Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Zoe's Story (video)

Our church, Church Project, had a little video done about our adoption of Zoe. The amazing Chris Shepherd made the film.

Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gimme Patience!

This past week we've had a couple of sick kiddos, and now it's turned into a teething party.  Awe. Some.

 The nebulizer has helped a ton!

It seems to have frazzled me a bit and put me on edge about the dumbest, littlest things. Then a friend sent me a message, and suddenly I understand exactly what's going on.

Patience has NEVER been my strong suit.  In fact, it's never really been in my repertoire at all.  (Don't panic at my amazing use of vocabulary today.  I promise you it's a one time thing.)  So, of course, coming home six weeks ago with toddler number two was bound to test my abilities and find my incompetence shortcomings.

I was sharing with my friend the other day how I realized that I wasn't always patient enough with the girls on certain issues.  Especially Zoe.  She is doing so amazing adjusting to our family and life here, that sometimes I forget how young she is and that she still has a few delays and bad habits to work through.  So I told this friend that I had been praying for and working on patience with the girls, and she, being an awesome friend, said she would pray for me as well.

 I know they look too sweet for me to even need patience, but trust me, they are full blown toddlers.

This is how I know when people join me in prayer.  God answers the call LOUD AND CLEAR.  Not always the way I'm hoping or thinking He will, but there is definitely an answer.

Today I'm exhausted and on edge from the many days in a row of sleep deprivation and the over abundance of random baby meltdowns from my usual happy campers.  Then I get her message:
How's the "working on patience" going?
I completely love that she has remembered my endeavor (sorry, I know I promised just one fancy word, but I couldn't help myself!) and loves me enough to hold me accountable.  As I read that simple little message, all kinds of bells and light bulbs started going off in my head. 

Maybe it's been too long since I've prayed for a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or I'm just getting a bit slow in my old age.  (I am half way through this thirty-something business anyway.)  But it seems I have completely forgotten how God likes to work sometimes.

 Yes, I totally posted these for my "fruit of the spirit" pictures.  You're welcome.

In our instant gratification world, we want what we want now; no, we want it yesterday.  But that is certainly not how we learn, and that most definitely is the opposite of this patience business I've been praying for.  I've been praying for God to teach me how to be patient, but I think in my head it's sounded more like, "God gimme patience!"  So the question really is how does one go about learning to be patient?  Now I know the answer:  Through two sick and teething toddlers. 

God often allows us to experience difficult situations in life to give us the opportunity to truly learn, change and grow.  I love that saying Experience is the best teacher because it gives the test first and the lesson later.  I mean how else will we truly figure out and fully understand these difficult concepts like patience?

Precious metals are refined and purified through fire.  I need to remember to count it as joy when I find myself in embers or a full blown inferno because it reminds me that God sees me as a precious metal that He cares enough about to refine and purify.
“And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

-Zechariah 13:9

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


There was an episode of John and Kate Plus 8, before they became daily highlights in the tabloids, that I still remember because something in it really struck me.  If you never watched this show, it was about a couple that had twin girls then sextuplets- that's six kids at the same time.  Six kids at the same time.  I just thought that was worth repeating.

Anyways, for some reason three of them were in trouble and had to stay in their room for time out while the other three got to go out and play.  Watching the three kids playing, the mom looks at the camera and giggling says something to the effect of, "Wow, how easy would triplets be?!" I remember laughing in agreement at the time, but I had never even parented one kid, let alone two or three... or six or eight.

When we left for China just six short weeks ago, I was still trying to figure out how to be a parent to one child.  Panic would set in when I allowed myself to think about how I might do anything with two.  I was somewhat convinced we may not be able to leave the house until the girls left for college.  But after being home a full month, we are managing surprisingly well and have not only seen the outside of the house, but we've actually successfully come home with groceries a few times.

But a thought drifted through my mind the other day during a stressful toddler moment.  I thought how easy it would be if there was just one.  It was one of those moments that is probably starting to turn my hair gray, although I haven't had a chance to look in the mirror in several weeks so someone please let me know if that's the case.   But toddlers are much like the weather in Houston.  If you don't like it, wait 30 seconds and it'll change.

On the verge of scolding myself in my inner monologue for this bad mommy thought, suddenly the girls began chasing each other around the kitchen laughing hysterically.  So, of course, my eyes promptly started dripping.

Yes, sometimes they steal toys and hit and scream and bite, but most of the time they want to be right next to each other exploring, playing, dancing, running, and laughing.  They love each other.  They need each other. And I very much need them.

Becoming a parent has definitely helped changed my perspective.  Life is no longer about numero uno.  Being a parent means constantly teaching, disciplining, loving, serving, entertaining, and protecting.  And to be able to do that, a parent has to see and understand the bigger picture of the world around the child, but they also have to get down on the child's level to see things through their little peep hole of life.

Learning how to see from those perspectives reminds me of how God sees us.  He sees the bigger picture much clearer than we do.  Sometimes He gives us boundaries and protects us.  Sometimes He allows us to learn the hard way.  Sometimes He has to discipline us.  Most of the time He is patient and offers us far more grace than we deserve.  He even stepped down from His throne in heaven and walked a few miles in our shoes, seeing life from our angle.

In my slightly less frazzled state these days, I'm asking God to keep teaching me how to love my kids the way He loves me.  God, please teach me to love my children enough to discipline them and to offer them grace beyond what they deserve.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Little Squeals

So I keep having all these great ideas pop into my head that I want to blog about.  I think them through, sometimes I even start writing it out in my head while I'm doing other things.  But by the time I get a chance to sit down at the computer, I can't for the life of me remember any of those oh-so-brilliant ideas.  I find myself sitting here frowning at the screen or going through my pictures forgetting what I sat down here to do in the first place.

Kind of like those brain farts where you can't find the remote, then hours later you discover at some point you put it in the refrigerator but you don't remember ever being in the kitchen.  Oh, did I just share too much?  I hope I'm not the only one who's done that (and don't tell my husband!).

Apparently I have nothing creative or profound to share with you, but fortunately life at our house is never boring these days so I'll just post some fun videos, and you'll be so overcome with giggles you'll never even realize I had nothing to say!

I should preface these videos a bit.  Arella learned how to take her pants off the other night, so it is now of course her biggest thrill.  Zoe loves to carry around clothes so this relationship works out quite well.  Oh, and don't worry, the Christmas tree finally came down today, but alas the kitchen is still a mess.  You should be excited I'm putting you above my household chores.

Arella turned 20 months on Friday and Zoe turned 14 months on Saturday.  We ride a roller coaster of toddler emotions every day in this house.  Don't be fooled, it's not always a half naked dance party.  Sometimes it's more like a shark attack with a victim lying on the floor with fresh bite marks.  But the pure delight that floods this house through those sweet little squeals helps us find rest even on the hard nights because we await the joy that comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Story Time

We made it almost on time to Story Time at the library this morning.  Keeping them focused on animal crackers, both girls managed to stay within arms reach of me during the stories and songs.  Somehow we even managed to complete the craft without anyone eating a crayon or glue stick!

I was a little nervous to let the girls explore the library afterward, but they have such a fun kid area with toys, bean bags and puzzles, we had to take a chance.  Trying to keep two toddlers doing the same activity and within sight and reach is quite the challenge.  The best analogy I've heard is "It's much like herding cats."  The first few minutes looked a bit like that as Zoe bolted down the aisles of books pulling them out while Arella was making a break for the giant stuffed bear in the opposite directoin, and I was left dropping hanging onto their coats, crafts and diaper bag monkey backpack trying to figure out which one to chase after.

Finally, after carrying the wiggle worm around for a while, Zoe began to realize that Arella knew where the child treasures were hidden.  So off they went from opossum to giant bear, to a big wooden wire toy where sharing with other kids was attempted by Arella but Zoe bravely fought off two boys, then came bean bag diving and a smaller wooden wire toy, which led to vrooming (give me a break, it's in my vocabulary now) toy cars and emergency vehicles that finally veered us to the puzzle tables.

Arella will peacefully sit at the puzzle table and attempt to figure out what to do, and it appeared Zoe was interested in looking at the puzzles, so I finally sat between them next to the table.  There happened to be another mom seated there watching her son go from puzzle to puzzle.  He seemed a bit leery about two girls intruding on his territory.  The mom was really giving us the once over.  At first I thought I was getting some serious stink eye from her, but as we started talking I realized she was just curious.

I think I just assumed that I must have looked as frazzled and nervous as I felt, so I again assumed that people are looking at me and judging me like some dumb rookie mom.  Which I totally am, and I'm completely okay with, I just don't need people reminding me all the time.  Of course no one ever does, I just have quite the self-centered imagination that everyone is staring at me.  Oh come on, admit it.  You know you feel that way sometimes, too!

Anyway, she keeps looking back and forth from Arella to Zoe studying them very hard.  She keeps glancing at me then back at them.  I'm completely starting to wonder what kind of question she's going to ask.  We had a couple of weird moments in China, but you expect it there and it's not home so it didn't feel very intimidating.  This lady's prying eyes were making me anxious.

Finally she opens her mouth.  She made some slight small talk noting my girls are very close in age and young, I must be busy.  As if that's not obvious.  Then, not sure how to ask it, she gets out, "Your husband must be...  well, she (pointing to Zoe) is so dark and she (pointing to Arella) is like you."  I smiled but only managed to get out, "Zoe is from China" before my girls decided it was time to run back over to the toy cars.  There was a flash of understanding I caught in her eyes but so many more questions, but I had to bolt after the girls.

I wanted to be able to sit and talk and tell her of the wonders of adoption, but I guess I was only supposed to give her that tiny little glimpse.  As she studied our family, I hope what she saw was not my insecurity but the joy my little girls had running around together and playing on every single inch of that kids' area.  That speaks louder and clearer than anything I could say.

Just so you can see a little bit of their joy in action, I'm going to post a super short but fun giggly video of the girls.  I was putting my hair in a ponytail yesterday when all of a sudden I hear this burst of giggles on the other side of the room. They could barely contain themselves they were laughing so hard!  By the time I got my hair up and the video recording it had died down a bit, but I think they will still make you giggle a little bit too...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Love of a Sister

What does it mean, truly, to be a friend to someone or to have a friend?

There are three precious women I have known for many years.  We met through our church; we were part of a small group Bible study together.  There came a time when some of us were called to other churches, but we kept our Bible study going.  People thought it was weird, but the church is really the people, not the building.  God continued to give us different callings which changed schedules and eventually our regular Bible study meetings had to finally come to an end.  But our friendship did not.

This afternoon I had the privilege of spending a few hours chatting over coffee with these treasured friends. As I listened to each of us sharing our fears, our struggles, our triumphs, our shortcomings and our hopes, I was just so overcome with joy.  I've watched these women graduate college, get first jobs, struggle with bosses, change careers, become moms, move away, move back, run half marathons and train for an Ironman.  I've watched these women feel on top of the world and in the pit at the bottom of the valley.  I've watched these women pray together and encourage each other through scripture.  I've watched these women drop what they're doing to meet another one's needs.  I've watched them open up their homes when another has no place to stay.

I have watched these women do life together and speak life to each other and never ever let one of us slip away through the cracks of life that are so easy to hide in.  This friendship I have with these women, well, friendship cannot even begin to describe the depth of what it truly is.  But each one of them has shown me the love of Christ, a love far greater and deeper than I deserve.  I am so thankful to call them sisters.  

Tonight I'm praying for my little girls to grow up to be this kind of sister to each other.  Not just a sister because they happen to be siblings, but a sister that loves another sister with all the love offered through Christ.

A sister that will take a look at life from your vantage point.

A sister that you can be your real silly self with and recruit to join you in the silliness.

A sister that will encourage you in the Word and point out what you can't yet see.

A sister that will teach you by example.

A sister that you can't really hide from no matter how hard you try.

A sister that understands you are uniquely called and equipped for certain tasks even when they differ from hers.

A sister that is willing to go on life's great adventure with you wherever it may lead.

A sister that you can always reach out to from any place.

A sister that will always be there to love you where you are.

I pray that my girls be more than sisters.  I pray that they be friends.  And I pray that they be more than friends.  I pray that they be sisters.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just a Month?!

We met Zoe for the first time exactly one month ago.  I can't wrap my brain around that.  In some moments I still wonder who this silly little Peanut is, and in other moments I feel I've known her her whole life.

When Zoe first got a glimpse of me, she tried to flee the room.  When I held her for the first time, she cried and thrashed for a long time then passed out.  She couldn't crawl; she couldn't even hold herself up on all fours.  She walked along furniture and holding our hands but was so weak in the middle she constantly spun and crashed.  She would get so upset at the drop of a hat and violently throw her head backward.  We're still amazed we were able to hang on to her every time and that her head so narrowly missed banging all the hard surfaces.

After 24 hours we started to get a few glimpses of smiles and giggles.  After 4 days, she hit the grand slam- crawled, clapped, waved, signed and said "Dada".  After 12 days, the night we arrived home, she started walking and hasn't stopped since.

It's been a month now and it feels like six.  Not because it's been so tough (which it definitely has been) but because I've watched this little baby turn into a toddler over night.  She still has some developmental things to catch up on and some temper tantrums to tame, but this little girl was very much still a baby one month ago and today this same child is now very much a toddler.

This is the most expression we saw that first day.

Now these are the faces we get...

We meet with our social worker this weekend for our one month post adoption report.  I guess it has me reminiscing... although I feel like I can't even call it that since it was just a few days ago.  But now it's already a brand new year.  If December felt like six months, this could be a very long year indeed.  I have a feeling though, that my time warp will begin to straighten itself out soon.

Happy 2013 everyone.  May your actions be far greater and speak much louder than your new year's resolutions.