The Year We Missed Easter

Emma and Mira at the airport

Eighteen years ago, we missed Easter. Twice.

On Sunday, March 27, 1999, we met Mira in Kazakhstan for the first time. All the next week we came to visit her, driving up a long and curvy, still snowy road from the capital city of Almaty to Esik, a journey of about only 40 miles but over an hour by car. I was taken back to the nursery only once (no male germs allowed). They always brought her out to the director’s office. She was so tiny—not much bigger than a newborn at three months. She’d been fed formula once a day. The rest of the time she was given diluted mashed potatoes; that was all they could afford.

Sunday, April 4 was Easter back home, but not in Kazakhstan. We found an ex-pat church to attend that morning, but as I recall, they didn’t …

The Perfect Gift

img_0195November and December are my kitty’s favorite months. Our tree goes up November 1. It might take a week or two to get all the ornaments up, but that red velvet skirt goes around the base right away, and she loves to lie on it. It’s also about nine feet tall, which means the base is about six feet wide, letting her get nice and deep under those branches. And then when we put the presents around, she can really hide.

Presents are tricky in my house. We have to use a code. We can’t just use regular to/from labels, or the wrapping would be opened at the ends, and boxes would be shaken within an inch of their lives. In previous years we’ve used a number derived from some combination of the letters in their names or their birthdays, like some kind of weird numerology. This year we tried …



photo by Emma Towriss

I always think of adding my kids to our family in terms of the holidays. Emma was born on Christmas Eve. Mira was born on December 21, but we met her on the day we celebrate Easter in the west and brought her home on Orthodox Easter, one week later.

And Dara and Johnny we brought home two days before Thanksgiving. I can never remember the date. I just remember it was Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving fifteen years ago. In the adoption community, we call that Gotcha Day.


Gotcha Day, November 20101

Dara and Johnny are what are called virtual twins. Virtual twins are biologically unrelated children less than nine months apart who are raised together. Dara and Johnny are nothing alike. Until recently she’s been a head taller than he, but he’s catching up quickly. Even when we met her she was twice as …

Bringing Up … Daughters

Dara and Mira

Dara and Mira

Life with three very daughters is, to say the least, interesting.

When the kids came home from school yesterday Dara was wearing her volleyball jersey because they had a game last night. I mentioned that I thought it looked a little tight across the chest, even though it seemed to fit everywhere else. She said it was because she was wearing a regular bra instead of a sports bra, and that when she changed later it would look different. A long conversation about bras followed.
About then my husband commented loudly from the kitchen. “I’m not comfortable hearing this conversation.”
The girls just laughed.
“So move to another room,” I suggested.
“Well, I’m making something to eat, so I can’t.”
“You live in a house with four women. You should be used to this,” I reminded him.
“Yeah. You knew this was coming when you brought home …

How Far for Some Jack-in-the-Box?

J is for J_cursiva justification.

Justification is God removing the guilt and penalty of our sin while at the same time declaring us, as sinners, righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account through faith alone.

I live between Washington, DC and Baltimore. Justice, in a legal sense, is elusive. Wrongs committed often go unpunished, leading to frustration, to say the least.

In God’s economy, forgiveness is wrapped up in justification, but so is justice. Yet we are not the ones paying for our own crimes. Jesus has already done that. Then our Father declares us clean and right with Him. God cannot abide with sin, but He longs to abide with us eternally. The only way to do that is to pay for the sin Himself, leaving us able to live forever with Him.


Jumping for joy!

J is also for joy. I …

When Losing is Winning

Just Until Christmas coverI must now declare myself a Nano “loser.” They call it “winning” when you write 50,000 words, though you actually get only bragging rights and a “Purple Bar of Glory” for your website.

I did not write 50,ooo words in November. I only wrote a little under 31,500.

But I’m OK with that. It was taking too big a toll on my family. When my middle daughter rather forcefully said, “All you do is write!” that’s when I put down my laptop.

Not only did I start PT for a shoulder injury, which claimed an appointment of two hours twice a week, plus daily exercises, I also had too many other things going on in my writing world. I wanted to get my Christmas novella, Just Until Christmas, finished, so I wrote over 5,000 words for that. (So technically I wrote almost 36K, but not all of them were on …

A Threefold Cord Is Not Quickly Broken

GG is for girlfriends. I have a group of friends I met soon after we moved here, 18 years ago. We’re all still very close, although we see each other less now than we did when our kids were all in kindergarten. Now we either have teenagers, and/or are working to pay for those insanely expensive college educations, and it’s just so much harder to get even two of us together, let alone all five. But when you do manage to grab more than five minutes after church, and finally get that two- or three-hour break at Starbucks to catch up on everything that has happened in the last three months—it’s marvelous. Because it’s like no time has elapsed at all since the last time you got together. And you remember why it is that this person is your best friend, and why they hold such a precious part …

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Carnations. photo by Pagemoral

Carnations. photo by Pagemoral

RomanF-01F is for flowers. I like flowers. I don’t know much about them, can’t identify too many of them. Roses. Carnations. Sunflowers. That’s about it. But they make me happy. Sometimes I add the $4 bouquet of carnations to my cart the grocery store when I’m buying food. They last forever and they make my kitchen a brighter place.

I think John started it. He used to bring them home. Sometimes for me, on the expected days, sometimes for no reason at all. Maybe that’s why they make me happy.

Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992.

Composite image of the Moon taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992.

F is also for a full moon. Just because they’re beautiful.

I put …

Thank You, Benjamin Franklin

120px-Klein_eE is for electricity. It’s one of those things we take for granted, until it’s not there.

We live too far inland to get hit by hurricanes, but we get the heavy rain from them, and once in a while it knocks the power out. And sometimes too much snow or ice on a power line will take the line down and we’ll lose power. In our neighborhood a high percentage of homeowners have generators, so when the electricity goes, it’s not long before the not-so-gentle hum of those beasts is heard all around.

We’ve never bought one. Not only are they ridiculously expensive, our power is rarely out for more than a few hours. Only once has it been out long enough for us to lose food. We can stay warm if we all sleep in one room, but we’ve had some pretty hot nights.

"Lightning3" by U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. - United States Air Force

“Lightning3” by U.S.