another linked-up wednesday

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Here are some of my favorite links of the past few weeks to help you get over the mid-week blues. (Is that a thing? Seems like it should be.) As always, these are snippets, please click through for the full posts!

We Don't Want Your Obligation - Chatting at the Sky: “Care enough for the people in your life to choose those things that make you come alive. Take time to figure them out. Let the Lord speak. Let your heart speak. Let your life speak.”

Down We Go: Diffusing Power - Kathy Escobar at SheLoves: We often think of power in a negative way. But Jesus embodied the best use of power I can think of: He gave it away. He used it to restore others’ dignity. He went down, not up.

Nursing in Public - The Mom Creative: “It is ridiculous in this day and age that people have such issues with public nursing. The CDC has a fascinating “breastfeeding report card” which illustrates facts about breastfeeding in America. Interestingly, in Georgia only 10% of mothers are still exclusively nursing their babies at six months…”

my worst parenting nightmare

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I want to spend a brief amount of time talking today about my biggest parenting fear when it comes to my girls. My worst nightmare about their future. The one where I will be certain above all else that I have completely failed them as a mother, as a productive member of society, as a woman, as a human being. Have I completely and utterly failed them? This is how I will know:



What if they sign up to be on The Bachelor?

season of sacrifice

Monday, February 27, 2012

I don’t think that focusing on sacrifice is something that comes naturally to anyone. So I am grateful for this 40 day reminder. I am blessed by observing the season of Lent with the Church, all of us denying ourselves to remember and focus on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. I am grateful that denying myself, making space in my time and energy, enables the Holy Spirit to move in ways I normally don’t experience. All in anticipation of the resurrection. I love the celebration of Resurrection Day after the season of deeper sacrifice. I love the songs of triumph after the agony of remembering the cross. I love that believers of all nations, of all denominations, of all languages are all observing the same things at the same time. Little bit of heaven, that.

What are your traditions regarding Lent? Is it something you’ve grown up with or are you new to the practice? I’d love to hear new ideas and thoughts on it.

734. a day off, sleeping in
735. kitchen full of sisters
736. doughnuts, hot and fresh
737. blank pieces of paper, ready for a child's art
738. chubby baby legs
739. the thrill of hope every time the phone rings
740. memorizing God's Word with our family
741. singing and dancing in the afternoon
742. dreaming in the evenings
743. the remembrance of ashes
744. the reminder of mortality
745. the changing of seasons
746. early morning sunshine
747. coffee
748. another cup of coffee
749. two full bags of 'stuff' - gone
750. reevaluating priorities
751. afternoons filled with friends
752. breakfast for lunch
753. birthday celebrations
754. children surrounded by family

sunday [2]

Sunday, February 26, 2012


So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Romans 12:1-2

and on Thursdays…

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Here’s the space where I want to talk about orphan care, foster care, adoption, parenting traumatized children…all the good stuff that is so intertwined in my life right now. I haven’t written much lately about parenting traumatized children. Since Brenden and Raniah are no longer foster children, some of this stuff isn’t at the forefront of our thinking that it has been in the past. I’m not keeping the copious notes that I once was, so some things get missed. Some of it has just become our regular, everyday lives, so it doesn’t seem abnormal to us. When I truly think about it though, there’s quite a bit in our lives that most parents and families aren’t dealing with. I do want to protect my children’s stories through this process. Some things are obvious to others; other things no one else will ever know. Some things are things that we tell absolutely no one because someday our children will not appreciate have their most private feelings and issues broadcast not just to the internet, but even to their siblings or grandparents. That said, there is much that we can discuss and both give and receive advice for.

I’m working on several posts regarding issues that we deal with on an almost-daily basis – food issues, OCD, sensory needs, discipline. These are all issues that did not clear up once fostering was over and legal adoptive family status began. We’re also only seven or eight months out from our last sibling visit. I doubt that I posted much about our strategies for navigating that difficult time in our lives, so I have some thoughts brewing on that. Teamwork posts are also in the works; I have some exciting opportunities coming up this year because of the committed and unusually cohesive team that we were a part of through Brenden and Raniah’s case.

I also hope to highlight some ways that you can be involved in orphan care that doesn’t involve foster care or adoption. I get that not everybody can do that or is called to do that, but there are lots of other ways that we care for orphans that you can join in on.

Anything else you’d like to have covered? Any questions about fostering or adoption we can talk about? I know several of you who read have fostered and/or adopted, and even more of you are considering and praying about it. Let me know!

I’m not good enough online

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yes, yes, I know that I just posted links yesterday. Tomorrow is a link-free post, I promise. These posts are too good to pass up.

Ever feel like your time online is spent feeling completely inadequate? There is so much that blog reading brings to my life that I don’t feel called to give it up, but sometimes, some days. I get overwhelmed with my own feelings of worthlessness. My house does not look like that blogger’s house. My kids are not as spiritually intuitive as that woman’s. I don’t have 300 followers plus 11 children plus a job in the ‘ministry’ plus an online writing career all while making 10 crafts from Pinterest per week. I do not make my children’s clothes. I do not craft end tables from old wooden pallets. I have not used chalkboard paint on any surface in my entire home (yet). I do not even make homemade bread with any regularity. What is wrong with me?

Yes, I know online presence is an illusion. But we all need a little reminder of that some days. Can I get a witness?

Beauty and the Mess - Art House America: “Every mom I know, including myself, reads mom blogs. There are even celebrity mom bloggers. They write eloquently, post exquisite photographs, journal their Food Network-worthy dishes, knit, crotchet, sew, and paint — all while teaching their dozens of whimsical children at home. It is lovely. It really, really is. I don't mean to satirize mom blogs. As an artist, I live to create beauty and to breathe it in, and I am often inspired by these creative mamas. Neither do I condemn the blogging mamas themselves. After all, I am one of them. I'm no celebrity, but I have definitely projected — through my blog and through my posts — a picture of a beautiful life. I am only suggesting that we think twice about the standard we create when we post only the good stuff.”

Sex, Lies, and Mommy Blogging - Elizabeth Esther: “The main problem I have with these ideas are that they seek to define Motherhood–indeed, your entire identity as a person–by the way you bake your bread, decorate your house or educate your children.”

Time for a Pintervention - Relevant Magazine: “I’m sure for some out there the Pinterest experience begins and ends as a fun and helpful diversion. These women are those well-balanced individuals whom I respect and admire—and with whom I have little in common. For me, Pinterest browsing easily makes the almost imperceptible shift from wide-eyed inspiration into troubled comparison. Suddenly, I realize that every other woman in the virtual room is more stylish, more clever, more organized and certainly more able…”

It’s an illusion. We’re never going to measure up to the perfect Christian, crafting, homemaking, homeschooling mother.  None of us. Let’s all quit pretending, whether we’re not doing it online or in real life. Let’s just be us.

the beauty of parenting

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In an effort to be more organized and more intentional about this whole space that I am cultivating in my life as well as online, I’ve decided to devote Tuesday posts to parenting. A couple weeks ago, I participated in an online link-up hosted by Sarah Bessey called Practices of Parenting Carnival. As you may not have the time to wade through the more than a hundred posts in this particular link-up, I’ll share a few of my favorites with you. Although, if you do find yourself with extra time, you will not regret the time you spend reading through these practices. It is a thing of beauty.

The Practice of a Happy Bedtime - Kingdom Civics: “No matter what craziness, chaos, heartache, or drama happens during the day, I want my children’s last thoughts at night to be that they are loved dearly, that they have people in their corner, and that everything is going to be alright.”

In Which I Assign Beauty - The Not-Ever-Still Life: “I am cultivating in my children an Uncritical eye. I want them not to define beauty by celebrity gossip nor by what some mean girl will one day say. I want them not ever to define their worth against an other; not their beauty nor their wisdom nor the measure of their hearts. So I assign beauty uncritically.”

We Will Come Running - Capturing Life: “So that's why we were okay with sleepless nights and feet in our faces and ribs and long nursing sessions in the middle of the night (yes, I kind of miss those - the feet in my face are here to stay for now;). Because it all lays a foundation. One that says "We are here. And we are running to meet you where you need us."

Free Pass - The Extraordinary Ordinary: “He loves me despite how I can’t keep it together at all and how my insides don’t match the outside and how I can’t hide my pain so much of the time. He is a little God reflection. He doesn’t wait to love me until I’m doing it all right. Kids don’t expect the impossible in their mothers. He just wants me. It’s hard to carry all the doing expectations with you and then learn how to let them go. To accept the free pass and not trample on it, and to just keep going, truly believing that it’s enough.”

(As always, these are snippets. Please click through to read the full posts.)

as a family

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blue and white snowflakes have dangled from our ceiling for the past two months, and now red and pink paper hearts are joining the display. Each with Sharpie lettered-words recounting a child’s gift for that particular day. By the end of the year, we hope to have a banner all the way around our living and dining room. One gift. One child. One day.

If this is a habit I can build into them at such a young age, maybe they’ll be better equipped to handle the hard times. They’ll be more in tune with their heavenly Father and the good and perfect gifts that He wants to give His children. I pray they’ll be better able to see God in the everyday and the miraculous, in the beauty and in the ugly. Practicing this habit together focuses all of us on the gifts in our lives and beyond that, on the Giver. The complaining, the nit-picking, the arguing and bickering…do they matter when we can look at our walls and see gift upon gift upon gift.

Maybe at the end of this year we’ll only have a pretty banner. Or maybe my children will have beauty etched into our very spirits. Maybe they’ll learn to see grace. Maybe they’ll learn to see God.

I’m counting with them now…

716. a pink Valentine's Day scarf
717. the most beautiful flower arrangement I've ever received
718. my two-year-old going potty alone
719. the undeserved love of my husband
720. the unconditional love of my children
721. the beauty of making a family that reflects Jesus
722. my first craft in a very long time, but one that was appreciated
723. losing my pride to help my children
724. finding grace in the moment
725. wiping flushed brows and holding back hair during overnight bouts of sickness
726. breathing prayers of healing by the light of a little girl night light
727. early morning hugs and bathroom breaks
728. sitting all day snuggled with my no-longer-baby
729. unexpected and needed helpfulness from my oldest
730. a blazing hot fever helping to heal
731. TV evenings shared with friends
732. tiny hamburgers smothered in sauce
733. the husband getting up early to go and serve others


sunday [1]

Sunday, February 19, 2012

heart of stone 2Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business.
What we are asked to do is to love,
and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.
Thomas Merton

7 - month 1

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7-book-coverYou can read about the start of this particular series right here.

I’m not a good faster. The longest successful fast I’ve had was only 32 hours. And half of those were spent sleeping. I’ve always wanted to be good at fasting. It seems like a really holy, super spiritual thing to do. Not in the sense that I want to seem really holy and super spiritual, but in the sense that it seems like the kind of awesome thing that takes you close to God and all that.

Enter Month 1 of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Food.

I am one of the fortunate people in the world who never ever has to feel hungry. So for the first twelve days of this month, I ate only 7 foods. It wasn’t too difficult at first; they were foods that I liked. It became much more difficult after several days. I grew tired of the repetitiveness. I was the only one doing this, so I still had to make food for my family. Food I would’ve loved to have eaten. I wanted condiments. I wanted Chipotle. I found myself really feeling the lack of it all. Suddenly there was space in my diet. That’s when I realized that this month was really not at all about food. It became about so much more.

Where was I putting my focus? Where was I finding my sufficiency? I spend so much time thinking about what we don’t have. Food is no exception. I have an entire pantry full of food. I have a refrigerator full of food. I have TWO freezers full of food. Yet still, when I open the doors, I invariably think that I have nothing to fix for supper. How ridiculous is that? That’s not living with contentedness. It’s not finding sufficiency in Christ and what He’s provided. I’m concerned about every day things in a completely offensive way. It makes me a little sick to think of people, even in this country, who literally don’t have food to make for supper when I complain about not having the right kind of cheese to make what I want. My focus needs to change.

As my stomach felt empty, I looked to God. When I wanted to just eat a spoon of peanut butter already, I prayed. When I was seriously craving Chipotle, I worshipped. I just used the time and effort that I would have normally spent deciding what to eat and preparing various items to focus on what really matters. When I started this month, I thought it would be about food, and I was a little ambiguous on the purpose of doing it at all. (Except that I just really felt God was calling me to) After this month, I get it. It’s the perfect, tangible way to shift my focus to enough.

“Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.

Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out!: You’re my dearest friends. The Father wants to give you the very Kingdom."
Luke 12:22-23, 31-32 (Message)

All my everyday concerns, all the areas of excess in my life – those aren’t reality. They’ll be met. God is the one who provides. I’m so concerned about missing out – on good food, on cute clothes, on the latest media – and God wants to give me the Kingdom?? What am I doing? Where am I placing my trust? One thing I believe with everything in me: if my life, if my family’s life, isn’t oriented solely towards Jesus and his mission, then we’re doing it wrong.

I think this part of me is going to be challenged in harder ways than just through food over the next six months. I also think I’m going to hang on to these verses, especially for this next month – clothes. Stay tuned.

story, legacy, grace

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This post by The Gypsy Mama is resonating within me as I write this. I’m in a bit of a writing slump. I think it’s mostly because my schedule has not been writing-friendly lately. I need some space to sit with my writing sometimes, to work it over, to refine and condense. I haven’t felt like I’ve had much space lately. There are days, today especially, when I long for a laptop and babysitting so I can head to a local coffee shop and just write. By myself.

I need to write stuff out. I know not many people read this blog, and while I am humbly appreciative of every single one of you, I would write it if no one read it at all. I had my settings to private when I began to write here, and although I’ve changed those settings since, my motivations are much the same now as they were then. I knew as we opened this particular chapter in our lives, that I needed to record it.

Our story is not more important than anyone else’s in the grand scheme of things, but it is still important. My father-in-law has journals that he has hand-written in for years. My mother has kept prayer journals for as long as I can remember. I remember my mother writing short articles about mothering for our church newsletter. I have not succeeded in hand-written journals or semi-published articles throughout my adult life, but I have this blog. A bit of a legacy for my children. I want our children to have roots. To know that their mama’s roots run deep. I want them to know the parts of my life, of their lives that they would otherwise not remember. (Even while I try to protect their own stories as much as possible, leaving them the privilege to tell it themselves someday.)

I don’t know the future. Sometimes parents are lost far too soon. Sometimes relationships don’t turn out the way we hope. I may never get to share any of this with them in the future, but I want them to know who I was. What I loved. Who I loved. I want them to know where I succeeded, but more importantly, I want them to understand where I failed. I want them to know that their father and I not only loved them, but also one another. I want them to know that we followed Jesus with everything we had.

On the one hand it sounds a bit selfish, like I think life is all about me. On the other hand, I am continually humbled and gratefully inspired the more I learn about my mama’s story, about my grandma’s story, about the rich and rooted heritage I come from. I want my children to know just a piece of that. I hope as they read about my part of in this great, big, exciting Story, that they understand how God uses broken people to make something beautiful. All of it someday redeemed, all of it eventually restored, all of it, all the time, grace.

the practice of celebration

Friday, February 10, 2012

In our country, the third Monday in February, we observe a federal holiday in honor of George Washington’s birthday (which actually is on February 22). That night for dessert in our house, we’ll have a cherry dessert. Because, you know, he cannot tell a lie.

Last week, it was Groundhog Day. We have ground hog for dinner. The children usually don’t catch on to this until they’re six or so. This year, I was all out of ground hog, so we had smoked and sliced hog. Crispy. Just the way I like it.

A few days from now is Valentine’s Day. There'll be candies and cards and heart-shaped goodies galore. We’ll talk of love, we’ll hug and kiss, we’ll make construction paper hearts with accordion legs and arms.

And, oh Snow Days. There’s homemade donuts and hot chocolate. There’s flushed cheeks and laughter. There’s the yeasty warmth of a full kitchen. There’s an entire day of sledding and games and reading books and chatting. It’s not just for children; all of my siblings (and sometimes our friends) continue to show up too. You have a real job? Then take off work. College wasn’t cancelled? You skip class. Even the husband will take off at lunch and come up in hopes of a hot donut before he heads back to the office.

Birthdays? Don’t even get me started. We have birthday weeks more than we have days. Meals. Desserts. Parties. Gifts. Special dates with various parents. Sleepovers. You pick. The day you were born? Your grandpa will call you the moment the sun is up. Your aunt’s call is never far behind.

Of course, there’s the major holidays. They’d each require their own week of posts. Don’t even ask me or my siblings about the year my parents were on vacation over Easter. Two years ago. I know we’re all adults; don’t judge. It was traumatic. I still don’t want to talk about it.

We celebrate in this house. We celebrate everything. Anything. All the time. The culture is joy. Life is meant to be lived with gusto, together. It’s building memories for a lifetime. It’s building community. It’s building holy moments from the mundane. It’s building a family with purpose and rejoicing and laughing and crying. Unlike many of my parenting practices where I cover them with prayers and hope that it’s successful – I know this works; it’s how I was raised.

I believe celebration is holy. Celebrating the delights and special moments, the everyday moments and holidays, both major and minor, builds a practice in my children’s lives to see God. Everywhere, in everything. Celebrating the happy moments keeps us in tune to remember the painful ones, the times of loss, as well. That time of year when the leaves color the world red, yellow, orange, even brown, when my parents remember the twins they knew for only hours? I know when it’s coming. That gray day in the winter when my sister lost her first baby, whom we never got to meet? I grieve every year. When the sun blazes hot and we start to think about back to school, my kids ask about two precious children, our first foster placement who went to live with their dad, and they remember the joy and pain of it all.  By celebrating all of life, my children’s hearts and minds are turned towards remembrance, of both the heartfelt and the heartbreak.

As I long for my every mothering practice to be, this one is, at its root, about Jesus. It’s just as He modeled for us, sitting around a holiday table with those that He loved, preparing Himself and them to endure the hard times ahead. We do the same. All of it a binding together. We break bread; we drink wine – together. We serve one another. We remember. As my children learn to rejoice well, they also learn to grieve well. They learn that all of life, the hard, the happy, the desolate, the abundant, all of it is a gift. And we celebrate.

Today I’m linking up with the Practices of Parenting Carnival. It is truly a beautiful collection; you will not regret the time you spend there.

colorful parenting

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We’re in the market for an additional church. I know that sounds strange, but if I say ‘new’ church then it sounds like we’re leaving our current congregation.  We have no desire to leave our current church family. Therefore, I have to use the word additional.

It’s not like we need another place to worship. It’s just that we don’t know any better place to make new friends. And boy, do we need some new friends. Not because there’s something wrong with our current friends. Well, except for the fact that nearly all of our friends look just like us. We need friends who look like our daughter. She needs us to have friends that look like her.

Want to be in an awkward position? Try to figure out how to make friends of another race when you live in a community where there are very, very few adults of that particular race. Making new friends? It’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. Do I just go up to people in the grocery store? In the library? You don’t typically approach someone asking to be their friend based on their skin color. That’s the position we find ourselves in right now, however. So…we’re in the market for an additional church.

There are a lot of moments where I feel so lost when it comes to navigating this transracial adoption thing. On the one hand, race and ethnicity are irrelevant when it comes to being part of a loving family. On the other hand, we don’t just live as part of a loving family. We also live as students, as friends, as community members, as citizens, as people who are part of a global community. In those places, race and ethnicity are far from irrelevant.

I wish that love was enough, because that part is easy. Parenting of any kind is about far more than love however. It requires thought and work and hard decisions. If you want to parent well, you have to often put your children’s well-being above your own desires, convenience, and comfort. Transracial parenting just compounds all that. How do I parent my daughter well? How do I give her a healthy identity and self-image? That’s not going to be automatic. While she’s with our family, she’s safe. Secure. Skin color is just one more way that we all look different from one another. But when she leaves our home, she’ll be a black woman. Truthfully, she’s biracial, but the color that your skin appears is the race that you are judged to be. She has dark skin. That’s how she’ll be viewed. She won’t be a biracial child raised by white parents. She’ll just be herself, alone. She needs to know who she is. She needs to know what it means to have dark skin in this country. She needs to be secure in herself.

So how do I build her identity? How do I prepare her for what she’ll face when she leaves the safety of our family unit? How do I teach her about her heritage? How do I address racism? And above all else, how do I find people who look like her to be friends with? She needs role models. She needs mentors. She needs them to have the same skin color so they can speak into her life about what she will face and experience. She needs to know how to navigate a different culture from the one that we’re familiar with in our family.

We’ve gotten a lot of advice and frankly, a surprisingly amount of negative, patronizing, and scoffing comments. ‘You’re taking this too seriously.’ ‘That’s silly.’ ‘The best advice is just not to worry about it.’ The thing is, these comments have come entirely from people who have no experience in this area. The people we really want to take advice from are people who have walked this road. Adults of color. Adults who have raised children of color. Adults who were raised as transracial adoptees. The stuff that they are telling us is the opposite of what we’re hearing from the people around us. Every single one of them says that this stuff IS important. That we should be thinking about it. It shouldn’t rule our lives, but we can’t take it too lightly. The one thing that we hear above all else is to surround ourselves with people who look like our daughter. With families that look like ours. To build relationships into our lives so that all of it is natural and easy and if we or our daughter needs something, that we have an outlet to find it.

We’re not just a white family raising a black child. That’s what people want to see us as, but it’s not truth. I hate that characterization intensely. Our daughter is not the ‘other’. She isn’t the outsider because her skin color is darker. She is fully part of our family.

We are a white family, but now, we are also a black family.
We are one family.
Trying to find a place where we can make some new friends.

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