Friday, May 22, 2009
You can see them coming for days... They build and build... the moods get snitty...the talking subsides...the laughter all but disappears...every little thing is a big deal...and then she cries...
Since we came home, Abby's grieving periods have been like thunderstorms...they build up and then the bottom falls out, but afterwards, the air is so fresh and clean...
I had seen it coming since her birthday...probably before that and then last Saturday, when she had to clean her room with Mackenzie, the bottom fell out of the tear cloud... Finally, she sat down on a step with me and cried and cried. I knew it wasn't really about cleaning their room, she just needed to grieve.
Each time this happens, she emerges as a breath of fresh air, but this time has been different, she's been more like a ray of sunshine. It's almost like, as each storm passes, she becomes more and more of who she really is, it's quite amazing to watch...
This week, since the storm, she's been a singing star..."You wanna hear a song...gooooood....let's go!"... a Barbie cheerleader... a little model... a hairstylist... She has played with me...made me laugh...she has been the sunshine after the storm.
Tonight she went with me to take a meal to a mom who recently had a baby... We ran by the grocery store before we went and everything I said was met with an "Aw maaaan..."
The conversation went something lie this...
"Abby, we're going to see a lady who just had a baby..."
"She had a baby? Aw maaan... Why?"
"Because God wanted her to..."
"Aw maaan...how old is she?"
"I don't know, old enough to have a baby..."
I was so tickled, I couldn't stop laughing! Later I was telling Scott that Abby had a new word... "Aw maaan, " Abby said, "But you learned it to me." "Abby, you mean I taught you that?" "Mommy, you learned it to me." I looked at Scott and his eyes confirmed what she was saying... It's like living my own reality tv show... I get to see (and hear) myself as I really am...
To adopt an older child is to experience the blessing of seeing God's restoring power first hand... What God created in the garden was really special, but then sin messed it up... In redemption and restoration we find the person that God intended for us to be...
Friday, May 8, 2009
Abby's birthday party was SO much fun!! I hardly know where to begin... The girls arrived in their royal outfits and soon after the birthday feast began... Pizza, coke, cake and ice cream...just as we were finishing the cake, Sleeping Beauty called to tell me she was close by...
I snuck outside to be able to get a photo of Abby's face when she opened the door to a real live princess (Abby had no idea she was coming!)... she was completely shocked and had no idea what to do...
At first she would have nothing to do with her...she hid from her...wouldn't talk to her and wouldn't participate in the bracelet making craft... When Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) started painting faces, Abby wanted nothing to do with it...she wanted everyone else to go first...
And then all of a sudden, Princess A. said, "I could paint batman, pirate or prince on the boys!" Yeah right...BUT dad agreed to play along too and said he'd go first if they'd promise to go after him... How could I not be madly in love with a man who would do that for his daughter?!
But then, how could I not be crazy proud of our two sons who played along for their little sister (They did give me permission to post these pictures! LOL!!)
Next was Mackenzie's turn...
Then Abby finally agreed to go, if she could have a butterfly...
And then it was Queen Mother's turn... I had a BLAST!!
Princess A. ended the evening with lots of dancing... my face still hurts from smiling and laughing...
I was so proud of the older girls too...they dressed up, played along with everything and really seemed to enjoy themselves! K. and her family have been friends of ours for about 10 years, she's like another big sister for Abby and she is a really special young woman... Even though she's a teenager, she jumped right in on all the fun... Mackenzie and K... Zack and Nick... I was so proud of you tonight...you touched my heart the way you jumped in and loved Abby... what a special thing you did for her!!
It was really interesting to me how Abby had such a hard time receiving all of the attention... She's talked about her birthday party for months, but she had such a hard time just letting go and enjoying herself...
I just couldn't stop thinking about 1 John 3:1, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
As our Heavenly Father's adopted children, He lavishes us with His love...isn't that such a GREAT word...lavish...poured out...profuse...extravagant...prodigal (Did you know that prodigal means extravagant...lavish? Think on that one for a while in connection with the prodigal son...)
I remember when I first became a Christian, an adopted child of the King, I just couldn't get how He could possibly love me so much... Even now His love just overwhelms me and sometimes it is so hard for me to really get His lavish love...
So as I watched Abby, I could identify with her struggle... Adopted as an older child, it must be hard for her to receive so much love and attention... Like me with my heavenly Father... I want it... I long for it... but sometimes it almost seems to good to be true. I think I hold Him at arm's length sometimes because I feel so undeserving and unworthy...
So today, as the party kept going...as I pulled Abby aside and told her how special she was and daddy and I wanted to do this so she would know how special she was, I thought of my Abba Father who longs for me to know and trust His love, just like I long for Abby to know and trust our love...
As she started to let go...as she really let herself enjoy the party that was all for her...I loved watching as freedom and joy blossomed... And that's what happens the more we trust the love of our Abba Father...abundant life...far beyond what a birthday party can offer!
What an amazing day!
Happy Birthday sweet Abby... I'm so glad you're home this year to celebrate with your forever family who loves you lavishly!
This was my journal entry from that day...
As I write this, I think it's about lunch time for you and it's your 6th birthday! It makes me sad that we aren't with you to celebrate it, but next year we will be!
I hope you received your care package today and your birthday cake! Do you like your new stuffed animal puppy and your books?
The papers they gave us, that told us about you, said that you love books and puppies. I hope they were right and that somehow you can feel our love for you from so many miles away.
I can't help but wonder if today was the day that you found out that you're being adopted? I'm not sure when China tells the foster parents, so our letter to you and your foster parents could very well be the first time you hear about it.
I wonder if you're scared or sad? My prayer is that somehow God will give you peace and that you'll know deep in your heart that everything is going to be ok...that you might even be a little excited. I hope this is a good birthday surprise for you!
I pray that when you look at our faces in the photos that you will somehow know how much you're loved...I pray that when you read the letter that you will somehow feel our love for you packed into every single word.
You are a very special little girl, so many people are praying for you and waiting for you to come home so they can meet you.
I pray that today is a wonderful day for you and I also pray that God is protecting you and preparing your sweet little heart to meet your new family.
Happy Birthday, sweet one!
I didn't actually get to send this letter to her, it was just an expression of what was in my heart that day... My sweet friend Dawn, who has also adopted from China surprised me and brought over a birthday present for Abby, little Ava had picked out the most adorable pink princess dress for her and a really cute outfit...
So here we are one year later and we are having a very special princess birthday party for Abby!! She has a new Cinderella dress and crown... a beautiful princess birthday cake and can you keep a secret...Sleeping Beauty is coming to her party! I can't wait to see Abby's face when she opens the door to find Sleeping Beauty... More later...
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Whatever you do...laundry...carpool...grocery shopping...cooking...cleaning bathrooms and changing sheets...work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord... Ok, I have a hard time wrapping my brain (and my heart) around that one... Laundry for the Lord?
But that's what God's Word says... Even in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink, WHATEVER you do, do it ALL for the glory of God." (Emphasis mine)
Every single task can be for the glory of God...that means that anything we do, if our heart is in the right place, can have significance in the kingdom of God...can bring Him glory! WOW!!!
As the teacher for the class, I think that the application of God's Word is just as crucial as the context and the meaning of the verses, so whenever I teach application like this, I'm constantly challenged to be sure that my words and my actions line up...
As we ended the year, I challenged the ladies in the class to start seeing every task as an opportunity to worship rather than grumbling and complaining...
So yesterday morning, as I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. and went downstairs to make my 529th peanut butter and jelly sandwich of the year, I fell into my usual internal grumbling... I really hate making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...it's messy and it takes forever, I would much rather slap some sandwich meat on 2 slices of bread and be done with it...
But as my heart hit the usual replay button of all the reasons I hate making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...the Holy Spirit hit pause and challenged me with what I had just taught the day before (I so hate it when that happens...LOL!!)...
"Pssst...Sharla...how can you turn making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into an act of worship?" You have got to be kidding...peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as an act of worship?
"But you just said yesterday that NOTHING...no task...in the kingdom of God is insignificant when you work as unto the Lord...for His glory..." (P.S...these are not audible voices, just thoughts that seem to get whispered into my heart)...
So I started thinking, how can I look at this as an act of worship?
All last year, I didn't make my kid's lunches... They were 10, 13 & 14, I figured they could handle it, so I admit, that more than once I lingered in my warm cozy bed a little longer than I should have, knowing that they could handle getting ready for school (yeah I know, no mom of the year awards for that one, but cut me a little slack, I had ACL reconstruction and had some nerve damage and went almost 4 months without a full night's sleep)...
So as the school year started this year, I knew that all of that absolutely had to change, no more alarm clocks for the girls, I needed to wake them up to help attachment with Abby and of course a 6 year old can't make her own lunch...but then, what kind of mom would I be if I made Abby's lunch but not the other's? (Rotten!!)
So began the morning ritual of grumbling and complaining and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...
So yesterday morning, I decided to remember the reason I was making these sandwiches...God brought precious Abby into our lives, not to mention our 3 other amazing children that He's blessed us with... Hmmm... I'm so blessed to be making so many of those PB & J's...
And what about the fact that this is an act of service to my children... No greater love has a man that he lay down his life for his friends... Offer your bodies as living sacrifices... Yep...even PB&J, with the right heart attitude, counts as laying down your life... your wants, your likes, your time and energy...
All of a sudden I had a new track I could choose to play in the morning...
So this morning, as I got up to make PB & J, as the first notes of Achy, Breaky, Grumbly, Gripey Heart started sounding, I thought, "Wait a minute...this is not the song I want to hear." And I changed the song of my heart to worship!
What song is your heart playing?
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Enjoy the laugh!
25 REASONS I'VE LEARNED TO APPRECIATE MY MOTHER:
1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'
2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL .
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'
4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
' Because I said so, that's why '
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC .
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'
7. My mother taught me IRONY
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'
9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM .
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'
12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'
13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
'Stop acting like your father!'
15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
'Just wait until we get home.'
17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
'You are going to get it when you get home!'
18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'
19. My mother taught me ESP...
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'
20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
'When that lawn mower cuts off your foot, don't come running to me.'
21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'
22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
'You're just like your father.'
23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
'Shut that door behind you... Do you think you were born in a barn?'
24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'
25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.'
Monday, May 4, 2009
I'll start with Nick... For some reason our neighbor has had a really hard time with Zack and Nick... Maybe she just doesn't like teens, I don't know, but she has been unfairly hard on them. After I got over my mother bear instincts, we decided that we would just keep being nice to her, no matter how she treated us...
Things have been better lately and on Friday, she asked if Nick would finish cutting her backyard for her since she had to go out of town. He agreed but wasn't able to do it until late yesterday because of rain and soccer games...
He got the job done, but then it looked really funny because the part she had cut had already grown a good bit, so today I suggested that Nick take a few minutes and go ahead and cut the part she had already done.
Well, I didn't know it until much later, but not only did he finish the back, he went and cut her front yard too (without being asked!!)!! When she called to find out how much she owed him (she had offered to pay him)... He told her that he would only charge her for the part she had asked him to do, he just wanted to do the rest!
When I told him how proud I was of him, he smiled and said, "Well you said to be kind to her!" Guess what...they really do listen!!
But then I took the kids to dinner and Zack said, "You know how you always tell me that if I just won't participate when the other kids curse or talk about inappropriate things, they'll eventually notice that something is different? Well, they're starting to notice."
Turns out a small group he's in, in one of his classes, finished their assignment and they just started talking... Zack stayed in the group, but he didn't participate in the conversation and at one point one of the seniors said, out of the blue, "You're a big Christian aren't you?" Not big, like big and holier than thou...but big...like it's important to you. Zack just said, "Yeah...I am."
I was so proud of him that the young man noticed... I always love the question, "If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" I guess Zack got his answer... but I also love that he didn't shy away from answering either!
I also learned tonight that Zack took a bunch of business cards that we have at church for inviting people to church and handed them out at school (about a month ago)...I love that he's not afraid to be identified with his faith!
In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul writes, "5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
I think both of the boys did a great job modeling exactly what Paul is teaching...I have so much to learn from them!
Now...a quick update from yesterday's soccer game...game 2 of State Cup...they won again!! It was so exciting...now they have to win next weekend to go to the next round...it will be a really tough game but it can be done...here are some of my favorite shots from yesterday...the last two are the best of the day!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
So here are some of my favorite shots of the day... In this first one, you can see how Zack really got his hair cut...he thinks it's too short, but I really like it!
In the second 2 shots, this play made me really mad, especially after I saw the photos...look at what the other player is doing, how he wrapped his legs around Zack's leg...he could have broken Zack's leg...torn his ACL...it could have been really bad...even THEIR parents were amazed at how quickly Zack got up... And to think that their coach was whining about our players... I think he needs to focus on how nasty his own team is...
The next two are R... he had an AMAZING game...if they gave MVP's for each game, it would go to him and our goalie who was incredible!!
This last one is a beautiful save by our goalie...we actually have two goalies...they have been incredible this season...
Friday, May 1, 2009
But today, as she was about to run down the street with Mackenzie, she came back, with her little arms open, asking for a hug! Even Mackenzie didn't do that... Abby did it all on her own!!
I just stood there and smiled!