At The End of My Life

photo (51)We have survived our first week and a half with an additional little one living in our home.  Having three children under the age of six years of age and a full-time job outside of the home has made for some interesting changes in our schedules and time spent on various tasks.  From Legos on the table to semi-folded laundry piled on a chair to baby wipes dispersed throughout, one can tell our lives have been a little hectic lately.  Let’s just put it this way, if you were to walk into my home, you would certainly find the remnants of childhood scattered throughout.

My mom stopped by this afternoon and before she could enter the living room, I found myself issuing an apology of sorts for the way the house looked.  Before I digress any further, I should tell you that I’ve never been one to have a perfectly clean home at all times.  Life is not perfect.  I am not perfect, and, in my opinion, homes certainly need to look as though they are lived in.

After weaving our way through the living room, stepping over a few toys, and entering the kitchen (which was equally “lived in”), I said to my mom, “I’ve decided that no one will say “Caroline sure kept a clean house” at my funeral.”  My mom (whose home is almost always immaculate), agreed with this statement by saying something to the effect of “Yeah, you’re right.  They won’t be saying that.”

Now, one might take offense to this, but I don’t.  The truth is that is not what I hope people say at my funeral anyway.  I don’t want to be known for neatly folded towels.  The towels are clean, they are good at drying off the kids, and well, they serve their purpose.  I certainly won’t be known for clutter-free floors.  I have a boy who loves Legos and any other small knick-knacky kind of gadgets he can find.  These little feet-killers usually find their way from the floor to the skin of my bare feet on any given day.  My floors have toys splattered around like some sort of painting.  I choose to refer to it as “artistic expression”.

I have a daughter whose short attention span leans towards getting out stuffed animals, baby dolls, kitchen utensils, art supplies, blankets, and even more blankets.  If you ever come to my home, you will not need to worry about being cold!  There are plenty of blankets and baby dolls lying around the living room for you to snuggle.

The newest member of our home is a 7-month-old baby boy.  He really can’t be blamed for any mess necessarily, unless you consider that laundry just got increased, stinky diapers make their way to our trash can, and formula is sometimes dusted onto our counter-tops like some sort of cooking seasoning.  He even likes to “season” me with formula from time-to-time.  I may even use it as perfume soon!

I say all of this jokingly, but also as a reminder to myself, and maybe a few other moms, to stop fretting over the small stuff.  Yes, it can be distressing to have little dirt and clutter fairies sprinkling their magic around the house right after I get through cleaning it.  It may frustrate me that I can’t just wiggle my nose like “I Dream of Jeannie”, and make the house instantly clean up.  I may even find myself full of doubt about being able to manage three young children, a job, and a home at the same time, but, at the end of the day, I need to remember these are not the things I want to be remembered for anyway.

Years before any of this occurred, I never dreamed of having a home full of loving, laughing, playful, and messy children.  I never imagined that I would spend a great deal of time playing catch up on the housework, folding little girl’s dresses, getting stains out of blue jeans, or bending over to pick up toys at random spots throughout the house.  I certainly never thought I would care for a third baby (wow- what a blessing).

 I never really pictured children in my life at all.

I know the cleanliness (or lack there of on any given day) of my home will not be spoken about when reflecting on my life.  I won’t be known as an extremely organized parent who spent a great deal of time labeling drawers, or using a color-coded closet organization system.  I certainly won’t be known as carrying any hint of perfection in my personal, professional, or domestic life.

At the end of my life, I hope I’m known for what the Lord has done.  I hope people speak about my life that went from being barren to blessed.  I hope people can say that they saw me living a life yearning to do His will.  I pray my children will say this as well.

No, I may not have the cleanest home on the block.  I may not fold laundry in a timely manner, frantically sweep up all the little dust bunnies that hang out under the beds, or even stay up extra late to get that last bit of cleaning done.  At the end of my life, I pray I will be known for having a home that welcomed children, welcomed love, and welcomed Him.

Entertaining Angels

my angelic daughter

my angelic daughter

This week, my husband and I took a baby relative into our home following an emergent situation involving a family member.  We had been prayerfully considering our response to this situation, and had planned on moving him in, but were not exactly sure if or when we were going to do it.

This week has been quite exhausting, and a little overwhelming.  However, this week has also reminded me of the incredible difference we can all choose to make in the lives of little ones.  This week has also been a thought-provoking one about life and faith.  Mostly though, it has filled my mind and heart with wonder about children.

I wonder if children are mini-angels in disguise charged with watching the way we live and treat others. They cause us to think twice before telling off the person who cut in line, or ignoring the person in need of help.  Their little eyes and ears absorb our actions, or lack thereof, like a sponge.

We work a little harder each day because of the deep-seeded yearning to care for them and provide their needs.  We stay up all hours of the night to calm their fears and soothe their pains.  We quickly rush to their defense, and yet, disciple them to learn from their mistakes.  We clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and love on them.

In return, they speak simplicity into our lives.  They don’t care if the living room is messy, or the potatoes are cold.  They don’t worry about what the weather is going to be like, or what is on the schedule for the day.  They accept others without condition, express their emotions without hindrance, and choose each day to laugh, play, and love.

Most important, they watch and hear what goes on in the world around them.  They watch the way we respond to difficult situations.  They listen to the words we use when describing our concerns, and they yearn to understand the reasons why we (adults) make the decisions that we do.

I wonder, sometimes, if children send little messages to our Heavenly Father, who in turn, speaks His words of truth and love through them.  I wonder, sometimes, if their questions about life are ones that He uses to hear our responses.  I know children are put into our lives so that we can choose to step up and step out in faith each day.

I believe that angels watch over our lives and actions here on Earth.  I believe there are angelic guardians all around us, and especially around children.  I just wonder, though, if children are little angels in disguise.  If so, I am the guardian of three.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. -Hebrews 13:2

His Timing

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“Lord, I don’t understand Your timing, but I trust Your will.”  Right now, these words are ones that have played over and over again in my mind.  With a costly home repair needed, a serious illness of a family member, sickly coughing children, and a young pet that has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, I’ve been a little overwhelmed with the timing of it all.  Not to mention, trying to work a job that involves making important decisions about other people’s families.

While running on the treadmill and “working out” all the things going on right now, I became convicted to the fact that I don’t need to understand His timing.  I don’t even need to understand His will in all of  this.  I just need to trust.  I need to trust that His timing is far greater than mine anyway, and His will in my life and the lives of those around me has greater depth than what I could ever come up with.  I am convinced that my timing would just mess everything up, or perhaps, I would never get anything done or make the immediate decisions that need to be made, if not feeling prompted by the Lord’s timing in all of it.

The photo seen in this post is the front side of a card that my church mailed to me over the weekend.  There’s always seems to be little reminders that arrive at just the right time to confirm His presence when traveling through difficult seasons in one’s life.  The timing of receiving this card is certainly something I don’t need to question.  After all, His timing is perfect.

Some people might say,”Why would God allow all of this to happen (especially at once)?” Sometimes I find myself asking the same thing.  I’m may not know why, but I do know that I am not capable of fully understanding the capacity of our Heavenly Father to work out all of the details.  I also feel Him resonating through out these experiences in life.

During this rather hectic and difficult time, I feel Him stronger than ever.  I hear Him more and more each day.  I yearn even greater to complete the tasks He set me on Earth to do.  I am not walking with my own strength, I’m running with His.

If you are going through some turmoil in your life with illness, family issues, finances, or all of the above at once, I encourage you to prayerfully silence the doubts and naysayers around you, and focus intently to the one true voice that provides peace and strength to make it through.

daughter of mine, Child of His (re-posted for a reason)

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I originally published this post back in July of 2012.  I’m sharing it again today in honor of the 3rd anniversary of our adoption of our little girl.  It’s been a rough weekend with family members undergoing serious illnesses and sudden changes in our routine, but nevertheless, the Lord is always faithful.  I’m so blessed to have a daughter!

daughter of mine, Child of His

Life as a girl can be difficult sometimes. The mirror reflects what you see but not what the world expects you to be. My hope for you is that you will only see how your Heavenly Father views you. Your blue eyes were made just for you. He designed you from the tips of your toes to the ends of your hair. That ever-so-slight dimple in your chin was carefully placed exactly where He wanted it to be.

daughter of mine, Child of His. You are beautiful.

There may be times in your life when you may not recognize who He created you to be. You may not always hear Him calling for you, or answering your prayers. Sometimes, you may feel as though you are trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but you are not. Your Heavenly Father will always be calling for His child. He will always listen intently and mercifully to your pleadings.  He is carrying both you and the world in His hands.

I want you to get dirty, jump in puddles, grow flowers, dance until your feet hurt, sing at the top of your lungs, have childhood crushes, laugh yourself silly, and dress in a way that shows your creativity and personality. I want you to say no and mean it. I hope you never believe that you are not good enough for anything less than happy, loving relationships.

daughter of mine, Child of His.  You are good.

I hope your friendships have depth, your love has width, and your aspirations have height. I pray your faith will be a well of peace and solitude. Be who you are, not who others wish you would be. Find what makes you happy and run with it. Let your passions become your joy. May you wander the world, but never forget where home is.

The Lord gifted me with you and all the things that make up who you are. You are delightfully stubborn, sensitively sweet, and tomboyish tough all at the same time. I want you to never be afraid of showing your colors to the world.

daughter of mine, Child of His. You are colorful.

In My Daughter’s Eyes

Sometime before I knew what my plan to become a parent would look like, I heard a song that I just fell in love with.  I’m not a country music fan really, but the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride stuck on my heart.  I heard it on a television show and truly thought that one day, if I ever got to adopt a daughter, this song would mean so much to me.

Here I am now, the mother of a son and a daughter.  Our adoption anniversary for our daughter is this coming Monday, February 11th.  She has been “legally” our daughter for three years now; although, she felt likes “ours” the moment we met her.  For our son’s adoption celebration, we made a movie of images of him set to a song about adoption.  For our daughter’s celebration, we chose the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” for the background music for the video we made of her.

In honor of our third adoption anniversary, I thought I would share the words to this song with pictures of her.

photo (48)In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero I am strong and wise, and I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see. She was sent to rescue me.

I see who I want to be, 
In my daughter’s eyes. 

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In my daughter’s eyes, everyone is equal.

Darkness turns to light, and the world is at peace.

This miracle God gave to me, gives me strength when I am weak.  

I find reason to believe in my daughter’s eyes.

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And when she wraps her hand around my finger.  

Oh, it puts a smile in my heart.  Everything becomes a little clearer, I realize what life is all about.

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It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough.  

It’s giving more when you feel like giving up.  I’ve seen the light, it’s in my daughter’s eyes.

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In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future.  

A reflection of who I am and what will be.  

And though she’ll grow and someday leave, maybe raise a family.  

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When I’m gone I hope you see, how happy she made me.  

For I’ll be there, in my daughter’s eyes.

The part of the song that talks about hanging on when your heart has had enough always gets to me.  There were times growing up in the shadow of infertility that I thought my heart could not stand anymore.  I never considered throwing in the towel as an option for me, but, there were moments throughout my adolescents and adulthood where I thought I could not take anymore heartache.

Now, I know that hanging on is worth it.  It is worth it to have hope for the future.  It is worth it to strive to achieve what your heart’s desires are.

It was so worth taking the leap of faith that led to foster care and adoption.

 It is in my children’s eyes that I see why this journey we call life is so worth it.

 

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

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I was running a little late yesterday picking my son up from school.  Up to this point, we have had a fairly routine pick-up schedule.  I arrive about ten minutes before school lets out, park in the same area, walk in to the main doors, and wait on a bench until I see his smiling face walking down the hall towards me.  Yesterday though, I was about ten minutes late from my usual pick-up time.

As I approached the door, I could see him sitting on the bench waiting for me with a slight look of worry on his face.  He was searching through the small crowd of parents that had gathered in the front entrance.  When the door opened, and I entered the building, he swung his head around and with a gleeful sound, he said, “Mommy!”  We hugged, he told me about his day, and we made our way to the car.

I’ve been thinking about the look on my son’s face when I saw him through the door looking slightly distressed over my absence, and then again, at his joyful expression when he saw me.  The thoughts that have come from this brief and somewhat insignificant moment is this, It matters that we keep our word to children.  It matters that they can rely on us to be there for them, and that we do what we say we are going to do.”

I couldn’t help but think about the kids in foster care that I used to work with as a case manager.  Many were promised things by their parents and others that never came to fruition.  Parents did not get clean from drugs, work their treatment plans, or “get them back” like they told their children they would.  Several of the children meandered their way through the system (and many still do) moving from home to home without anyone committing to caring for them long-term.  They were continually let down by the unfulfilled promises of adults.

Many of the kids have been failed often by adults in their lives even prior to entering foster care.  Too many of them have never had anyone stick around long enough to help them lay down roots to a firm foundation for their future.  One of the keys to successfully working with children in the foster care system is to say what you mean, and mean what you say.  It also is vitally important to do what you say you are going to do.

My son’s look of relief upon seeing me yesterday after being just a few minutes late to pick him up reminded me of what I really already knew.  Our responsibilities as parents and as adults is to keep the well-being of children in the forefront.  The way we treat them, keep our word to them, and be intentional in their lives will shape their future, and in many ways, will shape ours.

Eyes of a Child – Quote

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“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.”  -Walt Streightiff

My daughter’s eyes just always seem to convey emotion in pictures.  Even as an infant, her eyes would pop out in a picture.  She has always been able to use her eyes to express herself in images.  The one above was taken by my husband on his iPhone when she was waiting in the doctor’s office to be seen.

Sometimes her eyes are happy, sometimes they are sad and serious; yet, they are always the focal point in the images we take of her, and one can’t help but be drawn to them.  The quote above is about children seeing wonders in life, but I happen to believe that we can see great wonders in our children’s eyes as well.

Full of wonder…just simply wonderful.