Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beautiful Adoption Story

I've spent way too long trying to figure out how to show videos on my blog (frustrating). So I'm going to just put this into this post. You need to see this story!

Bedtime Stories

I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Although hard, her life was busy and full of adventure. No one ever complained about being bored. Although these books are targeted for girls, there's enough adventure to pique a boy's interest as well!

A little while ago, a friend gave us some CDs from this series. Almost every night Alyssa and Nikki drift off to sleep listening to stories of Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and their good, old bulldog Jack. In the morning, they update me on the Ingalls' most recent developments.

I highly recommend this series either in the book or CD form! The CDs include fiddle music performed by Paul Woodiel. Cherry Jones does a fantastic job of dramatizing the reading so that even Shawn and I sneak a listen every so often. These are stories your children will never forget and are well worth remembering!

Cousin Worries

Last time we saw Shiloh, Maya pushed her down. That was a year ago, when Shiloh was two and Maya was three. In less than forty-eight hours we will see her again and Maya is feeling anxious.

"Shiloh won't want to play with me, Mama." Maya informed me earlier this week. "Why?" I queried. "Because I pushed her," she answered solemnly. Her brown eyes were serious and her little face long with the fear of rejection. Inside, I really doubted that Shiloh even remembered Maya pushing her, but it has really been bothering Maya. "You can apologize to her," I offered, smoothing back a stray curl. "Will she forgive me?" Maya looked up hopefully. "I'm sure she will," I hugged her. Relieved, Maya exclaimed, "I'm going to tell her sorry and then she'll like me again." With that, she hopped off the chair next to me and ran off to play with her sisters.

In forty-eight hours hours two little cousins will be happily making new memories together. The past will be forgotten. The future will be bright. I think there's a lesson for us here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Upside of a Down Day

Most mornings I roll out of bed and hit the ground running. Walking just isn't an option when you're trying to juggle eight plus kids (adopted and foster), one full-time job, one budding side-business, church work, volunteer work, a husband's budding business, housework, and the ever-growing network of extended family and friends. I plan speeches while brushing my teeth and practice them while folding laundry. I draft letters while cooking meals. I make mental to-do lists while driving. I start my day like a racehorse at the gates--fidgety, pumped, and ready to fly.

However, every once in awhile there are mornings when the gun fires, the starting gates swing back, the racers bolt forward, and I can do nothing more than gaze after them. I hang my head like a tired old mare while the dust hits my face and an irritated jockey hurls insults down on me. Feeling like a total and complete failure, I seek out the blessed solitude of my stall for the remainder of the day.

Over the years of up day/down day cycles, God has taught me how to better deal with them and yes, even be blessed by them. For one thing, I've learned how to predict when they're coming. I know I'm headed for a down day after dealing with several physically or emotionally taxing events within quick succession of each other. Following a difficult situation a down day is sure to appear. Sometimes new situations will also trigger a down day. As long as I am human, down days are inevitable.

But there is an upside. While I won't score major points for accomplishments done on a down day, I do get a much needed opportunity to simply stop and smell the roses. On down days, I move more slowly so I see things I don't normally see when my feet are pounding the track at 40 mph while I strain towards the finish line. The flowers look prettier. The clouds look puffier. My children look sweeter. My list of goals on a down day are also downsized. They consist of snuggling with my kids, petting the cats, reading a book, making a friendly phone call, playing the piano, or praying for no particular purpose. It's a day to put my responsibilities aside and just be. It's a day for counting my blessings.

Today is a down day, but, I'm not at all depressed about it. I'm thankful for this opportunity to rest and recharge my batteries. Tomorrow will be a new day. The alarm will ring. I'll roll out of bed fidgety, pumped, and ready to fly. Eat my dust!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Mother Eve...

Last night, after dropping off Andie and Billy at their gymnastics class, Maya and I headed out on a short  shopping trip. We never made it. Instead, I ended up having conversations with two homeless men. I did what I could to meet their immediate needs (bus money and dinner at Taco Bell), but their faces haunt me. How did they end up in this condition? Where are their families? What went wrong? My thoughts swirled back through time and I had to ask the age old question. However, I was surprised at the conclusion at which my musings arrived.


Dear Mother Eve,

I am one of the many daughters you have never known. I am one of the many children you could not see on that fateful day in paradise. I am one of the countless descendants damned by your decision. And my voice swells with the dusty cry of generations gone by asking, "Why? Why did you do it?"

When you wandered from Adam's side, did you not know that thousands of your children would someday be wandering throughout the ages to come? Homeless sons and daughters looking for shelter in the most the most despicable of places. Selling their bodies in order to gain a morsel of bread, they are but living skeletons longing for the warmth of a real home.

Flattering words drew you to a forbidden tree. When you followed that enticing voice, did you not hear the cry of millions of your children who would soon be betrayed by that same voice? Empty promises and whispered lies uttered by that shameless silvery tongue continue to break the hearts and wound the souls of your descendants.

You gazed at a fruit and longed to touch it. You savored the momentary sweetness of disobedience and for that moment you were satisfied. But, oh, Mother Eve, could you not see your future children with distended bellies, sunken eyes, and listless bodies welcoming the cold embrace of Death?

But, alas, all my questionings fall on deaf ears. Your own body has fallen victim to the consequences of your transgression and been reclaimed by the dust from which you were once created. You have seen some of the bitter fruits of your sin and with all the strength of a mother's love tried to turn the tide of evil. But you could not.

Today, I can only point the accusing finger inward. I must probe the darkest recesses of my own heart and ask myself, "Is there some sin I now enjoy which will someday cause my children and grandchildren to suffer?" The decisions I make today outline the paths upon which my children will later walk. God give me wisdom to make those paths as smooth as possible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Next week Maya and I leave for Georgia. Andie and Billy will head to Oregon. Shawn, Ally, and Nikki will remain at home. Next week I will be a wreck.

Statistics show that the majority of accidents occur rather near the premises of your own home. In spite of that comforting knowledge, I tend to fall apart a little at the thought of my family being separated. I begin to worry. Will the kids be okay? Will some terrible accident end their lives or injure them horribly? Andie and Billy are teenagers now. Nikki and Ally will be with Daddy. They should all be fine. "But," my mind agonizes, "there are big, bad people in this world and big, bad catastrophes that destroy hundreds of lives daily."

Strangely enough, the one person I'm not worried about is Maya. Why? She'll be with me. And with that thought, I have to suddenly rethink this whole separation anxiety thing. What is so special about being with me?! What can I do to save or protect Maya from harm's way that God cannot do for the rest of my family? Is He not capable of watching over my loved ones? Does He not ask me to trust Him in ALL things -- especially those closest to my heart?

When the dust settles after my battle with choosing to trust, I make the very conscious decision to gather up my worries and deposit them into the omnipotent hands of my Heavenly Father. He will take care of us all just fine ... without my help.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Blind Side

I'm not a football fan. I'm not a Sandra Bullock fan. I'm not even a Tim McGraw fan. But after watching this, I am a big Tuohy fan.

The Tuohy's were a rather ordinary Christian family until the day God asked them to do something very out of the ordinary. He asked them to care for one of His bigger kids who needed a family. (By bigger I mean 6-foot, 4-inches, and 310 pounds!)  When the Tuohy's opened their home and hearts to Michael Oher, they had no idea of the journey they were embarking upon. They did, however, know Who would be directing it. Placing their complete trust in their Heavenly Father, they started out on the road less traveled and graciously left a path for others to follow.

1) A couple scenes where cussing is used, some with a bit of violence. (He did grow up on the wrong side of the tracks.)
2) One very modest bedroom scene, but I still won't let my younger kids watch it.
3) Why couldn't they dress Sandra Bullock more modestly?!

Handprints on My Heart

Everyone has a passion -- something that drives and gives them purpose in life. Some enjoy nothing more than curling up with a good book and slipping away into another life spelled out upon the pages before them. Others thrill to the adrenaline rush and heart-pounding excitement of excelling at an athletic competition. And still others seek to better the world by bravely exposing evil and changing things for the better.

My passion is kids. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of children -- either through teaching, volunteering, foster care, or as is the case for five very special kids, adoption. Seeing the world through their eyes, watching their lives unfold day by day, and guiding their development is my highest privilege. It is my joy. It is my heart.

Each child who has walked with me in my life's journey, either for a moment or a life time, has left something behind -- a little handprint on my heart.