Sunday, November 29, 2015

Warrior Diva

I'm not dead!

I know that's the conclusion you all jump to when I don't blog for more than a week. "Huh, welp, she must be dead."

But I'm not dead. I just took off to southern California for the holiday because my husband took off on a missions trip to Haiti. He is gone so now is the time for all the ax murderers to come over and kill me. I feel like I should warn you though, the littlest one is impressively strong for his age and, also, slightly violent. The older one has a penchant for war documentaries and is armed with both a Red Rider BB Gun AND an airsoft gun so, while he is not likely to kill you, he may stun you just long enough for us to get away.

Anyway, so Troy's in Haiti and I've decided that it is a darn good thing I'm not a military wife. Military wives, I salute you! He's been gone before but not without ANY contact. We can't talk or email or text or send smoke signals or anything. It's been THREE ENTIRE DAYS SINCE I'VE HEARD HIS VOICE OR COMMUNICATED WITH HIM AT ALL AND IT IS KIND OF KILLING ME SLOWLY.

I got home today and found little notes all over the house. I love yous in the bathroom and on the kitchen counter. More of them in the boys' room. Garrett almost cried when he was getting our vitamins out for dinner and he didn't need to get any for Troy. That led to me wondering if my absent minded pastor remembered to take his vitamins to Haiti and I landed solidly in the I HIGHLY DOUBT IT camp. As long as he remembered to take his Malaria medicine, I am not going to worry about a multi vitamin. And I don't see his Malaria medicine lying around so I'm crossing my fingers on that one.

We left this morning at 5:00 am and I drove through post Thanksgiving traffic, snow, and some kind of pinched (or otherwise terribly wounded) nerve thingy in my back and/or neck that alternates between being a dull ache and a burning sensation as though someone suddenly threw a fireball onto the very top of my spine. The only thing that relieved the pain when the fireball came on was lifting my arm up into the air and holding on to my own head rest. I'm sure it was a sight to behold.

But I got our crew home--one tired mama, two hyper children, one six-month-old golden retriever puppy, and a partridge in a pear tree. I made it in such good time that my friend said she was going to write a musical about it and call it The Road Warrior Diva of I-15. Or something like that. I don't know. It sounded just riveting!

I'll let you know about ticket sales as soon as there's a script and a score and a space to perform it in. I have a feeling though that we might have to shelf it due to lack of funding. It'll be a crying shame because it otherwise had such potential.

So, for now, I'm just sitting here missing my husband and humming would-be notes to a would-be masterpiece. But I'm alive, so it's all good.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To My Children on National Adoption Day

I still remember listening to that voice mail...the one that said there was a birth mother who wanted to meet us.

I still remember standing in the middle of the mall in Oregon, hearing that she was a girl and she would be ours.

I still hope for the day when another phone call will come, when another mama has chosen us.

I remember getting ready for him, shopping for baby outfits with trucks and bears and baseballs.

I remember taking the boys to buy her outfits at Carter's.

I hope I get to buy hair bows and pink again someday.

I remember sitting by her side when our son was born. His chubby little body emerging from the only place he'd ever known into this wide world with all its possibilities. I cut the cord. I held my son.

I remember sitting by her side, just days after she'd birthed our daughter...still. We were empty. She was empty. No cord to cut. Later, I held my daughter, wrapped entirely in a pink blanket. And then I buried her.

I hope I get to hold another living, breathing child of mine and feel the magical moment of a life just beginning.

I remember the days and weeks and months and year of legal proceedings and prayer and despair and stress and devastation and joy and love. And then, the judge who officially made him ours. And it was worth it.

I remember the days and weeks and months of joy and pain and prayer and despair and stress and devastation and what ifs and whys and love. But then, there is a little girl for whom all has been revealed. Heaven is her playground. Our Father is her daddy. She is ours. And it was worth it.

I hold on to hope that there will not be death or months of legal proceedings. I believe that there might be just joy and prayer and love. And then a judge who will officially make her ours. And it will all be worth it.

This is adoption.

It is loss. Every time. For someone. Or for everyone.

It is hope. Every time. 

It is beautiful.

It is painful.

It is a picture of how our Father in Heaven longs for us to be His. How He waits for us. How He never stops pursuing us.

I would die for him.

I would trade my life for hers.

I would endure trial and tribulation for a chance to love another one the way I love these others.

People asked us what we were thinking. Some told us to consider the cost. We tried to separate our feelings, to look only at the little man in our arms. Matthew. Only, ever, Matthew. Does anything matter if we didn't do right by him. My goodness. What if we hadn't fought for him? He is worth every dollar. He is worth every moment. He is my son.

It would be easy to go back to that place over a year ago and walk away. The cost was devastating. And, ultimately, we lost her. I've tried to separate my feelings. But I held that little girl in my arms. Kate. Only, ever, Kate. Does anything matter if we didn't do right by her? My goodness. What if we hadn't taken the time to love her? To show the world that her life--however short--mattered? She is worth every dollar. She is worth every moment. She is my daughter.

What are we thinking? We consider the cost. We consider our climbing years. We try to separate our feelings. But ultimately, I cannot let go of hope. Only, ever, hope. Hope. Does anything matter if I let go of that? My goodness. What if I give up? If she is out there, somewhere in my future, she is worth every dollar. She is worth every moment. She is my daughter.

This is an adoption story--completed but always and ever changing.

This is an adoption story--completed but always and ever left wanting.

This is an adoption story--at the beginning, with nothing but empty horizons that we hope are one day filled.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Genius Child

I don't talk about Matthew's parents on my blog because I respect their right to privacy and Matthew's right to share what he wants, when he wants to. But, suffice it to say, those two must be geniuses. Neither of them were given the best opportunities or put into the best circumstances for optimum success. That is one of the reasons I take every chance I can get to help Matthew succeed. I want to be present and channel his potential into tangible success. I do it for Matthew but I also do it for them. I want their decision to place him with us to be validated.

Matthew doesn't really need my help though.


Parent teacher conferences were last night. Matthew's report card was glowing. I mean it. He's excelling at math and language components. He's reading well above where he needs to be. Concepts click in that child's brain faster than you can try to teach them. I think he has a photographic memory. He looks at his spelling words and then, when I quiz him, he says, "Oh! Yeah! I remember how it looked on the page." Then he writes it correctly. He gets most words right from the very beginning. His last math test was a solid A. So he's doing well in school, is what I'm saying.


Straight E's! And his teacher said he's a sweet kid and she loves having him in her class. (Granted, she has a couple kids who are also the stuff nightmares are made of so that might make Matthew look like an angel child.)

So I'm basically raising a genius who is somehow becoming well adjusted. I'm one lucky mama.

Adoption certainly has its struggles. It takes patience and love and tender care. But it is so full of blessings, it makes the tough stuff worth it. Pride is a tricky emotion. It can be sinful and self-promoting. It can also be a good thing. I am so proud that Matthew is my kid. I'm proud of the work he's done and the time we've invested to get him where he is. I'm proud of how intelligent he is and proud that he can say it takes all four of his parents to make him that way.

Two of them passed it on to him through DNA. Two of them sit and read and work with him. It takes all of us. But, most importantly, it takes a kid who is willing to put in the work.

That kid just happens to be one of my favorite people in the whole, wide world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Promiscuous Wife

Have you any idea what it's like to be a senior pastor's wife? To mourn the loss of everyone who walks back through the doors because their experience wasn't enough or my husband wasn't enough or wasn't enough. It's hard. My heart breaks every time.

I doubt that anyone who has left our church because of "not enough" hangs around reading my blog but, if they do, I want them to know that we never rejoice in their departure. We mourn. Every time.

My friend moved to Texas and is struggling to find a church that preaches the Word without wavering. This is so difficult in this day and age and culture. I am so thankful that my husband doesn't move from the truth. In part, I already knew, but I am learning that it is very rare to find a body of believers committed to the infallible word of God.

As my friend, Abi, struggles to find a church and hears of those who had one and gave it up, she writes. She writes this. The Promiscuous Wife: A Culture of Church Leavers and its importance cannot be measured.

If something isn't enough, bring it to light. Ask if there can be more. Examine yourself. See if you can be more. Get involved. Do what you can. And know that we are trying. And if we're failing, it is not because we want to be. We desire success. We desire to see people coming to Christ. We desire to see them studying the Word of God with an insatiable appetite. We desire friendships and fellowship.

We never want to see you walk out the door.

To those who stay through financial ups and downs, through growth and decline, through our own personal pain, thank you. We truly could never do this without you.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants


I've been really confused about the direction God is leading us. For almost 10 months, we've been praying that He would bring us a daughter and that, if that isn't His will, He'd make it abundantly clear and He'd CHANGE ALL OUR HEARTS. Emphasis on the ALL. It was all just so evident with Kate. We'd ask, "Should we walk through this door?" and it would fly open. It seems like He prepared our hearts for more than this. It feels like He'd make it clear if He wanted us to be done. But feelings are fickle and sometimes He calls us to walk through a giant pile of muck because knowing Him more fully waits on the other side of the swamp.

I had an emotional breakdown a few weeks ago. Not an earth shattering breakdown, I just let the tears slide right on down my face, uncontrolled, IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

I cry in front of Troy. And that's about it. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you've seen me cry you can count yourself part of an elite group. The five of you are connected by the shared bond of my excessive eye water. You're welcome.

Anyway, I'd had these fleeting thoughts that...I might not want a newborn. I might not want to start this whole thing over again. I might not want to not sleep through the night. I might not want the poop everywhere and the diaper bills and the formula bills and the itty-bitty helpless bundle of depravity.

Maybe, I thought, God is changing my heart.

And I'm going to just be 100% frank here because I'm keepin' it real. That thought pissed me off. It started a good two weeks of me being irrationally angry that He might just change my heart after all. HOW DARE HE? How dare He answer my prayer?

I kept praying and trying to come to grips with what all that might mean. I entered into a time of deep grief because it also coincided with the anniversary of finding out that Kate existed and that we were actually going to get to be her parents and all kinds of things that happened to just be a lot of a lot of all the feelings.

But there I was, wondering if my desire for a baby had been taken away almost as quickly as it had been given to me which was, well, nearly instantaneous. And then two Sundays ago came. I was rehearsing with the praise team and, out in front of me, my friend followed her nine-month-old as she crawled around. That sweet little girl was born during the precise moment that I was holding Kate in the mortuary and something about that connection makes me love that little crawling baby even more. She kept trying to get toward the stage and her mama would herd her in a different direction. I stepped down, scooped her up, and took her up on the stage with me. Every baby I've ever met loves microphones. As I sang, the baby reached out for the microphone. She leaned her head against my own, her hair tickling my forehead. She smiled, big.

(There was also this one, in which I was doing something that I intended to be playful but which, in actuality, looks like I'm eating the baby.)

The honest truth is that I don't love the newborn stage. I never really have. Oh, of course I LOVE the baby. Who doesn't enjoy the brand new snuggles of the tiniest of humans? Who doesn't look at them and say, "You're never going to be this small ever, ever again?" Who isn't in awe of the miracle of life? But the zero to two month stage has never been my favorite. Not even when they were my own. At various times, I wanted to throw both of my children out the window when they were newborns because I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I HAVE FED AND CLEANED AND HUGGED YOU AND I HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL MY TRICKS AND WHY ARE YOU STILL CRYING? With Matthew, we added to that the fact that he slept ALL DAY and cried ALL NIGHT regardless of all my efforts to fix it.

But man, the smiley grins of a three month old. The way a five month old fits on the hip. The happy squeals of an eight month old. A nine month old trying to sing into a microphone. That's what I want. Still.

We've inquired on a couple other sibling sets. I've even done a little more research into international adoption (although financially, that one isn't really an option). I'm not trying to limit God. I also know He could very easily say, "Complete. Done. The end." But I definitely desire a baby on my hip.

I was reading a cyber friend's blog last week and I laughed until my sides ached. She has a preschooler. Any rational human being who has children in school all day does not want a toddler. Anyone who reads a blog about poop being anywhere BUT the toilet does not want a preschooler. However, I read this blog and wanted to do it all over again. I don't know why. It doesn't even make sense to me.

But babies singing into microphones and preschoolers having attitude problems and leaving patties of poop in places they don't belong is something my heart really does want. And my heart has a lot of changing to do if it isn't in the cards. So I'll keep waiting for clear direction and, one day, I will look back and see how God was clearly working through it all.

This I know is true.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trifecta Plus One

My kids were off track for a month. A MONTH! Oh my goodness, you guys. do you know what's not a good idea? Having a first grader and a third grader go to school for six weeks just to turn around and take four off. That is NUTS. Anyway. They went back today. I went with them. I'm subbing in Matthew's class for the rest of the week because his teacher is still recovering from surgery.

A room full of first graders who just came back from what was, essentially, summer break in October. A substitute teacher.  So there was that.

We woke up this morning to snow falling from the sky. It kept falling all day long and, although nothing stuck, we had an inside day at school.

This was the trifecta of disaster.

Five minutes in to the day, a precious little girl was suddenly at my side, tears leaking from her eyes. "I threw up!" I glanced down. Her face was covered in barf.

"You sure did!" I exclaimed. "Come on, let's go."

A group of first graders (read: all of them) were congregated around the upchucked splatter. I walked the little girl down to the office. They called the janitor who, minutes later, brought an enormous carpet cleaner in to our room.

You try teaching six-year-olds who are fresh off a month of no school, are staring out the window at the SNOW, and then staring at the gigantic carpet cleaner as it chugs along, sucking up vomit. It's an absolute modern day miracle that we accomplished anything at all today.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Creative Counterpart

I read this book called Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow and, y'all, it changed me. I mean, that is to say, I hope it changes me. It's revolutionized the way I think about my spouse and my marriage. I'm going to be teaching it starting next month and, while I know the cyber world cannot join my class, I cannot tell you how much I would encourage every Christian woman I know to go grab herself a copy now.

Run. Don't walk. IF you approach it with a biblical, open mind, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR MARRIAGE. If you think submission is a dirty word and you have no intention of truly exploring what it means, don't get the book. If you believe that submission is a beautiful dance of love and respect, GET THE BOOK! If you think belittling and degrading your spouse or parenting him is fun, don't get the book. If you believe that you should serve as his counterpart and not his mother, GET THE BOOK! If you believe that sex (OH MY GOSH, SERIOUSLY, MY BLOG IS ABOUT TO GO THERE. Dad, look away.) should happen biannually, don't get the book. Wait. No. Never mind. If you are down with twice yearly sex with your husband, you need this book more than anyone. Heck, I'm just gonna go ahead and say that if you think once a month sex with your spouse is enough GET THE BOOK! Men who are reading this, GET THE BOOK FOR YOUR WIFE. I'm not even kidding.

In my class, we will not be discussing our husbands' flaws. We will not be sharing intimate details about our spouses or our love lives. We will be looking at ourselves and at submission and being a consistent responder in all sorts of scenarios. If we do that honestly, we will all have the chance to improve our marriages. 

If I could make the class mandatory for ALL the wives in my congregation, I would. Obviously, I cannot do that. (And actually, we're introducing it in the Mom's/Young Married Class). If I could make reading the book mandatory for ALL the wives everywhere, I would. Is it divine revelation? No, of course not. Are there mistakes or things I disagree with because it was written by a human being? Yep. Are there things that are outdated because it was first published in the 70's. Definitely. But overall, it is worth the read and incredibly important.

There's a line in a musical (that is not a church friendly production) that says, "Love doesn't make us perfect, it just makes us want to be." That's what I want women to get out of this book. I want them to remember what their love was like when they were dating. Did she belittle her man? Did she undermine him or bite his head off or get exceptionally and easily annoyed by him? Or did her heart skip a beat when she saw him? Did she long for five minutes in his arms? 

I once had a woman pull me aside and tell me that she was sorry for the way she'd been treating me. (I honestly hadn't felt any ill treatment whatsoever so I was startled by the conversation.) She told me that she was jealous of me because of my marriage. Knowing the things we've gone through financially and personally during our marriage, I was surprised by this revelation. I think of things like the fact that my husband will have to work until he keels over dead because of our financial situation. I think of the stress of infertility and contested adoption and buried babies. She went on to tell me that I was so lucky to be married to a godly man. A man who puts God's principles first, who strives, above all else, to teach our children about the Lord. A man who cares for me the way God intended. When I saw my marriage through her eyes, I loved my husband in a fresh, new way. I'm a blessed woman.

That's what I want this book and this class to do. I want women to look at their own spouse and see his strengths and focus on those. The negative things, the things that bug and annoy, those can be turned over to Christ. Let God deal with your man's flaws. You focus on what makes him great. (Side note: This is a great way to approach ALL relationships!)

If you're here, and you fit the demographic of the class, come! It's at our church and starts on December 6. If you don't live here, buy the book and check back here for more posts discussing ways you can work to improve your marriage. Your spouse deserves it. (Even if YOU don't feel like he does!) YOU DESERVE IT.