Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blog Break For Lent

I always look forward to the spiritual renewal I experience during Lent each year.  This renewal is, in part, because I make a special effort to focus on Christ's final days leading up to his Crucifixion.  I try to really enter in and experience it, not just consider it on an intellectual level. 

This spiritual renewal is also largely due to a decision I make each year to either make some sort of sacrifice or add something to my life that is meaningful, but challenging for me.  For me this sacrifice or challenge is a symbolic way to relate to Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross.  If the little challenges I set for myself are so hard for me, how much harder must it have been for Christ to take on all our sin and accept God's just punishment for it? 

One year, I gave up desserts (REALLY hard if you know my sweet tooth).  One year, I gave up TV.  Other years I have added a new dimension to my personal time with God, maybe a special focus on additional prayer time. 

This year, I have decided to give up/sacrifice unnecessary use of the internet.  For me, this means blogging, Facebooking, Pinterest, web surfing, etc.  My reasoning behind this is because I have found myself "losing" a lot of time online.  During Lent, I would like to spend that time reading, praying, and connecting with people on the phone and in person rather than online.

So, now you know why my blog will be eerily quiet during this Lenten season.  I hope you enjoy this beautiful, spiritual time of the year in your own special way.  

Happy Ash Wednesday and "see" you after Easter! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Special Needs Mothering: What It Takes

The Special Mother 

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, 
a few by social pressure and a couple by habit. 
This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. 
Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen? 

Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth 
Selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. 
As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger. 

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew." 
"Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia." 
"Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity." 

Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a handicapped child." 
The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy." 
"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who knows no laughter? 
That would be cruel." 

"But does she have the patience?" asks the angel. 
"I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. 
Once the shock and resentment wear off she'll handle it." 

"I watched her today. 
She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. 
You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of it's own. 
She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy." 

"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." 

God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." 
The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?" 
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. 
Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. 

She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied. 
She will never take for granted a spoken word. 
She will never consider a step ordinary. 
When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. 

I will permit her to see clearly the things I see--ignorance, cruelty, 
prejudice--and allow her to rise above them. 

She will never be alone. 
I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life 
Because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side." 

"And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air. God smiles. 
"A mirror will suffice."

by Erma Bombeck 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shep Shops

One of Shep's favorite Tot School activities is "going shopping."  I spread out his toy foods around the dining room.  He walks around "Trader Joe's" putting them in his cart.  Then I bag them up and charge him (he really likes that he gets to use real money for this!).  So simple, yet fun and educational.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adoption as "Plan B"

I just want to say, having done used both the old-fashioned route and the adoptive route to growing our family, THEY ARE EQUALLY CHALLENGING, BEAUTIFUL, MEANINGFUL, AND REWARDING.

Shep grew in my womb.  He made me sicker than I've ever been in my life.  The sickness led to full-blown Depression.  I felt guilty that I wasn't that happy, glowing pregnant woman everyone expected me to be. I labored 56 hours looooong and pushed for 2.5.  I bled for 8 weeks afterward.  My breasts got engorged, I got Mastitis, nursing always felt like a vice grip on my nipples even though I stuck it out for 2 years.  Shep was a collicky baby, up from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night crying, didn't sleep through the night for 18 months.  And he was beautiful because he was our's.  He has spent me and he has stretched me.  And I have loved him more and more each day.

Liam grew in my heart.  He made me more crazy in the head than I have ever been because I just knew he was out there somewhere just waiting for us.  We filled out more paperwork, spent more time on the phone with government offices and adoption agencies, researching adoptive parenting, and agonizing over whether we would end up with 1 or 2, how old, what sex(es) than we ever dreamed possible.  Liam's was my "Paper Pregnancy."  The travels to Liam were physically exhausted, made us both sick, and made us want to crawl out of our skin the plane flights were so loooong.  That week I waited for Billy to come home with Liam was one of the most emotionally draining weeks of my life.  Seeing them at the airport was pure euphoria.  And he was beautiful because he was all our's.  He has spent me and he has stretched me.  And I have loved him more and more each day.

So, there you have it.  Both challenging, beautiful, meaningful, and rewarding.  They were both our Plan A.  Neither is "second best," I promise.

I hope this encourages you if you are struggling to bring a baby into the world the old-fashioned way.  The way I see it, there are 150 million orphans out there who need a Mommy and Daddy.  And maybe, just maybe, God is choosing your family.  To be a part of His bigger picture.  And making a change.  For a child.  For the world.  For your family.  Count it a blessing, not a loss.  Because it is.  I know.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Columbia Zoo

Shep was a little unnerved by the koalas lounging in the grass behind them.
The boys insisted on sitting on every single animal sculpture we passed - the turtle.
And the humongous lizard.
And the teeny tiniest dinosaur I ever saw.
And the tiger.
And the Bitty Baby elephant.
Feeding the Lorakeets nectar - a little scary, but mostly fun!
And my two little monkeys on a Great Big Monkey.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So, I Went to Disney World This Week.

No, I was not at Disney for the usual reasons and my family was not even with me.  Shhh, don't tell Shep I met Mickey!!!

I was there to serve some incredible families on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat.

These are families who 1) have children at home and 2) the children have a parent with a terminal illness.

I was shadowing as a counselor, helping elementary age children process their emotions about their parents' illness.  What a paradox: we were at the most fun and magical place on earth, yet these children were experiencing a depth of pain most of us will never know.

It was intense.  It was highly emotional.  It was heartbreaking.  It was inspiring.  I hope I can live as fully as some of these families are living even in the midst of such pain and heartache.  Wow.  I am in awe of them.  Really, I am in awe of God because He is the One Who sustains them.  But the families are pretty amazing, too.

Thank you, Meredith, for inviting me.  What a gift.  Now I know why you are so hooked on this ministry.  It's contagious.

Here is a little peek into the retreat...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Five Years Together

Five years, two babies (many sleepless nights), two houses, so many classes classes (I've really been in grad school for five years?!).

Big decisions, small decisions (God always putting us on the same page, sooner or later)...
Good times, bad times, the worst of times.

Loving, laughing, crying all the while...
We are still going strong.

I cannot imagine life without you, the adventures I would have missed out on.
Thank you for walking through this crazy beautiful life with me, My Friend, My Love, My Fellow Sojourner.

The vows I made to you that day still hold truer than true...
Always and Forever I want to dance through my days with you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Warm Your Heart

Sweet music video by Josh Kelley about his adopted daughter

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pincer Grasp Work-Out

Here is Liam eating some cheerios and getting a Pincer Grasp Work-Out as prescribed by his Occupational Therapist. 

The Ace bandages wrapped around this hands to hold down all but his pointer fingers and thumbs force him to use his pincer grasp - and therefore strengthen the muscles necessary for him to do so. 

As you can see, Liam doesn't mind in the least - as long he's got a snack to munch on, he's a happy fella.

Here's to developing those future writing skills!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The "Anti-Stair"

Billy made this wonderful contraption he aptly named The Anti-Stair because it keeps Liam from climbing up the stairs (it's the odd-looking piece of wood just above Liam's head). 

We used a stair gate in our old house, but don't have a railing to attach it to in this house - hince the need for creativity.  Sometimes parenting calls for creativity (actually, a lot of times!).  And yes, I know, I am blessed with a fabulously handy husband - thank you, Lord! 

As you can see, this is one of Shep's favorite places to play now because Liam can't "steal" his toys.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Peek Into My Quiet Time

My materials these days:
  • my 1,000 Gifts Journal (I highly recommending reading Ann Voskamp's book  in order to learn this art)
  • The Valley of Vision (prayers and devotions)
  • my Bible (I am currently in Matthew, reading through the New Testament)

Counting Gifts
Reciting prayers
Reading Jesus' words

I cycle through different routines for my Quiet Time every few months to keep things fresh. Sometimes journaling, sometimes a curriculum-style Bible Study (Beth Moore is my favorite), sometimes reading through the Bible in a year, sometimes a prayer journal, listening to sermons, meditations - just whatever appeals to my senses and keeps me going.And it is by this short and simple time spent alone, yet not alone, that I am made new... each and every day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lazy Crockpot Chicken

This recipe has become a recent staple in our home for several reasons:
1. It's cheap
2. It's easy
3. It's healthy
4. I can use my crockpot, which means very little last-minute prep (which means I can do the prepwork while the kids are occupied or asleep earlier in the day, rather than when they are hungry for dinner and under my feet whining)
5. Every member of my family will eat it - including my picky 3-year-old!
6. Calls for just a few ingredients

1. Rinse your whole chicken under running water.
2. Remove innards if it came with them.
3. Put it in your crockpot.
4. Brush with olive oil.
5. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (I have used Greek seasoning, lemon & pepper seasoning, poultry seasoning - Greek is my favorite).
6. Put any kind of fruits or vegetables in there you want.  I have used onions, garlic, apples, carrots, potatoes.  This is your opportunity to be creative!
7.  Cover your crockpot and cook for 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

The chicken is so tender, it falls apart so you will probably have to dish servings out of the crockpot, rather than removing the whole chicken to place on a dish.

You can serve with the vegetables you cooked it with, rice, salad, rolls, and/or stuffing - whatever sounds good.

We always have leftover chicken, which I use to make chicken pot pie or a chicken casserole the next day.