Monday, March 16, 2015

A Jumbled Post and Boy Things

(Re-posted Wednesday, March 18)

So I did it again: I accidentally hit "Publish" instead of "Save" here on Blogger the other night. Oh well, a partial and unedited post was up and I had no idea till the next day. I've no time for embarrassment anymore. I was sitting in the waiting room at the children's hospital when I decided to check my phone before we were called into the casting room, and I found a little note in my inbox about my post.

The night before I had just finished making my rounds, tucking children in and whispering bedtime prayers, when Jon called to say he'd be home by 9 o'clock. I wrapped up some work and prepared to take a run, even though I wasn't feeling like do so. After touching base with Jon for several minutes, I headed out, telling him I'd be home after 4 miles. My run on Saturday had not been the most pleasant, and I just sort of expected the same again. However, the night was cool and perfect and I felt better with each mile. I just kept running and I am still stunned by how well I feel. Has it really been the case that I've never known what it is like to have oxygen?! I circled through the neighborhood, up and down some pretty steep hills, and my thoughts were finally free and uninterrupted. The stars shone but the streets were dark, a dog barked at me and my heart did a little skip. I thrive on a little adventure that some would consider unsafe. I just kept running. I didn't know the time but I knew it is well past 10:00. A motorcycle came up from behind; it sounded like my husband's and I thought maybe he was out looking for me. After all, I was now in my seventh mile. I came around to the edge of a canyon, circled back, and took the long way home.

Once home, I could tell Jon was still working in his office upstairs, so I sat with a snack and opened up a new page here and started typing. When Jon joined me in the kitchen, I stopped typing, evidently clicked "Publish" and folded down the computer for the night. We sat on the kitchen counter and talked till after midnight. Those are the best kind of talks... unplanned, uninterrupted, and late at night!

So, sorry for that weird post.

Then, today Blogger sent out an old post to those who have subscribed. So strange. I am not responsible for that one, but perhaps one of the many kids who use my computer is. Maybe. Sorry for that, too.

Since everything related to my blog is so disjointed this week anyway, I will just continue in like fashion with the rest of this post. Here's basically what I had started...


The minutes pass quickly in the morning and I rush because it's time to wake the kids for school. I walk from the stairs towards the bedrooms and bend down to pick up a small mess on the floor. It is a dead, decapitated mosquito hawk. My guess is that at least on boy has already been up.

This afternoon Michael comes home and goes quietly to his room. It's busy all around me, inside the house and out, and I'm too distracted to wonder at his quiet movement passed me. He doesn't normally just slip by quietly. No, his presence is always obvious. Plus, by this time of day he is normally begging for food. A short while later he comes and asks if I can help organize some of his stuff. I know he wants organization, but it doesn't come easily to him. Unfortunately, I am busy with dinner preparations, so I tell him I'll give him a game plan but that I cannot work with him. First, I ask him to take his laundry out and remind him about another unfinished chore. Several minutes later I follow him into his room and take a look at the mess. He laughs because I've been tricked, and he says, "Don't look behind you!" Of course I do, and there, on his bed, is a long snake all coiled up. Now, understand that I hate snakes nearly as much as I hate Satan himself, and I have a very clear rule about bringing such things into the house. Without screaming, I tell him to get it out NOW and I mumble something about consequences. Is this really a funny joke? And what if it had slithered away under the furniture somewhere while he was taking out the laundry?

Later, and rather by accident, I found out that the snake was a freshly dead find. He thought I already knew. OK, so he didn't disobey. But a dead snake on his bed? Really? The next day he skinned it while I was out, and I'm hoping not to get a souvenir bookmark from it!

This is my life with boys. Someday, I'll probably want to remember some of the details. The stories might seem funnier to me then.

A couple weeks ago, Jacob motioned to me from the door one late afternoon. There was a possum hiding out in front of my car which was parked in the garage. Within moments, all the boys were armed with bats and hockey sticks, thrusting their implements fiercely at the possum. They tried to convince Olivia and I of their smart plan, that they would force it out. Well, instead it ran about, once lunging toward Olivia and me with its sharp, beastie teeth. Finally it ran out momentarily, only to re-enter by a different way. After much hoopla and loud boy-noises, the possum played dead by my laundry things, and pooped on the mat by the inside door. Nice, huh? The smell was horrid, and the boys thought it was the greatest thing ever. In fact, Andrew recorded the whole event, and watched the episode repeatedly that night.

I know a woman who raised 9 boys. She must have some fantastic stories.


Well, Jon is home now and we keep telling ourselves we should go to bed earlier. I did a quick check to see if I have recent pictures, but there are none I am allowed to post. I've not been very good at capturing the moments, either. 

Good night.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Miscellany of Journals

Wednesday, March 4

The night air smells amazing with the scent of orange blossoms wafting in on the ocean breeze. Sometimes I just stand there a little stunned by the wonderment of the simplest of things. A lady from our church stopped by yesterday with a container of chili for the children and I while Jon is away this week, and along with dinner she brought a few fresh vegetables from her garden. A small bunch of fresh, vibrant mint now sits on my kitchen windowsill, and I think it's so pretty.

When I pray with the kids each day, I've been asking God to help us recognize the many ways in which He is good to us. His people, His creation, and His provisions have all been brought to our attention.

Another thing for which I am thankful today: The help of a housekeeper.

(Daffodils. They are the flower for March, and a little tradition in our home during Olivia's birthday month.)

Thursday, March 5

Today was Jacob's half birthday. We still celebrate those half birthdays around here, and I don't think the kids will outgrow that little tradition anytime soon. It wasn't an easy thing to explain to the new kids what exactly is a half birthday. One of my older kids tried to bring clarity and said, "It's just a fun way to make everyone feel special." To that statement, our new little boy laughed out in his cartoon-like giggle and said, "Well I ain't special!" He is the cutest thing, and we are making it our business to make him believe that, yes, he is special.

Friday, March 6

I've found a good formula: Separate everyone into groups of twos for a couple hours each day. Give 'em all a break from the crowd, and everyone is refreshed.

Michael and Olivia rode their bikes to the beach and walked down the coast together.

Andrew and Jack swivel boarded/scootered around the cul-de-sac. I sent them out with a little snack which they were not expecting, and I scored major points.

The littler ones played together, alone, which they totally need. They kicked the soccer ball around the yard, then played a little hide-and-seek. They don't know how to play with rules, but they are learning. One thinks they should have equal turns kicking the soccer ball, the other thinks it's "not fair" if he loses. Overall, though, they seem happy out there in the sunshine.

Me? Well, it's a little break and I like it very much! I rolled out the yoga mat on the deck and did some stretches and girly push-ups. It about time for that.

(Michael's latest creation: He whittled a piece of wood, sanded and stained it, then fashioned the sail and flag. I think it's so cute.)

Saturday, March 7

I found this little quote which I had copied out some time ago.

"Parents, if you love your children, do all that lies in your power to train them up to a habit of prayer. Show them what to say. Encourage them to persevere. Remind them if they become careless and slack about it. Let it not be your fault, at any rate, if they never call on the name of the Lord."  JC Ryle

(A rare moment...)

Sunday, March 8

Sundays are just so special. They just are. Even with the time change and the sleepiness I felt today, I was so thankful to be there. It has been such a wonderful thing for me as a mom to know that all my kids love to go to church, too. The younger ones count down the days. Sadly I wasn't like that as a kid, and for many years as an adult it felt like more of a duty. Just saying...

Like many Sundays, we did some kid swapping. Jacob and his friend are in the jacuzzi this afternoon, and they keep daring each other to jump into the "big pool" because it is still uncomfortably cold. Every now and then someone does, and it is my guess that the pool will be in full time use in just a few short weeks.

Every springtime when the weather starts turning, I start getting motivated to run. I've been at about 75% motivation for a while now, which is not enough to commit, and last night I finally laced up and went out. It was an amazing run and I do believe I am hooked! I had tried to get back into it late last summer, but it was so miserable I eventually gave up after a few short weeks. Of course I didn't know how anemic I was at the time. It's amazing what an iron infusion did for me!

As I sit here and type, I am watching our new kiddos interact with each other as they play Legos in the living room nearby. There was yet another disagreement, and I reminded them of a few principles I have been trying to instill and practice. Silence followed as no one wanted to give in, but they continued to work on their little creations. Several minutes later, one looked up and asked the other for forgiveness. They didn't know I was paying attention. This is a first: Humility and repentance without my intervention. They are learning that by following God's ways there is happiness and unity; but to follow after selfishness, there is always misery. 

Monday, March 9

I had lots I thought I'd want to write here today, but now, at 10:02 pm, it is all gone.

I just got back from an hour long run, and whoo-wee, I feel good! What a gift! I've got some songs in my head as I near the end of my day, and tomorrow I will probably have some sore legs. I've always loved sore muscles... it' a promising feeling!

Another quote scribbled out here at my desk:

"Where you invest your love,
You invest your life..."

Mumford &Sons

Tuesday, March 10

Today Andrew flung open his bedroom window for Olivia and said, "Here! Sit here on my bed!" He did this because the scent of jasmine from the garden below is just unreal, and he wanted her to enjoy it as she did her school work. Our little jasmine plant below the window is about the only pretty thing in that area of our yard, but the aroma right now makes up for it. Olivia went out tonight and collected some blossoms for her bedside, and for me in the kitchen.

Later, Andrew decided it might be a better idea to charge Olivia a dime if she wants to sit in his room! Brothers...

Tonight I lay in bed with a little boy that still doesn't feel like my own, but I try every day to make him feel like my son. The things I've learned this month about myself have been surprising, and not always pretty. I was prepared to give time and grace for others to adjust, but I assumed my own transition from a mother of four to a mother of six would be a little smoother. After all, I'd been preparing and waiting for so long. I've discovered, however, that theoretical preparedness and emotional imaginings do not quite equate to reality. The fact that I don't feel the way I'd like to feel has been a disappointing surprise to me.

So, we will need time and we will need grace, and we will need much of it. 

My little boy had been crying hard, uncontrollably, and unreasonably. It's impossible to know what was going on in his head, but something was devastating to him. He couldn't speak, nor could he hear or receive much from me. When eventually his need and will to cry loudly yielded to fatigue, I talked and soothed as best I could. He leaned his head hard in the crook of my neck and shoulder, and his big sobbing tears rolled down my arm and chest. He just needed to be held. He needed to be wanted and loved.

We lay on his bed all curled up, his body against mine as though he were a toddler. It dawned on me  that perhaps, and very likely, he has never been held that way before. So it was special, and more than any other time so far, I felt like his mother. This was what he needed, to be wanted and loved, and I was there to give it...


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Relationship and Time Away

Monday done. Check.

I find myself wide awake tonight, swaddled here in a thick, cozy sweater and alone in a dark room lit only by my laptop screen. I am antsy for something, and I'm not sure what. I often feel this way when I've been thinking of journaling here. Somehow the recording of my days is a sort of outlet for me, a chance to unwind. But my days are too crazy for a simple description now. I'm sure they could be described as dizzying, or maybe even insane, to anyone interested enough to observe. I multi-task to the max, always thinking several steps ahead, keeping in motion with the clock, and attempting to go deep and be thorough when I am spread thin.

I didn't want an easy life, only a purposeful one. I have long desired meaningful work, a life that has eternal significance in the eyes of the Lord. It's not a desire for laying up treasures in heaven so much as it is a desire to impact eternal souls. I think this is why motherhood has been so dear to me; it's a grand opportunity to do a deep and lasting work with the help and blessing of the Lord.

And yet, it doesn't feel so grand most of the time. It doesn't feel like the incessant cleaning and cooking and organizing and, well, non-stop work is so valuable and wonderful at all. It certainly isn't glamorous and it would be a hard sell at a job fair!

But at the end of the day, I am content. I pray my work yields more than a mere feeling of satisfaction, but for now I find joy in the simple fact that I made it to the end of another day. There were talks about God, and there was prayer; instruction was given, forgiveness granted; relationships were tested and nurtured; tears were dried, and happy noise was nearly unbearable. I'd like to believe we are making forward progress, and yet I know that my work is meaningless without God's holy work in the deepest part of each of us.

So I pray expectantly for that deep and eternal work that only God can do. It's not about me, or motherhood, or anything else. Only and always God.


With the addition of two new family members, we are in a major period of adjustment here. It would be an outright lie to say it has been easy for anyone. It  has been a tiring time, but in the midst of it I keep reminding myself that relationship is a top priority. Jon and I are determined not to relate to our kids solely as a group, and we're committed to finding ways to nurture individual relationships that are meaningful and personal. This will not be an easy task, and it will require some creativity and forethought. Over the course of this last month it has been especially important to check in with my kids as individuals. I've wanted to create a safe environment for honesty, and I've looked for ways to impress upon each my love for them as individuals.

It has also been my goal to find different outlets and opportunities for a break, a change of scenery and rest from the pressures they are each enduring. Whether it's an afternoon at the beach with friends, a birthday party, youth event, or a simple bike ride, I've tried my best to enable distraction and rest from our home and situation.

Jon, the sweetest husband ever, planned a little getaway for Olivia and I last Friday. I'm not the type to say, "I need a vacation!" but this was so helpful and refreshing to me! Olivia has been awesome with all the recent change, but losing much sleep, personal space and freedom was beginning to take its toll. It was a wonderful time away, a time to just leave the weightiness behind and enjoy rest and relationship without strain.

Friday had been full. Appointments ran late in the day and I still wasn't packed and ready to go. I had the new kiddos at the doctor's office for yet another appointment that took an incredible amount of time, while Jon tag-teamed with me for drop off and pick up. Olivia waited for me at home, finishing up school and packing her bag. I pulled up to the lumber yard where Jon was and transferred my passengers and their booster seats, kissed him and three kids good-bye, and hopped back in to be on my way. But now the car was dead. What on earth? Jon spent a few moments figuring things out, then showed me how to wiggle the connection at the battery (ocean air caused some corrosion). No matter, I've driven cars with holes so bad you can see the pavement below, other times I've learned to start a car by first lifting the hood and messing below with a screwdriver. By this point, I was determined: I had no fear of a car not starting and no guilt for taking a break. This was a generous gift from Jon, and I wasn't going to waste his effort with half-hearted enjoyment. After speeding home for Olivia, and taking a couple minutes to throw in some over night things, she and I were on our way!

And it was so nice.

It rained and we didn't care. We slept in and took our time. We enjoyed our food, the city, and our freedom. We shopped and enjoyed all types of girl things. We made decisions and plans for the coming months, and we talked about high school. (Yes, she will be in high school next year!) We researched the topic of African-American hair care, and thought of ways to take care of our girl.

There was no agenda except relaxation and relationship, and I'd say both items were covered quite nicely...

Jon managed quite well in my absence: He grilled steaks and served it with mac and cheese for dinner (no one will die for lack of veggies on one night!), the house was relatively clean when we returned, and there was a vase filled with daffodils in the kitchen. More importantly, everyone was safe and happy.

(I have a problem with blinking in sync with the camera! I knew Olivia would get embarrassed if she had to stand on the sidewalk with my obnoxiously big camera for more than a couple seconds, so I kept my back turned. This was our little lunch spot.)

I have so much to be thankful for, but tonight I think of Jon who frees me up to be a mother. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015


Little things make me happy, like seeing brothers in the afternoon sunlight. It's a fine thing to watch while peeling vegetables at the kitchen sink.

Relationships being built or solidified... This has been one of my top priorities this month. Well, no, it is majorly important to me always. But this month, in new and formative ways, relationship has been at the forefront of my mind.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holding On

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purposes."
Rom. 8: 26-28

It would seem that darkness lingers longer in the mornings around here as I sleep restlessly and wake many times before the sun comes up. I know I need rest, so let myself ease back into sleep for a while only to wake again while it is still dark. The sun comes up slowly, my sleep apparently lasting only a few moments. I talk to God again, just like I had been some 6 hours or so earlier. "Talk" is not really a fitting word. I've not always talked to God because the words have not always been there. 

I am laid bare. At times I've been quite wrecked. Those late night moments and early morning hours... He just knows. He sees me-- my inner most being, my fears, my questions, my all. And He just knows.

In a sense I do pray because I just hold on tight. It is my simple, humble worship and petition: "God, you know. Help me. We need you..."

Morning light comes and the pounding of my heart and churning of my stomach sets in strong. I ask once more, "Show me Your power today. Let me know your presence. I need to see something of You today because I can't do this alone..."

And He is always faithful. Always. Even when I could have despaired, He was faithful still.

I hang on to small bits of truths throughout the day. Small bits, moment by moment, just keeping things simple in my mind and heart. The days and weeks and situations are not always simple, but the important truths need to be crystal clear and close to me at all times. My Bible stays open, the same passage is read again several times. At times I have hardly held on, only by a thread. Maybe God is showing me that in my strength I am unable, but He won't let go?

His Words. Simple and clear. I believe.

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need."
Heb. 4: 14-16

"When you pray, better to let your heart be without words than your words without a heart."  
John Bunyan, 1688


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bits of Life Now

It's hard to know where to start, what to say, what not to say. I have often struggled with balancing authenticity and maintaining privacy. If I can't be authentic, then this blog is no longer of value to me and I shut it down. However, privacy is obviously necessary, especially for those who have not volunteered for their business to be publicized, or in our case now, when we have a contract that restricts the sharing of the most basic information. So at this point I find it difficult to write honestly since I cannot provide necessary background.

There is seriously very little I can share: The children are here, and our goal is adoption. Most people know that these things take a ridiculous amount of time. Working with the state in this way is like working with the DMV in a grander scale: There is no end to the inefficiency! In the meantime, I cannot post pictures or release any information regarding identity, history of their past, legal status, etc. Two children are in our care and protection now, and I want to do that in a way that honors them.

(We were expecting them here for Christmas. This was in December when I showed the children's pictures for the first time.)

The last two weeks have been a wild ride. It feels like it has been two months at least. Of course we knew things would be hard and we prepared as best we could, but in the midst of this crazy transition and adjustment, the difficulty of it all seems so much more than I bargained for. On the other hand, things have gone remarkably well. Truly, it has been a crazy, crazy time. Every emotion has been present, and there is no simple way to describe this experience. There are adjustments being made on so many levels and for so many people, but on the whole I am so entirely proud of how everyone is doing. There is much to be thankful for.

I think the psycho-emotional-social (or whatever you want to call it!) has been the most challenging, but the logistical and functional aspects of our days have been out of this world as well. This past week: various social workers, appointments, school registration, meetings with administrators, injuries, injury reports, dentists, hours at the RE, flu virus circulating our home, lessons rescheduled, mountains of paperwork... oh, yes, and schooling and housekeeping and meals... and maintaining sanity throughout!

At the end of each day though, when discouragement would seem most likely, there is always enough good to be confident that all of this is just right. I have full confidence that this is right and good. There is so much I want to share: Things the kids have said (the big ones and the littler ones), times when Jon has given me both the grace I needed and the encouragement to press on, difficulty melting into manageability, evidences of God's work and presence... It amazes me how a simple moment can wipe away hours of difficulty.

(Saturday relaxation.)

Yesterday was a nice day. It was a nice break because nothing major happened. I've got to expect the unexpected now, but when nothing unexpected happens it's an unexpected pleasure! Ha!

It was Valentine's Day and I felt loved. Things have been too weird to plan much of anything, but seeing the day as it unfolded made me think of true and enduring love. Jon is my heart throb. Literally, my heart has been pounding for him! I think of him all the time! By breakfast time I am already feeling impatient for his return! Our current situation has not caused me to be distracted from him, rather I just can't wait to be alone with him. Yesterday we did not exchange cards and there were no gifts or flowers or sweets, but I felt so blessed to be his wife. I watched him work hard and patiently endure, and I felt his commitment to me displayed in his character. Romance is nice, but it is not what displays true love. Real love is steadfast love when life isn't easy, when loving isn't pretty. I am in love with this beautiful husband of mine...

(A simple gift from Jacob, who is my latest flu victim.)

I would like to thank all of you who have sent emails, texts, comments, etc. in response to my last post! I am sorry I have not been able to reply to everyone yet, but your words and sentiments are meaningful to me! Thank you.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Announcement...

I sit here tonight, fingering the keys of my laptop with an inability to write, and contemplating putting off writing for at least another day. You see, this is the post I've been hoping to write for years now. Literally, years. It's the post I have often dreamed of delightfully assembling. It was going to be a cheerful announcement with enchanting pictures, and it would mark the end of waiting and the beginning of a new journey and calling. But now the long awaited time is here, and I'm simply paralyzed. My words are stuck, they are not even forming, and the grand announcement is not rolling out with the romantic sentiment I once expected.

The years of waiting and hoping did indeed mature me out of believing it would all be easy and only wonderful. Those years were not wasted, and the work which God did in my heart was entirely necessary. Some of these things I will eventually share because they are a significant part of my story now. However, I am discovering that my lessons have only just begun. This is not the end of one thing, only the continuation of deeper and more intimate instruction by my Savior. If there is a beginning, it is of me clinging to God in a brand new way and coming to know Him and His power more intimately. To me, this is the blessing.

But in my frailty I find myself unsure at times. I see myself in the big black eyes that look up at me each day, hesitant, scared, and wondering if I'll pull through for them.

There are eight chairs around our dining table. Our house is full. Two more children now call me Mom.