Monday, December 29, 2014

RIP Peter

Rest in peace Peter the Fish. You were with us for three years and 27 days which, in bowl dwelling fish years, is an eternity. We will miss your happy glubbing and the bubbly disposition you maintained for most of your three years. In the end, there, you were a bit senile and mopey but it was probably to be expected as you were approximately 11,001 fish years old. We promise to cut through the ice and snow and give you a proper burial. You shall not meet the sewage in the long and winding pipes.

Thank you for being the motivation for getting my then five-year-old to stay in his own bed. Thank you for providing us endless laughter as we'd place a mirror near you and watch you puff up, ready to fight your own reflection. Thank you for tolerating it when the boys would place a finger in your bowl and "pet" you. Who knows how long you'd have lived without that little shenanigan. Thank you for never complaining, always staying where we put you, and being generally easy and pleasant to care for.

You will be missed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Over Lunch

For the past ten years, we've had access to free tickets to Sea World. (Thanks, Sea World employee who continues to hook us up!) Today, we were able to head to the park with my parents, my brother and FSIL*, FSIL's parents, her sister and her sister's boyfriend.

So. There we were, eating lunch altogether at Sea World. FSIL's sister and her boyfriend live in Maryland and it had been, like, 20 years since I'd seen her (and by 20, I mean 4). I'd never met her boyfriend. Topics of conversation ranged from, "Where did you grow up?" to, "Do you like snow crab?" Well, since we didn't know him and he didn't know us, obviously my ex-fiancé came up. What? Don't you talk about previous fiancés with people you've never met?

Actually, it was like this. Boyfriend asked us how we met. I explained that Troy's dad had come on as the pastor of the church I grew up in and we'd met there. Troy interjected that we were friends first because I was with another guy.

"He was an Egyptian!" my eight-year-old exclaimed and then made a comment about being related to king Tut. This was the first time I realized that my son doesn't understand that my ex-fiancé is just a guy whose father moved here from Egypt and that I wasn't actually engaged to someone with his own pyramid who dressed like the characters from Prince of Egypt. Note to self: Further cultural education for my children is needed. Another note to self: Explain the difference between ancient civilizations and current ones to said children.

I explained to the over eight crowd that he was half Egyptian and half Caucasian but that we had, indeed, ended our relationship and that did, indeed, make way for Troy. Garrett was still clearly sad this ancient Egyptian fellow was no longer in our lives. "It's a good thing we broke up and I married dad. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here," I reminded him.

Without skipping so much as a beat, with the comedic timing that wins awards, Matthew quickly shouted, " BUT I WOULD!"

And then eight adults erupted into hysterical laughter. Several of us were wiping tears away from our eyes. It was SO hilarious. I honestly don't know if he was trying to be funny or if he was just stating the fact that his father and I ending up together had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his presence in the world. Regardless of effort, the effect was comic gold.

*Before my brother got married, I referred to his fiancée as FSIL (Fizzle) which stood for Future Sister-in-Law. We tried out SIL for awhile but it just didn't have the sticking power. So now it's FSIL and the "F" represents any adjective beginning with that letter. Often, it stands for FABULOUS.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tax Deduction!

Couldn't everyone use a year-end tax deductible donation? You just don't need to look any further than right here, is the thing. You can go straight here and donate. No donation is too small. READ MY WORDS--NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL!!!

I'm not even kidding. You want to donate one dollar? NOT TOO SMALL. I promise that one dollar from a lot of people adds up to A LOT OF DOLLARS. I'm making a list of all the people who have donated money. I read it over often and praise God for each person who has felt led to contribute. It means the world to us.

Please, please, please consider joining that group of people and helping us. We will never forget your generosity. Every day, when we look at our daughter, we will think of those who partnered with us to help get her home. We are almost 40% funded. Can you help us get just a little bit closer to 100%?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


A few inches.

That's what separated me from my daughter today.

Cotton. Skin. Muscle and sinew. She was there and we were there and we couldn't bring her home because she's still wrapped tightly inside the mother who gave her life. Now, we are separated again by miles and months. And my arms ache, longing for the day when she will fill them.

Meeting birth parents makes it somehow feel more real. Seeing the bump where a baby is, talking to these people who have chosen life and adoption, falling in love with them. Knowing that they choose us and we choose them and that God has orchestrated this unique dance of family.

This is open adoption. It is emotional and it is beautiful, difficult, wonderful, raw.

I hug her mother and I know that she will fill a void I never can. Her voice, her heartbeat, her very self will be missed. But I will strive, every day, to be the mom she has chosen for her child. To love her daughter more than my own life. To adore her in ways that only a mother can.

We stand together, the four of us, for a picture. The moms in the middle. The dads on the outside, hemming us in tight. Do you know how much you are loved, little one? Can you feel the sacrifice they are making? Are you aware of the joy your tiny life is already bringing to us? You are wanted. Intensely.

This isn't what any of us pictured. When we looked down the timeline at our futures, no one saw us standing together in front of a restaurant. No one, save the Almighty. But He has known it all from the beginning.

We met today. Her and him and I and him and her. We talked. We laughed. We broke bread. We were real and present and transparent. We chose each other.

And we all choose our daughter.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tale of a Tooth

So Matthew had this loose tooth. (Also, Garrett brought home a piece of writing the other day. It was corrected up one side and down the other because he began a high volume of sentences with and, but, and so. I had better keep his teacher far away from this blog because I threw out those rules the moment the powers that be at PLNU handed me my diploma in 2003. Actually, I threw them out in my creative writing class several semesters before that and they still gave me my diploma so TAKE THAT SECOND GRADE! BOOM.) (I don't know where that BOOM came from.) It was sort of loose. The kind of loose that suggests that a kid may, at some point in the future, lose the tooth. It might, in fact, happen within the next month or so.

My five-year-old can still throw a tantrum that will rival any toddler I know. It's a bit of a problem. But he's come so very far in the last couple of years that I'm hoping and praying by the time we marry him off, he'll be past the tantrum stage. Yesterday, for ridiculously silly reasons that I won't get into, he pitched a colossal fit. It happened to be while he was eating his lunch. I was upstairs cleaning the bathroom so I just ignored him, certain that the hysteria would quickly pass. Within a few minutes he stopped crying and all was right with the world. For about 90 seconds. Then he started to WAIL.

"Are you REALLY STILL CRYING?" I called down to him.

He blubbered something or other about biting himself. He was REALLY crying so I headed down to him, assuming he'd badly bitten his tongue or the inside of his cheek. Through sobs and gasps of breath, he explained that he'd hit his bottom teeth with his top teeth--and hard. I calmed him down and told him that he was going to have to be careful with his bottom teeth (they were both loose) until they fell out given how tender they were.

Well, he didn't like that one bit.

So he set to removing the loosest of the two.

Which was ridiculous because, like I said before, at least a couple of weeks away and all that.

He wiggled. Five minutes later he'd present his mouth to me and ask me to see how much progress he'd made. "OH. EM HMMM. YES. FANTASTIC." I'd tell him, which was code for, "It is the exact same amount of loose as it was the last time you brought your face over here to me."

This went on for more than hour. Eventually, it did start to feel looser. Like, maybe he'd actually lose that tooth in a week or so. Finally, I explained to him that he'd have to "break" the tooth away from the gum in the back and the front before any level of losing was actually going to be accomplished.

He wandered away. Less than a minute he came back. "I think I broke it! I THINK I BROKE IT!" Y'all, I was growing a little weary of this tooth.

"Honey, you didn't," I told him.

"JUST LOOK AT IT!" he begged and all I did was glance in his direction and there it was, a tooth lying flat on his lip where before it stood upright.

"OH MY GOODNESS! YOU DID!" That sucker was bleeding everywhere. Now, at some point during this entire escapade, Garrett had hid himself under the bed. He is 100% squeamish around loose teeth. When he has his own loose teeth he pulls them out immediately. He cannot stand a pearly white tooth hanging out of a mouth by a thread. Neither can I.

Last year, when I was subbing for a teacher on maternity leave, I had a student with both top teeth so loose I could have pulled them out with nothing more than a warm hug. He refused to remove them from his mouth. This went on for several days. He'd click them with his tongue, twist them and turn them and still they hung there, askew and disgusting. Finally, I told him that I didn't think he was brave enough to pull them out. I was pretty sure that there was no way he could get them out by the next day. I was certain, in fact, that he could not prove me wrong and if, by the next day, they were still in his mouth, I would declare myself the winner.

The next morning he was top toothless. It was the best contest I ever lost.

So, from his hiding spot under the bed, Garrett yelled for Matthew to twist his tooth. This began the most terrible 60 seconds. Matthew moaned and groaned and howled like a woman dilated to ten with no epidural in sight. I wasn't sure where he was and feared that he was sitting on my off-white couch, blood pouring from his mouth. "Matthew," I called. "Where are you?" But, before he could answer, he suddenly screamed, "I LOST IT! I LOST IT! I LOST MY TOOTH!" He was sprinting toward me holding it in his hand. He grinned an incredibly bloody smile and nearly collided with me in excitement.

I shoved his head into the bathroom sink and took the tooth from him. The tooth that, though rootless in the back, sported a root almost as long as the tooth itself in the front.

For the rest of the day, he proceeded to tell us, no less than 89 times (and that is not hyperbole), "I CAN'T UHBWEAVE I LOST MY TOOTH." And if anyone tells him that it's believe and not uhbweave, I'll cut you. His wife can tell him. About the time he stops having temper tantrums.

I cannot uhbweave the sheer determination this kid has. When he sets his mind to something there is seriously no stopping him. He persevered through what had to be some pretty intense pain. He lost that tooth. Even though it probably needed another few weeks.

It's a good thing there's going to be another baby around here in a few months because mine are officially all grown up.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

28 Week Update

So, every week, I wait until Thursday and then I read about how big the baby is right now. If she's average sized, what might she weigh? How long is she? What sorts of things can she do now? You know, aside from floating in amniotic fluid. Take, for instance, this week. As of today, Kate is roughly the size of an eggplant. She about 2.25 lbs and measures approximately 14.8 inches. Today begins the third trimester. She can blink her eyes and now has lashes. She is developing neurons in her brain and fat on her body. One of which she'll be thankful for when she's an adult. The other of which she will lament but will still choose to eat her body weight in Christmas cookies. If she's anything like me, that is.

I do not look ahead to the next week. I want to, desperately, but having some restraint and delaying gratification means that I have something to look forward to every week. I stare at her picture on my refrigerator. So little time. So much time. Depending on how I look at it.

It was exactly two months ago that I opened the email from my social worker. A brief synopsis of the situation. So many reasons not to move forward. At least 30,000 of them. Plus a few more. Like, STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN WITH NO BABY STUFF TO SPEAK OF. And also, I'D LIKE TO OWN A HOME AGAIN SOMEDAY!

I said this very thing to my friend. I was laughing and shrugging my shoulders as if to say, "C'est la vie" That's life.  We lay out our plans and they involve owning a home with a white picket fence and two or three kids that don't cost a collective $80,000 to bring into our family. And then God flips it all on its head. It's like I walk up to Him holding my life's plan scribbled on a piece of lined paper and He just smiles, pats me on the shoulder, and pulls out an incredible blueprint. "This is what I have for you..." He says. And sometimes I realize that I have my priorities all confused. Sometimes I forget that the Bible provides ample commentary on the blessing of children but none on owning your own home.

My friend looked me straight in the eye and said, "Yes, 20 years from now I'm sure you'll look back and say, 'I should have bought a house before I had those kids.'" Obviously, she's right. I wouldn't trade my children for anything in the world.

It's been two months since I first found out she existed.

And we have another 12 weeks to go--give or take. The suspense, y'all, is killing me.

Thankfully, I have a whole bunch of fundraising to occupy my time.

My friend, Renee, thought of a creative way to help us raise funds. The following are her words, not mine. (Well, the red ones are mine.) I don't usually call myself, "one of the greatest people on this earth." I think she has me confused with someone else. Here's her idea...

"I have a friend. Our little boys have played together. She's one of the greatest people on this earth, (there it is...the confusion with someone else) in my humble opinion, and she and her husband are GREAT parents (oh boy. I've got her completely fooled!) who love the Lord with all their hearts. They are adopting for the 2nd time, their first baby girl, and their third kiddo. They need $30,000 to bring her home. (Thanks to the crazy, amazing generosity of our friends, family, and total strangers, we now need approximately 19,500!) and her soon to be big brothers are SO excited!!! Understatement of the year. (Century, maybe.)

So they are asking everyone they know to donate $1. Just a buck. There is NO ONE I know who can't do that. And they're asking everyone they know to share their story. Heck, that's easier than the ice bucket challenge! (Truth. You had to buy that ice and record yourself and donate money and it was...a process. This. This is easy. Just One Dollar. And you can even make it tax deductible if you want to.)

So here's their story click right here (Seriously. Do it. Just click that green writing. It's EASY.)  And (in similar ice bucket challenge fashion) I challenge 10 friends to donate and share and tag 10 of their friends. If everyone participates, this process only has to be repeated 5 times in order for my friends to be fully funded. Let's bring this baby girl home!" (Yes! Please!)

If you have a Facebook account, please consider tagging friends and asking them to give one dollar. You can also email people, tell them face to face, send them a letter, a smoke signal, Morse code, whatever. Tell your small groups, your pastors, your neighborhood grocer, mall Santa. Just help us spread the word. I continue to be completely floored by the outpouring of support we've received. I cannot believe the work God is doing. It's amazing and humbling to stand aside and watch Him work. We're a third of the way there! Please, please help our story spread so that we can continue to fund this adoption!

P.S. You can also click on the link in the side bar to buy Aaron's album! Now through the end of the month, the proceeds will go to funding Kate's adoption.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fish Baby

We have this beta fish. We bought him three years ago so, in fish years, he's got to be about 390 by now. Garrett got him as a reward when he stopped sleeping on our floor EVERY BLOOMIN' NIGHT. Last year, the fish went into some sort of hibernation mode and just stopped eating. Every day we thought it was his last but that fish just kept right on living. Spring came, he perked up, ate his body weight in beta food on a daily basis, and refused to die. This fall, he stopped eating again and entered into a state of floating in the same spot, all day, every day. We still offer him food because, if he dies of starvation, we want it to be on him. Not us.

This morning I asked Garrett if he'd fed the fish. He said he'd tried. A few moments later he informed me of the following.

Garrett: Mom, having a sister might be a lot like having a fish. You know, it's super hard.

Me: It's super hard having a fish? (Forgive my confusion but the fish stays where he's put. We always know where he is. He requires a bit of food--except in the winter when he goes on a self-proclaimed fast. He needs his bowl cleaned out every few weeks but I clean it out and only require minimal assistance from the fish's owner. That fish is not overly difficult.)

Garrett: Yeah. Feeding him...(his voice trailed off)

I just stood there, staring for a few moments. I might have blinked several times rapidly. It was an auto response from my brain. It was so tired trying to process this comparison of a baby and a fish that the extreme confusion filtered out my eyes in quick blinks.

Yeah, Buddy. Having a baby and having a fish is pretty much the exact same level of responsibility. The baby will totally just stay in one place. In a bowl. On your dresser. She also won't need to be fed during the winter months. We can leave her when we go on vacation and just ask a friend to stop by to offer her food every once in a while. Best of all, she'll be completely silent all the time. Yeah. Babies and fish are COMPLETELY THE SAME. How has it taken me this long to realize it?

Friday, December 12, 2014

She Has a Name

Here's the problem. I take the job of naming children VERY seriously. Too seriously, probably. But it's a BIG deal to saddle a kid with a name for a lifetime. I've talked before about all the rules I have for naming children. Don't start yelling at me when you realize that you've broken all my rules. They aren't YOUR rules, they're mine. They don't apply to YOU. They only apply to me.

1. At least one of the names must be biblical. I like to include my faith in the naming of my kids. My deepest desire is that my children will confess that Jesus is Lord and live a life pleasing to Him. I want to pass a piece of my own faith down to them through their names. That being said, I don't want it to be overt, obnoxious, or bizarre. I was totally kidding in my Bible study the other night when I said I was going to name her Beth Shittah. TOTALLY KIDDING.

2. At least one of the names must be a family name. I really like passing names on as a way of honoring those who have gone before us and sharing a piece of our family's heritage with our children. In my family, my brother is Jon. So is my father and my grandfather. So, also, was my great-grandfather. I think it might have even extended a generation or two past that. We decided to make it Garrett's middle name, although we added an "H" because, being that it's in the middle, I thought it would get misspelled all the time if we didn't have it there. Matthew shares his middle name, David, with his dad. And his other middle name, Eric, with his father.

These are definitely the most difficult rules to follow. I mean, you run out of great options for family names pretty quickly, especially with the cycling of names. For example, while Betty was a great name when my grandmother was a kid, I'm just not going to use it in 2015.

Other rules include NO RHYMING and SAY THE NAME ALOUD FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE SURE IT SOUNDS GOOD! The first and last name have to flow independently of the middle name but the entire thing also has to flow when the middle name is included. It's also important that the name sounds good for both a little child and an old man/woman. There are plenty of cutesy names out there for little girls sporting pig tails but when she's old and wrinkly and has grandchildren will it still work? This also goes the other way. In my example above, Grandma Betty sounds great but an infant has a hard time pulling that one off.

Another rule is that we can't have any names that end in B. That's because our last name starts with a B. While I LOVE and ADORE the name Caleb, I don't have my own Caleb because, when said with my last name, the names blend together and it would have sounded like I'd named my son Kayla. That's just no good.

I'm sure I'm missing some (like I said, there are A LOT!) but I can only think of one more. The meaning is incredibly important to me. This is not because I just like having rules. It's because, in the Bible, what the name means is usually more important than what the name actually is. And, I'm not saying that whatever the meaning of our child's name is will somehow dictate what they'll be like but, in the Bible, that was often the case. So I'm not naming my kid something that means Little Hellion or Doormat or Fire-Breathing Dragon.

Garrett John means Spear Rule, God is Gracious.
Matthew David Eric means Gift of God, Beloved, Always Ruler.

So you can see that finding a name that fits all the criteria is a bit difficult. We decided that we needed a boy name just in case. If the baby is born with an appendage we weren't expecting, we don't want to be staring at him wondering what the heck we're going to call him. Surprisingly, we landed on a boy name REALLY quickly. Maybe it's just because we've had so much practice. So...if, come March, we have a third son, we'll call him Will. His name will be...

William Joseph. William is my dad's middle name. We both love Joseph's story in the Bible (O.T. Joseph, although N.T. Joseph is pretty excellent too). His name would mean Strong willed warrior, God will increase. And I LOVE it and I give all of you permission to use it when my daughter is born.

Now, on to the girl name. After thought and discussion and debate, we landed on two girl names that I've been circling for weeks. Troy gave me final say because I'd done the same for him when we couldn't decide between two boy names when I was pregnant with Garrett. I love them both equally and it has been VERY hard for me to choose. I KNOW I have time but choosing a name is one of the things we can do while we wait and I feel like she needs an identity. That being said, I reserve the right (like any of you could stop me) to change her name to the other one (or to Beth Shittah) anytime between now and when she's actually born. I mean, I could take one look at her and she could howl, "That's not my name!"

So...if, come March, we find ourselves with a daughter and she doesn't look at me and scream that she doesn't like it, we'll call her Kate. Her name will be...

Kathryn Ella-Grace. She will be known as Kate but Kathryn was my great-grandmother and is also my great aunt, both of whom I dearly love(d). Ella was part of Troy's great-grandma's name. And, nothing is more important than the grace of God extended to us. I like that even though she'll be called Kate, all three kids will have seven letter first names. As for definition, Ella can mean one of a bajillion different things depending on what language or culture it comes from--it seems to be a name in just about all of them. My favorite is that, in English, it was originally derived from the name Ellen which means Light. So, her name means Pure, Light, Free and unmerited favor of God.

There you have it. There's her name. Unless she's born and she just really looks like a Beth Shittah.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four Weeks Since the Fundraiser Launch

It was exactly four weeks ago that we launched our JUST ONE DOLLAR fundraising campaign.

STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND LOOK AT THE SIDEBAR. IF YOU'RE READING THIS THROUGH ANOTHER WEBSITE, CLICK THROUGH TO MY BLOG AND LOOK AT THE SIDEBAR! We are almost 1/3 funded in just four weeks! I am absolutely blown away by the generosity of each and every one of you who has partnered with us.

How have we raised all this money? People like you giving us JUST ONE DOLLAR. Or ten. Or a hundred.

I am writing down the names of every single person who donates a dollar or more to our fundraising efforts. EVERY name is going to be printed and hung in our baby's room as a reminder of the village that came together to bring her home. She will forever have access to the names on that list. When a donation comes through, I pray and thank God for you and your generous heart and then I add your name to the list.

We have well over a hundred different individuals on that list so far. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, old friends, new friends, complete strangers, friends of friends, and children. I know that most of our friends and family members do not have a lot of money just lying around. I don't know anyone who routinely rolls around in their gold coins but I do know friends and family members who have ONE DOLLAR to spare.

One and a half pieces of Little Caesar's pizza.

Less than a Costco hot dog and drink.

Not even close to a gallon of gas.

One of those school fundraiser candy bars.

As this year draws to a close, if you need a tax deductible donation (and who doesn't?) please consider making this your cause. You can donate at Adopt Together, get your write-off and help us bring her home. Just click here.

You can also donate using Paypal and the email address

OR you can email me at the above address and I will send you our physical address.

Please continue to share our video. We are SO blessed. We praise God every day for His provision. We also know that we have a long way to go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Almost Missed It

I couldn't remember when it was that I thought God had revealed to me that we'd have a daughter. I've scoured prayer journals and not found it. It was almost as if the secret was too big to write down. As though putting it in print would somehow ruin it. I couldn't remember that I'd ever blogged so much as a word about it. I was just looking for something else on my blog though and I discovered this post, written on May 8, 2013.


It was probably a year ago.

I was in prayer, about what I don't remember. I simply (and not so simply at all) felt Him speak into my soul. It had nothing to do with what I was saying and I felt thrown. My eyes flew open and I stared at the wall. Asking for clarification, I got nothing in return. Just a five word sentence that, if truly from the Lord--and not down deep in the crevasses of my own mind--would change everything.

And it wasn't something I wanted.

Not at that moment. Maybe not ever. My world was turning just fine and this promise seemed impossible.

"When?" I asked because a time table seemed necessary.

"One day."

That's how God is with me. "Hang on, you little control freak. Chill out. Live a little without knowing a lot." Because I am mostly convinced that, in Heaven, I'm referred to as "The Little Control Freak" and whenever that moniker is uttered, the angels (and probably Peter) nod because they know exactly who He's talking about. And also, sometimes I think God is Hawaiian and He wants me to take off my watch, burn my calendar and wiggle my toes in the sand for a few minutes.

I've spent a year wondering if it was truly from God, weighing whether to speak it aloud or wait on it, and then contemplating what to do about it. Because sometimes He tells us something and we really need to take action. If He called me to be a nurse I wouldn't sit around and wait for a degree to come ring my doorbell. But sometimes He tells us something and all we have to do is wait for Him. Sarah conceived and bore the child of promise but not until after she took matters into her own hands, threw her handmaiden at her husband and screwed a lot of things up.

I don't want to be Sarah. But I understand her desire to rush the blessing because now...

It is something I want.

But only if it's really from God. Only in His timing. Only if He reveals the exact same thing to my husband because we're in this thing together.

Discerning the Lord's will and discerning His timetable aren't always the easiest things.

The other night I was driving alone. I prayed that God would give me clarity. I switched on the radio and I heard the Sidewalk Prophets singing, "If there's a road I should walk, help me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever Your will, whatever Your will, can You help me find it?" I'd never heard the song before and I suppose you can accurately guess that I burst into tears.

Just the day before, I had been reading Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear and I came to a section where she was talking about conquering our fears. She writes, "Trust me, daughter. I have beautiful things in store for you..." Then, just a few sentences later she says, "I don't want to miss it, Lord..."

And so. Here I am. Waiting on the Lord. Calling out His name. Drawing ever close in prayer and hoping for revelation. If He leads me through it without calling me to it, nothing much will change. And if He calls me to it, there will be fear and second guessing. But there will be blessing.

And oh how I don't want to miss it.


It's easy to live in fear when you've been through a messy adoption. The list of what-ifs is long and scary. It would have been easier to say, "No, Lord, I can't do this again. It's just much too risky. It's too crazy. It's not my plan." I was within one second of deleting that email on October 18. You guys, I almost missed it.

He called me to it more than two and half years ago. I asked Him to make it evident and obvious. I almost missed it. He made this one so clear that to have turned away would have meant that I learned nothing from the book of Jonah. When God calls us to something it is nothing short of sin to walk away from it. Even if it seems risky. Even if it seems outrageous. Even if it seems impossible. And still, I almost missed it.

I am so thankful that He halted my finger in mid air as it hovered over the delete button. I am so thankful that He threw every door open before we even twisted the doorknob. I am so thankful that He didn't let me miss it.

Monday, December 8, 2014


I was making fish tacos, is the thing.

We needed to eat AND get in the car to go to our life group AND go over a fire escape plan with our boys so that Garrett could check that off his scouting list. Also, so that my children don't burn up if the house catches fire. But mostly so he could check it off of his scouting list. We were multitasking, is what I'm trying to say.

I had the fish baking, the beans cooking, and a tortilla browning on the burner. Troy was busy walking the boys around the house, quizzing them on what they should do if there is smoke, where to meet once they managed to get outside, and how not to grab the door knob if they suspect that there might be a fire which is really quite hysterical because my children keep their bedroom door WIDE open for fear of what might happen to them if they dared close it at night. Goblins and ghouls and ax murderers. Finally, we all came together in the kitchen and were about to switch subjects when Garrett started frantically pointing and yelling, "MOM-UH-UH-UH-MOM-MOM-MOM!"

Thankfully, I speak eight-year-old and I realized right away that I'd forgotten that darned tortilla. I turned around to see smoke billowing from the underside of the flattened flour disk. That poor tortilla was all bubbled and brown on top and the edges were curling up where the smoke was seeping through. In one quick move, I darted toward the stove, grabbed a spatula and flipped that thing right off the burner. It was a grotesque and distorted version of itself, a blackened mess.

Troy ran to fan the smoke detector.

I thanked the scout for alerting me to the near fire we had on our stove top. Had he not realized it, the extinguisher would certainly have needed to make an appearance. Then I explained that, in the future, when there is a pressing issue that might very well turn itself into a full blown emergency, "MOM THE TORTILLA IS ON FIRE!" would be better than the repeated stammer of, "MOM UH MOM UH!"

For a bit of trivia, the only other time I've tried to burn down my house it involved a tostada shell. I might need to quit cooking Mexican food.

Still, I do commend my parenting skills. A lesser mother would not risk burning her home down for the perfect object lesson. Also, again with the reality show. This time I can actually see the shot. The camera pans in and focuses on the smoking tortilla while the family stands, two feet away, discussing what to do in case of a fire.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Empress

I think I might have actually driven my father crazy when my parents were visiting, what with all the names I kept throwing out as possible options. I'm a little crazy. I've been looking up meanings of names and origin of names and saying names to see if they sound good with Garrett and Matthew. I drove my own husband so nuts that he finally said, "Just pick one. I don't even care anymore." And he does care. He really does. He means, "Just pick one of the ones that we've been considering around and around in circles upon circles upon circles for the past month."

I didn't think we'd get this opportunity. We were looking to adopt a waiting child and waiting children come with names. Names like Arizona or Mercedes or Myshinee. And you're looking at those names thinking, "Well, that's her name. That's what she's been called for a year or five and so...there you go. No changing it now." I thought we were done with the baby naming business. I fully intend to be done with it after this because if there is anything I know about myself it's that I could probably keep doing this forever. You know how some people are pet people and they let their kid keep every bug, every lizard, every stray cat that walks into the neighborhood? I'm not those people. I'm the kind of person who would fly all over the world bringing home children that need a home. Thankfully, the Lord did not choose to make me wealthy in the financial sense because there'd come a time when those thirteen children would all be sobbing at the table over their spelling homework and I would straight up drop my basket.


I bounced a zillion combinations off my mom. She wants me to pick one already so that she can call her something. No one really thinks that Baby Girl has any sticking power. 

But it's weird to name a kid that's inside of someone else, that belongs to someone else. Our children are never really ours, regardless of whether or not we gave birth to them, but adoption is a weird mix of utmost blessing and heartbreaking tragedy and, for me, that fact is never really more evident than when another mother is nurturing and caring for the child she'll deliver into my arms. 

We had four weeks from the time we knew about Matthew until he was born. There wasn't a moment to waste. The kid needed a name. His mother asked me what it was going to be so that she could start calling him that. This time is different. We have an entire trimester to go. I think it is because we have longer that the decision feels heavier.

Yesterday, Matthew climbed in the car after school and suggested Mary Poppins. While I have nothing against Mary, I'm fairly, if not entirely, opposed to Poppins. He was pretty dead set and suggested it again at dinner. We let him down gently. It was still better than Tree Guy which is what a toddler Garrett wanted to name Matthew.

On Wednesday, I had this conversation with my mom...

And, I can't think of a situation where I'm torn up enough that that doesn't make me laugh. I can't even SAY it without breaking into a choking fit of giggles. Honest to goodness, if my husband dies young and leaves a widow and three small children, and we are all sitting in that front row wearing black and sobbing and someone takes the microphone and says, "Remember when Troy suggested Empress Narwhal and you texted it to your mom?" I might have to stop my grief for a New York minute and laugh the heck out of that one. 

Empress Narwhal could stick, no? My friend once told me about someone named Georgia Peach Pickers. Another friend told me of a sibling set of three named Crystal, Shanda and Lear.

In any case, I'm down to two. And I have a slight leaning. So all of that Empress Narwhal and Mary Poppins tomfoolery to say, maybe I'll make an announcement soon. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gingerbread Drama

A little background. Matthew's kindergarten teacher does a fun literature activity in the month of December. The class reads the story of the Gingerbread Man. They put a gingerbread man in the oven. The man "runs away" and friends and family members send postcards to the school stating that they've seen the cookie running around in various places. Then the class marks a map with all the places the cookie has been. It's a fun activity and the kids love it.

It was on Monday that the gingerbread man disappeared from the oven. Yesterday, I subbed in Matthew's class and those kids were super hyped up on all the I absolutely must find the gingerbread man and surely he left the school and went directly to my own home and I must capture him. No joke, they spent all of recess searching through wood chips for the escapee.

Today, right after I picked Matthew up from school, I was wrapping some presents. He was occupied cutting and drawing on an empty wrapping paper roll. Suddenly, he jumped up and said, "Can we go on a walk right now?" Apparently, he'd been drawing a map of our neighborhood. He wanted to go in search of the gingerbread man. It couldn't wait. I asked him what he planned to do if he found the gingerbread man. "I made a fake gingerbread mama and I'm going to trick him. Then I'm going to grab him and put him in my backpack and take him to my teacher right away."


Five minutes later we were bundled up in warm jackets. The dog was on his leash--we'd decided that having a dog along would help us sniff out the cookie. Matthew had his map, which was curled at both ends so that he could pull it open like a scroll whenever he needed to consult it. "It might be a long walk, mom. This could take awhile."

He twisted and turned around our neighborhood instructing me to follow him this way and that. I could see that this was, indeed, going to be a long walk. I was a little hungry and my ears were getting cold. So I did what any sensible mother would do in the same situation. I howled that I'd spotted him and took off at a dead sprint. He's easily tricked and started yelling that he saw him too. I stopped at a series of bushes and said, "I think he went in here." As we rustled through the leaves, I had every intention of saying something like, "Well, he must have got away. I guess it's time to head home for some lunch." Instead, the dog started sniffing like crazy. No doubt another dog before him had watered this particular bush.

"HE SMELLS HIM!" Matthew screamed. "Where is he, Beck? Help me find him!" Just then, Beck turned and lifted his leg. In all the excitement, Matthew decided that precise moment was a perfect time to jump directly in front of the dog to resume his search. And that dog marked the jean clad leg of my precious kindergartner.

There we stood. One woman. One dog. One five-year-old with a very wet leg. "Let's go change your pants," I told Matthew.

"NO! We haven't found that gingerbread man yet!" he wailed.

"Our search is going to have to wait."

Once again, I do not understand how we don't have our own show. A kindergartner making a decoy gingermama and getting peed on by a golden retriever would surely be network gold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

100 Days

She's due in 100 days.

That seems like forever.

And tomorrow.

All at once.

There is so much money to raise. So much paperwork to push. So much room to paint.

But I've lived this life long enough to know that when 100 days seems like a long time, it generally still flies.