserves any awards it receives.

But it is flawed in the same way everything is flawed apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

If we are only working to be as comfortable as possible before we die, then we should all just quit right now.  

If, however, we are working for the glory of Someone bigger than ourselves, Someone who created us and planned for us, Someone who has called us, Someone who equips us to do what we are called to do, Someone who has gone before us, Someone who will call us to our true home when this life is done, only then does anything make sense, 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January Reading List

One of my goals for this year...

(Notice I say "goals" and not "resolutions." This distinction is important as a goal is always there no matter how often I fail, but a resolution is broken as soon as I fail.  And I will fail.  But I'll try again because my goal will always beckon and never shame me for failing.)

 ...is to read more books.  I do read and always have, but more and more I find that my attention span doesn't last long enough for me to finish a book.  Non-fiction has always been particularly hard for me to get through.  

So, I go play on the internet - pinning pretty pictures on Pinterest takes much less attention than following an argument or even a plot through a couple of hundred pages.

I was killing time before picking up a kid from basketball practice the other day and picked up a book from the sale rack.  It is called 


and is the story of two girls from the University of Iowa who went to New York City in the summer of 1945 to find work and ended up as couriers on the sales floor of Tiffany & Co.

It is a fun, quick read and a lovely picture of a brief moment in time.  They see many celebrities, like Judy Garland on her honeymoon with Vincente Minnelli, and meet a few; go "clubbing" at the Stork Club and La Martinique; eat lunch at the automat; watch the parade for General Eisenhower from the steps of the New York Public Library; and have all sorts of other adventures, only some of which make it into their carefully edited letters home!  

In a completely different vein, I am also reading 


by Jen Hatmaker.  She takes the five women named in Jesus' lineage and encourages women to see themselves as our Creator sees us, not as others see us.  I'm only two chapters in, but so far it's very encouraging.  

I'm always leary of books like this because authors can so easily use Scripture as proof texts for their own agenda, and someone like Jen Hatmaker can do it while making me laugh (although I don't think she has done it.  Not yet, anyway.).  It takes a level of discernment I hope I have.

My list of books to get to is long and only getting longer, but hopefully this year I will be diligent in using what down time I have to knock out a few, learn something new and extend my rapidly dwindling attention span.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!


A throwback to 2009 


and a new photo from 2014

to wish you a very merry Christmas!

We wish you God's richest blessing on you and those you love as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gift of his coming to earth!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adoption Update, Two Years On



The short story:

We are still paying off the legal debts incurred by Evie's adoption and are making some more fundraising efforts to help reduce that debt.

The long story:

A little over two years ago we got the call we had longed for but had nearly despaired of ever recieving: an expectant mother had chosen our profile and wanted to place her baby in our family.

We were torn between joy and doubt, but because the Lord had brought us that far we decided to continue to suppress those doubts and trust Him some more.

One of the major factors in every family's decision to adopt (or not adopt) is finances.  On the one hand, we don't want mere money to hinder us from following such a necessary and noble calling as adoption.  On the other hand, we are to be responsible stewards of the money the Lord has provided, staying within our means, staying out of excessive debt.  I don't know of a single adoptive family who has not struggled mightily with the question: can we afford to adopt?

For our family, in the end, we decided to take that leap of faith, trusting that the Lord - through means we could not yet imagine - would provide the funding we needed beyond what we already had in our meager bank account.

In the previous few years, while we applied for and then renewed our home study, we had already applied for many (and recieved a few) of the adoption funds, grants, and no-interest loans offered by charitable organizations.

During the months leading up to Evie's birth, we pursued other fundraising options: Just Love Coffee sales, an on-line auction, and a whole lot of direct giving.  We were overwhelmed with the generous outpouring of love and funds from our friends, family, acquaintances, and a few complete strangers!

Through all of these means, we ended up with the amount we needed.  Whew!  Immense joy, immense relief, immense gratitude.

Just as we had gotten Evie home and the dust was settling, though, we got a phone call that sent a ripple of fear through us: a potential birth father had shown up and wanted a DNA test.

Okay, we thought, this could be a good thing.

Or this could be the disaster we most dread.

We were told by a number of reliable sources that birth fathers rarely show up and even if they do, they rarely push for their rights.

Evie's birth father pushed for his rights.

This is where adoption gets even more complicated, where you have to truly come to grips with what you believe and why, where you wrestle with legal definitions and God's providence.

As parents, we support parental rights and would never want to unfairly tear apart a family.  On the other hand, as the pre-trial and then trial proceeded, we realized that this man was in no way fit to care for this precious baby girl.  He is not a particularly bad man, but he is not equipped to father a child in any way more significant than through biology.

Here, I must add that Evie's birth mother gave us her unwavering support from the moment she chose our profile book.  To our knowledge, even in the face of opposition from friends and family, even through a legal trial that brought out the ugliness of old and broken relationships, she continued to stand by her choice, to stand by us, in our mutual desire to see the best for Evie.  She knew all too well the brokeness in her own life and fervently wished for a different life for her daughter.

By God's grace, the judge in the case ruled in our favor and terminated the birth father's parental rights.  A little more than three months later, the adoption was final; Evie was - and is! - a Shaw forever.

All of this legal wrangling took a large emotional toll on all of us and we will long remember the joy we felt and the party we had when we learned of the judge's decision, and later when we learned of the finalization of the adoption.  Many of you rejoiced with us at those times, and sharing our joy with a community of like-minded people only sweetened the moment.

The other effect of the legal proceedings was financial.  If any of our children had a medical need, we would do whatever was necessary to preserve his life and quality of life, regardless of time and money.  Similarly, we committed to doing whatever it took to keep Evie where we felt the Lord had placed her in his perfect timing.  This meant, though, that our initial financial number fell far short of the eventual cost of the entire adoption process.

And that brings me back to "the short story" above.  We are going to be making some more fundraising efforts over the next few months to help reduce that debt at a faster rate than we otherwise could.

If you gave two years ago, we thank you sincerely and heartily, and if you have no more desire or ability to give, please know that your contribution was very important and we very much appreciate what you gave before.

If you are in a position to help us now, whether or not you gave before, we thank you in advance!

I have opened an Etsy shop with a few items of handmade jewelry, photography, and household items.  Go to etsy.com and look for AnneGirlStudio.

Watch for more adoption fundraising efforts coming soon!

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween/Reformation Day

We missed out on our church's Reformation Day Celebration last weekend and our hearts missed the old days of Mission OPC's Reformation Celebration and going with Pat and Katie to "the main building" to trick or treat with the elderly and infirm there.

In order to comfort ourselves, we went out and gathered candy from the neighborhood.


This stealthy ninja was rarely seen, but his bag of candy seemed to grow steadily.


Johanna went to a youth group party rather than trick-or-treating, but she posed for pictures with the others.  She was "Margo" from Despicable Me.


Evie was the sweetest little purple fairy you ever did see!


Enough pictures, Mom!

Will declined to participate in the festivities this year; too old, apparently, even for his favorite Darth Vader costume.  

Micah and several friends dressed as nerds for a party.  He said that everyone was going as nerds, but he was the only one who needed a costume.  Funny, Micah.

Here's a throwback to 2010 (?) - Sam pinning the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church doors. 



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October

Oh, how I love October!

Last week, I processed several pounds of apples. From them, I baked my grandma's apple cake (the caramel sauce makes it sooo yummy!) and made several batches of apple pie filling which are now in my freezer, awaiting pie dough at the proper time.


 Yesterday was John's birthday and we got to spend the day out together which was a treat for both of us!  We had hoped to get a good hike in but had trouble finding the right place to park and enter the hiking trail, and by the time we did that it was raining and anyway we had to get back to pick up the boys from soccer practice. 

In the short way we did go, I was able to get a couple of pictures of the lovely fall color in Wissahickon Valley Park.




This cobweb (below) was in our backyard this morning.  Evie found it and was fascinated by it.

What a smart girl!  She's probably some sort of genius.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Aaaand...One More

In Minnesota, Johanna played volleyball for Liberty, but when we moved here, we found that Phil-Mont does not have a volleyball team (!), so Johanna switched her fall sport to soccer.


She plays a variety of positions, but most often plays defense.


Not surprisingly, she is a fierce competitor.


She has a great team; can't wait to see what these girls do in the coming years.


They won this game last Friday and have a winning record.

This coming week, Johanna has two games and two practices, Will and Micah have four games and one practice, and Sam has one game and one practice.  I plan to take long naps every day to prepare.  I just hope Evie cooperates with that plan!