Thursday, September 18, 2014

a work day

My career as a nurse has taken me to this job in public health.  I work with families in the community, and visit them in their homes.  This is very good work.  It is hard work to quantify with documentation....therefore I am always behind on my paperwork and always connecting with mommies and their babies.  Today alone, just since 7pm, I have had contact with 4 different families that are probably, technically in crisis.  Some families stay in crisis.  Some have events that break your heart.....over and over and over.  I get to journey with these families and offer hope and praise and strength.  It's an amazing job to be allowed and paid to do.

Tonight, in the middle of feeling very sad and in awe of some of these families.....I am also grateful and impressed with how resilient the human species is.  Especially her children.  People are resilient. They want to reach higher and believe for better.  Even when knocked down and buried under, the human spirit says, "dig out".  Part of digging out, for some of my more fragile families, is letting me into their hearts and lives.  Did I mention I get paid to love them?  I really do.

Today I threw out a lifeline to someone who felt like she was drowning.  I didn't plan to, but in the moment of her sinking it dawned on me that I could give her a long-term promise.  A decade-from-now promise.  Little Miss....you have trouble today but in 10 years, lets celebrate and do something awesome.  I offered her the pact and she said yes.  In the middle of her despair, and as she was sinking she could still say yes....to a 10 years in the future reward for surviving this hard season.

I am fairly sure that this girl is stronger than I have ever been.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do Something - Matthew West

A tale of rice and beans....

Our church  has formed a bond with a church in Liberia, called Abide in The Vine Discipleship Church.  Our mission team challenged us to eat rice and beans once a week to increase our awareness and compassion for our sister church, and to consider donating money that we saved by not cooking a full meal.  The rice and beans cost less than $3.00 to prepare......and I typically make a meal with meat and veggies and starches for at least $10.00 or more.  I'm committing to $50.00 at the end of September after we have eaten rice and beans for 5 different Mondays.

I really enjoy the rice and beans.  I've sauteed onions and tomatoes (given to me for free from my dad's garden) and peppers with it several times....and it is a very satisfying meal.  Isaac and Jeremiah look forward to it, and Josiah likes it too.  Roger tolerates it.  Precious and Claire refuse.  They typically eat leftovers or I make P a smoothie.....which is fine.  It's my challenge, not theirs.

Tonight I started the beans early so it would be done before Jeremiah went to football.  Last night I filled the bowl with water to soak the beans, today I rinsed them and started the pot boiling for its 1 1/2 to 2 hour simmer......and then I left to bring Claire to violin.  I meant to tell Isaac to watch the pot and turn it off when the water was almost gone.  I did.  But then Josiah started stirring from a nap and I didn't want him to see me or I would have to take him along across town for the violin lesson so I snuck out the door really fast......and about 10 minutes later, Isaac called me and said, "Mom, am I supposed to be doing something wit these beans?".....He's a smart boy.  And my right-hand man at home.  I told him to turn the burner off and mash a few of the beans if he wanted to, and just wait and I would finish it when I got home.  I got home about a half hour later....to a really wretched smell.  I went to the pot of beans and saw something that looked like pinto bean.....pulp.  I think when I said, mash a few beans......Isaac heard......"pulverize each and every bean with a karate chop hay-ya.....every bean".....and that is what he did.  Have you ever seen cooked pinto beans that look like popcorn?  That's what was in the pot.

Claire headed down to her room gagging, and I started a repair mission for the beans and rice.  I could have dumped it and just opened a can, but really.....this is a meal of sacrifice.  I poured in some tomato juice and some spices.....and it was just fine.  Claire ate a leftover burger.  I made smoothies with peanut butter and banana (no dairy) for the littles.....and the rest of us feasted on a meal that my friends in Liberia probably don't see every day right now.  The Ebola virus is terrorizing this country.  Most adults don't eat every day, and I'm sure none of these brothers and sisters in Christ would ever consider dumping a pot full of beans.  Of course, they probably know enough to not walk away from the pot or burn them, too.

We've had a kitchen light that hasn't worked for months.  I threatened to call an electrician the other day, so Roger went over to a friend at work who has electrical knowledge.  Michael said he'd stop over and look at it today.  He came....and fixed the light.  (Roger, because I love you, I won't go into detail about what it took to fix this light.)....and it turns out that Michael loves beans and rice.  I had just enough left to send some home with him.  Go figure.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

week by week

Wow.  It's not often that I go a full week without a blog.  I got sick monday and then Joe was sick tuesday and Joe and Claire were sick wednesday.....everyone went to work/daycare/school thursday....but Claire overdid it and stayed home a half day today.  I guess that's why there was no blogging.  We were in survival mode.  I'm having to learn a whole new methodology to parent a high school child.  It's a much bigger deal to miss school, but its also a much bigger deal when a teen who loves being involved is sick.  It's a rare opportunity to parent her with the authority of a nurse and a mom, when I tell her to stay home and sleep and I will get her to school when she has rested.

That technique worked this week....and my payment is my punishment.  She's at her first-ever high school dance.  It's something her high school does after home games, apparently.  I didn't go to this high school and we only know a handful of the families......its just plain weird.  We all went to the game because she danced during half time.  She's on the dance team.  It was cold and the 2 little kiddos were hyper and distracting and whiney.....so after the dance team show I packed them up and we left.  She stayed because she said she was feeling much better.  She looked better.  In fact, she looked absolutely radiant.  She had no voice and her nose and chest are full from this respiratory virus she is fighting, but she was happy and her eyes were bright with expectation and excitement because she was there in the middle of her exciting life as a new freshman in high school.

Roger commented that she dances 5 days of the week...and ironically, no one will dance at this "dance"....but she wanted to go.  It's a social outing with her school.  She is there and I am not.  She's growing up.  She fought through her exhaustion and cough and stuffy head on Thursday to go in early for dance team.....stay all day in school....rush home to teach a dance class, then take her dance class all night....and ended the day in tears because she was frustrated and miserable.  I parented her there.  In that place of weakness and dispair, I got to hold her and rock her a bit as we sat in her room and talked through the day.  I got her some food and medicine and something to drink and I reassured her that I would inevitably decide what is best for her.  It wasn't up to her.  I would be the boss.  It was good for her and for me.  I was so proud of her.   Protectively, I let her rest and then cheered her on tonight.  She'll be home soon.  She found a friend who had to leave the dance early and would get a ride with her.  She wants to sleep....but she didn't want to miss the first high school dance either.  Can you blame her?  

Friday, September 5, 2014

changes

Well I'm over my tantrum.  It lasted just short of 24 hours.  I can do a month of no dairy for Precious and if it helps her feel better and sleep better......I can do it forever.  I can.  I don't want to, but I can.  Part of my torture is that I am a foodie, through and through.  I love thinking about food, planning meals, reading recipes and even shopping and preparing food.  I don't even mind cleaning up if everyone just leaves me alone to do it, with music playing and a satisfied family.  It's hard to be a foodie and have to alter and adjust everything.

I went to 2 of our 3 grocery stores yesterday and spent a lot of money on things like dairy-free cheeses and soy ice cream for her smoothies....and I took a long walk yesterday and a long walk today.  I talked through it with my mom who is ever the voice of reason and never the voice of sympathy.  She basically told me to "calm down".  She really did.  I was even in walmart at the time.....trying to read all the food labels without my old-lady reading glasses and the print is just so small.....mom told me to calm down and then she said she would help me.  All of a sudden I wasn't alone in this new change.  I had vented on the adoption support page for my Katelyn's Fund support network and got tons of encouragement there.  I ran into a fellow adoptive mom in walmart who has also followed up with me and gave me some tips.  It's gonna be ok.  This is just a minor bump in the road.  It could be much, much worse.

The sun is shining and the air is crisp today.  Summer is yielding to Autumn.....and in the spirit of that surrender I can surrender this, too.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

sometimes prayers look less than pretty....

I'm just so mad at the Lord tonight.  I serve Him.  I will never deny Him.  I live for Him.  I'm really, really mad at him tonight.  He has the capacity to fix everything, heal all things, make all things new. I have prayed and prayed for all of this and more.   He can restore and resolve and redeem....and he allows brokenness.  It's one thing for Him to allow that brokenness in me.  I can learn from it.  Draw strength from Him in my weakness.....glorify Him in it.

What do I do with it when it falls on my children............

My Precious Maryn. She is at the root of this post.  Gosh.  This child tries so hard.  She is so intrinsically good...and right.  He named her Precious. He knows.  We are trying to understand Precious Maryn better.  She is complex and mysterious.  Moody.  Prone to fits of rage and meltdowns that last for hours......she suffers.  We have started to dig deeper and look harder at her, from the inside out.  She has ADHD and Anxiety.  She has some developmental delays.  She has sleep and sensory issues.....and a significant milk allergy.  We knew about the milk allergy for about 3 years and switched her to almond milk....but the numbers say that she is still getting too much milk.  No more chocolate and no more typical bread or chicken nugget breading or pizza.....basically all the foods she loves have to go.  I am completely undone tonight.  Overwhelmed.  Helpless.

Doggonit.

When will this kid catch a break?  She is so lovely and wonderful and exquisite....why does daily life have to be so damn hard?  God brought her to me.  I will do whatever I need to do as her mama.  Please, please, please don't feel like you have to do anything to help or remedy this.....but it is part of the story of her so I am writing it out tonight.  I will dig deep in the reservoir of my faith and strength....and God will help me.  He has to.  I will figure out how to feed her and grow her up.  I will celebrate her every day because she is worthy of it.  But tonight, I'm just sucker-punched in the stomach.

Find new foods.  Buy different groceries.  Stop cooking with butter and cheese and milk.  Figure out how to make her not be mad that she has to be and do everything different from everyone else.....and somehow, by the power of God's Holy Spirit....connect her to Him.  Because I am helpless here.

Lord.  I'm asking.  I'm begging.  Show up.  Show up in this new transition.  Show the heck up.  Please.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

energy bites.....

Peanut butter bites (aka energy bites):

1 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1 cup coconut (opt), 1/2 cup flaxseed, 1/2 cup mini choc chips, 1 tsp vanilla.  Roll into balls, chill at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

I made them.  We will see if they work.

My sitter makes them and the kids inhale them....but lets face it.  I need the energy, not them!  (smile)  I'm hoping Claire tries them and approves them because it is our turn to bring brown bag breakfast for the dance team next Tuesday after the holiday weekend.  It has to be breakfast food they can grab and rush to the showers with and eat fast....so no egg bake, etc.  They've had bagels and muffins and fruit and yogurt.....but for some reason I want to try something new.  Maybe energy bites will fly....with some fruit and perhaps a smoothie.  If she doesn't like them we can just eat them here.  I'll send some along tomorrow morning.  My folks are taking the big kids along for the annual serving day at The Banquet, which is a soup kitchen.  Our church serves lunch the Saturday of Labor day every year and my mom has been the one to lead it.  Before we had our littlest kids, Roger and I went as well, but we aren't very useful there these days.  We'll stay home and work around the house and let the 3 big kids do some serving and sharing and mission work.

Sunday Roger leaves for a short work trip so I'm taking the kids to my dad and Mary in Okoboji.  We haven't been there all summer and I miss being there.  We'll stay overnight and be back in time to prepare for school week #2 on Monday.

Happy holiday weekend everyone.  If you decide to try the energy bites, let me know if they work!

Monday, August 25, 2014

an update....an arguement....

Well, today was the official last day of summer vacation at our house.  Claire has been in high school for a week, but now Isaac, Jeremiah and, yes, Precious Maryn, are off to school tomorrow.  I'm not sad or anxious, really.  I'm melancholy.  I'm tired.  It's been a really, really great summer.  We did all the things I hoped we could do and more.  We had lots of kids at our house and pool.  That's just the way I like it.  I like children.  A lot.  More than grown-ups, actually.  Children are just what and who they are.  Pure.  Authentic.  Genuine.  Adults are so much more complicated.

Tonight, Claire was the voice of wisdom to Isaac, giving him lots of advice about junior high.  She helped him set up his folder while I tried to diffuse the epic tantrum that was Precious....she helped Jeremiah put his things away in his locker for 5th grade....and when we went to Precious' TK room she kidded around with the para-professional who was her 2nd grade teacher and asked her to come to high school and help.  This seasoned, very worthy teacher who is just easing out slowly said, "Claire, I can't come to your high school because everyone would know you were my favorite".....oh, oh, oh.  I'm so glad she will be with Precious tomorrow.

Isaac rushed home from football and to the open house at school to meet his 7th grade homeroom teacher.....and was unruffled when  he didn't have his stuff set up.  I told  him to make eye contact with his teacher, shake his hand and tell him "see you in the morning, sir"....and instead he made eye contact with me as we walked down the hall......and because he has gorgeous eyes that make me melt, I just smiled and felt a surge of pride in my budding teen boy.....and I let him off the hook.

Jeremiah is suffering a mild depression about the end of summer.  He hates school.  He loves summer.  He is just gonna have a hard time.  I trust The Lord to help him because he is saved and the Holy Spirit has access to his heart.  Saturday he had his first football game and he had an interception.  Tonight he mentioned he thinks he could play for the NFL and at the very least, play college football.  Sigh.  This boy is so sweet....and its so hard to not burst his bubble.  ugh.

As I mentioned, PRecious had a meltdown tonight that was full-throttle  .  I knew it was coming.  For a few days now.  She is nervous about school, anxious about change....worried that school will be too hard for her.  Sensory sensitive kids feel things more than most....so feeling more worried is part of that.  Rather than dwell on that, I want to paint a picture.  After a full day of friends and park and swimming and snacks, we got ready to go to open house.  I found her some khaki shorts and a peach halter top....and she decided to wear her new brown cowboy boots and at the last minute, she chose a turqoise flower to slide into her fresh braids.....and she was ready to go to school.  She looked so freakin' cute I could hardly stand it.  She was excited.....and wanted to feel confident and ready....and she was.  I don't even care about the 2 hour tantrum we endured after she got home....the moment that mattered was stellar.  That's my girl.

Josiah.  Well, Joe is acutely aware that things are changing.  He will miss his big brothers so, so much when they are at school all day.  Not just his brothers, but their neighborhood friends, too, who  have been very good to him all summer.  Josiah is so smart, and so sweet....and so....well....passionate.  He has a temper.   He is aggressive.  He'll be at the sitter 3 days a week and I will strive to do fun things with him the other 2 days because that's how we do things here.....and he will likely wait on the step for the kids to get off the bus every day because he loves his siblings.  I'm gonna teach the 2 year old church class this year, and in November he can officially be in that class....baby boy is growing up.

Roger and I are planning to attend a wedding in October for his nephew.  We are long-over-due for a weekend away.  Other than that, we are scheduling carpools, football games, dance practices, and music lessons.  We are hoping for some healthy, wholesome family dinners at home with our kids, and trying to keep up.

We  have a lot going on, but I cannot say we are technically busy.  This morning, we sat in our screened-in porch together at 6am with steaming mugs of coffee.  I read some scriputre and we talked.....yesterday we both took naps.  we have a lot going on but I don't think we are scrambling...believe it or not.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

past, present, future

Precious turned five yesterday.  I took a few photos with the camera and more with my phone....but the phone ones are harder to post.  She got fun gifts, mostly barbies and girl lego stuff....and money....and some clothes which she loves.  We took 5 friends plus Isaac and Jeremiah to Chuckie Cheese and then back home to swim for an hour.  Roger's parents came and my mom and Rick came and we ordered pizza and Precious played and played.  At the end of the night, she needed to pretend she was a newborn baby for awhile.....and it struck me that on her birthdays, her body might just realize what went wrong the day she was born and she was separated from her birth mom.  We simulated that newborn snuggle time awhile until she felt ready to sleep.  My heart rejoiced and it broke all at once.  Sometimes, that is exactly what adoption feels like.

Today we hosted about 30 kids and a hand-ful of moms for an end of summer pool party.  Everyone brought treats and the kids were ruthless with their pleasure of water and sun and rowdy play.....we have the yard for it.  It yearns for it....it savors it....it delights in having dozens of kids running and jumping and splashing in the pool, the yard, the tramp......but I am an introvert.  People don't fill me up.  Silence and quiet do.  I used up all my introvert minutes this week.  All of them.

Tomorrow I am going to work because visiting a few moms and babies, and charting in a coffee shop, and sitting on a panel of adoptive parents at an adoption training sounds delicious right now.  Fewer people.  Less noise.  Much, much less chaos.  Introverts need less, not more.  Interestingly, I have some of each in my family.  I can tell which ones thrive on social atmosphere, and which ones need it quiet and solitary......

Next week they all go back to school/daycare schedule and I will take a moment or two to bless the backyard and thank it for all it accomplished this summer.....and I will sip coffee and breathe deeply and enjoy an absence of movement and noise for a few pauses.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Precious....4 for the last time.

This little North Carolina Peach turns five tomorrow.  Five.  Woah.  She's such a vivacious child.....the energy around her prickles.  When she's gone for a day we all notice it.  Precious Maryn.....happy last day being four.  You played hard today and we had your hair braided tonight and you did awesome.  You are beautiful and smart and mysterious and complex. 

 I am so grateful that I get to be your mama.....I would be less....and the world would be less without you in it.  You are a blessing and a challenge and a gift.  Thank you, Lord, for Precious Maryn and breathing life into her 5 years ago.  Thank you, birth mom, for choosing us to be her family.  You made a good choice.  She is a perfect daughter to us.
Tomorrow we get to celebrate this little fire cracker all day long.  Face paint, and all.  She has friends joining her for a party and grandparents coming for pizza later.....and a really big barbie doll house that is too big to wrap that we bought from someone in a town nearby whose children outgrew it.....shhhhhhhhhh.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Claire headed for high school......what?!

Claire starts high school tomorrow.  Wow.....she's nervous and excited and ready and dreading it.  We had orientation tonight at her school and the principal talked about the attributes of God, and that being the theme for the year.  OK.  I can do this.  I can send her every day because the theme is knowing God better.  Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  She's going tomorrow whether I"m ready or not.  I have made her ready.  She is ready.  She'll be fine.  I will too.  This is the place that will prepare her for life in the world.  They have 4 years to do it.  I have to release her to it.....she's ready.  She is.  Lord....go before her.  She is more yours than mine.....but God.....she is my first.  Have mercy on me as I cheer her onward and upward....when I really just want to keep her home in the nest and remember her as a baby.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

examining me

Earlier this summer, our preacher preached a sermon that has stuck with me.  I don't even know what the topic or point of it was, but the gist of it was a comparison between spiritual health and physical health.  He spoke about what it looks like to be spiritually healthy.  Spiritually healthy people are reading the bible, and praying, and living in a relationship with the living Lord.  They have deep faith and peace because they trust the One who is in control.  They put God first and all else after.  Physically healthy people can sometimes put too much emphasis on their health.  Their time, money, energy and passion all go into this physical health to the point that their health is the most important thing in their life.....health becomes an idol to be worshiped.  Physical health can be more damaging that spiritual illness.......

It's a good concept to consider.  Where am I spending my time and money and resources?  What gives me joy and what makes me feel bad?  Is it the things of the Lord or the things of the world?  It is important to take care of myself, but if I make choices in the vanity of my physical body and cut corners with my soul......what then?

Three times in the past 24 hours, I had to face off with this conflict.  Three different women who are my friends have been challenged and suffered life-threatening conditions and I have come face to face with their fear, their sorrow, their pain.......but in all three, there is strong spirituality.....spiritual training.....spiritual hardiness......and their spiritual health is stellar.

It is more important to be spiritually healthy than physically healthy.  I need to work out and stop eating chips every day.  I do.  I need to take better care of my body.  But my soul......my SOUL is what the Lord sees!  My soul is where he puts his stethoscope, and feels for my pulse and takes my temperature and measures my weight.  My soul is where he speaks and loves and ministers and teaches and reveals all the wonders of the universe and more.....and he cannot get to my soul if it is not healthy.

Prayer.  Worship.  Scripture.  Christian fellowship.  Service.  Missions.  Silence.  Taking deeper breaths and listening.......that is the work-out and physical examination of my soul.  My physical body may need to take in less, but my spiritual one needs more of all of that to be healthy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

vacation and looking ahead....













Last week, at this time, we were finishing up our week at the lake.  Vacation is so, so, so awesome....and important.  We enjoyed people and nature and food....and the television was hardly on at all.  We laughed.  Alot.  We noticed......more.  Of Everything.  I would love to go back and do it all over again but I cannot because the fruits of this labor....the results of this rest....are directly before me.  School and sports and lessons and deadlines.....football and casseroles and raking leaves and sweatshirts.....its all just around the bend.  And so we bend.  Lean into it and not resist it.  Resisting is pointless....leaning in is permissive and expectant.  So I choose to lean in to the future and smile at what is just behind me.  It's the moving that matters, don't you think?  Back and forth....leaning and yearning.....I will purpose myself to keep moving.  Will you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a letter to the violin teacher....who better not read my blog....

Dear violin teacher, thank you for not kicking us out of your studio.  I am sorry I forgot Claire's lesson today.  We were up multiple times in the night with our youngest 2 kids and when I woke up I was tired and determined to do my work day no matter what.  I forgot.  I forgot last time too.  Drivers Ed and sports camps and vacation.....a flood of emails regarding school and dance and sports and work.....and I dropped the ball.  Again.  Please, please don't kick us out.  She needs a few more years of violin private lessons and orchestra will be more enjoyable for her.....and dear violin teacher.....you are the best.  We don't deserve you.  You take students who put violin first, not last.  Your students excel.  They are the gifted and bright ones...and tho Claire is all of that, violin is not her priority.  She enjoys it.  She is talented.  It is not her first love.   Dear violin teacher.....perhaps you could help her love it more?

I pulled my exhausted self up and slurped down enough coffee to move this morning.  I did public health work with moms of twins, teen moms, grandmas of teen moms, depressed moms, and parents on the verge of losing their homes and children.  I fought for the ability to see more at-risk moms and babies.....I ate in my car.  I sat way too long.  I drove Claire an extra 45 minutes so that she could rejoin her Alaska group for one last night of mission experience tonight....and I delt with several tantrums and fixed teriyaki chicken stir fry in my wok.  I went to get some dresses for Claire to try on.  She has pictures tomorrow with her dance team.  It matters when you are an in-coming freshman......we borrowed them from a petite, fashionable friend.  Thanks, Kelly.

Dear violin teacher.....I'm sorry I messed up your day today and put you in an "akward position" because we haven't met our 6 lesson requirement to hold our spot in the studio.  I know it matters.....but my dilemma tonight is how much exactly does it matter.  I sent you an email and apologized....and we will try once more to get a few more lessons in so that your policy requirements are maintained.......but seriously.  I've had a day.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

sensory

I stood in the sand for 7 days straight and I took deep breaths.  I watched my children playing in the water and on the beach and I watched the sun and the moon and the clouds....and with every deep breath I rested a bit more.  It is so important to take deep breaths and listen to birds and feel the breeze and watch the clouds.  It matters more than we think.  Feel the sand in your toes.....