Friday, March 16, 2018

My Travels with Charley

When I was in the second grade, I had a teacher that darn near ruined school for me. Often, she was incredibly unkind. If her hair was curled, we were going to be alright but if it was straight, everyone knew to steer clear. As an adult I realize that, maybe, on the days her hair was curled, she'd gotten up, had her morning coffee and then spent some quality time with the curling iron. The days when it was straight, well, maybe she'd rolled out of bed and we were seeing her in some kind of decaffeinated state. I don't know. She insisted that we call her Mizz Boyle. Not Miss Boyle. Mizz. She scared me. The rough terrain of second grade didn't stop with her incredible mood swings. The woman barely taught math. She focused so greatly on language arts and reading that one of my most vivid memories from all of grade school involves me sobbing at the kitchen table while I wrote a lengthy (way too long for a seven-year-old) research paper on Mary Cassatt. That class entered the third grade above average in all things to do with literature and well below average in our math skills.

It haunted me throughout school, always trying to play catch up in math and build on skills that weren't taught at the crucial age of seven. However, for all that I blame her for with my subpar mathematics skills, I do credit the woman for being the base for which my love for literature and language arts was launched and, in fairness, she's the sole reason I have any idea who Mary Cassatt was.

My foundational love for English took me into honors courses, on to Advanced Placement my senior year, and eventually landed me in a great many writing and literature classes in college where I graduated three courses short of a second degree in English Education. I say all of that to hopefully give some credit to what I'm about to say. (It was a long introduction. What can I say, I'm not short and to the point like Hemingway.)

In high school, as part of our honors program, I was forced to endure a few AWFUL books for summer reading. Terrible books. Books that made me question whether I should even bother with advanced classes. But here's the thing. I reread some of them in college and had a profound awakening to them. It was then I realized that some of what we'd been forced to read in high school was way over our heads. Listen, I was not in over my head in advanced classes. I never got a grade lower than A in English until college. So I can only assume that no one was understanding or connecting to much of our summer reading lists. When in college a few years later, my perspective had changed. I'd lived a little more life. The themes and concepts of some of the books we'd had to read in high school suddenly made sense. I firmly believe that we were introduced to some of that material well before we could even begin to chew it up and make sense of it.

I'm not blaming the teachers. Not a bit. I adored my high school English teachers. They were teaching what they needed to and in the end, we all survived. During school we were able to dissect books with our faithful leaders standing by, guiding and helping. It was those hot summers with long passages that made no sense that really got to me.

The summer before my freshman year, when I was a mere 13 years old, I powered, somehow, through Travels with Charley. I declared then and there that I detested John Steinbeck with the burning fire of 10,000 suns. It was so so very terrible. It was boring. It was dated. Still, for some strange reason, I held onto that paperback novel all these years. My mother, year after year would ask me why I saved it, as awful as it was. Then, later, my husband would ask the same question. I had no explanation. Perhaps I kept it in my bookshelf as some sort of badge of honor.

I have nearly tripled my age since I first experienced that novel. Suddenly, I had the overwhelming urge to read it. O, world, is it ever beautiful. Still, I look at its pages and I think, "There is no way a 13 year old could have possibly grasped this." Now though, I am helped by the fact that I have fallen in love with Steinbeck. Travels with Charley In Search of America was my maiden voyage nearly a quarter of a century ago. It is not the place to begin. One must first know Steinbeck. I believe, even, that The Pearl and Of Mice and Men (books which also came with my high school education) are not, on their own, up to the task. Perhaps, if one has held tight to the pages of East of Eden, it will have been enough. To embrace Charley, one must feel as though Steinbeck is an old friend and one must believe that America is meant to be discovered again and again. We must understand that she is always in a process of metamorphosis so intricate that one man's experience will never be the next man's. One must possess within her that restlessness, that wanderlust that so many of us, inherent in our Americanness, feel in the marrow of our bones. What 13 year old grasps these things? Nay, what 36 year old can do much more than open her mouth and hope to drink the entire ocean?

I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings--the stuffed and helpless inability to see more.

A few pages later...

Charley licked the syrup from his whiskers. "What makes you so moony?"

"It's because I've stopped seeing. When that happens you think you'll never see again."

What 13 year old is worried about absorbing that much, being saturated to the point of rejecting what is seen, heard, and experienced? Ahhh, but what 36 year old, in a moment of respite, enveloped by warm water and bubbles while her love plays with her three smaller loves, has not experienced the gripping reality that sometimes we lose sight of everything important?

There are moments when I wish I could visit myself. I would absorb wisdom from the soul of older versions. I would implore younger versions to listen, to give it all the time that it needs, to soak in as much as possible.

"Yes, younger me, the only part of Travels with Charley In Search of America that you will grasp and appreciate will be the parts about California. You have been there. You have experienced the land and everything he says about it is still true. One day, you will have seen more of it. You will have met more of its people. You will understand what John was looking for. One day, the book will move you. One day, you will wish that he invited you into Rocinante, poured you a glass of whatever he was serving, and asked who you were. Or not. Perhaps you would only discuss the weather. One day, you would consider paying top dollar to scratch Charley's head. That time has not yet come."

But it will.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dear Matt,

You're halfway to 18 which is wackadoodle crazy, if you ask me. I cannot understand how you have suddenly turned into a 9 year old 3rd grader because I am sure that you were just born yesterday. And listen, kid, if you're reading this one day and you want to know what you were like, get a copy of the old television show This is Us. Watch Randall. All that wanting to be perfect. All that anxiety about not being perfect. All that thinking that anything less than perfect is failure. All the ways he loved his mama and his family. His struggles and his victories.


Every week, we watch that show and it's like watching what we imagine you'll be like in 7 years or 28 years. And son, I hope you can shake all the needing to be perfect because that's all in your own head. But if you grow up and love your wife and your kids and your mother the way a fictional character loves those people in his life, well, I think you'll do okay.

Right now, you flip and flop and back handspring and walk on your hands ALL THE TIME. If you could practice gymnastics in our living room 24/7, you would. Of course, you also want to do karate, play baseball, play football, and wrestle. You are super strong and your chiseled body is basically ridiculous. Especially because you're NINE. You love to rock climb and can scurry up the wall like a buff little spider monkey.

You're a great speller and you love science. You would make potions and do experiments all day long (except for the times you were busy flipping and flopping about the house) if we'd let you. Reading is NOT your favorite thing to do but you are happy to read books about science and we have found a few others that'll hold your attention. You say that you want to be an actor and, when you come out of your shell for long enough, you are straight up hilarious.

You have the tenderest of souls, never wanting to choose something if your choice might hurt someone's feelings, never wanting to do anything to upset either of your brothers, always wanting to take care of people, often sacrificing your own opinion for what others might think. You've always been a hot and cold kind of kid. From the moment you were born, we've always said that your personality was like looking at a heart monitor. Up, down, up, down, up, down. You have big highs and big lows. The white folk you live with are a mostly German bunch and we're baseline steady--for the most part. You add emotion and flare to our relatively calm bunch. If you can harness all that passion for good, you'll move mountains.

I love you, man. I love your silly sense of humor and your tender side. I love how you love your family--both the one you live with and the one you came from--and want all of us to be happy. I love how you love Jesus. I love the way you self-sacrifice for your siblings. You are one of my most favorite people on the planet.

Grow and live and thrive and don't worry quite so much about being perfect. We love you just the way you are.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Interview with 9 Year Old Matthew

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show? Star Wars Rebels, Ninja Turtles, Ben 10.
2. What did you have for breakfast? Cereal.
3. What do you want to name your future son? (This is a new question. I got rid of "What's your middle name?" because, well, he's known that for years now.) Robert.
4. Favorite Food? Hamburgers.
5. What food do you dislike? Cooked up broccoli.
6. What is your favorite color? Green and red.
7. Favorite lunch? Peanut butter and jelly.
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Gymnastics.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Ireland.
10. Favorite sport? Football.
11. What do you want to name your future daughter? (This is a new question. I also decided to get rid of, "When is your birthday?" because he's also known that for years.) Carmel.
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Night.
13. Pets? Tessie. Hamilton. Ollie.
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I know how to do a handspring.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? I still have time, I don't know. Maybe an actor.
16. What is your favorite candy? Lollipops, lollipops oh my little lollipops.
17. Where is the farthest place you've ever been from home? Israel.
18. What is your favorite book? My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish.
19. What are you most proud of? I'm very proud that I started a club last year on this day. It's Get Rid of Slimy Girls Club. (Ummmm. Okaaaayyy.)
20. What is your favorite movie? Ninja Turtles.
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg. The egg came first because the chicken would hatch out of its egg and have another chicken.

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? The longest word in the English language.
2. What is your least favorite word? Good. I can think of way better words than good.
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") Gymnastics.
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") School.
5. What sound or noise do you love? The tune to Play That Funky Music White Boy.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Balloons squeaking.
7. What is your favorite curse word? Stupid. Even though it's not. I can't say it.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Be in the military.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Be a nurse.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part)? Welcome.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

In This Time of Desperation

I wake up with a general heaviness. It seems the world has turned upside down. Yes, there has nearly always been death and destruction and, yes, it has often been violent and ugly, but in the here and now, not a day goes by where I am not grieved by mass murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and a list of atrocities too long to mention.

Sometimes, it feels difficult to stand under the weight of these nightmares.

A theology professor (and pastor) from my university has been accused of sexual assault and rape. He admits to the relationship but says it was consensual. Regardless of the eventual verdict, he abused his position in the life of this young woman--whether criminally or not. Regardless, he betrayed his wife of several decades. Regardless, a community is reeling. A church is devastated. Countless pastors, religious leaders, and lay leaders, who studied under him for the years and years he taught as a professor, are questioning their education, reconciling the man they thought they knew with the man behind these allegations, moving forward after their world swiveled sharply off its axis.

I understand sin. I know that it is ever and always possible for me to make egregious error in both judgement and morals. I know that we are all sinners and fall short of God's glory and that we don't stop struggling with sin--on some level--until eternity. This is why I generally reject Wesley's notion of entire sanctification (this side of Heaven), much to the probable dismay of my alma mater and, I would assume, this professor. I don't know at what point one claims entire sanctification but, knowing my own mind, my own propensity for selfishness, and my own sinful desires, I have also always known that reaching, "...a state of perfect love, righteousness and true holiness which every regenerate believer may obtain by being delivered from the power of sin, by loving God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength and by loving one's neighbor as one's self," was pretty unlikely, for me, at least. That's ok. I still love my school and wouldn't trade my four years there. I'm grateful for an opportunity to have received an education where I could question a theological point, come up on the other side, and still be welcomed there.

I believe the words of 1 Timothy 1:15. "...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."

So it is with a heavy heart that I am spending my waking moments. Because, most certainly, I am capable of evil. Most certainly, if a professor of theology and pastor can choose hideous sin (and many before this man have), I can too. Heck, if King David can choose sex and murder, are we not all capable of the same sin?

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

I hope I run the race well. I hope it can one day be said of me that I was a good and faithful servant. I hope that I am never counted among those who fell away. I hope that I never stray beyond my own ability to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and return. But if I do wander down a path twisted and hideous and lonely, and if I do wander so far that I cannot hear Him, I am grateful that He will come for me. In these days and hours of turmoil and destruction, I am so thankful to serve a Savior who sees me, loves me, and continues to rescue me.

"If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away!" Matthew 18:12-13

In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe, we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation
We believe, we believe

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And he's coming back again, we believe

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Game Changer

Kid number three is a complete game changer for me. I've been told that there's always one. He's the one. He tipped the scales so we can no longer play man on man. Instead it's zone defense and that one kid single handedly has the best offense. He shuts down our defense regularly. Last night, Troy was helping the older two boys with homework. As he and Garrett worked on updating a science fair project so that it'd be ready to compete at the district level, he also read off spelling words to Matthew. I twisted and turned in the kitchen, making school lunches (which Garrett forgot this morning anyway) and sauteing, frying, and scrambling dinner. Will was repeatedly underfoot, trying to grab at the hot skillet, throwing Ziploc bags around like confetti, and screaming because dinner wasn't ready RIGHT WHEN HE WANTED IT.

Game changer.

I thought I had advice to offer young moms. I've been asked many times exactly how I'd instructed my children to be polite, what I'd done to make them eat everything on their plate, how we'd instilled respect into them. And then came the third. He's basically Animal from the Muppets.

DON'T GET ME WRONG HERE. HE IS JOY AND LIFE AND LIGHT AND I LOVE HIM INTENSELY AND IMMENSELY. FOR EVER AND ALWAYS. AMEN. AND I HABITUALLY WATCH HIM SLEEP AND LITERALLY WEEP AT HOW WONDERFUL HE IS AND HOW BLESSED I AM. (But it must be written down so that, one day, when he is--hopefully--respectful and calm and raising children of his own, and he is calling me and saying, "My toddler, McKenadielee*, won't stop trying to take apart the television set," I can direct him to this very post and assure him that it will get better.)

It's just that he's a game changer. And game changers will one day rule the world.

We have gotten two children to the ages of 11 and nearly 9 with certain parenting tactics and a whole lot of prayer. We parented a toddler and a newborn during an incredibly stressful contested adoption while living more than 700 miles from our nearest relative. And it's not that I would have ever said that I knew what I was doing because that's incredibly foolish and also, I didn't. But, for the most part, our combination of stern consistency mixed with grace and love seemed to be on point. I can remember wanting to call my mommy to come bail me out many times, of course. There was the head lice situation, more vomit than I care to even chronicle, and poop. So much poop. And, yes, I have called my mother on MANY occasions to basically be like, "What the heck, man? What do I even do with this child who has lost his dadgum mind?" She's talked me off ledges and encouraged me when I needed it and doled out advice when asked. But, for the majority of the most part, my husband and I have gotten through two toddler stages, two preschoolers, two early elementary schoolers and are smack in the middle of getting two kids through mid-late elementary school. I think I got a little cocky. I think I thought, "Well, ok. Brace yourself for the teenage years because these first 12 have been pretty alright. Hold on tight, y'all, the real parenting is about to happen."

This game changer though? WHOA BOY. I can't even see beyond two with him.


I thought he would grow out of this by, oh, fourteen months or so. However, I still find myself whirling through parenting tactics to stop the food from flying. Grace and a steady voice of reason? Stern face with a raised voice? Making him clean it up? Taking it away? NOTHING WORKS. (Well, taking it away DOES work but only temporarily--until the next meal. God and the Division of Child and Family Services frown on purposely starving your children so I do have to feed him. Three times daily, in fact.)

When this kid doesn't want something anymore--or at all--he just chucks it as far as he can. Side note: The game changer has a wicked good arm. I sit right next to him so, more often than not, I'm in his direct line of fire. You guys, I have to believe this will stop. I have to because my very sanity depends on it. I don't know ANY kindergartners who routinely throw their food but, the thing is, I also do not know many 20 month olds who routinely throw their food either.


I'm serious. I'll take your advice.

*I just assume that my children will follow current trends and give their children stupid names. I'm trying to prepare myself now so that when they put little LaTorkleson and his twin brother, Mt. Rainier, in my arms I can smile, knowing I got past those names decades ago.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I Couldn't See My Fifth Grader When He Was Five

Can I just tell you all that one of the best decisions we've made as parents was the one where we didn't send our barely five-year-old to kindergarten? Oh how we struggled to make that choice. He'd been in preschool for two years already and was doing just fine. He wasn't the smartest kid but he certainly wasn't the dumbest. He had a vocabulary that rivaled some second graders and enough self-confidence to insure success at the next level. And so, as I've written about before, we struggled with the decision.

We talked. We examined all angles. We waffled. I might have even agonized a bit over the choice. He certainly wasn't unready. In fact, by all measurables, he was ready. Something stopped us though. Something (or Someone) made us decide to wait--a decision that a large number of teachers have since validated, not just for our child but for almost every late summer* born child, especially boys.

We weren't actually thinking about kindergarten or first grade or even fourth grade. We were thinking about middle school and high school. We were thinking of the kid who wouldn't be eligible to get his driver's license until the rest of his grade had long been behind the wheel. We were thinking of giving every advantage to the kid who might want to play sports. We were thinking of the guy who would--with our decision--be a year older before he had to take the SATs or decide where he wanted to go to college.

We weren't thinking about our fifth grader.

I didn't know that the class one year ahead of him would loom over him with a great deal of height and general largeness. Granted, my husband is vertically challenged so I assumed Garrett wouldn't be tall, but I didn't think about all the other kids who would be. I didn't know he'd be so slight in stature so that, even having one of the very earliest birthdays in his entire grade level, he'd stand roughly average with the rest of them.

I didn't know that Troy and I would sit around one night, discussing Garrett's confidence, talking about how he is a leader in his grade level. We would also be talking about how he appears to fit in fine with the grade ahead of him as well. He's not shy around them and doesn't defer to their maturity because he's the same exact age as some of them. We didn't realize, when we made this choice, that we were setting him up for social success.

That's not at all meant to toot our horns in the slightest. We beat a dead horse with discussion. We prayed through this decision and felt led to the one we made. I know not everyone will make the same choice and that's okay. Maybe your barely five year old is ready and will always be ready and will never struggle with not being ready. Personally, I am already lamenting Will's unfortunate early June birthday. If it was May, of course I'd start him at five. If it was July, I wouldn't.

But I do think, regardless of what you might decide for your own child, that when to start school should be well thought out. It shouldn't be something you just do because, by golly, they turned five. Consider your child. Consider where they might be in ten years. I'm only one voice but I wouldn't change my decision if I could. The only thing I'd do differently is that I would forget about worrying about it. 

I imagine that the time could come where I'd wish I could go back and start him at five, but in five years of living with this choice, I've never regretted it once. Instead, I have seen (and many teachers have given me) validation upon validation that we made the right choice.

So that's my two cents. In case anyone was struggling with what to do with their late summer birthday baby.

*I realize that July 20 is not actually late summer. But it was when our school was on year round and 3/4 of the school was going to start on July 25.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Since You've Been Gone

This time of year is hard for me. I try to pretend it isn't. I hope for the year when it just comes and then goes and I look back and realize I forgot to be sad. But that year is not yet. Instead, I count the days until the day. I think about how one split second took me from eager anticipation to destruction. That moment where the what-might-be's turned into might-have-beens*. I wish I'd been doing something extraordinary, something I'd never do again, something that wouldn't forever remind me of the phone call. I wasn't. I was sitting on my bed, my laptop open on my legs. Exactly as I am now. Three years later.

God has blessed us so extravagantly in the years since. I never could have dreamed that I'd be loving my girl's biological brother, but here we are. I did somehow think that would soften the blow of grief but it did not, really. In many ways, it just makes me want her more. To be here with him. With all of us.

I guess time numbs the pain. The days fade into years and that is both comforting and devastating. I wonder of the time when her grave is bare and no one stops by to clean the dirt off and leave a toy or flower. I know that day will come--when we are all old and senile-- but it is not now. It is not yet. For now, her impact continues to shake us all. 

I think often of the 24 inch casket beneath the grass. I think of all that she would be by now. And on this day I relive it all. The crushing weight of sadness. The broken heart that I'm beginning to understand will never beat exactly right again. The feeling of her body in my arms just the one time. The flowers. The journey. The enduring love I have for a child I never saw with my own eyes.

This post, about her beautiful service, is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the outpouring of love we had and of the beautiful way my God said, "I am El Roi, the God who sees."

*Some Other Me from the Broadway musical If/Then by Tom Kitt

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Recently, my son was asking me how insurance works. Specifically, he wanted to know exactly how big our life insurance policies are. So, I mean, I guess if we turn up dead in the near future, interrogate him for a hot minute. I explained life insurance and car insurance, homeowner's and renter's insurance. I even talked about how there are things like earthquake insurance if you live in, well, California. I don't know if that's a thing anywhere else.You know what I didn't educate my 5th grade son about? Domino's carryout insurance.

When I first saw the commercial a month or so ago, I was absolutely dumbfounded. Was this a problem people were having? It's not outside the realm of my imagination that a pizza would be dropped here or there, but enough to offer actual insurance on pies? 

Even more odd, to me, is the fact that it's only being offered for a limited time. I mean, if we all agree that pizza misfortune is a common problem (we don't, by the way, we don't agree to this at all) then why the limited time? 

Life insurance! Get it while you can! It's only good for a limited time. Car insurance for 2018 only. After that you're up a creek. Can you imagine? This is the most bizarre idea I've ever heard of, maybe.

"I'm not sure why sales are down, J. Patrick Doyle. I know we need a new gimmick to compete with all the other pizza takeout places. HOW ABOUT PIZZA INSURANCE? I mean, it works for Californians with their earthquakes. And, I mean, what if an ACTUAL EARTHQUAKE damaged a pizza? We should definitely reimburse them. For a limited time only, of course," Bob the Delivery Boy said.

"Great idea, Bob the Delivery Boy," J. Patrick Doyle responded. "Let's work up some commercials that won't make people laugh hysterically but will make them pause with confusion."

I can't see how this is going to increase traffic to Domino's. If I was deciding between two places, I'd go with proximity to my home and cost of the pizza. I wouldn't drive to Domino's because they offer crazy insurance. I do feel, however, that now that I've written about it and thoroughly expressed the fact that it is not needed, I'll drop my next pizza right on its face. And it won't be from Domino's.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

They Told Me There Would Be Tea

So. Usually I watch some TV on New Year's Eve. At least enough to see the ball drop. I've only thought minimally about my bucket list. Write a book. Visit every state. Go to Italy. Visit the Florida Keys. Spend New Year's Eve in Times Square. Basically, my bucket list is traveling.

I can't say why, exactly, I want to spend New Year's in Time Square. It looks miserable and freezing cold. I do not enjoy being miserable or freezing cold. I want to spend New Year's in Time Square the way people want to climb Everest. To say I did it. Not because I actually think the experience would be even slightly enjoyable. And Times Square seems a lot less strenuous than actually climbing Everest. And so, I turn the TV on and I watch the ball drop, thinking of a day when I can cross this particular challenge off my list.

This year, though, I never even turned the TV on. My middle son started vomiting again. He, at nearly nine, has never been known to throw up into a toilet. Or a trash can. Or, even, a bathtub. No. He just hurls his guts wherever he happens to be. It is as though he has no physical warning whatsoever. My oldest has been effectively throwing up into a toilet since he was three. Not Matthew though. He prefers the car. Or the staircase. Or, most recently, ALL OVER THE PANTRY. Let me explain that there is a trash can less than two feet away from the pantry. Still, my son decided to hurl all over two shelves and the floor of the place we keep our food. This resulted in Troy and me scrubbing our pantry on New Year's Eve. Meanwhile, Matthew threw up again. This time he got it into a bowl. But then he spilled the bowl all over the floor. You can't make this stuff up.

We cleaned barf. We cleaned the child. He was so very sad at the early end to his New Year's Eve when, at 10:00, we set up a bed for him in the bathroom, with a toilet directly to the right and a bowl directly to the left. I spent a little time with my sister-in-law, niece and nephew, who are visiting and then went to check on Matthew. He was fine but couldn't sleep because he was lonely and his New Year's Eve was cut tragically and unfairly short. The world was a mess, the year, a total loss. I told him I'd stay with him.

Eventually, he fell asleep and I went down to pour cider and holler, "Happy New Year!" And the whole entire point of this mess of vomit and Times Square drivel is that I completely missed the whole Mariah Carey Situation.

I did, however, catch up the next morning. Let me just say that the thing about Mariah Carey is you're never sure if she's trying to be funny and not quite getting there or if she's really and truly one of the biggest divas on the planet.

"They told me there would be tea. Oh. It's a disaster. Ok. Well, we'll just have to rough it. Imma be like everybody else with no hot tea."

There are so many gems there that I just want to thank Mariah Carey for giving me such amazing catch phrases as we move into 2018. I can hear the conversations now.

Troy: We're out of cereal.
Me: Oh. It's a disaster. Ok. Well, we'll just have to rough it.

Me: Can you change Will?
Troy: No hot tea.

I mean, I wonder where she thought this tea would be. She turns around to look for it behind her. This leads me to believe that it would have had to have been there BEFORE her first song. It was 8 degrees outside and it was reported that it felt like -6 with the wind chill. She sang for four minutes. #coldtea. Also, she is wearing only slightly more than nothing. She really looks like she's roughing it out there on the frontier, the way our ancestors did. It is as though, for a split second, she realized that she was a person just like everyone else who was standing on the streets of New York. An actual human, she is. Forced to sing another song and get paid a ridiculous amount of money before she could procure some tea for herself. Oh the great tragedy of it all.

Or, maybe she was just trying to be funny. I have no idea. I don't understand the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

I did, however, discover that Mariah Carey took the stage at roughly the same time Matthew spewed his guts all over my pantry. Twenty minutes later, when he was sitting on my bathroom floor, covered in his spilled bowl vomit, I went to him. His face was dripping with regurgitation. In my mind, though I never would have said anything like this to my sick child, I've rewritten the conversation between us.

Matthew: My life is over. The world is a terrible place. I am sick on New Year's Eve. I CAN'T EVEN at the injustice of it all.
Me: I'm sorry that you have to stay up here on the bathroom floor while the rest of us eat brownies and ice cream and watch movies and enjoy New Year's Eve. It's really a shame that you're throwing up again!
Matthew: (blinks) They told me there would be tea.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas

Last week was filled with vomit. Will's vomit, my vomit, Garrett's vomit, Matthew's vomit, more of Will's vomit. We all just dropped like flies. The older boys and I, however, recovered within a day while Will just went on being sick. He was sick on Monday and on Tuesday and Wednesday. He seemed better on Thursday but started throwing up again on Friday and into Saturday. On Saturday night, I ended up at the children's hospital with a dehydrated Will. While we were able to orally rehydrate him without the need of an IV, it was a little scary for me. I'm just really aware of how fast organs can start shutting down in little people. He ended up being just fine and I'm very grateful that we were home within a few hours. I know that isn't the case for the parents of super sick kiddos.

Still, Christmas kind of sneaked up on us after six days of the swirling puke virus. I stayed home on Sunday morning which was tough for me since it was Christmas Eve. I almost never, ever miss church and being home, instead of with my brothers and sisters always makes me sad. I was so glad to be with Will though, rehydrating him and celebrating every wet diaper.

That night, since he'd been puke free for more than 24 hours, I was able to take him to our candlelight service. This was good because I was singing, the older boys were part of a living nativity and Troy was, of course, busy being the pastor.

I'd post a picture of Garrett as Joseph and Matthew as a wise man but I don't want to put other people's children on my blog. When they weren't busy being dressed as biblical characters, my kids were looking dapper. Will was excited to finally be feeling better.

I'm not a huge fan of the snow. But I am a huge fan of the snow on Christmas. Several years that we've lived here have resulted in brown ground on Christmas day. It almost never snows on the actual holiday which was also true this year but what did happen was magical. The snow began to fall, in giant and beautiful flakes on Christmas Eve. The twinkling lights everywhere were made more beautiful by the white and wintery wonderland as it softly fell. It was so fantastic and, as I watched it drift silently down, I had the thought that I would remember those few moments, with my kids in Christmas jammies and our tree framed in the window, for the rest of my life. Garrett is so close to being a teenager. The age gap between him and his baby brother is big and real. I have only these few seconds where all my boys are children. I want to soak up their relative smallness as much as I possibly can.

Monday was late and lazy like our Christmases always are. We opened our stockings and then had breakfast. The boys played in the snow while I cleaned up and Troy shoveled the driveway. Then we rushed through Will's gifts because he was turning into a nap needing tiny toddler tyrant. After we laid him down, the rest of us quietly and calmly opened our gifts.

Garrett received twenty trillion books this year, much to his delight. He's a history and literature loving bookworm. 

Matthew loves science and math and was truly overjoyed to get a chemistry set from my brother and sister-in-law. He loved all his gifts but I think you can see how happy he was about this one.

And Will loved everything, especially toys that made noise and his Busy Board which Troy made him. It's full of gadgets and gizmos he can flip and twist and zip and turn.


Our day was lovely. We're so thankful to our Lord for entering into humanity as a tiny baby in the tiniest of towns, in the lowliest of places. And we're so thankful for our family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Barf Comes to the Toddler

On Monday night, my youngest boy projectile vomited all over me at church. I stood, immobile for far too long, contemplating where to even begin to begin. Stomach contents dripped from my jacket, ran down my legs, and were plastered to my shoes. The kid was worse. Two incredible women cleaned the floor while Troy and I worked on getting the kid into a clean outfit. We left as soon as we could.

He threw up in the car.

And then he threw up every ten minutes for a couple hours. Although, thankfully, those sessions were small amounts. Then he stretched it to every 30-40 minutes before finally calling it a night at 1:30 am. We thought his first round of the stomach flu was behind us. Troy stayed home with him yesterday and he seemed fine in the morning. Then he threw up twice and whined and cried and was generally miserable.

This morning, after sleeping for more than 13 hours, he woke up dehydrated and dry diapered. He guzzled Powerade and milk (I know. I know. I shouldn't have given him milk but HE WANTED IT and HE WAS THIRSTY and I felt like ogre telling him he couldn't have it.) and then he chucked it all over me and him making the score Barf: 2, Mom: 0. I spent my day force feeding him small amounts of liquid. He's been the saddest little lamb, alternating between sitting calmly and quietly in my arms and screaming non stop.

This afternoon, he watched ten minutes of a show (maybe a record for him), quietly looked at books, and played with Play-Doh. He was like a regular toddler. Nothing about Will is regular. He's go-go-go 100% of the time. (Also, he's way cuter than regular.) So, while I hope he can finally keep food in his belly soon and while I hope he doesn't become so dehydrated that he needs an IV, it has been nice to see that he can sit still for longer than two seconds. Even if it does take some kind of super flu to make it happen. To clarify, I do not want my child to have the super flu. I want him to be back to his old self as soon as possible. Like, right now.

It's been rough.

And as you all know, I vomit when someone in the the next town over has the barfs. There's little to no chance of me surviving toddler puke all over me, toddler lying on me, toddler stealing my water bottle and drinking from it, toddler trying to shove his cup into my mouth. It's almost inevitable that a few (or thirty) visits to the porcelain puke collector is bound to be a part of my future. True to this prediction, and despite the fact that I've washed my hands 12,000 times since Monday, my stomach started feeling pretty unhappy a couple of hours ago. I'm holding on to a small thread of hope that it's psychological and I can will myself not to get sick.

I'm also wondering if it can possibly make its way through my family before Monday. I'm guessing that's a mathematical impossibility. But we'll see. I really just don't want Santa bringing vomit to anyone for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Girl in the Ground

My friend grieves. Not death, but we mourn for so much more. There doesn't need to be a body in a grave. I told her that I would beseech the Lord on her behalf, that I would pray the words she cannot find. Because I have been there. Because there was a season in my life where the only thing I could pray was, "Oh God!" In the numbness, in the stabbing heart pain, in the days and weeks where it felt like there wasn't enough oxygen in the air, beloveds lifted me up.

I started thinking about her then. Thinking about grief always makes me remember her. Really, she is with me almost always. In the sweet smile of a two year old running chubby legged through a store, she is there. In flower pink dresses hanging on a rack, she is there. In her name, every single time I hear it--which is always--she is there. Whenever I see those four letters together in print, she is there. That name, the one we'd chosen for a daughter nearly twelve years ago, is simultaneously a melody to my ears and a deadly dose of kryptonite.

Grief comes like a foamy swell I somehow wasn't expecting. My stomach sinks the way it does when you go up, up, up and over the peak of a wave, sliding down its backside. This agony does not exist from the pain of having loved and lost. It comes from never having been granted the privilege to have known at all.

I think of my girl in the ground. Spiritually, I know that she is the lucky one--to have shot straight to heaven like an arrow of light. But in this oft-wrecked mama heart, when I get to forgetting that this world is not our home, I imagine a life for her and there is sorrow that she missed it.

I have not yet been where she has gone. This world is all I know. And so, in the twinkling of Christmas lights on a tree filled with memories--she's missing this. In the wiggling of toes in warm, salty sand--she's missing this. In the sticky fingers of pancake morning--she's missing this. I think of how she will always be with me, getting older every year and missing all of it. Slumber parties and graduations, a wedding and the chance to have her own little girl one day. She's missing this.

And I'm missing her. 

A kindergartner came to my class. Tears streaked his face and I asked the reason. "I miss my sister," he mumbled through silent sobs.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"She's in Heaven," he wailed. When I could, I pulled him aside.

"When did she die?" I gently asked, pulling him in closer.

"For two days she lived, is all. She is seven now. I could never meet her, ever. And I miss her." He was destroyed, this boy who was born after his sister went to Jesus. With two dozen kindergartners staring at me, I fought back tears.

"My little girl went to Heaven. She's almost three. Maybe your sister is playing with my daughter. What do you think?" He wiped tears and nodded. We moved on. As much as one ever moves on from gutting grief.

I could never meet her, ever.

There is peace in knowing where she is. But there is anguish in knowing where she is not. It catches me, unguarded. It's in the mourning moments of others when I most remember every detail of my unraveling. There were minutes and hours when I tried to invent ways to follow the clock back to her beating heart. I failed. Eventually, the fifth stage of grief overtook.

Still, there are flashes in time where acceptance eludes me. I hear someone say her name--a common name, an unavoidable one--and I'm instantly dreaming of the life she might have had. Then, she is with me. Her soft, bouncy curls press against my face as she snuggles in close. Somehow, these many years later, I find it possible to exist, for a split second or two, in that very first stage of grief.


For in those few seconds, I can pretend that my girl is not in the ground.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Dear Boy,

I'm sorry that in honor of your one and a half years on planet Earth, you have managed to catch the creeping crud that has your dad and me both on amoxicillin. Me for a cold turned sinus infection and him for a cold turned ear infection like a common four-year-old. Here's to hoping your snot stays in your nose and doesn't venture to other places in your head. Meanwhile, I'm sorry for sticking that green bulb up there and sucking your brains snot out.

Today, when I picked you up from the nursery, the worker commented, "He's exhausting." It's not the first (or fiftieth) time I've heard this from someone. A little old lady who spent approximately five minutes observing you at a party recently expressed the same sentiment before asking, "Is he always THAT busy?" It was almost as though she thought she was making a never before expressed revelation.Yes. I am aware that you never stop moving. I live with it all day, every day.

You are busy. And you are some kind of mechanical baby genius who loves taking things apart to see how they work. It's not that you can't entertain yourself because you most certainly can. It's that your idea of entertaining yourself is to remove every DVD from the cabinet in record speed. No, no, Will. Or climb on the coffee table so you can flip the light on and off and back on again. No, no, Will. Or grab fistfuls of kitty litter and throw it all over the house. No, no, Will. Or climb on the chair and then the kitchen table to quickly destroy my centerpiece. No, no, Will. Yes, you can self entertain but it almost always involves a moderate to serious level of destruction.

It's a good thing you're cute!

And you are very, very cute. You've recently entered that very brief phase where someone crying (or fake crying) will cause you to run to them immediately. You hug. You gently rub their back. You cuddle. It's adorable. You've also started to make a smack sound when you give kisses. And, to further build my case for how cute you are, you also wave to everyone you pass, alternating hands and acting only half interested. Much like a celebrity in a parade. Your smile lights up whatever room you're in and sometimes I feel sorry for the other babies because your fun personality is as big as that smile. Which is to say that you have a larger than life personality. It might not be fair to all the other babies that you got the looks and the charms.

You don't say much yet but you're still well on your way to being a full fledged talker much sooner than your brothers. You can say, mama, dada, Garrett, Matt-Matt, dog, kitty, Tessie, tree, thank you, shoe, sock, food, fish, nana, and side (outside). There might be more but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Speaking of outside, there is no where you'd rather be. The tub is a close second. Evenings are still a bit of a witching hour for you, but if we take you outside or stick you in the bath, you are a happy dude. You also love to play with your brothers, throw balls, and dance. You adore Tessie. You're obsessed with microphones but only if they're turned on and capable of amplifying your voice. And right now, you're pretty impressed with the large tree that is set up in our house.

You are still so tiny but so mighty. And, in all honesty, I'm so thankful that you wiggle and move and are so smart and coordinated. If you can harness your incredibly strong will for good, you'll do great things. But first, you'll need to stop throwing food at every, single meal.

You are my very most favorite small person. I love you so much. I'm so grateful that you're here with me.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Let's just start off by saying that some of our holiday traditions are weird. Or, at least, counter to what we do or say for the rest of the year. Take Thanksgiving, for example. We teach not to waste, not to be a glutton, to think of how much we have compared to people in, say, third world countries. And then we gorge ourselves until we can barely move.

Halloween. We teach our kids not to take candy from or talk to strangers. And then we tell them to knock on doors and TAKE CANDY FROM STRANGERS.

Christmas. Don't talk to strangers. Certainly don't climb up on the lap of a strange man. "Hey, kids, come here and talk to this stranger. And get on his lap. And then ask him to break into your house at night. While we all sleep." We are a weird bunch of Americans, y'all.

Anyway, all that recognition aside, we do the Santa thing in our house. Not as a focal point. We most definitely teach the real meaning of Christmas. Santa is a fun bonus tradition for us. Of course the older two no longer believe in Santa. Thank goodness. I mean, I'm not judging kids who believe in Santa until they're ten, I just find it weird. I was six. My kids were both pretty young. Still, we've taken pictures with Santa every year.

Last year, Garrett DID NOT WANT TO VISIT SANTA. We forced him to because we wanted just one picture of our three boys with the bearded jolly gift giver. This year he begged us to let him abstain. Matthew also begged us to let him forego a visit with Santa. We begged him to please please please participate because Will is a hater of strange men and also facial hair. He obliged. He's a good egg like that.

YOU GUYS! We were ten feet away from Santa. He stood up, kindly said, "Hi kids!" and my youngest son managed to usher in the apocalypse all by his little 17 month old self. Still in my arms, he started violently shaking and sobbing. Not once did I even so much as attempt to put him on Santa's lap or give him to Santa in any way. And still, copious amounts of hysterics. 

There was not a single other child in line and Santa and his good little elves kindly tried to get my son to take JUST ONE GOOD PICTURE. Will was perfectly happy to take candy canes straight out of Santa's hands but he would not smile AT ALL. In the following picture, I am standing exactly 18 inches from Will and he is in the lap of his most beloved Matthew and still, he thinks he has been assigned the tragic fate of living the rest of his life at the North Pole in the sweat shop sometimes referred to as Santa's workshop.

"Why don't you get in the picture, Mom?" Santa suggested. Because Mom did not even do her hair before she left the house. She ran a comb through it and called it good. But oh alright. What's that, Will? If you eat a candy cane and sit in my lap you will at least stop whimpering? Ok. Deal.

That lasted all of ten seconds before he launched himself off my lap and watched from a safe distance while Matthew sat with Santa, dramatically said, "Look Will, I LOVE Santa," and hugged him.

And then. AND THEN. While I was paying for my gold plated pictures, the photographer caught this. Yes, my toddler DOES take candy from strangers. Great.

Seriously though. If you're looking for a very patient Santa and very kind "elves" you should head over to Valley Fair Mall. I can't vouch for them when it's crazy busy but today they were amazing. Santa even told me that my kids were the best behaved of the day. Since one of mine cried almost the entire time, I continue to be very afraid of the direction our society is going.

Matthew asked Santa for an air soft gun. Santa seemed surprised. I thought, at first, that he was silently judging me for letting my kid ask for a toy gun. The more I think about it though, the more I wonder if he was surprised that what my son asked for can be purchased for under $30. I'm guessing a lot of kids ask for an electronic version of the moon.

Oh well, who am I to judge? I tortured my kid with a bearded fat guy today.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three Little Girls: an adoption story

I have this abstract, floating idea to one day write a book about adoption. Perhaps it would feature the voices of adoptees, birth families, and adoptive families. Perhaps something else entirely. The idea wiggles around my mind and I have a hard time pulling it into focus. But regardless of whether it ever takes shape, the inspiration that I had for adoption will always be the same. During this, National Adoption Month, I thought I would share the story of how three little girls influenced my own adoption journey.   

           It was the late 80’s. Our bangs were high, our socks were slouched, Debbie Gibson reminded us that our youth was electric, and New Kids on the Block taught us to hang tough. In our small, bedroom community, I was carving a childhood without a care in the world. Winters were mild and summers were sticky hot. From June until September, the boys on my street ran sweaty, bouncing from house to house, for hours. We spent long, lazy afternoons at the local pool, splashing with kids who’d trekked yards or miles to seek solace from the heat. Summer nights were often made of running through sprinklers, bouncing on trampolines, and the more than occasional sleepover.
            Maybe it was the community pool or maybe it was all the hours serving on the PTA at the only elementary school within an eight mile radius, but friendships were forged between mamas. Those relationships led to a network of kids bound together by chlorine, Otter Pops, and the nagging dread that a new school year was coming.
            Somehow, though I do not remember the details of my introduction to her, I became instant friends with a gangly girl one year my junior. I can only recall pieces of our early friendship; her hideously broken arm, achieved by falling off of a jungle gym at a backyard Vacation Bible School, her subsequent enormous cast that dwarfed her tiny body and her impressive side ponytail at my surprise 8th birthday party, her superior Barbie voice skills—especially when performing the role of Ken, and the fact that she was adopted.
            For whatever reason, I became obsessed with that last bit. Long after our parents had fallen asleep, as we laid giggling on the floor of one of our bedrooms, I would hear a nagging voice in my head, begging me to find out the details of her first life. I would try to hush the voice but, eventually, it became too much and I would blurt out some intruding question that felt innocent enough but probably sounded a lot like, “What happened to your real parents?” (Oh, how I hope not. Lord, let it not be so. I’m slowly dying inside at the mere thought that it may have come out like that.)
            She would tell me the stories. Of her parents. Of foster care. Of being adopted. And I would listen, riveted to her tale. I don’t think there was ever a conversation that ended because I was bored of the story. I think she spoke and I listened until, eventually, her narrative faded into the quiet rising and falling of our breath.
            My friend was the first adoptee I ever knew. Decades later, I would apologize to her for being so intrusive, for asking her, so frequently, to divulge every detail of her first handful of years, for wanting her to tell me deeply personal and, often, incredibly painful stories. I had felt, then, that I needed to whisper, that, perhaps, it was a secret. But I hadn’t realized the weight of what I was asking her to share with me and, as an adult, I felt guilty for how careless my curiosity may have seemed.
            She was quick to respond that I had nothing to apologize for, that talking about it was a release for her. So many years, and a great deal of maturity later, that was such a relief to me. To know that she had first kindled my passion for adoption, to know that I had served some purpose, however small, in her own journey gave me the sense that, in those early years, we had lived in perfect symbiosis. Me, presenting her with a space to share. Her, subsequently piquing my every interest in the complex odyssey of adoption.
            Nearly a handful of years later, my aunt and uncle announced that they would be bringing home a baby girl. I sat on my parents’ bed and listened to my mom chattering on the phone with my aunt. I didn’t know how infant adoption worked. I only knew that, when my mom hung up the phone, she announced that I was gaining a cousin. I welcomed that little girl with every excitement that a baby obsessed preteen could muster, which is to say that I wanted to hold her every waking moment of every day.
            Being so much older, I never grilled my cousin on how she felt about being adopted. In fact, I really never thought much about it. My aunt and uncle had a baby. And that was that. Except for one thing. In my cousin’s room was a photo album. The album contained pictures of her first family and photos of her birth. When I flipped through that book, I had this nagging thought that there was this whole other family that she belonged to.
            There was a woman who had chosen to place my cousin in another home. She gave her position to my aunt and handed over this tiny blessing wrapped in pink to be raised and loved and snuggled by someone else. And I was so grateful that she did it, that she chose life for my cousin and that she gave that life to our family. Adoption had brought me a friend and a cousin. Even though I knew the loss and had a limited understanding of the grief that would come from that, to me, it was only beautiful.
            To me, adoption was my cousin, toddling around with chestnut hair and big, wide eyes. It was my friend, now half grown, flailing wildly with me in a dance party gone bad and laughing until our sides ached. It was the little girl in an orphanage in Mexico.
            When I was in high school I went on a mission trip. Part of our time was spent at an orphanage. One day, as my peers ran through the yard playing games, I walked through the bedrooms--alone. I wondered what it would be like to grow up there, where the ratio of adults to children seemed like eleven million to one. As I walked through the maze of bedrooms, certain I was hopelessly lost, I heard a soft cry coming from several walls over. Quickly brushing through rooms of hand-me-down comforters and lone dressers--of which each child had one drawer to call his own, I searched for the soul belonging to that cry. The nearer I got the louder the cry became until I burst through a door and skidded to a halt when I saw her. She was sitting in the middle of the crib, fat tears dripping down her precious face, naked, except for the bulging diaper. She saw me and reached her hands to me. Inside, something yanked loose. The women had their hands completely full with all the other children. And me, well, my arms were holding nothing. My hands were completely free.
           In some ways, that one act of picking up that one child shaped me forever. I wiped her tears away and whispered to her in limited and broken Spanish. I tried English. She frowned. Hard.
           Her eyes were glued to my face almost constantly. I tried to get her to smile. But still, regardless of what I did, the frown. And then something happened and she giggled. The frown didn't reverse, it simply shook up and down as she laughed. I realized then that she wasn't frowning. She was smiling, upside down.
           Over the course of my time there, we became virtually inseparable. When it was time to leave, the lump in my throat felt like I'd swallowed a grapefruit. She clung to me and sobbed as they tried to take her away. I pulled her arms off of me and shoved her toward her caregiver. Then I spun on my heels and climbed on the bus. Looking out the window I saw her reaching her arms toward the vehicle, mouth open in a loud wail. I couldn't control the tears flowing down my face. It felt like someone had reached into my chest and squished my heart in his fist so that parts of it were sticking out between fingers while the rest thundered against palm. I couldn't breathe.
            In my tears I knew that I loved her.
            I knew then that I could love my own child, born not of my flesh but of my heart, instead. I knew that I could unconditionally love someone else's son or daughter. I knew that ethnicity and gender and circumstance didn't matter. I was in high school. I hadn't learned most of what I know now.
             I have loved her for many, many years now. Though we will never, ever, be reunited, separated as we are by cultures and miles and years, I am so thankful that she tugged on my heart in that crib. So thankful that, in her outstretched arms, I was granted the spirit of adoption.
            Adoption is sometimes a lot like an upside down smile. It is foster care and orphanages. It is first families making painful choices. It is grief and growth and learning to love in new ways. But it is beautiful. It is joy. It is recognizing that there is more love in the world than we can ever  know. It is a pilgrimage worth every mile. It is friendship and family. It reaches across blood and borders. It is, at times, disheveled and chaotic. But it promises to be the most beautiful of messes.

I am always and ever thankful to my Father in Heaven for imprinting me with a deep curiosity about adoption. I am also so grateful to Him for giving me a spouse with a desire to adopt. Finally, I am ever thankful for the mess of infertility. For even with the desire to adopt, had we easily conceived time and time again, I don't know that we would have been brave enough or bold enough or, perhaps, reckless enough to choose this life. And I am blessed, every day, because He built my family in this remarkable way. I've heard it said that when we get married, we are better capable of understanding the complexity of the love that Christ has for His church. When we have children, we have a wider comprehension of the way the Father cares for us. I would submit that when we adopt a child, we are given a deeper understanding of what it means when we are adopted into the family of God through the accepted gift of salvation. It's truly an experience like none other. If you would like more information on infant, foster, or international adoption, please feel free to contact me. I would love nothing more than to share ways that you can be involved in caring for little ones in need. I would also challenge you to pray and ask God if adoption is a part of His plan for your life. I've heard so many people say that they are not called to adopt. But I wonder if they have ever actually asked God what He would have them do. Sometimes, He has abundant blessing in store for us and all we need to do is ask what His plan is.