what I’m into–May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

what I’ve read:
Carry On Warrior – Glennon Doyle Melton is just like her blog: hilarious, poignant, and honest. I loved it.

I was worried after the third book in the Tana French series because I didn’t love it like I did the first two, but book four, Broken Harbor, did not disappoint. Excellent.

Prototype – Jonathan Martin was just as good as I expected. I really don’t have much more to say about than that. My copy is heavily underlined and written in – you should definitely get yourselves a copy.

Drops Like Stars – Rob Bell, a series of small booklets which were excerpted from The Circe Maker – Mark Batterson, What it Is is Beautiful – Sarah Dunning Park, How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp – Shawn Smucker and Maile Smucker

 

what I’m listening to:
Amy Grant – How Mercy Looks from Here: So good. Amy Grant makes me feel like I’m home.
Natalie Maines – Mother
Night Visions – Imagine Dragons

 

what I’m watching:
Did you see the guy who does the Exorcist style dance with his baby girl and her mama on So You Think You Can Dance?? So many tears. This show actually makes me think I can dance. (I can’t.)

Masterchef - I can’t get enough of Graham, Joe, and Gordon.

The Bletchley Circle
(BBC on PBS) just got picked up for a second season, and I’m glad. It was really, really good.

Arrested Development had me issuing a huge sigh of relief. I missed you, Bluths.

While this season of  Mad Men has picked up significantly, it’s still oh. so. literal. I really could do with a lighter touch when it comes to the writing and the symbolism and all the death and don’t get me started on the whorehouses. Really? So literal.

 

other things I’m into this month:
my youngest son in his new glasses. Too much adorable to handle

Thai-stuffed sweet potatoes (cover your baked sweet potato with peanut sauce, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, peanuts, carrots, lime and sriracha): I’ve consumed quite a bit of sriracha. Maybe I’ll be into stomach ulcers next month…

Buffalo hummus – again with the spicy. Honestly, though, it’s a revelation.

Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. This past weekend we got a four-day break after 10 straight days of baseball. It’s a good thing I love it.

 

What are you into this month? Leave a comment or better yet, write your own post and link up with Leigh!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

my children’s stories

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When you adopt children, people who have been there will tell you that you love them no less than you love the children that are born from your own womb. That is true. There is no limit to the love I have for my younger two children and my older two children. They are part of my heart and soul, all the same.

What people neglect to mention when they say those things is that you might not love the children who joined your family through adoption less, but you love them differently. The parenting experience is most definitely not the same. This was never more evident to me than this past week as I walked behind my youngest son and his older sister (the one who doesn’t live with us) at our play-date/visit. I watched them and thought about the strangeness of parenting my littles. I love them more than life itself, but it is different than my big kids.

IMG_1092There is no part of my big kids’ story so far that I do not have a piece of. That will change the older they get, I know, but right now, I know nearly every bit of their stories. That’s not true for my youngest two. There are pieces of their stories that I don’t have any part of and never will. That is the strangest feeling. It’s not something I ever experienced with my older two, this feeling of other-ness. There are things my littles will share with each other, with their sister that I will never understand, never know. That thing I feel with my big kids, that intangible thing where I actually have ownership in a big piece of their stories because we lived it together - I don’t have that with the other two. And it feels odd.

I know a lot of what I’m describing here is grief. It grieves me that I don’t know every part of my youngest son’s story. I grieve that I missed his first smile, his first tooth, his first steps. I grieve that I don’t know what his baby cry sounded like, that I couldn’t be there to comfort him when he felt sad. I grieve all those pain-filled moments that I couldn’t be there for, that I couldn’t stop. I missed two and a half years of his life. Two and a half YEARS. I can’t even imagine missing two and a half weeks of my big kids’ lives. I missed only four months with my littlest, but some days, days when we fight what those months did to her little brain, four months seems like an eternity.

There’s this selfish part of me that feels left out. Even a bit angry that I didn’t get to experience all of life with my littles. There’s a bigger part of me that is grateful for this gift. It’s easy to deceive myself with my big kids. I think they’re mine. I think their stories are mine. Adoption has given me a constant reminder that all of that is an illusion. I don’t own my kids. I don’t own their stories. I’m not in control of what happens in their lives. Both the missing pieces of my littles’ stories and the every known detail of my big kids’ stories remind me to lay it all down at the feet of the One who holds both their pasts and their futures in His hands.

where the healing begins

Monday, May 27, 2013

IMG_1115

For the first time in two years, on a hot day at a local park, we did a family visit with Brenden and Raniah’s older sister and her family. If you’ve read here long, you know that while they were all still in foster care, we attempted visitations between the siblings. Let’s just summarize and say that it didn’t go well. It was easily one of the most painful parts of our children’s case, for a variety of reasons. Even so, we’ve always believed that part of our children’s healing would be to regain some contact and build a new, healthy relationship with their older sister.

This part of their story is so very sacred to me; I feel fiercely protective. It is uniquely their story, so I’m unlikely to say much about it here or elsewhere. What I will say without hesitation is that we are incredibly blessed to witness the amazing amounts of healing that has taken place in both Brenden and his older sister’s life. The amount of time I spent running on that treadmill in my local gym, crying and praying for this precious little girl and her future family…that time was not wasted. Her family is incredible. They are the parents who were meant for her. I cannot say enough good things about them and their love for her. We are honored to call them friends, and our families are uniquely and forever entwined now. The shared commitment to our children’s future – to their health, healing, wholeness – it’s beautiful. Truly.

That doesn’t mean that this visit wasn’t hard…for me. I had no doubts about this visit ahead of time. I knew, as much one could know these things, that this was the right time. The right place. The right families. This visit, everything about it was right. I had complete peace about the decision…up until the moment we left the house to go to the park. Then, the weight of all of the emotions that I thought I had forgotten came crashing down. I wasn’t second-guessing, but the feelings were overwhelming. The pain of all of those ill-advised visits we had attempted during their foster placement, the memories of the rage and traumatic behaviors of my little boy during that time, the recurring fears that our children would not, in fact, get to be our children forever. In this way, I can understand a bit of who my children are. The memories of trauma can be nearly as difficult as the trauma itself.

I came home from this visit, which was very successful by the way, and just cried. Not from regret or anger or disappointment. It was pure relief. Both from the uncertainties of what the visit would be like, but also from the letdown of the memories of all those painful emotions. All that trauma and grief, I continue to lay it all down. Again and again. Sometimes I want to wish all that pain away. Sometimes I wish our family’s journey was pretty and pain-free and all joy, but honestly, that would just make it less. It was is hard, but that’s what makes it beautiful. It was is full of brokenness, but that’s what makes the healing that much more miraculous. I am just so honored and awestruck to get to be a part of this story.

mercy music for your saturday

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Because my husband knows how to love me well, he gave me another birthday present a couple weeks late. Nothing lifts my spirits quite like a present, and it’s pretty cool to think the gift-giving is over…and then there’s another one. Call me shallow, I don’t care. I love presents.

So for two days straight, I’ve been listening to this new album. This is my absolute favorite song on the album even if it does make me ugly-cry. Just warning you before you listen…

an exhausted friday five

Friday, May 24, 2013

I’ve been working on a few fairly weighty posts for the past couple weeks, so I’m a little worn out on writing. Not to mention that this week was just not the best. Seems like everything that could go wrong or be more complicated than normal or just cause extra emotional energy to be spent happened this week. I’m ready for a new one. I’m only a tiny bit sorry that all I can muster this week is a friday five.

1) Trying to keep my daughter in her sling after the broken collarbone she suffered on my birthday has gotten the best of me. Yesterday, I decided to just flat give up. This might not win me the mother of the year award, but I. just. don’t. care.

 

2) Two of my cousins had babies this week. In a couple weeks, I’ll get to see them both! And for one of my cousins, it was truly a miracle as her little boy was born at just under 32 weeks. He’s so, so tiny and perfect, and I am unbelievably grateful for the medical advances that allow this to occur. I spend a half hour every Monday with a mama whose little boy was born at 23 weeks. Flat out incredible. Given that story, 32 weeks looks like a walk in the park…

 

3) This week, I taught my son how to make my afternoon pot of tea. In exchange, I share a cup with him, but this is probably one of my most brilliant ideas as a parent. (Usually it’s Yorkshire Gold, if anyone is interested.)

 

4) School is almost out for the summer, and I am glad. I’ll need reminding of these words in two or three weeks when I’ve succumbed to the insanity that is a natural result of being at home with four children. But right now? I’m ready for a break.

 

5) In further parenting-of-the-year news, our youngest son needs glasses. Like, really needs them. Like, the optician raised her eyebrows when she looked at his prescription today and then gave me a warning list about the horrific adjustment symptoms he will be facing once his eyes learn what it means to truly see things. (severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc. for up to two weeks)

Here’s the thing, though…I don’t understand how it’s possible his eyesight is so bad. He’s already the best player on his t-ball team. I’m feeling kind of bad for the other kids if this is how he plays while he can’t see. Not to mention the fact that he is our best finder out of the all of the kids. We have lots of lookers, but only Brenden is a good finder. Honestly. If I was going to worry about the kids’ eyesight, it wouldn’t have been him. I feel bad, and I told him so. I asked him if he knew he couldn’t see very well, and he says, “No. Well, I only can’t see when I blink.” Fair enough.

Side note: if you are my facebook friend, be warned – there will likely be myriads of ‘look how cute my kid is in glasses’ pictures coming your way. I’ve already texted the try-on pictures to all of our family. He’s just so adorable.

 

So what’s up with you this week? Bad week? Good one? Tell me your random friday tidbits.

mother’s day

Sunday, May 12, 2013

bleeding heartAs is the case every year now, Mother’s Day is bittersweet. I feel the intense joy of having my children safe and forever in our home along with the acute pain of knowing there is another mama out there who won’t be spending this day with them. Who clings to pictures because it’s all she has. She doesn’t know what their little voices sound like. She doesn’t know what their pudgy hands feel like in hers. She won’t get to hear “I loves you, Mama” from our two children today.

And yet, the day they were born, they came into this world with a preference already built in – not for me, but for her - her voice, her smell, her touch. They bear her likeness, not mine. They inherited bits of her personality. She is their mother every bit as much as I in spite of the circumstances we all find ourselves in today.

So today, while my children honor me, I want to spend some time and honor her. Through tears, with prayers, I declare this woman who gave my children life BLESSED. I name her BELOVED. I call her FORGIVEN. I pray with all my heart that one day she believes those very things about herself. Above all else, I pray that some day in the future, my children can celebrate Mother’s Day with both of us. What a unique privilege for me to be a part of this story – my story, her story, our children’s story – God’s story. Redemption is coming. I believe it with all my soul.

t-ball and letting go

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Something about my youngest son makes me not want to let go. Part of it is that I missed so much time with him. 2 years, 2 months, and 26 days to be exact. 2 years, 2 months, and 26 days that I wasn’t with him, that I couldn’t build all the love and security and teaching into his life that he needs to go out into this great big world. So this, his 6th year of life, has come far too soon for my liking.

I cried the day I signed him for kindergarten, and it wasn’t just because it happened with a semi-fraudulent piece of paper. That experience kind of prepped me to be honest about the fact that I wasn’t ready to leave him alone with his baseball team to ride in the opening day parade to the ballpark. He was scared to do it alone, and he was so little. And if my husband hadn’t been there, I know I wouldn’t have been able to let him do it at all.

When we met up with him after the parade, he was still running scared. He wouldn’t eat his breakfast. He sat on my lap for as long as I could stand because that too-familiar smell of fear was all over him again. After his big brother’s game, we walked over to the t-ball field together. He dragged a bit on the way. You could see the conflict of the extreme passion he feels towards the sport against the fear he felt over doing something new on his own. His pre-game jitters disappeared pretty quickly in the thrill of the game. I never thought I’d be the mom who cried at t-ball games, but there I was, wiping away tears through the first inning.

Watching my son grow up is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’m not ready for him to move on from me yet. I want every bit of those two years to pour into his little life all the love and affection and teaching and laughing that he missed out on. There are so many things that he should know by now that he doesn’t. I worry sending him out into the world – that he’s not really prepared, that he will be hurt, that he will do the hurting, that he isn’t attached enough to me to come back home when he needs.

I’ve got to hold all those feelings back. I’ve got to send him with a smile, a kiss, a prayer, and no indication of the fear I’m feeling. He has to believe that we are a safe, secure home base that he can come back to when he’s lost or scared or hurt or angry. He needs us still, and we need him. Growing up is hard to do. (for both of us apparently)

just the facts, ma’am

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NFCM-800x600To kick off National Foster Care Month, I’m going the facts and statistics route. Just a few, because I know that sometimes statistics seem sterile and cold. It numbs us to the reality of what’s happening. That doesn’t make them unimportant. Sometimes I think we just need to see the numbers.

HHS uses a reporting tool called the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and while there are lots of differing numbers surrounding foster care and adoption, these are the numbers that the US government has collected and is using. You can click the link above to see more reports and information.

Kids in foster care in the United States: approximately 400,000
Average age: 7.7 years old
Average time kids spend in foster care: 14 months
Kids waiting to be adopted from foster care (meaning that the ‘case’ is over and parental rights have been terminated – this kids are legally orphans, wards of the state): just over 100,000
Average amount of time those kids have been waiting: 2 years

2 years spent as a legal orphan. Regardless of the fact that the kids in foster care typically do still have living parents, once parental rights are terminated, they will not remain in contact with their parents at all. Those 100,000 children are children without families and without permanent homes.

Lest you think that these are just statistics, and it seems impersonal to you to use them, I have to remind you that these statistics are from 2011. MY kids were in foster care in 2011. 2 of those 100,000 kids waiting for permanency were mine. It is a big number, but it’s not impersonal. That number represents real children full of hurt and pain and needing someone to just stand in the gap for them.

The question facing all of us this May when we spend time focusing on foster care: who is on the side of those 400,000 kids? Is there anyone? I love working with the system, but it is broken. I love my children’s biological families, but they are broken. Who is going to step in and take the time to just love one of these kids? To provide them with a safe house to come home to each day? To help them to be able to have a childhood that isn’t driven by fear and basic survival instincts? To teach them they are valuable?

Maybe it’s you.

what I’m into–first edition (april 2013)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Linking up for the first time with What I’m Into at Hopeful Leigh. I love reading these posts from the link-up each month; I get so many new ideas and recommendations from them. I also really love the idea of a more compact record of the things that I’ve read, watched, and heard rather than spreading a few out here and there all over the blog.

 

what I’ve read:
Bread and Wine – Shauna Niequest has been my favorite book so far this year. I wrote about it here, and I’ve been making the recipes she included non-stop since it arrived.

Tana French writes some amazing mysteries. I finished the second and third books this month, and while the third was my least favorite, it was still fantastic. I’m on the hold list at the library for the fourth one. I’ve come a bit late to the party when it comes to her books, but I highly recommend all of them.

Daring Greatly – Brené Brown was a transformational book for me. It’s amazingly insightful, and I’ve found myself talking more about this book with other people than any other book I’ve read in a very long time.

Other books I read this month: Love Does – Bob Goff, Frontera – Rick Bayless, Why Jesus Crossed the Road – Bruce Mains, The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

Books I’m reading right now: Prototype – Jonathan Martin, What It Is Is Beautiful – Sarah Park Dunning, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God – Lysa TerKeurst (for our mama’s bible study), Graceful – Emily Freeman (for my high school girls’ bible study), The God Who Sees You – Tammy Maltby and Anne Christian Buchanan, some various poetry books

 

what I’m watching:
Call The Midwife – everyone should be watching this show
Mr. Selfridge (Masterpiece Classics) – Let’s just take a moment to think about Jeremy Piven right now. Thank you.
Mad Men – 1st episode was not my favorite. I’m not quite sure if they think the people watching aren’t very bright or what. DON IS SCARED OF DEATH. We get it. (It’s picking up steam.)
The Voice – we watch very little TV as a family, but this is a favorite for everyone. Plus: Adam Levine, Usher, and Shakira. Blake is nice-looking and all, but some people are created with an extra dose of beauty, amiright?
The West Wing – The whole series is on Netflix, so I get some episodes in here and there. I haven’t watched the show since it aired, so it’s nice because I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I love Aaron Sorkin, and while there’s no way I think West Wing is his best work, there’s still something comforting to me about watching his shows.

 

what I’m listening to:
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park, Justin Timberlake – the 20/20 experience, All Sons & Daughters (still. I just can’t stop), Hillsong United – Zion (best album they’ve had in years), Josh Ritter – Josh was in Columbus not too long ago, but the ticket prices and a previous engagement kept me away, sadly. I would love to see him live someday.

Renovatus Church podcast – Jonathan Martin is a never-miss for me right now. If you’ve never heard him preach, then I highly recommend you start with the series he did a couple months ago called Seen. I’ve listened to the first one of that series – The Women at the Well – three times now. It’s that good.

 

other things I’m into this month:
intense and hilarious late-night discussions with my husband about marriage and following Jesus and shame and redemption
Trader Joe’s cookie butter
my sons in their baseball uniforms
my youngest daughter’s know-it-all comments
my Maggie’s passionate feelings about every. single. thing.
my kids all playing outside

 

What are you into this month? Leave a comment or better yet, write your own post and link up with Leigh!

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh
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