Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I want to talk about how much I love Leeland. LOVE them. And then there’s this song. I am addicted. Beyond that, I am inspired. One man wakes – it multiplies.

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act. Prov. 24:12


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I sit in a conference full of people that are journeying through some of the same things we are. People who are loving the orphan, who are bringing the fatherless into their homes, who are being with those who are suffering. People who are there to learn the same skills to parent their traumatized children well. I fear that I’m not really the same as these people I’m sitting near. That they’re doing this for real; I’m just pretending. That the past year and half where these are the exact things we’ve been doing has been an anomaly.

And I fear I don’t have what it takes.

What if I can’t keep up these skills for a lifetime? What if I can’t override what I have believed for most of my life are good parenting skills? What if I can’t do it right, if I can’t really be a part of healing for my children? What if I want to give up? What if I do give up?

I fear that I am not the person that I hope to be, that other people think I am. There’s something disconcerting about having people tell you how good you are at something. What a tremendous committed, focused, talented person you are. That is the person my children need me to be, but I fear I am not really that person.

I’m in the kitchen. The smell of hamburger browning, the sound of the dishwasher running for the third time that day, the attempts to keep the littlest from tearing open every box in the pantry, the littlest son from fighting with the dog, the youngest is singing incessant made-up songs, the oldest arguing, arguing, arguing. I fear that the worst of me, the yelling, impatient, nasty, and, frankly, just hateful woman I was in that moment is who I really am. After my embarrassing loss of control, my eldest son asked me why I was yelling at them so much. “It’s just not like you,” he says.

And I don’t believe him.

I fear that it is just like me. The other parts, the patient, loving, compassionate, committed, focused parts…I fear those are the parts that just aren’t like me. I fear that I am not that good person. That I am intrinsically, thoroughly, irredeemably not good. I fear that at some point in the future, all this good stuff will just go away. I’ll just be the ugly me.


Today, I’m feeling competent, successful in my parenting attempts. I’m seeing what I think is real fruit in our children. I treasure the moments of connection we’re experiencing. I look forward to my husband’s return from work. Yet, even on this day, even in this moment, I fear that I have created an illusion for myself. Where I think this is all possible. Where I can actually do it. Where I am becoming more Christ-like, where I’m an encouraging wife who makes my husband proud, where my parenting skills really are improving, where our family is a healing force in this world, beginning with our children. I fear that’s not really true. I fear that maybe there’s been a mistake. That I’ve been blessed with a husband that I can’t be enough for. That I’ve been entrusted with children that I can’t be enough for.

And I fear I’m not enough.


But in Christ…
I am chosen.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:3-8

I am anointed.
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

I am not the old person. I am made new in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

I am called. I am in exactly the right place at exactly the right time…to do good things.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

I can do it.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

I am enough.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
For Christ is not only God-like, He is God in human flesh. When you have Christ, you are complete.
Colossians 2:9-10

Prompt based on What Women Fear by Angie Smith. Link up here. Read along with the Bloom community at in(courage).

one thousand gifts–the conference edition

Monday, September 26, 2011

This past weekend, Wendell and I spent two days at a conference that was the best time and money we have spent on training so far. I do not have enough words right now to even process everything we heard, learned, and were reminded of this past weekend. My list is comprised of single words. Words that carry so much weight that you can’t describe them adequately. Words that are representations of grand-scale ideas, full-life theology, and an all-encompassing life change for our family. A change that brings us closer to one another, closer to our children, and one that makes us more and more like our Savior.

377. hope
378. healing
379. grace
380. connection
381. neurochemistry
382. re-do's
383. comfort
384. yesses
385. promises
386. empowerment
387. calling
388. anointing
389. attachment
390. presence
391. Dr. Karyn Purvis
392. Michael and Amy Monroe
393. Dan and Terri Coley
394. Lisa Qualls 
395. Debbie Jones
396. Texas Christian University
397. science
398. faith
399. love
400. relationship
401. brokenness
402. sacrifice
403. obedience
404. transformation
405. Empowered to Connect
406. Show Hope
407. hope. again. always hope.

a time to mourn

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not our proudest moment, America. What a sad, sad moment in our history. This isn’t the first likely innocent man that has been executed, and as long as the death penalty remains legal, he will not be the last. A time to mourn. I won’t begin to speculate on Troy’s faith, but I really hope that today, he’s with Jesus. Free.

I mourn Troy’s death with many, but here’s a picture you likely won’t see all over the news today. Mostly because this guy was guilty. Of a particularly heinous crime. He’s dead now as well. But he shouldn’t be. Because a country as progressive, as modern, as ‘Christian’, and the true point here, as fallible as ours should not be putting people to death. Troy Davis proves that we’re doing this all wrong. And if we’re doing it all wrong for Troy, then it’s all wrong for Lawrence Brewer too. I don’t know Lawrence Brewer’s faith either. In my more selfish moments, I’d prefer to not share eternity with someone like him. But does my God redeem? Does He restore? Does he give a second chance to the most heinous among us? Me? I hope I see Lawrence in heaven too. Because that means that my God is big enough, loving enough, irresistible enough, that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough that even the worst among us are washed clean, made new, forgiven, and walking in freedom. When our country is full of failure and sorrow and shame, I still serve a God who is bigger than that. Someday I’ll meet Him face to face. Someday all this will be made right, but in the meantime I mourn. I believe God is mourning today as well.


ever towards one thousand gifts

Monday, September 19, 2011

Continuing my count, ever pressing forward, gift after gift, grace upon grace…full of thankfulness.

366. juxtaposed strength and tenderness in the man I love
367. overwhelming patience
368. fall days
369. the smell of my leather boots
370. smoke-scented pillowcases hitting the washer after an overnight camping trip
371. late night conversations with a growing-up son
372. lazy Sunday afternoons, filled with love and laughter
373. filling an empty playground
374. football and tall slides
375. getting in a good run for the first time in awhile
376. little houses, letting love grow


Friday, September 16, 2011

Time since the adoption was finalized has been less than exciting. Brenden has been quite, well, I'm not quite sure how to describe it. It's very much like when he first came to live with us. We've been through worse times, but it has definitely been better. Actually, the good times are far better than they've ever been, but there is just so much difficulty. I don't know if he's angry, grieving, uncertain...he doesn't have all the language to explain himself right now. Even if he did, I'm not sure he could put words to the feelings.

Today, I read through some materials and case notes about the kids’ past. Stuff I didn't want to know. I'm not sure how helpful it was to have this info. I'm torn over what to do with it now. I don't think all of it is appropriate for our children to know, even as adults. Some of it is just not their story. It's because they were part of a sibling group that we have extra info, and I'm conflicted over what to keep - the parts that are their story, the parts I have no right to hide, and what parts we should toss - the parts that don't directly involve them, the parts that are really private for others. I would never keep private something directly involving them, but the other stuff? Any advice from other adoptive/fostering mamas out there?

I’m really thankful to be looking forward to the conference we’re attending this next week.  Show Hope is sponsoring the Empowered to Connect conference. Dr. Karyn Purvis, who wrote The Connected Child, will be speaking – I’m pretty sure I have already written about what a rock star this woman is, but thinking about hearing her voice again is making me quite pleased. If you or anyone you know is fostering/adopting/head of a church orphan ministry or even just thinking about doing any of those things, it’s still not too late to sign up (although they are approaching a sell-out). It’s cheap, and you won’t be sorry. It’s my personal opinion that this material should be required of every single person who fosters, adopts, or works with people who have. In fact, I believe SO strongly in this event that if you or someone you personally know wants to go and can’t afford it, we will cover your registration costs. Sign up here and definitely contact me if you’re going – I would love to meet up!

Empowered to Connect Nashville 2011

in the deep

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The internets are profound this week, y'all. If you only read one link that's here, please, please read this first one. If you've adopted, if you're in the process, if you're fostering, if you're just tossing around the idea: read this. If you haven't adopted, if you aren't even interested in adopting, chances are high you know someone who is: read this. If none of those things apply to you, but you love Jesus and believe in a God that redeems and restores: read this. Best adoption post I've ever read, bar none.

After the Airport.Jen Hatmaker
"If you are intrigued by the idea of adoption, with the crescendoing storyline and happy airport pictures and the sigh-inducing family portrait with the different skin colors and the feely-feel good parts of the narrative, please find another way to see God's kingdom come.

You cannot just be into
adoption to adopt; you have to be into parenting.

And it is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bed-wetting, the spitting, the rejection, the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet."

I Love Them Whores.Burnside Writers Collective
"St. Augustine is reported to have said, “The Church is a whore, but she is my mother.” Yeah, Jesus loves whores so much he married one. You know, bad things happen when the Church forgets she’s Jesus’ whore bride."

How Christian Leaders Have Changed Since 9/11.Christianity Today
"...American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat."
Note: This link should take you to the 5th page of this article. All of the article is excellent, but I think Will Willimon's portion is just incredibly insightful. The most profound thing I've read about 9/11 from a Christian perspective.

parenting quotes I'm thinking about this week

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Absolute fact: if Tim Kimmel says it, I'm going to listen. I'm also probably going to agree.
I want to “raise kids who are focused upwards on God and outwards on others instead of solely inwards on themselves. When you raise kids who are humble, generous, grateful and serve others, your house will be a place everyone wants to come home to.” - Tim Kimmel, Raising Truly Great Kids

We get to go to an all-day training with Heather Forbes in November. I'm pretty excited about it. She is oft-quoted in virtually every training we've taken or book we've read about parenting kids from hard places. I'm very excited that the training is in our area and above all else, free.
It is when a child's behavior is taken personally, that the parent reacts. In essence, a parental reactionary stance is telling the child, 'You need to stop acting this way so I'll stop feeling this way.' Look for these unconscious patterns in order to stop shifting the blame onto your child for your own reactions." - Heather T. Forbes

one special gift, ten full years

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten years ago, at the exact moment of this post, my first-born son entered this world. After a day filled with tragedy, a long, anxious night filled with fear regarding my health and his, and several hours where I was, thankfully, too stupid to realize how much danger I was actually in.  His first visitors were a couple who mentored us and befriended us during the early years of our marriage - they could've been our grandparents, and they definitely filled that role in Ben's life during my pregnancy and his first three months while we still lived there in Texas. Lee passed away this past month, and I cried like I had just seen him yesterday. The time that they poured into our lives was priceless, and they helped us, probably more than any other single thing or person in our lives, start our marriage out well and build a strong foundation for our family.

The horror and grief of 9/11 was juxtaposed against our joy. The long, painful, sleepless, crying nights to come helped insulate us from thinking too much about our world, about the fear, about the pain. Ten years.
It's hard to believe.

So much grace in my life from this sweet sweet boy over the past ten years. Looking forward to the next ten years with this little boy who made me a mama, helping to make him a man.

341. new ideas
342. watching my grown-up little boy ride his brand new bicycle
343. the safety of prison
344. the rustling of snack bags in the middle of the night, knowing my boy feels safe
345. loud chime of a door alarm
346. signing my children in to the doctor with their new last name
347. laughing out loud with an old familiar sitcom, it almost feels like an old friend
348. productive meetings, filled with buzz for exciting new opportunities
349. reaping the rewards of building true relationships
350. grace through information that I'm storing away for my children's future
351. the ability to go to my child's school over lunch
352. date night with my almost-ten-year-old
353. free birthday desserts
354. sweet acts of service from a giving husband
355. shiny, smooth, freshly waxed linoleum
356. food-free cupboard doors
357. completion of a small, yet long-overdue project
358. space to breathe
359. remembering
360. first responders, even when I'd sometimes rather have my husband stay home
361. the Spirit working through our congregation, each one, rather than top-down
362. bowling birthday parties
363. salty bottomed pizza
364. a decade of mothering
365. the little boy who made me a mama, still making my heart happy and proud today, ten years later


in which I celebrate the advent of fall tv

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

welcome fall.

monday, post-storm

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today is actually Tuesday, but since I didn't have electric or phone until yesterday and the internet was restored late last night, this is my Monday post. Saturday night, several rounds of storms hit our house. I say our house because there is very little damage outside of our immediate area. I can't say for sure we had a tornado because the weather service will not cooperate with that assessment. There's a path of destruction from our neighborhood, down a main road, across the field to another main road, and that's about it. What I can say for sure is that it was strange. The pressure changed, our house 'sucked in' all the air, shook fairly hard, and the amount of destruction in our neighborhood is amazing.

Interestingly, they never even issued a severe thunderstorm warning for our area. There was just no warning at all. The thing was, just didn't quit. That first really destructive round struck quickly, but lasted awhile, and then just wave after wave of storms came for the next several hours. The first wave at 6 pm, then a break - the next hit at 9:45, and then it didn't really stop until after 3 am. I definitely didn't sleep as I was home alone with the hubs out doing his first responder schtick. Which basically amounted to keeping a list of areas where they couldn't get to because of the damage. Late Saturday night, there was basically no way in or out of our development. By Sunday morning, they had opened up at least one way out so I could at least get to church.

I didn't think I was all that scared Saturday night. When I got up Sunday morning though and truly saw what had happened, it kind of sucked the breath out of me. Trees, HUGE trees, are uprooted. Branches are twisted off the ones that weren't. There were power lines down on almost every main road and most of the small ones. Our trampoline was blown into the lake, and it appeared to have kind of exploded along the way; debris from the top of it was scattered all around the yard.

Every time I entered and left our neighborhood for the past couple days, I have the same slightly tight-chested, panicky feeling. Tonight, it's blowing a lot; they're calling for rain. And I feel the same. I would feel like a sissy except people who have lived here for 50+ years are saying it's the worst storm they've ever been through. There was just something about it. Frankly, even now, most people who don't live right where it was don't even understand it. For most of our area, it was just a bad storm. For our immediate neighborhood...I don't know. Can't describe it. But everyone was fairly shell-shocked the morning after.

Thankful this week for storm safety. For fire personnel to investigate. For electric companies that work through the night to restore our flushing toilet function. For neighborhoods full of people ready and willing to help each other clean up, even before they work on their own yards. Many, many graces...

320. cool air courtesy of our air conditioner
321. the joy of a little boy
322. hard eucharisteos - a million small tragedies, a million tiny graces
323. cold and smooth chocolate ice cream. I love Wendy's Frosties
324. healing hydration of vaseline
325. stitches. OUT.
326. benign biopsies
327. plenty of clothing for all of my children
328. cool, smooth, clean sheets
329. electricity restored
330. safety during a terrible storm
331. the hum of a generator, protecting our food
332. a church with electricity, so I can have much-needed coffee
333. loud praises of my children
334. kindheartedness of friends and strangers
335. the rallying of a community after a small disaster
336. electric company workers who work through the night to restore power
337. the sweet sound of a flushing toilet
338. light illuminating the darkness
339. a handy husband who can attempt to fix our children's favorite toy
340. baby kisses, sticky and grape-scented

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