The Blessing Jar {Part 2}

A little less than a year ago, we started a family project called “The Blessing Jar”. The idea behind it came from my oldest son’s desire to give change to people without money.  We decided to get a jar, start collecting change, and then give it away.  You can read my initial post about this by clicking on this link, The Blessing Jar.

Throughout the year, I didn’t put any pressure on the kids to donate to the jar.  If they found, earned, or were given money, I asked them, “What do you want to do with it?”  I was surprised how often they wanted to throw it in the jar.

Blessing 1Last weekend, we decided it was time to take our jar of change, get it counted up, and donate it.  The jar was not full, but it seemed appropriate for us to do something like this the weekend before we celebrate Thanksgiving.

After all, our family has so much to be thankful for.

We have a warm home, food to eat, and each other.  What more could we ask for?

I started talking to my kids the week before about what to do with the money.  We talked about different options, and they both kept going back to giving money to people who do not have any food.  As a matter of fact, earlier in the week during an outing to the local mall, my daughter grabbed a handful of change and started sprinting towards the guy ringing the Salvation Army Bell.  She said, “Mommy, he’s ringing the bell.  That means he’s hungry.”  She quickly put money in the kettle.  I later explained that the young man was helping others who are hungry by ringing the bell.

We decided that the money would go to a local group called “The Gathering Tree”. This group, started by a doctor and his wife, feeds the homeless in our community, and is a very grass-roots effort with volunteers cooking the food, serving it, and offering support to those who show up.  A  friend of mine is very involved with the group, and has witnessed the heart-breaking stories of many of the souls who walk through the doors.

Thankfully, there are lots of organizations in our community that help out the homeless and down-trodden.  We decided on this group because it is solely a volunteer-based organization.  I have also heard that the volunteers do not ask questions, or judge whoever walks in needing a warm meal.  There are not any qualifying or conditional factors like a lot of programs.  They offer support and resources, and always say Grace before each meal.

Since my husband and I are both involved in social work, I understand the need for rules and policies for social programs.  At the end of the day though, there are still people who are starving, cold, and in need of companionship.  There are still people who just need a kind word, a non-judgmental look, the touch of another human, and a feeling of belonging somewhere….anywhere.  This is one of the reasons why I suggested the group to my children.

From what I have heard, they are people who simply love other people and want or need or feel compelled, whatever you want to call it, to bring a little comfort to the forgotten, desperate, or needy.

Pure. Simple. Love.

I told the kids that when we got there, they would see people who do not have homes.  They might even see children there, too.  When we walked in, we were greeted by my friend who went to get the founders of the group.  Both of my kids stood there for a while, taking it all in.  My son kept staring at all of the people huddled around eating food.

Soon, a red-headed, freckled face little boy with an over-sized coat and a little girl with a dirty face, came right up next to our family.  Both of my kids just stood there quietly.  Every once in a while, they would head into the children’s area and play with a few toys, but mostly, they stayed close to us.

The founders of the group greeted us and I explained the Blessing Jar to them.  Soon, the wife got down on my children’s level, and with tears in her eyes, graciously thanked them for the $32.00 dollars they donated.  She explained what can be done with the money, and how it can help.

Blessing Jar 2Thirty-two dollars from two little ones who had no idea the gravity of the gift they gave.

Thirty-two dollars given with the innocent hope that goodness will come out of it.

After a few tears, and hugs, we left the building and escaped back to our car and warm home.  As I was tucking my son into bed, he said, “Mom, she had a rip in her clothes, and that boy’s jacket was way too big.”  I just listened.  He then went on to ask, “What if that boy doesn’t have a mommy and daddy?  What will happen to him?”  I said, “If he didn’t have a mommy or daddy, the people there helping out would make sure that he was somewhere he would be taken care of by a mommy and daddy.”

My son thought for a moment, and then said, “Like a foster home?  Kinda like what we did for baby…?”  I said, “Yes, kind of, but that little boy does have a mommy, and the coat may be too big, but at least he has a coat.”  As he was snuggling into his warm bed, I asked him if he wanted to save money in the Blessing Jar again. He said, “Yes.”  I kissed him goodnight, and my heart swelled.

The next day as we were getting into the car, he spotted a quarter that had fallen down in-between the seats.  He quickly pointed out that it needed to go in the Blessing Jar!  Our jar is empty now with the exception of a couple of quarters the children have already added, but hopefully it will start to fill up as the year goes on.

I have learned as a parent that it does not take a lot of effort to teach children about grace, generosity, giving, and loving others. Sometimes, children can teach these things better than any adult on any given day.  We just need to stop long enough to hear their hearts speak through their actions, concerns, and musings of life.Blessing Jar3

Our little Blessing Jar has blessed us in return.

There is great joy that comes when generosity and life-lessons collide.

Indeed.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

Beauty in the Storms

Sky in Missouri Monday night Photo credit:  Clarissa Weter
Sky in Missouri Monday night
Photo credit: Clarissa Weter

It’s almost embarrassing to admit this, but lately I’ve been in a little bit of a pity-party kind of mood.  That habitual escape of self-loathing has never helped me, and if anything, it tends to create guilt for ever doing it in the first place.  I hurt my leg a few weeks ago and have not been able to run or ride my bike.  My house is always in chaos with three young children.  The necessity for me to show up at work each day with a smile on my face is hard to do.  Finances are tight due to adding another child.  I even feel a slight envy in my heart over the vacation pictures of numerous friends on Facebook.

I went to bed Monday night prepared to be woken up from the stormy night that was expected.  We had our blanket, flashlights, diaper bag, extra shoes, and bike helmets lined up by the nook of a hiding place under our stair well just in case of a tornado. Thankfully, the storms died down before they entered the area that we live.  I woke up in the morning feeling worn down with my leg hurting and thinking about all I needed to accomplish at work that day.

I picked the baby up and shuffled into the living room.  Barely awake, I made a pot of coffee and secured the baby in his high chair for his morning snack.  I could smell the coffee percolating while I sat there and stared at the laundry pile on the chair next to me.  Pretty soon I picked my tired body up and filled my cup of coffee.  It is rare when I get a chance to watch the news in the morning, so I took advantage of the moment.  I flipped to one of the major news networks to watch the coverage of the tornado that struck our neighboring state.  Pretty soon I could taste the salt of my tears that were meandering their way down my face.

During this time, my daughter got up and sat next to me on the couch.  In that moment of quietness with just the faint sound of the news in the background and the taste of my tears, I thought to myself, “What are you doing? What are you thinking even beginning to feel that you are owed something, or that you don’t have enough?”  I felt shame for the pity-party I had been toying around with for the past few days.  I felt guilt for not trusting the Lord with the areas of my life that are causing stress.  I felt disgusted and sickened for taking what I do have for granted, and for desiring more.

The images of the destruction, neighbors and family members searching with desperation for their loved ones, crumpled houses, a flattened school, and the numbers of the victims and injured scrolling at the bottom of the television all stuck to me like glue.  They punched me in the gut.  They shook me up.  They took my breath away.  Truthfully, they should do this.  It is easy to get caught in the trap of gluttony and greed.  It is even easier to allow the blessings of life to turn into things that cause stress.

The heaviness I felt in my heart was soon replaced by the thought of this simple truth:

The love of Christ and redemption found in Him can never be destroyed by the wrath of storms.  The promise of the Lord is the only thing that will never go away.  Our homes may be destroyed, our children may pass away, our jobs may be dissolved, and our health may deteriorate, but the Cross will always stand.  He will always stand.  

After these thoughts bombarded me, I finished my coffee, leaned over and kissed my little girl, and went about getting ready for the rest of my day.  I know I will always need reminders of the promise of salvation.  I also know that I will walk the tightrope of trappings of an Earthly life.  I know there will be days where I just want to pull the covers over my head.  There will be storms that rage in my heart, my mind, and my life.

The pictures in this post are of the sky over Missouri following the tornado in Oklahoma.  It was beautiful to look at.  The sky following the Joplin tornado was eerily beautiful as well.  It makes sense though.photo (63)

 It is in the storms of life that the true beauty of faith in Christ is revealed.  

Love Your Little Ones

photo (61)Most of my day today was spent holding my 4-year-old daughter’s hand while she quietly laid in the emergency room hospital bed.  My daughter woke up early this morning, crying and screaming for me.  She was grasping the back of her head and crying out that something popped.  She was inconsolable.  I suggested that she must have slept wrong, and helped her change positions (she refused to move).

She settled down just a bit, and I stumbled back into bed.  Again, I was awakened to the same crying sound.  I gave her a dosage of Tylenol and started the process of deciding whether or not to take her to see a doctor.  Two hours passed and my daughter would not let go of her head.  She continued to complain of pain.  After a brief drop off of one child to a sitter, I phoned her doctor to set an appointment.

No sooner had I hung up the phone, the doctor’s office called right back and urged me to take her to the emergency room in case something neurological had taken place.  I quickly scooped my daughter up and hustled to the hospital.  The ER doctor suggested a cat scan of the brain and neck.  He simply told me in a rather non-emotional way, “I just want to check for anything possibly happening to her vertebrae, or a brain tumor.”  Um…or a brain tumor?  

This was not the first time these two words have been said to me in regards to my daughter.  When she was just 6-months-old, her skull grew so rapidly that her doctor ordered an MRI to rule out a brain tumor.  We were her foster parents at the time, and really had no idea what to expect.  Thankfully, it was clear.  We decided at that time that if the results were not what we wanted, and if she had a brain tumor, we would have continued fostering her.  We loved her so much regardless of what the future held.

Throughout the past four years my daughter has complained off and on of headaches, but usually they subside.  This one today though was completely unlike any other she had.  She literally held the back of her head in her hands all day and would not move.  As we waited a couple of hours for the results to be read, I sat next to her, holding her small, soft hand, and just thought about how many other mothers were in my position.  I felt fairly confident that the result would be okay, but still, the worry was there.  For just a brief moment I pondered the thought of her having a tumor, but quickly forced myself to “not go there”.

The doctor came in and reported that the scan was clear of any tumors, but that the radiologist found an abnormality in the top of her spinal column.  They called the neurosurgeon who took a look at it and reported that this was a congenital birth defect with her top vertebrae.  Apparently, the vertebrae did not fuse together completely.  There is a chance that it could repair itself, but otherwise, it should not be a problem for her growing up, and it did not contribute to today’s events.  The doctor advised me to watch her closely, follow-up with her pediatrician, and to report back should her situation worsen.

My drive home was full of thoughts about what had transpired today.  Again, I thought about all of the other mothers whose news about their babies had not turned out in their favor.  I also thought about my own mother who endured my childhood health problems.  I thought about those times she must have held my hand and endured through the sleepless nights of the month I was in the hospital following my hysterectomy.

One would think I should know this by now, but I learned, or better yet, learned again today that our health is not a guarantee.  Our children’s health is not guaranteed either.  One day we may be holding their hands walking them to school, and the next, we may be holding their hands waiting for test results.

My daughter is tucked in her bed as I’m typing this.  She is fine for now, and we are supposed to follow-up with her doctor tomorrow.  I’ll end this post with the following thoughts that occurred to me today:

Love your little ones.  Don’t take any day for granted with them.  Appreciate the moments, however small they may be, with your children.  These moments provide the fuel to continue doing the best job we can as a parents.  It is also in these moments that we can find subtle reminders of the blessing of children.

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.

The Blessing Jar

photo (48)I’m not real good at making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions.  I have a few “to-do” items that I need to accomplish this year, but to say they are resolutions is a stretch.  Regardless of the New Year, the items on my list will need to get done for the betterment of my home and health.

Before the New Year came upon us, my son approached me after school, pulled some change out of his pocket, and said, “Mommy, I want to give this to people without money.”  I was happily surprised by this statement.  We have talked from time to time about how blessed we are to have a home, family, food, and other things, and have done some random acts of kindness with the kids on weekends, but I have never tried to guilt-trip my children about the luxuries they have in life.  I strive to balance the desire to raise socially conscious children who are aware of the plights of others, while also keeping in perspective the fact that kids just need to be kids and do not need to worry about all of the hardship in life.

My son’s statement became a teachable moment for a discussion on how to help people who are impoverished.  Mutually, we decided that instead of giving the change right away, we would put it in a jar and start collecting money.  The next day, as promised, I went to a local store, bought a jar, and brought it home to show the kids.  We brainstormed on a few ideas to call the jar.  My son suggested “The People Who Don’t Have Any Money Jar.”  While I told him that was a fantastic suggestion, I felt that maybe the name was a little too long!

I told him that the purpose behind the jar was to save money for the year, and then be able to be a blessing to someone else.  He asked, “What’s a blessing?”  I did my best to explain the complex definition of a blessing.  I said, “A blessing is something that is good and kind that someone does for us, or that we can do for someone else.”  I also explained that God gives us many blessings, and that he and his sister are blessed gifts from the Lord for mommy and daddy.

We decided that the jar would be called the “Blessing Jar”.  From that moment, both of the kids have been scouring the floors of stores, parking lots, and just about anywhere else they can find coins, in hopes of being able to add to the jar.  Just last weekend, I gave my son a dollar.  He held it for a while, then turned around to me and said, “I think I’m going to put this in the Blessing Jar.”  This action made my heart leap just a bit!  This project has become something the kids think about often, and they are eager to add to the money placed in the jar.

There is a small amount in it, and honestly, I don’t know how much it will be holding next Winter when we decide to donate it.  The thought that my children are learning to not only save money, but to make small tokens of sacrifices for others with-whom they have yet to meet, or may never meet, is worth more to me personally than what the jar will ever hold.

I think this is one resolution of sorts that we will keep not only throughout this year, but hopefully throughout their growing years.  It certainly has been a blessing to me to watch my children grow through this.

Do you have any other ideas for teaching social awareness to children?  If so, do you mind sharing?  I would love to hear from you!

Heavenly Permanence

For my last post in recognition and celebration of National Adoption Month, I wanted to write something so bold, fresh, and new that everyone would want to become a foster and adoptive parent.  I wanted to try to list every well-known person (alive or deceased) who has either been adopted or who has adopted children.  I considered writing about persons in Scripture who were considered to be adopted, or at least, raised by persons other than their biological parents

I realized, though, that none of this compares to the incredible and profound blessing of our adoption by our Heavenly Father.  Through the sacrifice of His son and our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been given an Eternal inheritance, and the promise of His love and His care.  We are sealed  by His grace.

The word permanency comes up often in child welfare.  Permanency refers to the goal of achieving something permanent in children’s lives.  I like to refer to it as the final place a child gets to call home.  We talk about the goals to attain permanency for children in the system all of the time.  Well, with the Lord, the goal has already been met and achieved!

Our permanency is in Heaven!  Now, isn’t that something to celebrate!!

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18

Trust Your Heart

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40

Here’s another sweet story about adoption-

Although Scott and Cammie were blessed with three children, they knew their family was incomplete and yearned for another child.  They were unable to have anymore biological children and had been considering international adoption when Cammie came across an exhibit about adoption of children with Down Syndrome at a convention.  It tugged at her heart and she left the conference with an application in hand.

Upon returning home, Cammie approached Scott about the idea and showed him the application.  He quickly responded with “Why is it still blank?!”  Their family had some concerns but were also very supportive of their decision.  Cammie is adopted as well so it just seemed to be a natural thing for their family to do.  They followed their heart and went through an agency in hopes of being matched with a child who needed a home.

After waiting for two years, they were matched with Addysen, and were so overjoyed!  She was 7-months-old at the time.  Their adoption is considered open and Addy’s birth parents visit once per year, and they exchange emails.  Cammie is pleased to have the level of openness that she does with Addy’s birth parents. This is something she wished she would have had as a child.  She is not sure if Addy will ever completely understand adoption, but they continue to openly talk about it.

Scott and Cammie feel the biggest joy of their adoption of Addy is watching her develop and grow to the best of her ability.  Because of her special needs, they celebrate each skill she accomplishes.  They enroll her in dancing and other activities so that she can develop her social, physical, and emotional skills.  Addy is loved and accepted by her extended family and community.  She brings great happiness to their lives.

The biggest challenge is dealing with Addy’s health issues.  She has multiple complications and spends many days in the hospital.  Scott and Cammie have developed a team approach to taking care of Addysen’s medical needs and lean on each other for support during the difficult times.  They are wonderful parents to her.

Adoption has taught them that each family is unique and special.  It has taught their children that every person is a child of God who is loved deeply regardless of where the person comes from or who they are.  Their advice to families considering adoption is trust your heart.  If you desire to adopt, then you should follow your heart.  Adopting a child with Down Syndrome or other special need may not be for everyone, but they just knew it was meant for them.  Adoption has been a tremendous blessing and they cannot imagine life without it!

On a side note, Scott and Cammie are now foster parents and are taking care of a little one with special needs!  For information about adopting children with Down Syndrome, please click here.  The ministry linked is call Reece’s Rainbow.  They advocate for the adoption of children with Down Syndrome from all over the world.  Many of these precious babies are abandoned, and in need of loving homes.  Here is a link to Cammie’s blog as well The Heflin Family.

A Blessing from Above

A Blessing From Above is probably one of the Little Golden Books that is not well-known.  It is a sweet story of adoption and a fantastic way to introduce the idea of adoption to young children.

Written by an adoptive mother, it tells the story of a Kangaroo who prayed for a baby.  While under a tree, a baby bird fell out of its nest and landed right in her pouch.  I looked all over for it in various bookstores and finally settled on ordering it from Amazon.  I’m so glad that I did because I have read it several times to my children.

Recently when reading it to my son, we came to the part of the story that talks about how the mama bird noticed she had too many babies in her nest and decided to give the baby bird to the kangaroo.  My son stopped and said “Wait!  So….she gave her baby away?”  I sat there for a second trying to read his expression.  It appeared that he was not just asking a simple question about the story, but processing it as well.

I said to him, “Well, she decided that she could not give the baby bird all the attention that he needed and when she saw how much he was loved by the mama Kangaroo, she decided to let him stay with her.”  I do not know if I answered it the right way or not, but he seemed okay with the answer.  We finished the book, put it back on the shelf, and he returned to his usual routine of playing with Legos.

I have found it a little difficult to fully explain my children’s whole stories to them.  This book helps in some way to promote positive feelings about adoption, but I have not been able to find a book suitable for young children that helps them understand foster care adoption.  The truth is that both of my children were taken from their birth mothers involuntary for reasons of serious safety concerns and other issues.  Their stories are not as easy to explain.

They did not just fall out of an overcrowded nest.  Their birth mothers did not choose us as their parents.  My son’s birth mother did sign away her rights voluntarily, but only after nearly 12 months of efforts to get him back.  She did say that if she could not have him, she only wanted us to have him.  But still…it is not the same.  My daughter’s birth mother never made one effort to be reunified with her baby girl due to instability and other factors.  It is hard to put drug abuse, chaotic home environments, and instability into kid friendly terms.

I have heard of books for older children adopted out of foster care, but none for young children who were taken into care as newborns and placed with the families they eventually were adopted by.  All of this being said, I still do love A Blessing from Above, and have suggested it to numerous foster/adoptive families.  It speaks of the goodness of adoption, of the love of birth mothers and adoptive mothers, and of the ultimate blessing that comes only from above.

Do you know of any children’s books that talk about foster care and foster/adoption?  If so, please let me know!  

Six Years of Happy

Happy Birthday Bubby.  I love you so much more than I will ever find the words to express.  I am incredibly grateful to the Lord for choosing us as your parents.  I know I have said that over and over, but I suspect I will not stop saying it until my life on Earth has ended.  Just thinking about the person you are growing into, all of your strengths and sweet quirks, makes my heart leap with joy.

The night before you came to us, I prayed that the Lord would provide us with the opportunity to parent a baby.  We woke up that morning not knowing that by the end of the day, our lives would be forever changed.  He answered my prayer immediately.  We quickly rushed out the door to head to the hospital after getting a call from the local child protective services saying “can you be there in 30 minutes?”  Your first year was full of hope, tears, joy, fears, and the overall feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We were caught between loving you desperately and the commitment we made to help your birth mother get you back.  We were sworn to protecting you; yet, we had to rely on others in your life to make the decisions on what was best.  We were broken down and humbled by the plight of your birth mother while glowing in the enchantment of who you were and by the Lord’s gifting of you.

I was so happy to have him for his first Christmas.

Your second year held the mixed up feelings of grieving for your birth mother and her loss of you while experiencing pure joy at your adoption.  Before your adoption, we did not know how long we would hold you.  We said “love you forever” as often as we could.  On that fateful day in May, we were given the blessing of you being ours forever.  So much was revealed to us during this time of life.  Your curly hair, sweet smile, and boundless energy kept us amused.  People were drawn to you.  Your charm and talkative nature took flight.

The outfit he was adopted in. We “tried it on” just a few days before his adoption to make sure it fit. Of course, he looked perfect in it!
sweet curls for a sweet boy

Year three…well…let’s just say that year three was a wee bit challenging.  Your God-given strong-willed determination was your shining accomplishment!  You  started to see more of the world with curiosity and fierce independence.  Music also became something you were quite fond of.  You welcomed a baby sister!  You announced it.  You told us that you would be getting a baby sister before we even knew.  I can only imagine how your little mind must have been spinning when your baby sister arrived on our doorstep.  You took it in stride.  You noticed your friends’ mommies had babies in their bellies; and yet, you never questioned why your sister was delivered to our door by a nice lady with brown hair.  You just seemed to understand that your mommy does not grow babies in her belly.

Age 3 with sissy
He was so excited to have a baby sister!

Year four was the year of music, Legos, and all things super-hero.  You often dressed up, grabbed whatever sword you could find, hop on your big wheel, and ride through the house in an attempt to beat the bad guys.  Sometimes you even sang songs about being a super-hero.  One of the sweetest things you said to me was “Mommy, you are my super-hero.”  When at home, you seemed to always have a drum stick and your dulcimer in hand.  Your songs were also about rock stars, Jesus, Christmas, God, and of course, mommy.  You performed just about every night for us.  You would jump out of the closet, proclaim yourself as a rock star, spin around, then sing and strum away.  My favorite song went like this:

I’m a little rock star…for Jesus…for Christmas…for God…and my family.

Here he comes! (I promise he has some form of clothing on)

Year five seemed to slip away so fast.  You took your first airplane ride, went to a strange new place called Disney World, rode rides that overwhelmed your senses, and shook with excitement when meeting Buzz Light Year!  Painting became a hobby for you and we discovered your natural ability as a gymnast.  You graduated from preschool, got glasses, spent extra time with your Papa fishing on the lake, and started Kindergarten.  You started referring to yourself as a “school-ager”.

He was so excited to meet Buzz!

Sometimes, I just sit back and watch the videos of you throughout the years.  My eyes well up with tears at just how special you are and also at how swiftly time has gone by.  I wish I could back and push a button to slow down time.  I wish I would have kissed you just a bit more before night-night, or let you sing me one more silly song, or picked you up one more time when you said “holdu holdu“.  You are starting to show your growth in the way you get just ever-so-slightly embarrassed if I try to kiss you around other kids.  But, at the same time, you still reach for my hand and put your head on my lap when it is just the two of us.

God has blessed us so much by choosing us as your parents.  You continue to amaze us, challenge us, stretch us, refine us, and love on us daily.  You, my son, are a precious wonder.  Happy, happy, happy birthday my sweet one…love you forever…

Thank You, Lord, For Giving Us Six Years of Happy

Motherhood Dreams

There she is. The picture above is from my daughter’s first dance recital.  It represents the ending of her introduction to dancing and, hopefully, the beginning of her interest in it.  It also represents something deeply personal for me.  It connects me to the dreams I had before becoming a mother.

As the recital was going on, I frequently looked around the room and noticed how proud the dads were of their little princesses.  I especially noticed the expressions of admiration and complete love the moms had while watching their little loves.  Watching their granddaughter dance brought back memories for my parents as well of when I was a young one twirling around on the stage.  Regardless of what may have occurred during the day, watching innocence on a stage brought us all back to what is truly important in life – children.

Children matter.

My eyes teared up while watching my sweet one dance around the stage.  I once dreamed of moments like this.  Growing up and into adulthood with the thought that I would never be a mother made me wonder about all of the precious little memories I would miss out on.  Things like watching a child walk for the first time, hearing the word “mama”, seeing excitement on Christmas morning, putting artwork on the refrigerator, passing on traditions, and watching recitals or various other activities.  My thoughts and longings were more than about not being able to have a baby.  I grieved over the possibility of not being able to explore talents, interests, and just life in general with a child.

I fretted over what my life would be like without children.  I wanted so much to pass on the good things I have learned in life and to steer a child away from the things that have caused me pain.  I believe that raising up children assures us that perhaps a little bit of us will linger on throughout life even when we have passed on.  If I never was able to do this, then there would not be any reminders of who I am after this life is over.  This is one thing about infertility that I am not sure a lot of people understand.  The simple act of watching a dance recital brought back the flood of emotions regarding my previous childless life.

Infertility is so complex and rears its ugly head from time to time when least expected.  But, in some respect, I am thankful that it catches me off guard.  I do not know if I would be able to run on the mountain tops with the full knowledge of how truly gifted I am to be a mother if I did not have the experience of being barren and walking through the valleys of infertility.

Thank You, Lord, for gifting me with the responsibility, hope, and simple joys of children.  Hold me accountable Father to Your will for my children.  Remind me, oh Lord, of my previous sorrow so that I will never take for granted the delight I now have.  Thank You, Lord, for walking me through the valley of infertility.  I praise You for running me along this mountain top of parenthood and for fulfilling my dreams.

PSALMS 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. 
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

JAMES 1:17

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

MARK 10:14

14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”