she taught me how to love people.

in my elementary years, i watched up close because i had no choice.

i had to go with her to church and got to see her teach and lead and serve.

i had to be in the car when she picked up some girls and their yard smelled of pigs because that was their family livelihood. and they needed a ride.

i had to sit around the table and listen to the missionaries who were living dangerously in hard places around the world.

i had to practice my piano at the nursing home because mom said the residents needed a song.

i had to say hello when i was spoken to because people matter.

in my childhood years, i was just always with her and she was always doing this. it’s who she was.

i thought it was because she was a pastor’s wife, but i met other pastor’s wives and they weren’t like mom.

i thought it was because she was trying to earn cool points in my small town. that wasn’t it. you had to be born and raised there to get those points. and she wasn’t.

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in my middle school and high school years, she didn’t change. i changed. i didn’t need rides anymore. i was more involved at school and my church activities weren’t always her church activities. those rare moments when i was paying attention, she was still loving people.

in my college years and young twenties, i thought back to the simple life my mom lived while me and my sisters were home. i thought it was too small. i didn’t see it as far-reaching. i knew she wasn’t afraid to go over and care for those who lived on the other side of the tracks. i knew she was a powerful prayer warrior for people all over the world. i knew she had traveled globally and was involved in an international organization that was sending Christians out all over the world to teach the Gospel. but i still thought it simple. i still thought it containable.

then i got a job.

then i found myself needing love.

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On the steps of Day Street

to the bottom bunk down below,

we would read him stories of the awesomeness of God.

On the steps of Day Street,

in his pajamas,

he remembers pausing and believing in his heart that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died for his sins.

Down at Epic Kids,

every single Sunday,

a faithful teacher shows up to tell him and his friends that God is good and is love and sent His Son, Jesus to take on death and give them life.

Through the prayers of many and

past conversations with people who love him,

he absorbed the Gospel that was for him personally.

Over to Cayuga Avenue,

we would continue reading the stories in the Bible, for you never grow out of them and they only grow all the more real and life-changing.

Beyond what we could imagine

and could dream up on our own,

he would tell his siblings and us that he was a Christian.

There, out of the blue, he prayed with his whole heart,

thanking Jesus for saving him from his sins and letting him get to follow Him.

Asher with every bit of confidence that comes from a sure faith in Jesus,

stepped into the waters on Sunday

to tell his church family and blood family,

I follow Jesus!

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the word spooked me out for the longest.

rituals.

i couldn’t help but think of dark colored wooden structures or strange chants. to associate the spooky word with jungle tribes or a people group who had no spoken language. to conjure up blazing fire ceremonies or, maybe not. conjuring might be associated with rituals and that would start the images all over again.

but now, i’m all about rituals.

they’re not spooky at all.

rituals are a rhythm in life. in my life.

they’d actually be something i’d say are a requirement for life. {if you asked me}

they are celebrated and carved out. they are embellished and smoothed out as time goes on.

the more they are used, the more rooted they become.

the dictionary does it job here and tells us that a ritual is a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone. 

“Sociologists define rituals as repeated activities that create meaning in a culture.” Bruce Miller in Your Life in Rhythm

“Rituals have the power to help us achieve our mission in every area of our lives.” Bruce Miller

“Sociologist William Doherty says this about rituals: They can be everyday interactions, or they can be once a year, but they’re repeated.”

Grab a napkin at dinner tonight or a paper plate or a pad and pencil or start a new note on your smartphone. Write down those rituals that you’ve already begun or that one thing you’ve got to do again and again because life was good in that moment.

This William Doherty goes on to say through Miller’s book, “Rituals are crucial for busy modern family members to connect with one another. Without regular times to be together as a family, interacting with conversation, play, or other activities, families drift apart.”

I knew this was true, but folks, it did my heart some good to read it…

“In their early years, children are healthier and their behavior is better regulated when there are predictable routines in the family. For instance, children with regular bedtime routines go to sleep sooner and wake up less frequently during the night than those with less regular routines.” Thank you American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology.

“Commitment to our rituals can provide the glue we need to stick together during the times of stress and the seasons of despair.”

Being honest here, our family operates with intensity. {surprise}

We are hands on from 620 am – 820 pm. {times four}

Emotions and schedules and relationships and projects and victories and losses bring about the intensity.

To keep intensity from becoming insanity, we need rituals.

Here’s a few of ours. Share one of yours.

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you can do this! we learned it last week. if I had 2 sets of four, how many do i have?

10?

what?

it’s the same as 4+4!

oh, 8, then.

yes!

now, how do you spell thursday?

wait…why you are you using your fingers to spell thursday?

because i know that it has 8 letters.

what? who taught you that?

i did.

i shake my head. most of the head shaking is because i don’t know what i’m doing!

here’s our story:

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our ten year old daughter jumped feet first into our family 10 months ago.

she has a long list of what she wants to do in life including tennis, playing the piano, speaking on stage, riding a bike, and playing in the snow.

but her drive for learning math and reading is, well… it’s getting better!

if it doesn’t require much brain space, we call it easy.

biting into an apple is easy.

if it requires some thinking and figuring out and talking it out and working in out and getting handy…we call it learning.

sounding out a word is learning.

telling time is learning.

she had no formal education from what we can gather and spent her 5-9 years of life in an orphanage and went to “school.”

of course, those years, she was taught in her native language and speaks none of it among us now.

 so i started homeschooling her with kindergarten in august.

we knew our city district would require her to go into at least 3rd grade and she wasn’t ready for that.

we are fortunate that i stay at home and could be her teacher, though i felt and still feel ill-equipped.

we had pre-determined that i would teach her at home for one year and that she would join her brothers at their elementary school.

it’s been a tough road for me. i had rose-colored glasses on in how our days would be spent, me reading to her for a while, then her picking up those books and reading to me. us galavanting around the city at the zoo and museums discussing matters of science and technology and how things work and dreaming about the future together.

i thought she would love to learn from me {ha!} and that my strategy for teaching would be her perfect way of learning.

i didn’t think it would be this.

one minute putting on the brakes and the other minute pressing the accelerator.

this is how I’m living as a adoptive-mom-who-is-homeschooling-our-daughter-in-her-first-year-of-life-with-us.

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