Thursday, October 23, 2014

Look

She approached me after church with a look of understanding, followed by a hug, and then a prayer.

"I know how hard this is," she said as she wrapped her arm around my shoulders.

That's really what we all need, right?  Empathy?  Someone to understand what we're going through, someone to validate life, situations, scenarios are hard.  Someone to reassure that you are not alone.

Relationships - the hands and feet, the heart, the body of Christ - are what hold me up some days.  Support, prayer, sanity.  Thanks guys. I am not alone.

And neither are you...you are not alone.  You are not the only one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Second

Poor second children.

I am not one, my husband is not one, and my son is not one.  Therefore, when another child comes in our family, that is a characteristic that will be completely unique to them.  As some of you know, in the world of the first born, you are the sun.  Everything revolves around you because you came first.  Oh, how I still see this in my personality now (oops, sorry people who have to interact with me).

Does that mean a second child is loved any less?  Oh, heck no.  In fact, to some degree I am even MORE excited to become a mommy (again) because I already know how fun, rewarding, and beautiful it is.

It's just that this time, I'm not a nervous, emotional, depressed wreck about the adoption.  

This adoption has been reminiscent to someone who had a surprise pregnancy for their second child. "SURPRISE!" said God, "This is the path where I'm leading you!  It's totally unexpected, but I'm here and you've got this!"  

It's so funny to think about where I was five years ago when I was waiting for Levi.  I had bought 60+ onesies, I had the nursery ready to go, I checked and reexamined and rearranged our baby registry on a daily basis.  With EVERY SINGLE potential situation that we were notified of by the adoption agency, I started planning our life with that baby.  I imagined what it would be like to bring that baby home, with that birthday and that birth family scenario (from whatever I knew).

This time?  So, so different.

We've had our profile shown four times.  I'm excited when I get an email from the agency with a potential situation, but I'm realistic (but not pessimistic) about the outcome.  I'm expecting to wait a while and  I COMPLETELY trust God's timing right now. I am just so content.  What a blessing that is.

The nursery is starting to get done.  We have a room that is ready for a crib (which is in the attic) and is already equipped with a dresser and rocking chair (thanks Steph!) and has some babyish art on the wall.  I'm definitely not getting the crib down until it's time - for now we have some of Levi's bigger toys hanging out in there, like a trampoline and an art easel.  I did move all of my craft stuff to the basement and set up a studio down there, so at least that is done.

I have purchased ONE outfit (seen hanging on the nursery wall), and it will stay that way till baby comes home and I know if we need to buy pink things or get blue things out of the attic.  We have made a baby registry like we did last time, but this time there are only 40 things on the registry, 20 of which are cloth diapers.  I have slowly been buying things (used) that are on the registry (hello sleep sacks and nursery specific bedding), so I actually should update that again.  I think all we need now are diapers and bottles.

Last time, I would spend hours writing down lists of names and researching their meanings.  I was too embarrassed to talk to Herb about names back then - we were different people.  He wasn't in baby mode yet, and I didn't want to seem vulnerable.  Now we talk about names with the ease that we talk about weather - it's a pleasant conversation that happens very occasionally.

Five years ago I cried a lot.  I wanted a baby so badly.  Everything reminded me of my empty arms.  This time, yesterday was the first time I cried - 10 months in to the process!  And it was probably more related to Herb being in the hospital than anything else.  As I was leaving the hospital, going out to my car, I passed a gentleman with arms full of pink gift bags and an overnight bag.  I just knew that he was a new dad returning to spend the night with his new family.  For a brief moment I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye grieving and wishing that a new baby was the reason for our hospital stay instead of Herb's sickness.  But like I said, I don't think that really counts, because I was already emotional about Herb being sick.  

The second time is so different, yes, but it some ways, it's so much better.

Oh, Lord.  Thank you for your faithfulness in this waiting time.  Thank you for filling my empty arms and aching heart with a beautiful boy who made me a momma.  Thank you for your provision in bringing us this far in a second adoption - a place I NEVER thought we'd be.  Thank you for blessing me with contentment.  Thank you for giving me a life partner who shares a heart for children and parenting and serving you.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stolen

After I shared my thoughts on Herb being sick, a friend reminded me that perfect love casts out fear.

Tonight as Herb and I sit in a hospital room, him still feverish and humorously flagged as a "fall risk," I am praying that my peace not be stolen.


Because, as his mother reminded me, Herb is, and always has been, the Lord's.

The doctors are trying to find the cause of his extreme fatigue and fevers, and turning over rocks to do so.  They are stumped to a degree, which is unnerving, but at the same time I am grateful that his transplanted kidney is not a concern. 

So I will rejoice and be gentle in spirit because I know The Lord is near. I will not let my heart be anxious about anything.  With thanksgiving,  prayer, and petition, I will present my requests to The Lord who will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus and give me peace that passes understanding.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Honor

I've got a hot topic on my heart to write about tonight, but I'm nervous to share because I sincerely don't want to offend any of my friends or family that fall on either side of the argument.  So, let me preface by saying that each family deserves the right to make decisions for themselves when it comes to traditions, values, and beliefs.  You know what's best for your family, and you should follow your convictions, not mine.

I feel like every year when October rolls around Herb and I have this same discussions.  How, as Christian parents, will we handle Halloween?

For us, it's all about honoring God with our intentions.

Herb found a great article that gives facts about where traditions are rooted, and explains the spectrum of positions Christians tend to have about Halloween.  And like I said, I know people in all positions, and I can see most sides of the arguments. It's kind of a long article, but for me, the last paragraph of the article summed up my feelings perfectly:
There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.
In fact, I LOVE that last year trick-or-treat night gave me the opportunity to not just meet one or two of my neighbors, but my entire street and block.  Now, mind you, last year I was awkwardly intentional about introducing myself to each neighbor and shaking their hand.  But it's helped in the last 12 months to put faces to homes when we take walks or do other things out and about in the borough.

There are two churches in our town that are really on to something awesome.  They are setting up shop in the town square and handing out free hot dogs, hot chocolate, and candy.  Oh how I'd love to jump on that band wagon.  What a cool opportunity to meet people in the community and literally shine light in the darkness.

It's a fine line.  I'm constantly checking my heart - am I wanting to participate in this, that, or the other thing because it feels like everyone else is, or because I truly feel like that is the best way I can honor God?  And that goes for pretty much every life decision, not just what I'm going to do next Friday night.

As Christians, we have the choice reject, receive, or redeem things of "the world."  Next week, I am hoping to help redeem.

I could write more - but I feel like I'm beating a dead horse.  It seems like every blogger has touched on this issue, and you've probably read them all anyway!  But if you're looking for one more to read, I can really identify with this one, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Taste

The temperature took a big dip today, and after a little Sunday afternoon nap, the next fitting thing to do was spend the evening in the kitchen.  Levi and I turned out some peanut butter cookies and banana bread.  Then, as I considered what to cook for dinner, the over ripe avacado and dozen tomatos caught my eye...


Burrito bowls!  

This is my favorite meal to make right now.  Rice with lime juice, refried beans, sautéed veggies, cheese, sour cream, homemade guacamole, and salsa with my garden tomatos.

It took me till I was 30 to I realize that Mexican food was my favorite.  In fact, my hubby and girlfriends pointed this out when they planned me a 30th birthday Mexican fiesta.  


So, next time you're looking for a quick yummy meal that hits all the food groups, try my chipotle knock off.  Te best part is it can be as homemade or canned/purchased as you want it to be!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fear

Last week, a friend posed this question, "What would you do if you weren't scared?"

I loved that one person named all their "fears" which were actually a list of their accomplishments over the last several decades.  As in, they had not let fear stop them from doing anything.  Sometimes, they said, you just have to do the hard things, and know that God will be on the other side of which ever door you open.

Herb's been sick.  Again.  Whatever he's got keeps morphing in to new symptoms and between several doctor visits and lab work, they're still not sure what's holding him down.  He's missed a few days of work, and the days he does work have ended with him sleeping on the couch five minute after dinner, if he makes it that long.  He's not sick enough to warrant a hospital stay, but not well enough to function normally.

Today, day ten of my beloved's sickness, my attitude sucked.  I was tired of playing nurse and single mom.  Fed up with entertaining, starved for adult conversation.  Physically, it's not taxing, but emotionally and mentally, I was completely in the gutter.

But after thinking about the Facebook post about fear, I put my finger on it.  Herb being sick brings me fear.  That doesn't feel good.

10 years ago I snubbed my nose at fear pursued a relationship with a man who had been sick his whole life and would be sick many more times over the rest of his life.  I will never ever regret that decision.  Herb was created for me, and I for him, of that I am certain.

It's just that when he's healthy, especially when it stretches on for years at a time and we go on to start building a family, and plan to keep moving forward in that direction, I begin to completely take for granted the fact that he'd ever been sick.

I'll never forget during our wedding vows, literally choking/sobbing out the words "in sickness and in health," because I KNEW that was our reality.  I knew this was a path we would be walking.  And I am still grateful to be walking it with him.

Now that I have a son of my own, I think about what it must have been like to be Herb's mom and relinquish control of his well being to another woman.  Would I care for him the same we she could have?  Will I catch symptoms?  Will I follow up with doctors?  Will I advocate for his care?  Oh, how I am trying my best.

But today, fear brought me down.  And instead of it making me more compassionate, it made me a jerk.  An impatient, selfish, lazy, emotional diva.

But today I found encouragement.  I remembered the village standing around us.  I was comforted by an empathetic voice as tears rolled down my face as I grilled hot dogs.  I took in deep breaths of crisp fall air while a sweet little boy hugged me, helped me clean up the yard, and lavish me with compliments about my kindness.  I opened this blogging window and began to pour out my feelings, reaffirmed in my life's choices and inspired to try harder.  I found quiet and peace when the sick one and the little one were asleep before 8 pm and I got a little bit of "me" time.

Tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow I will live my life worth the calling I have received.  I will be more focused, I will be more graceful.  Tomorrow I will remind myself that fear does not win.  Instead of fear, I chose love.  I did it ten years ago, and I promise I will do it again every day for the rest of my life when it comes to that man who made me his wife.

(As I was writing this, I realized I blogged an almost identical post a few years ago.  Can we say hot button?)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Long

This month of writing for 31 days seemed daunting at first - did I have enough thoughts to blog every day?  Oh, life has not ceased to provide me with relevant topics for each random word assigned.

Today's word, LONG, represents my day.  My day started on the couch.  A rarity for me, I stayed up later than Herb (who was sick and went to bed early) specifically to watch TV.  I'm playing the hulu/netflix game right now - you know the one where you're binge watching old episodes of a show on netflix, cramming them in, hoping to finish in time to watch the current season on Hulu.  So last night, I pretended I was in college and stayed up till two am watching netflix.  It was kind of fun.

But then the phone rang several times before 8 am with missed calls from my mom.  Never a good sign.

My grandparents were in a car accident this morning.  They seem to be doing ok, but it was a day filled with coordinating babysitting, moving car seats, playing phone tag, relaying messages, comforting the worried, and making plans for the days ahead.  My mom sprang in to action, and it was cool to see she and her sister come together to care for their parents.  My sister, who lives in Florida, was worried sick, and made significant headway calling hospitals to get the current status of the patients.  Ironically, she was the first one to find out my grandpa was being moved to another hospital.  My brother, went straight from work to Grandma and Grandpa's house to mow their lawn and take care of the leaves, then met me at the hospital for a late night chat with Grandpa.

In the face of catastrophe, my heart was warmed to see family spring in to action.

It was a long day, but it ended well.  Late night conversations in a hospital room are my love language.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  A one on one visit with Grandpa gave me time with him I don't normally take, and that's a fault of my own.  In fact, I can't think of the last time I sat alone with him - it was probably fifteen or sixteen years ago on a drive to piano lessons, which he would taxi me to occasionally if my parents had to work.

Long days don't always end well, especially for both Grandma and Grandpa, bruised and beat up, who have long nights of trying to get comfortable enough to sleep tonight.  But tonight I am grateful that this long day didn't end any worse than it did.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adjust

I touched on this new season of life a couple weeks ago when I talked about all the fun things you can do when you only have one kid, and he is past the toddler stage.  There's another weird scenario I've been adjusting to in this season -

Free time!

Levi is in school three mornings a week.  I was worried I would be bored.  I was imagining I would have time to read books.  That my house would be spic and span.  
 
But it's not.  Where does the time go? No really, tell me if you know.

One morning I usually play catch up on my one year Bible reading plan.  It would be more accurately titled "reading the Bible in 52 sittings." Ok, that is an exaggeration.  And, after all, spending my prexchool time reading the Bible isn't actually a bad thing! I would just prefer to wake up earlier than everyone else and do it.

Speaking of waking up, I've adjusted very easily to not waking up early to babysit Charlotte like I did last school year.  I'd be embarrassed to tell you my average wake up time.... Let's just say we have to rush to get Levi to school at 9.

It feels weird to have free time.  7.5 hours a week.  It feels selfish and yet I know that time is only as selfish as I make it. 

Is this like the early stages of empty nest syndrom?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life

Life, I have found, in thirty years, is completely unpredictable.

Who would have thought I would marry the first boy that caught my eye at band camp.  I thought surely I would have to be set up on a blind date with someone who was actually blind before I found love.  Oh, how I was wrong.

Then there's my smaller man who fulfilled big hopes.  The twists and turns of his adoption story never cease to amaze me.

A year ago when another adoption seemed so distant and just sheer discussion caused dissension between Herb and I, I would have never dreamed we'd be walking the path we are this year.

Applied, approved, and waiting.

Waiting for the next unpredictable curve ball life will throw.

This round of adoption has thus far been a total example about the lessons being in the journey, not the arrival. For example, just tonight a complete stranger called to offer us help with our adoption.  It would be awesome even if she was the only one, but the truth is that she's the third.  Help has come out of the woodwork, not pursued by us, but led by God, and poured into our laps.

God's plan is not always clear.  It is not always easy.  But it is always good and it is always best.

Of this, I am living proof.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Away

Levi is just on the edge of getting a chore chart.  He's very chart oriented - the sticker thing has helped conquer several milestones.  We're thinking of making a weekly dealing with chores and a complete chart would receive a paycheck - aka allowance.  What do you think - is four too young for this?

I'm finding that the best tool in teaching Levi to put things away has been to have lots of bins, boxes, and bags.  All his cars go in one bin, planes in another.  All the pieces to that nice big wooden train go in a bag.  Animals are kept together beside the bin of musical instruments.  At this point in time it works.  How well, you ask?  Well, he got a Play Mobil set of sports players and their equipment (think 20 Lego sized pieces) for Christmas (10 months ago) and he still has ever sing piece of the set.  Winning!

That being said, I think Levi has proven he's capable of putting like toys away and is ready to make the big toy plunge this Christmas to...

LEGOS.

The real ones.  Not the Duplos or Mega Blocks.

Source
I'm pretty excited.  I want to make some kind of container to hold the Legos that he can also use as a construction base.  And bonus - Daddy saved all his childhood Legos and they are ready to be re-gifted into the hands of an eager little boy.

How old were your kids when you introduced Legos?  And chore charts?