Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'll Be Back Soon

I'm still here. I'm not posting because I'm caught in the haze that settles between Christmas and New Year's. I'm caught with family though, so that's always a good thing.

Coming soon: A post about the haircut that has been affectionately named "The Tink" because this morning my mother said, "You know who you look like? Julia Roberts in Hook."

To which I replied, "TINKERBELL? TINK? I look like a fairy?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Timeline

Christmas for us is typically lazy. Sweet. Perfect. It goes a little something like this...

7:52- I am slowly brought out of sleep. I hear my husband say to my son, "Wake up Mommy." I glance at the clock at mutter, sleepily, "Mommy is sleeping until 8:00." The Husband calls me Scrooge. The boy asks if he can go see what Santa brought. I mumble that he can. From downstairs I hear squealing. He is thrilled that Santa brought something for the dog and the cat. They were small items, purchased months ago with him in tow. I think "Santa" spent a whopping three dollars total. Apparently, this made Christmas.

7:59- I climb out of bed. Troy, outrageously more chipper than I for once, bounds into the toddler's bedroom. I stumble into the bathroom and put my eyes in. I cannot be expected to function until I've done this. Contacts are like my version of strong coffee. I brush my teeth. There are few things I hate more than the taste of my own morning breath. I cover up the zit I sprouted last night. Certainly don't want that thing making an appearance in any pictures.

8:22- We've managed to gather in the living room where Santa left the stockings. We sing Away in a Manger and then take turns opening the presents. The Rock Star is delighted to have received microwave popcorn, bubble gum, orange tic tacs, chapstick and a squishy ball. There were a few other items but we decided that Santa could have stopped there. Among other things, I received a coconut creme filled Santa chocolate. It was determined that Santa didn't pay very good attention when he went candy shopping. After all, Santa knows full well that I don't like coconut. It should be noted that Santa brought me lots of other things that I do like. Like Hillsong.

10:00- The stockings are opened. The Dragon World Fortress is out of its box. Troy is in the shower. Garrett and Matthew are happily playing with their fortress. I am putting the finishing touches on breakfast. Scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sweet rolls, and bananas. Hot cocoa on the side.

10:27- Breakfast has been consumed. I head to the shower. The boys head back to their fortress. Troy clears the table and washes every dish by hand. Because that's how he rolls. We have a functioning dishwasher. I remind him of this periodically. To no avail.

11:15- We Skype with Troy's parents. Garrett wears the toy armor they bought him. Matthew does a weird little jig.

11:30- The boys open their presents from us. The Rock Star hugs his stuffed Larry the Cucumber as though he's never loved anything more. Then he opens his dragon--Toothless from the film How to Train Your Dragon--and a new love is born. The Little Buddy hugs his Pillow Pet and audibly squeals.

12:15- Matthew has had a snack. No wonder he's rivaling small countries in land mass. We put him down for a nap. Garrett is eating popcorn and watching How to Train Your Dragon--a gift from his cousin in California. Troy and I open our gifts.

2:07- After cleaning up the house, Troy climbs the stairs for a long 90 minute winter's nap.

2:53- Garrett and I talk to my mom, dad, brother and SIL on the web cam. Matthew wakes up at the end of our call and participates for a few minutes.

3:58- We leave to go to our friends' house for food and fellowship. I am annoyed because Matthew won't listen to me when I tell him to let me put his jacket on. Also the house is a mess even though I cleaned it yesterday and we made several trips to the trash can.

3:59- I get over it.

4:03- We arrive. We spend the late afternoon with three other families from our church. We talk, laugh, and eat way too much. Matthew consumes his body weight in cheesecake and trifle. Garrett takes two bites and says, "That's enough." I consume my body weight in cheesecake and trifle after consuming it already in lasagna, salad and bread.

7:00- We leave our friends' house and head for home. All of us too stuffed to move very quickly.

7:30- After playing with new toys, the boys take a long bath. It is supposed to be relaxing. Instead they giggle and splash incessantly.

8:00- We put two very tired boys in bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Happy New Year as well. Posting will be sporadic, at best, over the next ten days as I am looking forward to some serious family time.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Service

In John chapter 14 Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

It's what He came for. Born to die. Came to leave. We have the assurance that He has gone to prepare a place for us.

I've been following a blog for many days now. I prayed, along with thousands, that little baby Samuel's life would be spared. This morning, the doctors were going to take him off of life support. Should God call him away from this earth, I believe there is a place prepared for him in heaven.

I've been praying for my friend's family. Suddenly losing their daughter--at age 43--the day after Thanksgiving is not what they'd expected. Still, the Lord prepared a place for her and this Christmas she is caroling with the angels.

So if He was born to die, do we not owe Him honor? If He came so that He could leave and make a room for us, are we not called to respect Him? And at Christmas of all times. The shepherds knew what to do. They left what they were doing immediately and went before Him. The magi--though they came later--were on a mission from the very time they knew a Savior had been born.

Our Christmas involves getting gifts. . . and giving gifts. We have good food and family and tradition. I don't deny any of that. I practice all of those things. I get just as caught up in the magic of a sparkling tree as any child I know. But it became a crusade--if you will--of mine, when I was not quite an adult, to make the Christmas Eve service at church my most important tradition.

Had I married a doctor, a fireman, or a sanitation worker, instead of a pastor, it wouldn't have changed the fact that this family--my family--goes to church on Christmas Eve. What if we all threw a party in honor of someone's birthday and didn't include the person? What if we read the story of Christ's birth and gathered the family He gave us around and watched a Christmas classic and ate a turkey but we failed to come together, as a body of believers, in celebration? Well, it just might not seem like a birthday party.

I just never want the Lord to look down upon His own birthday party and wonder where I am. I don't want Him to think that I thought I had better things to do than worship Him on the night He was born to die. For me. For you. For baby Samuel and for my friend's daughter.

He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). I can certainly light a candle and sing songs in remembrance of that night so long ago. Christmas is magical. In our home it begins with celebrating the reason we celebrate to begin with.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

North Pole

So. The Santa thing.

I believed.

Troy believed.

We decided, probably before we ever even had kids, that we'd do the Santa thing. Unless it became a problem. Unless our children cared more about Santa than they did about the real meaning of Christmas. I think The Rock Star's preschool Christmas program debacle demonstrated that it hasn't yet become an issue.

Garrett has wanted to ride a train for a good long while. A month ago I was looking into some train excursions that run out of Heber City. One of them happens to be called The North Pole Express. "Enjoy hot chocolate and treats while sharing favorite carols and holiday entertainment. Delight while your children tell Santa their Christmas wishes when he climbs aboard your coach."

I just couldn't resist.

We used saved birthday money to pay for the ride and booked a matinee train on December 23. Today. A few weeks ago Garrett saw a commercial for The North Pole Express and went berserk. He desperately wanted to go. I think I told him we couldn't afford it.

Today, we dropped Matthew off at our friend's house and headed up to Heber. I turned the camera on when we approached the station.

We were an hour early and the kid was bouncing off the walls. We explored the station, explored the grounds, located our car, took some pictures and finally we were allowed to board. As soon as the train took off, over sized elves brought us chocolate chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa. We listened to 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We watched the passing scenery. We answered trivia questions about Christmas movies. There was a question, which neither Troy nor I can remember, but that said something about a gift or what the best gift was or what the first gift was or...something. Garrett shot his hand up, looked at me, and whispered, "God!" with a huge smile. The host selected someone else to answer. That was probably a good thing unless the other passengers had specifically signed up for An Earful of the Gospel: by Garrett.

And then our host told us that Santa and The North Pole were coming on the right side of the train. We were sitting on the left side but there was an available seat on the right side so I scrambled up to it with my boy in tow. Suddenly, there was a barber style pole sticking out of the snow. Santa was standing next to it waving. And my son went nuts. I don't know that I've ever seen him smile as big as he did. He frantically waved to Santa, looked at me, and grinned, "I can't abweave I'm at the North Pole!"

Shortly after that, Santa boarded the train. My son was able to tell him what he wanted for Christmas. Santa gave him a red top, which Garrett is convinced is the roof of the Dragon World Fortress that Santa is hopefully bringing him and his brother tomorrow night.
Later, Mrs. Claus entered our car with Santa's favorite cookie recipe. Since they called for a pound of butter and six cups of flour and I had no intention of baking enough cookies to feed Santa, all of his elves, and our entire church congregation, I decided that we could just give Santa something we already had. Interestingly, Mrs. Claus was British. Or was pretending to be British. I still haven't quite decided.

We sang Christmas carols as we returned from the North Pole. Garrett was given the #1 card for The 12 Days of Christmas so I got to throw him up in the air twelve times as he proudly displayed his partridge in a pear tree.

Our trip was 90 minutes. The joy on our son's face was worth every second.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Glimpse Into Our Home

1. The Rock Star's vomit=Bleck!

2. The Rock Star's vomit all over the place=Double bleck!

3. The Rock Star shaking as his daddy cleans him up in the middle of the night and then whispering in a pathetic voice, "Daddy, I love you."=Priceless

4. The Little Buddy sticking a small chunk rawhide in the VCR so that it starts to eat two tapes before I realize the problem=Grrr!

5. The Little Buddy holding the phone up to his ear and saying, "Heh-woah?"=Cute. Me: Who is it? Him: Dedus (Jesus)=Double cute! Me: Really?! What does He have to say? Him: Tank ew!=Adorable. Why Jesus is thanking us I have no idea.

6. Finding The Little Buddy on my bed, with his back turned, scarfing a piece of candy I didn't know he had=Priceless.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Scene Are We On?

It was confusing to me. Why were the wise men in my way? They'd never been in my way before. It seemed that during the rehearsals and Saturday night's performance I'd had a clear pathway to the backstage area. Why then, during our closing performance, was I dodging wise men? In the darkness I located the person I was supposed to give the baby Jesus to. I handed off the actress playing the Christ child, grabbed my son's hand (he was playing young Jesus) and took off for the back of the sanctuary. You see, my next scene involved me walking down the center aisle. I got halfway there, turned, and with slight frustration, said, "Where's Troy?"

That's when one of the boys in the cast caught up to me. "You skipped a scene!"

Scampering quickly through my mind was the thought, No I didn't. I wrote the play. I've been the lead in the play for three months. I think I know what happens next. What I said was, "What scene?"

And just then I heard the narrator launch into his one sentence and I was immediately catapulted into exactly which scene I was supposed to be doing. I let go of Garrett's hand and sprinted back toward the stage whispering loudly, "Where's the baby?" As it turned out, my microphone was not muted at the time. Many of the people I've spoken to thought that something in the show had gone wrong and I'd misplaced the tiny actress. Several of the people thought it was supposed to happen--thought, maybe, that we were showing just how normal Mary was. Just how easily it would have been for her to misplace her baby in the middle of the night. These people concern me. I, uh, can't recall misplacing either of my children in the night. Pretty much they were in their crib. And what with Jesus being the Messiah and all, I feel like Mary might just have kept pretty close tabs on Him.

I located her, snatched her from the arms of the other girl, and ran up the stairs. Just as I entered stage right the lights came up. Perfect timing. That's exactly what I went to school and majored in theatre for. Cool under pressure.

Except one thing. I was supposed to be lying down. I was supposed to be asleep. So I did what any sensible person with years of theatre training would do. I dropped to the floor--baby and all-- with the light already on me and pretended to be asleep. And that's not even the best part. The best part is that, when several audience members starting snickering, I cracked a smile.

Oh the humanity.

Oh the terrible acting.

Of all the things I was ever taught, not breaking character is at the top of the list.

I could have just walked on, pretending that I'd been awake with the baby. I could have mumbled my lines from off stage as though I'd been asleep in another room. I could have chosen one of about ten really good options. But what did I choose to do? Drop to the floor like the blessed mother had narcolepsy. Or a seizure disorder.

That, folks, is acting at its absolute finest.

I wouldn't have minded--much--if it had happened to someone else in the cast. I would have said things like, "Everyone makes mistakes. Don't sweat it. At least you earned a laugh. Good work. See you next year at auditions." But what with it being me, well, I just don't plan to let it go for a good long while.

When I exited after the final scene, several members of the cast greeted me with smirks, "Better you than me."

"Where's the baby? Hahahahahahah!"

"Way to go, Director."

"What's your degree in again?"

Yeah. About that. I'm calling Point Loma and asking for my money back. 80,000 dollars later and all I have to show for my theatre degree is a piece of paper with Bachelor of Arts at the top.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Garrett's Very Best Part of Christmas

Despite a lengthy conversation on the way to his performance about how mommy thought it was totally okay with Jesus for him to sing the song about giving presents away, The Rock Star, apparently, remained unconvinced.

I spoke with a mom who had heard me telling the story of what he'd done earlier in the day. "I really hope he does it tonight. I'd laugh so hard," she said.

"I really hope he doesn't," I'd replied.

The Very Best of Christmas came near the very end of the show. I was able to stay for almost two thirds of the performance but, unfortunately, missed that particular number.

My husband watched the beginning and then decided that he needed to video tape a portion of my oldest child's shenanigans. For posterity.

Yeah. That's my son, pointing at the teachers that he, obviously, thought were very wrong and shouting the real very best part of Christmas at them. "GOD!"

Way to stick to your morals, kid. However, in the future, you will not be invited to be part of productions where you change the lyrics and point at audience members. I have a degree in Theatre. I know these things are generally frowned upon.

****Edited to add: He starts laughing because, when he shouts, "GOD!" for all the world to hear, several of the audience members start laughing at him. And he's a ham. I have no idea where he gets that charming personality trait.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Very Best Part of Christmas

The Rock Star's preschool Christmas performance is tonight. At five o'clock. I found out two weeks ago. Our dress rehearsal for The Nativity is tonight. At six o'clock. I scheduled that back in September. We're all taking him to his show, I'm leaving at 5:30, and The Husband will bring him to the church--hopefully as close to 6:00 as humanly possible.

This morning was their dress rehearsal and if you think for one second that I didn't park myself in front of the whole thing so that I could see it from start to finish you'd be wrong. The only real difference was the fact that they were in jeans and t-shirts instead of dress clothes. Well, that and the fact that I didn't have to crane my neck to see around some tall guy in front of me.

There just so happens to be a song about how the best part of Christmas is the gifts we give away.

So there I was, sitting in the back, wrangling the toddler, trying to blend into the seats so that I didn't disrupt their dress rehearsal. When they reached the part of the song about giving gifts being the best part of Christmas, my son's little face fell. His eyes immediately locked in on mine. He somberly shook his head from side to side. He whispered, in what I think he thought was an aside that only I could hear, "No. God is!"

The class sang on.

He became more and more frustrated, clearly angry that he was singing a song that went so against his theology. He got louder. "No! GOD IS!"

I placed my pointer finger over my lips, then moved it and mouthed, "We'll talk about it later."


Later, as we drove home, I explained that while Jesus--come from heaven to dwell among us and save us from our sin--is most certainly the best part of Christmas, it was alright for him to sing the song with his class.

He sighed. "Okay. But I hope they all know that Christmas is really about Jesus!"

And I hope you know how much you melt my heart and how proud I am of your four-year-old theology.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Contest

Please know that I am not asking anyone for money.

However, I do want to let you know of a little contest that is going on. I received an email this morning. Here is a little portion of it:

"I wanted to tell you so that maybe you could pass it on to your readers - I'm doing a contest on my blog. If anyone donates to you or to Baby Be Blessed's Give A Blessing Chip In, then they're in the running for a $50 gift card (for first) and $25(for second)." -Danae

She blogs here.

The direct link to the contest entry is here:

Details are listed on her blog.

I just thought I'd let you know. The contest runs through the end of the year.

I'd like to offer a special thanks to Danae, who has personally donated to our fund, for thinking of our family when she decided to do this contest.

Did You Know?

There are times when I want to run down the street screaming the name of my Savior for all the world to hear. My Lord willingly left the glory of heaven for the horrors of earth. He pulled me out of the wreckage, set my feet on the ground, and said, "If you confess with your mouth that I am Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised me from the dead, you will be saved." From eternal suffering. From yourself. From total destruction.

As a child, there was something so spectacular about the baby Jesus. There was something so sweetly innocent about the newborn in the manger. But that baby became my crucified Lord. It was difficult to think of my bleeding, battered, Savior as someone's child. He crashed through death and into life with fierce strength and everlasting implication and the Jesus that I know isn't a helpless babe in a stable. He is the sovereign protector of my heart, the lover of my soul, the Almighty.

Once a year I remind myself that the Beginning and the End came in the smallest of packages. Once a year I think of a scared teenager holding the Redeemer. Once a year, I try to imagine my King as an infant, holding the hope of the world in His tiny clenched fist. In my mind, I struggle and fight against the wrong assumption that the baby was just a child. I sometimes forget that, even then, He was Emmanuel. God with us.

And I've always wondered when He knew.

Perhaps that is why when I stumbled upon this song, the lyrics picked me up, slammed me down, and brought a sudden rush of tears to my eyes.

Did You Know?
Were Mary's the first eyes You saw
Or did You remember choosing that shade of brown?
Were You surprised at the shepherd's crazy story
Or did You know You wrote the song the angel's sang?
What was this life like for You?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o'er Your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?

Did You know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did You know or did You wonder?

Did You remember the brightness of Your glory
Or did You just notice it was cold and dark here?
Did You know Your name or did You have to be told?
Were You just a baby or were You as old as time?
What was Your life like?

Did You know?
Did the cross cast its shadow o'er Your cradle?
Did You know?
Did You shudder each time Your hammer struck a nail?

Did You know?
How much heaven and how much earth
Were in this baby at His birth?
Did You know or did You wonder?
Did You wonder?
-Todd Agnew

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adoption Costs

You may have noticed that I changed the wording above the donation button. I debated whether to put exactly what we spent and exactly what we owe. In the end, I decided on full disclosure. It's been 8 months since our legal battle ended (EIGHT! Can you believe it?) and I didn't want people to think that perhaps our debt was paid off and we were pocketing any donated cash. That is most certainly not the case. Just ask my grandparents. They were gracious enough to pay off the lawyers and allow us to make payments to them--free of interest. We pay them a sum of money each month out of our budget and, if any donations are received, we send that directly to them as well.

Several months ago I debated whether to take the donation button down since we were no longer incurring any legal fees. I decided to leave it up because so many of you have joyfully joined in our efforts to bring Matthew permanently into this family. While that portion of our journey is finished, the financial repercussions of all that we went through remain. I certainly do not expect, nor would I ask, for you to contribute. However, I want to leave the option available as well as to show you just how faithful the Lord has been to us--in many cases using your personal donations.

Just this morning I received a donation for 150 dollars. Thank you! Someone at our church routinely sends us an anonymous 20 dollars. Two weeks ago 500 dollars was slipped under Troy's office door with a handwritten note. "To help with adoption costs."

We thank you if you have donated time, prayers, and/or money to our family. And I want you to be able to see just what a dent those donations have made.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Offering Plate

Holding a shiny penny, my son approached me. His eyes were fixed to it and he quietly said, "Mommy, I want to give this money to God." My heart melted. Of all the ways he could use that shiny penny. He could slide it through the slot in his piggy bank, listening for it to make the glorious clink as it bounced off other saved pennies, nickles and dimes. He could carry it around in his pocket, pulling it out in the checkout line and asking me if he could buy a whole candy bar with it. He could use it as treasure when he engages in a rousing game of pirates. But my boy wanted to give his money to God.

"Oh. I think that is such a good idea." I replied.

He took the penny and tapped it against his heart three times. "But how do I get it in here?" He asked, knowing that the Lord lives in his heart.

I smiled. "Well, honey, if you want to give money to God, the best way to do it is to put it in the offering plate at church. All of the money in the offering plate is for God."

That was on Friday.

On Sunday I went to pick him up from Sunday school. His teacher handed me a card. "We made cards today. Garrett said he made his for God. He wants me to give it to Him. Since I'm not entirely sure how to do that, I thought maybe you could take care of it." She explained, making each and every word very pointed. As if to say, You and I both know we can't mail God a card so have fun dealing with this one.

"OH! Um. I don't think I quite know either so maybe," I looked at my son, "we'll ask daddy." Putting this little predicament squarely on the shoulders of my pastor husband sounded like as good a plan as any.

"Mom!" He looked up at me with shiny eyes as he shoved the last bite of his snack into his mouth. "We just put it in the offering plate. That's where we put things we want to give to God."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Christmas!

I'm pretty sure The Rock Star is singing Feliz Navidad (among many other songs) in his upcoming preschool Christmas program. Why do I think this? Because he goes around belting out, "Fee-s-bobby-ba! Fee-s-bobby-ba! Fee-s-bobby-ba, E hospero nano e fee see ba!" to the tune of Feliz Navidad.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mama Overlooks

Mama didn't look when the toddler followed his brother outside and came back in eating a handful of week old snow.

Mama turned a blind eye when the toddler let the dog get three good licks in before he resumed his own consumption of the icy blob.

Mama didn't say anything when the oldest ate an entire caramel apple, core and all.

She didn't complain when he sneezed into the sauce as he helped her cook.

Mama smiled when the toddler held two dinosaur toys, growled, and then made the tyrannosaurus lunge at the triceratops' neck. Even though she definitely didn't teach him about survival of the fittest.

She only momentarily closed her eyes when the noise reached an inhuman decibel level.

Mama doesn't mind the dirt, the bugs, the rough or the tumble.

God gave Mama boys.

And Mama is thankful for them.

Last night, Mama held the toddler and together they practiced words. He looked confused when she started to cry. She was simply overjoyed that she has him this Christmas. She was praising Jesus that she gets the opportunity to teach him words.

Last night, Mama laid with the oldest as he drifted off to sleep. "Mommy," he said, "Can I see Miss H soon?"


"Will she make me cookies?" He asked.

"I don't think so, honey." Mama replied. "She's still so sad about her daughter. I don't think she'll feel much like making cookies."

"Well," he paused. "Then I think we should make her cookies."

Mama smiled. Mama will put up with ear shattering noise. She will deal with muddy footprints across her carpet. She will eat sneeze sauce. Mama will endeavor to forget about the really small stuff--especially if tenderhearted, godly, men emerge from this household.

What are you exponentially thankful for this Christmas season?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Spirit Rejoices

Eight years ago I was playing Mary in a church Christmas play. I was 21. Unmarried. Without children. Troy and I had just started dating. He was playing Joseph.

I could act like a scared teenager. I could draw on personal experience and emotion. Had an angel come to me and said, "You will conceive and give birth to a son..."

Well, I would have responded with, "How can this be? I've never been with a man."

But labor, despite the fact that the rest of the women in the cast tried relentlessly to explain it to me, was a little hard to act my way through. Looking into the eyes of a baby and wondering what it would feel like to be a mother--that escaped me too.

This year, Troy is playing Joseph to my Mary once again. I do realize that this time around my Mary is old enough to have a teenage Jesus but with a head piece to cover all my gray hair and make-up to mask my wrinkles, we're making it work. Truthfully and thankfully, at least in this instance, I still look like a juvenile.

It's a little strange to have a 29-year-old Mary. But having experienced pregnancy and labor allows me the opportunity to use those memories. Having looked into the eyes of my firstborn son and knowing I'd give my life for him helps me as an actor while I stare into the eyes of the tiny little actress playing baby Jesus and listen as the notes of Mary Did You Know? ring out.


Except Mary didn't give her life for her son. Instead, He gave His for her. And I'm quite certain it wasn't even what Mary, His own mother, expected. As she stood at the foot of the cross, watching the excruciating death of her son, did the strains of her song from Luke chapter 1 drift through her mind?

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is His name..."
Luke 1:46-49

Did she think of his sleeping baby face? Did she look up to Heaven in complete confusion? "Lord, you said He would redeem us all. And now I am watching my flesh and my blood hanging on a cross." Or did she quote Jeremiah? "I know the plans you have for all of us, Father." Did she fight through the raw grief and exclaim, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices..." Did she realize that she had to lose her Son in order to gain her Savior?

You see, Mary experienced my biggest fear. She lost her child. He rose again, three days later, but then ascended into Heaven to take His proper place at the right hand of the Father. He died as her son so that He could live as her Redeemer.

Though He was risen and alive, I'm rather certain that she still grieved. Her son was gone from this earth. But it was no longer the hollow ache of a son lost forever. And knowing that He had become her Savior, well, I believe she just might have whispered the familiar words of a song she sang as a scared teenager. "The mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is His name."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Beloved

My husband brought me flowers today.

"Happy Pearl Harbor Day," he said. But what he meant was Happy 8th Anniversary of Our First Dinner Together. His dad will tell you that our first date was at Kentucky Fried Chicken after a rehearsal for the Christmas play. It's not a date when two people are both hungry and just happen to be the opposite gender. Even if they do like each other. We didn't know, over KFC twisters, that the other person was interested.

Our first date was a couple weeks later. At Bennigan's. Thankfully. Because I'd feel monumentally depressed if our first official date was at an establishment with the words "fried chicken" in its title. Especially given how horrifically ill fried chicken made me when I was pregnant with The Rock Star. To this day I can only eat a piece every other year. On a Sunday. When the moon is in Aquarius.

So dinner--at Bennigan's--marked the day that I tumbled into love with my husband. We didn't say it until a few weeks later, which was still ridiculously soon, especially for me. But looking back, I think I loved my husband just seconds after I realized that there was the potential that he might, one day, love me back.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, he did.

He does.

Happy eight years.

"My beloved is mine and I am his..." Song of Solomon 2:16

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funny Kid/Kid Who Stopped My Heart

The Rock Star climbed up onto the counter. My back was turned. "Ouch!" He yelped. "I hurt my hand ankle."

"Your what?"

"My hand ankle."

"Your hand doesn't have an ankle," I replied as I turned toward him. I realized that he must have meant his wrist. "Show me where it hurts."

He pointed to his wrist. "Right here. My hand ankle."

My friend tells a story of her youngest son. He used to hold his breath, waiting to get his way, passing out instead. The paramedics were called not once but twice before a pediatrician assured her that it was okay. We are, after all, fearfully and wonderfully made. Her boy was exercising his will. To the point of passing out. Thankfully, his body was exercising its wonder and, the moment he passed out, he'd take a breath and come to.

Matthew fell and whacked his face this evening. I was a foot away and saw the whole thing. It wasn't very hard at all but it must have hurt because he did the silent cry longer than I've ever witnessed. I scooped him up, gave him a couple quick pats on the back and told him, over and over, to breathe. Finally, just as I expected the huge wail, he made a strange meow sound and went limp in my arms. I looked down. His eyes were closed. Just as I opened my mouth to scream for my husband, he opened his eyes, sighed, and whimpered a little. He sat in my arms for a couple of minutes. I called for Troy, "Matthew just passed out."

"What? Are you sure?" Came the unsteady reply.

"Yeah. He's awake now but I'm pretty sure. He either passed out or he pretended to pass out."

We checked him out. We examined his eyes and his face (a small bruise on his cheek). After a couple minutes of sitting still in my arms he plopped himself back on the carpet and starting running and dancing around the room.

He's fine. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Smiling. Playing. Acting completely okay. But I'd guess he was out for about four seconds.

It's possible that they were the longest four seconds of my life...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Nativity

You know what I don't recommend? I don't recommend writing a play, directing a play, acting as costume manager for the same play, acting as stage manager for the same play, producing the same play, memorizing the lead role in the same play, and having your husband memorize the other lead in the same play, all while raising two small children.

I'm tired.

But this shindig will be over in two weeks. And hopefully people will be blessed by it.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Matthew has a very strong personality.

He's demanding. To say the very least.

Generally I'm okay with it. While it's a struggle for us now, I am hoping that with proper rearing it can be turned into a magnificent character trait. (Emphasis on hoping.)

But sometimes, well, it's a challenge.

Take today for example. Today I went to grab a hot chocolate with some friends while The Rock Star was at preschool. The Little Buddy wanted to be on my lap. He wanted to be in my hot chocolate cup. He wanted to play with my hot chocolate cup. He wanted to hold both of my thumbs tightly in his fists so that I could not pick up my hot chocolate cup. Finally, I'd had enough of defending my hot cocoa from a squirmy toddler who wanted, in the worst way, to spill it. So I placed him on the chair next to me.

He. Flipped. Out.

He screamed. I told him to stop. He wailed. I got right down by his face and whispered that this was neither the time nor the place. He shrieked. I told him that if he didn't stop we were going to leave. He elevated the volume. And it's not like he can't understand me. Just the other day I asked him to go upstairs, get the toothpaste and his toothbrush, and bring them down to me. He obeyed every command and threw his shoes in for good measure.

I looked at my friends. "I'm so sorry. I'm going to have to leave." They have children. They understand. I got up and asked Matthew to follow me. He wailed louder still. I refused to pick him up since what he wanted in the first place was for me to take him out of the chair and put him back on my lap. I tried to take his hand and lead him out the door. That's when he threw himself on the floor and began kicking and screaming.

That was a first for him. He's had tantrums that rival short-lived wars but he's never done the kicking, screaming, flailing--while in public--bit. Thank goodness he's number two. I managed to find it somewhat hilarious. When a tiny little person gets that worked up, well, I either have to laugh or cry so I chose to find the humor in it all.

My friend offered to pick him up and carry him to the car. That way I wouldn't be rewarding him but I also wouldn't be sitting in the coffee establishment waiting for him to grow up and realize that life is going to deal him a lot worse blows than his mother setting him on a chair next to her. She hoisted him up and off we went. As we exited, two police officers entered and I honestly contemplated telling them that he wasn't being abducted. But they offered me apologetic smiles that seemed to say, "We're dads. We've been there."

When I opened the car door, the screaming banshee threw all four limbs out and grabbed the frame of the door. With super human strength he gripped the roof of the car and thrust a leg out to stop himself from being unwillingly placed into his car seat. At that point I let out a sigh. That's the way it is a lot of the time with this kid. His will is made of steal.

But we were still two able bodied adults and he was still a 21-month-old so we won.

And Matthew screamed for ten solid minutes in the car before sticking his thumb in his mouth and doing the I'm-trying-to-catch-my-breath-after-sobbing hiccup cry. I didn't raise my voice. I didn't try to reason with him. I simply let him scream. Bloody murder. For ten minutes. When we got to our destination and I reached in to get him out, he smiled at me and said, "Mommy!"

And I was all, "Yeah. Hi. It's me. The one you hated not five minutes ago. Are we friends again?"

"Hi mommy!"

Sigh. "I love you."

"I wuv ew." He offered.

So, naturally, all was forgiven.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I've been absent.

I managed to post a few times, but my mind has been elsewhere.

On my friend.

I sit down to write and all I can think about is her. And her husband. And their daughters. And their grandchildren. And their sons-in-law. And I've thought that I shouldn't write about it here. It isn't my story to tell. It isn't my grief to place firmly on the shoulders of my Lord. But it's moving me and changing me and if I don't write it here then I fear I may never write anything of substance again.

When our plane landed on Saturday afternoon I had a voice mail from my friend. Her daughter had suddenly and very unexpectedly gone to be with the Lord on Friday. She was 43. She left behind her husband. She left behind her two daughters--not yet adults themselves.

I didn't know her. It felt like I did. I've heard so much about her. I've prayed for her and her family. She's prayed for mine. My heart just broke right in half for them. So I've been doing the only thing I can think to do. I've been praying--continuously. I simply can't get my mind off of the toughness of it all. So I pray.

"Mommy, what happened? Why are you sad?" Garrett asked me.

"Miss H's* baby died." I explained before realizing how confusing that would be to him.

"She has a baby? How come I've never seen that baby before?" He asked.

"Well, she's all grown up," I answered. "But she's still her baby."

"Just like I'll always be your baby?" He questioned.

"Exactly like that." I replied as I drew him into a hug.

You shouldn't bury your children. It just isn't the natural progression of things. My friend said as much to me when I rushed from the airport to her house so that I could see her before she left for California--where her family is. "No," I'd replied. "You shouldn't."

It's my biggest fear. It has been since the moment I laid eyes on my firstborn. Truly, it's been my biggest fear since I first laid eyes on the positive stick. "Fear not," my God tells me over and over in Scripture. Still, I find it very difficult to put into practice.

Difficult, but commanded nonetheless. To disobey is to sin against my Father who has decreed that I should not be afraid. And so, what if? What if my worst fear is realized?

Then I will breathe. First in and then out. I will grieve. I will want to die--of that I am quite sure. But I will continue to breathe. And, if I'm even a fraction of the woman He's called me to be, I will praise Him. "The Lord gives and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I've seen my friend. I've spoken with her on the phone. She's lost the unthinkable. But she continues to praise the Lord. For that, I am fiercely proud to call her my friend.

The other day I ran a quick errand for her. She wanted a copy of a picture of her daughter for the service. I entered her house and located the photo. I took it off the wall and brought it into my own house so that we could try to get a decent copy of it. As I stared into the face looking back at me, my eyes blurred a bit. I looked into her eyes and I could almost see her dancing with the angels.

One of the glories of a crucified Savior on a cross and a risen King is that one day, though I never knew her in this life, we will dance together in heaven. Perhaps her mother, my friend, will even introduce us.

*I said her name.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Dear Matthew,

Yesterday your daddy got you up from your nap. He carried you downstairs and stopped in front of the tree. It isn't decorated yet but that didn't matter. Your eyes widened with an awe that suggested that you have no recollection of Christmas last year. If looks could talk yours would have said, "Why the heck is there a tree in our house?"

I can't believe it's already your second Christmas season, that you're 21 months old and you've reached an age where we have to have a fence around the tree. I'm so excited about the holiday this year. Last year I was so terrified that it would be our only Christmas with you. I tried to remember every little thing in the event that I'd never get to see your reactions to lights, decorations and the magic of Christ's birth. Yesterday, after your first look at the tree, you toddled down to the family room and examined all the decorations. I told you to look and not to touch and you obeyed. Mostly. There happens to be a stuffed dog with a Santa hat and you would have no part of not snuggling the heck out of him.

This past month you had a verbal explosion. Shoe. Sock. No-no! Sorry. Bible. And on and on. Last week, while we were visiting daddy's family in Oregon, I said, "Say 'goodnight to Grandma.' Say 'I love you.'" And you looked right at her and said, "Lub ew!"

And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous because, for the life of me, I can't get you to say it again. To anyone. Least of all me. But you throw your chubby arms around my neck and plant your lips on mine so I'm pretty sure the attachment is mutual.

You had a blast playing with your cousins last week. You're the baby. By far. So they enjoyed making you the monster and running. You chased them, giggling the entire time. Eventually they'd let you catch them and all of you would dissolve into laughter.

You are learning and growing so quickly these days. Today you lost a shoe and I couldn't find it. Your brother couldn't find it. Frustrated, I finally looked at you and said, "Where is your shoe?" You grunted and pointed and yelled shoe! I followed your finger into the playroom. "Where?" More grunting and pointing. I followed your finger over to the basketball hoop. You squatted down and pointed. Sure enough, there, in the hole in the base, was your shoe. Smarty pants. I should have asked you in the first place!
As we were driving this morning, The Rock Star asked, "Mommy, do we have popsicles hanging off our house?"

He meant icicles. But I definitely didn't correct him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week in Oregon

We went to Oregon.

We flew into Portland. After landing ten minutes early we proceeded to sit on the tarmac for over an hour. First we had to wait for another plane to get out of our way. Then we had to wait for them to hook up the walkway to the plane. Apparently it was too low and while I certainly wouldn't have cared if I'd had to "mind the gap" they wouldn't let us get off. Matthew was screaming. It was late. He was hungry. He hadn't really napped. It was exciting. Then we had to wait for them to tow us to a different gate. Then we were allowed to get off.

The Husband, The Rock Star and The Little Buddy spent the night with Troy's sister, Jolene. I spent the night with The Kristin who is now, like, published all over the place and is my Nearly Famous friend. But I refrained from asking for her autograph. Instead I had bananas foster and a raspberry truffle. And they were good.

In the morning, we went to Starbucks with Kristin and then we went back to Jolene's. Our boys (ages 4 and cruising toward two) played with her boys (ages 6 and 4) and then we went to Eugene.

Troy's sister, Jana, and her family live with Troy's parents and graciously gave us their playroom and kids' room. Our boys had a blast playing with her kids (ages 7 and 5). One day we went shopping with Troy's parents and took Colby. Colby, at five, is an Oregon Ducks fanatic. His parents are even bigger fans so the fact that I got Colbs (as Garrett calls him) to agree to this picture is nothing short of miraculous.

I'm not kidding that I was actually a little afraid that if his parents saw it they'd kick me out of their house, break my camera, or stick bamboo shoots under my finger nails. So I quickly snapped this one...
You know, to save my own life. Also. Seriously. That kid is 11 months older than mine. 11. But he stands an entire head taller. I'm going to start paying for jockey lessons for my son.

On Tuesday night Troy surprised me with a night away. We drove up to Albany and stayed in one of the hotels that we stopped at on our honeymoon. Seven years ago we were not supposed to stay in Albany. When we got to our hotel, in a different city, our room had been flooded by some nimrod who forgot to turn off their spa tub. When Troy explained that we were on our honeymoon they sent us down to Albany and upgraded us like crazy. The room was amazing and last week my husband booked the same room. We think. It was, at the very least, identical.

We had dinner and did some shopping and rented a movie. I relaxed in the giant jetted spa tub. I also forgot that when you turn on the jets the bubbles multiply like rabbits so I ended up with a ratio of 30% hot water and 70% bubbles. There's a picture. I'm not posting it because, well, even though you can't see anything except my fleshy shoulder, I'm naked in it. And that would be weird.

It was wonderful. I was thoroughly surprised which is amazing. Usually I foil Troy's plans by figuring out what's happening well ahead of time. On Tuesday he told me what was happening about twenty minutes before it happened. Well played, Husband. Well played.

We took The Rock Star and two of his cousins to see Tangled. Just two days after I'd had a conversation with my father-in-law about how I didn't see any point in paying extra to see a movie in 3D, my husband read the times of the movie wrong and we ended up with three kids bouncing-off-the-walls-excited to see a film that was only showing in 3D until 8:30. We couldn't very well see a movie with three kids that didn't start until then so we coughed over the extra dough and put on our very sexy glasses.

I mean, they're cute on the kids but they are down right sexy on my husband, no?

On Thanksgiving we ate with Troy's parents, sisters, brother-in-law, niece and nephews. And we tried to take pictures. Do you know how hard it is to get six kids under the age of eight to smile at the camera at the same time?
(Clockwise from top left Gracie-7, Colby-5, Cooper-6, Garrett-4, Matthew-1, Sawyer-4)

I went to the Ducks game. They won. It was loud. And cold. And altogether an enlightening experience.

We snapped this picture before the Oregon game which is good because if we'd waited until the next day we would have had to omit my father-in-law from them as he had a bloody nose that lasted all morning. This prompted my son, when he saw the volume of blood, to say, "Grandpa, do you have blood on your hands?"

I explained that we don't typically ask people this question. Unless we're accusing them of murder. For the record, he wasn't calling his grandfather a killer.

We flew out of Eugene on Saturday afternoon. When we were walking through the Salt Lake airport I saw Rosie O'Donnell. I'm 99.98% sure it was her. If it wasn't her she has an identical twin with the same hair, same body, same smile, same everything. She was walking out of one of the little convenience stores and I was towing Matthew on my carry-on. She looked me in the eye and offered the small Rosie smile. I smiled back and kept walking. She looked like she actually might have wanted to have a conversation with me. It didn't dawn on me until last night that she may have caught my eye since we both have adopted children. My clearly adopted son was being toted a foot behind me. And here I thought she wanted to give me Nora Ephron's card.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Ducks

In twenty minutes I'm headed to Autzen Stadium to watch Oregon play. I'm not really an Oregon fan--being that I hail from southern California and all--but my father-in-law got tickets and I figured that since they have as good a shot as anyone at taking the championship this year, I should probably go watch them play.

It's cold. It'll probably rain.

I'm wearing a Chargers t-shirt, a sweater, a hoodie, a ski jacket, three pairs of socks, a scarf--thanks to my sister-in-law, gloves, and a hat. I have a rain parka, courtesy of my brother-in-law. I'm also taking a blanket even though I'll have to haul it a mile and a half each way from wherever we're parking.

I'll probably still freeze.

Anyway. Go Ducks! (I don't really personally care, you know, but I also don't want to get beat up by any crazy Oregonians* for saying, "Go Whoever's On Offense!")

*Read: My inlaws. I'm staying with some serious duck fans and I do not want to have to sleep with one eye open tonight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here's a list of things I'm thankful for. In no particular order. And certainly not an exhaustive list...

1. Matthew's finalized adoption
2. My husband
3. Both of my children
4. Family
5. Friends
6. Our church
7. Warm weather
8. Hot chocolate
9. The bananas foster and raspberry truffle I had with Kristin
10. Shea butter lotion--especially when its lathered on my youngest
11. Mashed potatoes
12. Sweet potatoes
13. Green bean casserole
14. Garrett's sweet disposition
15. Matthew's toothy grin
16. A good pair of jeans
17. DVR
18. My gas fire place
19. Our golden retriever
20. Our cat--even though he's kind of a snob
21. Chargers football. Yes, even when they lose. Yes, even when I had to endure the 1-15 year.
22. Flannel pants and sweat shirts
23. My Jeremiah 29:11 bracelet
24. Airplanes
25. Favorite vacation spots
26. Sugary carbohydrates--cakes, pies, cookies, pancakes, waffles and the like
27. Bubble baths
28. Wireless Internet which is allowing me to blog right this moment
29. The Word
30. Salvation
31. Mercy
32. Grace
33. Hope
34. Eggs and Bacon
35. Women's ministries
36. Flip flops
37. Disposable diapers
38. Christmas music
39. Telestrations
40. Chai
41. The pool in the summertime
42. My wedding ring--and the commitment it symbolizes
43. Spas
44. Chapstick
45. Health
46. The ocean
47. The mountains
48. The smell of pine
49. A warm jacket
50. Freedom

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Videos

We moved here just about three years ago. We had Thanksgiving with my family and then headed out to the tundra. The last two Thanksgivings we've spent here with Troy's parents. This year we're flying to Oregon to see his family. Posting for the next week will be sporadic, at best.

So I'm leaving you with a couple of videos.

The first one should be titled "Black Mail." While the entire video is a real gem, the magic happens at 2:44 when he declares, "My bum scratches!"

Warning: This first video has a longer load time. Personally, I feel it's worth the wait.

It's nearly impossible to get Matthew to say any of his words for the camera. He always wants to watch himself and will flat out refuse to speak. However, the other night, his desire to eat tomato soup was bigger than his desire to watch himself on camera. He barely even knew it was there. We were finally able to catch some words on video.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Final Installment: Interview 3

Finally, Tara asked...

What advice would you offer to someone, like myself, who is experiencing infertility?

Except she didn't. Because we didn't get to it. And this was, by far, the most difficult question to answer. So I'm going to go ahead and address it here, in depth. In way more depth, in fact, than I would have shared in an interview. And then I'll move on to some silly thing my kid said. Or a story about a really gross diaper. Or something.

I imagine that infertility is radically different for a born again Christian than it is for someone who doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is her Lord and Savior. I think the feelings of loss, pain, grief, and anger are probably pretty similar but how we cope with those feelings should be different.

Without Christ, I would have felt completely hopeless.

As a Christian, I always have hope in Christ.

Infertility is horrible. It affects people from all walks of life, men and women of all ages, and it is no respecter of race or position. It hurts. It hurts because God has made us to crave motherhood. Animals have the basic instinct to reproduce. So then, do we. Except for us, hormones aren't the only things that come into play. For us, we have to also balance raw, bleeding emotion.

I will never forget the night, six years ago, when I cried so hard that I eventually found myself in the bathroom with my head in the toilet. Someone else was pregnant. Again. I wasn't expected to pretend to be happy. I was expected to be happy. And I wasn't. I was jealous and angry and I was devastated that I was jealous and angry. I was bitter and sinful and I was horrified that I responded with bitterness and a sinful attitude. It wasn't that I thought she didn't have the right to be pregnant, to have a child, to not worry about why I would be upset. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to be happy for her. But I was, simply, craving empathy. Because infertility felt so lonely. Even as a Christian. Even with the Lord, I felt lonely. So I cannot begin to fathom how isolating it must be for someone without faith.

Infertility spans centuries. It's heavily covered in the Bible. And make no mistake, the emotions of infertility make people--even people of faith--do crazy things. I considered chucking a block of cheese out of my kitchen window. Hannah cried so hard--in public, no less--that the priest thought she was drunk. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Elizabeth, Michal, and others all suffered through the pain of being unable to have children. Sarah gave Abraham her Egyptian handmaid so that he could have a child with her. Clearly, that didn't turn out too well. Rachel yelled at Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" (A sentiment I've felt more than once.) Eventually, after years of suffering through infertility, the Lord opened the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Elizabeth. But Michal, David's wife, never had children.

So my advice is this: God is in control. Not you. Not your fertility specialist. And not, goodness knows, your emotions. It's going to hurt. People are going to say stupid things. They will tell you to relax, to chart your temperature, to stop stressing. They will tell you to, "Just adopt. Then you'll get pregnant." Adoption is an amazing experience and a fantastic choice but not if used as a stepping stone to having a biological child. That is entirely the wrong motivation.

But God. Is. In. Control. In Mark chapter 4, Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat. "Let us go to the other side," He said. A storm came up and the disciples panicked, thinking they'd all drown in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. You know the rest of the story. Jesus rebuked the storm and then asked the disciples why they still had no faith. Because, you see, He'd told them that they were going to the other side. The ship isn't going to go down with the Son of God on board. Your ship is not going to go down with the Son of God on board. You'll make it to the other side. It's just that the other side might not look like you imagined it would.

We tried and tried to have a baby using all kinds of medical intervention. Finally, with no medical intervention whatsoever, I got pregnant. Then we tried and tried to have another biological child and it just never happened. God is in control. He wants your dreams and your hopes. He wants total surrender.

He may never bless you with a child. He just might not. That might not be His plan. You absolutely have to reach a place where that's okay. It won't be easy. It will still hurt. But you are privileged to be in relationship with the God of the universe. And He asks us to give Him our pain. If He's the Lord of your life, you have to let Him be the Lord of your family and your future. You have to surrender your plans.

If He blesses you with a biological child, praise Him! If he doesn't, praise Him! Seek Him and ask Him if he has another plan and if He will reveal it to you. Maybe, just maybe, He has a different plan for your life. Always, always, He has your best in mind.

Remember the women from the Bible that I mentioned? With the exception of Michal, those women had the privilege of being mothers to Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, and John the Baptist. Men that God used in mighty ways. So I can't help but think that, in the end, their infertility was an incredible blessing. I can't help but wonder what God has in store for my own sons.

If you happen to be reading this and you aren't a Christian, my advice to you is different. What I have to say is this: I'm sorry. Infertility hurts in places I didn't know existed. But it's made incredibly easier when you have someone to give that pain to. If you don't know my Savior as your own, please ask me about Him. I have a Jesus I want to share with you. I have a Jesus who has changed my life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview: Part 2

Tara asked...

What has been the biggest lesson or lessons you've learned through your journey through infertility and adoption?

Truthfully, I don't really have to think about this one. While the lessons were some of the most painful I've endured, they have shaped me in incredible ways. Really, each day of learning, growing, failing, and succeeding boil down to one word. Surrender. Complete and total relinquishment of control to the Lord, to the One who always has my very best interest at heart. Infertility was Total Surrender 101. Contested adoption was Total Surrender 201. I am quite sure that third and fourth year classes and tests will challenge me in the future. While submission is challenging, submission to a holy and blameless Lord is an amazing process. All that molding hurts, but it is so very worth it.

What made you decide to pursue adoption? What made you decide to adopt interracially? What has God taught you through your adoption of Matthew?

Troy and I had always been drawn to adoption. We both love children and felt that we could provide a stable and loving environment to a child that needed one. Our plan, back when we thought we had some control over that, was to have two biological children and then adopt. As we struggled through infertility we decided to stop spending our money on expensive treatment and turn to adoption instead. We were very interested in a Chinese adoption but I was far from old enough for their program. Initially, we pursued a Ukranian adoption. The program's immense cost (of course, less than The Little Buddy's ended up being) and the fact that the country was on the verge of closing international adoptions led us to reconsider. We'd heard of a program in Georgia that cost much less for African-American and mixed race babies than for Caucasian ones simply because everyone was waiting for one that looked like them. The minority children were being adopted out to other countries. It broke our hearts that so many couples here were only willing to adopt within their own race and culture. That is when we began to consider adopting a child of African decent. We didn't end up pursuing it at that point because I found out that I was pregnant with The Rock Star.

When we began to look into adoption again, interracial adoption was never actually something that we decided to pursue. We had not yet chosen an agency or organization and my husband ended up on the phone with a representative from our insurance agency. As their conversation turned this way and that it came out that this woman had adopted children through an organization in southern California. She gave us the name. God opened door after door and within a few months we were listed with them. We could have specified gender and ethnicity. We chose not to. We'd learned enough about surrendering to the Lord's will during infertility that we didn't want to limit the blessing He had for us. Our file became available to mothers of all races. And we waited.

Truthfully, I had an image of a white teenage mother, college bound, not ready to be a mom. I didn't think an African-American mother would choose to place her child with a white family in Utah. Matthew's mother prayed over countless couple's profiles. In the end, she chose us for many reasons, the least of which was color.

God has taught us countless things through our adoption of Matthew and it hasn't even been 21 months yet. As I said yesterday, He's taught us what it really means to be adopted into His family. He's taught us that while the majority of the world embraces the concept of family as a tight nuclear unit, He's called us to a family that will struggle through racial issues. We will not look like the societal standard. Our transracial family will include biological parents, adoptive parents, biological siblings, siblings through adoption, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles some adoptive, some biological. It isn't easy. It won't be easy. But it is what He has blessed us with.

And for that, I am glad.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Last week I received a request for an interview. I have to admit that for a split second I thought it was a joke because, well, for one thing, I'm just me and there's nothing very exciting about that. And for another thing I was recently invited to London to speak to an audience of 3500. While I never really thought that was an actual invitation for me--and, rather, assumed that someone's wires had gotten mighty erroneously crossed--I also didn't immediately recognize it as a scam. Thankfully my mom did.

However, after corresponding a few times with the interview requester, I felt pretty confident that she wasn't going to ask me to wire her money. (Note: I was never asked to wire the scammer any money but after researching the situation for awhile on the Internet I came to find out that would have been the next step. Which, obviously, I wouldn't have done. I mean, I certainly wouldn't go wiring money to total strangers simply because they said something about needing a UK visa. Especially when the grammar in the invitation sounded more like I was corresponding with someone from Asia and less like I was talking to a Brit.) She wanted to ask me some questions so that she could complete an assignment for a women's leadership program at her church. The purpose was to talk to someone she didn't already know and hopefully gain wisdom from that person's story. She blogs here. We've walked a little bit of the same journey. And she said my story has encouraged her.

So yesterday I spoke to her.

She provided me, ahead of time, with the questions that she'd use as a jumping off point. I thought about them before our conversation. Some of them were easy. Tell me a little bit of your story (your family, how you met your husband, etc.) and When did you start blogging and what made you decide to share your story online? and When did you first start speaking in public about your story? What made you decide to do so? Those didn't require a lot of thought. Some of them were harder. They demanded more reflection. We didn't get to every question. We talked about things that weren't on the initial list, things like infertility treatment and privacy. But I hope she won't mind that I'd like to address some of the more thought provoking questions she'd originally written out. I'd like to be able to expand on some of the things I said to her, in the event that any of you are wondering.

Do you feel God has used your blog to bless you and your readers? Did you expect this when you started writing?

I have been immeasurably blessed through my blog. I can reflect on what I was doing this time last year or what funny thing Garrett said when he was learning to talk. But above that, we have been blessed financially and certainly spiritually through this little corner of the Internet. We had people across the nation praying for our family and contributing to Matthew's adoption fund. If you were one of the people who supported us through prayer or giving during our journey please understand that we couldn't have done it without you. The Lord provided all of you to us when we needed you most and our family has been blessed beyond measure.

I hope that my blog blesses most of my readers. Certainly there are readers that disagree entirely with our decision to support Matthew's mother's choice. There are readers who think we're horrible people. There are readers who got mad at me because I was disturbed by that creepy Halloween store. First and foremost, my blog is for me. A place for me to remember. A place for me to reflect and grow. But when I started getting the negative comments a few months before the trial was set to start, I had a few people tell me to just make it private. I never could bring myself to do that, even though the comments were tearing me apart inside, even though all I wanted to do was set the haters straight and explain every tiny detail of our case. I didn't because I'd promised myself and Matthew that I'd never throw the personal details--the information that made our case pretty rock solid--around the Internet. But I just couldn't bring myself to go private because I was also receiving emails and comments telling me that someone related.

I post about infertility because I long to reach out across space and say, "You, there. I get it. 90% of the population doesn't get it--can't get it--but I do." I post about our adoption journey to say to someone who is wondering whether or not to pursue it that, yeah, it's an incredible choice and one of the biggest blessings I've ever received and I wish more people chose to do it. I never understood the fullness of our adoption into God's family until I experienced it in my own. So I hope my blog blesses more people than it infuriates. I know that it has blessed a few--and for that I am thankful.

But no. I never saw that part coming. I thought my blog would be for me. And my family. And some friends. I didn't think I'd ever have people across the country reading it. I certainly never thought it would encourage someone in Georgia.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Italians and Marines

The night before my parents left, my dad read the boys a book. There were some marines in it. Also, the woman doing the majority of our costumes for this year's Christmas play is named Ann Maurine. I know it seems that these two tidbits of knowledge have nothing to do with each other but that's where you'd be wrong. The Rock Star has heard me saying the name Ann Maurine a lot lately. So, it makes perfect sense that, when my dad was finished reading the story, my oldest son asked, "Why were there so many Ann Maurines at that guy's house?"

Marine. Ann Maurine. What's the difference?

Today he asked me if sometime we could travel all the way to South Focaccia. When I asked him what, on earth, he was talking about he answered, "You know, all the places south of here." Is it weird that he thinks the continent south of ours is named after a flat oven-baked Italian bread? Is it weirder that my four-year-old has no problem pronouncing the word focaccia?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Verbal Explosion?

We're standing on the precipice of a verbal language explosion.

I think.

I hope.

The Little Buddy still doesn't say much unprompted. There are about ten words that he says constantly and then a whole baby babble language that he uses the rest of the time.

But now, when prompted, he'll repeat just about anything.

Me: Say Matthew.
M: Mah-ew
Me: Say eye.
M: Eye.
Me: Say Garrett.
M: Dit-dit.
Me: Say Jesus.
M: Jee-uh.
Me: Say eat.
Me: Say banana.
M: Nana.
Me: Say baby.
M: Bay-bee!
Me: Say hello!
M: Huh-o!

And on and on we go. Unless he's being a crab. Then I ask him to say all that stuff and he just stares at me as if to say, "You're a big dork and I'm not on display here!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chick Flick

Yesterday my parents surprised The Rock Star with a trip to the movies. The Husband stayed home with The Little Buddy and the four of us took him to see Megamind. I'd heard on K-Love that it was a cute movie with a good redemptive quality to it so off we went.

My dad stopped at Lowe's and the rest of us waited in the car. I tried to get him to guess what it was we were doing. After awhile we had the following conversation.

G: I know! That place with all the movies. Let's go to the movie fee-uh-ter.
Me: Well, what would we see if we did that?
G: Megamegamind! (For some reason he insists on adding a mega.)
My Mom: What is that about?
G: Superheroes!
My Mom: What do they do?
G: They save the day!
My Mom: Oh. Wouldn't you rather see a chick flick?
G: No! I already had lunch!
My Mom & Me: Hysterical laughter.

Apparently chick flick sounds an awful lot like Chick-fil-A when you're four.

Of course, we did take him to see Megamind and he loved it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Seed I've Received I Will Sow

To speak or not to speak, that is the question.

The first time I told my story it was to a group of women from my church. I spoke for 45 minutes about infertility and how God rebuked our storm and then it was completely calm. Really, up until then I'd been pretty private about our struggle. Sharing left me feeling exposed, raw, and battered. Shamed for reliving my sin, raw for reliving the pain, blessed by reliving the victory I'd had in Christ. Not the accomplishment of motherhood, mind you, but the victory of full dependence on my Savior. I wasn't sure I'd ever speak publicly again.

And then I was asked to speak four times at a retreat in southern California. I prayed about it. I told God it was probably not the best idea. He told me He didn't care if it was my best idea, it was His idea. I wasn't the best choice. I certainly wasn't the most seasoned choice. I definitely had no idea what I was doing. But He'd chosen me. Like Gideon. Like Moses. Like Paul. Although, clearly, and thankfully, not to that scale. When He told me to tell my story I didn't even have my Matthew. He came a few weeks later and with him came a tale of total surrender, of heart wrenching pain, of trusting the Savior and not flinching. I spoke in the middle of that trial. I shared. I sweat--a lot--and I felt completely inferior. But the Lord blessed it and I did not die. I felt exposed and raw. I felt like that was maybe what He was trying to accomplish.

I wondered what He had in mind with this story. I wondered what He had in mind with this vessel.

And then I didn't speak for a year. Suddenly an opportunity dropped itself straight into my lap. No way, no how, had I gone looking for it in any way, shape or form. The chance to share how the trial had ended. The ability to explain a profound change our Lord had done in me. I agreed. Because I was crazy and thought I could put together two 45 minute sessions in two weeks. Because I knew God would do it through me. And if He chose not to, I'd still show up. Because I want to be a faithful servant. A woman rededicated her life to Christ that weekend. Regardless of what God said through me and regardless of whether it touched anyone else, it touched that woman. And that is the only thing that matters to me. I'd volunteer to fall flat on my face into a pile of wow, you're horrible over and over again if it meant people would make commitments to the Lord. But, for the record, no one said I was horrible. At least, not to my face. Of course, I felt raw. And I began to think that maybe my being exposed is as much for me as it is for them.

I'm speaking again in March.

I was asked to speak again in April.

Concerning April, I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And talked to my husband. And talked to my mom. And prayed. "God, I'm just a girl with a little story. Are you quite sure?" You see, I've said before that I kind of wanted to do this thing. I've said before that maybe, one day, I'd speak--one day, when I had it all figured out. Which I don't. So perhaps people want to hear from someone who only has a fraction of a clue. But I want to make absolute sure that He's in this 110%. Because if He isn't, then ten times out of ten I'll realize halfway through that my fly is down. Or I have a booger hanging out of my nostril and a chunk of food between my two front teeth. Or, most importantly, I'll be way off base with teaching the Word.

When I was asked to speak in April it came just after a conference that encouraged everyone to tell her story. God's given us all a story to tell. He's given me one where denying His existence is absolutely impossible. Not that I'd ever want to try. He's given me a story where His love was unmistakable, His provision was tangible, His will was discernible. He's given me a story that runs around my house with a curly little head, a smile that spreads from ear to ear and a temper that reminds me that all of this is very, very real.

I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And then God gave me this.

1 Timothy 4:10-16
That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

I know that Paul is writing to Timothy in a specific time and place. I also believe in the Living Word of God and it's ability to transcend time.

So I said yes to April.

Please pray for me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Today is your last chance to enter to win a great giveaway from Kix and MyBlogSpark at my giveaway blog


A week ago I tumbled into a heap in what can only be called The Great Plate Skiing and Toddler Tossing of 2010. Well, okay, it could probably just be referred to as That Time I Fell but let's face it, The Great Plate Skiing and Toddler Tossing of 2010 has a much better ring to it.

So to recap, I lifted the kid out of the high chair, stepped back onto a plate that the toddler had thrown, my left foot went one way, the rest of me went another, I fell into a heap but not before heaving the kid about a foot so that I wouldn't crush him and it hurt me but he mostly laughed. The end.

It's been seven days.

But the outside of my right leg is still covered in what is now a yellowish purple bruise about four inches by two inches. It hasn't hurt to walk for about five days but if I touch it...boy howdy. So I just try not to touch it. The inside of my right leg has a small bruise where the inside of my left leg crashed into it. Likewise, the inside of my left leg has a small bruise where it crashed into the inside of my right leg.

I'd post a picture just to show you how remarkably colorful my legs are right now but then you would also know how remarkably hairy and white they are. When you trade the beach for the tundra, the legs are the first thing to go. Okay, so really the boogie boards are the first thing to go but the legs are a definite runner up. Autumn arrives--and it's really more like a really frigid winter compared to fall in southern California--and the jeans come out and the leg hair just becomes a fact of life. I need it to keep from freezing to death.

In the interest of full disclosure I'd like to tell you all that I actually just shaved. So I suppose I could take another picture that would not feature my stellar leg hair but would, in fact, feature my severe lack of any toned calf muscle. It's not because I don't exercise--although we can discuss that at a later time--it's because, even when I smelled perpetually of chlorine, I didn't have much leg definition. It's okay though because my husband has enough calf muscle for the whole family and then some.

This was totally supposed to be a post about Hey, don't try plate skiing while holding a toddler but, instead, has turned into Things I Probably Shouldn't Blog About. Because I'm not entirely sure that I need everyone trying to conjure up images of my hairy lack of calves. But there you have it.

To recap this post. I just shaved so I might freeze to death this very night. My calves aren't toned. My knees are all kinds of interesting combinations of colors of the rainbow. I will never be invited to the BlogHer convention.

Could you even imagine? "Hey, there's Heather Armstrong. There's Ree Drummond. There's MckMama. There' that the girl who blogs about her own leg hair?

But really. Don't try plate skiing across your kitchen floor. It's unwise.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Soldier

The Rock Star is obsessed with soldiers.

When we were picking my mom up from the airport on Friday he spotted a man in fatigues. He was waiting for his luggage.

Garrett grabbed my leg and whispered, "Is that a soldier?" I told him that it was and he asked if he could say hi to him. My mom explained that it's nice to tell a soldier, Thank you for serving our country.

Somewhat shyly, The Rock Star walked up to the man and said, "Thank you for serving our country." He stuck out his little hand.

"You're welcome," replied the soldier, shaking Garrett's hand.

"What's your name?"


"How old are you?" He asked.


"You speak very well for being four."

"Thank you," The Rock Star said.

And then we walked away. Garrett is so impressed with the fact that he saw a real life soldier.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


After hearing The Rock Star counting down the days for the past month, my mom flew in yesterday. We went to a women's event together last night. It was awesome but that isn't the point of this particular entry. While we were gone, The Rock Star went missing--for a few moments. It seems that he let himself out the door while his dad was upstairs. Then he walked down the street, crossed it, and was playing with some of the neighborhood kids. Needless to say, when his father realized he was missing he became, um, concerned. When he found him he brought him home and laid down the law. After chastising him for a bit the conversation ended like this...

T: Don't you ever do that again. Do you want to be grounded from your friends?
G: (with great concern) Will I be grounded from Grandma?

Friday, November 5, 2010


Sometimes we call The Little Buddy Jambalaya.

But I can explain.

The night before he was born we took his mother and his aunt and uncle out to California Pizza Kitchen. His mother ordered Jambalaya which, on the menu there, is explained as such, "Blackened chicken and shrimp in a spicy Jambalaya sauce with crawfish, Andouille sausage and Tasso ham served on linguini fini and topped with fresh green onions."

I've got a finicky stomach--to say the very least--and I've never been able to handle anything particularly spicy. I was sitting next to her and when the food arrived the spicy smell tickled my senses and I honestly could not imagine actually eating it. The smell alone was terribly overpowering. She made a few comments about how hot it was and how maybe the spices would help Matthew make a decision to get out. Maybe there just wouldn't be enough room in there for a steaming plate of spicy jambalaya and her baby. (Apparently, there was plenty of room and he was delivered by Cesarean the next day.)

It was over that meal that we learned of her affinity for spices.

The Rock Star has a sweet tooth. This is probably because I spent the majority of my pregnancy with him craving cake, donuts, ice cream, cheesecake, cupcakes, frosting--on something or out of the can, I wasn't particular, coffee cake, popsicles, sweet rolls, pancakes, waffles. Ahem. Okay. I think you get the point. Over the course of time, it's become obvious to us that just as I passed a sweet tooth on to my unborn child, Matthew's mother passed a spice tooth on to hers.

The other night I made enchiladas. I used mild sauce so I have no idea what on earth happened but the entree was ridiculously spicy. Garrett put a bite in his mouth and, as saliva started pooling around it, he declared, "SPICY!" I chastised him, informing him that I'd used mild sauce. Then I took my first bite. Before I even began to chew it I apologized and told Garrett that he didn't have to eat his. I opened it up and scrapped out the insides for him. Then I managed to get mine down but only because I'd gone to the effort to make them and didn't want to waste an entire pan of enchiladas. I asked Troy what he thought of them.

After a long pause he replied, "Well, I can eat them. I don't prefer them this spicy."

But Jambalaya, well, he sat in his high chair and wolfed his entire enchilada down without a care in the world. I scrapped some of my sauce off and still had to swish every bite down with a large swallow of water. His brother wouldn't even put any in his mouth. His daddy ate them with a slight look of concern on his face. Not Matthew. Matthew ate his enchilada gone. Then, while we were doing the dishes, he picked up his plate and licked the remaining sauce off.

Because that's how Jambalaya rolls.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Next Giveaway!

This morning the doorbell rang. My next giveaway has arrived. Please visit my giveaway blog for a chance to win two boxes of Kix cereal, a sippy cup, a snack carrier, a set of flashcards and a giant floor puzzle.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Falling Isn't What It Used To Be

It's amazing how quickly a perfectly fine day can go downhill. And I don't mean those situations where you're traipsing along and you get a phone call that someone close to you died or was diagnosed with cancer or a father is contesting the adoption of his child. Those are life changing, life altering, experiences. I'm talking about how my plan for the day was to...

1. Go to Bible study.
2. Go to the fruit and vegetable market.
3. Feed my children.
4. Clean my house.

In that order.

I accomplished one through three and was getting something prepped for dinner. Life was fine. The Rock Star was in the bathroom and The Little Buddy was in his high chair. The latter had finished his lunch and, somehow, his plate had ended up on the floor. I went over to him and lifted him out of the chair.

And that's when everything went downhill.

I stepped back, toddler in arms, and placed my foot squarely onto the plate. We have fake hardwood floors and the plate, plus my foot, went sailing across the laminate. I tried to twist my body so that I would take the full force of the hit and Matthew would simply land on top of my body.

It didn't go as planned.

I went down, hard. Just before I landed I kind of tossed The Little Buddy to the side because otherwise he was going to not only be dropped but then get landed upon. I opted to drop the boy instead of using the drop and squish method. Thankfully, when all was said and done, he only fell about a foot. I'm not sure he would have cried at all if I hadn't gasped, gathered him into my body, asked him if he was okay, and then checked his body all over for protruding bones. Startled, he did cry for about five seconds. Then he hopped up and started laughing.

I did not hop.

Both of my knees were throbbing. I don't know what the left one's deal is because I landed firmly on the side of my right knee. And I have a knot the size of an egg to prove it. And a limp. And a sore hip. Because I'm almost thirty and I'm falling apart. I can't take a fall like I used to.

So I managed to limphop up the stairs. I asked The Rock Star if he was finished in the bathroom. "Yeah. But don't come in here!"

"Why? What are you doing?" I asked.


Upon entering the bathroom I noticed tons of shredded toilet paper. My son was sitting, naked, on the pot spraying everything with a spray bottle. Why? I couldn't even begin to tell you. There was a puddle on the floor, which I hope was from the bottle and not a misfire. As I tried to limp around the bathroom, cleaning it up, Matthew managed to find a cup. Of course it was full of water and of course he dumped it all over himself.

I had one soaked son, one naked son, one messy bathroom, one sore hip and two sore knees. All in the course of five minutes.