Sunday, February 28, 2010

The welcome mat is out.

I could not figure out why I was so tired today. I thought at first that I was getting sick. Zero energy and I actually fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the chaos and noise that is my daily life. (Don't worry, my husband was home) As I planned for this week, I looked over last week and I counted how many children other than my own went through this house last week. Nineteen.
19. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19. Nineteen. Anyway you say it, it's a bit insane. It was fun though. We all survived. We were able to help some friends and some family and share the love;) We had cupcakes and made our own individual pizzas, we moved the island in the kitchen and played basketball, we watched movies and played school and colored and dressed up and ate lots and lots of snacks. I love that my children don't bat an eyelash and other children hanging around. I love that our house is the house where everyone knows they are welcome.......them and their loud kids. Trevor and I have always said that we want to be the house where the kids hang out so we know who their friends are and what's going on. Be careful what ya wish for. LOL

Turns out that will make ya tired.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's not about happiness.

I love this post. Love it. I could have written this to my own children. I didn't. But Missy did and she did it oh so well.

"Recently we were told by people whom we love and respect why they oppose our plans to adopt. One of the reasons given was that we would not be able to pay for your college education. It's true. You all have college funds - college funds which recently took a terrible hit - but "they" say that by the time you're 18, college will cost anywhere between $200,000 to half a million dollars each. You might as well know now, we won't be covering that. I'm telling you now, babies.

The people said that the day would come when you would look at us with resentment because you had to apply for school loans while many of your friends got a free ride from their parents. Maybe you will. Maybe you'll resent us. I really hope not. But maybe I should tell y'all now why your dad and I have decided to do what we are doing.

I know you're going to think I am going off topic (I do that a lot) but several years I saw a story on a TV show about how the latest trend was for parents to give their daughters boob jobs for high school graduation (I don't know what they gave their sons.) When interviewing one of the moms, she said, "I just want my daughter to be happy." And as I tossed a throw pillow at the television, this really huge thought occurred to me: I don't want my children to be happy.

My goal as your mom is not your happiness, sugars. In fact, I spend at least half my day making you unhappy. If I had a nickle for every tear that falls in this home on a daily basis, we wouldn't need to worry about college tuition at all.Happiness is fleeting, sweet babies. That means it doesn't last. It's a quick feeling that comes from a funny movie or a heart shaped lollipop or a really good birthday present. It's great. I love to be happy. But happiness is a reaction that is based on our surroundings. And our surroundings are so very rarely under our control. Even when - especially when - we think they are. So no, I absolutely don't want you to spend your life chasing something that has so little to do with your own abilities. You'll just be constantly frustrated.

There are two things I desire for you, precious loves. There are two things that I spend most of my time as a mother trying cultivate in you. Happiness ain't one of them. (This means, sorry, no boob jobs for you.)

The first is, I want you to be content. Being content is so much different from being happy. Being content is not based on your surroundings. Being content comes from within. Contentment is a spirit of gratitude. It's the choice you make to either be thankful for the things you do have, or to whine about the things you don't have.As you know, because I've told you lots of times, Paul talked about being content. Paul said that he had "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." And Paul was in some rotten situations, kiddos, really rotten.How could Paul be content whether he was in prison or if his life was literally a shipwreck? Because Paul was constantly seeking to be in the will of God instead of his own, was constantly sacrificing his own comfort for the sake of the gospel, and was constantly being confirmed, strengthened, and blessed by God because of his obedience. He was given a supernatural power - that means something kind of like magic, God magic - to do things that most other humans could not do. And guess what? The bible tells us (in Ephesians 1) that God will give you the exact samemeans, I want you to seek that God-power to make you content. I want you to want the Kingdom of God more than your own kingdom. And that's hard, babies, that is s power! If you want it!

Which leads me to my second desire for y'all.

I don't want you to be happy. I want you to be holy. That o hard. And that usually means passing up a lot of what the world considers happiness. But it means that you will achieve blessings directly from God that most of the world never dreams of because they are too occupied with the achieving the perfect birthday present!This means you may be poor, 'in want' as Paul said, and that's okay. It will never, ever be okay with the world for you to be poor. So you'll be up against the world. But not your dad and me, loves, because it was never our goal for you to be wealthy - at least not in the way that the world considers wealthy.

Darlings, we love you so much. You will never even grasp how much we love you until you have children of your own, and then you'll get it, and then you'll apologize for the ways you treated us ;) But our goal is not to please you. Our goal is to please our Heavenly Father. And nowhere in the bible does the Lord command that we save our money to send our kids to college.

But the Lord does command us to care for the orphan around fifty times. He does tell us to care for the poor around 300 times. He does tell us that when we care for the neediest, we are caring for Jesus Himself. And in chapter six of the book of Matthew, He tells us to seek His kingdom first, and let Him worry about the rest, like college tuition. Because it's all His anyway.They said that one day y'all would resent us for using 'your' college money to go and get your sister out of an orphanage in Ethiopia and bring her home to you.But I know my babies. Even at your tender ages, I know your hearts, and I have already seen you weep for the least of these. I know the prayers I offer up to God that He and not the world would shape the desires of your hearts. I am trusting Him to answer those prayers. So, sugarbears - I just don't believe those people. Love,Mommy"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Proud owner of a new furnace

It's been a tough time in the Harris Household. First the water softener went out which I believe was the beginning of the demise of the dishwasher and now not to be outdone.....the furnace had joined them. I woke in the middle of the night freezing and came to check the thermostat and it was 60 degrees in the house. By the time Trevor got up to go to work it was 58 and the reality had set in that we had major trouble. I loaded up all of the kids and we went to my parents for the day to be in the warmth. We left poor Trevor behind with a small space heater and some hot tea:) The man of my life was proud to fend the cold to protect his family. He even cleaned the bathrooms while I was gone:)

Let's rewind to yesterday. I sat and looked at our budget and our taxes and I was so thankful that for the first time it looked like we were going to be able to have an inch of breathing room and be able to get the dishwasher and the water softener our home desperately needs. God's sense of humor in my life often seems like something the Coen brothers would have written.

I can joke about it now. My first reaction was to cry. I know it is silly and I know my thoughts were unappreciative but I felt slighted. I felt like Trevor and I work so hard at trying to be good stewards of our time and finances and resources and that for just once, it would be nice to have a dime left be able to get carpet our house needs or replace the couches I've had since would be nice to not worry at the end of the month and to be able to have that emergency fund we dream of so that when things like this happen it doesn't set us back. I was beyond frustrated and hurt and just in general sick at the cost. I thought about all the people I know who seem to be so materially successful and have little room for God and I felt so tired of struggling. I guess in all honesty, I felt entitled. I felt like I had 'done enough' for God that He should want me to have carpet too. I know that's not how it works. I know that it was my frustration and my unfailing humanness. I know that it is ridiculous beyond measure but it is where I spent a good part of my day. And then a friend sent me a verse that I sent her just last week. Psalms 34:17...The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

And another friend emailed me to tell me that she thought we might need dinner so she was fixing soup for us and fresh bread and she would be bringing it over at 4.

And my husband calmly told me we'd be okay.

And my parents opened their home to us to stay warm.

And my friends prayed

and I meditated on the fact that it is only by HIS grace and He wants us to depend solely on HIM

and it wasn't long til I was singing that old hymn, "Jehovah Jireh, my provider, you are more than enough for me." I realize how God provides for our family. How he always has. How beyond blessed we are and how rich we are in comparison to the majority of this world.

Tonight we will sit in our family room on our 'throwback' couches around our little space heater and we will all be together and healthy and happy and I will thank God for the blessings in my life and I will praise Him spite of my stained old carpet and my broken dishwasher. I will remember HIS love for me and our family and that the cost He paid for me cannot be financed with no interest for a year like the furnace, it can not be measured or paid back and I can never ever do enough. I will remember that He blesses me in so many other ways that I just may be the richest woman I know. Take that furnace.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You are invited to....

I got home from pre-school drop off today and found a note addressed to L taped on our door. I told L it was for him. "For me?" Yes. "Only for me?" Yes. Let the dance of joy begin. I helped him open it and told him his little friend wants him to come to his Star Wars birthday party. Just him. "Can I hold it?"

It was so cute. I wrote down all the info quickly and the boy hasn't sat it down all day. I know this takes place a dozen times a year to children everywhere, but not this child. This is the first time he's been in a place long enough to have his own little friend. And I think children that are fostered or adopted for a long time feel like they are surrounded by toys and a house and friends and family that they are borrowing, not their own thing. No matter how many times you tell them it is all yours. Everything we have is yours. I think it still, in the back of their mind, doesn't feel like theirs. It's the reason he holds on to anything from his old life with such gusto. So this is the reason that I choked back tears and felt so thankful that my sweet boy not only has his own friend, but his very own, very cool, Star Wars invitation to what I'm sure will be a very fun party.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The needies

My three youngest haven't been feeling well. Nothing major. Just bad coughs, a little tummy bug and a case of the needies. I've never had all three of them sick at the same time and at times it seemed like my lap wasn't big enough. When your lap isn't big enough, they resort to other things like your head. This time it was Trevor's turn.

You know when you were little and sick and you just wanted your mom? Heck, I'm big and when I'm really sick, I still want my mom. This is the first time P and L have really not felt well since they've been with us. So I braced myself. I prepared myself for the fact that they would ask for her. For MOM. With the loss of her in their life so fresh, I just knew they would want her. They would want her arms and her hugs and her sympathy even though it was my face getting coughed in, my nose being assaulted by all kinds of things and my hands cleaning up and comforting. But the thing is, they didn't ask. They haven't gotten an inch from me. They have climbed into my lap a hundred times and they have kissed my face over and over and they have told me their tummy hurts and layed by me and climbed into my bed to snuggle. I have wiped noses and heinies a hundred times. I have comforted and I have held and I am becoming their mom and they know it. They know it. They wanted me. They have only asked for me.

I'm not naive enough to think that we won't ever have another issue again or that they will never ask for MOM or long for a relationship with her but I am thankful enough to recognize the little victories. This is bigger than fishsticks! (see earlier post)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday means one thing....

Today is Fat Tuesday. That means one thing to me. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. For years Christians have celebrated Lent by giving up something they cherish. When I was young it was chocolate, Mt. Dew or Taco Bell.....maybe it's a behavior like giving up television or electronics or you can even add something to your daily routine that puts your focus on Jesus. The point is to have that reminder as to the price Jesus paid. It should be a time of refection and repentance, a time to realize the brokeness of our lives and that the only way is through Christ. It is an opportunity to put in check what stuff we have in our life that isn't glorifying get rid of the extra. As I get older and grow in my walk with God, I really try to focus on the reason. 40 days.....just like Jesus in the desert. Preparing my heart for the sacrifice my God made for me. Preparing my heart for the magnitude of what Jesus did for my silly everyday sins. Truly realizing the suffering so I can relish in the victory when he rises on that 3rd day! If you don't know what Jesus did for me and it is:

Isaiah 53 (The Message) Isaiah 53 1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this? 2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him. 7-9He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true. 10Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him. 11-12Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The loves of my life...

The loves of my life....all six of them and I made homemade pizzas for Valentine's Day...another love of our lives:)

Friday, February 12, 2010


Today at lunch little Miss P tells me she doesn't like fishsticks. I tell her she's silly thinking she just wants the new pile of Valentines candy that her sister brought home from pre-school and tell her to finish her lunch. I cannot even remember how many times she has had them in the past ten months and eaten them. So I watch her for a bit. Struggling to eat them. And it hits me then. This little girl trusts me. She trusted me enough to tell me that she doesn't like fishsticks and knew I would love her anyway and feed her something else. She trusted me enough to tell me something she doesn't like and for a little girl that copes with smiling through everything and acting like the world is perfect it made me want to cry. I ask her if she likes them or not and she crinkles her nose and looks nervous and whispers 'not.' I scoop her up and hug her and tell her I'm sorry I didn't know she doesn't like fishsticks. I tell her that we won't be having them anymore and I thank her for telling me the truth that she was feeling. This was a big day for us. It may seem funny to you but I will forever remember the day this beautiful girl told me she doesn't like fishsticks. Lord knows how many times I've put them in front of her. I wonder what else she doesn't like around here?! I'm afraid we may soon find out;)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Remembering Joey

Have you ever had to watch someone you love so deeply go through something that you had no control over and you just had to sit quietly by and watch them hurt? Have you ever wished and prayed for something so different than the ways things actually turned out? Have you ever wondered why bad bad things happen to really good amazing people? Seven years ago tomorrow that very thing happened in my circle of friends.

I was pregnant with my second child and one of my very best friends was pregnant with her first and it was so fun to think of our children growing up so close together. I got the call that she was in labor and was so excited to meet their bundle of joy. Later on that afternoon as I was planning to go to the hospital, I got a call that brought news that changed the course of my dear friends life forever. There were complications in delivery and her son was taken immediately to Riley Children's Hospital with her husband and she was at the other hospital recovering from an emergency c-section. The troops rallied and the four of us that had been friends with this new mom since childhood came to the hospital and cried with our friend. We prayed and squealed at his pictures and wondered what on earth to say or do or how to help our friend on this journey. Five days later Joey's short life came to an end in the arms of his parents. This tragedy was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever witnessed but it was also something completely unsuspecting. It was beautiful. It was full of God's Grace.

My dear friend was a newer Christian at the time and I remember worrying about her faith and her new marriage and her emotions and her entire life. I remember hurting to the pit of my stomach for her and her husband. I still do. I still cannot think about Joey without tearing up. But I had no reason for worry. I witnessed in my friend and her husband, God's grace at It's fullest. I watched them comfort others. I watched them lean on one another and their faith family. I watched them turn to God and in a moment that would have brought the greatest of faiths to question, I watched them grow in their walk with our God. I watched friends and family support them and carry them and cry with them and watched this amazing couple celebrate the life of their son. They did not get stuck in the moment of his death but they celebrated the life of this blessed little boy.

I remember having one of those primal cries that come from the pit of your stomach and seem to crawl out of your throat and into the air. I remember holding my growing belly and feeling scared and so sad for my sweet friend knowing how hard it would be to be around me be around my baby. I told her that I understood if it was something she couldn't do. Once again, she showed God's grace. She was the first one to hold my Noah, other than me. We both just looked at each other and cried. She said she feels blessed to be able to look at Noah through the years and get a glimpse at the things Joey would be doing right now.

They played the song "I Can Only Imagine" at his memorial service. I think of him everytime I hear it. It still makes me weep. I can only imagine.....I cannot wait to be in heaven one day and see my amazing friend dancing before Jesus with her son.

My friends faith and her grace and the comfort she found in our Savior grew me. I know that it grew many. I know that to this day when she writes a note to a family that is grieving, she still changes lives. Joey still changes lives. And so today, I thank God for Joey and his mom and dad. I thank God for their witness. I thank God that He can create a life so amazing that in five short days, he could change eternity for some.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Custody, granted!

I walked into an empty courtroom today. It was a place I've never imagined myself. It was myself, Trevor, Safe families and our attorney at one table. The court reporter and judge walked in and we stood. We all testified. We were asked questions by our attorney and then the judge. He granted custody easily and without much drama. The biggest drama came when Trevor said that we had three other children. The judges face was priceless and he asked Trevor again to tell him how many rooms we had in our home and said so you will have five children and this is what you want? Quite funny really. He wasn't trying to be. MOM wasn't there. The sheriff's department couldn't confirm her reciept of the paperwork so she may not have even known about it.

I sat there looking at the empty desk across from us with so many emotions. To be completely honest, the first was relief. I wasn't sure how she would react to us and I didn't want to have to find out. Secondly it made me feel sad for her....that this is happening and she isn't even aware....or does she not care enough to show up....what a great loss for her this is. And finally I felt thankful that my husband and I could be a voice for P and L and that we were their advocates for a better life, a life with a family and a stable home and a life that knows Jesus. It was such a visual image of who was rooting for them in this life before us and the support system they now have. I could just picture the courtroom full of our friends and family and then that empty table in the middle.

The judge granted custody and I instantly felt 50 pounds lighter. Basically the custody is so that no one can take them from our home until the adoption is complete. We have the right now to enroll them in school, have them assessed, etc....For the first time in 9 months of them living with us, we have legal rights and know they cannot be taken from us today or tomorrow. I will no longer wonder what the day may hold and if MOM is going to decide to create drama today. It is such a huge sense of peace and I think I may actually get some sleep tonight. I am hoping this feeling of stability will enrich the lives of our children too. I am sure it will. Our homestudy was completed yesterday and we were fingerprinted today so now we wait for a court date for the adoption hearing and finish getting all of our paperwork together. One step closer to our forever family. One step closer. Praise God!