Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm Just So Tired Of It...

The election that is! I can’t wait for Tuesday to come and go… If I don’t hear another scathing political ad for the rest of my life, it would still be too soon!

I am a conservative Christian and yet, I am so tired of hearing the “hate speech” about the other “non-conservative” side…it’s bitter, angry and just plain hateful. I’m tired of Christians speaking out against each other with hostile, judgmental, self-righteous statements like, “I don’t know how you can be a Christian and support ‘x’.” I hear that from both sides…I’ve heard Christian Republicans say it about Christian Democrats and vice versa…

The Bible tells us to guard the unity of the body of Christ… to live in harmony with one another… we need to watch what we say and how we say it! The unity of the body of Christ is FAR more important than who our next President is! The unity of the body has the potential to impact lives for eternity…our next President only has the power to impact our lives on earth…the temporal!

I know STRONG, godly Christians who are supporting McCain and equally STRONG, godly Christians who are supporting Obama!

Christians who support McCain inevitably talk about the issues of abortion and homosexual marriages, the desire to protect the family… Christians who support Obama inevitably speak of social justice and mercy, they demonstrate a tremendous compassion for “the least of these,” as Jesus Himself referred to them.

Why is it that we can’t have respectful, gracious dialogue on both sides and challenge each other, in love, to become more Christ-like?

I’ve had an on-going dialogue with a dear friend of mine for several weeks now. We haven’t changed each other’s intent to vote, but God has used my friend to educate me and to grow my heart for mercy… I clearly see the Christ-likeness of her desires and I have been deeply convicted by my lack of compassion in some areas. We don’t agree on how to address the issues, but maybe the point isn’t so much the ‘how’ as it is the heart.

And, I would challenge anyone to be as informed on the issues as my friend is…she is careful before she speaks, you don’t hear her regurgitating sound-bytes and she seeks out the source of everything, seeking to discover its original context. She approaches the issues with an open mind and she examines them from both sides of the aisle. I can’t always claim that… I am a more educated voter now because of my friend…if I want to talk to her, I better be able to back up what I say…what I heard on R*ush or Fo*x News just isn’t going to cut it!

But let me say this…as passionate as she is, she has NEVER once crossed the line of being disrespectful! She listens to my thoughts, she turns them over, tries them on and researches the points that I bring to the table… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so intent on discovering God’s will for her vote…her heart’s desire is to please Him, not the rest of the world, or even her friends… And for that, I have the utmost respect…

This past week in CBS, I had the week off and our Assistant Teaching Director gave a wonderful lecture. We are studying 1 Peter and we were talking about being persecuted and suffering for the name of Jesus, and she said something that I can’t stop thinking about.

She drew the distinction between suffering for the name of Jesus and suffering for other reasons…ie, political candidates, causes, etc. and she asked the question… Who, or what, are you holding out (to the world)? Jesus or your cause, your political party, etc.?

When the members of the church turn on each other over a political candidate, a cause, etc., then we are NOT holding out the name of Christ…we are doing NOTHING to reflect His grace and mercy…we are harming the name of Christ, we are not, in any way, shape or form, glorifying it.

Let’s get to the bottom line here…Daniel 2:21 says that “God sets up kings and deposes them…” Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Even Jesus said to Pilate, before he was handed over to be crucified, ““You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” John 19:11

Ultimately, God is the one who is in control…He ALONE is Sovereign…Government is for His purpose, not ours! I believe that with all of my heart and I will trust Him, no matter who wins on Tuesday. If God is going to use what is happening in our country to destroy some of our idols of materialism, immorality, etc. and draw us closer to Him…then fine…it might not be fun, in fact, it might be painful…but every day, I will pray for the strength to live with my eyes set on eternity…to hold out His name in a dark world.

If, as Christians, we truly believe that God is good…that He is faithful and just and sovereign…why would the thought of either candidate ‘scare’ us? As Christians, it’s time that we start considering how our rhetoric is reflecting on our heavenly Father…it’s time for this election to be over! But here’s the thing…when the election is over, we still need to remember who we represent…it’s not the Republican or Democratic party, or even America…First and foremost…it’s the King of Kings…God most High…I wonder how pleased He is with our representation right now?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I've been tagged by my friend Leslie...this is a first! So, 7 weird or random facts...

1. I LOVE to watch golf! My mom always loved it, so I guess I learned to love it when I was small. The Masters is my favorite, but the US Open is right up there...there's something really special about watching these guys win on Father's Day. I don't particularly like to play, I stink at it, but I love riding in the golf cart while my husband plays...there's nothing like the quiet beauty of a golf course. When I was pregnant with our oldest, we were sitting at breakfast, in Canada one morning and I looked at my husband and said, "We can't name him Taylor...that's a terrible golfer's name." So we came up with a name that would sound good on the Master's leader board...AHHH...turns out our oldest hates to play golf! LOL!! Oh well...

2. I'm afraid of deep water... I can swim, but I'm afraid of what I can't see beneath the surface. When I first jump into a lake, there is a moment of sheer panic...but I love to play with my kids in the lake, so I just get over it!

3. Like my friend Leslie, I have a secret (not anymore) dream to write a book. I even know the topic, but it's just not the time yet. I trust that God will make it clear when the time has arrived.

4. I love winter and cold temperatures... I love jackets and cuddly clothes...snuggling under a chocolate...soup...and a great excuse to hang out indoors!

5. I definitely prefer the mountains over the beach... I would rather hike on a trail than walk on a beach any day...I just don't like the heat or the sand.

6. When I was midway through my junior year at Georgia Tech, I decided I wanted to drop out and go to the Art Institute...needless to say, my mom wasn't real keen on that idea. I finished at Tech (barely...fortunately though, my degree doesn't say that!) and have always had an unfulfilled creative streak...

7. My idea of the perfect date night with my husband is a quiet dinner out where we can sit and talk for hours and hours if we want... Of course, a weekend at our friend's cabin in the mountains is even better... or an anniversary trip to Charleston... we can walk for hours and hours exploring and talking!

Ok...that was fun! Let's see, now I have to tag 7 others...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Wanna Be A Bear!

I don't know who wrote this, I received it by e-mail, but I loved it! Enjoy!!

"In this life I’m a woman…but I think I’d like to be a bear.

When you’re a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for 6 months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.

When you’re a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you’re sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you’re a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you’re a mama bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup…wanna be a bear!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Just Love Baby Steps!!

One of the concerns that I often hear parents express, who are considering an older child adoption, is how many firsts they will miss...and will they really have the opportunity to shape their adoptive children?

I know science and psychology tend to argue that personalities and many behaviors are shaped at a very young age, but I'm convinced that with love, consistency and perseverance, anything is possible...

Today was a bit of a stressful day...honestly, I was looking forward to Zack getting home from school and being able to head to Walmart for grocery myself (you know you're desperate when you're wanting alone time at Walmart!)... Anyway, I figured Abby would want to stay with her siblings, but I invited her to go, just in case...

And she shocked me! She wanted to go with me! At first, I hate to admit, I was a little disappointed, I really needed that away time...but I'm not so dense that I couldn't see that this was a wonderful opportunity to have some time with just her!

So, she and I took off...I think I barely had the car cranked and she was sound asleep... On the way there, I was talking to a friend on the phone and we got word that another of our friend's husband had fallen and was in ICU... This is the sweetest man, he reminds me so much of my Pop... (turns out, he's going to be fine!)...but it made a stressful day, even heart was just heavy!

As I pulled into the parking lot, I looked back at that sweet, sleeping face and my arms just ached to scoop her up and hug her close, I even whispered a quiet, "please" to my heavenly Father, but tradition has it, that that just wasn't going to happen.

But just in case, I opened her door and offered my arms to her...she smiled and crawled right up into them! Yep, if you've been following this blog long, you read that right...she snuggled into my arms and wrapped her little legs around me and let me pull her close...ahhh...heaven on earth!

We had the most fun at Walmart...she chattered to me the ENTIRE time...we even found silver sparkly...oops, I mean princess go with her 3 (as she always reminds me) princess dresses...she's so proud that she has 3!

And when she would see something that she knew we were out of, she would point it out and say, "Abby help mommy!" "Abby, you're a Big help to mommy!" OOOOO, the look that got! "Abby not Big mommy...Abby little!"

We giggled, we laughed, we danced a little to a singing card and splurged on some more popcorn balls and lip smackers lip gloss...fanta orange and grape flavored!

So, if you're considering adopting an older child...go for it! Yes, you miss the first step, first tooth, first hair cut...but the firsts you get to experience are simply magical...and they're experienced by both of you...a baby doesn't remember...but a 6 year old will!

Yes, there are unique challenges to adopting older, but they are so worth it. And just like I learn every day what it means to be an adopted daughter of my Heavenly Father...Abby learns what it means to be an adopted daughter with a forever and psychology don't have all of the answers...God is far more powerful! Thank you Father for baby steps!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friends From China

We had a fun weekend... we needed to be somewhere in the south this weekend, and it was close to where one of the families lives that we traveled with in China. We got to be friends with them on our adoption journey and it was amazing how well our kids hit it off with 'some' of their kids...they have 6(!), only 3 were in China. One of the unexpected blessings of adoption is the people you meet along the way.

Well we decided to stay overnight so we could hang out with them, I'm so glad we did! They are a wonderful family... The kids had a great time last night, and we so enjoyed talking to Joel and Trina, and then today, we went to church with them and stayed for their church picnic...we were so blessed.

Turns out, our boys are playing in the same soccer tournament, somewhere else in the south, in a few weeks and we'll get to see them again!

Here's a few pictures from today!

They adopted Benjamin when we adopted Abby this summer!


They have 3 adopted children from China, I love this picture of all of them!
Joel B we missed you today! Hope you won your soccer game!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Illusion of Control

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the girls for hugs, one day after school. At first Mackenzie laughed and said “no thanks” and Abby followed suit. I knew Mackenzie was kidding and she immediately came for her hug. But Abby was having no part of it!

She looked at me, rolled her eyes, held up two fingers and said, “Two mommy…good morning, good night…two mommy!” Ok, I said… But a few minutes later, she rolled her eyes again and said “Come mere” (that’s not a typo, that’s how she says it!) And, she wanted to give me a hug…but, it was a little perfunctory…not the most heartfelt hug I ever received, but beggars can’t be choosers!

Abby broke my heart this morning… Not for the usual reason, that she rejected my hug, but because of the effect it had on her. She had been a little ray of sunshine all morning, bouncing from thing to thing, chattering away, until she refused to give me a hug before school.

I offered and she shook her head ‘no.’ We headed out the door to meet the bus and I looked back and said, “Are you sure?” No, no hug… Then, as I headed around the car, she said, “Yes.” So I turned to go back and give her a hug, and again she said, “No.” At that point, I understood very clearly that this was a game of control, so I decided to let it go and got into the car.

Usually, as we sit in the car and wait for the bus, she is into everything, playing with buttons, the change holder etc. She wants to be right up front next to me. But this morning, the bubbly ray of sunshine had turned into a little thunder cloud.

She had the saddest expression, didn’t interact with any of us, and just stared out the window. At one point I said, “Abby, I love you forever, but I will not make you hug me. That is your choice, but no matter what, I love you forever.” She turned and listened to me, but went back to staring out the window.

This sweet child longs for what is hers, but she just can’t bring herself to receive it. I can’t say I blame her…as I’ve said before, she’s had 4 mother figures in her 6 short years…one every two years…her biological mother, her nanny, her foster mother and now me. It will take a God sized miracle for her to finally let go and really receive my love. But, I believe in miracles…so I wait, and continue to offer her my unconditional love and grace.

When she came home from school today, she came close to me to tell me a story about the day and I said, “Abby, since I didn’t get a hug this morning, may I have one now?” Y’all, I wish you could have seen her smile…one of those that lights up the eyes…and then she gave me a real hug…she actually let me hang on for minute.

But bless her heart, she still just can’t let go of control… After this wonderful hug, she backed away and said, “Two mommy…Good morning…Good night!” “Just two Abby?” “Two mommy!”

But isn’t that just the way we do with our Heavenly Father? He has so much love that He longs to shower on us, but we hold Him at arm’s length. We let Him in a little, but too often, we just can’t seem to give ourselves to Him…to really receive the depths of His love and trust Him…we want to maintain some element of control.

Ephesians 3:17-19, comes to mind where Paul prayed… “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

I never really understood that verse until now…Doesn’t it seem funny that he would pray that we would have the power to grasp the depths of God’s love for us? But when you dig into the words a little, Paul is praying that we would be strong enough to apprehend, to take to ourselves…to possess or own the amazing depths of God’s love for us!

Ah, now it’s starting to make sense…this is exactly what I long for with Abby…that she will finally apprehend, seize, own, my love for her! But she’s going to have to make a choice to trust me and sometimes, surrender requires far more power and strength than it does to maintain control!

Surrender requires trust, a strength of heart, that requires us to risk our deepest dreams and entrust them to someone else who might fail us.

To allow the walls of our heart to be broken down, to really receive the love of another, is one of the hardest things we will ever do…To love another is to give up control and allow them the power to break your heart. Abby has probably done that a few times in her life, and her heart has been broken more than once.

But, for many of us who become Christians later in life, the same is true. Our hearts have been broken by cheap imitation idols and it is so hard to trust God with our heart. It requires tremendous strength to lay down our fears, our desire to control whether or not we get hurt and just let Him love us.

Ironically, Abby refused my hug in an effort to protect herself, and it left her sad and dissatisfied. I pray that soon she will realize that I am worth the risk…that she will find the strength to set aside her fears and really lay hold of my love for her.

But here’s the thing that really hit me…control is really just an illusion. Abby had control this morning, because I gave her control of the moment. I could have taken a hug if I wanted to, but I want the choice to be hers…

But the same is true of God…He gives us control, but the one who gives the control is really the one who is in control! Ok, I know that’s a lot to think about…

But the one who gives control is really the one who is in control…

God loves us, and He will keep pursuing us and offering His love to us, just like I do every day with Abby. So, instead of fighting so hard to control our lives…why not just surrender to the One who loves us with a love we can’t even begin to imagine…the One who gave His Son to die for us so that we might be adopted as His child and call Him Abba Father?!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Confessions of a Mama Bear...

Something hit me tonight as I was sitting at my son’s soccer game, I do a great job controlling my tongue until the Mama Bear in me gets stirred up…then, offender beware!

It started when Nick was in 4th grade and his teacher let him put his Lego Lighthouse, that he had built for a project, into his backpack. He walked in, with tears in his eyes, because it was crushed. Her excuse, “well, he wanted to take it home.” I’m sorry, who’s the adult here? Nick is a very literal child, so when she made the announcement that they needed to take their projects home, it never occurred to him to ask if he could wait so I could come and get it…
(pretty impressive!)
Another thing that gets me riled is things like Victoria Secrets and their sleazy window displays in the mall, I had a couple of editorials published in our local papers about this one. I realize I can’t protect our sons from everything, but I don’t have to knowingly expose them either…the mall has lost A LOT of my business because I refuse to take them there.

And, I contacted Mentos one time because of a commercial they ran about a young girl who had a boy in her room while her parents were gone…she ate a Mentos and got the idea to dress him in a robe, wrap his head in a towel and put a facial on him, to deceive her mother. Great example for young people…NOT!

But the other place, that really gets me going is the soccer field…ugh…this Mama Bear is a stereotypical soccer mom too!

Last year I learned to chew gum during all of his soccer games to help me remember to keep my mouth closed…kind of my own take on “putting a watchman over my lips.”

Today was really hard though and unfortunately, I forgot my gum… It was Zack’s last game of the high school season, they were playing their biggest rivalry and they were up 1-0… Long story, but we didn’t have a goalie. The young man playing goal was doing an awesome job, but the coach just couldn’t leave well enough alone… And before we knew it, he was putting Zack in goal.

Now, Zack is a great soccer player, but he is NOT a goalie! They scored two goals on him, back to back and they lost the game 1-2…it was heartbreaking and I know, totally humiliating for Zack. Unfortunately, I had a few, not so respectful or gracious words to say about the coach to my friend (no cursing, just very disrespectful…as if that’s any better).

I’ve decided that living the Christian life can be VERY hard sometime! I know better than to run off at the mouth…from the overflow of the heart, come the words of the mouth (apparently there’s still some rotten stuff lurking in the recesses of my heart)… But what makes it worse is that when I do that, I don’t look any different than the rest of the world…this little light fades into the darkness…YUCK!

We’ve been studying 1 Peter in CBS and 1 Peter 2:17 says, “Show proper respect for everyone…” UGH…everyone… even coaches who are human and make bad decisions!

I think it’s time for this Mama Bear to go into hibernation and let the “unfading beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit,” (1 Peter 3:4) be the thing that shines in stressful situations involving our children.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Am About To Burst To Tell The Rest Of This Story...

I've always wanted to be like Paul Harvey and say... "And now, for the rest of the story..." Today I have my chance! Something AMAZING, beyond anything I would have dreamed or imagined, has happened...BUT if you haven't read the post before this one, on What I Love About Zack, read that first...then this story will mean a lot more!

Every summer Zack's orthodontist office does a postcard contest for summer vacations...I can't remember all of the categories, but I figured we were a shoe in for Fartherest Away. I had planned to mail the postcard while we were in China, but I couldn't even remember to buy a postcard, much less get it mailed...I was a little distracted!

So, the day we left to come home, I realized at the airport, in Guangzhou, that I still hadn't purchased any the last minute, just as we were getting ready to board the plane, I ran into a little shop in the terminal and grabbed the only box of postcards they had...and paid WAY too much for them! I almost didn’t buy them…

At Zack's next appointment, I decided to just take one in. Since it was early September, I figured we were too late, but turned out, there was still another week left in the contest, so they accepted it. I kept watching our e-mail, but when we never received a notice, I just figured someone had gone even farther than us. I had completely forgotten about it...until today.

Zack had another appointment and as I was checking out, Zack said, "Mom, look, we had the postcard that was the fartherest away!" It was posted on a bulletin board behind him! So I just said to the lady at the desk, "That's cool, we had the postcard that was furtherest away."

She looked up with this surprised expression and said, "Didn't anyone call you?" No...I never heard anymore about it... She jumped up, walked back to another room and came out carrying...

Are you ready for this? A brand new IPOD, just like the one that was stolen! We had NO idea that there was even a prize for this contest...we thought it was just the honor of having your name posted!

And the thing is, Zack's IPOD that was stolen was a refurbished one...he had ordered it to save money, so every once in a while, there would be a little glitch...nothing big, but occasionally we had to reset it... This was NEW!!

Zack took one look at my face and said, "Ah mom, don't cry!" But I couldn't stop my eyes from welling up...he's lucky that I didn't just let the tears flow, like they were threatening to know...that BIG lump in your throat, that somehow holds back the tears, but, if anyone looks at you, or if you try and speak, will break and the flood will come...that was me. I think if we hadn't been standing in the office, in front of so many people, I would have just sobbed!

So, they call Dr. A. to come up front and have his picture made with Zack… I felt compelled to tell him what had happened…I didn’t bring our faith into it, I simply said that “Zack had his IPOD stolen last week, and even though he’s pretty sure he’s knows who did it, he decided not to push it since he couldn’t prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.” And then I mentioned that the kid he suspects is a troubled young man…

Dr. A looked at us and said, “See what faith can do!” I had ABSOLUTELY no idea where he stood…we’ve never discussed it…he had no idea where we stood!

I realize that many, who don’t live by faith, would argue that this is just a grand coincidence… But I will emphatically say that I do NOT, in any way believe in coincidence…and even more so when so many events transpired to perfectly time this to happen after Zack made a choice to live for something bigger than an IPOD, putting this other child’s heart before his own rights.

Does God ALWAYS bless us, or reward our obedience so visibly? Of course not. Would He still be a good God, even if this hadn’t happened? ABSOLUTELY…

But sometimes, God pauses in the midst of eternity and blows our socks off…I am so completely overwhelmed…but what’s even more important…Zack is overwhelmed! What God did for his faith in that moment…Zack will never forget. Zack made a choice to live in light of eternity and God blessed his obedience!

So maybe you’re wondering, how can we even believe that God of the universe even cares about a 15 year old and his IPOD? Fair question…but the Bible says that He numbers the hairs on our heads…if He cares about how many hairs we have, which changes from moment to moment…why wouldn’t He care about a 15 year old’s disappointment…

Zack has used that IPOD as a testimony…he openly shares what he has on it with his friends, and it’s far different than some of the stuff that they listen to…it’s full of Christian rock… it has other, non-Christian music too…but we’re careful to check the lyrics before we put it on there.

And for the couple of friends that know about this at school, and what his decision was to not pursue it, there’s no telling how this will speak to them.

Matthew 7:11b says, " much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him." God is an amazing, perfect Father...I have no doubt that He LOVES to bless us, even more than we can think to even ask...

When I think about how I love for our kids to open gifts that we are excited to give them, it's fun to imagine heaven at the moment the lady brought out the IPOD...I wonder if God said to the angels..."Come here for a minute and watch this?" Maybe, maybe not... But I have no doubt that God was watching and smiling as He waited for us to unwrap this unbelievable blessing!

Our God is so BIG that He can use anything to bless us and increase our faith, even an IPOD!

P.S. He said, "This one will not be going to school!" What an awesome remembering stone! Way to go God!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I Love About Zack

Zack is our oldest…I haven’t done my “Things I Love About Zack” yet, not because I didn’t know what to say, but my heart told me to wait. So now I know why, I have a story I’d like to tell you about him, I’ve never been more proud!

On Sunday evening I was driving him to Youth Group and he said, “Mom, I have to tell you something…you’re not going to like what happened, I don’t like it either!” (Uh Oh…don’t you just HATE a conversation that begins like this with one of your kids?) “Someone stole my IPOD at school.”

Ugh…Just 6 months ago, the same thing happened at his middle school…long story, he bears the responsibility for some bad decision making, but no matter what, no one deserves to have their stuff stolen!

He’s pretty sure he knows who did it…Zack’s IPOD was stolen on Thursday and the kid he suspects showed up on Friday with one just like Zack’s. Zack asked to see it, but the kid wouldn’t let him…Zack asked a lot of questions, so I’m sure the boy knew that Zack suspected him…but there was really no way, short of my calling Apple to get the serial number, to know for sure.

So, why didn’t I do that? I didn’t even offer to do that… Well, rumor has it that this young man takes drugs, I don’t know if it’s true or not, I don’t know the boy, but I was just not willing to take the risk. Last week, two kids got into a fight in the cafeteria, a friend of one of the boys came up behind the other boy and slammed his head into the lunch counter and then a window…911 had to be called…I know someone who witnessed it, so it’s not just kids blowing a story out of proportion…

Yea…Zack goes to a really great high school (sarcasm)! It’s really not that bad, you just have to stay away from the troublemakers…but, like any mom who loves her child…I really LIKE him too… I didn’t want Zack doing anything that might send this kid after him…at least, that was my initial reaction…

But as Scott, Zack and I discussed this more…Zack started to tell us more about the boy…he’s an outcast, he spends a lot of time alone…and my heart started to ache for this young man. All of a sudden an IPOD didn’t seem like such a big deal. My concern was what it would do to this child to falsely accuse him…and still for Zack’s safety.

So we suggested that Zack think about 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing…” We started to talk about how he could be a blessing to this boy? I love Zack’s honesty and he talked about how he would feel when he sees the kid with this IPOD… that really probably is his… And we talked about what it means to forgive seventy times seven, as Jesus said to Peter…

So, Zack decided that this boy was more important than his IPOD…he decided that he could try and be a friend to him, at least during the class when he sees him…

So, the next day when I picked up from school, I asked him how it went, did he have an opportunity to be a friend to this kid? And in fact, he did…he played soccer with him that day. I know this story isn’t over…Zack was willing to lay down his rights to his possession in favor of doing what was best for this young man.

Are there times when we fight for justice? Absolutely…but Zack had no real proof, so the damage could have been very great to both of them…and this was an even greater opportunity to shine Christ into a dark situation…I’m so thankful that Zack could see that…that he could look beyond the temporary into eternity!

I am so proud of the young man that Zack is becoming…

I love…

That every day he’s more and more willing to put others before himself…

That he has the confidence to stand for what is right and not give in to what the world thinks…

That he’s not too old to play with the younger kids in our neighborhood…we have 8 year olds ringing our doorbell asking for Zack to come out and play!

That he will carry Abby anywhere she asks…

That he is learning to stand up for Mackenzie…actually giving her advice!

That he commits himself to an endeavor and doesn’t give in…

That he is completely loyal to his friends…

That he willingly chooses time with family over most any other thing…

That he is fun…he makes us laugh…

That he is passionate about what he loves, he pours his all into it…like soccer

That he is learning the meaning of responsibility…of taking initiative…

Zack, it is a blessing and a pleasure to call you son!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fun Photos From This Past Week!

I think I'll let the photos tell most of the story...

The first few are from Zack's soccer games...

Now a few of the girls during the soccer games...
Scott's grandmother's Birthday dinner...Happy Birthday Grandma G.!
And finally, Sunday afternoon at the corn maze!
We didn't find all of the puzzle pieces this year, but Abby was tired and my shoes had rubbed horrible blisters on my we found our way out...after 2 hours! It was fun though and the weather was just beautiful! It's been a good week!

What Would You Be Willing To Give Up?

(This will be the one and only political comment you hear from me…I tried to post something similar before, but the time wasn't right and I deleted it...but every once in a while, a girl just has to say what’s on her mind…)

We have a dinner-time tradition at our house…when we are blessed enough to sit down as a family, usually several nights a week, Scott or I try and come up with a question for the kids that will help in-still a Biblical worldview.

For instance, last week we talked about civil disobedience in light of Scriptures that tell us to submit to the government in authority over us…another time we talked about Romans 12:1-2, where we are told to not be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind and we discussed what it means to live conformed vs. transformed…

So last night at dinner, Scott had a question for us… “Considering the Constitution, what 3 freedoms or rights would you NOT be willing to give up? Which are most important to you?”

(Quick summary: freedom of… speech/press, religion, assembly, to petition; right to… vote, bear arms, for due process…there’s more, but these are the highlights)

Wow…what a question! For the kids, it was a little harder to answer, but I knew immediately… Freedom of religion, speech/press and the right to vote…although, right to due process is a close fourth….

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech have been on my mind A LOT lately…

It started with an incident at the Democratic National Convention when an ABC News reporter was arrested for filming high powered D. senators and donors leaving a private meeting at a hotel in Denver…the reporter was outside the hotel…if you click on this LINK, you can read the story and see the video of what happened…when I saw it, I thought, “Surely not in America.”

And then the latest incident with Joe the Plumber…I realize there are a lot of questions about Joe the Plumber… Who is he? Is he licensed? Some have even accused him of being a plant by the R. party…Who knows? I mean, D. candidate O, was in Joe’s neighborhood, Joe didn’t come to him…but in politics, anything is possible…

So for argument’s sake, I’m willing to pretend that he is not licensed and that he is a plant, maybe his name is not even really Joe… But my question is, SO WHAT? Joe didn’t make Candidate O, say what he said, “I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” O said that all on his own…from the overflow of the heart, come the words of the mouth…

But instead of holding O accountable for what he said, he still hasn’t explained it…the liberal media, even O himself, is attacking “Joe.” His name is being smeared… The focus is being totally deflected from what was said!

So here’s the thing…frankly, I’m not thrilled with either candidate! Usually, I vote for the candidate who most closely reflects my views on the most number of issues…this year though, I don’t really care for either candidate, so I had been planning to vote for the man that I saw as the least bad choice of the two…

Until these incidents…now, I will strongly, and with great confidence vote for the man whose actions do not in any way threaten my freedoms. Now, you might argue that O is not directly responsible for either of these incidents…maybe, maybe not...So, I'll even give you that he's not directly responsible, but his party clearly is!

At the very least, I don't want that said party in control of both the Congress and the White House...Rumors of the Fairness Doctrine (you'll have to google this one, this post is already long enough) keep floating was re-introduced, shot down...but H. Clin*ton, John K*erry, have all acknowledged they would support it's return and while O. says he opposes it, he hasn't gone so far as to commit that he would veto it! I'm just not willing to risk my freedom of speech.

Here’s the bottom line, if I’m in prison because I choose to worship as I believe, my focus won't be on the economy...

So, you might be thinking…this chick is a little did she go from a news reporter being arrested to losing her freedom of religion? Fair question…but did you watch the video?

That was one slippery slope that got stepped on...and one thing living has taught me, when you step onto a slippery slope, you’re almost always going to end up on your behind at the bottom…

Once freedoms are abridged on the small stuff…it’s not a very far leap to abridge them on the big things…that’s the bottom of one hill I NEVER want to see!

Am I afraid of what I'm seeing? You bet! Do I trust God more? ABSOLUTELY...whatever happens is because He allowed it and I'm not living for this lifetime anyway...but I have children and while I can, I have a responsibility to speak I spoke...and now I promise, no more politics!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Gift of Listening!

Listen, v. – To give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; to pay attention; to make an effort to hear something; hear with intention

Hear, v. – To perceive by the ear; To learn by the ear; to give audience or attention to…

Interesting, they are both verbs, so they are active and require effort...and there's nothing about talking that's related to listening.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about listening and what a gift it is to the person it is offered to…

Adoption is one of those paradoxes…it seems two ways at the same time, a contradiction to itself…it is the one of the most wonderful things you could ever hope to experience and at the same time, it is one of the most exhausting, emotionally draining experiences you could ever have…and a listening ear, to a mom going through it, is the greatest gift you could offer!

Not that I don’t want advice sometimes…I do, and I ask for it. Like my friend who has adopted 4 older children…she has the experience to offer me advice, so I regularly turn to her. But she is also a very wise and discerning friend and sometimes she just lets me vent and simply offers an encouraging word…she is a great ‘cyber’ listener (we mostly communicate by e-mail)!

Last spring, I was bumping up against some parenting issues that I just didn’t know how to handle, even now, I realize there wasn’t an answer for them, but what I needed was a good listener. Thankfully, a friend of mine realized that! She has raised 2 children and last spring, she offered to meet me once a week for lunch…she just wanted to listen! At first, I had no clue what to do with that…someone who would sit across from me and NOT offer me fixes to my situation!

Now, I’m not saying I don’t have any other people in my life who listen to me, but this was a different kind of listening. With some people, when you’re telling them something, you can see the wheels turning, trying to think of what they’re going to say, instead of listening to what you’re saying.

You stop for a breath and they jump in with some story, that really has nothing to do with what you’re talking about, or some book you should read, or whatever…it’s very obvious that they’re just not listening.

But my friend just sat and listened…she prayed for me, she encouraged me and every once in a while, when it was clearly applicable, she would share stories with me, more to let me know that everyone struggles, than trying to give me answers…

Ok…so I realize that, in itself, that could sound selfish…but we all need someone who will listen to us sometime!

My husband is a great listener…he’s learned that I’m not looking for fixes, I just need to pour out my heart. Often times, just in the process of venting, I’ll find the answer, or the new perspective for myself…I’ll tell him thank you and he’ll just smile and say, “But I didn’t say anything!” Other times, he will ask great questions that lead me to a new place…but he has to be listening to know the questions to ask!

Here’s the thing, me included…I really think we just all want to make a difference for people…so we try and come up with something to say that will help someone in need…but maybe, the biggest difference we can make for someone is just to listen to them! It is a gift…I think I’ll go listen to my kids who’ll be coming through the door any minute now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting Real...The Tougher Side Of Parenting!

Have you ever thought about how some of the most beautiful things in life are the result of tremendous pressure, heat, effort, etc.?

Think about a diamond… it is simple carbon atoms, what we get coal from…but when the atoms are subjected to very high temperatures and very intense heat…a beautiful, precious gem emerges!

Or, precious metals…like gold or silver are refined when incredibly high temperatures are applied…

Some of our most precious earthly treasures emerge from an intense period of refining…but the same could be said of our children.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how as parents, we are God’s instruments of refinement in our children’s lives. I want to be very clear, I am NOT, in any way, shape or form, talking about applying pressure to our children in an abusive way. I am simply using it as analogy to convey the idea of the heat and intensity of unconditional love and the pressure of consistent discipline.

Even in my own life, God has applied pressure many times through different situations, to bring about transformation…through them I have learned to love, to forgive, to show compassion and mercy, and I am still learning.

And that, in many ways, is much like our role as a parent… Love and discipline are a constant day to day application of heat and pressure….the purpose of which is to bring forth the most treasured, precious gems that they can be…

Pressure can be applied in many ways…not giving in to their nagging and whining for the things that are not best for them…constantly offering and demonstrating love, even when its rejected…having the courage to tell them ‘no,’ even if the rest of their friends are doing it, whether it’s listening to a certain kind of music or going to see a particular movie…sometimes it means making sure you administer the discipline that’s been promised, when your busy and it’s easy to forget.

In our house, chores are our major tool of discipline, especially for the older kids…if you don’t do your homework…you owe us 15 minutes of work…if you don’t tell the truth…you owe us an hours worth of work…if you disobey…it ranges from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the offense…but this system of discipline requires time and effort…it requires keeping the pressure on.

We don’t restrict or ground our children from the things they want to do, but if they are in the ‘red’ with chores, then they aren’t able to do anything until the chores are completed. They know that the best way to insure that they get to do fun things with their friends is to not have a list of chores they owe us, which means they’re making good choices…some are learning the lesson better than others!

Each of our children, just like me, have some habits that need to go away…habits that aren’t in keeping with a strong character, but the only way the habit will ever be rooted out is to keep the pressure on…we must discipline every occurrence…it’s exhausting and emotionally draining.

But all of this applies to creating attachment in adoption too. We can never let up on demonstrating our love for Abby and responding to her every need until she learns to trust us.

Many have asked how she’s doing, she’s doing wonderful…and I always answer that, but now, I’m also making sure I discuss the reality of it. Yes, she truly is doing wonderful, better than I would have ever imagined at this point…but it is exhausting and draining. We can’t let up for a second…we must keep the pressure of love and grace constantly flowing; as well as the pressure of keeping boundaries firmly in place as she learns to live as a member of our family.

In the movie Fireproof, the main character reaches a point in the pursuit of his wife, where he wants to give up…she is rejecting his every effort and he is mad and frustrated…but his dad said something to him that really made me think… “When things get rough, that’s when our motivations get tested.”

Wow, how true is that, even in the context of parenting? Am I disciplining and loving my children because there is something in it for me? Or am I doing this simply because I love them and only want what’s best for them? We have to be really honest with ourselves about our motivations!

But if our efforts are REALLY rooted in our love for them, then we will persevere, no matter how many times we have to apply the pressure, no matter how many times they reject us, no matter how exhausted, frustrated, or emotionally drained we become…and we will apply it with grace and tremendous love, NOT with yelling, unkind words, harsh punishment or any other form of inappropriate anger.

And all we have to do is look to our Abba Father for the perfect example…that is exactly how He loves us…with persistence, determination, grace, patience, faithfulness and perseverance…His discipline is ALWAYS lovingly administered to bring out the best in us… He NEVER gives up in His pursuit of us or in His desire to make us into all that He knows we can be…we are His precious treasure, the apple of His eye!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Visit To The Botanical Garden...

We've been in our town for about 9 1/2 years and sadly, there is a garden that I've thought of visiting a gazillion times, not too terribly far away. Recently I learned that they had butterflies and decided to take the girls to see...

Wow...what took me so long? It's beautiful!! Of course, I only captured one butterfly, there were these young girls running around and everytime I'd finally find one in a pretty location, they would run up in front of me and grab the butterfly so they could hold it! Yes...rude I know...the first time their mom looked at me and said, "I guess it's going to be hard to get a picture with kids running around." No, teach your children some manners... (I thought it, but kept my lips zipped) But there were all kinds of people there...elderly, people in wheelchairs, they were doing it to everyone... Anyway, I guess she saw the look on my face and told them to stop... So I got one butterfly and gave up... I guess I'll have to go back sometime during the day when others are kids are in school...

So here is my one butterfly photo...


And here are a few of my favorite flower photos...

Here's a few photos that I liked of the girls, then stay tuned for the water tunnel!
That was actually a pink plant of some sort behind Abby...of course she loved it and wanted her picture in front of it..."Picture mommy...picture!"
Finally, the highlight of the day was the water tunnel. It was kind of funny...all these parents were telling their kids they could run through, but try not to get too wet... Well, as you'll see, I let the girls go all out...they were soaked! Now usually, I'm the mom saying "Don't get too's not warm enough." But what the heck...we just had fun!
Not too wet...yet!
Now they're getting soaked!
A beautiful, FUN Day!
I think next weekend we'll do the Amazing Maize Maze and the Pumpkin Patch!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Two short posts in one day! But Scott and I just returned from a much needed date night...the first since May or June...we couldn't even remember...we NEVER go that long, but personal needs have been on hold for a while for sweet Abby. It was a privilege to set aside our own needs for a while, but it sure was nice to have my WONDERFUL husband all to myself for a few hours.

I was a little discouraged when he asked me to choose a movie and I started reading the reviews. We always check them out on Plugged In Movie Reviews to insure that we're not getting into something we really don't want to see...

Well, there was NOTHING that seemed like it had any redeeming value at all...nothing that was worthy of our money OR our time and mental energy. Until I came across the review for Fireproof... I won't do this often for a movie, but as long as it's in theaters, I will have a button on my sidebar, you can click on it and go to their website to see a preview... it's that worthwhile...go see it, it's AMAZING!

Dead Poets Society has been my favorite movie for a long time...don't really know why, just that it touched a special place in my heart, but it's now lost it's long time position...

Fireproof has so much to teach about relationships... It is about a marriage in trouble, but it's truths can be applied to any marriage is wonderful, it was actually Abby that I thought about the entire time...

Scott will be taking the boys back to see it soon...I'm not sure Mackenzie is quite old enough to process it's themes yet, but we will purchase it for the future for her and Abby.

Eventually, when it comes out on DVD, I would love to sit and watch it with a pen and paper and write down all of the truths that it teaches us about relationships... I would love to know your thoughts if you've seen it...or if you go see it!

A Short Funny!

Just a quick funny from last night...

We have an electric piano with all kinds of bells and whistles. It was my stepdad's, who sadly passed away very unexpectedly a lot of years ago. He loved that piano and I was so happy to have it, we both shared a love for music.

But over the last few years, busyness has kept me from playing. Last night, Abby wanted to open it up and see what it was about. At first I was preoccupied and started to put her off, but thankfully I just dropped what I was doing and decided to have some fun.

Abby loves to dance and this piano can accomodate her love of rythm quite has all kinds of fun things you can do with it and she had a ball.

But then I decided to play something myself and thought, "Well, I'll start with Chopsticks"... I was mortified...I couldn't remember how to play it!

I turned and looked at Scott and said, "Can you believe I can't remember Chopsticks?"

Abby ran off while I was talking to Scott and before I knew it she was back with a huge grin on her face and a set of red chopsticks from the dining room!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Things I Love About Mackenzie!

It's Thankful Thursday, and it's Mackenzie's turn for me to tell you what I love about her...

The way her smile lights up her eyes…

That her laughter bubbles up all the way from her toes and makes me laugh with her…

That she loves to swing…and play in the rain...

That she doesn't mind taking the microphone for "Rock Band," even if she doesn't know the songs...

That she loves to write and is good at it!

That she’ll let me rock her, even if her legs are almost as long as mine!

That her gentle spirit is so quick to forgive, even when some of the girls at school can just be ugly sometime…

That she LOVES to read...she devours books!

That she has a teachable spirit…she’s willing to take to heart the things we teach her and tries to do differently…in other words, they don’t always go in one ear and out the other! Some lessons take longer than others, but she’s willing to learn…

That she would rather have her afternoon’s free to play with her friends than fill her life with too many “extra” activities…

That she loves to hug…And cuddle in the big chair during a movie…

That she loves to hang out with me…Adores her daddy…And is never at a loss for something to talk about with us!

That she tells me everything about her day and still wants me to come for lunch at school!

That she’ll look at me with those big brown eyes and say, “Mom, I just need a good cry!” And then she'll let me hold her while she cries.

That she tells me the good and the bad things that happen...but she never says a critical word to me about anyone!

That she has absolutely no idea how beautiful she is…inside and out!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Abby Is Teaching Me About Walking By Faith

As is pretty typical in most people’s life, my life is characterized by many uncertainties. Usually I’m ok with that, but sometimes situations present themselves that are just more difficult than others and the uncertainties are just harder to deal with…

I don’t want to reveal the specifics of the situation I’m wrestling with because it involves other people, so I want to respect their privacy, but it’s a situation that will be years and years before we know how it turns out.

If you have read many entries on my blog, you probably have figured out that my faith is very central to my life. It’s funny, those who don’t believe often accuse, those of us who do, as relying on faith as a crutch of some sort…they view it as a weakness. That’s ok, they’re certainly entitled to their opinions, but frankly, I think people of faith are some of the strongest people I know… It requires A LOT more courage and strength to walk by faith than it does to rely on your own strength. I have to chuckle when I hear people call it a ‘crutch’…

Well, the other day, I was wrestling with the uncertainty of the situation I mentioned…I mean really having a hard time with it and I started my usual whining to God. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, those times when spiritually we sound like a child… “It’s not fair…I don’t like it…But why?”

I thought, “God, it’s just not fair, You are the Alpha and Omega…the Beginning and the End, You see everything and You know exactly how it’s going to turn out.” I was thinking that if I could just be assured that it would all be ok, I could walk through anything. But then that wouldn’t be walking by faith!

And I got to thinking about Abby…she is the real life picture of what it means to walk by faith. She walked into a strange room and into the lives of 5 people that didn’t even look like her. We couldn’t talk to her and her sad mama didn’t even think to bring a Kleenex to wipe her precious little nose!

Then everyone who is remotely familiar to her, leaves her to go with total strangers. She is completely dependent on us to feed her, protect her and love her…she has absolutely NO clue where any of this is going or how it’s going to turn out!

Then we put her on a plane and she leaves all that she’s ever known and she ends up in a strange country where nothing is like anything she’s ever dreamed of…

Every single step she takes is a step of faith…sure, some become more routine than others, but because of our lack of ability to really communicate, she often has no clue for sure what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s good…we get in a car and drive 2 hours and have a blast at the apple orchard. But sometimes it’s bad…we go to the doctor or dentist and she gets shots or has her teeth power washed. And whether it’s good or bad, she has no other option but to trust us that this is for her best…all she can do is hope that it’s because we love her and are taking care of her.

But all of that is such a picture of what it means to walk by faith…

We put our lives into the hands of an ‘unseen’ God, really all you have to do is look around and you see Him everywhere, but it takes a while for our hearts to get that…

And then we walk step by step into the situations He leads us into…sometimes the road runs through wonderful, fun places and other times it leads us through great pain and suffering, but all of it leads me to a deeper, more intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father…just like all of Abby’s situations have led her closer and closer to us. And all I can do is trust that the good and the bad are for my greatest good, that my Abba Father is doing what is best for me.

Abby is learning to trust us in the uncertainty. I know it’s not easy… I know she gets angry, scared and frustrated. And I’m ok with that because every day I’m seeing how her trust is growing. And the same is true with our Abba Father…He was ok with me whining the other day…being mad and spiritually stomping my feet at Him…He’s big enough to take it…but He also sees that all of this is drawing me closer to Him…it’s growing me up and it’s teaching me that life just isn’t about what’s right in front of us.

It’s about a bigger picture…as the old metaphor goes, a beautiful tapestry that He is weaving. My Abba Father is the Master Craftsman and I trust that not one single moment of my frustration, sadness, or whatever will be wasted…it will all be part of the process of forming this clay jar into a beautiful vessel for His glory.

To walk by faith can be a terribly scary, bewildering and heartbreaking journey sometimes, but when you know the Potter, when you trust His hands and His plans, it can also be the most amazing that can be full of joy and peace, even in the hard times. I guess it’s all in how you look at it.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The choice I have to make every day, in every situation is whether or not I believe that, will I trust Him and walk by faith?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Grandparents, Apple Pickin' & Lots of Photos!

This has been the week for Abby to meet all of her grandparents! After our previous weekend, somewhere else in the south, Grandpa John & Grandma Cathy came for a visit during the week so they could meet Abby and watch Zack play soccer. I'm sorry that we didn't get to do more fun things with them, but at Christmas, we'll have loads of fun at their house with cousins, go-karts, tire swings, etc. It was just nice having them here!
This is just a fun photo of Zack playing with Abby...I'll probably be in trouble for posting this, but it's just too sweet the way he's willing to play with his sister on her terms!

Over the weekend, PawPaw and Granny came for a visit and on Sunday, after church, we went to a beautiful apple orchard in the mountains. It was the most beautiful day!

I love this photo of Abby off with her two brothers!

This was Nick up in the tree trying to get his dad some apples that he wanted. I tend to worry about 'the rules' sometimes, so when someone mentioned that they thought they saw a sign that said not to climb the trees, I got worried that Nick was pulling himself up in the tree...

But then I saw this guy, I have no idea who he is, but he had climbed all the way to the top of a very large tree...I guess he didn't see the sign either!

Family Photo

With PawPaw & Granny

A nice man stopped and offered to take a photo of all of us! I think that is one of the nicest things to do for another person!

The rest are just fun photos from the day...they pretty well speak for themselves!

Sisters...Aren't they beautiful?

I feel so blessed to have an extended family that has welcomed Abby into our family with open arms...Grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...she is blessed...we are blessed! Enjoy a few more photos from the day!