Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's not about me.

There are a lot of aspects to "life" in our home...
Our family,
Our children,
Our adoption,
Our 15+ years of marriage,
Our finances,
Our failures,
Our successes,
Our stuff,
Our ministry,
Our future,
Our pasts,
Our hopes,
Our dreams,
Our plans,
Our attitudes,
Our ability to love,
Our failure to love,
Our heart for the broken,
Our heart for the lost,
Our heart for the fatherless,
Our tears for those we can't reach,
Our anger over injustice,
Our frustration at bureaucracy,
Our faith in His plan........

Guess what??
It's not about ME.
It's not about what God can do for Chrissy.

It IS about listening for His voice...
hearing His promptings...
being willing to move when He says move...
being willing to step out of the boat onto the sea with FAITH that He won't let you drown...
being willing to step out of the boat a second BEFORE you begin to WONDER if He will let you drown.

It's about saying "YES" when the world says "What on EARTH is wrong with you?"
It's about saying "How you serve, I will serve." when the rest of the world won't get their hands dirty.
It's about sitting in the pit of your yuck and blah and looking up... seeing the hand reaching for you... and reaching back.
It's about LOVE. Not how much YOU can love... but how much HE loves us and gives us the ability to love in return. Apart from Him we can do NO thing. Apart from Him, we don't know what Love is anyway. Not real love anyway.

It's not about me.
It's about Him.
And I hope that someday He will point us towards His dream and say "Just DO it!" because I am ready!
As my Granny says, I'm "sittin' on GO" and ready to move when the Lord says MOVE.
But even that... is about NOT being ME... not being selfish and thinking "but what about..."
And I think that's the hardest part of following Jesus.
He says "Follow", and don't go say goodbye to your family. Follow, and don't go bury your father. Follow, and forget about hauling in your day's wages. Just FOLLOW when I say GO... without a second thought, because I say so!

As my friend Rick, a truly "Radical" pastor, once explained... I want to be FAT.
I want to be faithful.
I want to be available.
I want to be teachable.

And I want to be His hands and feet.

What does that look like?
No, this isn't a "we are starting another adoption" announcement.
I wish it were...
I would love that very much.
I don't know what it really looks like in person, face-to-face... but I know that I am watching and waiting!

Here is the song by Chris Tomlin that has been echoing through my head these days! Click here...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pete and Repeat

I am really hoping this is a normal, natural part of learning a new language and not a methodical wearing down of the mommy through repetition. 

The littlest girls (6 and 7) have this habit of repeating the last word of whatever I say to them.

For instance... here was our pre-nap conversation today:

Me: "Why are you not in the bed?"
6: "bed?"
Me: "Come on...get in the bed... it's nap time!"
6: "time?"
Me: "Yes. Where is your sleep hat?"
6: "hat?"
Me: "Where did you put it when you woke up this morning?"
6: "morning?'
Me: "Please stop repeating what mommy says..."
6: "says?"
Me: "Oh good gracious."
6: "Gracious?"
Me: (trying not to scream...) "okay... go to sleep... do not get out of this bed."
6: "bed?"

I'm. Not. Kidding.
It's enough to make this mommy yank her hair out by the roots. Seriously.

Then I go to tuck in 5....

Me: "Where is YOUR hat?"
5: "hat?"
Me: "Seriously??"

They don't do it thinking it's one is giggling or smiling...
it's like they don't even realize they are doing it.
AND these are all words they use normally...
so it's not like they are words they just don't understand or that are just new to their ears.

But it's making me INSANE!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things you don't want to know.

Sometimes as a Mom, it is important to just DO instead of asking too many questions.
Asking questions sometimes makes you want to run, screaming from the house...
and call in the guys in the Haz-Mat suits to just take care of it all for you.
For example...

  • Why are Baby Boy's arms wet up to his elbows?
  • Why is he standing next to the toilet while his sister is going potty?
  • Why does he look "caught"?
  • What is that puddle?
  • Where are his pants?
  • Why did I think potty training was necessary?
  • Is that mud on the carpet? Please let it be mud...
  • I sure hope there was a slug crawling across my couch that left that trail of snot-like substance...
  • Wet door knob... surely its from the rain.
  • Did his sleeves get that wet ONLY from sucking on the cuffs? 
  • Is that laughing coming from the bathroom?
See what I mean?
Some questions just need to go un-asked.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Nothing new to report...
just that 
of this
Come on, spring...
I need you now!!

I miss all the lovely things about spring..
SO, so, so much!
The open windows,
the picnics on the trampoline,
swing sets,
playing in the sprinkler,
sun dresses,
but most of all
the thing I miss
of ALL...
is the
of the sun!

The way you can sit in this 
one spot on the couch and the rays
come shining through the window
and warm your shoulders
while you read a book!

The chirping of the birds outside
in the morning when I wake up and open the doors to 
let the fresh morning air come inside... 
can't you just FEEL it?!?

Oh, and the daffodils and tulips...
when they push themselves through the mostly-still-frozen earth
and show off their beautiful colors and the 
drops of dew that cling to their petals in the morning
and look like glitter shining in the light!
It's just intoxicating!!

It is January.
In Tennessee.
Which means...
we have probably two more months
of weather 

I might cry.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ambassador Barbie

Did you play with Barbies growing up?
I had some.
At some point in my growing-up-years
I inherited my mom's "vintage" Barbie dolls.
There was one I remember...
you pushed a button on her back to make her hair grow.
It didn't work anymore, but it was cool nonetheless.

Nowadays, Barbie has many, many hats to wear.
Other than just growing really long hair,
there's Mani-Pedi Barbie:

News Anchor Barbie:

From the "huh?" category...
Computer Engineer Barbie:
Just because you have a laptop, does not a "computer engineer" make.
I am living proof of this fact.

I know I always dress like this when we go camping...

And then, there's Barbie as a Veterinarian:
Yeah, because if my vet looked like that, 
my husband would NEVER be the one to drop off 
or pick up any of our animals. 

I have decided I need a Barbie version of me.
It will be called...

Adoption Ambassador Barbie!

Yes, Ma'am it will!

It will have more normal proportions, and longer skirts... 
probably jeans with holes in the knees...
and some stains on her long sleeve thermal t-shirt...
but she will be SUPER awesome anyway!

Maybe I am finding my own version of Living Radically.

I can't adopt every child without a family.
I can't kiss them all goodnight or bandage all the owies in the whole world...
but I can be a voice for them!
I can show their cute little faces and be their advocate, 
their ambassador...
and pray for their families to find them!

So... in that spirit...
Please, join me in praying for this sibling group.
These sweet kiddos need a Mommy to listen to their funny little made-up songs and stories
and a Daddy to teach them how to ride a bike, 
how to scare Mommy half to death and what love looks like.

I swear if I had the legal-capacity in our house...
but alas.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OVER it.

I am OVER my kids and their eating issues.

Last night I actually COOKED dinner.

Like really put a meal together, without my hubby being home.

6/7 of the kids in this house didn't want it.

My first-born wouldn't hardly touch it...
#4 didn't even get a plate of food...
#3 thought she would like it, but then barely ate...
#5 said "I can't like it this."
to which I responded "You need to eat it anyway."
#6 almost cried when I tried to feed her and
#7, the baby - he mostly ate, 
but got more in his lap and high chair than in his mouth.

What WAS this detestable dinner concoction??

I made chicken couscous with 
green beans and broccoli 
sauteed in a garlic butter sauce.
I added cream and parmesan to the couscous.
It looked fabulous!
Since it's a pasta, I couldn't taste it (not gluten-free)
but #2 ate it and said it was good!

I have decided that I am going to only feed them
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches
Ramen Noodles
from now on.

I'm done.

Less mess, less clean up, cheaper...
and no decision making required!

I think someday they will decide they
are sick of those two choices...
and beg me for couscous.

Living Radically

Our church body is currently reading through the book Radical by David Platt.
If you have not yet read this book..
just go download it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble... it's like $5 for the electronic version.
It may very well be the best $5 you ever spent.

The premise of the book (to me...) is that this life wasn't created for you. 
This is something I have thought about for a very long time now:
"If it isn't about ME... then it is about something else. If it is about something else... then WHAT?"
Being a Religion major has taught me the book answers to that question..
Life is about enjoying God's grace, and enlarging His glory.
Life is about bringing others to Him.
Life is about living your daily routine in a way that others see you and wonder what makes you different.
Life is about learning, leading others to Him, and growing to be more like Christ.
Life is about seizing the opportunities God puts in your path - to show others His love.

A year ago when we started the process to adopt our youngest three kids, we heard a lot of 
"WOW! You guys are amazing!"
"That's incredible! I could never do something like that..."
"I've always wanted to adopt... but..."
"There's a special place in heaven for people like you..."
well, you get the idea.

The thing is, we NEVER ONCE felt like *WE* were the heroes of this story.
We never once felt like superheroes, swooping in to save the day.
We never once felt like patting ourselves on the back and saying "wow, what a cool thing we are doing."
We didn't spend enough time telling others about the cool things Jesus was doing in our lives...
the amazing ways HE was providing the funds, working out the details, and making this whole thing possible.
And for that I am truly sorry.

Please, never hear me say anything other than...
The adoption of our children was nothing short of a
God-ordained miracle.

Having said that...
and now reading through Radical,
I just wonder...

Are there levels of "radicalness"?

I mean, for us... adopting our kids was not RADICAL.
It seemed perfectly normal, rational, and sane.

BUT... if you take someone with grown children, a thriving career, a full vacation schedule, a thriving eating-out-at-fancy-restaurants routine... and THEY decide to adopt siblings?? THAT would be radical!

For us, making missions trips to foreign countries a couple of times a year..
sponsoring an orphanage through Children's Hope Chest, finding child sponsors, organizing a shoe drive...
not radical. These are normal things you do in response to seeing what we saw in Ethiopia. There's nothing "radical" about our lives.

But you take a young family like our friends the Clark's - thriving music careers, three very young kids at home, living in a great neighborhood, family and friends nearby, ministry with children at church.... and suddenly they are obeying the call to sell EVERYTHING and get on a plane and move their family to Bangkok to minister to the mostly Buddhist people??? Say it with me.... Radical!

But what then??
What is for us?
What would be RADICAL for our family?
We WANT to serve.
We WANT to be used by God.
We WANT to get face to face with Jesus one day and hear "Well done, thy good and faithful servant!"

But how? 
What else is there??
Do you ever feel like God has you in a "holding pattern"? 

I know the type of things I can see God asking us to do that would be "radical", but I also know that my sweet husband would not be on board with those things (now, or ever even). I know that our lives aren't typical to many of the people who live in our neighborhood or even in our county. I know that we have been given much and we will be expected to DO much in return. 

And I don't want to MISS that opportunity.

One time about two years ago, our pastor asked us this question. 
I would love it if you would tell me... so I have turned on my "anonymous" comments for just this post. 

Here it is:
"If you knew that God would bless your decision (your journey, your dream, your vision), 
and money was not a hindrance, 
what would you attempt??"

I think maybe that one thing... that's your Radical.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hair sin

When we began the adoption process
and decided on Ethiopia,
it suddenly occurred to me that
not only had I never before
had a child with hair other than similar to mine,
I also had never touched, played with,
or helped "do" a black child's hair.


Shortly after this realization
and my subsequent delve into the
world of trans-ethnic hair care
I learned a couple of stereotypical things on this topic:

(Warning: Non-Politically Correct usage of terms "black" and "white" to follow)
  • Black people in the general public are (stereotypically anyway) harsh when it comes to the hair of other black people. While white people may not necessarily notice another white person's hair (unless there's a mullet or some super strange, unnatural color... supposedly, black people ALWAYS notice other black people's hair. 
  • Many black people think there is no way that a white person could possibly take care of a black child's hair.
  • White people hair and black people hair are direct polar opposites on the spectrum of hair care.
  • NEVER, EVER, EVER CUT a black child's hair.
Now, how CORRECT these assumptions/facts happen to be is debatable.

What I have found to be true in OUR HOUSEHOLD is...
  • My four girls have three totally different types of hair. We have the white-girl hair, a more loose curl pattern and a tightly coiled curl pattern. 
  • Satin sleep caps can only do so much.
  • De-tangling is my least favorite part of doing my kids hair - brown or white skin, no matter.
  • Having a bar stool that spins and some good kid-shows on the TV are my two best tips for cooperative kids.
  • Black people out in public DO look at my kids hair and many of them look disapprovingly, depending on the day.
  • Magical oils and potions can only do so much also... and they need to be applied frequently.
That having been said...
my baby boy's hair has been a quandary
for months now.

Check out the cutest face EVER!

His hair has a tight curl pattern underneath, with some long straight hairs
growing out from underneath.

What this produces is a mixed hair pattern that doesn't want to cooperate with twists or locks or any other typical little boy styles. He is like a blend of both of his older sisters' hair textures.

Here is #6...
SUPER tight curls, but getting longer and 
we can get some tiny braids in there now!

And then #5...

Not the best pic showing her length or hair texture..
but its quite long and much more loosely coiled.

And here's another example of what I am talking about:

See the little coils I hand-twisted? 
They stayed pretty well, but then the fuzzy 
long straight hairs began to take over.
And it's not like I don't know how to take care of hair. 
I understand moisturizers, butters, blends, and potions.
Nothing is working!

Which brings me to ...
the hair cut.

Oh, yes I did.

I HAD to, people!

He HATED to have it detangled, 
crying big, huge tears no matter how gently
or slowly  I worked...
and he hated to have it coiled or pretty much

I had no real choice.

And yes, I feel bad.
I think it's super cute!

I think he likes it, too!
(and he clearly forgives me!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Double Stuffed

It is the tendency of adoption observers to view the day a family finally 
takes custody of their new child(ren) as that child's beginning. We know they 
have a past, but it is unapproachable, sometimes secretive, and we feel
that the best thing to do is to simply ignore their past and treat them like it doesn't exist.

The thing is, our kids had nearly 11 years of combined experiences between the three of them that we will never be able to fully unpack and retell for them. Sure, they may be able to tell us some stories, but we won't know if their facts are accurate or not because, let's face it - kids remember things differently than adults do.

Why do I tell you this?
Because adopted kids are like
Double Stuffed Oreos.
Here they are sandwiched with two sets of parents, 
and double the history and experiences.

Only addressing or taking into account one of those histories
will leave you thinking maybe the child is unruly, rebellious,
confused, not attaching well, or worse.

No, I am certainly not saying that I need to go 
around sharing my kids' history 
with every teacher, nursery worker, 
grocery store employee, or even friend...
but just know that there is something there... 
that there are experiences beyond 
anything you will ever comprehend.

And know that if you say something
about my child or something he or she did
that triggers that fear response
it's not you.
It's me,
my fears, 
my concerns,
and the floodgates that just opened
and made me unable to
control my facial expressions.
It's not you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About Sibling Adoption

Adoption isn't for everyone in every season.
Not everyone should adopt and of those who should or can...
not everyone should adopt siblings.

But if you are thinking about it...
and wondering about logistics of adopting siblings...
here's my perspective on the whole thing!

Obviously I am partial to siblings.

Our babies were on the waiting child list 
with our agency and when we were
finally approved to adopt them
we felt like we had won the lottery!
We couldn't believe that we could be so
fortunate as to be blessed THREE times over!

As we kept going in our process...
I struggled to find an "adoption twin".
You know...
someone like you...
adopting a child or children of the same ages,
in the same part of the process as you,
and with the same number of kids at home already.
 Clearly that's a tall order... 
but its always nice to have someone who just "gets it"
to go through the process with. 

I was unable to find someone adopting three at once, who were all pre-school ages... much less with four at home already. This sometimes gave me anxiety... like, do they all know something we don't know??!

When we got to the point when we traveled to Ethiopia and we met our babies for the first time... I can't even tell you how thankful I was that we had been chosen for our kiddos! We knew they were perfect for our family from day one, and we never thought differently!

Where you find the fork in the road is in the transition.
Our first night together when we took custody, our kids were nervous - but they had each other.
That first trip in a car together - they had each other.
When we didn't speak their language and didn't know what they wanted - they had each other.
In the middle of the night, boarding an airplane with relative strangers - they had each other.
When we got home and everything in their whole world was suddenly different - they had each other.
Strange people, strange smells, strange sounds, big dog... but they had each other!

We have been home over 5 months now and they still sing songs in Wolaytinga 
because they sing them TOGETHER. 

And from our perspective...
our kiddos couldn't be any more perfect.
The big 4 love the little 3...
they play together,
they act just like normal siblings,
they fight over toys,
little brother eats big brothers Nerf darts,
and they all blame the younger one for
It's normal.
It's a family.
And it's OUR family.
It doesn't feel weird...
or strange..
or like anything...
but our family!

So if you are wondering if you can adopt siblings...
yes you can.
And it's wonderful
and amazing
and there are SO many wonderful siblings out there
BIG sibling groups and sibling pairs too..
who don't know if they will ever be chosen
because they come with each other.
But that, in itself, is the blessing of adopting siblings!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hiding places

Somewhere deep, deep, deep inside
the corners of my heart
there is a dream.
This desire, placed there by God 
- of that I am sure - 
it hides there out of fear.

It whispers to me inside my thoughts
and dares to warm my heart.
It hides in the corner,
waiting for the signal...
the "all clear!"
that it is safe to come out
and show itself to the world.

But it is NOT safe.
It is NOT normal.
It is NOT rational
and it is certainly 
NOT popular
and my tiny, persistent dream
knows this is true.

If it dared to peek out
into the light of day
out into the real world
and was seen by all...
pain and criticism would certainly follow.

So it stays hidden from view and
only comes out in the safety of quiet and solitude.
It peers around the corner to see if anyone is
watching, then joyfully dances around my heart
with its warmth and happiness and love...
and fills my mind with thoughts of 
and the joy of knowing you are 
living in the "sweet spot" where
God has ordained your life since before
you were born!

And I live in that ooey-gooey place,
picturing that life,
and laughing to myself.
Laughing at the insanity!
Laughing at the craziness!

But then,
surely it comes.
The dream-killing moment
when doubt creeps in
and turns off the dancing music.

Are you insane?
What is wrong with you?
It's too soon!
It's just too much!
Can't you just be happy with what you have?
What about money?
What about "things"?

And like a child caught playing

in the mud wearing her Sunday best...
shamefully, woefully
my little dream goes back into hiding.
Sadly, whimpering from the
and a little more reluctant to come out again.

Our dreams don't always look the same. My relationship with Jesus tells me that my entire life is an offering... and on-going, life-long offering - for as long as He needs me. 
It's not about what the world, or friends, or family or strangers on the street SAY or THINK about my family
and how it is formed or how large it is... it is about following the leading of the Lord and being the person He created ME to be. That person has changed over the years, but that tiny dream was placed there before the foundations of the Earth were laid. On that given day when the idea of ME was created, the Lord knew the path my life would take and where He would lead me.
My dream, the place where I feel that the Lord has laid out for our family...
it doesn't look "normal" by American standards.
It doesn't look "safe".
It looks quite crazy
and really weird.

Which reminds me of  CS Lewis in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe:
'If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan 
without their knees knocking, they're either braver than me or else just silly.'
'Then he isn't safe?' asked Lucy.
'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? 
Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe.
 But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.'

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For my Granny

If you are reading this
and your name is not

this post isn't for you.

(But you can still read it...
Granny is a good sharer.)

Here is your grandbaby...
whose name reminds you of
hearing Grandma Jackson 
fuss about pronouncing her own name...
and I apologize because we didn't know that
was her name when we picked it! Ha ha ha!
Here's that afro you requested!
Here's #5 along with a rare photo of our oldest!
 And here's #6... in the car... drinking juice.
6 was not in the mood for photos today. Sorry.
 And then this is what I found when I went in to put the baby to bed.
Someone had already put him in his bed 
to keep him confined...
and I guess he was really tired!
awww...... they are so peaceful when they are asleep!
 He loves his pillow pet you got him!
Isn't that sweet?
All better after her tonsils are gone!

Here's the baby... awake, and looking cute!
Okay... so that's about it!
I love you, Granny!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's GOALS

I don't DO resolutions.

My thought process goes like this:

If I "resolve" to do something...
I am giving myself a new rule to follow.
Being a grown-up, strong-willed-child...
I know myself well enough to know that
I'm not going to follow some dumb rule I made up,
especially if I can justify why I don't need to!

I submit my

These are absolutely NOT "resolutions".

1. Get a better laundry system in place.
2. Make sure the sink is clear before bed.
3. Learn to do corn rows or flat twists.
4. Get my children to help with household tasks.
5. Plant a garden.
6. Get a vehicle that will seat all of us.
7. I hesitate to say it... exercise. Not more, just begin.
8. Begin a journal of funny things, happy things, things that make me smile.
9. Implement family Bible study time.
10. Get back into my crazy couponing.

I think 10 is a nice round number and a good stopping place!

So there you have it!
My non-resolutions for the year!

On another note...
our littles have been home 5 months today!
In some ways it seems like that time has FLOWN by, 
but on other days... not so much.
I miss my travel group friends
and the amazing experience 
we had in Ethiopia.
I do NOT miss the stress
of being in the passenger seat
of a seemingly out-of-control process!

I plan to do a "6-month Check-up" post, 
since that is the seemingly "magical", red-circle date
on the calendar that marks the point when most people
have found their "new normal"
and everyone is all comfy in their new role and place in the family.
We shall just see about that!