Thursday, September 11, 2014

We're Expecting

I've started the first line a half dozen times and can't seem to know where to begin. Michael and I are expecting a baby early May 2015. Yes, you can do the math and figure that I'm only a few weeks pregnant (does that make me any less pregnant?!) and yes, we chose to announce before the traditional first trimester. It doesn't really matter why but I can tell you that there is a life inside of me and that is something we want to celebrate! 

I can't come up with words to describe the goodness of God. The abundance of blessing bestowed on us is almost too much to handle at times. I know I don't deserve it. I have not earned it. But I will boast only in The Lord and His wonderous love and blessings. Even when I've been wandering, lost and faithless. Even when I've doubted and prayed what I thought were endless unheard prayers. My God was there, ever listening, ever waiting, ready with His perfect plan in His perfect timing. 

Those two little knit booties in the picture represent life. Those two shoes represent the feet being formed for the baby being fashioned inside me. Truthfully, I never knew if I would carry a baby. Frankly, I had buried that dream many years ago. I prayed to become a mother and that is what The Lord granted me. And yet He decided not to stop there. I am so mindful of the fact that both of my children have been brought by nothing less than the Sovereign and miraculous hand of God. ONLY GOD! 

Just as Elijah was being fashioned in my heart, just as God perfectly placed him in my arms as the answer to my prayer to become a mother, so He is now forming a baby, our baby to be part of our family. ONLY GOD!!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

I could search the world over and never come up with enough ways to express what I owe Him. It's not because I prayed hard enough. It's not because my faith was strong enough. It's not because I was good enough. It's certainly not because I deserve it. It's only because, by, through and with God. ONLY GOD. 

Rejoice with us as we praise The Lord for this miracle!
Give thanks with us as we honor Him at work in our lives and for the life inside me.
Pray with us for our baby and our growing family. 

Only God!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome September

It happens. Every year. Without fail. It's 90 degrees with high humidity yet throughout the course of this day that feels like summer's last hoorah, I'm pining for all things fall. Welcome September. I'm so glad you're here. 

We've spent our Labor Day laboring - deep cleaning, that is. It feels like we're preparing for spring but instead we're fully embracing what's soon-to-be autumn. The windows have all been cleaned and the screens put on. My husband cannot know the full extend of the happiness he has brought me by doing this. There's a warm breeze (maybe more like hot?!) but I'm absolutely thrilled that the cooler temperatures coming will allow the windows to be opened and let the breezes blow through. The house is clean and it just feels "good." It feels like we're ready for the new season.

I guess I'm all-too-predictable since at least half a dozen people have let me know the Pumpkin Spice Oreo flavor that's out. Others have shared pumpkin spice recipes, PSL's on sale early and other "pumpkin-related" updates. I might need to change my profile to "Loves all things Pumpkin, Oreos, Coffee and Birthdays." Oh yes, September, I welcome you. I embrace you and all that's to come. 

It's already hit me. I had the desire to bake but I'm ashamed to admit I have no can of pumpkin on hand. I pulled out the dehydrator instead and prepared some apples, blueberries and bananas along with freshly pureed fruit roll ups. I started searching for stew and soup recipes. I was so tempted - THIS CLOSE - to making a pot of chili tonight. After all, it is September. Nevermind the temperature.

The truth is I love the start of a new month. I love flipping the calendar (yes, I still have a paper one on my desk) and seeing the very beginning. It's fresh and new. It's only a matter of time before it will be filled up with appointments, reminders and circled dates but for this day it's a clean slate. I love the change of seasons. Every season. I love welcoming with anticipation what I know Autumn brings, knowing full well that following behind it will be winter and holidays in full force. Oh yes, it's all coming. The new month, the onset of the season to come is unstoppable. 

Lest I get ahead of myself, don't worry, I'm not ready to turn the calendar into the new year. Not yet at least. (Although...then the 59 day countdown will begin for my birthday but that's another story!) No, today I'm just pausing to enjoy the new month and the ceremonial close of summer as fall begins to make its entrance. Welcome September. I really am glad you're here. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looks A Lot Like Me

You might remember that we had a rough start to the week. No self-control, a lack of focus, the inability to complete a task, disrespect for those in authority, and the list goes on… 

We celebrated small successes yesterday. He had good behavior… He just didn't do his work. Baby steps towards progress. (Today was his "best day yet"! YAY!)

The only thing he wanted to do was play outside with his best friend. He lost that privilege after a day full of bad decisions on Monday so my plea to him before a new day began was that if he wanted his play time he had to stay on green. Green he got and to my word he was sure to hold me. Never mind the fact that I had inadvertently left the completion of work off the checklist of specifics. (Didn't know I had to be so specific! This kid is good at navigating/manipulating the details. Remind me to check all the fine print!)

He woke up bright and early today and asked to ride his scooter outside. Burn off some energy before school for 30 minutes? It was a splendid idea. He obediently came inside to eat a healthy breakfast and get dressed. I turned my head for a second to deal with a precocious doodle who'd left a trail of paper shredded all over the floor when I realized a certain little boy had escaped outside. I had been specific this time. "Take your vitamins. Brush your teeth. Do not go back outside." Denied. All three instructions ignored. 

One thing led to another and a series of somewhat catastrophic events resulted in a domino effect of ill-will and frustrations. No self-control, a lack of focus, the inability to complete a task, disrespect... And I'm not talking about the kid. I'm talking about me. 

How could this child whom I love and adore, the one whom I prayed and longed for, been able to bring out a side of me I never knew existed?! There are moments when we look at our children and wonder if they're little aliens trying to adjust to our spinning world. Then there are moments where we look at ourselves and wonder if these little immigrants have the ability to truly make us lose all sense of maturity. The ability to maintain sanity suddenly becomes an absurdity. Yes, this is where I found myself. 

I was ashamed of myself for my knee-jerk reaction. Even worse I couldn't recognize the monster I had just demonstrated. How could I teach this little man to grow in stature and wisdom and grace when I was presenting him with quite the opposite? If I was frustrated with him and his lack of maturity and poor decision making then I had to be willing to point the finger back to myself. I'd just given him the best (worst) example of how to act, react and live. Shame on me. 

I wiped both our tears and hugged him and apologized. I was sorry for hurting his feelings and he said he was sorry for not obeying. 

So it goes... God continues to teach and grow me. He's not done with me yet (thank goodness, because otherwise I know so many would be disappointed with the outcome). He's promised to complete the work He began. I have to remember the same is true of my little man. I also have to remember that he bears a strong resemblance to me. The life I live out in front of him is part of how he will learn. I've got to take my cues from my Heavenly Father because there's a little life taking cues from me. I can only hope He would say I resemble Him because what I'm watching before me looks a lot like me. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Never Give Up

Any carpool mom knows this is the place where your patience is tested and tested over again. This is where you play the game of toss up. Do you show up early and wait for what may be a near eternity knowing you've earned your kid a place at the front of the line to leave? Or do you wait out the line and show up "late" (just as school lets out) and wait at the very back of the line? I've tried them both. Either way you wait.

The car rider line is where you sit, breathe, catch up on an iBook, read the emails that have piled up from the day, or see what the newsfeed has to share. Oh look, more carpool moms waiting in endless car rider lines wasting their lives away JUST LIKE ME!

You learn to love fall and spring more than you ever knew you could. Otherwise you sit and BAKE in the beating down sun in summer, waiting out the rising heat until you feel the sweat dripping down your back and then decide it's time to turn on the car and get some A/C. Winter is where you wait out the chill until your fingers are too numb to text so you determine to turn on the car and run the heat...for just a few minutes at least. You don't want to waste too much gas afterall. 

There I sat in the never-ending car rider line. I arrived in the "in between" zone - not too eager to be in the front of the pack but certainly not pulling up the end of the line. It was a beautiful cool breeze and plenty nice for open windows without over-heating. Thank You, Lord! It was time for me to just breathe and relax today. I'd been busy and on the run all day. 

My phone started to buzz. 

"I need help!" the text read.

I wasn't sure what was going on at first but after a series of rampant messages I was quickly feeling the pain of the mom at the other end. 

Her child got in trouble at school. Again. She'd been notified by the school. Again. 

"It's only the second week of school!" I could hear the desperation in her written word.

I could sense her fear, anxiety, frustration, oh yes, I knew it all. Even the embarrassment that follows knowing your kid wasn't the one who everyone would say was "such a joy in class.' Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. I may be well on my way to earning the trophy.

I shared in her pain, did my best to offer some advice, then put away my phone as it was now my anticipated turn to reach the front of the line.

"How was your day?" I exclaimed.

"'m sorry but I didn't have a good day," he replied. 

Don't lose your cool, don't lose your cool...I was trying to remember the cool breezes that had just been peacefully  blowing through the windows. Reality check. This is real life. 

Now I was that mom I had just been messaging. What on earth happened? Why couldn't he just be the kid who was "such a joy in class"??? Why was he, my child, the one who gets the note home from the teacher? 

If I've learned anything in that car rider line it's been a little dose of patience. You have to wait your turn. Everyday I play a guessing game, wondering what time to show up and what place I'll get in line. It's the same guessing game as I wait to see what kind of day he had. The time I spend catching up on work or reading for my own personal enjoyment is not time wasted even though I feel like I'm at a standstill. It's a lot like how I feel right now about this impasse we're in. Somehow I'm waiting for time to pass and years to turn into maturity. Someday I will look back and WISH - just wish - for the opportunity to pick him up from school. Despite my desire now to "fix" whatever it is that is preventing him, my boy, from being the "good boy," I know one day I'll miss our rides home when I can try to teach him a lesson from the problem of the day. One day I won't be there to pick him up. One day he may drive himself off to college (heaven help us, it's going to be a very looooooong road to get him to college!). 

As soon as I see my boy running toward the car, I'm not even mindful of the wait I just endured. The time passed is no longer a concern and who cares about my place in line. One day he'll be grown and the notes home will no longer be a concern. Right now in our world this is a big deal. One day there will be things that will be a much bigger deal. 

The song comes to mind...

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Just as the love God has for us can never run out or give up, no matter how difficult we may make it, He still loves us. I know that love. As a parent, we learn to give that kind of love, even when we're disappointed, frustrated, embarrassed. You learn to love the small things more than you ever thought you could. Nothing is wasted. Every moment counts. 

Any parent knows this is the place your patience is tested and tested over again. This is the place you breathe and pray. I don't have all the answers. But I'm not giving up. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Because I Didn't Learn the First Time

The last 24 hours have provided me with repeated reminders of a message God is clearly trying to send me. Not just subtle hints or whispers in the wind. I am being practically knocked over to make sure I get it. 

For this child I prayed…

Someone shared that verse with me yesterday as a reminder of my journey to motherhood. 

For this child I prayed...

It was in my daily reading and devotions this morning. 

It's a silly little app but I downloaded Timehop. It's actually been such an encouragement and witness to see how God has been working. Today's notification just about knocked me down. Again. 

This picture was taken on this day a year ago. The reminder that this verse is literally written on the 2x4 behind the wall in the room that is my son's. This is part of the caption I posted with the image:

This is the verse I have been claiming and this is the verse I wrote last night in Elijah's room pre-drywall. Today I drop him off and don't pick him up until Monday after school... But he's in God's hands. I have to claim that everyday, all the days of his life. 

I wrote it in my own blog two years ago this month. It was before preschool began. It was the day I dropped him off, yet again. It was the realization of why I am called to be his mother.

If you ask my adopted son, "What did mommy pray for?" he will answer, "For a baby...for me." I love that he knows that HE was the direct answer to my prayers to become a mother. It is in this simple truth that I am also reminded that the gift I've been given is the very same gift I must turn back over to the Lord...

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given to the Lord."

I love that part... "for his whole life he will be given to the Lord..." Have I given over my son? Have I turned him back over to God? When I'm there? When I'm not? It's so easy for me to be caught up in the moments when I'm disciplining, training, teaching or just playing with my boy. Do I really need to remind myself I don't have it all together?!?!

It is so clear why I must be bull dozed down with the same message over and over (and over). It seems I never learn. God must know I need the many reminders. 

The truth is I've never wanted a different child. I've never second-guessed the fact that I should be his mother. I think the process that led to his adoption is even more confirmation to me that he is the very child I prayed for. Knowing that only God could place him in my life helps my soul rest assured that God had a perfect plan for me to be his mother. I hold onto this truth dearly. 

Yet I cannot deny the discouragement that my soul so often feels. I have feelings of being distraught and distressed and simply hopelessly wondering what to do in those moments of despair. You never want to hear someone say how challenging your child is. The embarrassment that inevitably comes every time a public appearance warrants someone's comment of how high energy he is. Watching the interactions other adults have with him and seeing their annoyance and dislike. It's heart-shattering.

I cling to the knowledge that he is mine regardless of how others feel about him. That thought alone is one that I feel I should scream at the top of my lungs. I AM HIS MOTHER! I know how he is. I know the frustrations and the exhaustion. And I also know that he is the child for whom I prayed. God did not make a mistake in choosing him to be my son. Nor did He make a mistake in choosing me to be his mother. This isn't about some trial or lesson and it certainly isn't about having more than I can bear. This is about another realization of God's plan - for my life and for the life of this child, my child.

For this child I prayed. And for this child I must continue to pray. All the days of his life. All of the days of my life. 

I prayed for him to come. I prayed for him to be mine. I prayed to be his mother. But I can't stop there. Now I must pray for him as he grows. I must pray as he learns. I must pray for his heart, for his mind, for every external factor he faces. I must cover him in prayer, more than the hugs and kisses I lavish on him. For this child I must pray...and pray...and pray!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The First Day of School

It's the hustle and bustle of the first day of school
For a morning in August it's unseasonably cool
No more sleeping in, lazy days are now gone
We were up bright and early and getting things done

The backpack was full with new school supplies
His lunch box was packed with a happy surprise
A note on his napkin complete with a smile
Never mind that this gesture might not be in style

He picked his own outfit despite my suggestions
He chose the Minion shirt to leave quite an impression
He asked for his hair to be in a spike
Which is something before he had never liked

I asked him for certain should I walk him in
He said that I could and gave me a grin
Of course he refused to hold mommy's hand
An independent streak in this little man

Just then he stopped and reached down with care
He picked up two flowers for me to wear in my hair
I smiled with pride, how could I deny
This special request from my sweet little guy

We walked to his classroom, I made sure to show him the way
"Pay attention where to go, I won't be here after today."
He walked into class and went straight to his seat
He never looked back and my heart skipped a beat

I was happy he was happy as he worked to settle in
My heart couldn't decide if I should cry or grin
His bravery inspired me to just walk away
But all I can think about is the end of the day

I won't shed any tears, I just hope and I pray
That these hours that separate us in our day
Will be filled with learning and growing and more
There's much to be discovered in the year that's in store

I pray for him to be kind and sweet
I pray for the friends he soon will meet
I pray for his teacher and for all she has to do
I pray for your child and for you, mommies, too
Who are sending your babies to school today
Whatever the age, whatever the grade

We know in our hearts we've done all we can do
To bring them to this point, now the rest is up to You
Watch over them, Lord, keep them safe while they're away
Give us peace as their parents as we go about our day

Help us remember when you chose these babies for us
That we are your servants in whom You trust
To raise them and pray for them as we point them to You
To show them God's love above all that we do

The first day of school is yet another milestone
To remind us of the responsibility as we watch them grow
We pray for Your goodness to surround them in grace
And we ask for Your mercy for whatever they face

Keep us grounded in You as we raise daughters and sons
Help us seek You only, our Eternal One
You are God, You are good, You are all that we need
So to You and You alone, we offer this plea

Protect our little ones, however big or small
We give them to You, not one day but all
For all of their days You planned for them
As you knit them together before their lives began

It's the first day of school!
Thank You, Lord for this day
In Your name I ask all these things as I pray

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Day of Rest

I find myself thoroughly enjoying this soggy Saturday. It's a steady, non-stop rain that promises to be here all day. The quiet stillness inside is complimented by the steady downpour outside. I love to listen to the rain. 

I made a grocery list and planned the meals for the week but that is about as much productivity that I have planned for the day. This of course was all from the comfort of my couch in my ultra comfy yoga pants. I'm not sure that any of the shopping will actually get done today. Who wants to go grocery shopping in the pouring down rain?! Certainly not this girl. The weather seems to be contributing to the super-unmotivated mood I now possess. I've rationalized that I can't clean the floors because a certain doodle dog would inevitably track in mud and paw prints. He seems to content to be relaxing as well. 

I can't help but enjoy the laziness of the day. It doesn't happen often and usually life is in fast forward so this change of pace is welcomed and somewhat overdue. I slept in til 8:30! That in itself is a record for this automatic early riser. It's a blessing and a curse not being able to sleep past 7, usually awakened without an alarm around 6. The blessing is I'm usually most productive in the morning and it's a great way to get a jump start on the day. 

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

The Lord has been so, so good to me. Beyond what I deserve, even more than I could imagine. It's days like these when I actually take the time to stop going and doing, when I'm not rushing from one responsibility to yet another over-committed obligation. Days like these when I pause and reflect on His goodness, when I escape from the demands and expectations, my soul finds rest. The reality is the expectations are usually contrived by my own hand. The demands are typically the result of my doing. So in the stillness, in the quiet, with nothing more than the sound of the steady ready falling, I can just rest. I can relax. I can be comfortable. I can be restored. I can be renewed. I can find the peace my soul longs for. I can escape from the expectations I think everyone has of me and realize the only thing I need to do is be still right here, right now in His presence. 

The Lord has been good to me and because of His goodness, because of His love and compassion, I don't have to be consumed. I don't have to worry. I don't have to be overwhelmed. I don't have to fulfill any of the expectations or demands, I don't have to be obligated by responsibilities and roles. Yes, there are things to be done. But not today at least. Today is a day for rest.