Image result for image of snow melting

Why this sadness at the melting?
Why this sinking,
as the green and brown emerges?

Snow brings an unmarked, unaltered, unmarred landscape.
Of course, I do not want the beauty of such fresh covering to end,
for it brings forth uncontested satisfaction in my deep places -
such peace, such perfection.

The white immaculacy,
has broken open a window for me,
a wedge through which I have glimpsed
a vision of things as they one day will be,
growing in me a yearning for a place my eyes have yet to see.

May I return now to this life of mud and mess,
thankful for a truer vision and a motivating hope,
trailing with me remnants of that coming beauty.

And so, let this melting do it's work in me,
O, Christ.

Best. Week. Ever.

No, seriously. Best week ever. 

We carved out a week from our lives and schedules for the 1st ever Hambrick Family Vacation to the Outer Banks of NC. Now, we've obviously traveled a lot and gone on other vacations but its always been ministry related or with other friends and family or for just one or two nights. Never have we done a "family only" trip for an entire week...and it did not disappoint!

From swimming to putt-putt, boogie boarding to shell hunting, naps and Phase 10, climbing Jockey's Ridge dunes, sneaking away on dates to celebrate 15 years of marriage, walking the boardwalk, ice-cream every day, bike rides and the kids personal highlight of driving the "gulf" cart...the week was nothing short of perfect. 

The older the kids get the faster it seems to go...and we realize more and more that "they" were right: the days are long but the years are short. And weeks like these are a gift.

It's here! My favorite week of the whole entire year.

I love this time of year,
this week,
this Holiday.

I say it every stinkin' year, but every year I mean it: who cares about Christmas without Easter?!!!

Therefore, I want to be ever more intentional in making this week special for me and my family. In the midst of normal busy life, schedules, school, soccer, and the superbowl of Sunday's (aka: Easter Sunday) prayer is that the significance of this week will be found fresh to me, that the Word will come alive, and the Holy Spirit bring a new understanding to my heart. 

My kids aren't toddlers anymore, or preschoolers, OR even all grade schoolers this year...and it is time to re-vamp the Holy Week schedule we've been following for years. We are still doing our traditions, just adding in some "older" element. Stay tuned for pictures!

But for now, I can't help a photojournal walk down memory lane of Holy Week's past...

2009, Planting New Life Seeds with just the two.

2012, Special family readings and devotions

Footwashing, 2010

New Life Seeds, 2014

The foot washings took A LOT longer in 2014, ha!

Special crafts, 2015

Egg dyeing, 2016

Foot washing, 2015

Traditional Sedar Meal, in pajamas 2017

I can't even. (But, I have to.) 
This means I have had 8 years to be his Mom. Gah. Eight?!!!!
He is still the sweetest, but, oh my...his sassy side is definitely screaming showing these days.
He still loves sports, movies, salads, and spicy foods.
His favorite subject in school is history and he likes reading historical fiction.
He LOVES Red, the family dog.
He is my best helper.
He would rather play basketball than almost anything.
He still asks the most random questions.
His best friend is Ezra. (They are currently together on his special birthday Daddy breakfast because Eli insisted on inviting him.)
The reading "click" happened last year...but this year he has found his writing "click" and I LOVE how he is learning to express himself through his words.
He had grown 3 inches in 6 months and his feet are bigger than mine now!
He still makes the craziest faces.
You will never meet a more easy going boy.
Or a more loved one...

He loves this scar running down his face, which he got from a cousin + thorn bush incident.
 He says it makes him look tough. 

Eli Cade,

Goodness, you are so crazy ridiculously awesome! We love your laid-back go with the flow attitude and your enjoyment of simple things. I have learned so much from you. I say it every year, but every year I mean it more: You are my hero. You work so hard. You don't need to be in the spotlight, but quietly shine at whatever you do. Your Daddy and I are so proud of you...and so grateful to be your parents. Your life is such a testimony to the faithfulness of our God.

Happy happy birthday, sweet boy of  mine.

I love you.

**I'm feeling quite sentimental on this night before Eli's birthday...and I came across this post from 5 years ago. I can't even begin to express the emotions I have reading this. It is nothing short of a miracle when I consider how far we've come, how faithful the Lord is, how I JUST found him curled up in his bed finishing "The Giver", how worth it he is, and how thankful I am to be his Mom. **

I recently read a post from a fellow adoptive blogger friend that got me thinking about something that is constantly nagging in the shadows and cobwebs of my mind. It's about Eli and adoption and feeling that while we have come so so so far, miraculously far...we still have so so so far to go.

I'm feeling vulnerable writing this, as I don't want to betray my sweet son, and one day have him read this and stir up any unhealthy emotions. But then I realize what sweet promise there is in the idea I have of him discovering this one day...

He will have to be able to read this in order to read this.

Duh, I know.

But knowing his start in life and the academic hurdles we are crossing and going to be crossing in the years to come will someday (please God!) lead to him be able to read this himself will be nothing short of a miracle. A moment I will fall apart in and go to the ugly cry. Don't get me wrong about Eli...he is smart. Oh. So. Smart. But he missed every single building block one needs to build the foundation upon which one learns to read in his first three years of his life. No one read to him, sang to him, did puzzles or patterns or even played with him. Those gaps aren't made up easily and without effort. Momentous effort, I am learning...on his and my part. It sometimes feels as though we are inching through quick sand, uphill, barefoot, and dehydrated.

He will have to care about himself and his history and his adoption and me in order to want to read this one day.

And so, I attempt to move on and put to words the feeling that I'm just not able to shake about Eli and me...

I still feel as though I don't know him. 
Like really really deep down know him.
Like I want to know him.

I can look at Ella, Ezra, and Zoe and know them.
I know why they react like they do.
I know their whole persons, ins and outs and in betweens.
I know.
I just do.

I know more of Eli than I used to.
A lot more.
I even told Jeremiah that I really felt like I "got" Eli this Christmas when I bought him his presents...a ninja costume, a microphone, and a spiderman web-shooter. He really really loved(s) everyone of them. It was one of my favorite parts of the holiday...knowing I had finally got him a gift that was...him.

I know that he likes mexican food and superhero movies and playing with nerf guns. I know he is scared of the dark and doesn't like his hair combed. I know he has a fascination with elephants and won't hold an insect to save his life. I know he loves water and never ever complains about being cold or hot.

We've come a long, long way.

But there are still deep closed off places in him, places that he retreats to when confronted with any sort of reprimand or fear.

There are still reactions that I do not understand.

There are still check out moments that cause my heart to clench.

There are still gaps that I am unsure how to best close.

There is still so much I want to know about him. So much I long to know about him.

My friend said it best when she said it was like communicating underwater: both parties can see each other but there is a vagueness and inability to clearly understand each other.

I don't have a magic wand that I can wave.
Time does/is help/ing, but it isn't a cure-all.

Love is here.
The feeling and the choosing kind.

Hope is here.
Not the pie-in-the-sky kind, but a confident and expectant kind.

But reality is here as well.
The reality that it is going to take a lot...
a lot of time,
a lot of effort,
a team of support,
a God of miracles,
and a very very (very) patient Momma.

I just know that knowing him and hearing him above the water is going to be so worth it.

Our first day of getting to know each other. Ethiopia, 2009.

It's always a wild ride with this one. Photo credit: Ezra James

With Ella still gone, we recruited some neighborhood friends for some snow fortress building.
Who am I kidding, we ALWAYS have a yard full of kids!

"Mom, this is my Mona Lisa smile!"
Nailed it, buddy.