Thursday, May 7, 2015

Catching Up

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller,

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

And you certainly miss a lot of blog posts!  January to May this time!

Let me catch you up, just a little.

Easter in Wisconsin, visiting John's parents and his brother's family.  

This visit also included seeing Great-Grandma LeMahieu (Mary's mother), Great-Aunt Gladys, and Great-Aunt Lorraine (Bill's sisters-in-law).  In God's providence, Grandma and Aunt Gladys passed away on the same day, a few weeks after we were there, so we were especially thankful for the time we got to spend with them at Easter time. 

Minnesota friends.

John, Evie, and I travelled to Minnesota to help Mission OPC celebrate its 10th anniversary.  We saw many friends and acquaintances, some going back to our first days in Minnesota, and enjoyed celebrating the Lord's goodness there.  One particularly fun evening was had with three other couples from Mission - these ladies are my tribe.

New sunglasses - ready for summer!

Jr. Sr. Prom.

Will and his friend, Abby, who was very pretty in pink, attended together.  Everyone seems to have had a great time.  Will's vest and bow tie matched Abby's dress, and he was oh-so-handsome, if you will permit a very biased mother to say so.

That same weekend, we helped to celebrate my sweet niece's first birthday.  We also got to stay at Sean and Katie's new house and see their fine new digs. 

In between all of our travelling, we have enjoyed the spring colors here at home.  Spring is perhaps Philly's prettiest season.  I must say, though, that I'm not a fan of the allergies which are plaguing me as a result of all the unfurling, blooming, and sprouting.  I suppose I must be comforted that at least I can feast my itching, watery eyes on the spring finery.

Now we are into the merry month of May, where the school year winds up before it winds down!  Softball, track, concerts, practices, rehearsals, drama...oh, yes, and schoolwork...keep our days full and the weeks flying by!

So, that's a tiny catch-up on what's happening here!

We are looking forward to summer and hoping for a little time to catch our breath and maybe chill a little.  Maybe.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Miss Evie

Miss Evie turned 2 on New Year's Eve.

And what a two years it has been!

This girl has changed our lives, for sure.

Sometimes I look at her and can't believe how God has blessed us.  

I do that with all of my kids, but her arrival in our family was a very different journey from the others and all of the bumps in the road to making her a Shaw makes her all the more precious.

New Year's Eve was not only the second celebration of her birthday, it was the first annual celebration of the finalization of her adoption.  I think December 31 has become my favorite day of the year.

This one above is such a precious picture.  I gave it kind of a washed out effect to play up the natural light already there and up the sweetness factor of the love between these sisters.

Happy birthday, Miss Evie.  You are loved beyond human ability to measure.

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.) 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 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.