Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

That fine line...

I've often heard it said that there's a fine line between concern and worry. I think when it comes to the deployment of a loved one, that line is perforated.

It's normal when you're apart from your spouse for extended periods to think about them and what they're doing when you wake up in the morning, and when you're head hits the pillow at night...and about a million other times during the day. It's normal when you know they're in a dangerous part of the world, to scan the headlines first thing in the morning to see if anything happened in that part of the world.

As we prepare for my husband's deployment, it's prudent for me to consider what I should do if he doesn't come back. We have two kids, and I need to plan for our future. We've been married nearly 13 years; I met my hubby when I was 16. We were engaged when I was 17, and married when I was barely 18. We've grown up together. We've influenced one another incredibly. When I think about the possibility of him not coming home, all of these thoughts go through my head. My chest starts to hurt, and I feel like I can't breathe. Without even noticing, I've crossed over into the realm of worry from the perfectly sane place of concern.

If I cannot keep myself in the land of normal concern, what am I going to do with two kiddos who already worry incessantly that their father or I will die? These two already spend a great deal of their time in fearful worry.

Sigh. I suppose if life were too easy, I'd be bored with it.

...sometimes boring sounds nice though!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Here's a great article dealing with some of the ethical issues surrounding adoption today.

I especially loved this part:

If there’s one thing I could point to in myself and my adoption hopes that seems flawed and likely to contribute to corruption within the system, it’s this: Like most people, even evangelicals, I’d love to adopt a newborn. A healthy newborn. But the fact is, children fitting that description are a small percentage of the millions of orphans worldwide. Adopting an older child, and/or one with disabilities, seems different from adopting a “perfect” newborn. But you know what? If you read adoption literature widely and deeply, you’ll see that there is no single path to a “perfect” adoptive family. (And is there one path to any kind of “perfection” in any kind of family?) Even the healthy newborn adopted on day two can end up having serious attachment problems. The older child with a disability can become the joy of a couple’s life.

Yes, adoption is expensive (easily close to $30,000, depending on the route one takes), ethically confusing, frustrating, and occasionally heartbreaking. Our adoption by God through Christ wasn’t cheap, either, and we who would adopt shouldn’t give up because it’s hard. Rather, we should wisely discern what’s truly best for all involved—even if it means opening ourselves to the potential for greater hurt.

Because who knows? It may yet be the avenue for greater joy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Waiting

My post title sums my life up pretty well. We're waiting.

Still in the adoption process waiting to be matched--waiting to find out who the next little precious member of this family will be.

Waiting (and dreading) my hubby's upcoming deployment. I don't care what anyone says, you never get used to living apart from your soul mate. Never. And it ALWAYS hurts. I want it over with. And I'm nervous about how the kids will take it. They're dread of it has more than begun as well.

Our other house has been on the market for more than 100 days. We really need it to sell. We don't even care about a profit anymore, we just need to be out from under the enormous burden of a second mortgage.

I know, everything happens in God's timing. In the meantime I hurt. I long for that little member of our family to join us. I worry that it won't ever happen. I worry about all the things that will go wrong during hubby's deployment. And trust me, stuff WILL go wrong. I know how much it hurts to be apart from him, and how much it hurts my kids. I'm not looking forward to our suffering. I'm downright scared that our other house won't sell and that we're going to run out of money in the meantime (which day by day becomes an increasingly very real possibility). I'd like to say I'm 100% confident that these things will happen in God's perfect timing, that He will care for us and comfort us no matter what transpires in the meantime...but sometimes I worry, and a little voice whispers in my head what if He doesn't? What if He doesn't care? I'm totally crappy at trusting God. I always want to know the reasons WHY it all hurts so much sometimes.

It just so happens that today when I've really been struggling with these doubts and fears, I picked up a book and read the following by Os Guinness:

To suffer is one thing, to suffer without meaning is another, but to suffer and choose not to press for meaning is the worst of all. Yet that is the suicidal submission that faith's suspension of judgement seems to involve.

There are times when we see glimpses of God's ways but not enough to allow us to make true conclusions about what he is doing and why. Yet we cannot resist jumping to conclusions anyway. Then, being insistent as well as inquisitive, we refuse to suspend judgement, and our wrong conclusions to misrepresent God that we end by doubting him. But if Christian's faith is to be itself and let God be God at such times, it must suspend judgement and say, "Father, I do not understand you, but I trust you."


Os Guinness goes on to outline why we can trust God. It really was just what I needed today. I still feel antsy and scared and have no idea what the future holds and how many heartbreaks may be ahead. But now my mind returns to these words from Os Guinness:

Doubts about the Father are silenced in the Son...the truth of the Incarnation is not just good theology; it is practical comfort and assurance. Jesus identifies with us in our humanity, and now we know that God is for us in Christ. He can be trusted. He went through torture too. When we see Jesus on the cross we can come to trust God with an unutterable trust that never for a moment considers he will not stand by us in our sufferings.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do children destroy wedded bliss?

I read an interesting blog post today. Here a woman insists that she and her husband enjoy a "lifetime honeymoon" because they’ve avoided numerous stressors by choosing not to have children. I think she’s dead wrong, and I come from the unique experience of having been child free for 10 years of marriage before becoming a parent.

Now, I want to preface this by saying that I do not believe every couple should have children. Just as God calls some to singlehood, I also believe that He calls others to a life void of parenting. I believe every person should follow God’s will for their lives, and that a fulfilling life can only be found by doing so. Also, if you go to the woman’s blog to read her opinion, please don’t leave comments attacking her or the purpose of her blog. I’ve included the link because I believe it to be a fascinating (though erroneous) post, and my own post was brought to my mind after thinking about hers, but I have no wish to cause her any problems with negative traffic on her blog.

My husband and I have always been deeply in love—before and after children. But having children is an experience I’m glad we’ve had because it’s certainly adds a new dimension to that love. I get the opportunity to see my husband love and care for his children. I see him sacrifice himself for them, and my love for him increases as I watch him. I know that not only has our love intensified through the parenting process, but we’ve each gathered a whole new appreciation of one another as we see the other parent. We also work together as a team in a whole new way.

Parenting is a job after all—an enjoyable, rewarding job, but certainly a job nonetheless. Working together side by side with your lover and best friend on an intensely personal, emotional, fulfilling and challenging mission is hard to describe in words. It brings a certain satisfaction and intimacy to your marriage that would be difficult to replicate outside the role of parenting.

So, let’s talk about stress. Do kids add stress? Well, I’m curious; doesn’t any close relationship add an element of stress? I know that I love my dogs more than life itself, but they’re expensive and we’ve dealt with intensely stressful behavioral problems. I know that just about every close friendship I’ve had has involved stressful conflict at some point. Every relationship comes with its problems, but we get and give so much out of it that I can’t imagine avoiding relationships to avoid stress. Not to mention stress can strengthen a relationship.

I know that sounds crazy, but think about it. It’s sort of along the line of what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. My relationship with my husband is very strong, and I attribute that in large part due to the fact that we’ve walked through fire together—before and after having children. When you’re going through rough circumstances, it’s hard to look past the agony, but once you’re through it, you can look back and thank God for giving you an experience that forced you and husband to come together before God and trust Him to carry you through. Now, I’m not saying that parenting is agony—far from it, but I’m trying to show that going through hard times (whether or not children are in the picture) together strengthens your bond. Parenting may or may not be one of those hard things—depending on your personal circumstances.

Has parenthood reduced the satisfaction of some marriages? I’m sure it has, judging from the number of “confessions” out in cyber land. Does it reduce the satisfaction of every marriage? Absolutely not. Can having children increase the satisfaction of your marriage? Judging from my own marriage, and my friends’ marriages whom I’ve discussed this with, I can only answer with: absolutely yes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If you...

Are an adoptive parent


Want to become an adoptive parent


or


Know an adoptive parent...


You need to read this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Love is...

...staying up the entire night and cleaning up after someone who is violently ill all over your bedroom carpet and bathroom floor...

...because they stole one of your lip balms and consumed it (plastic and all)...

...then feeling no animosity towards them when they have the luxury of snoozing all day (when you have to care for/school your children)...



...someone is darn lucky I love him.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Praise God for a wonderful Labor Day.

I never really used to consider Labor Day a holiday. I actually thought it was a bit ridiculous. Now my husband is a hard working Sergeant, and I'm excited about any day that means an extended relaxing weekend together as a family.

I don't remember last Labor Day. I suspect that I probably have blocked it out. We had no honeymoon period with CJ. At. All. Last Labor Day he would have joined our family a mere 3 weeks prior. He was in a lot of emotional pain, which he only knew how to express through anger. A LOT of anger. All. The. Time. This time last year was not fun. Sometimes I forget that. I shouldn't. Even though it was a horrible time in all our lives, I think it's important to remember.

Today was such a marvelous day together as a family and I didn't think much beyond thanking God that we all got to enjoy a beautiful day together (hubby was off work) It didn't even occur to me that last year this time our whole family felt hostage to my son's emotional problems. At that time our circumstances felt so hopeless, and our future so bleak,I could never even have envisioned a holiday where we were happy.

Last year at this time I was crying out to God begging Him to help my son, and help my whole family make it through. I continued crying out to Him for months.

How soon we forget.

How grateful I am.

Thank you, LORD.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making... a rather brief disjointed review (as a stay at home/ home schooling mom, I'm juggling a few things as I blog)

Yesterday I finished reading Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp. I kind of think it should be required reading for all humans (well, part of it anyway, but I'll get to that later.)

I love my parents a lot, and they did a lot of things right in raising me, but they really missed it when it came to teaching me how to behave in a Christlike manner in relationships. A lot of that is probably because their parents never taught them. One of my parents has been wounded a lot in life and thinks it's better to avoid the pain and mess in relationships all together. But that not how we were made, and it's not what God intends for our lives. God uses our relationships with those around us to mold and shape us us, build us up, discipline us, and teach us to be more Christlike. Having never really been taught this, I tend to suck at relationships. Enter Relationships: A Mess Worth Making.

I've always maintained that relationships are always messy because we're all sinners. In many ways, this book is great guide for navigating all the mess. It illustrates how God uses relationships in our lives and how to behave in Godly way in relationships. It has biblical and practical ideas concerning how to behave when you've sinned or been sinned against, how to seek reconciliation, what mercy looks like, what forgiveness actually is, and how to approach others dealing with difficulty (there's a lot more too!) But though the books has teaches a lot about behavior and has great advice, that's not primarily what it's about. It's about your heart. Because at the heart of every relationship problem is a heart problem. Which brings me to an important warning about what this book is not...

This book is not a program to manipuating those around you so you can acheive the relationship of your dreams (let's just be honest here, that's exactly what most relationship books are). I fact on page 11 is says:


Skills and techniques appeal to us because they promise that relational problems can be fixed by tweaking our behavior without altering the bent of our hearts.


This book addresses your own sinful heart. As such, be warned, it's a convicting read!

I can say that though it's not a program for better relationships, reading Relationships: A Mess Worth Making has improved my relationships. It's made me evaluate my heart, God's desire for my interactions with others, and how to think about others. Because it's changed me, my realtionships have been changing.

I'm not going to tell you everything in the book, because I want you to read it. Specifically, I want you to read chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. Honestly the rest of the book seemed like filler, and rather unnecessary. But those chapters really cut to the heart, and teach so much--not only about relationships, but also about yourself and your relationship with God.

If you have parents, sibling, children, a spouse or friends, this book is for you. If you haven't any of those people in your life, this book is for you!



Relationships: A Mess Worth Making quotes C.S. Lewis several times, and I'm going to conclude with one here to give you a little food for thought:


On the one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us even through the next twenty-four hours as `decent' people. If He does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded of the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life: but He means to get us as far as possible before death.

That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurt abominably and does not seem to make sense. What oil earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of-throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1943), 173-174







Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I have a confession to make....

Here it is: I...LOVE being a mom. I cannot imagine my life without my kids in it. I enjoy them now, and I love watching as they mature and our relationship changes. I look forward to the future and the relationship we have then. I enjoy our time together. And we have a lot of it together (remember: I'm not only a stay-at-home mom, but I home school as well)

Posts like this make me feel like a freak for enjoying motherhood.

Maybe it's because I was schooled at home myself. My friends were older (often adults) or significantly younger at times. I think the most important thing I learned in my education was developing relationships outside my age group.

I like my kids. I'm not able to be buddies with them, because I'm still their parent, but I enjoy a great relationship with them. My mom is one of my very best friends, and I can barely wait until I have the same sort of relationship with my own kids.

Do my kids drive me insane sometimes? Of course they do. So does my hubby and my extended family. It comes with the territory when you have a bunch of sinners interacting on a regular basis. Heck, even my dogs drive me insane sometimes, and they don't even sin (the insanity they cause might be because I sin enough for them and me put together!)

So there's my confession. My name is Laura, and I'm a total freak for loving motherhood and recognizing my children as a blessing from God.

He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things I learned this week...

If you pray for someone you hate, you can't hate them anymore.

Sometimes "Oh my God." is the only prayer you can manage to utter.

My 9-year-old daughter is AMAZING in an emergency situation.

Even if the only time you can carve out to read a novel is 11pm-2am, it's worth it.

My sister is an awesome person (I actually already knew this ;) )

Reading the classics with my kids in the evening is a treasure for all of us (really never pictured this!)

I am IN LOVE with this song:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I needed a pep talk today, so here it is...

Have you ever noticed that as Christians we tend to assume God only calls us to things we enjoy? So many times I hear people say that God hasn’t called them to _____________, and I want to ask them, “Are you basing this on the fact that it doesn’t appeal to YOU because it would suck?” The thing is, God calls us to hard stuff. It’s not about us. It’s about HIM. If God only called us to the things we like, no Christian would ever:

Become paralyzed

Love someone with a mental illness

Become unexpectedly pregnant when they feel their family is complete

Adopt a child with RAD

Be infertile

Have cancer

Struggle in their marriage

Lose a loved one

Have a child born with scary medical issues

Face financial difficulty

Or experience any other emotional or physical pain. God uses these things to show us His love, to grow us, and for His own glory. Of course you don’t want the bad stuff. But with the bad stuff comes some really really good stuff-- if you’re living in obedience to God. I know it’s scary, we're supposed to step out in faith to follow Him. It helps to remember: it’s not about YOU! He has a purpose, and what greater purpose could you have than to be part of whatever God is doing? Even if it hurts. And it’s gonna hurt. Life hurts. Change hurts. But hurt can be good. Without that pain we become stagnant.

I am not a freaking saint. I don’t enjoy the hard stuff. But I know that it comes from Him. He uses it to shape me, and those around me. Most amazingly, He uses it to bring about His own glory, and I get to be a part of that.

You are no different than I am. Don’t act like I’m some sort of Mother Theresa who’s more equipped to deal with the hard stuff than you are. I am incredibly selfish. I’m demanding. I like things MY way. My tongue can (and sadly has) cut others down in an instant. I am impatient. I HATE noise. I like to be the boss of everything. Things I cannot control make me incredibly anxious and often furious. I am utterly and completely ill equipped for the jobs God has given me. He has called me to them anyway. They point me ever more to Him, because I wouldn’t be fit for anything without Him.

Instead of trying to tell God what you’re called to, why don’t you listen to Him? You’ll probably be REALLY surprised to find out what He’s called you to, and that He will make up for all your inadequacies along the way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Living the life of a movie star...

Yesterday (after I'd spent much of the day cleaning up LOADS of vomit from one very sick dog)my hubby told me that in the next couple months, he'll need to travel to NYC and Las Vegas for work. This morning, I realized my job today entails three tasks that I cannot put off any longer:

1. Grocery shopping at Wal-Mart

2. Cleaning toilets

3. Cleaning the Rabbit's cage

Yup, it doesn't get anymore glamorous than that!

Good thing there are blogs like Missy's around to at least make me chuckle when I'm knee deep in all this glamour: Confessions of a rookie communion server

Monday, July 11, 2011

T4A

http://www.togetherforadoption.org/?page_id=11

Anyone else planning to go? We're hoping to, but it depends on a couple financial issues (like selling our other house...or at least the IRS finally giving us our refund!)

Anyway, it looks like it's going to be great (with plenty of opportunities for networking)

I think what I'm looking forward to most is the pre conference for adoptive (or pre-adoptive) Mamas. Check it out!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet the Robinsons...I kinda wish we hadn't


I've wanted to see Meet the Robinsons since it came out. For one reason or another, I never got to. A few months ago, I brought up to hubby the possibility of buying it and watching as a family. Once I told him the plot, he shut me down in a hurry. He was afraid a plot line involving a child desperate to meet his birthmom--the only person who ever really loved him--would be detrimental to our kids healing and attachment. I probably should have listened to him about these minor details, but I didn't want to raise my kids in a bubble (despite their traumatic past) blah, blah, blah. Sigh.

Our library offers a free movie on Thursday afternoons. They have a projector, the kids bring pillows and blankets, and everyone settles in to watch a movie. We'd never been before, and I saw that they were playing Meet the Robinsons today. I asked the kids what they thought. I mentioned the part of the movie that might bring up sad feelings for them. They both told me they had seen the movie before, that it wouldn't bother them...oh, and hubby wasn't here to run it by. So, feeling ÜBER confident in my amazingly thoughtful parenting skills, I blithely packed up both kiddos and head out to Meet the Robinsons.

First of all, I loved the movie. It was fantastic. The kids enjoyed it immensely...except for the very last scene, when he is in a car headed to his new home with his new family. My daughter lost it. Huge wracking sobs. She threw herself at me and just sobbed. Everyone in the room (100 or so people) turned to look at us, so I led her out of the room to the hall. In the hall, she continued gasping and sobbing and telling me how the end of the movie reminded her of one of her more traumatic moves (she moved to a number of different homes before joining our family, but this particular one is the one she always seems most disturbed by) and it filled her with sadness. Motherhood fail.

In that moment, my heart felt crushed. The sadness that enveloped me made it difficult to breathe. Then like a baseball between the eyes, it hit me that the proverb "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child." is so incredibly true. My happiness is completely tied into that of my children's. Your life is so incredibly altered when you enter into parenthood. Not that that's bad. Romans 12:15 reminds us to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." --in parenthood you have many opportunities to live this out.

When my son is struggling with depression, and that cloud of depression envelopes me, or when my children are in pain from past trauma, and my heart breaks, this emotional tie parents have with their children may seem like it has a lot of pitfalls, but there are rewards too--because their happiness is that much sweeter to me. When their hearts sing, mine soars. I just have to remember that in hard times when my heart shatters from their pain.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bad Blogger!

I know, I haven't been blogging. Things have been really rough around here. My life is sucking like a Dyson. If you're reading this, could you pray for us? We're having some financial struggles, a contractor pulling a bait and switch, issues with our home we're trying to sell, and some military stuff that could have big scary reprecussions. The tension in our house is palpable. Please, if you're reading this, could you pray right now that God will provide for our needs, and ease the stress in our household? Thank you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is it hot enough for you?

It's 104 degrees here right now. Yep, it's Summer. Too hot to really go anywhere, or do anything. Even when the sun sets, it's still in the 90's. I don't know what it is about the heat, but it tends to cause tempers to flare. My husband and I argue a lot in the summer. Every summer. My kids have meltdowns. Even my dogs get into scuffles with one another. It's not just us. I've seen people come close to blows over minor disagreements at the dog park. I've seen people scream at people serving them at restaurants or retail shops. I don't know what it is about temps that cause this...and I am curious about the human race didn't manage to wipe one another out before the age of air conditioning.

I've never understood why people look forward to summer. Summer is the price I have to pay to get to Fall. I love Fall. Pumpkins, spice, cool evening walks, leaves falling, dark nights, warm meals. And Fall leads to beautiful cozy Winter. I miss Winter with it's biting chill (that leads to snuggling under blankets with loved ones and good books), yummy baked good, dead bugs, lovely snowflakes and excellent holidays.

As of today we have just fewer than 6 months until Christmas. That's what I'm holding onto as I deal with bugs, heat, irritable children and too much sunlight!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Here's a really thoughtful one...

I really enjoy this post by Cate at Gathered From Afar on Fndraising. Actually, I enjoy everything she writes. Check out her blog!



Friday, June 24, 2011

It's happened countless times.

I couldn't tell you the number of times I've spoken with a person who seems enthusiastic about adoption, then they say "I'd love to adopt, but..." Their reasons that follow vary, but tend to boil down to the same issue. Watch this video I found posted on Jen's blog to find out what I'm talking about:




This video speaks for itself.

So why all the adoption posts of late? I know I blog about adoption a lot, but even I can see that I've been hitting it hard and heavy lately. I suppose the reasons are twofold:

1) I've felt a desperate desire to help waiting children of late. Yeah, if you know me in real life, you know that's me all the time. But lately, it's been a more desperate, more urgent desire to help these kids. If I can use my blog as a avenue to keep the word out about children in need, I will.

2) Things in my personal life aren't bloggable right now (relax, it's just finances, housing situation and military stuff), and I don't feel like blogging about my personal reflections, because I don't want to focus on my life's frustrations at the moment.

So I'm sorry my posts are starting to sound like a broken record, I can't tell you when it's going to let up. Right now waiting children are the biggest thing in my heart and on my mind.

I know, I know...

I've been a sporadic blogger. The big things and the little things keep getting in the way. There are some big stressful things that I cannot (or do not want) share in bloggyland. Then there are the little things...you know, housework and homeschooling, and errands. I also have Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (which of late has been much much worse than usual), which makes computer time downright painful.

I know, excuses, excuses, right? I'll get back to blogging regularly as soon as I can. if our family crosses your mind in the meantime, will you pray for us? Thanks :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails...

The first time we adopted, I really really wanted a little girl. I pictured all we could do together--from baking to dress up, to snuggling and reading. I couldn't wait. We sent inquiries concerning a few little boys, but my heart's desire was a girl. What in the world would I do with a boy, anyway? I knew nothing about little boys. I grew up with sisters. Girls I got. Boys...not so much. Boys were scary.

Well, I got my little girl. And we thoroughly enjoyed our girl stuff (we still do!) but then a peculiar thing began to happen. My heart had a new desire. A scary desire. I wanted a little boy too. I didn't know why. I had no experience with boys. Boy are loud. Boys are impulsive. They think trucks and hunting are cool. But I couldn't shake that desire. And I knew that there are tons of little boys out there needing a family.

So we began the adventure of adding a little boy to our family. And it was scary (especially since he was 8 years old, and had suffered untold hurt in his young life) None of our lives will ever be the same. I wouldn't be the same person without CJ, and he wouldn't be the same person without me. It turns out boys aren't that scary (though I'll admit I often have a hard time figuring why their brains work the way they do!) It turns out boys aren't just for dads. I love doing things with my little boy. We play games, snuggle, read together, bake together, go out to the bookstore, have deep conversations. I love my life with a little boy in it. I saw this video today, and it totally made me reflect on the little boy who has changed my life forever, and how I hope there are more little boys in my future!



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Open your eyes; open your heart

It's been a while since I've blogged. Almost a month, actually. There's been a lot of tedious little things keeping me from my more enjoyable parts of life (friends, blogging, activities...they've all sadly been cut short lately.) From illness to IRS difficulties, to roadblocks in getting our old home on the market...it's been consuming (and fatiguing). I've also been feeling a little down regarding at issue near and dear to my heart.

18 months ago hubby and I began a search to build our family. Ultimately this search brought us to our son, CJ. I'm grateful that was God's plan, as I love him more than life itself. During this search we became aware of 3 other individual boys in need of permanent families. Though our paths did not intersect, I have often thought of and prayed for each of these intelligent, adorable, sweet young men. Recently I was looking at some adoption photolistings when I saw each of them still listed there. Still in foster care. Still with no potential family in sight.

Had God not brought us together, this is where my precious son would be. Still waiting. Needing a place to call home and people to call family.

It breaks my heart to think of these boys, held indefinitely in limbo as they wait for a family who may never come.

Please consider making room in your heart and home for a child waiting in foster care. Throw away the myths--you know what I'm talking about. You've all heard stories about troubled older children and the problems they cause. I'm fairly certain those tales are created by bitter, guilty feeling people who have never been able to justify their lack of desire to make a hurting child their own. That's what we're talking about here: hurt kids. Not troubled; hurting.

You have the ability to completely change the trajectory for a human being who may not have much of a chance in life otherwise. You could take a child who has experienced little besides pain and make them a beloved treasured child.

Am I saying it's easy? By no means! It is the most challenging, difficult, impossible task you could ever envision taking on. It's also without doubt, the most rewarding experience you will ever have in your entire life...if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone, live your faith and show God's love to ones who need it most.

Go to www.photolisting.adoption.com look at their faces, I know it's hard, but let your heart break for them. Pray for them by name with their face in your mind. Open your heart and listen to how God is calling you to these children. Pray for them, love them. Even if that's all you ever do for them, it more than most have ever done for them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ha!

Well, I'll tell you: there's no point in worrying about your circumstances.

I couldn't sleep last night. I was worried about my dog. I was worried about all the other things from my earlier post. There was no point, because today brought whole new worries!

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, I had to take one of my dogs to the vet for emergency treatment (NOT the one who was terribly sick yesterday) then my husband required urgent minor surgery.

...but I know God is in control of it all

...now I need to try to refrain from worried tonight about what tomorrow might hold!

Scary things working together for good...

It has been a really rough week—one of the worst I’ve had actually…and it only WEDNESDAY! I shudder to contemplate what else the week might hold.

So far this week, I’ve had to call 911 twice (not for anyone in my family, thankfully), my husband found out he will be deploying (and it’s disappointingly sooner than we had anticipated), one of my dogs has been desperately ill, my mom left for home, my kids have been depressed and bottling their emotions in my mom’s absence, and we found that there’s a possibility (a rather strong one, actually) that due to the military my husband will be forced to live apart from us for a long period of time in a year and a half or so (longer than can be measured in mere months)

It’s times like these that I question every decision we’ve made, looking for the mistake. It’s times like these when I’m glad the world is ending on Saturday. (Just kidding about the second one) I think I question every decision we’ve made because it’s hard for me to imagine at times that life’s circumstances can be very difficult and still have gone exactly as planned. Thankfully one of the stressful experiences at beginning of the week illustrates (on a very small scale) how even that which appears to be difficult in life can have an important purpose.

On Friday my mom was delayed on her trip home because my sis (whom she was supposed to travel with) was dealing with hassles in getting out of base housing. She was delayed until Monday. This dragged out the misery of good-byes, and my poor sis was living like a nomad until she had permission to leave. Then on Sunday I was installing a curtain rod (desperately needed in my upstairs east facing bedroom window) when I started breaking the screw anchors. I’ve never done that before, and I was REALLY frustrated. So hubby took me to Home Depot to buy more. In Home Depot we ran into friends. We chatted, and as we were saying goodbye, one of our friends collapsed and lost consciousness. Hubby and I dialed 911, and stayed with them until paramedics arrived (my husband is a CPR instructor and knows first aid) The employees were nice, but utterly clueless; it was good that we were there. When I got home I told my mom what happened. She said “You were providentially hindered from installing that curtain rod so you could be at Home Depot where you were needed.” Later she also reminded me that if my sister hadn’t been hindered in leaving base housing, mom would not have been there to watch the kids, and Cullen and I would not have been able to be at Home Depot.

I’ve been clinging to that experience all week. I may never know this side of heaven why these difficult circumstances are being heaped upon us right now, but I can have confidence that everything—the good and the difficult work together according to God’s purposes. The scary things are still frightening, but I know I have a God who loves me, and He will care for me. Even though I can’t see the big picture, I can rest in knowing that He drew the big picture.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day?




I feel conflicted on Mothers Day. I love that my kids get so excited about it, and they love to celebrate me on this day...but I hate Mother's Day. I feel the dread creeping up about 2 weeks beforehand. I can remember so keenly the miserable mothers days I spent in years past: childless and begging God to make me a mother. I cannot help but feel that raw pain all over again when this day approaches. I think of all the women silently suffering on Mothers Day. Some desperate to be mothers, some desperate to have a close relationship with their own mothers, others suffering the grief of losing a child. It's a hard day for so many. While I love the bright smiles, cards, and gifts from my children, I weep for those in pain. I know that pain. Few things can hurt deeper than unfulfilled desires regarding the mother/child relationship.

Noel Piper wrote a Mother's Day blog post that resonated with me deeply:

When Mothers Day isn't a celebration

I encourage you to go read it--even if today is the happiest day of the year for you.

As for me, I'm going to end the day on a positive note with one of my very favorite quotes:

"There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own."
~Robert Brault

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Treading boiling water

I have had one of the worst days. My allergies are exacerbated by horrible winds. There’s a lot of unbelievable stress. We’re supposed to close on our new home in 2 days. There are so many little problems and issues cropping up that it seems almost impossible. Packing is slow going. I managed to be in hot water with my mother, my sister and my spouse by day’s end (all separate issues, believe it or not!) My dogs have been ill behaved and obnoxious (and one of my children too!)

It’s one of those days that I feel like I’m not just treading hot water, but boiling water. It’s days like these that make it feel impossible that tomorrow will be better. I don’t want a clean slate tomorrow. I want a clean slate today. I’d like to go back in time and do today over again (maybe this time I wouldn’t get out of bed!) However, I know that if I went back and lived each day over again until I got it right, my life would look like a bad remake of Groundhog Day. Part of me thinks instead of do overs, maybe I need clones (one of me could smooth things over with my sis while another deals with my naughty dogs, and yet another could pack!) More of me though, would probably mean more trouble.

I think I’d actually like to go to sleep and wake up significantly more sanctified. Hopefully that's why days like these exist.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I don't care...

...if you've been married for 5 minutes, or 50 years, you should go read this amazing post on marriage: Refined by Fire

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Do you ever eat strawberries?

If so, you really should read this post over at Elana's Pantry

Random thoughts...

The past couple days have been immensely stressful as we've waited to hear whether a government shutdown would happen. Because President Obama refused to make an exemption for military, my husband would have been put in a position where he would be forced to work without pay. Under normal circumstances that would be stressful, but we're closing on a new home in less than 2 weeks, we're not puting our current home on the market for another 3 weeks, the IRS is giving us problems about receiving our adoption tax credit, and we're beginning the adoption process. Stressful times. With all that's been on my mind, I haven't had a coherent thought for blogging. So here are my random thoughts over the past couple days. If I had time for Facebook statuses anymore, these would probably be them:

I'm SO glad my mom is here. I don't know what I'd do without her.

When I was going through the Border Patrol checkpoint yesterday, my MP3 player happened to be playing We No Speak Americano. I got quite a chuckle out of that.

A president who turns his back on his military has no business being president.

My mom gave me a great compliment the other day...
Mom: "How did you pass your sarcasm on to your kids already?"
Me: "What?"
Mom: "Your children use air quotes correctly! They're 8 and 9. Most adults don't use them correctly! I can't believe you've infused them with so much sarcasm already."
Me: "Thank you." :)

Never let your 9-year-old son play hairdresser. My head still hurts, and it took a long time to grow that 7 inches of hair I lost. :(

In 2012 I want to get signs for every candidate running against Obama, and put them in my yard with a homemade sign that reads "ANYONE but Obama!"

I find it's much easier to convince myself to get rid of books when I've packed 8 boxes of them and realize that I've packed fewer than 1/4 of my books.

Moving is not fun. I don't want to do this again for at least another 20 years!

I really wish my parents lived closer. They have an amazing impact on my children.

My hands are starting to get veiny like my mom's and my grandma's. I always naively assumed it would never happen to me.

My daughter lost a tooth yesterday, and my mind is so filled with stuff, I forgot to play tooth fairy! Fortunately Grammy figured out my mistake and swooped in to save the day.

I should be packing right now instead of playing around on the internet. I wish I had a staff.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Remembered by God

God has surrounded me with love the past few days. My family has been walking a tough road of late, and just when I'd reached the point when it felt as though God had forgotten me, He showed me that he has not. First, He is sending my mom(!) --I really need her right now. Today he also sent a believer to give me the comfort and encouragement of scripture I so desperately needed. God is so good. Just when I felt the depths of despair, He reminded me of his loving care. Today someone told me "...remember God will not give you more than you can handle. Well…actually He does, but He helps you carry the burden!" My friend could not have spoken truer words.

When my family has been called to walk the difficult paths, I always start to question whether I actually listened to God, or mistakenly gone my own way because it's so hard, and I'm not up to the task. But He never said following Him would be easy, and He certainly didn't tell me to go it alone. He never said I need to up to the task. It doesn't matter if I am. HE is.

Sometimes life is very very hard, and I think my tears could be measured in gallons during these times. Happiness isn't measured by how easy something is though. And sometimes true joy can be experienced when you're traveling a path of tears and heartache. It's part of the seeming paradox of knowing the joy and peace that can only be found in Christ, while living in a fallen world.

It's been a hard day, but I'm ending it with a grateful heart. I'm grateful to my God for never leaving me in my distress. I'm thankful for his followers who pour His love out on one another. I'm thankful that I am His.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I dread this time of year.

It's getting close to Summer. While I'm not a big fan of hot weather and bugs, what I dread the most is summer shopping...for my 8-year-old daughter. I don't want my little girl in bikinis, halter tops, hot pants, mini skirts, or short shorts. We're trying to teach her modesty, and most of the time when I enter a children't store, I feel like I'm battling the whole world in the process. Especially when I'm checking out the news, and I see this.


A lot of parents think I'm being ridiculous, and chide me that they're "just little girls. It's no big deal." I think it's a big deal; it's important to me that I don't want to raise her to treat herself as a sexual object for men. We don't let her wear anything now that we wouldn't want her to wear when she's 17. What kind of message would we be sending her otherwise?


It's also important to me that men don't view my little girl as a sexual object. What kind of society will we create if we sexualize children? That's almost too scary and nauseating to contemplate.


I like winter. I can buy her boys jeans and cute girly t-shirts and sweaters. Modest and cute. Win win. Summer is so much more complicated. I'm not going to find anything that can pass as girly in the boys' section, and I rarely find anything appropriate in the girls' section. Too bad I don't sew...but on the other hand, I'm not sure I want to be one of those homeschoolers!



All Natural Tuesday: Natural Solutions for Women's Health Issues

I want to briefly touch on 3 areas of women’s health where I think many women don’t realize they have all natural, healthier options.


Birth Control


When most people hear “birth control” they assume you’re speaking of the pill. The birth control pill is a relatively recent invention though, while birth control has been practiced for ages. And no, I’m not speaking of the rhythm method! Natural birth control, often referred to as natural family planning, is a method whereby you listen to your body and understand your fertility to avoid (or cause if that’s your plan) pregnancy. You aren’t filling your body full of hormones (with a cautionary list of side effects as long as your arm!) you aren’t losing your sex drive from the pill, AND you come to know your own body and how it works very well. It’s a win win win situation!

You can find basic information with links for the different ways you can practice natural birth control here.


PMS


If you’ve ever suffered severe PMS (mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, hot flashes, etc) you’re probably wondering how on earth it can be treated naturally. After nearly 20 years, I’ve finally been able to virtually eliminate PMS naturally. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine.


The first key is ChasteBerry Vitex. If you’re on a 28 day cycle, days 5-28 you take Chasteberry Vitex every day (400 mg twice daily for the first 8-12 weeks, then once daily as a maintenance dosage)


Next it’s important that you’re taking a daily supplement of calcium with D and magnesium.


The hard one though, is no caffeine. Ever. The stuff really isn’t good for you even apart from PMS. Read the book Caffeine Blues for more reasons why it’s essential to your health to give it up, as well as for a plan to quit.


Finally, if you can find the time (and unfortunately I often cannot), yoga is important for getting rid of PMS.


Rather than trying all these changes at once, start with the supplements, then work on getting rid of caffeine. It took me years to kick the caffeine, but once I experienced a cycle with no breast tenderness, I realized it was worth giving up just about anything!


Menstruation


This one may seem like an odd title for all-natural women’s health, but 21st century American women do not handle menstruation in a natural way. Most women use tampons—increasing their risk of TSS, infection, and micro vaginal tears, all while exposing themselves to dioxin. Women who go the pad route deal with uncomfortable sweating, heat rashes, exposure to dioxin, shifting protection, as well as sticky adhesive that can have, ahem, ouch worthy consequences if it sticks to the wrong thing!


There is a better way. Remember that disposable menstrual protection is relatively new, and new doesn’t always equal progress! Women used all natural methods for thousands of years previous to disposable.


Personally I think the most natural, reliable, and comfortable option is reusable pads. They are sooooooooooo comfortable, a cute accessory, better for the environment, money saving, better for your health and they make you more comfortable with the process of menstruation (many women even report less cramping, finally ridding themselves of infections and lighter easier periods after switching.) Sow how does it work? You purchase or make a selection of pads (and depending on your needs you can get them in various shapes, sizes, and absorbancy.) During your period you change your pad as needed (every 3-4 hours for the average woman.) You rinse the used pad under cold water, then place it in a pot to soak with cool water and a splash of vinegar (some women add a smidge of Oxy Clean.) After your period, you add a little stain treatment to any stubborn stain, toss them all in the washing machine, then in the dryer (or line dry, whichever your preference)


My two favourite sellers of the best and most comfortable pads are:


Punky's Pad's


Naturally Hip


Also, you can do a Google, ebay, or Etsy search for “Cloth Menstrual Pads” and you can find many many options on your own!


Pads really aren’t your thing? Check out the Diva cup and Sea Pearls for alternatives to better your health, save you money and keep disposables out of landfills.


So what about some of the unpleasant side effects of cramping, nausea, diarrhea that often accompany your period? Here are some great tips to deal with that:


Hydration decreases cramps significantly. One doctor in one of my books says "I tell women to drink as much water as they can until their cramps go away, then cut back." It seems so simple, yet it really works!


I haven't tried this, but the traditional Chinese acupressure points for cramp relief are found in the middle of the crease where the leg joins the trunk of the body. You can press there with your fingertips, or you can stimulate these points one at a time by positioning your left fist over the points on your left side, and your right fist over the right side, then lying on your stomach with your fists in place, using the weight of your body to apply pressure.


Walking is also scientifically proven to reduce cramps. I know, it's hard to even imagine doing that sometimes, but if you use some of the other tips here, they may be able to get you to the point where you can add some walking too.


Calcium is very important to ease the issues that arrive with your period.


B vitamins are very important, because they help your body metabolize hormones, so you may want to consider taking a 50 milligram supplement of B-complex all month long...this is supposed to be very effective, and is very often touted alongside the calcium advice.


Stay away from beef--the saturated fat causes the body to produce 2 series prostaglandins (which are what cause cramps)


Get plenty of omega-3s (from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and other cold water fish, freshly ground flaxseed, walnuts etc.) They help ease cramps.


Vitamin C with bioflavinoids is also supposed to help with heavy bleeding.


Evening primrose oil or black currant oil. These are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis.


Raspberry leaf tea is an effective remedy for painful menstrual cramps.


Experiment, and find out what works for you!



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weeping for Home


I have a secret. If you know me well, you’ll be shocked by it: I fantasize about living in the Midwest. This will surprise people who know me, because whenever the state of Illinois is mentioned, I have 500 reasons on the tip of my tongue as to why it’s the worst place you can live. Nonetheless, my heart longs for home. My daughter and I just got back from a trip back to the Midwest to visit my parents. In many ways it was a balm to my soul.


I had such an excellent time with my mom and dad. I miss both my parents so much. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to live near to my parents. My heart aches to be near them. Of all the difficulties in my life, I think one of the hardest for me to bear is to be so far from my mom and dad.


I was able to see a cousin of mine that I haven’t seen in years. I got to meet all 3 of his children, whom until this trip, I had only seen in photographs. I had a very lonely childhood, and this cousin was my best (and often only) friend. It meant so much to get to see him again, and I left filled with regret that we don’t live nearer to one another.


I saw beautiful rivers and trees, and longed for my dog, Mercy, to be with me there so we could walk and jog amidst such beauty.


I saw with panic the toll the years have taken on my grandparents, and I felt a frustrating urgency to be nearer to them.


I was also unfortunate enough to experience something we have never experienced in the southwest: blatant racism. From people glaring at us, to not serving us food, to refusing to speak to us, to refusing to sit near us. I was shocked, angered, and hurt by the behaviour strangers exhibited towards us on our trip. We had experienced racism in Florida (someone even left feces outside of our hotel room door once), but we had brushed the behaviour off as something unique to Florida. It is not.


In the southwest, not only have we never experienced any sort of racism, but we’ve seen a number of families who look like ours. Interracial marriages are also very commonplace here. On our train trip, we traveled through Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. We did not see even one interracial couple. We didn’t see even one parent with a child of another race. We did not see any African Americans sitting with, or speaking with any Caucasians either. And there was plenty of opportunity to do so. I would estimate that the train on the way to San Antonio was probably 40% Hispanic, 40% Caucasian, and 20% African American. From San Antonio to Chicago, the racial makeup was probably 45% African American, 53% Caucasian and 2% Asian. Yet, everywhere I looked, I saw self- imposed segregation.


I came home with shattered dreams. I know in my heart I cannot ever move home. The implications for my children would be devastating. My heart has been weeping. For the people who allow hate to rule their lives. For the family whom I desperately miss. For the home I was dreaming of. At the same time I feel hope. I know this world is not the end, and that the world to come will contain no hate. I know in that world, I will have eternity to enjoy the loved ones I miss so much in this life. In the meantime though, it hurts. I have longings that cannot be fulfilled in this life. It’s hard. I want to be wholly satisfied with the life to which God has called me. And He has blessed me incredibly. I love my husband, my kids, our dogs, our friends, and our wonderful, accepting community. I feel privileged to enjoy all of these things. At the same time, I know my heart will be weeping for home and the desires that cannot be realized for a long time to come.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

The best thing I have ever read on...

modesty. Here.

Discomfort

I always pictured my 30's as being a time of frenetic chaos, searching, difficulty with identity, fatigue, struggles, and a keen awareness of my mortality. So far this decade has been exactly what I pictured....with one extra struggle I didn't picture: my weight.

When I turned 20 I gained 43 lbs. in under 2 months--with no change in diet and exercise...then the gain slowed, but continued over the years. I went to doctor after doctor after doctor over the following 5 years. I ended up a few misdiagnoses (including PCOS...yikes!) and the general consensus seemed to be an inexplicable slowing in my metabolism. One doc told me that the change of decade weight gain due to slowing metabolism hits swiftly, heavily, and accurately. In 2005 I lost 60 lbs. Unfortunately in order to do that, I was working out 3 hours/day 7 days/week and consuming under 1200 calories per day. In other words, it was impossible to maintain it long term. My body became exhausted. So I returned to a more doable healthy lifestyle, and gained 20 lbs. I was happy enough with that.

Fast forward to my 30th birthday: in the 3 weeks prior to, and the 2 months afterward, I've gained 15 lbs. Once the weight gain began, I start working out more often and being super careful with the content of my diet, but the weight won't budge. I'm assuming my precautions are the only reason it's been 15 lbs. instead of 40!

My clothes don't fit. I don't feel like I fit in my skin. So now not only have I been struggling with my life's goals and paths on the inside (hey, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!), I feel like I don't even fit in my skin on the outside. My life just feels uncomfortable right now. Inside and out.

To make matters worse, I'm leaving on vacation in 9 days. I'm going to visit extended family. I feel uncomfortable enough around friends who have seen my gradual weight gain...I don't want people to see me suddenly larger who haven't seen me in years! I'm really really hoping they've all gotten fat too...

I'm irritated with myself that I'm so hung up on this. Why can't I just be confident regardless of my size? Why can't I just focus on being healthy, rather than obsessing over weight loss? I don't want to pass this on to my daughter. I want her to be a healthy, confident young woman. How to I teach her to be one, when I'm anything but??

My mom is 52 and she still struggles with all of this. Since I picture my 50's as a time of being confident and peaceful with my life's path, and happy with and grateful for my body, I better figure out something soon, or before I know it, I'll be 50 and still uncomfortable in my own skin. I would like to be happy with and grateful for my body even when it betrays me by making me 25 lbs. over my ideal weight.

I think part of my issue aside from discomfort (and I do feel physical discomfort in my back, knees, and ribs that I would like to be rid of) is worrying about the perception of others. It's sort of like when I take my RAD child to the store, and he throws a fit because he wants something, and I won't give in, and people look at me with disgust. I want to scream "IT'S NOT MY FAULT! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! IF YOU PARENTED A TRAUMATIZED CHILD YOU WOULD BE FEELING MY PAIN RIGHT NOW!" Instead I blush and feel like a failure as a mother. It's the same way with weight gain. I worry that people are judging me as a lazy sloth when they see me, and I just want to yell "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! I WORK OUT! I EAT RIGHT! MY BODY IS SABOTAGING ME ANYWAY!" Instead I blush and feel like a failure.

So I guess the real issue is caring less about what others think of me. As a human being, how is that even possible?

Isn't that what keeps us from a lot of things in life though? Caring about what others think keeps us quiet when we know we say something. It often makes us take a step back instead of forward. What about when it comes to serving Christ? Often that entails the potential for looking foolish. I'm not saying we should never care about the thoughts of others. Obviously as an ambassador for Christ, I need to be careful not to needlessly offend others, but I'm talking about being fearful of judgment and ridicule. That fear can hold you stagnant and keep you from growing. It can prevent Christ's love from flowing out from you to others who need it so desperately.

The only solution I can imagine is becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable, and reminding ourselves 1,000 times a day that pleasing God is so much more satisfying than pleasing man.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lots-o-links for an inspiring Monday!

There's a great post by Russell Moore on older Christians preparing younger Christians to handle life changes (in all stages of life) with Christlikeness: What the Puberty Talk Can Teach Us About Discipleship

I enjoyed Everyday Mommy's thoughts on Too Worldly-Minded and Untaught

At Storing Up Treasures, Courtney has a beautiful, thoughtful, and convicting post on gentleness: A Gentle Spirit

At Domestic Dialogues, Sarah (who happens to be my amazing and talented sister) has a couple of lovely photos to lift your spirits and make you happy to embrace Spring here

Alison from They're All Mine has an enjoyable post on being a transracial adoptive parent here

Noel Piper has been doing a series of posts (many by guest bloggers) on Black History Month, I've enjoyed them all immensely, and this one is no exception.

Growth? No, really, I'm good.

"Knock Knock." "Who's there?" "Control freak--now you say 'control freak who?'" Yes, I am a control freak. No, I don't actually have one iota of control over anything. The fact that recognize both makes me sound a little less than sane, huh? :) Last week was insanely stressful. I spent most of one of the days at the social security administration...nuff' said. Next one of my child had an EPIC meltdown. Then we had our new microwave installed...which didn't fit, and thus had to be uninstalled, packaged back up, and sent back to the store. Then we got screwed over by a reputable company when we tried to refinance our mortgage (we were outright lied to) Then I ended up with a hefty penalty bill on my kids' B-day party, because people who didn't RSVP showed up. Then the cherry on top was receiving a $3,000.00 bill in the mail for our son's dental work a few months ago--a bill that we had been told was covered by insurance...a bill that arrived here labeled 90 days past due and with finance charges attached (no, we hadn't received any previous communication from them) On top of all this, I was in terrible pain when my allergies kicked in from the incredibly windy weather. I was in the car complaining to my husband that I was so happy to say good riddance to such an awful week, and I couldn't believe my allergies were so horrible, when my son asked me if God makes everything happen for a reason, shouldn't I be rejoicing? Darn it, who is teaching these kids these things?? Oh, yeah. I guess if I'm going to have a pity party, it should be out of the earshot of the kiddos, otherwise I'm likely to learn something or grow a little ;) Someone reminded me this week as I was complaining that I am so freaking sick of learning lessons in life, that if I wasn't learning, I wouldn't be growing. I have to admit, this was a week that I would have happily accepted less growth. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less. Laying about and enjoying the scenery, with nothing happening at all kind of less. I'm real mature that way.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful Story

Noel Piper has another gem on her blog in celebration of Black History Month. It's short and it's wonderful, so pop on over and read it here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

All Natural Tuesday

Where have I been lately? I have a couple sick kids, scary plumbing problems, I'm kinda tired...oh, and we're gearing up for the adoption process again, so we're spending time going through the documents we'll need for our homestudy, picking out baby names, trying to figure out what baby stuff we'll need (!) :) The only thing that's been on my mind lately (blogwise) is natual remedies to help with immune function --either to prevent illness (like I've been trying to do while this nasty bug has been hitting the whole rest of my family) or shorten the severity and duration of illness. Here's what we've found really helpful: Kefir Elderberry Syrup Immune Support Tea Vitamin D Zinc Kombucha Raw garlic Vitamin E I hope this helps anyone who may be dealing with sickness in their homes!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Cross and the Jukebox: You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)

Russell Moore has a great podcast on pornography:

The Cross and the Jukebox: You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)

Even if neither you nor your spouse has ever struggled with this, you should listen. Most of the couples you sit next to at church, have or are dealing with it.

Though I despise country music, I found what he had to say on the subject fantastic.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One of my favorite things...

I love it when I find a product that's good for me and the planet, so I was thrilled to discover Wave Free and Clear dishwasher gel. I recently acquired a dishwasher (after 6 years of washing dishes by hand, you have NO IDEA how exciting this was for me!) but then I faced a problem...icky residue from dishwasher detergent, and often chemically odors on my dishes (which was detectable while eating) I tried so many different brands. Some all natural, while others were some of the biggest names out there. They ALL left residue. I was having to rewash my dishes by hand and I was ready to pull my hair out. Then I tried Wave Gel Free and Clear. Voila! No more residue, no icky smell, and my dishes positively sparkle! I use white vinegar as a rinse aid, and between the two, my dishes look, feel, and smell great when they come out of the wash. Wave doesn't contain any phosphates, chlorine or caustics. It's plant-based, has a neutral pH and is fully biodegradable...so no worries about your health or the planet.
*PS*
I know this sounds like a commercial, but I have not been approached by the Earth Friendly Products company, and I am receiving no remuneration for my review (say that 6 times fast!) I'm just one very satisfied customer. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Black History Month

I saw a great guest post on Noel Piper's blog today. It is written by a woman named Lacey Wilcox, who blogs here. The post is short, but great:

The first year I was teaching, February represented a few things: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and Black History Month—all things I was required to teach my students.

Unfortunately, Black History Month was just something I checked off my list: “Science, check;” “Addition, check;” “Black History Month, check.”

But after only a few lessons, I realized how this celebration affected my African-American students. They loved school, but this? This was for them. So I began teaching for them, to them. “This is a huge part of their story,” I thought, “I really need to focus on them.”

Then I was struck with the realization: this wasn’t just about them. This was the story of my entire class, a part of all our history. It mattered that I teach it to all my students. And so, Black History Month became a celebration for all of us, of life, hope, and triumph.

I am no longer in the classroom. I traded in my gradebook for a burp rag last year. I am still a teacher, but now my only student is my sweet baby girl. As I think about her future, and the things we have to learn together, I know that an understanding of this month will be one of them.

Now, in writing this, I have been struck with an even greater depth of Black History Month. It’s not just a celebration for one people. Even more, it is a call for absolute worship of the Father. Only He is capable of transforming hearts from hatred and cruelty to acceptance and love. Only He can bring about a change in mindset and lifestyle. Only He allows us the grace to live in a world that is filled with people who are uniquely and perfectly designed.

I regret that I never fully grasped the depths of that lesson to teach my students. I hope it might be one the Lord teaches them as they grow older. But the prayer of my heart is that it might be a lesson I teach deeply and passionately for my baby girl every single day, not just the month of February.



I told you it was good :) I hope to have a few more Black History Month posts in the coming weeks, so check back.

Freedom is never free, but is it worth the price?

Is freedom ever worth the price of a life? You probably think that's an odd question coming from a military wife. I should mention before I begin on the subject of freedom, I see my husband's job as an extension of his job as husband and father...it's just another way he protects us from harm. I see him more as a physical defender for us than a fighter for freedom.

Lately everything that's been going on in Egypt has caused conversations here in the US that I never thought I would hear. People saying that our own government should be overthrown for stomping on our liberty. I am shocked that anyone would find it worth it. Would you hand over your wife, child, husband, great-aunt, father, brother, etc. for the cause of freedom?

Don't get me wrong: I love freedom. I would love to see most government entities done away with. That would be the ideal. But we don't live in my ideal or anyone else's. Government is corrupt, and has blatantly removed our ability to make our own choices in life. It sucks. Is it worth dying for?

From a biblical standpoint, I think the answer is unequivocal that Christians are not to rise against their government for "freedom." In fact, slaves are given instruction to submit to their masters. Most Christians I encounter agree with me 100% on this that Christians should submit to government authority, even in the face of tyranny, unless the government instructs you to behave contrary to scripture.

The murmurings I'm hearing though don't come from Christians. So obviously that argument isn't going to work for them. I wonder though if they have truly considered what it would mean to give a loved one to their cause. To live the rest of your days without your soulmate or your precious daughter, or amazing son. How about your parents? Are you ready to say goodbye to them? I see violence around the world where people have given their loved ones over to their cause for power, and honestly, they look as though their souls are dead. Is freedom worth losing everything you have? What kind of freedom is important to you that you could hand your dear over in exchange for it? Personally, losing my family would trap me in the sort of hell, where only death could provide the liberty I require.

When it comes down to it, that's the only freedom I need. The freedom to be with my loved ones. To love and be loved by my dearest ones in life. I would rather live in a internment camp with my family, than lose any of them. I don't say that lightly. I am of Scottish, Jewish, Irish and Native American descent. My ancestors have known horrible oppression. It is them who make me even contemplate these things. It is they who have gone before me, who make me so grateful for all I have.

Let's say someone comes up to you and offers you "freedom" (be that constitutional rights, or whatever you consider freedom to be) The price? Your second born child. Yeah, I know, you're not likely to have a logical guy come up to you with this option, but if you join a revolution, you are essentially doing the same. You exchange those you love for your version of freedom. As for me and mine, it isn't worth it.

PS
Don 't mistake my words: I'm not a pacifist...and that is another topic altogether.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

I'm happy the Packers won...but I can be a bit of a downer when it comes to the Super Bowl. Excess is everywhere. The whole Super Bowl is about spending and amassing money. Every time we saw sickening excess, I couldn't help but bring up to my hubby how many people are suffering in the world and could truly benefit by all the money wasted at the Super Bowl. Add to that all the underage sex trafficking going on, and I admit, I was close to tears and pretty angry during a lot of the game. Yeah, you really don't want me at your Super Bowl party!

On a lighter note, while we had to keep our kids out of the room for much of the game due to really inappropriate commercials, we did see a commercial that made me laugh until I cried:

Sometimes I'd like to be taken for granted a little more...

This week we celebrated CJ's birthday. He had a wonderful day. He thanked me all day for making his day special. We didn't do anything extraordinary. School was out due to lack of power from our major winter storm. So he helped me make a giant chewy cherry chocolate cookie for his birthday, then he had a special lunch (while watching the Berenstain Bears) then hubby came home so CJ opened his presents, then we all went out for sushi (CJ's request) where we all we adventurous enough to try the Dancing Monkey roll (tempura banana, peanut butter, avocado wrapped in grilled eel) We came home and sang "Happy Birthday" around the giant cookie. It was a simple birthday, but it was fun, and he didn't stop thanking me all day for giving him a fantastic birthday. I have a sweet kid. It never occurred to me to thank my parents for my birthdays...I thought it was owed to me by gracing the world with my presence! I don't know what his previous birthdays were like or how/if they were celebrated, and I imagine that makes a difference too. One night my daughter said to my husband a few months after we adopted her "How can I ever thank you enough for adopting me?" I would never have thought to thank my parents for having me. I've never been without a family. I've never laid in bed wishing at night that I had parents. My daughter has. I'm glad my kids have grateful hearts, but I kind of hope that someday they take some things for granted...like Mamas making birthdays special, parents buying food and clothes for their kids, parents loving their kids. I think we should be grateful for all God has given us, but I hate that my kids have perfectly clear memories of being rejected and mistreated and feeling unsafe. I want them to feel so secure in our love that they take it for granted. I know how bizarre that sounds. I know many of you probably work hard to instill grateful hearts within your children, but I cannot help but see the pain behind the gratefulness with my kids. I know there are so many more children out there who will go to bed tonight wishing for parents. So many children never given the opportunity to be grateful for health, love, and safety. Join me in praying that God will grant them more than they could ever dream of in terms of love, security, and a place to call home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A mess worth delving into

Human beings are messy. If you interact with another human being, some of their mess is going to get on you, and vice versa.

I suppose you could avoid other's messiness, by creating an austere life where you wallow only in your own mess, and avoid others. That might make you feel safe, comfortable and in love with your own mess, but you'd miss out on a lot. You'd miss having your life touched by others, and touching other's lives with your own. You'd miss out on love, real joy, growth, and pain (Yes, I wrote "pain"--sometimes pain is good.)

Will you get burned if you throw yourself into the world, and show love and kindness to your fellow human beings? Abso-friggin-lutely. No doubt about it. It happens on occasion. But that's barely a blip on the screen in comparison to all you get and give when you put on your waders, slog your way out into the world to build relationships.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear RAD: leave.

Dear RAD, I hate you. If I could, I would kill you in nine different ways. I hate what you do to my kid. He is so amazing and sweet and wonderful; he doesn't deserve the likes of you. You're probably suprised to hear from me. I know you thought you had me, and I'll admit you got some pretty good kicks in. You thought I was down for the count, but I wasn't; I was regrouping. I've an arsenal so powerful, you might as well leave now. My son has a God Who loves him. He has a loving and supportive family. He's got a kickass therapist. Deep down, I know he wants to truly love and be loved. He wants to be happy. Oh, and he has the most stubborn woman in the world for his Mama. I'm not going anywhere. I will fight you with my dying breath if necessary. You aren't going to get me though, and you sure as hell aren't going to get my son. Someday he's going to stop listening to your lies, and I'm going to be there to watch my strong beautiful son stomp you in the ground, and stand over you victorious. I cannot express how delightfully I look forward to that day. Sincerely, Mama Bear

Monday, January 24, 2011

When is God going to just call me on the phone and tell me what to do??

Really rough day today. I am so unbelievably tired. And unsure. Some days with CJ I can see the path we're headed down, but it feels like I'm powerless to stop it. I can read and read and read on RAD, but it doesn't seem to help me figure out his brain. After months of the frustration building on both sides, we've enrolled him in school. You can't really home school if your child refuses to cooperate in any way shape or form. He cried and begged me to keep homeschooling. I wanted to cry too. Part of me feels relieved about a plan that will be so much better for everyone in our family. The stress levels should reduce for every person in this household. ZeZe will get much needed attention. She and I will have much needed bonding time. CJ will be in an environment where he will be more willing to cooperate with his educational plan....and yet.

There are some BIG downsides. This school will eat up every penny of the raise hubby got a mere 3 weeks ago. The raise that was supposed to go directly to debt. We will SIGNIFICANTLY lose a lot of the flexibility we cherish with the home school lifestyle. Our days will become much more hectic.

Oh, and I feel like a failure.

Sigh. I am dedicated to homeschooling. I particularly believe it's important when your child has attachment issues. I feel like I'm giving up on my kid. I feel like I was just too stupid to figure out how to make it work for him. This school is expensive and inconvenient, and I feel like it's my fault. I'm both mother and teacher, and neither role could figure out how to make homeschooling work for him.

I just want to do the right thing. So when is someone going to tell me what the right thing is?

Friday, January 21, 2011

MUST reads....


My dear readers, I have some awesome reading for you...and none of it is by me. As a service to you, I have scoured the internet for the very best blog posts for your reading pleasure. Actually, I'm a blogoholic (seriously, click on my profile, and check out how many blogs I follow. I dare you.) and here are some posts I've read lately that have deeply touched me, ministered to me, or remained in my head loooooong afterward:

Russell Moore explains that Jesus has AIDS

Cate, from Gathered From Afar, shares how As followers of Christ, the things we do for Him should not be radical to other followers.


Christine from Welcome to My Brain discusses her life as a freegan vegan flexitarian


Jami, from Life With a Personal God, talks about Loving When You Don't Feel Like It


Christine, from Welcome to My Brain, saved my day by teaching me how to tap


I found a kindred spirit and encouragement in Sarah, from The Many Stars that Guide Us, with her post, The One Who Knows


Courtney, from Storing Up Treasures, made me feel less alone when she posted on her own struggles with depression


Ramey, from This American Diet, inspired and encouraged me when she discussed ethical eating, labels, and walking the line


Angela, from Expecting... inspired me when she took up the Rockin' Mama Challenge


Lynne, from the Accidental Advocate, reminded me that even on the hard days, I wouldn't take back one second with my kids.



What are you waiting for? Go read, so you can heal/think/be inspired/learn!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great Amazon deal...

Today Living Social is offering $20.00 Amazon.com gift certificates for $10.00

Check it out here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 19th, 1997


14 years ago today my life changed forever. That evening, I reluctantly went to dinner to someone's home with my parents and 2 younger siblings. I wasn't 3 feet in the door before I laid eyes on a young man, and it felt like my brain exploded. All I could hear in my head was "This is my husband. I'm going to marry him." I think if he'd asked, I would have gone to the alter with him that evening. :) He didn't ask until just over a year later, and I was thrilled to answer yes. Over our 12+ years of marriage, he has delighted and surprised me continually. This man is thoughtful, amazing, brilliant, hot, and fun. Without him, my life would suddenly go from color to black and white. He is confident, but not at all arrogant. In fact, unlike so many men, he is not a worshiper of genetic idolatry. When I told him that I didn't want biological children because there are so many parentless children in the world, he told me that he doesn't need to have genetic children to feel like a man, and that he'd be perfectly happy being father to the fatherless. And he is. He doesn't need to see his eyes or hair in a child, to know that child is his. And he loved our children instantly upon meeting them. I know with absolute certainty that he would not hesitate to give his own life to protect mine. He is an unfathomably amazing lover. He's an incredible dog owner to 5 dogs, even though I know he'd like only 2. He massages my feet most nights, even when he's tired and worn out from his job. This man loves my cooking. He works a job that he has no particular desire for, or draw to, so that he can provide well for our family. He appreciates me. Even though I'm not a very good housekeeper. Even though I'm disorganized. Even though I have a terrible memory. Even though I'm usually sleep-deprived and grumpy. He appreciates me for what I do for our family. He makes me feel beautiful. We talk about everything. He is my best friend. I have never been loved as deeply by any human being on earth as I have been by the man I first laid eyes on 14 years ago.



Matzati et she'ahava nafshi.