Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Wish List

[Note: This year I wrote a brief Christmas wish list/letter. It wasn't in most of our Christmas pictures. We decided to share it with you here. Merry Christmas from our crazy house to yours!)

A Christmas Wish List
From the Beukers

It’s been that kind of year. Lots of great and wonderful things, lots of hard stuff. We don’t even know where to begin on what to put in a Christmas letter, so instead you get a Christmas wish list.

Here it goes:

Josh is in 3rd grade. What does he want? To not have to wear his retainer anymore!

Katie is in 2nd grade. This year, she really wants her two front teeth (actually four missing teeth!) I love that gappy smile!
Olivia is 5 and in Kindergarten. She would really like to lose more teeth so the tooth fairy can visit more often.
But our greatest wish as a family is to bring home our kids. In April of 2011 we started the process to adopt 2 siblings from a small country called Lesotho (it’s land-locked within South Africa). We had expected to have them home by now, but instead we don’t even know who they are. It is our heart’s desire to bring home siblings. We have faced delays and frustrations, but we know that God’s plan is perfect for our family. A matching meeting is scheduled for early February—you’ll know we’ve been matched with waiting orphans from the sloppy grins that will cover our faces. You are invited to join in the story by following our family blog at

 This process is filled with unknowns. We don’t know how many kids we will be matched with. We don’t know when they will finally come home to us. We don’t know how we will pay for it all.

 There is one thing we know: this whole thing is really expensive. We estimate that by the time we are all done with the adoption, including travel and a three-week stay to pick them up, our expenses will be over $40,000. That’s a lot of money for a one-income family. We’ve paid for and saved about half at this point. But it is clear to us that we will not be able to afford all the remaining costs of this adoption on our own.

With humble hearts we ask you to consider being part of the story of our family’s adoption. We have been blessed with many gifts in the past year. Each one has lifted our hearts during times of discouragement and frustration. Each one brings us closer to bringing our kids home.

Last year, we were blessed to receive a matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans, a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry in Colorado. Our account at Lifesong is still open and able to receive gifts. Lifesong is a trusted organization that will administer the funds on our behalf, and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received. Every gift received by Lifesong on our behalf is tax-deductible.

This journey has been one of the most challenging of our lives, both as individuals and as a family. We covet your prayers as we look forward to meeting, then bringing home and parenting our children.

Christmas Blessings,

 Eric & Sammy Beuker
(with Josh, Katie, & Olivia)

There are two ways to make a donation.
1) You can follow the link on our family website (

2) You can send a check payable to: Lifesong. In the memo, write “preference Beuker #2355 adoption.”  (Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Lifesong which retains full discretion and control over its use).

Mail the check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn: Beuker #2355 Adoption
PO Box 40
Gridley, Il 61744

We thank you in advance for your prayers and gifts on behalf of our family.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Staying the course....

So here is the moment where I tell the world how awesome my husband is because he told us to wait.

So we waited. And waited.

I asked Eric, "Can we check now? Can we ask more questions? Let's make a decision."

And he said, "No, Let's wait until we hear from our social worker."

And finally, this week we received official word that our adoption case will be grandfathered into Lesotho.

Take a moment to let that sink in. It's taken me a few days.

We don't need to make any decisions. We don't need to decide to change countries. We don't need to figure out how to change all our paperwork.

We are being grandfathered in. So somewhere in Lesotho my next child(ren) is waiting, just as we are waiting here.

And there is a matching meeting on February 8.

So on or before February 8--we will know who will join this crazy family.

Thank you for your love to us during these very emotionally difficult past few weeks. We are so very, very, very blessed to be surrounded by such good people.

Does any of this feel real? Nope, not yet, probably not until the day our kids come home will it be real. Until then we pray--for their protection and safety, for their hearts and for ours.

And Josh would ask that you pray it's a boy....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Peace for the Storm

To say that my life is stormy right a perfect description.

Between all the forces and tasks competing for my time, attention, and emotions, I am being pulled in many directions. Sometimes I am strong enough to stand in the force of the storm.

Right now, I don't feel so strong, nor do I feel particularly safe.

So God uses his people to hold me up, to encourage, and to protect me.

In the past 48 hours, I have been the recipient of a number of blessings which I did not earn nor do I feel I deserve--and as I ponder the sources of them, I find myself pondering the Source of them. And I feel my heart held, my soul comforted, and my burdens eased.

One such example, and that which inspires me so greatly, happened this morning when a friend showed up on my doorstep with an early Christmas present. She felt moved and obeyed a prompting in her life.

And I am so grateful--the gift she gave is a new book from Calvin author, Gary Schmidt and his wife Elizabeth Stickney, Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer.

I have literally dropped almost everything this morning to pour over the words of this book. It resonates deeply within me. Even the names of the chapters. I have found myself, skimming and jumping, reading and dwelling on the words and prayers of brilliant writers who have gone before me.

And I want to give you my prayer (it's in chapter 3), the prayer of my heart, the one that I have already found myself going back to numerous times, that I will recite tonight as I sit and write and edit.

The Writer's Prayer
Open my mind, Lord. Grant me the talent to write with clarity and style, so my words go down rich and smooth, like fine wine, and leave my reader thirsty for more.

Open my heart, Lord. Grant me sensitivity to understand my characters--their hopes, their wants, their dreams--and help me to confer that empathy to my reader.

Open my soul, Lord, so I may be a channel to wisdom and creativity from beyond my Self. Stoke my imagination with vivid imagery and vibrant perception.

But most of all Lord, help me to know the Truth, so my fiction is more honest than actuality and reaches the depths of my reader's soul.

Wrap these gifts with opportunity, perseverance, and the strength to resist those insist it can't be done.

-Sandy Tritt

Amen and amen.

Monday, November 26, 2012

It would be so easy...

to quit.

to just walk away.

to say it's too hard.

to decide that we were wrong.

Or at least that's what we tell ourselves. Because that is the answer that makes sense right now: since we have no idea what to do and we can't seem to discern answers and this unknown-kind-of-waiting is really hard, let's just quit.

Quit this waiting pattern that we have been living in for 18 months. Quit the money woes that accompany a process that has suddenly become more expensive than we bargained for. Quit the hard emotional work of preparing ourselves to bring home broken and needy children.

Then we take a deep breath.

Pause for a moment.

Remember that God is faithful even when we can't see or feel his presence. And He is good, all the time.

Trust that there are broken and needy children for our family. Trust that we are strong enough to withstand this. Trust that God is big enough to provide and gracious enough to bestow us with gifts we don't deserve.

And we take a step back from the edge of the cliff of our cowardice where we think that quitting would be easy. We begin to think rational thoughts again. We say to each other, "here are our options." And funnily  enough, quitting really isn't one of them.

As far as updates go: we are still waiting for some very specific answers from Lesotho. A clear 'yes' or a clear 'no' which will determine the course of our adoption. We don't expect these to come for at least a week, probably two.

Our prayers in these days have been feeble and weak because they are full of fear and desperate need. We are trying to hold on to the calling we received, but it is so hard because God seems silent. Would you pray for us and on our behalf? Pray for clear answers and discernment and encouragement. Pray for us as we try to navigate these emotions and still be good parents to the children we have right now. Pray that God gives us focus in the meantime (it's a busy season in our house--distractions make things tougher...)

And thank you. Because without friends like you, who love us and keep us accountable, quitting would be a whole lot easier.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The ties that bind

I come from a small family. Just me, my parents and my brother. No living bio aunts or uncles. Only one set of grandparents.

I have long said that my 'family' is bigger than those born into it.

And this past weekend, I had the privilege of meeting family that was mine, in a roundabout way.

We tried to blend in at church--the only one who succeeded was
Eric who looked very much like part of the community. 
Years ago, I had an aunt (who was married, but never had children). She passed away when I was still a child. My uncle remarried--to a woman who had three daughters close to my age. For a while they lived in Florida near my grandparents. But after a time, they converted to a Mennonite lifestyle/belief system and moved to northern lower Michigan. About 4 years ago they moved to a community of like-believers in Indiana, just outside of Goshen.

My aunt passed away 24 years ago--that was the last time I saw my uncle.

Until last weekend.

This past weekend, all five of us took a road trip to meet my three step-cousins and aunt. And to visit with my uncle.

To be honest, I had to manufacture a reason to go meet them. It's a bit nerve wracking, after so many years to make yourself known, to open up your flaws and family to new people. Especially since my grandparents have treated the girls as granddaughters for many years. I was nervous I wouldn't be good enough for their social standards.

But that was just silliness.

Me and Allie, Tammy, and Jacquie
We spent the night at the oldest two sister's lovely home. They welcomed us, accommodated our food needs, provided mounds of beautiful handmade quilts to burrow under. We stayed up late into the night trading family histories and current concerns.

We shared meals at my aunt and uncle's house and at my other step-cousin and her family's farm. We worshipped together. We recognized that while we practice our faiths differently, we share similar beliefs.

And they are beautiful women. Faithful women. Women I am proud to call family.

My kids with Caroline, Jacquie's daughter
Oh and the reason that we went to visit? They run a business that does long-arm quilting. And as a gift to our adoption, they quilted an applique top that I had put together to honor, remember, and have a tangible reminder of the people that God has used to encourage us on our adoption journey. It is such a gift to be able to hold that quilt again. And they did wonderfully beautiful work on it.

I proud to say they are a part of my family, because family is bigger than the people who share blood ties. Family is as big as God's love is wide.

The beautiful part is that kids are kids everywhere you go!
And they can have fun anywhere, even when playing in a pig sty.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Learning to wait, again.

What a strange, emotional week.

This week is almost surreal with the different incredible highs and lows.

On the adoption front, we know nothing more than we knew a week ago, except that it is clear we need to wait until after December 1 to get any answers at all. We have spent our week asking questions we don't have answers too and wondering if any chance happenings were supposed to be telling us something. We have opened our ears to listen and heard....silence.

I know who I am and waiting patiently without answers is very difficult for me. If there is a question or angle to inquire about, I will. In my humanness, I want to push--push our social worker, push government representatives, push, push, push. Force answers I want right now when it is abundantly clear that answers aren't for this moment.

Waiting is hard. This waiting is agonizing for me. I've had low moments, searching the internet for answers that aren't to be found there.

Early in the week, a friend sent me this quote from Henri Nouwen.

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting
 that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. - H. Nouwen 

At first, I totally glanced over it, not wanting to really read it. But over the week I have gone back over it time and again and found that open-ended waiting is what is being forced upon me, that i have to wait and trust and believe that God has something phenomenal waiting for me, for us, for our family. I am working hard to fight back my fears and not let grief for the process not overwhelm me.

There have been times this week when I simply wanted to go to bed, hide away, not think, sleep. Anything to escape the questions I can't answer. But I didn't. I might not have been a total champion when it came to parenting and home-keeping this week, but I made it.

And then God brought in a total, complete surprise. The editor who had asked for a portion of my work has asked for the rest of my manuscript. And that has me over-the-moon excited. My work was supposed to get a polite rejection, which was okay and what I had prepared myself for. So now, instead  of having permission to push my manuscript to the side, I now have about 6 weeks to start/finish a serious re-write/edit process. My brain is now completely scrambled as I think about how to accomplish this ginormous task--and have holidays, travel, school, and the rest of life thrown in for good measure.

But this is a gift of God's goodness. Although I still expect a polite rejection, it is a delicious distraction. I have plenty to do, plenty to keep my mind busy, plenty to do and think--so much that I don't have a ton of extra energy to focus on things in our adoption that I cannot affect or change.

This already is far beyond any of my 'imaginings'. I am remarkably blessed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Detour or Roadblock?

Have you ever watched the show "The Amazing Race"? It's a great adventure show where teams race against each other to get to different checkpoints at various exotic locale around the world. It's fun to watch teams navigate different languages, customs, and forced challenges as they race. Sometimes the teams need to make a choice between two different challenges and other times they have roadblocks placed in front of them to overcome on their way to completion.

I think adoption is a lot like The Amazing Race.

And this week, we have stumbled into a significant roadblock. Late Friday afternoon we were informed that Lesotho has signaled its intention to sign the Hague Convention for the protection of children in international adoption. With the signing of this treaty, Lesotho is seeking to ensure the protection of their orphans who are being adopted by increasing the number of checks on the orphan status of children and the intentions of the people adopting them. It is great news for the orphans of Lesotho.

It is not so great news for us.

If we are not already matched with waiting orphans by the signing date (12/1), we aren't quite sure what the future holds for our adopting of orphans from Lesotho. There are a number of options for us to consider (most of which are more expensive than we had planned.) We have made some preliminary decisions.

But we have many questions. And there are many things that we don't know. This could simply be a roadblock or it could be a detour.

News like this is never really welcome. We don't really know how to think and process through this because we don't have any answers. This serves to remind us how this whole adoption process is out of our hands. We have never been in control of it.

Today, I am thankful for the friends and family who have expressed faith where we have doubt, who have lifted up prayers when our lips are wordless, who have listened to the questions of our hearts, and have offered encouragements when it is so needed.

Today, I am thankful that the Sunday School lesson I had to teach was on how God hears our prayers. He may not answer in the time or way that we desire, but he always hears.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts on Voting

Today as I waited in line to cast my votes for many, many things, I was struck by beauty of this privilege and of the community which I call home.

Today, I waited in line for about 40 minutes to cast my vote. During that time I saw a local school bring their 3rd graders in to sit and learn and observe the voting process. I listened to the business-type people in front of me complain about having to wait in a line to vote. I listened to the two women behind me (who I assume were mere acquaintances) talk about church and food and mutual connections. I watched as a first time voter proclaimed loudly that he had voted. I saw neighbors and church folk.

I was struck, for probably the first time, how remarkable that we in the United States have this privilege to elect our leaders. Black, white, mixed. Young, old, middle-aged. Rich, poor, middle class. We are all invited to take part in the democratic process. In that church basement, I was filled with pride that I live in a place with such freedoms, especially since I often take these freedoms for granted.

Yes, I am as tired as ever of the robo-calls, glossy paperboard mailers, fear-filled television and radio ads. But what a remarkable privilege.

I am struck by it even more as I realize how less than a generation ago, many of the people I share a precinct with wouldn't have been able to vote. Women haven't even had the right to vote for an entire century yet. People fought, went to jail, were fined, endured insults and harassment and threats for this right.

Even right now, many countries and peoples do not have this right. They get no say in how they are governed, how taxes are taken from them, or how they are represented. They fear threats, intimidation, or worse if they don't take the forced party line.

Even though I am eager for this to be done, for us to have conversations instead of sound-bites, to be able to work instead of campaign, I appreciate this opportunity to be grateful for the privilege that we all have, as American citizens.

I guess all this is to say, I cast my votes. Did you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

14 years and counting...

October 24, 1998
14 years ago, two very young people stood in front of their family and friends and declared their love for each other.

It is still amazing to me how God directed our paths to each other. We met in Mexico on a missions trip. I never tire of our story--how God took two unlikely people and knit them together.

I am a horrible romantic and the depth of feeling I have today is hard to describe. Thankful. Grateful. Amazed. Deeply In Love. Joyful.

I have tried to write three versions of this post. I simply can't find the words. They fall short, they're trite, they're too easy.

Marriage isn't easy--we've both had to learn a bunch. How to hear the other's heart. How to say no to ourselves and yes to the other. How to speak with honesty, compassion, and acceptance. How to fight fair. How to let go of cultural norms and cling to how God has crafted us and our marriage. How to ask hard questions and make harder decisions. How to follow God's voice in a noisy world. How to grow, both as individuals and as a couple. How to fight for us in the midst of life's distractions.

There have been trials--my health, stresses from workplaces, job changes, raising kids.

But there is so much joy and laughter. There is nothing more lovely than sitting on the couch at the end of a long day, sharing some wine and our days. Watching our children be goofy and lovable and kids. Knowing that they are feeding off the love we show each other. Stolen moments. Unexpected adventures.

I have been more than blessed to be married to a man who loves me as much as I love him. He's compassionate, kind, ever-learning, creative, and giving. He works hard so I can stay home with our kids. I think he gets more and more handsome as the year pass. I can't believe that I am so lucky (although I know that luck has nothing to do with it!)

Part of our wedding was that we had to choose a passage for a sermon. Ours came from Song of Solomon (8:6-7). And looking back, I realize it was a beautiful choice for us to declare our love for each other to the world.
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

This is my beloved. This is my friend.
Song of Songs 5:16

Eric, I can't wait for the next years of our journey.

I love you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Now what?

So I have finished a first (very rough) draft of my book. It's a fiction novel that covers the life of a woman from the mid-1940s until the mid-1960s. It's a tumultuous book without a ton of hope or redemption. The first draft came in a 99,300 words. I am currently working on the rewrite (which I think is harder than the first draft). There's a lot to do yet for this book--for it to be good, to be finished, to be published.

But now, I am wondering, what do I write?

I have perused my writing journals for the past four years and realized that I've been telling this story in varied forms for the past 4 years. It needed to get out.

But now that it is told, what should I write? Really, I have no idea.

Should it be another fiction story. I'm not sure I have another one in me. Should I work on those two non-fictions that have been rolling around in my head? I don't have enough experience to write those. And truth be told, I don't think I'm very good at non-fiction. Should I focus on blog writing and building my platform (that's an idea where writers increase their base so as to show publishers that a potential book would have a market. I buckle against this a bit)

From what I've heard, most writers have more than one project going at any one time. Some even jump from project to project depending on their mood.

I don't have any other projects.

And I know that I already miss the creating aspect of writing. It's only been three weeks since I finished my draft and I am aching for the joy of creative writing, for discovering where a character is going to take me, for following an action out to it's furthest consequence. I miss storytelling.

I'm not any further ahead than I was at the beginning of this post. But now at least, you know as well. You're a creative bunch, got any brilliant ideas? I'm open to suggestions, if you have any!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Going gray...

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained by living a godly life


I'm going gray.

And not just gray as in I-found-a-few-stray-gray-hairs-on-the-side-or-the-back-of-my-head. No, I mean gray, as in a nice large swath of gray hair smack dab on the middle of the front of my hair line. It's about a a nice square inch of gray hair in the middle of my head of brown hair. Right on my part line. And it's the hair that frames my face.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind going gray. I'm sorta resigned to it. I'm pretty sure my mom had a head full of salt and pepper gray by the time she was 40 (but she colored it dark black until after I got married).  My sweet husband has had gray hair since he was 16. So I don't get a whole bunch of sympathy.

What I don't like is that it makes me look old. On a particularly tough day, I can look positively haggard. I get called Ma'am and get sympathetic looks from random strangers.

And I'm 35. I'm not ready to look or feel old. And I believe that gray hair can be absolutely beautiful.

I've seen it on my friends who are just now crossing into their 40's. They have a smattering of gray around their temples. I have a friend who's hair is regularly styled, and her stylist is able to hide her cute little gray streak.

For the past year or two, I've started coloring my hair, ever so little. But let's face it, I'm pretty lazy and it costs money we don't have. So, I'm trying to decide....what do I do about this gray?

I did a quick Internet search on attractive ways to go gray. And all the advice was for the 50 and up set. For the 30 year old graying set, the suggestion was essentially this: get it colored.

And where this takes me is to this place: I want to feel beautiful, every single day. I want others to think so too. But the beauty I want is internal. I want my beauty to be Holy beauty. I want to shine the radiance of Christ's love so brightly that the color of my hair or the makeup I don't wear or the simplicity of my clothes doesn't matter.

And that's my prayer. I tend to pray it a little more when I feel insecure--like the gray in my hair determines my worth as a woman, like when I feel that culture norms that I don't fit, like when I don't know how to feel about this gift that God has given me. So it's a prayer I pray often these days.

But the question still remains, what do I do with this hair?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Rest of Life

I don't want anyone to be under the false impression that all I do is sit around my house and brood about the adoption. To be completely honest, I try not to spend too much time thinking about it at all (keeping the mind busy). But also, I have a great and full and wonderful life.

Hey guys, can I take a not-goofy picture of you?

And since everyone everywhere is talking about back-to-school, I thought I would gush about Back-to-Homeschool!

Yep, I said 'gush.'

Why? Because even though it's hard and busy and time-consuming and mentally challenging, I still love it. I love spending time with my kids, helping them learn. I love watching them grown and develop. Although, I would honestly love to let another person focus on all the character training, it is part of my responsibility.

And I love what we learn. We have a full docket this year and I want you to hear about it. I've spent a great deal of time thinking, praying and planning for this year--and you should know. (Part of it is because for some, homeschooling is still not a legitimate form of education. I want you to see that for me, and many others, we take this stuff seriously.)

So this year we're learning:

Olivia at her desk.
  • All about the history and geography of the 19th century (read: 1800s--westward expansion, colonialism, slavery and the civil war, industrial revolution). I could go on and on about how much I love history, but, I refrain. . .
  • Writing, grammar, spelling, journalling,
  • Bible study on Missionaries and the Gospel of John
  • Chemistry (at the kid's request--and I'm a bit excited.)
  • Art--following the Impressionist and Modern artists of the last two centuries
  • Math--all kinds of math. Seriously. Three levels of math. Math that I now have to actually read the teacher's manual in order to know how to conceptually teach it.
  • And Kindergarten--who could forget all the fun stories and hands on projects of Kindergarten. I'm thrilled to be in Kindergarten for the 4th time in my life. I'm enjoying it much more now!
  • Josh at his desk
  • P.E.--yep, gotta have that component. You have to learn the rules to games like basketball, soccer. And you have to learn to run laps!
  • Oh, and field trips! I'm super excited about all the field trips we have scheduled for this year!

Lest you think it's all about academic work, it's not. It's also about:

  • Working and living and being together, A LOT!
  • Helping each other out in times of need.
  • Learning to work independently.
    Katie at her desk
  • Life skills--working in the kitchen, personal responsibility for your own stuff, cleaning, laundry, errands, running a household.
  • Oh, and fun! We try to have lots of fun together!

Homeschooling has just become part of our lives, how we live and shape our family. And for all the struggle, it has been good. Our family has grown, I've grown (probably me the most of anyone).

And now for the obligatory pictures!

I took this pics on our second day of school. (why not the first you ask--mostly because we hadn't gotten our new back-to-school outfits and we all look sorta sloppy.) As it was, not everyone was particularly thrilled about pictures. (Can you tell?)

3rd Grade
2nd Grade
School Photo

Finally, a great picture of my goofy kids!