Making For Others {HK edition}

I’m having trouble starting this post. I hope you are well. It’s been such a strange Spring. We are well, although our season was hard. Hard. Hard. We’ve made it back to solid ground now. Standing on solid surfaces holding hands with each other now and Jesus. Maybe someday I’ll say here why this season was so difficult. Maybe not.

I haven’t been reading a lot at all. I did listen to The Waiting, It stirred a lot of surprising emotions and made me think deeper about my kids birth moms which is a good thing I think. I picked up Father Brown off my shelf but haven’t read more than a few pages. I seem to be in a bit of a reading rut but now that school is officially out for all the kids (as of Friday) maybe I’ll add a “reading hour” to our daily routine and join them. I’m knitting the Be Brave Wrap and have cast on Rye Light socks. I’’m going to link this post to Ginny’s May Yarnalong, I know— it’s a miracle.

We are so near Summer that I can almost feel the heat. Soon we will all start our mornings outside and stay as long as we can stand it before retreating to the cool indoors for the remainder of the day. I’ve been thinking about how we’ll shape our days here. We all need routine to feel some safety, some calm. Something solid to soothe our wondering.

But this year is not like any other year. I can’t see us coming out into crowds in the near future. I’m still content to go out for groceries on my own or even better asking hubby to bring them after work. We are staying in on purpose, I’m thankful that we can and mindful that not everyone can.

I am acutely aware of a few groups of people far away who cannot just go out in the near empty streets to play before returning to the cool comfort of large rooms. Of elderly men and women who work all through the day in whatever season it is. They push large stacks of cardboard that they collect in the streets of their city. It is their occupation. It is the way they make very little money that they will try to live on in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

When they are able to return home it is often to tiny and uncomfortable spaces (cage homes) stuffed with all of their belonging. Sometimes they never get to leave the elements. Never get to get in out of the heat or cold. Never get to leave the wind or the rain completely. Some (and more than you might think) will tuck themselves behind or beneath stacks of their bags and belonging tucked under bridges or corners outside. No matter how harsh the weather.

All of their circumstances add up to a terribly hard way of life. Some have been known to sleep at tables where families gather to happily eat their French fries in the daytime hours. Although I am not sure those dining rooms are open for those nights of restless sleep these days.

This faithful group serves these elderly poor (and many others in Asia) everyday.

I am also thinking of children who’ve moved into the same city with their families. Moved from other countries into the full to overflowing city that is Hong Kong. These children have their own first language but in school, and to be able to do school, they learn Chinese and English all at the same time. Their lessons are hard. The places they live are often full and are always small. But it is a blessing that there is an indoors to go to.

My friend and his family serve these children, and others. They offer tutoring after school, even during breaks when other kids get a respite from schoolwork. They offer kid’s clubs of all sorts, neighbor ministries and vacation Bible schools along with the near daily tutoring. They offer care, support, resources and prayers to these children and their families and in this season masks, gloves and sanitizer when they have them to give. Shanti (which means peace in Hindi) Ministries serves so well asylum seekers and ethnic minorities in Hong King everyday.

This season I am putting my fingers to work for the elderly poor in Honk Kong. Things to keep them warmer next Winter. And also for the children in my friends clubs and for their mamas or aunties. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time.

I think I’ve been overwhelmed before the start. Decided my little bit is not enough. But setting that aside I’ve set to work and My process has always been something akin to what Elizabeth Chanin says about infusing the thread in her hand sewn creations with good intentions, rather my solitary work will also be filled with slow and intentional prayers for the ones who will wear them.

This is how I tend work. Praying for who would receive the gift. I’m not fast but in every stitch of the handmade thing there is also love and prayers. Hope and redemption is prayed for. That hearts would know the love of God and seek Him. Health and freedom and strength in the good and bad. Grace and mercy and peace. All good things from heaven for them.

Edited June 2020: I’m using a few free patterns to make these works- or at least that is the plan today. I’ve cast on going to focus on hats. I like this free two-by-two hat pattern and This similar free hat pattern. The rib makes for a stretchy comfy fit for any size head.

Here are a few free patterns that you might like to use: This is the pattern for mittens. This is the pattern for a hat. This is the pattern for super warm woolen socks. I like this one for the mamas and aunties. I also like this hat a lot. I made for one of the boys on his birthday. It’s very stretchy so I reckon it would fit many heads. I’ll add other patterns here if I need to.

Feel free to join me. Or rather, would you consider joining me? You can send them straight to the ministries in HK (linked above) or send them here and I will send in the later days of Fall November, whichever you prefer.

Please pray. And remember that you can always send them financial donations if you prefer. It will not be wasted. Promise. Inquire about any of this and share as you like and thanks for stopping in.

Blessings, t

July {yarnalong}

I must confess that the photos I stole from my Instagram while the house sleeps are from June and not July. Our five kids and two wee visitors, hubby, the two dogs and the cat are all still, amazingly, asleep. So I type with the phone held above my head in the dim morning light now, unable and unwilling to fetch all my projects and find some lighting and a spot to take real July pictures. My apologies.

I was doing that thing I do in the early hours of the day where I slide my phone from the night stand / desk and check all the places that I check before the world around here gets moving too fast. Email. Facebook. Instagram. Bible App for the verse of the day etc. I saw that Ginny had posted on Instagram her July Yarnalong was up and I felt I should join her.

I have been slow with the blogposts this past Spring. Weeks of sickness and then recovery left me unwilling to do more than the basics in life. I’ve been fairly productive on the crafting side of things though now that I’m feeling more myself. So here goes it.

I finished The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile and picked up (again) Becoming by Michelle Obama. Both are tremendously good books of differing sorts and I recommend them to you and to everyone.

I’m knitting socks (not pictured here) that I started in the Spring. I might add a picture later. I’m also knitting a sweater which is pictured that I started several years ago. Recently I decided that finishing things long left unfinished might be a good practice for me, a doing repressed four on the enneagram. We. Will. See. So far just working on the long neglected things feels really good. Feels like needed progress.

I did also start a wee hand quilted… something. I started out thinking it was a baby’s Summer quit. I’m not too sure of that anymore. As I work with the fabric bunched up in my hand and move the needle up down and over with my other hand I feel such deep joy in it’s making.

When the fabric is pulled taut in my quilters hoop and my eyes and fingers can run over the stitches in their varying lengths and colors, it feels less like a quilt and more like art. I wish every project felt this way. Maybe this is just because it’s a new kind of project for me, I don’t really know yet. It really is so lovely to work on though.

Thanks for stopping by and happy knitting or crocheting or crafting and reading!

September Yarnalong # 1

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September is my absolute favorite month. It is the ending of the hottest days of the year and the beginning of cooler and dimmer days. I trade my tall cups full of ice and unsweetened tea for cozy cups of steaming hot teas. I start thinking about knitting for Christmas and making menus for the coming colder days.

The end of Summer means the roasting of chili and the frantic canning of prickly pear jelly and there is always the silent promise for all the comforting foods of my younger family filled holidays finding their way into our kitchen. I’ll begin to crave posole and tamales and warm flour tortillas.

This year September is extra special because it brought us a finalized adoption of our nearly eleven-year-old son. He moved in last November and as he found a place his own in our chaotic every day he slipped into all of our hearts, one at a time and in each owns quiet or not so quiet moments shared.

It has been a time full of challenges and learning curves, of failures and of so much grace that I can’t even begin to tell you. Sometimes it is hard to become family. Harder still to become friends when all the hurts burn at the ears and even the subtlest change can remind him (or any one of us) of other days and years spent in harder places.

But these days brothers are becoming friends. He and biggest sister becoming downright pals and the little girls are finding a playmate unexpected in the big boy who is tough on the outside and so tender-hearted on the inside.

Even the five-year-old is softening to him which is huge because there has been some kind of strange competition between them since he moved in with us. Maybe some fear that one’s adoption is more special than the others and so they’ve been at odds much of the past ten months he has been with us. Yesterday as his adoption became final in the same courtroom hers was in last year, she hugged his legs and smiled up at him and it felt to me like a breakthrough of sorts. Maybe the kind only a mama notices but it was something, I just know it.

I couldn’t find words when the judge asked me what he had brought to our family. I’m not the best speaker even when I am prepared but on-the-fly, I’m downright terrible. I’d say now though that he brought us to hope for his future and somehow that spilled out and over and hope grew for each of us. I’d say that he brought us all a bigger, wider and deeper understanding of Father’s love as we learn to choose to love him and ask him to choose to love us as well even when things are really very terribly hard. He also brought laughter and joy even though there is sadness mixed with it. His new with us started from loss and we will be here for him as he walks out his life.

With the finalized adoption we move into a rest time of foster care (if that is a real thing). We’ll do our best to only do respite for other foster families for a time and we hope to use our days and weeks to exhale and finally relax into our new forever family.

I’m re-reading this book (so relevant to adoptive families) and love it so. I had a few copies to give away to other families like ours or to those who would want to wrap around and support or understand better families like ours. I held on tight to my copies and waited for just the right hearts to share them with and was so happy to be able to place them into hands that needed and wanted them so. I have one more to give (if you would like or know someone please ask me) it’s a great read full of heart and wisdom and Jesus love.

I started the devotional you see below and only made it one day. It’s long and thoughtful and requires my attention and my heart. I’ll let you know how I like it when I know.

I’m knitting a wrap called the #bebravewrap by Sally who is @pinkgirlknits on Instagram. It’s a test Knit and I’m liking it so far. It is defiantly working at getting me out of my knitting or lack of knitting rut.

There is much else to say, but I think that for now I am done. Hints for later are that I started a new job last month or wait, the month before and I took a team to Asia to work with migrant workers children left behind and other wonderful works with the poor and immigrants. I didn’t plant a garden this year but hubby did for me while I was away which was too sweet and so very loving. It was a Summer full of joy and sorrow and growth and at some point, I will share about all of it. I hope. I plan to but yeah, sometimes I’m just waiting on words.

I’m joining Ginny for Yarnalong. Blessings and peace friends.

A New Year & Yarn Along

It is a New Year. One of my resolutions is to read more – or rather to read entire books- you know, to the end. I always have a stack of books that I am “reading” but I have not finished many books this year, err this past year. Too busy or tired or vegging out in front of the t.v.

A stack of unfinished books leaves me feeling that I am behind which leaves me feeling stressed. Boo. For someone who loves the well written word- it is wrong that my stacks of beautiful books should leave me feeling something so ridiculous as stress. I love books. I love to read. I must figure out how to enjoy them again. That is my goal. ❤

Just now I am reading Blood And Thunder and I am Knitting some socks- no pattern just socks. I’ve knit enough socks to wing it now. The yarn is ZOMBIE something-or-another (I lost the info) and a white wildfoote luxury sock yarn.

I was so happy that Ginny started Yarn Along again 🙂 I nearly forgot- but managed a post just for the occasion and am so pleased to join her today. Yay, thank you ma’am for starting it up again!

TWO MORE THINGS: ✌️

I wanted to add my favorite resource of the week is this podcast the topic is How To Provide A Healing Home For Wounded Children. It is so good. Gosh- can’t even tell you- so good. If you do foster care or have adopted please have a listen. ❤

Also if you need a sock pattern- one you can really rely on- you might try this one (it is free) I love all of her work.

Okay folks, have a blessed day!<
Tina

Lessons and Lists {This Year and Last}

Lessons

Last year I took a year off of buying yarn. I think that it changed the way I shop for yarn. The old way impulsive and unorganized.  I’m visual so, images in my Instagram feed were like the impulse buy section at the grocery store filled with my favorite sweets in pretty wrappers- so dangerous for me.

My first purchase this year was this beautiful set perfect for a Christmas Eve cast on. A selfish knit just at the end of my Holiday Knitting sounded perfect. Funny thing is, when the yarn arrived, I knew it wasn’t meant for me. It was meant for someone else. I won’t lie, I resisted. I really liked that yarn! After a fight and some whining and then of course repentance, I knit the mitts, praying for the heart of the one they were meant for as I went and they were gifted on Christmas morning with the message that God loved the recipient so much.

That is how Father works sometimes. Of course, I had a choice. Of course, He loves me too. His gifts to me (money for hand-dyed yarn and the love of knitting) and then leading me to not hold on tight to either but to give the gifts away and to bless someone else- that is just like Him. It hurt a little for reasons that I don’t need to share but it wasn’t (this time) the prying open of hands and the taking away of something that I thought that I needed. It was a simple nudge. A whisper in the ear. A suggestion. He gave me the choice.

“Hey what about them?”
“Oh, but I wanted this for me? I’ve been waiting a while.”
“I know.”
No pressure but a leading.
“OK.” Reluctant I was. Defiant even. Then I avoided the cast on for as long a possible. After a time I decided that He didn’t want me to give the gift feeling some sort of way about it- frustrated. Angry. Irritated. Disappointed.

He wanted a willing heart, a pure heart, and obedience. He wanted me to – do the work- with joy. To give the gift with Joy- with love. Chosen Joy and chosen love- before I felt them. And That bit sums it up for me.
Chosen Joy.
Chosen Love.
Before it is felt- and if it never is felt- can still be chosen.
Can still be given.
My heart like the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes.

The lesson of the last year for me really and perhaps the lesson for the next.

New Year’s resolutions: 

1. Get healthy
2. Read whole books (yes, that’s right- finish them!)
3. Write
4. Sing ( Reminder: you love this!)
5. Knit a cardigan for myself I like this one (oh it’s the coolest) or this one  (it’s so lovely) but then again, perhaps this one with a Cherry Little Bird Shawl Pin to hold it closed from here? Oh, but there is this one as well. 🙂
6. Be a friend and support to another (local) foster / adoptive mom (family).
7. Really focus on this years Mission Trip to Asia. Prayer, meetings, training, fundraising.

These last two added January 1, 2018, Happy New Year!

8. Engage with the kids more- because I tend to be very busy and I often miss the connection.

9. Give up all alcohol for the year.

As lists go, this year’s is not too bad. I think I’ve managed to set attainable goals. We. Will. See.

Do you have a New Years resolutions list? Or a lesson you have been learning from the last?

Many Blessings Friends,<
Tina

Verse for last year – and perhaps for this year. ❤️

Heaps Of Grace {What We Need}

grace
noun  \ ˈgrās \

disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
a temporary exemption reprieve

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Tipping Scales

Everyone is busy. I know that. The list of things that go on the calendar grows as the family does and we’ve actually learned to be mindful of how many things we do. Every Season has a sport. We do one. Not one for each kid but one. Age groups mean more than one team but that is perfectly acceptable. There are school things, church things and community events. Just now we have two appointments a week for the new kid on the block. Twice a month we work the food pantry and there are Wednesday night Bible study’s and two Sunday services to attend. Birthday parties rarely get attended. We hang out with friends as a family once every few months. Date nights happen about once a month.

I miss a lot of church activities. If one kid is sick we all stay in. If hubby works late (no shade people just facts) sometimes I opt-out of activities if it means it’ll be me and five or six kiddos depending on what day of the week it is. I consider everyone’s moods- including my own. I consider who is tired, who is whiny, how many meltdowns we’ve had since we walked in the door, who hasn’t finished homework, how many appointments we have that day or practices and how many showers are needed before bedtime. Every day these sorts of things go on a set of scales in my minds eye and sometimes the Stay Home Side wins and sometimes the Go Out Side wins but its a war for some semblance of balance. Sometimes it is all me who needs a break although I don’t recall the last time we all stayed in for that reason. It does happen sometimes though, I m sure of it. She said, unapologetically.

There is a quiet and sometimes not so quiet disappointed bunch of people in our lives. God bless them. I know that they mean well. They want the best for our family. Truth be told, I don’t want them to stop asking us to things or to stop giving us a little jab when we miss something. Sometimes we do need a little push. Sometimes you just gotta get out and be with other people no matter how many times someone looks sideways at my kid not behaving or my impatience clearly worn on my sleeve. We need the fellowship and a little grace. Nope. I take that back- we need heaps of grace. Heaps. Of. Grace.

I don’t think most jabs need a lot of words from me. They just don’t know. They are not up in the night because of night terrors or coughing fits meant to make kid throw-up so said kid can get care that we are already giving but they are not feeling or believing in. They don’t know what we know about our kiddos lives before us or even the really difficult, medicated and painful start for our bio kids lives. They don’t deal with the weight of all these little hearts and minds on shoulders. As much as they love or enjoy our family it’s not their job to get these guys fed, hydrated, enough sleep, blood sugars balanced and pockets filled with tools to help them navigate life that is hard for them. I’m reminding myself that they just don’t know and that is okay. Say what they like- if I know, if I understand that then I can be okay with their disappointment. And that is one of my hurts from childhood so yeah just another perk of this life we’ve chosen, “more healing for this mama’s wounded heart, yaaaay”.  Everything there in quotes said like Kristen Wiig when she is feigning joy.

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Self-care – Wikipedia

Selfcare includes all health decisions people (as individuals or consumers) make for themselves and their families to ensure they are physically and mentally fit.

 

Tick Tock (Dang it!)

On most weekdays I drop most of the kids off at school in the morning. It is home to clean and have a little one on one time with the youngest (it is too cold these days for a morning walk). An errand or two and then she is off to school just before lunch. Immediately after I make a stop for one of our kids at another school- every school day. After that I run home and meet hubby for lunch, if its that kinda day. Sometimes my niece is at the house so we hang out. Sometimes I grab a walk. Sometimes I run an errand or two or three. Mostly I am keenly aware of the ticking of the clock. No extra errands will get me home at 12:20 leaving me with two hours until school pick-ups begin again. Five or six kids spread out over three schools- it’s a tiny town so not as bad as it sounds. Home, snacks and homework and the wheels turn until bedtime.

Suddenly I am ever so keenly aware that there is ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS BREAK which means THREE FULL WEEKS WITH ALL THE KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. Not as big a deal as the all caps might suggest, but almost. It is time though to do some prep-care for myself. It is time to fill my pockets with grace and a plan that I can fall back on when things get tough. I will utilize my favorite three self-care tools in ruthless and determined preparation- I make that promise to myself right now. As soon as I get the chance I will walk ten miles and pray and sing out loud and maybe cry. I haven’t been on the trail in a week, yep. But school breaks mean I get short walks with all the kids which is a different kind of beautiful blessing which I am thankful for – an adjustment to one of my tools for the care of all of us.

Yesterday I found myself battling my own to-do list. Not the kind of list that one writes down but the kind of list that always exists hanging above one’s head. A list of expectations unrealistic and weighty. I’d been home for 30 minutes or so. It had been a full morning of laundry and straightening of hair (yeah I don’t usually but it has proved to be the only way to wear my hair down in this climate). It was Walmart for groceries, the preschooler’s lunch made, dressed in layers, washed and hair brushed (wait no not that one) and off to school. I stopped at brothers school and then had a talk with his principal because it had been that kinda day.

I’d made it home, unloaded the groceries, a bit more laundry (N-E-V-E-R E-N-D-I-N-G -said in a scary prolonged whisper). As I put the groceries away I consider cleaning out the fridge. While I spray the door knobs with disinfectant (because someone is sick) I consider freeing the white wall of all the grubby little hand prints and smears of -oh gosh- I don’t know what. While I walk from one room to another, picking up little bits of tissue (??) from the floors I consider sweeping and while I use the restroom I seriously consider scrubbing the toilets. Even as I fill the kettle for my tea I consider emptying the dishwasher but Oh Lord, there is always going to be something to do. I clean. The kids have chores. But Seven and sometimes 8 people live here. On this particular day I choose self-care instead of anything from that list always hanging above my head.

I just needed to quickly remove all the toys from my line of sight (tossing them beneath the coffee table for the win). I  ignore the grass on the wood floors that the dogs have brought in. I turned the Christmas tree lights on and lit my pretty smelling candle, brewed that cup of really lovely tea and blew the dust off of my pretty tray. My knitting, the TV remote and my tea arranged just so on the pretty green and white tray within reaching distance. Feet up, legs covered and cozy beneath afghan and now I am left with 1 hour and 15 minutes (because I stopped to make a note of my thoughts in my phone). It is  just about enough time for an entire episode of the Crown Season 2. Episode 1 on Netflix. Woo Hoo.

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I feel like I need to say it: I don’t just get time to myself. I have to make a conscious effort to make that time and then to use it well. Yesterday it was ignoring the mess and having some time to veg and knit and recharge. Today I have a plan to play basketball with the kiddos. Fresh air and repetitive movements good for every-single-one-of-us. Tomorrow I might get to take that walk because you know if there is even-the-slightest chance I am going to take it no matter how tired I am. Or a nap, Oh Lord wouldn’t that be nice? What are your fave ways to care for you? My top three self-care tool are –like duh– but I’ll tell you anyhow:

1. Getting enough sleep.
2. A long walk in the fresh air.
3. Healthy food which is not at all what I crave but we gotta do what we gotta do.

Favorite Resource Of The Week

How To Handle Overstimulation During The Holidays
The Honestly Adoption Podcast- Season 8, Episode 69
Seriously. So. Good. In our house right now we have one very active, high energy sensory seeking kid and one (easily overwhelmed) sensory avoiding kid. The other kids fall somewhere in the middle of both sides of the pendulum. This weeks podcast was super helpful in reminding me what some of my kids will need this holiday season and gave lots of tips on how to do what I️ need to do to keep everyone regulated and cared for. Last weeks was good too!

Favorite Knitting Of The Week

This week I am knitting a baby prezzie for a friend- a favorite designer and pattern for sure. I am way behind and baby is coming soon so I’d best get off this computer and get back to knitting- after I feed the kiddos lunch I suppose. Take care of you first mama and dad and caretakers of all kinds really.

Fave Slightly-Sarcastic-But-Absolutely-Relevant Self-Care Tip

✈️ When the air masks fall as the airplane plummets be sure to put your mask on first- you know, so you’re awake and alert to put the mask on the loves that you care for. 👊🏼

Blessings,
~Tina