Thursday, November 29, 2012

The art of (not) camping in the rain*

Two days before we were set to leave on our biannual family camping trip (way back in September, better late than never for blogging right?), with the weather forecast getting wetter and gloomier by the minute I received an email from my husband.  "Below are some links on tips for camping in the rain."  This is how we communicate more often than not, through emails, our dinner conversations are usually filled with highlights of school days, reminders to "put your knees down" and wondering out loud how our children could possibly be so loud and so messy, we have neither the memory or the energy to talk about grown up things.

I took his email as a sign of 1) we were going camping, even if it was raining and 2) he was preparing his argument against my protests, "see honey, look, people camp in the rain, they even write articles helping others to do it too!"  I was of the opinion that people (with three young children non the less) camped only in the rain by accident or by poverty, but then again I used to feel that way about camping all together.

I deleted his email and checked the forecast again, 100% chance of rain for all of Friday night and now Saturday morning.  I began to procrastinate, my most favorite coping technique and wasted some time on pinterest.  At some point, through email I'm sure, we discussed the idea of canceling our trip, decided we didn't want to and said that we would move it back instead camping Saturday through Monday instead of Friday through Sunday, and in an attempt to show me how much he loves me he said we would wait out the worst of the rain with a visit to a friend's house along the way.

I began to cook/prep food, pack up all the clothing/sleeping/cleaning items for four people, and check my list for the hundredth time (I have camped now a total of 12 times with kids and it never really gets easier to pack).  I also checked the weather every 10 minutes praying for a change, surely it wouldn't really rain as hard as they were forecasting, this is Texas afterall and it never really rains, even when they promise it will.

But it did.  It rained and it poured.  Kyle bought extra tarps and put down plastic on all the floors of our van (which is very Kyle), I packed an extra set of clothes/shoes for every member of the family and put it in a bag in the car, our "just in case everything we brought got soaked" bag.

We arrived at our friends' house, were blessed to watch the Aggies win and to be fed and loved well.  And continued to check the weather and pray.  Finally it was decided that it was going to be raining all night and hard so we would stay the night at our friends' and then leave Sunday morning for our trip.

Sunday morning we got up and were leaving by 8:30 in the morning when we backed into a car parked across the street.  By we I mean Kyle, not that I'm keeping score :).  Mercifully the owner was not mad, even though we awoke her with this news on a Sunday morning and was not interested in getting any insurances involved, you couldn't hit another car and have a better outcome.

Finally we were on our way and Kyle turned to me and said, I think we should just go home.  The look in his eyes broke my heart, you never met anyone who feels as passionate about camping as my husband.  I said, no way we're going to go to camp even if it's in the rain and we're going to have fun (I may also have considered that canceling our trip this weekend would require me to pack everything up again in another couple of weeks) and really what else could go wrong.

When we got to Dinosaur Vally state park, there was a light rain but it was warm outside and it was very apparent that this was the nicest park we had ever camped at.  And the kids were super excited to be greeted by giant dinosaurs.  We had the pick of the sites when we arrived and got an awesome one where the kids could explore around and enjoy a glorious adventure.

We hiked, we saw dinosaur tracks, we cooked, we slept, we saw God's beautiful creation, we only got the littlest bit wet.  It was the best camping trip yet, who knew, maybe's theres something to this camping in the rain.

*I totally stole this post title from this book, which I love and highly recommend!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The thank you tree is back!

This is back up in our house again, with much more leaves both on it and around it.  I love what this little (ghetto :) thankful tree does for our family this time of year.  How about you, do you have a a tradition of thanks this time of year?

Originally posted November 2011

My jaw hurts and I realize I've been clenching it tight, all day long.  The day was long, and everywhere I turn I see the piles of all I've left to do, my life so full of straw and hay it feels empty.  This is the month of Thanksgiving, of thanks giving, of giving thanks and so I am trying to learn, this being content in all things.

I open my copy of One Thousand Gifts and my view begins to change, my hearts understanding the importance of coming into his courts with thanksgiving.  I long to always in all circumstances see and believe that my God is good.  I take up my pen and I write them down, the gifts, "blue sky the color of my love's eyes", "shaking a tablecloth in the front yard, knowing I'm leaving food behind for the birds."

But it's hard to stop and pay attention and there are times where I can't possibly think what it is I am to be thankful for.  He screams in the aisle and I am overwhelmed and I feel like I'm failing at this shaping of the hearts who've have been entrusted to me.  "I was not alone" is the only thing I find to be thankful for in that moment, He was with me, always with me.  And all afternoon it seems small, scribbled in my notebook, "I was not alone", but really isn't that the biggest thing, the thing to be thankful for, that He is with us, always with us.  That He didn't leave us here alone.

And so, the day goes on and there seems to be few and far things in between I can grasp onto and return to Him in thanks.  So I take the one who has furrowed my brow all day long, we go outside and he happily gathers sticks for the "thank you tree."  We walk along together and as he gathers, my shoulders begin to relax.  I look at him and am reminded of the miracle that is my son, and suddenly the tension is gone and I feel the Spirit utters words I've never heard to praise the giver of this great gift.

I find a jar and wipe the cobwebs off the surface, and I feel Him doing the same to my heart.  Beginning to make me clean, using this thanks giving to change my heart, could it be?  We place the sticks in the jar, and they sit barren, empty.  I get the paper, the punch, the pen.  Find the notebook and turn to the page filled with words of thanksgiving.  I punch, and I write and I tie.  As my hands work, punch, write, tie, I feel the cleaning, the filling.  I am making a thank you tree, and with each leaf placed I am practicing over and again, thanksgiving.

Punch, write, tie.  You are a good God.  Punch, write, tie.  A God who gives life.  Punch, write, tie.  An abundant life.  Punch, write, tie.  Who takes us, so barren, and fills us up gift after good gift.  And in the giving thanks we are restored.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bless the Lord, O my soul

Have you heard 10,000 reasons by Matt Redman, isn't it wonderful.  Every time I hear it I bow down inside, I remember to wipe away this coating the world has put on my eyes and look around me at what is true.  Every time I sing those words, "whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes," I open my hands back up, I losen my grip on what I've laid claim to, and turn to face my day ready to receive the gifts He has for me, even those that seem scary at first glance.  It makes me want to learn how to count His blessing better, to each night arrive at 10,000 and start all over again the next day.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, I will worship your Holy name, in praise and thanksgiving of

This one, who prayed for me this morning that I would spend time reading my Bible and have restful alone time.  Just hearing her pray those words changed my outlook on the day, how did she know just how to pray, how did God ever see it fit to allow me to raise her.  Who takes two full minutes when I drop her off at school to make sure to give us all long hugs and big kisses and then stands outside the car signing I love you with the biggest smile you've ever seen.

Finishing this book and loving it so much that I plan to flip it back over and start all over again.  To find my struggles written so beautifully on the page and see how God can work to heal the sins that nag me and the fears that haunt me.  To be reminded that the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving is powerful and so very necessary.

This one who had a dry diaper two nights in a row.  Who looked at me when I lost my cool and said, I'm going to give you a hug and a kiss, mommy.  He overwhelms me with his patience and his soft heart and his courage, oh to have courage like him.  For the second time he cleaned up the playroom by himself in order to get a treat and the few moments of a picked up house soothed over the rough spots in my day.

Watching this documentary* and knowing I still have part two waiting for me.  It made me cry so hard it hurt and I actually punched something I was so angry.  But it is always good to remember what I am here for, it is always important to understand that the comforts of my life do not entitle me to turn away from the darkness and the battle against it.  To hear His voice remind me that I need only continue to seek Him and obey, always obey, and daily to pray and pray again.

This little one who could not be cuter which brings me such joy and sadness, knowing that really soon she will be a big kid and she will be beautiful and amazing but, she will someday stop needing me to hold her and won't always call herself "Foey."  She received a gift yesterday and she opened it all by herself and I got to watch her dance to the latest CD from a famous Kpop artist.  I took her in my arms and I asked her if she remembered, could she possibly remember how she used to dance to this music with her second mama.  And in those moments I am always humbled to be apart of something so very big, the complicated lives of my children.

We walked over to this neighborhood library in the park, leave a book, take a book, it's all free for any who would like.  And I just stood there staring at it, thinking well now, there it is, the best thing.  A free library, in the park I love, in my neighborhood, surrounded by flowers.  Isn't it amazing the way He loves, he doesn't just provide for our every need, he gives us a deep abiding joy, and then he puts sprinkles on top with the most frivolous things that He knows would mean the world to us, a library in the park!

9,981 more reasons to go, I'm off to see what the Lord has for me today, and I pray I may be singing when the evening comes.

*You can still view Half the sky online for 5 for more days.  For what it's worth I think that this is one of the most important subject matters you can educate yourself on.  I urge you to watch these, they are well done and enjoyable while they stir your heart.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life is a beautiful ride (aka I can't seem to stop posting pictures of myself with a bike helmet on)

Source: via Jenny on Pinterest

Today was Chloe's first day of school, it was also Jack's second day of school and Kylynn's 12th day of school (not that I'm keeping count), which meant that for the first time since Chloe came home to us I had a couple of hours with no children at home.  Three hours to be exact, once a week, I have three glorious hours all to myself!

I have an older iphone I'm always guessing when trying to take a picture of myself 
When it occured to me yesterday that I had a few hours of freedom coming up I pondered my options, should I, sit on the couch and stare at the wall, take a nap, clean, or watch Downton Abbey.  But this morning when I woke up I had the best idea, if I want to find time in my schedule to exercise, here it was, I would go on a bike ride.

So after packing up three kids and their backpacks and lunches, I remembered (miracle!!) to pack not only my bike but my socks and shoes and helmet.  I couldn't believe how great my brain was working this morning (it must be my new diet, more on that later), and then my brain reached the end of it's ability, so the rest of this adventure is brought to you by the iphone.

I decided after dropping off the littles, to head out to Lick Creek since I was a few miles closer to it than I normally am, but soon realized I had never been there by myself and had no idea how to get there (it should be noted that I've lived here for 14 years and I know how to get to a total of 5 places, direction are not one of my strengths).  I tried calling Kyle and when I couldn't get him I realized that I held the answer in my hand, the iphone could tell me how to get there, and indeed it did!

Once there I was welcomed first by this sign, then by the realization that the chain was off of my bike. But I had managed to get three kids to school, and remember every single thing I needed for a bike ride 15 miles from my house, I was not going to be deterred.  I decided that people walk in parks with "large felines" all the time, that should not be a concern of mine, and set about fixing my bike.  Let's just say I got it back on, I couldn't seem to get it into a higher gear in the front but it was ridable so I was happy.

I rode and rode* and kept feeling like I wasn't getting enough of a work out (see above re: my chain) and then I realized not pulling a trailer with a child(ren) on it makes all the difference in the world!  About half way through I found a random bench in a shady area so I stopped and read the Bible (again iphones where have you been all my life) and it was the most peaceful moment I've had in, well, a while.

I made it back to my car having accomplished what I set out to do, with water left to spare, feeling like a million bucks!  I only had enough time left before picking up the first child, to get ready and do the dishes but I knew I had already received what I needed for the day, the gift of rest and beauty and joy all wrapped up in a bike ride, and already I can't wait to see what I'll unwrap next Thursday.

*Unfortunately I don't know how far I rode, it wasn't until I was done that I remember the app my dad uses to track his ride endomondo sports tracker, I can't wait to test it out.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympics 2008

Watching the Olympics has been rather difficult this year and for a while I couldn't figure out what in the world is wrong with me.  Why has it been so different from the Olympics of 2008, why am I not enjoying it as much as I used to, and why in the world have I not heard a word the announcer has said.  Then it dawned on me, the last time the summer Olympics was on I had a two year old, only, one child, who went to bed no later than seven, every single night, took two to three hour naps every day, and slept through the entire night, every night.

I keep reflecting on how much a life can change in four years because today as I try to watch my beloved Olympics my life is some chaotic (wonderful) version of that life times three.  Back in the day Michael Phelps never doubted he would win a swimming event and I cleaned my house, I mean for real busted out the dusting liquid and toilet brush, every single Friday (I find this the most unbelievable memory).  I experienced real silence in my own home on a regular basis, and had no trouble hearing what the announcer was saying about the life of the Russian gymnasts.

I didn't own a DVR back then (though I'm sure they existed, I'm always about 5 years behind technology), but it was no problem I put my angelic child to bed each night and settled down to watch one of the best Olympics ever, live!!  I was tired each morning when I woke up after a short six hours of sleep but it was okay because having one two year old is not exhausting and I could take a 3 hour nap if I wanted to every afternoon.

Me and my one baby in summer of 2008 (I also had short hair back then, oh I miss that haircut!)
My life was calm in 2008, it was clean and it never surprised me.  As I look back I see it was boring and empty and less than it should have been.  Even though I've only heard 15 words on TV during this Olympic games, I can't help but looking around me and thinking, this, this three kids, this dirty house, this people over (again), this dealing with brokenness, this toothpaste on the wall and pee on the carpet, this yelling and flipping off of chairs (darn gymnastics), is a gift.

I used to have a small, quite life, where perfection was the goal and being uptight was the norm, I used to think people with crazy children were bad parents and people with dirty houses were lazy.  God gave me exactly what I needed to mold me into a woman who could better follow after Him, who would desperately need Him, and better love those around me.

He gave me three children, and chaos, and brokenness I never understood, and he used it to strip me down, to begin to remove piece by piece the abilities that I thought I alone had created in myself.  He took me to a place where I would throw my hands up in the air and say, I surrender, I can not do this by myself.  And once I was there He began the (long) journey of putting me back together.  Building a woman who sees perfection as pride, who wonders what God would like me to accomplish in this day, who daily calls out to God for help on how to love/discipline my children, because I fully realize I have no idea what I am doing.

For the Olympics of 2012 my house is a whole lot messier, my kids are a whole lot crazier, and Michael Phelps turns out to be human after all.  But I think it's better this way, we're going to be fine, sometimes gifts are found in the strangest of places and there's always the 200 meter Butterfly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Planning toasts, the end of babies, and TV zombies

My sister is getting married, I'm super excited, like a little bit, maybe, sorta a crazy person excited.  I may or may not have written a toast in my head today and then in hopes of not forgetting it (it was good in my humble opinion) :) recorded it as a voice memo on my phone.  Did I mention that she has been engaged for one week, has yet to set a date, and has not asigned me any toasting duties.  In my defense I can't help it, I write random things in my head all day long, though I (obviously) rarely write them down, which is the problem if I don't write it down it'll soon be gone, I've lost really good stuff that way.

Kylynn has been devouring every Boxcar Children audiobook our local library has, she'll check out all they have available and listen to them over and over, while at the same time be in the middle of one which we read at night before bed.  Our library is a little behind the times and they have more of the books on tape than CD, so Kyle took his old boombox out of the garage and put it on her dresser so she could listen to even more.  The other day we were driving somewhere in the car and she said, "Mommy I know something we can do together when I get to be grown up, like a teenager, I can come home and visit you and we can read Boxcar Children books together."  Girlfriend knows how to have a good time.  It is true that the first Boxcar Children book is one of my favorites of all time and I too once devored each and every one I could get my hands on.  It just occured to me in the 100+ books of solving crimes, do they ever get any older?

I packed up all my baby stuff this weekend.  I mean we've still got one in diapers and two in boosters, but all that stuff needed for babies under two, is out of my house!  Kyle optimistically asked me if this meant I feel done having children now and I have to admit getting all of that crap out really did help me feel done.  The other day a friend of mine said that, "it wasn't in her plans" to have any more children, she doesn't know what God's plans are, but she is not planning on it.  That's my new answer, I feel done, but I'm ready to change my mind if God has something different for us in the kiddo department.

Speaking of kiddos the motivation to get rid of all things baby, was having to move, our baby into a big girl bed.  Chloe has always been a climber so really were lucky to last this long, the transition has been a bit rocky, but tonight went amazingly well.  She has also {finally!} begun giving me kisses, without me begging or bribing, she is settling more and more into our family and it's such a great feeling!

Has anyone ever heard of this thing called the OLYMPICS!!  That's right it's only the coolest thing ever and it starts in 2 days, 15 hours, and 46 minutes.  That's right I'm a total Olympics geek and couldn't be prouder.  My children will be little TV zombies and we will eat more food in the den than we have in the past 4 years combined and of course, Kyle will want to trade me in for a more normal wife :).

And to go out on a high point, two pins that I made (or began making) this week,

Friday, July 13, 2012

A tea party for Kylynn

Kylynn, turned six this summer, oh why does time have to go by so fast.  So while I shook my head at how it is possible to have loved her for six years, I racked my brain on what type of party would capture her at this age.  I wanted her to get to do the things she loves, pretending, dressing up, and being with her friends.  A real life tea party seemed to fit just right.

It was by far my favorite birthday party I've had for any of the kiddos.  She invited all her (girl)friends and asked them to come dressed for tea.  About a week before the party she sat out her dress she had planned to wear (a black and white number that is not nearly as cute or fancy as many of the other dresses in her closet, but she is after all my daughter).

I of course turned to Pinterest to get an idea of one, what a tea party looks like and two, what does one serve at a tea party (can I just say again, God bless Pinterest, where in the world would we be without it).  I borrowed a silver tea set from a friend of mine and agreed to use it after she convinced me that she would have no hard feeling if it was in some way harmed by a party full of excited six year olds, which seemed inevitable to me (in the end not a single thing was broken and only one spill!)

I decided to serve fruit, cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes, tea and punch.  I made this recipe for the sandwiches, which was a total waste of time, it was not nearly as good as what I normally do, which is to spread veggie cream cheese on bread and add cucumber slices, and be done.  The girls actually loved the tea (which was Earl Grey decaf, so as to be kind to their mamas) due to the cream and sugar in it.

My friend made these amazing cupcakes, that were in an edible tea cup (made of chocolate), the girls loved them and I loved eating the left over cups after everyone left :).  She also made me three dozen teapot shaped cake pops to give as party favors (darn me that I didn't take a picture of them), they were adorable!

The girls sat at the table, and ate their food, then they ran off to play.  For a craft they each made their own place mat with stickers and glitter from the dollar store (side note: if you know me you know I hate glitter with a passion and do not allow it in my house, if my words fail I hope that is proof of just how deeply I love that little girl).  They ran around and made up their games with those amazing imaginations they have, opened presents and then played with each of the new toys, while the moms who stuck around got to catch up.

It was just what I had in mind, a day where Kylynn would be reminded just how very special she is, how very loved she is by her friends and family, when she could just enjoy being a six year old little girl playing tea party with her friends.

Kylynn Fay, when I look at you I am sure of the God we serve, I begin to understand better how very much He loves us, I can see how He works in people.  I love watching you grow up and I pray you will never stop running after Him.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Back in the saddle

It's a little intimating coming back here after being gone for so long.  I have never taken a break from blogging for more than a week or two at a time, and those were few and far between.  How refreshing it has been to take a good long break from this blog, to focus more on being with my kids than blogging about my kids, to make myself available to God and His work in my life, instead of just talking about God and the work I hope He would do in my life.  The longer I stay away the harder it is to come back, so it's time to get back in the saddle again, to talk about life around these parts with a (hopefully) honest and Christ centered perspective.

There have been no further car accidents or natural disasters since we last spoke, but I did have a child turn 6 (not as intimating as 5 for some reason)and graduate from Kindergarten, travel here and there and everywhere (not to mention to heaven Florida with just my two sisters), begun to find our groove in this new parenting style (which means it works about 50% of the time), and watch any pre-Olympic events available.

God has been teaching me about letting Him be in control, about just showing up and watching Him work, about how exhilarating it is to be used by Him again.  He also teaching me about letting some things go, about trusting Him with the money and the cleaning and the children who's hearts were never mine to change.

I've been grieving or living in denial really about the move of my closest friend.  I've been trying to not make other people's life changes about me (without much success).  I've been realizing that I have both a very full social calendar and a lack of friends who could move into her role.  I've been doing lots of praying, the normal daily kind and the spiritual battle kind, I've been reminded once again that this world is not my home.

We've been hot and a little bored and ready for school to start, while we dream of having a pool in our backyard, the only thing that would make me want summer to go on forever.  We've been calling the library our second home and watching more PBS than normal.  We have not begun potty training, because I am just not ready, I'm not sure if Chloe is ready or not, but I just can't do it right now, and I've decided that's okay.

It's been your typical summer, I never did put together a list of goals and now it seems to late, and that the only thing I have the energy for is: 1)Keep children alive and relatively happy.  So that's what I'll be working on the next six weeks, but I'll also be over here posting something from time to time, that is when I'm not watching the Olympics or playing with my new (to me) iphone.

I've missed y'all, what have you been up to this summer or onto a really important topic: what apps do I just need to have on my iphone?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

If it's not a drunk driver, it's a tornado...

we were parked about 15 feet in front of this grain elevator during the tornado

This is going to sound like I'm making this up and frankly it feels too big for me to talk about, but it must be said, I owe it to God to testify of how He provided. Last week we left for our family vacation to the beach and on that day we survived being hit by a drunk driver (unfortunately our car was not so lucky) and a tornado, 8 hours apart, in the same day.

When I went back a few days later and looked over our car with the mechanic I kept looking at that seat where my oldest sat, looking at the damage all around her and yet she was not harmed, I was so humbled by God's goodness and His mercy, I can't quite comprehend how it is that people live through things like this everyday and manage to remain turned away from God.

The tornado, well, it seems like a really bad dream, after the accident when we finally got back on the road we drove through horrible storms, and suddenly the storm became something more. When Kyle sent me the report that confirmed that indeed the most terrifying 20 minutes of my life, was us sitting inside of an actual tornado, I felt like it must change me.  Can I live through something like that and be the same person as I was before? So I'm trying, to remember what He spoke to me after the calm that finally came, I am not in control, not now, not ever, and that is okay. My God is bigger than the storms of this world and He never lets me out of His hands.  It calms me when I allow life to become bigger than it is, to remind myself that God was there in the storm, that He allowed this to happen and nothing was ever out of His control.  If I can trust Him in that moment then I think I can trust him with the broken car moments of this life.

we got to see a turtle rescue group release the turtles back into the ocean, totally made me cry :)
We made it to the beach, about 11 hours after we left for it, grateful for the things that really matter in life, with a different perspective on life around us. God provided a woman who made it her job that day to take care of us, providing us with food and entertainment for our kids and a way to work things out, a man who had never met us to happily drive us an hour away to borrow a car from family willing to sacrifice for our vacation. I have never felt so cared for, so much a part of something bigger than myself.

From then on out it was just a great vacation, hanging out on the beach, playing in the pool, visiting the aquarium and eating yummy food. Kyle got up with the kids every single morning, and each day there was a breakfast waiting for me. I never spent a moment worrying about what was waiting us when we returned, I just relaxed, and enjoyed, and mostly stopped to pay attention to what was going on around me, to pause long enough to say thank you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Learning to parent, the hard way

For the past three weeks (I cannot believe it's been three weeks since my last post!) I have emerged myself in all things parenting, all things parenting differently than I had been.  I took what I'd read from the first 100 pages or so of Parenting... and the first 30 pages of The Connected Child, mixed them with about 8 minutes of a parenting coach's advice (thanks Shannan!) and came out with my new made up way to try and do something different, anything different really, it was time to make some changes around here, something had to give.

Then I began to ask for prayer, I asked my bible study to pray for me, I asked my church to pray for me and may have even have received some prayers from some of you sweet people out there, because if there is one thing I know it is this: I cannot do anything worth doing out of my own strength.  I have felt those prayers this week in such a big way, and that, more than anything I have done that has given me such hope.  I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing, am sure that books should probably be read all the way through, and know that I could benefit from a lot more than 8 minutes of parenting coaching, but I see God at work in our family right now and there's nothing that makes me more excited than watching God work.

I had a lot of room for improvement when it came to the way I parent my children.  One of the biggest blessings in this challenge God is leading me through is this: if I had birthed all three of my children, I doubt that I would ever have taken the time and energy to stop and take a good look at the way I mother my children.  To stop and pay attention to His small voice asking for something more from me.  I would have been okay with mediocre, with doing what everyone else does.  I would have continued to pat myself on the back that I really, really LOVE my kids and bonus I take them to ChickFilA, the library, the park, and fun trips all the time.

God has been nudging my heart for a very long time about my tendency to yell at my kids, my misaligned priorities (that say getting things done is more important than truly being with my kids), my justifying the wasting of time on pinterest/blogs/facebook, the perfection that often is the source of the decisions I make and the rules I impress on my (very young) children.  I didn't listen, I heard Him and I occasionally felt bad about it, but I never took significant steps to change my behavior.

And then one day I encountered such hurt and loss and anger in the actions of one of the loves of my life, that no matter how I tried (oh how I tried!) the status quo was not going to work anymore.  In fact my parenting was making things worse,  I finally gave up and was willing to try submitting to God's leading.

The funny thing is I always thought I was parenting the way a Christian mother should.  Discipline is my main game, I am consistent to a fault, if you do something wrong in my house, there is a consequence.  I spend countless minutes putting people in time out, disciplining them for screaming in time out/leaving time out, talking to them about why they were in time out.  I have taken everything out of one of my child's rooms for breaking one of their things (on purpose), I have had kids clean cars, pick up dog poop, skip activities, go to bed early, you name it I've tried it. But I have a secret, when I sin, I want grace, I want God to look at my heart and see that I was doing the best I could for the maturity I am at, I want Him to pick up the broken pieces and make everything better.  And He does.  My Daddy God, who is everything good, is slow to anger and quick to listen, He looks at my heart and His mercies are new every morning, He extends grace to me for so long before He disciplines.  And more than anything He desires a very real relationship with me, one He sacrificed everything to have with me.  I have never parented my children the way God parents me.

So I decided that it was time to give it a try, the first thing I did was gave up yelling, gave it up like the bad drug it was, oh don't worry I still fall off the wagon from time to time, but I feel like a new woman (mommy).  It's the coolest thing when you lower your voice when a child makes a bad choice and raise it when they make a good choice (this was my main take away from the parenting coach) two things are accomplished, you stop rewarding bad behavior and you stop getting angry.  Let me clarify, when my child is mad at me and pushes my buttons and I yell they are rewarded, they're game worked, that got the reaction they were going for and that reinforces the behavior.  And the bonus that I didn't expect, when I don't yell, I don't get angry, I feel so much calmer throughout the day.

The second thing I've been doing is so much harder, I began to actually pay attention to my children, each one, everyday.  Let me just continue my run for mom who makes all other moms feel better about themselves, until recently I never played with my children.  Okay I would play with them on occasion for a few minutes, but I wasn't really giving them all of my attention.  I had decided that I didn't really need to play with my children, after all I am with them every single moment of every single day :).  I do the dishes they play around me, I read a magazine they play outside, I drive them to some fun activity while I pretend to listen to their very long story, I talk to the other moms, while they do the fun activity.  Isn't that enough?  No, I've decided, it's really not.  My children need my real attention, they need me to look them in the eye, not glance at them while I'm on the computer and tell them to just wait one more quick minute.  They want me to get on the floor and play trucks or barbies and they need it just like they need healthy food.

This has been hard for me, first because I thought that playing with them wasn't "fun" and second because I thought I didn't have enough time.  And yet, the more time I spend truly playing with them, the more I enjoy it, the more I am amazed by their ideas, and their intelligence, by their hearts and their fears.  When it comes to time, you have the time you have, it's up to you what you do with it, so I've stopped wasting so much of it.  I've been spending much less time on the computer, I haven't put on make up except for church in two weeks, and my house is perhaps messier than usual (not sure if that last one is possible).  I am convinced that if I will trust God with my time, give it all over to Him and honor Him in how I use it He will return it to me in abundance, He will accomplish what needs to be accomplished, I need only to obey.

And you?  How's it going, please keep up the great advice, I am certain I cannot do this on my own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding out I don't know everything, the hard way

I've never told y'all this, but after we finished our home study to adopt Jack the social worker had the gall to tell us that she didn't think we were mentally prepared for International adoption and would not forward on our home study until we read this huge packet of training material.

Until about six months ago I thought that lady was a little high on her power and quite frankly confused.  See in case you don't know me in real life, I'm a really good mom, and we had parented for a whole year! before we began the process to adopt Jack.  You know basically we were experts and really how hard could this whole adoption thing be...ahem.

She was concerned that we didn't have answers for how we would raise him as Korean in an white family, how we would handle his questions about adoption, how we would help him navigate life as someone who is white on the inside, Korean on the outside, and constantly faced with the fact that he is different.

I read her dumb articles, mostly about children from orphanages (didn't apply to me), and children with attachment disorder (definitely didn't apply to me).  We moved forward and without trying I began to become educated on adoption, the orphan crisis, emotional problems adopted children face, what it's like to be an interracial family, and so on.  I read blogs mainly and learned from other's stories the reality of the life I was beginning.

But that is where my education ended, until I began the ultimate school of adoption, the day I met my son.  We came home and I saw that regardless of how much I loved him, his heart was broken on that day I took him from his foster mother.  Part of him was forever lost when I took him from his country, his language, his food, his world.  I was too tired to read the books then, so I prayed and I held him and I cried and we figured it out, it took a long time, but we were okay, or so I thought.

Then one day, my son began to cry and sob over the loss of his foster mother and his country.  He began to ask me daily to go back and see her, to see it.  I had no answers for him, I listen and I prayed but I didn't know how to help him heal.  I finally bought a book and began to read it, I finally understood that this path we're on goes on forever, that the loss he has had to face is not a thing of the past, but a part of who he is.

Today I saw a friend of mine and just dumped on her everything that we've been dealing with lately and she asked me how we've been handling it, and I told her the truth, I have no idea what I am doing.  She too is an adoptive mom and is dealing with many of the same issues, she told me about another book that she highly recommends (it was another one I thought didn't apply to me, I may never learn).  When I left everything in my life was just the same as it was when I walked into that room, but it made me better having a safe person to tell the truth to, someone to tell me that we're normal, and to help me find a way out of this.

I don't want to scare anyone out there out of adopting, no matter how hard it is, it will always be one the best things in my life.  But I do want to scare you a little, scare you enough to stop you from making the same mistakes I've made, to go into this process with more solutions and less pride.  Read the books, join the support group, find the right friends.  Other adoptive families will be your life line, if you don't know anyone else who's family looks like yours, walk up to strangers at the store and ask them to be your friend, if they're like me they will happily, because we've all been there.  Seek out friends of your children's race, bribe them with food, and have them in your home at least once a week, adopt grown up Korean people to go with your little Korean people :).

In the end remember that we are to do what is best for children, we are to read the books, and find the support, and parent them the way they need to be parented (not the way others parent their biological children), but most of all we are to pray.  To come before the Lord and lay it all at his feet and tell him that there is not a thing in the world I can do to fix this mess that is adoption.  Trust Him with the answer, trust Him to make us all better, trust Him that He has already overcome the world and it's problems.  The fact that love covers a multitude of sins is perhaps the sweetest promise to me today.

The two books I am currently reading in this journey are Parenting Your Internationally adopted child and The Connected Child

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lying, the Olympics, and the scariest moments in my life

*I know I know, I said I would be blogging more often, but I lied.  Who am I kidding, if I finish my "must do" chores by 9 at night it feels like an awesome day.  And for some reason I can't write then, my brain is just too tired and only wants to lay on the couch and veg.  Someday I will have more time, someday my days will look different....

*We got back from camping this afternoon.  I will do a post on it with pictures but to sum it up, it was a great trip.  It was our favorite park we've camped at yet, we got to hang out with some of our friends who now live in another town, the weather was actually cool and it didn't rain on us!

*What is with Parenthood having they're season finale in February, I mean really folks it is harsh to just leave us hanging for six months, aren't they afraid we'll forget all about them and move on to bigger and better TV?  Don't worry I would never do that

*I finished Lost did I tell you yet?  Best TV show I've ever watched, hands down.  Was I disappointed with the ending?  Sure a little but how could you not be disappointed with a show that out there when they try to wrap it all up?  I think next on my list of shows is Downton Abbey on PBS, I'm hoping against hope Kyle will watch it with me.

*Ooh, I saw Hunger Games, speaking of Kyle.  He went with me, we went to a 10:35 showing once our kids were in bed when we were home for Easter (free babysitting).  We go on a date about 5 times a year so the excitement of being at a movie theatre! with Kyle! alone! (for reals y'all we were two of four in the theatre) kept me awake.  LOVED it so much and one of the best moments of my life, (I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not) Kyle loved it too!

*I cannot tell you how many major throw down tantrums we've had in this house in the past two weeks, and some of them were even by the kids :).  No really I'm so tired, I've started trying to head off certain children when I can tell they're thinking of taking that route, I don't want to give in to them, but I also don't have an hour to waste dealing with the tantrum, so I give an extra warning or two and pray they'll make a good choice.  I'm a little afraid though they can sense my fear :).

*We did celebrate Easter around here, we did a 12 day countdown to Easter, and of course lots of egg hunts, candy, and eating on the big day, and I have not a picture to show for it.  Probably the biggest reason I could see myself caving into the iphone pressure Kyle is laying on me is the connivence of having a decent camera with me at all times.  I mean I'm a blogger (or kind of) I need to remember to take pictures of things! :)

*The scariest moments of my life are when I have to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night when we're camping.  No matter how little I drink I can't make it through the night.  So I walk alone in the dark in a place with wild animals, each and every night we camp.  My imagination is really too good.  I may or may not have ran as fast as I could a time or two to avoid imaginary creatures.

*Four months till the Olympics.  Do you think I'm weird that I'm counting down already, you don't know the half of it.  Tonight I realized that I get more excited when I remember that the olympics are in four months than I do when I remember that in two months I get to go on a vacation with my sisters (WITH NO CHILDREN!) for four days.  I think my love for the Olympics has gotten out of hand, just a tad. I wonder if I can get one of those countdown things for my blog yet...

Sunday, April 1, 2012


You turned two last week, it was a week of celebrating you and what you mean to our family.  We celebrated your first birthday since coming home to us and then four days later we celebrated the day you became ours.

It has been a hard year for you.  You were fully aware that strangers had come over to your home and taken you from the family that had raised you since you were born.  Your loss has been so deep, but we have come so far together, just these past few months you have begun to seem happy, trusting, and at peace.

Isn't that just a mess, that you at the age of two have already experience more loss than I have in my entire life.  But this morning you insisted that you get back into bed with me and go "night night" just for the joy of being able to be snuggled by mommy, and I would have done it all day if school didn't beckon.  Somehow the mess has become joy (messy joy no doubt but still joy) and I will never find the bottom of my gratitude at getting to be your mommy.

You are two, like someone snuck you a copy of a parenting book and you memorized just how two year olds are to act, they could put your picture in the dictionary next to "two year old."  You believe that the biggest playgrounds were designed for your use (and your use alone).  That taking naps is something only the weak do, that throwing food is a fun pastime, and pulling hair should be an olympic event.

You are a talker, copying every word you hear.  You've begun to speak to us in long sentences, "Mommy all done, sticky hands, down please."  My friends without children laugh at how I can understand everything you say, so maybe I'm not the best judge but I think you speak so well.

I'm pretty sure you have 10 pairs of shoes, blame your big sister, they are all hand me downs, and back in the day she was all we had (and all the grandparents and aunts had :).  You have very strong feelings about shoes, some days are pink cowboy boots days (duh!) and some are slipper days (that would be crocs), but most days are any number of dress shoes, and if I'm lucky we get a tennis shoe day thrown in there from time to time.

For your birthday I made "Chick fila nuggets" and oven fries and gave you lots of ketchup.  Ketchup is your favorite food, I kid you not.  You had a Thomas cake, because you had stolen a thomas book from your brother's room and now ask every nap and night time for the "choo-choo" book.  You loved opening your presents and are very confindent that they are "mine" and enjoy playing with all of them.

For your gotcha day we went out for Korean food.  I made everyone dress up because it was a big day and you loved your Korean food.  I'm thinking that maybe your favorite food is actually rice.  Afterwards we went and walked around (Texas A&M's) campus because it's just what we do and it was time we let you in on the tradition.  You loved running around after your brother and sister and I prayed a little prayer that someday that space of earth would mean as much to you as it does to me.

You are my baby girl.  The one I never thought I would have and didn't know I needed.  Your smile makes our family brighter, your laughter is a joy we waited so long for, we are so glad that you are here, that you are ours, that we get to figure out being a family together.

For her biggest fans (also known as grandparents) some videos:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Heart for Orphans Guest series

I'm super excited that today a post I wrote is being featured over at Christian Alliance for Orphans' blog, Heart for Orphans Guest series.  I love the work that the Christian Alliance for Orphans does and someday hope to be able to attend one of their Summit conferences (for information about attending this year's conference, Summit VIII, and what it's all about you can go here).

It is an honor to have something I wrote associated with this ministry that mirrors my heart for the least of these, I hope you will click on over there and check it out, and while you're there check out some of the previous blog posts featured over there, I'm sure they will encourage and inspire you as much as they did me.