A Decade of Love {ten things i want my 10-yr-old son to know}

This is it.  This is one of the big ones.  You turned ten, and my heart just can’t believe it.  It’s been a decade since my eyes first caught sight of you; a decade of all sorts of emotions.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve cried.  We’ve raged.  We’ve said sorry.  We’ve loved.

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In eight years, the world will say that you are no longer my baby.  You will be an adult, responsible for yourself, and I can barely stand the thought of it.  Even when I look at you now, I see that curly, blonde haired cutie with chocolate eyes looking back at me.

I remember your first steps and the first time you stacked blocks.  You would hold your hands up to me and say, “Hold you.  Hold you.” and I just caved in every time.  I also remember when you would dress up like a Ninja, put on a Transformer mask, and jump on your Big Wheel.  You were going to save the world.  I believed you could.  I have the drawings and love letters from you.  I will always cherish them.

I remember our laughter when you would belt out one of your sweet songs you made up with your bright orange ukulele.  You had a silly way of turning life into a melody.  And, you were quite good at it…

 

Son, it has been a decade since tears stained my pillow as I cried out to God.  It has been a decade since I mourned receiving someone else’s baby shower announcement, and since I stared longingly at a mother and baby with hopeful wishes that one day, my turn would come.  It has also been a decade since my heart left my body and walked around in the form of a little one; in you.

It has been a beautiful ten years.  I want you to know that life is not going to be easy.  It was never designed to be, but here are ten things I want you to carry with you through the days that God will bless us all with your presence.

  1. Your worth is never measured by the size of your house, the car you drive, your academic success, or how many trophies are on display.  You know how we say, “It isn’t the size of the home that matters, it’s the amount of love in it that does”?  Well, that saying is not just about houses.  It is also about life.  Don’t ever forget that.
  2. Never forget that while you have challenges, other people do as well.  Remember this when you are with others who seem to be difficult.  Think about it when you come across a stranger that is different from you.  Stay kind.  That is one thing you will never regret.
  3. If you fail at something, try again.  The biggest lessons you will learn in life often come from failure.  Don’t give up on your goals, relationships, or talents.  Keep exploring and remember that failure absolutely rises up your character.
  4. Take care of your body.  I’m not talking eat your vegetables, drink water, and all that kind of stuff (although, that is important).  I mean rest when you need to.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Stay away from drugs and other things that will deteriorate you.  You only have this one life on Earth.  Give your health every chance it has to move you along and to capture all that you can in the vast world.
  5. Don’t measure moments in how much beauty you think they have.  Instead, remember that beauty also involves those raw, honest, knees-to-the-ground kind of moments.  This may not make sense to you now, but one day it will.  The most beautiful experiences in life often come from seemingly painful experiences.
  6. Learn to walk away when you need to.  In other words, don’t get caught up in someone else’s mistakes.  Good friends will not lead you down destructive paths.  You will know you have a good friend when that person accepts you for exactly who you are at any given moment.  In return, be that same kind of friend to someone else.
  7. Laugh.  Laugh until you pee your pants.  Laugh until you just can’t take it anymore.  Find others who make you laugh.  Laughter feeds the soul and it nourishes relationships.  Find joy in odd things; things that you find funny.  Keep making up those quirky jokes you tell.  Don’t be afraid to let the world hear your laughter.  It is perfect.
  8. When you can give, do so.  Receiving is nice, but giving is so much better.  The Bible tells us this.  Giving keeps us grounded and in return, we get the blessing of knowing that we are helping others.  Giving does not always mean material gifts.   These things are nice, but giving yourself, holding the hand of someone who seems like an untouchable, sharing a smile, and encouraging someone are all incredibly powerful ways to give.
  9. Stand up for yourself and others.  Even when it doesn’t seem like the cool thing to do or what the crowd expects, do it and don’t be afraid.  Don’t ever walk away from a situation thinking, “I could have done more to help.”  If you can help, do it and don’t make any apologies about it.
  10. Never forget that there is nothing you can ever do that will make us love you any less.  We will not always agree with your choices.  We may even get quite upset and distraught over something that you’ve done, but son, we will always love you.  The love we have for you is forever stuck right into our hearts.  It is engrained into the very fiber of our beings.  You will learn this once you become a parent.

A decade of life has come and gone; a decade of firsts, thrills, do-overs, and lots of learning.  It has moved quickly and if I could, I would go back and do it all over again.  All of it.

Faith has brought us through it and faith will carry us on.  God weaved our family out of brokenness, but there is nothing broken about us.  We are exactly who we are supposed to be.  YOU are exactly who you are supposed to be, and you are precious.  You are incredible.  Thank you, son, for this past decade of love.

What a treasure it has been.

 

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(Photo credit:  Freedom Photography http://www.freedom-photography.com/)

 

 

 

Trust. Do. Breathe.

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately with a typical, and seemingly annual, February upper respiratory crud that gets passed around my family.  Instead of letting it get to point of being really sick, I preemptively went to my doctor in hopes of getting medicine to combat this looming illness.  The visit started a little bit like this,

Doctor:  “Caroline, what is going on with you?”

Me:  “Well, I have this cough and congestion, and I’m just so busy right now with work, running the kids to their various activities, going out of town for gymnastics meets, training…I don’t have time to be sick… and…”

Doctor:  “Okay, stop.  Take three deep breaths…”

Me:  (inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale)…”I know…I know…”

Doctor:  “You seem a little stressed.”

The rest of the appointment was spent discussing how moms sometimes let ourselves get run down because we are, well, just running too much.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work and loading up my snacks to take the office, I noticed my “to-do” list hanging on the refrigerator.  I paused for a moment, flipped to a new page, and then wrote:

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It seems rather simple, doesn’t it?  To simply and devotedly trust God not just in the big things, but also in the mundane acts of life is essential, but often fleeting.  To wake up with the desire to do the best we can, only to be met with the weight of comparison and the exhaustive feelings that more can be done, deduces us to consider if we are really giving it our best.  To breathe…deeply…is also so needed, but oh my, how quickly and rapidly the errands of life can cut our breath short.

I wish life could be as simple as the “to do” list I wrote today.  Maybe it can be. Maybe, just focusing on these three things each day will spill over into other experiences.

Trust.  Do.  Breathe.

Instead of writing out the things I need to do on my list tomorrow, perhaps I will write:

REPEAT

 

 

Can I get an Amen to that?!

I’m realizing that parenting is one way that the Lord is reminding me that He’s not finished with me yet.

And by not finished with me, I mean…

  • not finished with tempering my sometimes quick temper,
  • not finished with refining my desire to be right,
  • not finished with comparing myself to others,
  • not finished with finding satisfaction in the small successes,
  • not finished with my futile attempt to be in control (can I get an Amen on that one?!)
  • and, not finished with my failure (often) to step back and let Him lead.

Here’s the deal – I’m a failure as a parent, or at least, I often feel like one.

I let the little things bother me. My house is never clean enough. My children are a little, shall I say, strong-willed and “energetic”. I know there are times when they are less than grateful for what they have been given in life. Honestly, I am too.

Today, I had a little glimpse of glory when my six-year-old daughter said, “You know there are homeless people without a Christmas tree.”

I sat there stewing my frustrations about the wild two-year-old who just got every toy out and threw them all over the floor, and thinking about my incredibly sick husband who was dealing with the stomach bug, and I stopped and listened for a moment.

My daughter, who had also been battling the stomach bug today, got really quiet, started smiling, and said, “What if, instead of having Christmas at our house, we go give water and presents to homeless people?”

I’m still trying to figure out the details of how we can work in our family Christmas and one that involves her idea of giving to the homeless, but I walked away from this discussion thinking,

“Thank you, Lord, for that little glimpse of parenting success.”

If most of the lessons I’ve tried to teach my kids wash away, but they grow up with compassion and faith, then maybe, just maybe, I am succeeding as a parent.

I’m realizing that parenting is one way that the Lord is reminding me that He’s not finished with me yet. And by not finished with me, I mean…

  • not finished with tempering my sometimes quick temper,
  • not finished with refining my desire to be right,
  • not finished with comparing myself to others,
  • not finished with finding satisfaction in the small successes,
  • not finished with my futile attempt to be in control (can I get an Amen on that one?!)
  • and, not finished with my failure (often) to step back and let Him lead.

Mothers who are weary, sick of cleaning up the messes, fretting your own failures, doubting your decisions, comparing your flaws, looking around at the mini-disasters in your own living room, doing your best to hold your tongue, wishing you would have said something differently than you did, and enduring hardship, remember this…

The Lord’s not finished with you yet, and He’s not finished with your children.

Can I get an Amen to that?!

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 (The Message Bible)

YOU are relevant {encouragement for Momma}

Busy, busy, busy…these are the three words that come to mind when thinking of the day.  Up at 5:50 am (that’s actually sleeping in a bit), let dog out, let dog in, feed dog, feed cat, let dog out again, make coffee, quickly swig coffee, read a bit of news on the Internet, one kid up, then another, then another, feed them, jump in shower, check on kids, get husband out of bed, make lunch, comb daughter’s hair, get toddler dressed, put out fresh water for dog, say goodbye to husband and one child, double-check locks on doors, turn off coffee pot, load up two kids, drop off one, drop off the other, say daily prayer to the Lord, and then head to work.

Work stuff.  Reports, percentages, discussions, meetings…paperwork.

Get off work, pick up daughter, take to swim lessons, engage in conversation with other moms, smile  at daughter while she is showing off her swimming abilities, load her back up in the car, head home, greet husband, ask how oldest son’s day went, hug little one, fix dinner, do two loads of laundry, get daughter in bath, then get youngest in bath, clean bathroom, get oldest son in bath, fold a bit of laundry, straighten up toddler’s room, hold him while he rages against not wanting to go to bed, switch out with husband so that he can get little one to sleep, tuck oldest son in bed, tuck daughter in bed, tell her a story (she likes it when one is made up with her as the main character), sing a song to her, and sit down for the first time since being home from work.

THIS.  This is an average day in my life, and most likely, in many other’s lives.  And yet, despite how tiring it can be, how seemingly repetitive (like the movie Groundhog Day) it is, and how overwhelming it might be, I am reminded of the beauty of it all.

I am thankful for the blessing of not having to worry about where my children are sleeping tonight, if there is enough food on the table, whether we will be persecuted for believing what we believe, if I can access medicine for my family, or meet their basic needs.

In the same breath that I feel exhausted at the end of the day, I look around and hear the Lord saying,

“You are relevant.”

And then, I think about my friends who are mommies.  I think, “They, too, are relevant.”  Then, my heart turns to my friends who are not yet mom’s, ones who long to be but are still waiting, and one’s who are fostering the babes of other mom’s, and I think, “Yes, they are also relevant.”

Motherhood is challenging.  It is incredibly emotional.  It is glorious, frustrating, and disappointing at times.

At moments, it feels as raw as can be.  Other times, it feels as distant as the eye can see.

It can be monotonous.  It can be adventurous.  It can be exhausting.  Still yet, it is relevant.

When dragged down by the duties of the day, screaming of cranky babies, whining of little one’s, dishes that need to be washed, clothes hanging out in the laundry hamper, and reports that are nearing their deadlines, remember this, sweet Momma…

YOU are relevant.  

IMG_0255The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

however motherhood comes

While watching my oldest son compete in his last gymnastics competition of the year, my dad struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to him. As usual, he bragged about his grandchildren.

As I was off taking pictures, the conversation between my dad and the lady turned into one about adoption. He learned that two out of her four children were adopted. When I returned to sit down, he shared about their conversation. As she and I sat and visited for a bit, I learned a brief history about her adoptions, and I shared a bit about mine.

Similar to new mothers sharing birthing stories, I found myself enjoying this kindred conversation. Both of us marveled at our sons. We both shared with joy in thinking about what our kids have accomplished given their difficult entries to our world. We also both expressed great gladness in being adoptive parents.

This experience reminded me of this quote by Valerie Harper,

“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”

This day, I give praise for the miraculous, wonderful gift of motherhood.

I’m hungry!

Yesterday, I went with my family to a cafe inside an all-natural market so that I could eat some spicy Peruvian Chicken Soup in hopes it would clear my sinuses.  My husband had just fed the kids while I was out earlier in the day, so I decided that we could run up to the local market/cafe to get a few things, get the kids something to drink, and I could enjoy a quiet little meal.

A glass of whole milk, two lattes, one berry blue smoothie, and a cup of soup later, we were all sitting at a round table near the entrance.  It was a peaceful afternoon in the market.  People were shopping for their gluten-free, vegan, and homegrown goodies while my little brood was hanging out in the corner.

After a few moments of delightfully enjoying our outing, our peace turned to chaos.

My daughter decided that she was hungry and began to let us know.  At first, she started with a hum – loud, monotonous hum.  Next, she started a chant of sorts that went something like this,

“I’m hungry…hummmm…I’m hungry.”

At first her voice was quiet, and during this time, I reminded her that I just a bought a $5.00 smoothie (of which I could make at home much cheaper), that she needed to drink.  Again, the chant started back up, but this time it was little more escalated.

The twenty-something chic behind the cash register looked at us with concern.  I wondered, “Does she think we do not feed her?  We are at a whole-foods cafe, for heaven’s sake.  Does she think that I am the only one who eats in this family?”

During this time, I again acknowledged the barely touched smoothie sitting in front of my daughter, and reminded her that daddy had just fed her lunch before we left.  But, to no avail, my sweet child (who really needed a nap), decided to lunge towards the smoothie, and began to yell,

“I’m hungry!”

Over and over again.

My momma-like reflexes grabbed the luscious blue smoothie before her little hand could slap it down.  She threw her chair back, stood up, and began to holler about her hunger to anyone who would listen.

Here’s the deal.  I know my daughter.  I know that she was, indeed, not hungry.  I know that an order of food would have been a waste of money.  She literally just had a full lunch before we left.  She likes the idea of eating at a restaurant, even though, she seems to miss the point of eating.

In an instant, the peaceful flow of consumers looking for their locally grown veggies, organic pastas, and spices that I cannot even pronounce, all began to look at us.  I stood up next to my daughter, held her hand, and whispered in her ear, “Do you see that people are staring at you?  You are a big girl who is going to start kindergarten soon, and this is not how big girls act.  If you are still hungry, drink your smoothie.”

Silence…..“NOOOOO!”

I sat back down, guzzled-down my super spicy, tongue-burning Peruvian Chicken Soup, smiled at the staring mild-mannered lady by the cash register, handed our youngest a cup to play with, advised my oldest to drink his over-priced organic whole milk, and asked my husband to kindly escort our daughter to the van.

In a manner equivalent to a sports team, we sprang into action, he swooped her up just before she could overturn the napkin holder on the table, held her in his arms, and carried her to the van as she was wailing out.  I sat there for a minute, took one look around, and then finished off my spicy, but delicious, Peruvian Chicken soup.

I was so distracted by the irruption of our little outing that I had forgotten exactly what I went there to buy.  I walked around the market with my oldest and youngest, asked a random question about eucalyptus to some kid with wavy brown hair, debated on buying some locally grown coffee beans, and then headed out to the van to my much calmer daughter (who still had not finished off the bright blue expensive smoothie).

Today, while watching my daughter in her activities, and thinking about what had transpired yesterday, I was gently reminded that I have never been a perfect daughter.  I, too, have exclaimed, “I’m hungry!  I want more!”; even though, I have been surrounded by plenty.  I, too, have needed someone to hold my hand, and remind me of my own actions.  I, too, have had people stare and watch my actions with concern and question.

I was reminded today that the perfect thing about any of us, including our children, is that we are not perfect.  We are not perfect.  We mess up.  We embarrass ourselves, and others.  We disappoint our parents.  We worry our Heavenly Father.  We waste, we hurt, and we hunger.

We are works in progress.

Today, the Lord settled in my heart that in our imperfections there is the hope of something new.

Our little outing to the all-natural market turned out to be a test in patience for my husband and I.  It also served as a reminder that the most important task I have, and will ever have, is found in the raising of my children.  Nothing remotely compares to it.  And, in this task, I have the responsibility of influencing their walk with the Lord.

Just like I am not, and never will be, a perfect child, I should never expect my children to be.  There will still be moments when I will scream, “I’m hungry, Lord.  I’m hungry!”  

And, as He has always done, He will calmly take a hold of my hand, remind me of who I am in Him, carry me as I wail, and still see my imperfect beauty.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6 The Message Bible

Big Boys {words of advice from the mother of a little boy}

We had our typical New Year’s Eve meal of “little smokies”, veggies with dip, chips and queso, and Quiche tarts with our children to welcome in the New Year.  We talked about what our favorite parts of 2013 were, and what we were looking forward to in 2014.  The kids stayed up a little later than usual, but were still in bed by 9:00 pm.

Big BoyAs I was getting my 7-year-old son ready for bed, he said, “Now, I’m ready for my big boy stuff!”  By big boy stuff, he was referring to the mouthwash we bought him to assist with his dental care now that he has adult teeth.

As he turned around to show me how he could swish the mouthwash in his mouth, I noticed how small he still looks in his pajamas.  He said the words “big boy”, but in my mind and heart, he is still my little boy.

When he turned around to face the sink, I started to tear up just a bit.  Odd, I know.  Normally the vision of my children brushing their teeth does not cause me to cry, but this time, I took one look at him, and realized that another year has passed in raising this wonderful little boy.

The thought of releasing him to the world one of these days terrifies me.  Truly, the thought of releasing any of my children to the world is frightening.  Yet, I know that I am experiencing the same feelings my parents, my parents’ parents, and my parents’ grandparents must have felt.  With each passing of a New Year, I am brought a little closer to my children growing up, a little closer to the day when they will be out of the house, and a little closer to the day when they too will be navigating the journey of raising children.

I’m asking, on behalf of all mothers and fathers out there, for us to all stop and take a look around at the world we are leaving for our babies.  Those of us around my age and older remember a world free from technology, digital anything, texting, and searing statistics of broken families.  I wish I could bring my babes back to the world I grew up in – back to a world that seemed a little more kid friendly, or maybe even, safer.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I know we live in a remarkable time.  Just the fact that I’m sitting here from my laptop in Southwest Missouri and sharing my thoughts that will reach other countries, is astonishing.  I know this.  As a mom though, I wonder where all of this is going.  Are we continuing down a path of technology marvel while pulling away from actual relationships?

My “big boy” in his slightly too-big Lego’s pajamas is not ready for the world.  I’m not ready to let him go.  I’m not ready for the times he comes home heart-broken over being picked on, turned down, or disappointed.  I fear the day he walks through the doors, nearly grown, and announces that he’s ready to move out.

Sometimes, I just want to roll back time, and hold him a little closer.  This part…this part of watching children grow up and become less dependent…is both wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time.  And yet, my children are still so young.  I suspect I will feel these emotions with each passing of the New Year.

As the mother of a little boy who thinks he is big (and of a little girl, and infant boy), I have a few words of advice that I would like to share with all of the Big Boys out there:

  1. We were not made to be the same.  The beauty of you, and your friends, is that each of you are uniquely created with talents, ambitions, and inclinations.  My son has quirks, talents, and struggles that make him who he is.  You will never see or even like my son the way that I do, but please, let him be who he is, and I’m pretty sure he will let you be who you are.
  2. Don’t do anything stupid.  Your mother loves you, and worries about you – even though you are bigger.  No matter your age, she will never stop.  Try to go easy on her.
  3. Your role as a man, brother, boyfriend, husband, uncle, father, or grandfather, is vital.  YOU are vital.  Your God-given role is equally important in the lives of children.  I have worked with many children who grieved for a relationship with a father.  Please don’t under-estimate how valuable you are in the lives of little big boys (and little big girls) in the world.
  4. Please know that little big boys look up to you.  They watch all that you do, and say, and they are impressed by it.  Try to make positive, life-affirming impressions on all of the little boys you come in contact with.
  5. Remember, you were once a little big boy.  Think about that.

I know I still have many more years to raise, train, discipline, and enjoy my children. I also know that parenting is a life-long venture.  As time passes, I see that moments of parenting go by quickly.  I will wake up one of these days to an empty home that is not filled with the busyness of children.  There will no longer be lunches to pack, school work to help with, middle of the night wake-up calls, or early morning bed jumpers.  There will just be me, my husband, and the memories of raising our children.

For now, though, I am going to sneak off and give my little big boy a kiss while he sleeps….

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

It Happened Again This Week {Adoption Day}

It happened again this week.  I stepped into a courtroom filled with excitement, energy, and the weight of the little one I was carrying.  I have been through this before, twice actually, but still I felt a twinge of nerves.  I do not know if the feeling is similar to what a mother experiences right before the birth of her child, but it is the closest that I can relate to.  It is the feeling of anxiousness, eagerness, elation, and relief all stirred up together.  (Of course, it is minus the pain of labor; although, physical labor sometimes pales in comparison to the emotional labor of those expecting children through adoption.)

adoption dayOur adoption of my littlest was finalized during our county’s celebration of National Adoption Day.  We were one of twenty or so adoptions that happened in one day.  I am the mother of three.  I am the mother of three wonderful children who otherwise might have had a rough life ahead.  I am not barren at all.  I am enveloped in grace that pulsates throughout my being.

It is mightily overwhelming to think about, really.  I was never meant to be a parent.  I was supposed to be pitied, look upon with sadness, and harbor a sense of shame.  I was going to make an awful mother.  I was not good enough.  I must have been a bad person.  Parenting a child not of my body would never be the same…..and so on….

These are the thoughts I carried around for many years.  I imagined the enemy hissing and laughing at me.  I imagined that he relished in my self-doubt, and susceptibility to feel as though I would always fall short as compared to other women.

The adoption of my third child is simply an incredible chapter to a story that started so many years ago.  When the world, and all the angst of the enemy, said to me, “It’ll never happen for you.”  Our Heavenly Father said, “It will happen for you.”

Towards the end of the hearing, the Judge declared him to be our son.  When those words rolled off of his lips, I held back a few tears.  Those words are probably some of the most beautiful ones I’ve heard.  To hear them time and again does not diminish how special they are.  In that moment, I thought, “My God, You are incredible.”

In the same breath that I praise the Finisher of our desires, I think about the birth mothers of my children.  All of them held their babies for the first time, and probably felt the same thing that I felt on adoption day; excitement, eagerness, elation, and relief.  Their moments were beautiful as well.  They may have even thought, “My God, You are incredible.”

I know I do not deserve the mercy that has been shown to me through the adoption of my children.  I know that I have been completely and overwhelmingly gifted with them, and that my responsibility in raising children who are compassionate, responsible, and faithful falls heavy on my heart.  If ever a time to relish in the joyful moments of life, this is it.

It happened again this week.  I became a mother of three. I am certainly living a life that went from being barren to blessed.

 

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

Feisty and Five {Happy Birthday, Daughter}

Daughter, my sweet and feisty daughter, you turned five today.  Do you want to know something?  I always wanted a daughter.  In my vision of a future family (as limited and skeptical as that was at times), I pictured a daughter.  I imagined a little girl who was dainty, a little on the shy side, and a Princess in the making.

photo (54)Do you want to know something else?  You are not dainty, you are mighty.  You are not shy, you are feisty (although you do get embarrassed sometimes), and you once told me, “I am not a Princess” (except when it comes to your Papa).

There is not a single thread of doubt in my soul that you were meant to be my daughter.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

You, my girl, are a God-orchestrated, God-created, and God-filling vessel of love. You are a walking miracle.  Your value is worth more than anything, and your life is one of opportunity.

I caught you looking up to the sky one day last spring.  As big and fluffy snowflakes made their way to the ground, you looked up to the Heavens with the biggest smile, as if you and the Lord Himself were agreeing that snow in the springtime is the best thing ever.

Keep looking to the Heavens, my girl.  

Keep looking up with the hope that is found in the gracious love of God.Snow

My hope for you, little one, is that you never forget how deeply cherished you are. We love you so much, but Mommy and Daddy could never love you as deeply as your Father in Heaven does. You are His.  We are just charged with bringing you up in the crazy, mixed-up; yet, incredible world.

My mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter, I love you.

Happy 5th Birthday, Daughter.  You are one of the most strong-willed, independent, and outspoken little girls I think I have ever known.  But, do you want to know something?  You are also loving and protective of the ones you love.  You became an instant big sister to a little one that came into our lives suddenly.  Yet, you took it all in stride.

You quickly learned that babies need lots of attention.  They cry a lot, eat a lot, and learn to giggle pretty quickly.  You have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow, change, and become one with our family.

SisI caught you crying softly one night.  When asked why, you simply and sweetly stated, “I miss him as a baby.”  You were referring to the fact that your new little brother is walking, growing, and getting bigger right in front of your eyes.

You are wonderful big sister.

Simply wonderful.

You are a blessing to the babe who found his way to our home.

You also give away your gifts and items freely to others.  You comfort your big brother when he’s having a bad day.  You check on your Daddy when he’s not feeling so well, and you tell me that I’m beautiful.

My daughter, beauty shines from you when I witness the softness of your touch, the care you give for others, and the simple, yet sweet, acts of generosity.

Five years have gone by so quickly, and yet, I look to many more years of watching you grow into a strong, beautiful woman.  I hope you stay feisty, stay mighty, and stay yourself.  Stay the girl who prefers blue jeans and t-shirts over frilly dresses, or would rather be outside playing “camp out”, digging up bugs, and chasing her big brother around the yard.

I hope you never lose the thought that it is perfectly fine to wear a mask and cape a good majority of places that you go.BatgirlAfter all, the world could use a few superheroes.

You are a mighty, mysterious, smart, and beautiful daughter.  You are a wonderfully made daughter.  

In this month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.  I am thankful for the unique little girl that you are.

Orange

I am thankful that you are feisty, and five.

I am thankful that YOU are my daughter.  

Happy 5th birthday.  Love You, Forever.