Saturday, December 11, 2010

You guys are good!

Less than four weeks ago, I asked you all to pray for my friends that have been waiting FOREVER for their daughter to come home from Thailand. They heard news this week that the paperwork if finally done and they should be traveling in 10-12 weeks. I cannot stop crying for them. I get that chills down the back and clump of emotion in my throat everytime I share their good news with them. I simply cannot wait for this momma (and the dad of course) to have her baby in her arms. Thanks for your prayers. Keep em coming that they travel in a timely manner and their transition home is as smooth as can be. Just to let you have a sneak peek into their hearts, she closed her latest blog with this verse and it filled my soul.

Psalm 13:12...
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Godchild!

Ten years ago today, I was in a hospital room with my very scared but brave 17 year old sister sitting on the bed beside her right in her face having her blow on my finger so she wouldn't push. I was across from her 18 year old boyfriend, born a crack baby to his own teenage mother, and praying all the while for them all. About 30 minutes later, my neice was born with a full head of hair, chubby thighs and a personality too big for her little body. My sister had a child long before any of us thought she would, long before the ideal time in her life that's for sure and I don't recommend it but Chiara Amelia I believe saved her. (a post all it's own)Chiara Amelia has brought so much joy to all of our lives and I cannot imagine it any other way.

I won't ever forget when my baby sister came to me and told me she was pregnant not long after her 17th birthday. I had just had my own daughter and had a wonderful husband and I knew full well how hard it is. Here I was looking at this young kid with her punk boyfriend standing next to her thinking how in the world will they make it! But thankfully, the Holy Spirit took over and I although I don't remember the specifics of what I said, I remembering hugging them both and saying we would get through it and they had a lot to learn in the next 9 months and that Trevor and I would be there each step of the way. We spent the next 9 months teaching all kinds of things, even to Chiara's dad how to hold a newborn and change their diaper, how to treat a diaper rash or ideas on how to soothe a fussy baby with a tummy ache. We mainly just tried to emulate for them what it looked like to be a healthy family. I remember instantly thinking that this little baby wasn't choosing how she was going to enter the world and that she deserved for us to be excited to meet her and to love her as much as the much anticipated and first child born into our family that I held in my arms had enjoyed. The two of them couldn't be more different but have been inseperable ever since.

It was with that spirit that we welcomed Chiara into the world this day 10 years ago. She came fast, so fast that I will never forget the look on my sister's face when they said there would be no time for an epidural. It was the first birth, other than my own by c-section, that I had seen. It was a miracle. She was a miracle and she still is.

Chiara is one of those rare kids with a sense of humor that seems older than her years. She is knee slapping funny. She is talented and loves to dance and can 'whip her hair back and forth' with the best of them. She is loving and gentle and stubborn and intuitive. She is a sweet girl with a heart that wants to know more about Jesus. She is curious and creative and smart. She is beautiful. She is our Chi and I love her so very much.

I used to worry if she would become a statistic with the beginning she had. I used to worry what that would mean for her life and although she hasn't had it easy....I know who she is and believe 100% in this kid. She can be absolutely anything she wants to be. Her mom and her have grown together and her momma has done an unconventional but fabulous job. They both are blessings to me. Yes, she was born to a teenage mom and dad with struggles of their own but that is only a part of her story. She is also a child of God. A God of redemption and Grace. An heir to the throne of the most High. And it is that I pray she believes and cherishes to the core of her soul. I pray she feels just how special she is to us all. I pray she feels the love we all have for her from the tips of her curls to the bottoms of her pink feet. You are amazing, Chi. I love you, girl, and it has been so fun to watch you grow into this little person Jesus chose you to be. I am honored to be your Godmother and Uncle T and I (and the whole gang) are here for you always. Happiest of Birthdays to you sweet girl. May you feel the joy in your heart this year that you bring to others.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving and raw emotions.

We have had a crazy busy couple of weeks and I am still trying to catch my breath. The end of November culminated in a series of celebrations for us that left me unexpectedly emotional. We celebrated Logan's birthday on a Wednesday, Thanksgiving the next day, had a Forever Family Celebration that weekend and then the next Wednesday celebrated Perri turning 4! Not to mention the all nighter spent with my sisters Black Friday shopping and you'll know why I'm still trying to catch up on sleep!

Perri and Logan's birthdays had me feeling extremely thankful for them. I was even more appreciative of their birthmom's choice to give them life. I felt even more sad that she was missing them and they missing her. I felt even more conflicted within about how to wade the waters of an open adoption and what that looks like now and will look like for our family going forward. I thought about all the amazing victories along the way...How far these two children have come in the security of a family. I thought about the first days here and the steps until now and I wanted to scoop them up and freeze this time in our lives.

Thanksgiving found me waking with a lump in my throat as if the thought of the kids birthmom had sank into my brain while I slept. That day marked one year since they had seen her. One year since we had seen her or she them. I looked at their puffy little faces at breakfast and felt immeasurably sad for her. That she was missing this. I remembered how the last Thanksgiving was spent with her after we invited her to our family Thanksgiving. I remembered how loved she felt that day. I remember how brave she had to have been to accept our invitation. I remembered how many days Logan was out of sorts after that and how hard Perri cried for her when she left. I remembered how about a month later she wanted to see them and never showed up. I remembered why we are their family. I thanked God for our lives, our blessings. But the entire day, I could not get her out of my head. I wondered where she was and if she had a meal. I wondered if she was alone, safe, warm, or on the streets and lonely. I wondered if she was at a shelter or in the company of someones loving home. I wondered how I resolve her life to mine in my heart that tries so failingly sometimes to love like Jesus. It all took me by surprise. Not that I love them so much but that I love her. That is the most surprising element of this entire process to intense and odd this love I have for her is...
how utterly ironic it is and emotionally draining and difficult to love the woman that I often feel like I am protecting them from or has been the cause of their heartache. It is my prayer that they someday feel that love I have for her and it directly shines on their own feelings of worth.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite time because I love to reflect on our blessings and this year was such a celebration of knowing that no person can ever take our family away now and how faithful we stayed on this journey but it was also a realization and reflection on the fact that very few people have what I have. That there are many who went hungry that day.....even if they had a plate full of food.

We were then humbled on the weekend by over 100 people coming out to celebrate our forever family with us. It was an amazing time for us. We had a wonderful conversation with our children that night about how many people came to celebrate that God chose us for each other. That each one of those people present were there to root for us and to love us and that those faces were not just friends and family but had listened to God's call on their life to encourage and support our family. We talked about how God often works through others to bless us and that if there is ever a time you feel far from HIM, that you can simply look around you and see His face in the face of others that love you. The blessings are family feels from you cannot be put into words. Angels comes close.

So we go into this season of celebrations with hearts overflowing. As I was preparing a picture board of photos from the past year and half for our Forever Family party, I realized how tiny Perri and Logan were when they came. All I could think of at the time was how big they were and how much I had missed already and now I see how small they were and how much they've grown and have challenged myself to stay in each present moment with my children. No more what ifs or what coulda shoulda woulda. We are infinitely blessed.

The past few weeks have brought an idea to mind....I am thinking that instead of MOM or bio or birth mother....I am thinking since she gave them life, I will call her their lifemom. And I will call MYSELF their mom for life! Their. Mom. For. Life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Waiting and waiting.

I have a friend, a beautiful friend with this fantastic family and she is waiting. A friend that loves God, family, and children. She has 3 and waits for her 4th. She has been waiting for two and a half years. 2 and a half years. She has had her daugher's picture that long. She has watched her grow from an infant to a toddler from a distance. She cannot hold her. She cannot comfort her. She cannot bond or transition her into a family. A family. That is what she waits for. Her family. Her daughter that lives half a world away. In an orphanage. There case is unusual and has had many unforseen issues arise so they wait. This precious little girl's siblings wait and cry for her. This child of God's dad gets frustrated that his daughter waits and he cannot protect her from any of this. My friend and her husband have met her. They have held her. They have brought her gifts and started to earn her trust and cooperation. They have given their heart to her for so long. They are hurting and frustrated and I believe firmly in the power of prayer. Please pray for my friend and her family. For their strength, their peace in knowing she is in God's hands until she can be in theirs. Pray for their children who are tired of waiting. Pray for every governmental official and judge involved in this case. Pray for this sweet daughter that has a family waiting for her to come home. Pray for her health, her emotions, her hope. But most of all, pray with me for a miracle. A huge, gigantic, mountain moving, full blown Godly miracle that this baby girl will come home to her family NOW. That they would get a call that fills their hearts to overflowing and shows them just how much God is in this.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Son

My Logan's story didn't start out like a mom would plan for her son. The first 3 years of his life had him living in situations he shouldn't be in. Those years held alot of insecurity and fear and violence...things a child shouldn't hear or see or feel. I remember when I first met him how tough he hard he was trying to appear like this whole entire situation wasn't breaking his heart. I remember after a few days seeing him softening and realizing how much he longed for acceptance and to be loved without condition. It took a long time for him to feel that. It took awhile to crack his tough exterior and for him to allow his defenses to be torn realize that he was safe here and we weren't going anywhere. It was months before we realized that our Logan has one of the best giggles your ears could ever hear. He is a new kid. It amazes me what the love of a family can offer to a child that has none. It is amazing how far love and security and stability and structure can go in shaping the soul of a child. I remember my son's flat look on his face when we met. I remember the hardness and darkness of his eyes. I remember worrying if there was enough love in the world to change that. For the past year and a half we have comforted and we've loved and we didn't leave him through all his testing the limits. We have acted silly and danced and sang and corrected and disciplined and loved some more. We have prayed countless hours. We have held and hugged and wiped and cleaned and this boy, this lovely lovely boy began to trust us. He began to let his guard down and be silly too. He began to freely give affection and flourish. He began to learn again and feel proud of his accomplishments. He began to grow and pray and live. He began to love us and feel God's love for him. Only our God can do that. Only our God can pick two broken children off the streets of our city and place them in our crazy, loud, loving home and make us a family. Only God can heal these children. And although I know our journey is not over, I know our God is with us. I know my son knows that and it brings me so much joy. My friend took this picture of Logan last week at her home while we were visiting. It makes me weep. Thank you, Jen, for this gift. All of these thoughts, these memories.....they are all in this picture for me. Only our God can turn that boy I met a year and a half ago in to this boy now...

The week since our adoption has been filled with little moments of stability and hope and total unabandoned love and bonding. I didn't realize that it wasn't that all along but something does seem a bit different. I think it's just the fact that I can breathe. The part that is amazing to me is that Perri and Logan seem to get it subtle ways...I've seen a change.

They have both been cuddly and affectionate with us for a very long time but for the past year and a half, Perri has never, not one time, come to me at night in bed and asked to sleep with me. Now for anyone I know with a toddler, that is WAY out of the ordinary and especially for this momma who nightly has to walk her five year old back to bed after our nightly little snuggle. Now, Perri is a good sleeper so I never really thought about it but last week, the night after the adoption, she came to me in the middle of the night and said she wanted to just be with me! I nearly cried. Well come on in, girl! And there she stayed in the crook of my arm till morning. Total peace.

Logan did it last night. We used to lay in bed with them until they fell asleep when they first came to help bond with them and to just allow them to feel safe and secure. Logan used to wake with horrible nightmares and screaming and crying but he doesn't do that anymore. But last night he crawled in with us and settled in to Trevor's arm and then mine and the other little arm was reached out to touch the other one of us as if he just needed to know we both were there. We are. And we're not going anywhere, little man.

So thankful for our forever family. So thankful for God's blessings on us all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I have an announcement to make!!!!!

Sorry for the long break....I have a long list of blogs in my head to write since I've been missing in action for so long. Our computer has been down and is being repaired. I rigged up an old computer that I've been meaning to set up for the kids so I'm currently posting this on a monitor the size of one of those little mini cooper cars. BUT, I just had to get on here and post the most important news for you all to hear......the reason why this blog started in the first place.

It is with full hearts that we announce the adoption of Perriana Joy and Logan Gideon into our forever family. Born December 1 2006 and November 24 2005, placed in our hearts and hands May 31 2009, and forever home October 12th 2010!

We are thrilled beyond measure and so very thankful for the amazing support and prayers of our family and friends. Our God has held us through the past year and a half. Our God has provided and encouraged and caught each tear. Our God has created this family and we are so very humbled by this call on our lives. Thank you for going on the journey with us. Thank you for each call, email, text of encouragement....for every meal, gift card, clothes handed down and the countless prayers. Thank you for letting me cry and complain and process this tornado of emotions. You bless me immensely.

Adoption is funny in that along with this immeasurable joy and celebration, their is an element of loss that can't be ignored. Thinking often of MOM and so very thankful for her choice of life. The kids are thrilled and there have been tons of hugs and laughter and talks about what this means....but I can tell that Perri and Logan also understands that this new security and permanency with us means something else entirely with MOM. This journey has been so well worth it and will continue to teach us all for years to come I'm sure.

I am so proud of my husband. So amazed at the way he parents and loves. So thankful for his obedience to our matter how crazy it seems. I am proud of our children....the originals and their willingness to share absolutely everything, including mom and dad....and the new two...
and their ability to move forward, to trust and love and be vulnerable....their resiliency is to be marveled at.

We are so excited for this next part of our journey and to settle in to this wonderful place of stability. I am officially the mother of five. I like the way that sounds!

More to come......

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday. Not funny.

I spent the weekend at a Women's Retreat for our church. It was a blessing. Not restful, fun. Not draining, renewing. Lots of food and laughter and deep discussions. Sharing and testimonies and reaching out. Stepping outside my comfort zone, leading, following, talking, listening, ...singing...lots and lots of worship. It was a time of growing and strengthening friendships and starting new ones. A time of conviction to be a better mom and wife. A digging in to the Word of God and a burying myself to the world and reclaiming my life for Him. It was wonderful....

...and then I came home.

Don't get me wrong. I loved it when the kids all came running up to me and barely knocked me over to get a hug with mom. The dog was whimpering and jumping, Trevor was handsome and waiting, the house was clean, laundry caught up. It was good. I spent the afternoon snuggled on the couch with five faces nearby, some nearer than others. We got caught up on each other's weekend. I went to work when the kids went to bed and enjoyed the quiet with my husband that night. Slept peacefully and soundly....

...and then I woke up.

The day seemed to be off to a good start, just the regular chaos that a large family on a Monday brings with it. I was exhausted from late night laughter and sharing and soon discovered there was no caffeine left in the house anywhere. This after a weekend of pop and chocolate and with 7 children sitting around my table. I put out a 911 status on Facebook and to my complete surprise and delight my friend showed up at the door in response with two cherry coke zeros in her hand. Love that girl. Evidently this Monday was a test. I'v told you this before....God thinks He's funny. He like to joke with me. Test me. See how renewed and convicted and reclaimed I really am.

By 11:00 that day, our neighbors had heard some difficult news and I offered to bring dinner for them that evening. One of the children I watch had fallen from the playset and was not able to put any weight on her precious chubby two year old leg. My water got shut off because we (and by we, I mean my husband) had forgotten for several months to pay the bill and by the time we did it didn't post in time. They couldn't turn it back on til Tuesday. So here I am with a house full of children, one whom's leg might be broken and dinner to cook for the neighbors, three kids that need to poop with no running water in the house, and it's time to pick up my morning Kindergarteners. Nice. Hi Monday. Funny God.

My friend happened to drop by and was a witness to all this fun. I go to plan B for the neighbors dinner and throw all the stuff in the crockpot. My friend stays with the crew while I took the suspected broken leg to Kindergarten pick up with me. When I returned it was obvious that the little one needed to have her leg x-rayed so a call to her dad while fixing peanut butter sandwiches and we were back in business. I was asking my friend if this day was really happening and telling her how lucky my husband was that this all happened fresh off a retreat and my "I love Jesus" bank was filled to capacity. As I'm putting grapes on everyones plate grapes are rolling everywhere all over the floor....yep...hole in the bag. My friend is just laughing and I don't think can believe it herself. Meanwhile every child is singing a different song and I have gone to the sink to use it a half a dozen times to the drip drip drip of my turned off water! Funny stuff. Breathe. I love Jesus. I love my husband. I love my life. I love Mondays. Of course, we are almost out of milk and juice since I've been gone all weekend but I managed to get everyone something to drink.....combining the last two juices to make it a full glass.

I actually handle it pretty good. I'm laughing myself. I'm not yelling at my husband. I'm telling him quietly how thrilled I am with the predicament and his role in it. He too is very happy I am just returning from Retreat.

I spend naptime pulling weeds to work out my energy and forgetting I won't have water to wash my hands in or wipe the sweat off my face with. Lovely. When my husband comes home and asks what we are doing for dinner, I calmly reply that I do not know what he and the children are doing for dinner but that I am going thru Wendy's on my way to work. I tell him to use the baby wipes to wipe of all the important parts of the children and I had us lined up for showers at my friends house when I get home. I tell him it's fine. We are blessed. Some families never have running water and we can deal with this for 24 hours....or at least he can. uh hum.

Work is quiet and uneventful. I am cleaning a vet clinic after hours. I am a bit alarmed when I notice for the first time, a 'fecal centrifuge' machine in the lab that seems to be whirring poo at 100 miles a minute and I think.....surely not, God, that wouldn't be Godly, right?

I am able to laugh at it when I lay my head down to sleep and think to myself...tomorrow is a new day. I am so thankful for his Grace each new day....

and then Tuesday morning...

...when my 3 year old wakes, I realize she had been playing beauty shop with her 5 year old sister because half of her long twists all over her head are now only 3/4 of an inch long. The 3 year old whose hair I have been growing out for a year and a half now. The children I left in the care of my very capable ,even thought the water is turned off, husband. Breathe. I love Jesus. I love my children. Just back from Retreat. Funny stuff, God. Good one.

I send the 'hairdresser' upstairs before my Ally McBeal moment of me pulling an Edward Scissors hand on her comes to fruition. I'm thinking that isn't rational or loving and won't get my point across. I decide that I can't even take out the 'victim' or 'clients' twists to see the true damage because the last 24 hours have used up every ounce of patience and 'renewal' I had stored up! That is for another day.

As the day goes on and the water comes on, I am able to really laugh at the timing of these events. I am able to realize that all of these things are minor compared to other struggles people are having. I catch up on the pile of dirty dishes that has accumulated, flush all the toilets in the house again and again. Start the laundry that is sitting and waiting on me, all the baths to be taken and I boil things just because I can. Water anyone?

Thankful tomorrow is a new day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just checkin' in.

Got a call from my dear friend at Safe Families today. MOM had called her and she wanted to let me know. I cannot explain the feeling I get when I hear those words over the phone. The reason both saddens me and brings me peace at the same time. She called to see how the children were...if they were happy and healthy. I felt happy for them that she took an interest. She also called to tell her to tell us thank you. She expressed her gratitude that they were with a loving family and safe and secure. She has fallen on hard times again. She was feeling confident in her choice. This news makes me feel relief a bit....not that she continues to struggle but that the kids aren't with her while she does...Again. Relief that she knows her decision was truly in their best interest and that it was the only one to stop the cycle of generational dysfunction for them. It also brings me a great sadness that is hard to put in words. She was able to hold down a job for the past 9 months for the first time ever. The company closed so she lost her job. She was sick and in the hospital for a bit and her purse was stolen with her cell phone and all of her identification. She lost her apartment. Can't get a job because she has no ID...not even her birth certificate. She is on the streets again. Tonight, P and L would be with her. On the streets. Thank you, Jesus, that they are not. That they are both tucked tightly into their warm beds with their stuffed animals all around them and they are safe. Thank you, Jesus.

My friend at Safe Families helped her to order her Birth Certificate and passed on some ideas for a job. MOM wanted to make sure we were all still praying for her. She is still going to church. The thought that this young lady is out on the streets, that the woman that chose life for my children is sleeping where violence is common and she is alone makes me feel physically sick. The fact that her issues are deeper than I can even begin to fix or comprehend brings me frustration with my limitations. The idea that she gave them to us for a chance at life makes me thankful. The hope I have in the love of Jesus makes me weep. I pray for her nightly. I pray for her tonight face down on the ground. I have prayed for her since the beginning for a friend that she can trust that will take her under her wing and show her how to do life. I'm not sure she is capable of it. I don't know. I am so so sad for her. I feel helpless that I cannot do more. I feel angry at our broken world and that when a child grows up without a family, this is all too often the result and then it starts all over again. I am grateful that she believes in Jesus and will someday have healing in Heaven that she can't seem to find here on Earth.

I do not know why this is the story of two of my children. I do not know why their lives have began with such pain but I do know that they will have an opportunity to use it for His glory and I pray that it is just a small part of their testimony someday. I pray their story will bring others to see the gift of Jesus and how we are all adopted into His family, and how their adoption into ours is just the beginning.

Please pray for MOM.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

first day jitters....for mom!

I know, I know. I've been missing in action. Sorry. The past few weeks have been full tilt chaotic craziness around here. Two weeks my husband was gone. Two days after he came home, two of his aunts came to stay for a week and then there is the back to school meetings, sports starting, church responsibilities, starting a new little job and getting the little guy I watch through the school year back ....So, I'm behind. Not to mention the fact that our computer crashed and it is yet to be determined if she will ever work again. I'll get to all of this soon...but let me get to today! Today!!!

Today, my soon to be son, started pre-school. Today, my L walked out of our van with the biggest grin on his face and walked proudly and happily into his new pre-school. It made me a little teary, to be honest. Here was this little guy, that just over a year ago, had to go home with the director of Safe Families because his behavior was so aggressive that she was afraid to place him with anyone else. Here was this little guy that walked into our home with this ultra tough exterior and an overwhelmingly sad look in his eyes....a child whose spirit had obviously been broken...and he was walking out of our van with joy in his heart and confidence in his step. He wasn't fearful or anxious or acting tough. He was a pre-schooler! A ridiculously handsome pre-schooler. Love transforms all things.

I don't know if this is normal or because I know her or if every adoptive mom feels this but I again, thought of MOM...I couldn't believe she was missing this day. I couldn't imagine what she would feel if she could see him now. I wondered if he thought about her today and wished she could see his new backpack or his first day of school clothes. I felt so sad for her. I felt so thankful for him and that God placed him in our family. I felt blessed to witness this transformation that this precious resilient child has made....blessed to love him....blessed to be his momma. So so proud.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stinky week.

My children never wet the bed. Never. I must have said that outloud sometime last week and put it out into the universe and then it happened......I think I heard that on Oprah, right?! So it must be true;) Wetting the bed freaks me out. It has something to do with my OCD like tendencies and my strong aversion to the smell of urine. I can smell a wet diaper a mile away.

Anyway, this week my husband's aunties were here visiting. We were all sleeping in different beds, staying up late, having too much fun and by the end of the day we were all exhausted. I don't think the huge slushies Aunt Gwen bought for everyone helped either but one of the kids wet the bed and she is the youngest and only out of pullups a few months so I chalked it up to being too tired and didn't think much of it. Until the second night when she did it again. On the third night two of them wet the bed. Two. This was the slushy night so I couldn't believe it but decided I would wake the two bed wetters and take them to the bathroom before I went to bed at night and have them go potty to prevent accidents. It worked. On those two. The fifth night, yet another child had an accident. I still have been unable to convince her that ''someone mean" didn't ''sneaked'' into her room and dump water on her!

Do you know how much laundry I do with our family of 7 plus two guests anyway? Do you know how much more laundry 6 bed wettings in one week causes? It has caused me to develop a twitch. I feel like my entire house stinks. I can't get it out of my nose. What do you think the home owner's association would say about three mattresses airing out on the front lawn? I'm guessing since they want me to sweep up my grass clippings out of the street that this may be an offense to section 352A.

My first instinct was to go out and buy a Costco size box of pullups and make everyone in the house wear them, just in case but Trevor wasn't cooperating. The good news is that my washing machine can handle a double bed size comforter and all of the sheets that go with it and tomorrow the high is 78 degrees and my windows will be open!

Is withholding liquids for a week too extreme?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trevor's post!

This single mother of five thing is waring me out! He'll be home Sunday and we cannot wait to have him home. Wanted to share an update from Trevor with you all:

Imagine feeding someone, being unable to understand or respond to their gibberish, changing their clothes, helping them to walk and changing them when they have an accident. It’s cute if it is a newborn baby or young child, but what if it’s your Dad? Well, in my case it is my Dad. You may know him as Bredda Herman, Pastor Harris, Rev Harris or my dad.

I am spending a couple weeks with Daddy and he is unable to do some of the simple things we take for granted. You see, Daddy has Alzheimer’s disease and has been diagnosed with the disease for a few years. As I am taking care of him this week, it is mind boggling to see him in this state. I think back as a young boy how he was the strongest, fearless, kindest, independent man I knew. To explain, he was a hard worker that grew up farming and doing carpentry. He spent his entire life in ministry and would start churches in crime ridden areas of Kingston. Because of his work in the ministry, he was always serving others in some capacity. Finally, he took seriously his responsibility to take care of his family.

When I was in Jamaica in April of this year, he did not show any signs he recognized me as his son. This time around, when Hazel, my Dad’s caregiver, asked him who I was, he said my name. It felt good. You see, I have not been able to have a meaningful conversation with my father for a while. Our conversations jump around various time periods in his life. I go along for the ride and most times I can make him laugh about some experience.

Anyway, this time with Daddy has been special for me. For one, I appreciate him more now than I ever did. His spiritual leadership of his home has shaped me in the man I am today. For instance, his words and lifestyle mirrored his love for the things of God. Second, his compassion and service to others was evident. Lastly, he treasured and loved my mom like no other.

So, I am enjoying hanging out with Daddy. Whether it is feeding him, bathing him, shaving him or helping him to walk, I am treasuring our time together. In a strange way, I think he is enjoying it too. You know, that prolonged squeeze he gives my hand, or that smile I get when I give him kudos for walking from the bedroom to the dining room, even though he would rather me push him in the wheelchair. At nights, it’s the best because I get to read the Bible to him and pray with him.

I am humbled that I get to serve Daddy in this fashion after all he has done and sacrificed for me and others. Just know, Daddy is having fun hanging with his son and bredren…and I am loving it too.

Friday, August 6, 2010

You know those moments when it feels like you are doing something right, I had one of those last night. Ava came into bed with me around 2:30 in the morning and said she missed Grandpa. I told her I did too and was so sorry she missed him. She snuggled in tight with me and I hear her start to whisper a prayer for him and for Daddy and Hazel, his caregiver...not prompted, not loud like she wanted me to hear, didn't point it out afterwards, just a sweet prayer to her God. It was so amazing. There are many times in a day that I feel like I don't know how to mother this beautiful little girl, like I have not quite figured out what she needs yet...and God gave me this glimpse into her heart that blessed me. I was so thankful that she sought comfort in her momma and her God.

She then started asking about JoJo and why he doesn't have a daddy and why P and L didn't have a daddy. Such heavy little thoughts for a five year old at 2:30 in the morning. So we layed in bed and talked about Alzheimer's and Grandpa and Daddy. We talked about how some daddy's don't know how to be daddy's and how blessed we are to have the one we do. We talked about how silly and fun JoJo was and how he'll always be our friend. We talked about life. We talked for an hour. Who needs sleep?

She is still sleeping. The dog woke me up:) I hope she cherishes that time someday like I do this morning. I love that girl.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Public transportation...Jamaican style

Many of you know my husband is from Jamaica. He is in Jamaica caring for his father right now. He was there in April and had written in his journal about a little adventure that we thought we would share with you. I am hoping when he gets back or even before then, I'll share some more. I spoke with him yesterday and he was at the grocery store and it was supposed to be open but no one was there yet. Cracked me up. If you are Jamaican or know any Jamaicans or even if you've been there, you'll find that funny. I was reminded once again that it's just in his blood;) So here is Trevor's adventure in his words...

Public Transportation (Jamaican style)

During my visits to Jamaica, I usually have access to a vehicle. If you are familiar with Kingston, having a car to get around is convenient, not impossible, but convenient. This time around, mi haffi do a likkle business…(I have to take care of some business)

So, I venture out today telling my dad’s caregiver, Hazel, I will be back. “Do you know what bus or “robot” (robot – a private individual who uses his personal vehicle to transport folks, usually along the same route of the public buses. “Don’t get robbed” she warns as I leave the house. Not to worry, this is my old stomping ground.

I walk about a ½ mile to the bus stop with my back pack full of important docs. I have a mean “Don’t _ _ _ _ (mess) with me” look on my face. Hopefully they think twice before doing anything stupid. Today is my lucky day; here comes a robot (a Toyota Corolla). Five of us at the bus stop pile in the car. The 6’ 5” dude, me, is in the middle of the back seat. Surprisingly, the legroom is not too bad. We drive about a ¼ mile and run into stop and go traffic…not to worry, my robot makes an imaginary third lane on this two lane road…just when you think there will be a head on collision with oncoming traffic, the street miraculously widens. God still work miracles. When we run out of the imaginary third lane, he turns off the street and heads in the opposite direction from my destination. No problem, robots know the shortest routes, even if it means going through one of the top 5 crime ridden areas in Kingston. While all this is taking place, the passengers in the car are texting and talking on their cell phones…no problem.

We exit the crime area and I have to “big up” (give props, kudos) to my driver. By going through this short cut, he has eliminated a mile of traffic. I am ahead of schedule making good time. My robot continues to my destination. He cuts in front of other cars and narrowly misses hitting pedestrians who think they will defy physics and win the man vs machine battle. Of course, there are more imaginary lanes created by my robot. But, I get to my destination, Half Way Tree…in one piece…no problem.

Half Way Tree is bustling with people going to work. “Taxi, taxi” drivers are yelling as people walk by. Folks are peddling stuff, candy, peanuts, suck suck (imagine flavored sugar water frozen in a plastic bag), and some are up to no good looking to ruin someone’s day. I board a bus to get to my next destination, Cross Roads. The passengers on the bus are upset. Apparently, the bus has been there awhile waiting to fill every seat. The passengers start to unload to look for alternate means to get to their destination. Finally, the bus takes off, reggae music is blaring through the speakers. I’m smiling inside, it’s good to be home. Not to be out done by the robots, the buses have their version of NASCAR on the way to Cross Roads. Multiple hand gestures from the drivers as they cut off each other. All this time, the aroma of “CO2” from the exhaust fills the air. As I near my stop, I yell to the driver of the bus, “one stop driver”, this is the accepted notification to the driver to stop the bus. Bear in mind, the bus does not come to a complete stop. It slows down as it reaches my destination…I time the speed of the bus, ensure there is solid ground, then I disembark the moving bus….nailed the landing…I still got it…that is how studs exit public transportation….you had to see it…no tripping, no stumbling…smooth like “butta”.

Ok, so I have to walk through another crime ridden area. I hope I’m not sticking out. After all, t-shirt and shorts…nothing flashy. I walk across National Heroes Park, (compare to Monument Circle), to do my business. Don’t get too sentimental or patriotic…the park is a hotspot for robberies. I am aware of my surroundings, no one within 50 yards…that’s my bubble. I worked out this morning, so I can run fast if the need arises. No drama, I conduct my business and then stop at my old high school to take some pictures for the family.

So, time to head home…let’s do this again. I get on a bus and again am serenaded by the blaring music. This time, the bus is playing R&B love songs from the 80s…go figure, it’s 11am. You have to be Jamaican to appreciate the variety. I get off the bus at a convenient spot for me…not an official bus stop. Guess what, time to get a robot to head home. The driver of the robot taking me home is not as industrious as the first guy. Nevertheless, he is no less entertaining. This driver has no change to give to his passengers. So, the entire way home, he stops at every peddler on the way and asks if they have any change. Never mind that he stops traffic behind him every time, the man needs change. Thankfully, I have the exact change. I thank him for the ride, pay my fare and start my walk home.

On the way home, Hazel calls to let me know that my sister has been worried because I am travelling using public transport. Why is she worried? You never forget something you did for 20+ years. In fact, I embraced the experience today…brought back many childhood memories. Yes mi bredrens and sistrens (yes, my brothers and sisters), being home feels good. No problem…everyting “irie”.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amy Cornwell....fabulous fun!

This is what creative and crafty looks like.

This is NOT!

I've talked to you all before about my lack of all things crafty. I get great ideas but they never actually come to fruition...(see the ADD blog below). I am not organized enough or handy enough. It is just not my gift. It really is a gift, just not one I possess.

I do have a friend though that has it. She rocks. Amy Cornwell. This chic turns out crafty creative ideas as often as I hand out snacks. Not only is she a Christian working mother of two but she is an amazing artist. She puts so much love into each project and piece! I had her make P and L's biological mom a beautiful necklace that any momma would treasure. I featured it here...

Her hand stamped jewelry can be checked out here...

or you can shop her store on etsy here.. .

Her blog is loaded with great ideas for food, family fun, home decor, name it, this girl does it. The best part of all of this is that she is the real deal. I honestly barely knew her when she gave me the most beautiful gift of a scrapbook of some of my first blogs and pictures from when the kids first came to live with us. She even printed off people's comments so I could cherish them forever. How thoughtful is that?! She has an amazing heart and is sweet beyond words.

So I thought you could be inspired by her or at least live vicariously through her craftiness:) This girl is going places. Remember you heard it here first.

What are you waiting for? Check her out!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Embarrassed? Depends.

I took my 3 originals on a back to school shopping date today. It was wonderful. They are all so big and it freaks me out. At lunch we talked about what they are most looking forward to this year and dreading. We laughed alot and picked out outfits for each other and folders and the all important backpack for the year.

Funny story of the day:
You know how there are some things that when you buy them, no matter how legal or old you are it is still tampons or family planning needs or even rolaids. Anyway, we are in Wal-mart. I have to do some shopping for supplies for Trevor to take to Jamaica for my father-in-law. The entire day I had been running into people I know. I am on the phone with Trevor perusing the adult diaper section and talking about the benefits of a full brief versus a liner of some sort while Ava is explaining to Noah that Grandpa needs them because his brain doesn't work right and a friend from church walks up. A guy friend. He just walks up smiling and I kind of nervously laugh and explain they are not for me and he throws his hands up and says, "I'm just gonna pretend none of this ever happened." Really funny stuff.
It was a very good day. I am sad to send my kids back to school. I love having them with me. They are really great little people.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Warning! Warning! Patience fading!

We've all had those moments in life when you have to take the high road. Those moments when you just have to be the bigger person, the more mature, the first to love. Let me just say that in the past few weeks of my life I have had my fair share of these moments. And I feel like stomping my feet and throwing a two year old tantrum and telling people to shut it up! Maybe it's the lack of sleep from a sick little one last night or just the one after another issues that seem to keep popping up and the stress they bring with it. I'm not sure what it is but I fee like shouting.....Get over it. Life isn't all about you. Life's not fair. There are lots of people struggling and not complaining about it. What's this have to do with you anyway? Who do you think you are? Since when did I become a punching bag?! Seriously?!?! OH NO. YOU. DIN'NT!

BUT that wouldn't be loving now would it?! :)
Ahhh. I feel better already.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Next court hearing for adoption: October 12th! Seriously?!! ARGGHHHHH.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I could never do it.

I hear often from people that they couldn't do what I do. I get asked from my friends and strangers alike, how can you give them back? How can you love and care for a child and then give them back? How can you get bonded, attached and then return them? I've asked myself that same question. I've asked my friends that foster how they can do it? It's always been something I never thought I could do. It has been something in the past year and some months that I've realized I can do and this is why.

Because there is a need. Because whether or not it is hard for me or makes me sad or I miss these children and their smiles...whether or not I feel it is the best situation for them or fear for their futures......there is a need. God instructed all of us to care for the 'least of these.' He told us all that we are HIS plan. So there is a need that I can meet and I do it. Not because I am made of something special or different than you. Not because I heard a voice in the night tell me this is my calling. Not because it is easy or normal or painless. But because I can and I should and I will. I do not have or need the answers to what is best for their life. I do not have or need the answers to what their journey will look like or why one child has this life and the other that life. All I know is I am called to serve. I am called to love, to love the unlovable, the ones that won't love me back, the ones that will love you back so much and when you say goodbye it will hurt with every fiber of your being. I am called to trust God.

There are children tonight that need us. Children that will go hungry or homeless if we don't open up our home. There will be chidren tonight that are hurt at the hands of a loved one or a stranger and tomorrow or the next day, they will need us. There are children without parents. There are children that only need us for a week. There are children that will need our love for months on end and then happyily return to their momma. There are children that will need us for a lifetime. There are parents that need our encouragement and support and guidance. There are parents that need us to believe in them. There are children that need us to believe in them with our whole hearts. There are people that need to be shown the love of Jesus and who am I to miss an opportunity to do just that. Am I supposed to say no to these children because it is too hard for me? because it makes me sad? because I love them and will miss them?

I have a warm, loving, secure home. We open our home because we are blessed to have one. I could accumulate wealth. I could accumulate things. I could redecorate or drive fancy cars or take exotic trips. I could lift this here or nip and tuck that there but none of that is going with me. It reminds me of one of my favorite poems....

Some would gather money along the path of life. Some would gather roses, and rest from worldly strife; But, I would gather children from among the thorns of sin, I would seek a golden curl, and a freckled, toothless grin. For money cannot enter in that land of endless day, and roses that are gathered soon will wilt along the way. But, oh, the laughing children, as I cross the sunset sea, and the gates swing wide to heaven I can take them in with me. Unknown

Why wouldn't I do this? How could I not do this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Safe Families at its finest

A sweet bloggy-adoptive-mommy-grew up in the same town as me- and with a heart for orphans-friend of mine allowed her children to have a lemonade stand to help raise funds for a fellow adoptive family. At the end of her beautiful blog, that you can catch here, she thanks her contributors for allowing her girls to see "how He can use us even though He doesn't have to." Love it. That little phrase jumped off the screen at me. That is what life is all about. Today I got the perfect opportunity to show my children the same thing. It was Safe Families at its finest.

JoJo was our last placement and stayed with us for just a few weeks this summer. I have kept in touch with his mom mainly via text messaging. Today we took over some clothes and a meal and got to visit with them and see their new home. JoJo screamed my name and ran and jumped in my arms hugging and kissing me. It might have been the single greatest greeting I've ever gotten. His big brother wasn't too far behind wrapping his arms around my waist with a big hug. Their mom just giggled. The kids were all hugging and laughing and ran off to see the boys' new room. I sat and talked with his mom for an hour and she excitedly showed me around the new house. It was great to see them. I got to see the new baby and check on how he's is doing. Their sister is visiting family so we missed her. As I sat their with their mom watching the kids eat popsicles, it struck me that she is becoming my friend, that she trusts me and even likes me. This is how Safe Families is supposed to work. This family will always be a part of ours and it felt so good to know that when they needed someone we were there. We have plans to meet up at church this week.

Everyone is quick to point out how great we are to do this kind of thing but it's selfish in a way....the feeling I got sitting there with mom is a feeling that people would pay millions for if I could bottle it. It feels good to reach out. It feels good to help. It feels amazing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I felt so incredibly greatful for the opportunity God gives us to "use us even though He doesn't need us." How cool is our God that He has the power to do it all on His own but that we are His plan. And not only does He use us but that He lets us feel that gratitude, that love, that unbelievable feeling you feel when you are doing His work in His name. He is the coolest.

On the way home, I thought about our P & L and wondered why this wasn't their journey, their story....although I really can't imagine it any other way. So thankful they get to be seeing this situation from the other side and are experiencing the joy of sharing your life with others and opening our home to those in need. That moment today, that one hour with JoJo and his family make all of this so worth it. To God be the glory.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Here we go again...

Late last night I got an email from Safe Families with their urgent needs. One of them was a 4 year old boy for a two week placement. He has the cutest face and a smile is always on it, so it his nickname (Face). This little guy is going to be hard to give back;) He's had a long chaotic day and been through alot lately. He arrived with the clothes on his back. He is the same size as our L so we have plenty. I just have to say how awesome my kids are. I am amazed at their heart for these children. A bed was given up, a special bear shared so he could sleep with it, a piggy back ride given, pajamas picked out that he would be cozy in and a pat on the head with a whispered answer to his fear of, "we don't have monsters here so you don't have to be scared....only Jesus and His angels are here." I love love love my children and the way they show the love of Jesus to these children. God has called all of us to be a protector of the fatherless and I am so thankful that my children get that. God bless this boy and his family.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Double rainbow!

Ever had those moments where you start to feel a little sorry for yourself, start to think how hard things seem sometimes, how it sometimes feels like you are the only one trying or those moments when being the first to love feels so SO hard. I was in that place on my way home this evening after a really wonderful day so I can't explain why. Just a myriad of trials and struggles that have been swarming for the past few weeks seemed extra heavy and burdensome and as soon as I started to feel it, I saw to my left, the hint of a rainbow. I kind of chuckled to myself and our mighty God as if to say, a chuckle wasn't good enough, turned it up and the rainbow became more radiant and a little longer. Within five minutes it was a complete, from earth to arch to earth, double rainbow. Tears fell and the kids and I talked about the promises of our God and how comforting it is to know He loves us. Tears of total comfort and peace. Tears of thankfulness to a Father who never disappoints or fails us. So we cranked up the Michael W. Smith and sang our hearts out to the Artist and His Work!
I've always thought of myself as kind of adventurous or spontaneous. I've realized as I get older I have used it as a glamorous way to say I have ADD. If you have spoken with me for longer than five minutes you know this. I am a bit of a free spirit maybe it's because I could rock the gypsie look. I am at home in long skirts and flip flops. God in His infinite wisdom or warped sense of humor has joined this woman with the most unspontaneous man you will ever find. Doing something last minute by the seat of your pants makes my husband twitch. He plans to be spontaneous. Then our all Sovereign God tells me I need five children because we all know how easy it is to be spontaneous with a huge family! I'm starting to think God knows I need somethings to reign me in or who knows where I'd be. Usually this balance between Trevor and I results in funny little heartwarming scenarios. Other times it has me passing out his digits to the single ladies. I kid. It's a good balance.

See, I'm already digressing. Focus. Focus. I will give you an example of my ability or inability to stay on point. I was talking to one of my best friends in Meijer the other day. Trevor and I are standing there talking to her in the pasta aisle and mid sentence I notice the whole grain Mac n Cheese behind her and mention it and pick up my story right where I left off. Isn't that normal?! Who couldv'e possibly NOT noticed the Mac n Cheese. She and my husband teased me about it. Neither of them praised me for my sharp skills of observance!

I frequently will start cleaning the house and if I forget one supply and have to leave the room I am cleaning to get it, I often will find project B waiting for me and have to complete it before I get back to cleaning. It's not unusual to find the vacuum sitting in the family room and me cleaning the glass in the next room that I noticed needed cleaning as I bent over to plug in the vacuum and the horror of the fingerprints gets me offcourse.

My mind is constantly like something you would see in a movie. It is the reason I am so easily overstimulated. (Yes, I realize how funny that sounds coming from the mother of 5) Right now our ceiling fan is whirring and it seems spinning faster than I'm sure a setting would allow. The chatter of my children is loud and their mouths appear to move in slow motion as the whining is heard as well as Tom and Jerry on the television. I hear the dog's breathing and the neighbor mowing the yard. I smell the lavendar I clipped from the yard that is sitting in a vase on the table a room away and I can see every little blade of grass that the kid's feet dragged in from playing outside yesterday that I haven't gotten around to vacuuming up yet. All the while my homemade pedicure is driving me crazy because the little design I attempted is slightly askew. I have issues. It is genetic. I have diagnosed 4 of the 6 of us siblings with ADD. It could be argued that 5 of us have it. And only one of us 'medicates' for it and it is only legally considered 'medication' in 14 states.

You can even see it in my writing. I know it is not grammatically correct the way I write and that these things........that I love......these little dots I can just type out allow space for my random interrupted thoughts to flow. What would I do with normal punctuation? What about this is normal?

These creative genius, raw passion, adventurous, life loving spontaneous qualities have just turned out to be a smidge of mental illness. It isn't worry or stress that keeps me up at night. It is these random thoughts that pop into my mind. I usually have to write them on the paper I keep next to the bed so I can spew them out and get back to the task at hand--Sleep! This entire blog was written that way at 4a.m. with the light of the bathroom seeping underneath the doorway so I wouldn't wake my very non-ADD husband. If you could see the sheet of paper you would laugh. No one in their right mind could follow it. It isn't neatly written from top to bottom left to right. It has little groupings of thoughts at all kinds of angles, some printed some cursive and looks like the ramblings of a mad scientist. Maybe I could rock the Albert Einstein hairdo! No wonder I can't stay organized. So anyway, there you have it. The authentic slightly off center me.

Time to get started with this day. I had something to do. Oh yeh, call a therapist;) Now where can I get one of these suits?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sad and frustrated don't really begin to scratch the surface but those are the words I'll go with for now. Continuance. When we went to sleep last night I told my husband that it was strange that our attorney's office didn't call to say they'll see us tomorrow as they usually do. We got their this morning and report in to the office to let the court know we are there. She gives me this 'I wish I could help you and I am so sorry' look and says that our attorney's office called yesterday afternoon trying to file a continuance. I am at a loss and instantly feel red faced and angry. I breathe and try to stay calm until I find out what is going on. Our attorney walks in and hands me an affidavit filled with legal jargon that few could understand. Walks over to the window and talks about a continuance. I finally ask him what is going on and he says that they have been waiting on me to sign this affidavit and can't publish in the paper for MOM until I do so. I tell him I thought that is what we've been waiting on this entire time since the last hearing and he's says they are waiting on me to sign this affidavit that I am for the first time right now hearing about or seeing!!!!!! Tears just roll and I reassure our attorney that I haven't spoken to his office about this and I would remember because this is the most important thing in my life right now and we even have a celebration planned because we were told today would be the day. Tears flow and I just sit silently while the clerk and he do what they need to do. I can't say anything. I let Trevor talk with our attorney and hear him repeatedly ask if there is anything that we need to do or sign from here on out. If there is anything that we are responsible for. I wish that people would just be able to say, Hey I dropped the ball and I am so sorry but that is not the case. Out attorney is a good good man and I know we are human and errors occur so I am trying, through my tears to forgive this and let it go. I am unable to say anything but to smile and say thank you. Trevor shuts the door to the car and the sobs start. The kind that shake your shoulders and give you an instant headache and a blotchy face. Trev lets me spew my frustration and ugliness I'm feeling and loves me anyway. He just puts his hand on my shoulder and let's me get it out.

I compose myself to pick up the kiddos and as soon as I walk in the door and see my loving and supportive friend I cry in her arms. The kids are asking what is wrong with mommy and I feel like someone may appear at any moment and hand me the mother of the year award for freaking everyone out. I dry up the tears and tell them I'm fine. I tell them it just didn't happen today and that I wish so badly it did. I let them know it will happen and that God has such a huge plan for our family and sometimes it's just not easy for Mommy to wait. On the way home they say they are sorry it didn't happen today but they argue and giggle and act the same way they did before it all and it hits me. We are a family. I know that. God picked us as a family long ago. He told me these children were mine over a year ago and I just need to put my trust in that. I know it will happen. The main reason I need the court to agree is for insurance and doctors and that fear that hangs over me that maybe they won't be mine,and for the rest of the world to see that I am their momma. But my God, reminds me that He's got this. He has made them mine and He will make this happen and it is my job to trust and believe that. I am their Mommy. Not because a court tells me so, but because God has entrusted me with their care, because our God handpicked them for our family. The love I have for them doesn't come from a piece of paper or a man at a desk in a black comes from the love our Heavenly Father has for me, for them....It comes from the fact that we are all adopted into HIS family. I don't need a judge to tell me that. It is the reason I don't want a picture with the judge and the kids. My God is the one who has created this family. It is HIS image I want us for us when we think of how our journey has been blessed.

So as I still am well aware of the need for the cooperation of our legal system and how important that day will be for us, I have to focus on the good or I will crumble in a ball and cry. This morning when we dropped off the kids at my friends, the husband had gone into work late so he could pray with us. When I came to pick them up she hugged me and let my cry into her shoulder. On our way home we passed several houses that I knew had people inside praying for us. I got texts on my phone of loving thoughts and prayers sent our way. My inbox was filled with prayers and well wishes and my FB page was brimming with encouragement and support. That is what God did. It isn't His fault that today wasn't the day. Human error. It happens. There will be day that our family can celebrate that the legal system recognizes what we have become over the past year and few months, but until then, I will rest in His peace. To God alone be the Glory.

We are completely humbled by the love and goodness our family feels from all of you. You have taught us so much. You are so a part of this journey with us. I will spend the day crying off and on, for that I am sure. It is coming from a place I am having a hard time controlling but I will praise HIM anyhow and it is in my family, my friends, and my God that I will rest my blotchy red face and be comforted. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

With my first born, I was induced so I knew the day she would come. With the other two, they were scheduled c-sections so I knew the day they would come too. I distinctly remember that feeling the evening before of tomorrow everything will be different. Tomorrow my life changes forever. It will never again be just us. We will never again be defined as this group in this family. Tomorrow we get bigger. Tomorrow there will be siblings and Trevor and I will have to work even harder at keeping our relationship as a focus. I remember those feelings. Tonight feels much the same way. I feel like we should toast to the past year and where it has brought us. I feel like we should thank God for the first three and the way our family was and I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that it will forever be the seven of us. That no one can ever be taken away from this family. We are a team...forever.

I was asking P and L tonight if they realized what adopted meant? We went over that it means I will be there mommy forever and they won't ever have to live another place or with anyone else, that daddy and brother and sisters will be forever and always and that our family was specially picked by God to be a family. And this little boy who spent the first few weeks here perched upon my head because of Wally our family dog, says..."and Wally will always be my Wally." Yes! Exactly! Always.

This year has stretched us like none other. It has had me thinking I was insane to others thinking I was insane;) It has made me laugh til my cheeks hurt and cry til my face is blotchy and red. It made me reach deeper and love stronger and grip on to the hands of my Father like never before. And it has blessed me. Really really blessed me. Trevor and I are the lucky ones. P and L are a gift to our family. A true gift. When we step out on complete faith and let Him guide our lives, I cannot begin to give voice to the blessings that follow. To God be the glory for the things HE has done.

I cannot wait til tomorrow. I cannot wait to be the mother to two strapping 40something pound toddlers!!! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the next part of our journey with Him.

Adoption Day?

Tomorrow morning at 8:45 am is our final adoption hearing. If it is God's will, P and L will bless our family forever by becoming a legal part of it!!!! I cannot wait to be their Mommy forever!!!! If all goes well we are celebrating on Saturday night from 6:30- 8:30 at our church with a dessert open house Forever Family Celebration!!! If you have prayed for us, followed the blog, dropped off groceries, clothes, gift cards, loved on our kids, loved on our family.....we would love to thank you for going on this journey with us. We are truly blessed!!

Be praying. We will update tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I have a sweet friend from church that is in Thailand right now and I would love it if you would pray for she and her husband with me. They have three children here at home, one of them from Thailand as well and they are FINALLY, after almost 2 1/2 years of having her picture, meeting their daughter for the first time. They will be there about 3 weeks and then have to leave her there to return in a few months time to bring her home forever. I cannot imagine what the past few years have been like for them but they handle things with such grace and love and they are FINALLY there!!! They will meet her in just a few hours, this daughter they have loved and thought about and cried for and prayed to hold in their arms. I am absolutely giddy for them. Ellie is this gorgeous tall young momma and her feet right now from traveling, as her sister eloquently put it on facebook, look like the feet that would have belonged to Gilbert Grape's momma. Serioulsy. She posted a picture and it is a bit worrisome and has to hurt and her husband is having some traveling tummy issues already so let's all pray for total health to be restored to this amazing couple. Let's pray for their time with Lily and their children here. Let's pray for God's love to be shown to the people of Thailand through this couple that is a pure joy to know. Prayer works. Let's let them feel it:)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This year's Fourth of July festivites looked WAY different from last years. Particularly the fireworks. P and L were so scared of them last year that they nearly choked me to death and cried and screamed through them. They sounded like gunshots to them and from the place they'd been living just weeks before, that was a very real threat in their young lives. This year they layed on a blanket with cousins and laughed and pointed. They did eventually work their way onto Daddy's lap. But they were tired, not scared. It is amazing the change a little security can bring. I enjoyed the fireworks watching my children's faces light up underneath their glow and with my oxygen levels normal from no choke hold:) I enjoyed P and L seeking comfort from their Daddy instead of sitting in terror and having no way to cope. Our God amazes me.

Last night I sat and watched the movie Precious by myself. Trevor is at church camp with our two oldest and all the littles were in bed early from a long day. The movie is disturbing. The language is very strong and made me cringe. The acting is superb and the story....real....very real. It happens people. Precious' life happens everyday in America to children. Children. If you haven't seen it and won't, it is the story of a young 16 year old girl who has two children as a conseguence of rape from her father. Her mother is completely abusive to her and beats her spirit down every chance she gets and her body too. But a teacher offers her support and encouragement and it changes her path. It is heartbreaking.

What does this have to do with the observation of P and L on the 4th of July? Well, I just can barely think of where they would be right now if they weren't here. I think often when I see them swimming and smiling of hiking in the woods or hugging their daddy that they would never have done any of this....these opportunities, this love and affection, this safety and just would not be a part of their life. And I think this not to say they have all of this because of us....not at all...but I know that this all God's doing and we were just obedient. We are not great or special or holier than thou...but in this instance, for these kids...we were obedient to God's calling on our life. I am forever thankful for that.

My point is that it is amazing the difference you can make in someone's life when you reach out with the hope of Jesus. When you reach out and love someone that no one else is loving. When you step outside of your comfort zone and invest in the life of someone you may not have otherwise known but for your love of Jesus and His love for them. In the movie, it was a teacher at an alternative school that just believed in her, took an interest, invested her time and her emotions into this girl that the world ignored. The teacher didn't see a statistic or a lost cause, she saw a life she could impact and a girl that had worth and deserved love and respect.

Precious was written by an author and made into a screenplay but God designed our family's story, bringing us two children that would have never known a positive male role model and now they have the best daddy ever with an unquestionable integrity. He brought them an entire family that believes in them and encourages them and loves them and teaches them about Jesus and where our self worth truly lies...not in the fact that we are pretty or can keep a man or the fact that we are strong and tough...but we are worth the price Jesus paid for us. They are with a family that can teach them how much Jesus loves them and love them no matter what. God brought them to us and has grown us and taught us and we are forever blessed because these two amazing children took a chance on all of us. Because despite how broken their lives began, they had the courage to trust again and they reached out to us and impacted our lives.

Life is about relationship. It is about investing in the lives of those around us....the easy to love and the not so easy, the good looking and the not, the rich and the poor....the healthy and the sick. You don't have to adopt or teach or go on a mission trip. Maybe it's your child's friend that just kind of lingers around you a little longer than most seeking the praise of a parent figure. Maybe it's the young mother that comes into the place you work and looks a bit frazzled. What would she do if you say, I don't know how you do it by yourself. Let me bring you a meal this week. What would the world look like if we did that? Maybe it's the child you coach or the older couple that lives next door and would enjoy a little afternoon visit from you and ask them how their children are doing or how they are feeling. All it takes is a simple reaching out. Trust me, your life will be more blessed than those you feel you are 'helping.' It takes very little to invest in the life of another and share God's grace and love with them. It costs us way less than it costs HIM.

Friday, July 2, 2010

In honor of July 4th, I really do feel thankful for our service men and women and the sacrifices they make for our freedoms. I am mostly thankful to their families that go through so much so their loved ones can serve in the way they do. I do love America. I love that I can say what I don't like about it and not be punished. I love that I have the freedom to praise God in open. I love that I live in a place that is safe and my children have their needs met. I love that we are the first country to give. I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan which is amazing. In chapter four he talks about what being a lukewarm christian looks like and his insights are both convicting and worthy of all the "amen brotha's" I keep shouting to the page. I love his military comparison on page 80 and wanted to share it with you. It is so convicting so beware. Let me know what ya think. I always love to hear from you.

"When I was in high schoool, I seriously considered joining the Marines; this was when they first came out with the commercials for 'the few, the proud, the Marines.' What turned me off was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running. Always. And I hate running.

But you know what? I didn't bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so I could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. That would have been pointless and stupid, and I knew it. Everyone knows that if you sign up for the Marines, you have to do whatever they tell you. They own you.

Somehow this realization does not cross over to our thinking about the Christian life. Jesus didn't say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, 'Take up your cross and follow me.'"

Amen brotha!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The snack fairy cometh....

I have this friend my kids like to refer to as the snack fairy. Since not long after P & L came to stay with us she just started showing up intermittently with Costco size snacks for us. Usually several different kinds and most of the time not opened already by her boys. lol (there was one incident, maybe two...but in a year that is pretty good odds) It is always at the perfect time when I desperately need to go to the grocery. And I have never asked her to bring them and she has never asked what she can do. She just saw the need and filled it. Love that about her!

Anyway, this friend is one of those friends who you wish you could spend more time with, the kind that you really could see every. single. day. and not get tired of. She is witty and smart and faithful and frank and so is her sister and I really just love her and her sister:) She is busy with her life and I am busy with mine and our journeys have been different but because of our faith and how we handle struggle, through prayer and inappropriate laughter, we just are dear friends. I love that she can stop by totally unannounced and see me in my 'cleaning clothes' and love me anyway. In fact, my children were literally climbing the doorways this past stop and she doesn't even act like she notices. Then again, she may not, she does have 3 boys! She will sit at the table or lean on my island and push the dried up cheesestick out of the way and she will pet my smelly dog and laugh with me or hug me or just 'be' in my loud crazy home with me and has a way that makes me feel like it's normal. I love that about her.

I love that she shares her life with me and we can talk about the insanity of our lives or the latest reality television show or the unfortunate choice of cosmetic surgery some starlet has made or our deep to your toes faith in God. She lifts me up. Always. I hope I am that kind of friend to someone. I pray she knows she is that for me. And someday, someday we will have time to sit and talk and talk or road trip and visit without interruptions and no telling what trouble we might get into together....we'll drag her sister along with us whether she likes it or not.

But until then, I relish my little drop bys from her. She is that kind of friend.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The end of the JoJo era....

JoJo has been here for three weeks tomorrow and he will go home to his Mommy. He is very excited. We are going to miss him but are excited for him. I think some of us are more ready than others....the five year old population doubled in the house and I'm not sure the original five year old is diggin' that. His mother has been loving and kind and called to check on him often. I was able to take he and his siblings to see her in the hospital and meet their new baby brother. She was so nice and appreciative. I try not to judge the situations or put my own quality of life stamp on things. I am happy for him to be with her again. I pray that our 'friendship' continues and we are able to be a support and encouragement to them. In JoJo's nighttime prayers this week he asked that he never forget his new friends or Jen and Trevor. He thanked God for this place. He told God he was excited to go home. Just a perfect little prayer. A special little guy. I'm so glad we got the chance to love him. So, I'm back to only five kids tomorrow. What will I do with all my spare time?! :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In search of the elusive runner's high....

Today I ran and finished my first 5K! The runner's high still eludes me but finishing was the goal and finish, I did. My runner's group and I started in the back of the pack mainly because we were talking and didn't really realize they were starting the race. I had the cutest and one of the only cheering sections in the race. My parents met my husband there will all six of the kids and each of them held a sign. "Mom rocks" "Moms da bomb" Even little JoJo held one saying "Jen's the best" The best part was I saw them three times and they boosted everyone around me's spirits too! My oldest was at a sleepover and decided not to come but woke in the middle of the night and told the girl's mom she wanted to be there for her momma this morning. I loved that she made that choice on her own. The sweetest girl! So there were all my babies and my hot husband and my cute parents cheering me on and looking so proud! Love it!

I think this now makes me a runner.

So if you have never ran a 5K and plan to, let me give you some tips that I learned through my run or through my friend's experiences today.....friends that shall remain nameless.

Jen's top ten list of lessons learned at her first 5K

1.)Pin your bib number on your shirt while standing and looking at a mirror. If you try while sitting in the car on the way, you will not be able to see under your boobs or you may poke the pin into your muffin top.
2.)The person speaking over the microphone will call you athletes, it's okay to chuckle.
3.)There will be bagels after your race but there will be no toaster or cream cheese.
4.)If you have had more than one child or are over the age of 30 it is best to use the facilities before the race or it may be more of a 5P (if you know what I'm sayin')
5.)It is okay to use the cups of water to pour over your head like your 7 year old does at soccer. You will look ridiculous but you will feel cooler.
6.)There will be 13 year olds that pass you and the urge to trip them on mile 2 will come but you must fight it.
7.)There will be women with make up on. Again, no tripping.
8.)Strangers will become your friends and cheer you on and it will help immensely.
9.)If you are the biggest in your group, do not stand by the smallest in your group while taking pictures. just saying.
10.)Set a goal. Mine was to not walk at all. Maybe it's a time but set a goal and have fun!!! Okay, it won't be fun but you will feel good that you did it!

Having some friends to do this with has made all the difference for me. They held me accountable and made it fun and were so encouraging and motivating!

In my spirit of authenticity....
The official results are in. Turns out I am not a runner, I am evidently a jogger.
My time was 36:25. The average time was 32:28. There were 980 runners and I places 710th. (insert stifled laughter here) I had a friend that has been running for years and is about 50 pounds lighter and she ran it in 24:09!!!! But, the devil of comparison will not get my chunky jogging butt down! I've only been running, well jogging, for 8 weeks and I beat 270 people today and that is the way I will look at it:) It took my kids a bit to understand that I wasn't trying to win that I was just trying to finish the race and survive. As they were walking to the car my son turns to me and says "Mom there are still people running. You did great!" I wonder if he gets that those people still running on the walk to the car....they are the ones that are motivating...they won so much today. How cool is that?!

The jogger.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

When I was in the card section today it hit me how many card selections there were that spoke of 'you're like a father to me' or similar sayings. I think it is a telling tale of the time we live in and it makes me that much more greatful for my husband and my dad. It makes me that much more greatful for my heavenly Father. I have always loved to watch my husband with our children, from the first one that first time to each goodnight kiss. The gentleness he shows makes him so strong. The way he laughs with them or encourages them or guides them and loves them is a sight to behold. But, then I saw him love someone else's children....long before they were ours. Then I saw him welcome others into our home and love them and encourage them and guide them and laugh with them and it literally takes my breath away. I have been blessed. He was blessed with his father as an amazing example. My daddy showed me what a real man looked like and I am forever greatful that they all love our Heavenly Father. It is why they are who they are. It is why they are the best group of men I know. I don't think you realize how much a father means in your life until you see someone without one or with one that was hurtful or didn't get the magnitude of what Daddy means. I watch as these kids that have never have a daddy long to sit in Trevor's lap, run to the door when he comes home and wrestle and climb and high five. I watch as this man God sent me opens his arms wide, loves with a deep sincerity, and leads our family with grace. He is humble and God seeking and the man looks fine;) The best decision I ever made, the single greatest choice I ever made was to choose this man as the one who would be the father to my children. He is simply the best. Happy Father's Day Trevor.....from all of us!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beware the bunkbed!

Today at the pool, a little boy about the age of 7 comes up to me and asks, "Did you bring a school?" It was hilarious. I just laughed and said no, they're all mine and one friend. Just expanded his little world:) He'd really freak if he heard the latest!

We are getting a visitor for the weekend. Just a short placement. I think she will come on Thursday and leave on Sunday evening. JoJo's sister will be staying with us for a few days until her next placement is ready for her. What?! It's his sister!!! And we have bunkbeds:) I would keep her for the entire time except our van isn't big enough for me and the kids. I really need an 8 seater;( So, if you don't see me out and about, you know why. If you see any contest for a conversion van or suburban, sign me up!! We'll be having dance parties at home for a few days and swimming in the little blow up pool and dancing in the rain. That's how we roll. I am excited for him to see her. He talks about her a lot. Grace is happy to get someone over 3 ft. tall. I think she is 8 or 9. The coolest thing is that I lined up her next placement with a dear friend and she will come here when the parents are working and can see her brother. This little girl already has a relationship with this Safe Familiy mom because she was her school counselor at one point. So cool to see God at work in this family's life and to see the body of Christ reaching out to them.

A runner's tale.

Week eight of the Couch to 5K running program and all is well. I told myself if I stuck with it for six weeks I would allow myself new real running shoes. I got them this weekend. I ran with them for the first time last night and with my new very cute running shirt. I looked the part. It was the first time in this running adventure that I felt like a runner instead of a poser. I pictured myself like this photo with the beautiful stormy sky in the backdrop and my hair blowing in the wind. Yes I know my hair is only about 3 inches long but just go with me here. I didn't look like this. All that visualizing yourself is half of it stuff is garbage. I was brought back down to earth swiftly.

I didn't start my run until about 9:45 at night because of storms moving through the area. I went with my two dear friends that have me beat by at least 20, probably 30 pounds and that are always at the front of our running group while I bring up the rear. I was thinking, like I'm sure you would have been too, that I would be faster this night. I had my new shoes on, isn't that what you've been told your entire life and have chanted as a child since the new tennis shoes come home from the store. All of my children told me I would be faster. That is the last time I trust those little people. Plus I looked half way cute in my little running outfit. Had to be a great run!

I nearly died. It was only about four steps into the run that I realized my new shoes were making me run differently and I'm sure properly but that meant my legs were using muscles that they hadn't been using for the past seven weeks and for the first time my entire legs were crying out to me to stop from shin to hips. About a mile in ****TMI alert*** my body decides it needs to function in a way you don't want it to function on a 3 mile run. To add to my predicament, my very cute top was great for cuteness but not so great for breathability and although the evening was kind of cool, the humidity was not and I soon began to feel like I was going to have heat stroke and no one would know it because my skinny and way faster running partners were about a 1/4 mile ahead of me and it was too dark to see me if I hit the pavement. So the darkness of the night and the instinct for survival had me peeling my cute new shirt off and gasping for air. Instant relief. I started back up my tortoise pace and a glare from a passing car nearly blinded me as it hit my pastey white stomach that hasn't seen the light of day for a decade. I could just see the headlines.....chubby very white runner causes accident on Hazel Dell road in Hamilton County. So on went the cute shirt which has now turned ugly in my mind. I had to walk a few paces four different times and nature reminded me that I am still a poser. Fancy shoes or not.

I did survive though. It wasn't pretty but I survived. I finished a few minutes after my friends and they were telling me how great I did and that my hair looked cute even though it was soaking wet and sticking to my head with my bangs pulled back in a bobby pin. (dont' hate) I felt good that I had done it. Felt good that instead of a Dairy Queen run I was meeting these awesome women for a run and I felt even better that cute or not, runner or not, skinny or not, God has surrounded me with amazing friendships in my life and we sat in the parking lot and laughed about my body trying to function and encouraged one another in how far we've come in just a few short weeks and I felt a great sense of gratitude that I had lived to tell the tale.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You're just gonna feel a pinch.

This morning I started the day with a run. It was so humid that it just sucked the energy right out of me. Seriously felt like I was breathing in air with concrete mixed in. When I got home I layed on the family room floor and started to drift off to sleep, in the middle of the chaos that is our life. As my thoughts began to get hazy I hear a little voice say, “we are going to have to cut off all her body parts. I’m so sorry, mam.” I peeked an eye open to see ‘Dr. Rubens and Dr. Gellen’ with their ‘scalpels’ in hand. One fashioned from a pick up stick and one a stylus from a Nintendo DS. These two beautiful little girls ages 3 and 5 proceeded to ‘cut’ each of my fingers off, followed by my arms and legs. Before I knew it, my running shoes and socks were being peeled off of me and off went the toes and the feet at the ankles. Just I thought I should maybe check into counseling for the giggles that were coming from these children as they dismembered their mother, I hear Dr. Gellen, the leader of the operation, say “next is her head.” My fears of therapy bills were soon diminished as the sweetest little kiss was planted on my nose before the pick up stick turned scalpel sliced my neck and and my head was pulled off by four little hands. I layed there still the entire time. Completely exhausted and oddly relaxed in the middle of my bizarre surgery……until the DS stylus was inserted into my nostril ‘by accident’ and my sinuses were nearly pierced. Time to get up and get going before someone loses an eye.