Friday, January 29, 2010
Yesterday, I fed her a little treat from my childhood. Something my mom used to give us every once in a while after school. Yesterday, I fried donuts. I can remember so clearly coming home, every once in a while, to a plate of hot donuts, freshly glazed. Yum. It was a special treat and one that I, er, Hope needed yesterday.
Here's how it's done in case you want to know. And, believe me, you do. Regular refrigerated biscuit dough is my accomplice here. Cut holes in those suckers and fry them up in some hot oil. Then, glaze with powdered sugar, a drop of vanilla, and tiny bit of milk. I'd give you exact measurements but I don't really know. I just mix it until it seems thick enough. Here's a hint, though. Start with a tablespoon of milk for about a cup of powdered sugar. I always put in too much milk and then have to add powdered sugar and, consequently end up with about 42 cups of glaze. If you want, add chocolate syrup to your glaze for chocolate donuts. And, if you really want to show off, add sprinkles.
Yeah...I think they liked it. And no, we didn't eat all of those yesterday...there are two left...okay, one and half.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
There are some things that are easy about having a third baby. I don’t struggle with a lack of information…those, “I have no idea what I am doing” moments. And, multitasking is, I would say, a strong suit at this point. In some ways, I feel more relaxed as a mother than I ever have. No, it isn’t those kinds of things. I struggle more with wondering if I am doing enough with all of them. Am I giving them enough individual time? Are they suffering because my time is limited? Will they struggle later because I didn’t have enough to go around? And so, while I know I can feed a baby, cuddle with a toddler who has just woken up from a nap, and throw out sight word flash cards to a kindergartner all at the same time, I am often left wondering if any of them really got my best today.
And it makes me a little sad. Okay, it’s slightly more intense than that. Truthfully, it makes me want to crawl into my bed and weep. I so desperately want them all to have my very best. And what if they don’t? What if what I am capable of is not enough? What if they grow up to be different people than they would have if I could’ve been more?
There are three things these days that keep me from being on the floor in a heap. 1.) I know, I KNOW, that God led us on this journey of adoption all THREE times. And I know that his hand was on the timing of it all. He knows what I need and, more importantly to me, what THEY need. And, he who changed the water to wine and made 5 loaves and 2 fish feed thousands of hungry people can take whatever I offer and increase it beyond what is even needed. 2.) Fear of what could potentially happen has never been a helpful or motivating tool in my life. It has only ever served to make me more crazy than I already am and to inflict wounds of self doubt that take a LOT of energy to heal. And, frankly, I am short on extra energy these days. And 3.) I heard Beth Moore say once that she believed that we, too often, protect our children from the wrong things. We try to protect them from having to learn patience and we try to protect them far too often from their own neediness. They can not be filled up by us as parents. We want so much to be everything they need, but when we make that our goal, we fail them in a far greater way. We rob them of the understanding of their neediness and that makes it harder for them to desire God.
I have to say, I wish I felt a little more comfort in knowing that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that God can redeem my failures and shortcomings, but it does little to soothe the ache that comes with knowing there are ways in which I fail my family. And I guess that makes it my turn to offer my neediness up to God, and to embrace that my desire for more can only be met in Him...and the subsequent revelation that he is more than enough. And, I guess that’s a lot better than thinking you aren’t enough and that it’s ruining your kid’s lives.
It’s definitely better than that.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Yep. I'm cool and now everyone knows it.
Secretly, I'm still not sure I can really pull that style off...but here's to believing that people actually mean it when they say I looked cute...and to shunning the belief that they are only commenting because they clearly felt the need to say something about my outfit and, "Wow, you are way too old for leggings and a bubble dress" sounds really mean.
I like it. I wore it. And I like to think I rocked it. A big day, indeed...
And now....I am officially on sabbatical from my blog. I'm exhausted and clearly out of interesting things to talk about. I'm sure it won't last long. But, my commitment thus fulfilled, I'll get to it when I get to it.
Friday, January 15, 2010
So, sometime in early December I asked Corrie to consider coming to Bella's birthday party. It was an honest invitation and I really hoped she would come. But, I wasn't sure she would. Corrie has had a very emotional journey and it has been hard for her, in ways that I know I can never really understand, to deal with the reality of placing a child for adoption. I grieve for her. I pray for her. I deeply desire healing for her. But, I know I can't truly understand what she has been through.
I was surprised the weekend before when she texted me to say that she and her mom would love to come. Love to! I was so excited, and so terrified all at once. And here is why. Here is the dynamic when we get to see Corrie or her family. And...let me just say, that this dynamic is entirely created by me. All me. Because they are perfectly lovely. I feel anxiety for the following reasons: 1.) Will they think we are doing a good job with Bella? 2.) Will she behave and if she doesn't what will they think about us? (Anyone who knows Bella knows that my fear that she will be a rebellious lunatic child is completely laughable.) 3.) Will they interpret her shyness as her not liking them and then, will they think we aren't talking about them often enough or favorably enough. 4.) Do they wish, the entire time we are there, that they had never agreed to place her for adoption, that they didn't have to have this relationship with us? 5.) I must make this a memorable visit. "Go climb in her lap, Bella. Let them read you a story, Bella. Give hugs and kisses, Bella." And the list could go on and on and on. It is agonizing. And, again, it is all me. They have been so kind and so generous with their compliments and assurances of their confidence in us. They have been the ideal birth family. Seriously ideal. We are spoiled in terms of birth families.
But still, I wonder. And so, when they said they were coming, I felt glad. Really, truly glad. And also terrified. Slightly terrified. I knew it would be awesome for them to see Bella in her own element. She would be more herself and not as shy and they would really enjoy that. But, I also wondered what they would think of her element...namely our little (tiny) house and our little town. (Ugh. I am rolling my eyes at myself as I am writing this.) So, that little project I wrote about in the last post...yeah, that was done a few days prior to the party. Yes, I had planned on doing it after the first of the year and yes, I am thankful that it is done and over. But, yes, part of me was strongly motivated by the fact that Corrie and her mom were coming and everything needed to be perfect (eye roll).
The day of the party, they arrived and jumped right in. It was so lovely to have them there, meeting our friends, watching Bella play with her precious little friends, snapping pictures in the background, and enjoying Bella at her best. And I didn't have to force any memories, because they came naturally. And Corrie seemed to really enjoy herself. And that is huge.
See, I think part of the complexity of this relationship for me is that I, like every other decent person, don't like to watch those I love experience pain. And, I am painfully aware that my presence, when we are all together, causes some pain for Corrie. Who am I kidding? It's probably excruciating. I get to do what a big part of her would like to be doing. I get to be the mommy. And I can't imagine how that must feel. And so, I try desperately to make up for that fact with perfectness and memories and sweet new rooms. "Now it doesn't hurt so much, right? This awesome pink room totally makes up for the fact that I get to live life with this precious child, right?" (eye roll) It's exhausting. And, again...all created by me.
But, the day of Bella's party, somehow all of that was set aside. On that day, it felt like we were both just grateful for the role that each of us gets to play in her life. I felt totally comfortable being the mommy in front of Corrie and I felt such deep gratitude for her as I watched her and Bella make a bookmark together, their heads smooshed together so intently, and looking so similar. Nothing...nothing but gratitude for this mother who gave life to my child. And I relaxed and stopped trying to make it less messy than it is. And, when I did that, I was able to enjoy it's unique kind of beauty.
There will always be a certain amount of grief that is all tied up in adoption. I think I made that clear in this post. And, I know that it isn't my job to make it go away. I love Corrie, though, and so I know I may continue to struggle, for a while, with wanting to make it better. But, I hope that I am also learning to welcome it as a testament to how much my children are loved. I hope that, eventually, it causes them to understand the great sacrifice their birthmoms made on their behalf and that it speaks loudly to them of their great value. And mostly, I hope that it points them to the Man of Sorrows, himself. He who is well acquainted with suffering and sacrifice and who works out his good plans for us in ways that we don't always understand. Hmmm...sounds familiar...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
If I had pictures to show of the old room, I would. It was very different than this one. It had three green walls (I think the exact color was Basil) and one wall with 24, 16 in. polka dots in all kinds of bright colors. So cute...if I do say so myself. :) Here is the new one:
I seriously could not have done a better job if I had chosen myself. But, you have to believe me when I say that I DID NOT choose this for them. I was determined to let them pick it out...and that is kind of a hard thing for me. They liked this one because it has ruffles and they both love blue. This was from Target's Shabby Chic Children's line. LOVE IT!
I finally figured out what to do with the closet. I took the doors off right after we moved in because they were circa 1970 wood paneling and UGLY. But, I had never replaced them with anything because I couldn't find curtains that were long enough since the doors reach all the way to the ceiling. I am so mad at myself that I didn't realize that a twin size sheet is exactly 8 feet and so that, plus a simple tension rod is a perfect solution. Really? $20 could've fixed it 4 years ago? Ugh! Don't you hate when you do something like that? I found this sweet little Laura Ashley sheet set at Ross (gotta love Ross) and it is a cute little accent.
There is pink in the bedding and so that was the chosen color for the walls. It is such a sweet color. The letters for their names are a little project that I saw online and it is super simple. I got the wooden letters at Hobby Lobby and covered them in scrapbook paper in colors and patters that complimented the bedding. So fun!
Here is a closer look. Seriously, it took me about an hour to make and hang both of their names. I love when something so simple can make such a huge difference.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Note to self: Self, in the future please don't be so quick to promise, in writing, that you will post every day. Let's keep in mind that you have very little time to yourself and, being the kind of person who writes, rewrites, edits, obsesses over, and then erases it all and writes it again, this kind of commitment makes us want to chop off our fingers so as to avoid any future ridiculous promises. Kindly, Self
All cozy and smiley after bathtime.
Okay, I know this is borderline obscene but I had to show you this picture of Bella in the outhouse at the Ranch. The girls did so good with it. Look how happy she is to be freezing her little tooshie off! What a trooper!
Love this one of Hope and Ava. Both the girls are unbelievably in love with this baby.
This is not the greatest picture but I had to throw it in because it tells the story of our life right now. It's blurry cause I can almost never catch everyone in the same place at the same time. Hope is incredibly composed and flashing us her brilliant smile. Bella is trying to get in on the action and Ava looks like, "would someone please get me out of here!?!" Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Two Sundays ago he preached on Genesis 22. This is the passage where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Pastor Jim said that in his 25 plus years of ministry he has never taught on this passage. Never. Do you know why? Because he hated it. Hated it. (Oh the impish kind of thrill it gave me to hear him say that! I felt instantly bonded to him.) To him, it seemed inconsistent with his picture of who God was and he found it hard to reconcile it in his mind. Years and years and years of trying to reconcile it. God is a loving and faithful father. How could he ever ask someone to do such a thing? But, as Jim is so good at doing, he felt unmistakably that it was time to preach on this passage and so he did. And it shined a light for me in some dark places.
He preached the sermon, in part, on obedience. We obey, Abraham obeyed, because it is God who asks. And God knows infinitely more than we do. His ways are not like ours and he sees the bigger picture in ways that we will never understand. Hebrews 11, that famous roll call of faithful believers says that "by faith, Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice." His faith in who God was allowed him to offer all he had with no guarantee about how it might turn out. We obey when we don't understand because he is God.
Then, he went on to talk about the goodness of God and how if we are insistent on measuring his goodness by our own standards we will miss a great deal of it. He said that if we follow Christ, and we are asked to choose between God and evil, the choice seems clear. Of course, we would choose God. But, the reality is that sometimes we are asked to choose between good, and God. Something that we believe to be good, or even is actually good, and God. We are asked to give up our children, to believe that when they suffer or when they are taken from us, that God is still working, still bringing about good. Or we are asked to let go of some dream, something we once knew was given to us by Him, in order to follow God. And those decisions are a little tougher. They take some grit. They hurt and they make us wonder what kind of God we serve. And we are tempted to ignore him or to just say no. We are tempted to offer up some other less important thing in hopes it will pacify him for the time being. We are tempted to hold tighter, thinking that, in time, he will see things our way and change his mind. But, here is the kicker. Jim said something about this that has stuck with me and will continue to for a long time. He said, "The risk here is that we will not let God do a work in us that is beyond our grasp." That we would refuse to let him do a work that defies our ideology, even our unknowingly twisted theology about who he is. We don't understand his goodness when it doesn't look like ours. And so, we get angry. I get angry. I justify my break from communion with him because I feel like he's not answering my prayers. And then, not only do I miss the good he is doing, I also miss his most tender care of me. It is most tender because he is well acquainted with the sacrifice of something so precious.
Theories about suffering are just that when you aren't really suffering. They are just theories. They are what I hope to gently offer people who are in the midst of it now, and they are how I hope and pray that I will respond when I am asked to sacrifice something that I can't bear the thought of losing. But, I also know that this sermon wasn't just for those who are suffering or for my own future reference. There is truth in it for me right now. I needed to hear that I absolutely have to cast aside my preconceived notions about what is good. I needed to hear that I can never elevate a good gift above the Giver himself. And I needed to hear that my obedience to His call to sacrifice should be swift and certain because I know whom I serve.
It was a good sermon. It hit it's mark and has continued to penetrate. Hear it for yourself here. It is from 1/3/10. He does a much better job than I do.
Monday, January 11, 2010
In the midst of our relaxing vacation at the Ranch my sweet Isabella turned 3. Three! In some ways it's hard to believe that it has already been three years. I can remember with absolute clarity our tearful introduction to our second baby girl. There was no shortage of tears that week as we welcomed this baby into our lives and as we grieved for her precious birthmom, who had also become our friend.
In other ways, it seems like we've known her forever. Her imprint in our lives and on our hearts is so significant, that it hardly seems like it could have happened in only three years.
We had a special family celebration at the Ranch on her actual birthday and then a Mickey Mouse party with all of her friends, birthmom included, this past week. (Have I mentioned her obsession with Mickey Mouse?) On her birthday, I decorated a dining chair for her with balloons and streamers (as I do on the kids birthdays) and she sat in it for breakfast. For lunch, though, she decided that Hope might want a turn in the special chair and, after realizing how ridiculous I sounded trying to convince my three year old to keep the special chair for herself, I let her decide what to do with it. (Ugh...not my proudest moment as a mom.) For dinner, it was daddy's turn to sit in it. That's just Bella.
Bella is a gift giver and she notices and comments on the strengths of others. She is a good sharer (well, we all have our off days) and is quick to apologize when she is wrong. She is the first to say a thorough thank you (by thorough I mean that during dinner I usually hear, "Thank you mom, for the chicken. Thank you for the peas. Thank you, mom, for the salad and thank you for my milk.") and always likes to make sure that if she gets a treat, those around her will be getting one, too. And, when she gets in trouble(which, because she is three, is beginning to happen more and more), she is, generally, truly troubled and heartbroken to have disappointed us.
In my prayers for Bella, I pray often that she would rest secure in God's love for her and would therefore have the courage to offer her tender heart to others for His glory and her joy. May it be so, Lord!
Happy, Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Everything is old school about the ranch.
(These are the real things, baby. Not that plastic crap they're selling these days. )
Even the cabinet contents...
Oh my gosh! Can you believe we found actual MSG in the cabinets up there? "Flavors come ALIVE!" I love it!
The old schoolness is part of the draw for me, though. Because, even though it is a lot of work, initially, to get up there with three kids, I also know that without the distractions from every day life, we are granted the gift of time. And with that time, we get to focus on and enjoy some of the finer things in life.
Like sleep... can I get an AMEN!
Part of what I have to blog about is my unbelievable children and so I thought I would kick it off right with a little video of what Ava is doing right now. This is what I hear whenever she is awake and I am not kidding you, I could just eat this baby up. She is so precious and we have regular conversations like this one she is having with Aunt Connie. Here is what her end of the conversation sounds like.
(I realize this is over two minutes and you can really get the gist of it in the first 30 seconds. So, if you aren't related to me, feel free to turn it off after that. I'll never know. If you are related, I will know and so you have to watch the whole thing. I think it's a law.)