Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes I feel like a spectator...

Maybe I'm the only one that ever feels this way... Have you ever felt like you were a spectator, watching your life play out before you, and being amazed at what you see?

I felt that way yesterday...and not in a bad way, mind you. I continue to be amazed at this path God has put us on..the path of foster parenting and adoption. I always knew I wanted to adopt, but never in a million years thought I would be a foster parent. And even this time last year, shortly after we finalized Lexie's adoption, I never thought I'd be ok with getting together with Lexie's biological family on a somewhat regular basis. So, the spectator comment is not one that I say with the implication that my life has become somthing I didn't want for myself, but instead, as a spectator, I feel like sometimes I am standing on the sidelines watching God moving us-watching him work things out in our hearts that we never could have done on our own.

Lexie's biological aunt, Shontel, had called us wednesday to see about getting together with us. I called her back yesterday morning to tell her that we would be heading to Ballard Park later in the day if she wanted to join us. When we got to the park, Lexie's aunt, along with her newborn and her 5 year old daughter, Paris, were there, as well as Lexie's biological grandmother and Lexie's biological brothers, Keegan, age 9 and Malachi, age 1 and her sister, yazmin, age 4. Keegan immediately ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. "Did you you bring my little sister?" he asked hopefully.
"She's coming with her dad in a few minutes," I told him. Lexie's aunt and grandmother gave me hugs as well.

The last time I saw them was when they invited us to a birthday party in June for Lexie's cousin. At that time, I had not wanted to take Lexie to the party. I remember the frustration I felt as I thought, "Are they going to expect to get together all the time? She's OUR daughter now...we don't have to do this, and I don't want to." Mike said, "Whatever you want to do.." in that way that means, "But you really should reconsider..." and I knew as soon as I said "I'm not taking her." That it was going to be one of those things God would ask me to do. I went, half-heartedly, like a child being pulled along, dragging my feet to some place I didn't want to go.
I had that attitude of, "I'll go, but only because you're making me.." Yeah, that's the kind of heart attitude that really thrills God, isn't it?

That sunny day in June we were greeted with wet, water playground hugs from Keegan and Yazmin-who had not seen Lexie since she was a few weeks old. Mackenzie had been right there with me in sharing my, "I don't want to do this" attitude, but as soon as she saw Paris, yazmin and Lexie grab hands and run under the spray of cool water, giggling all the way, her heart was softened, as was mine. Noah and Keegan became fast friends that day, planning their next get together. I know Lexie had no idea her new friends were family,she was just enjoying playing with them. I was humbled as Lexie's aunt and biological grandmother hugged me and thanked me for bringing her. I was ashamed that I had asked my mother in law to come along, so they would be able to see that Lexie already had a "grand mother." It ended up being a great afternoon. Keegan followed me to the car to give me one more hug and say, "Thank you for letting me see my sister." As we drove away, Mackenzie said what I was thinking, "Oh, mom...we were being so selfish. We need to let them know their sister." And then we had a good cry, as Mae and Noah looked at us like we were crazy...They had wanted to come from the very beginning; why wouldn't we want to go spend time with Lexie's biological brothers and sisters?

Because stuff like fear, and selfishness and judgment get in the way...."What if Lexie decides she likes them better than us?" "We don't have to do any of this. She's our daughter now.." and "She (Lexie's biological mom) made her choice when she chose to do drugs while she was pregnant with Lexie, why should we let her family have anything to do with her?" If there ever in all my life was battle between my flesh and my spirit, this whole foster/adoptive parenting thing has made it very evident. My flesh screams, "I don't owe them anything"..."we don't have to do anything"..."it's their fault they made these bad choices"....
and The holy spirit in me softly speaks.."Christ didn't owe you anything..." "He didn't have to do anything.." "It's not His fault you made these choices..."
Amazed that all of these thoughts pour out of one simple hug from a little boy...So that was back in the summer. Since then, we have been in contact with Lexie's aunt, but had not gotten together again.

So here we were at the park, on a chilly November day, waiting for Mike to arrive with all the kids. As we waited, Lexie's aunt told me that they would be heading to the prison sometime in December to visit Charlene, Lexie's biological mother. I remembered (had I really forgotten?) that I had promised to come see her. That was a year ago....My excuses were that I had sent my paperwork in to be approved for a visit and hadn't heard anything...had I really tried?
I joked with Shontel that I was probably the last person Charlene wanted to see, after a letter I had written to her last January remained unanswered. I had written to her explaining that, in answer to her questions in a previous letter, I was not showing my then 1 year old her picture, nor was I telling her she had another "mama". I explained in my letter that although we were so grateful for the huge part she played in bringing Lexie into this world, that the only mommy and daddy she had ever known were Mike and I. I Told her that in time, she would absolutely know about her birth mom-she would know she had her beautiful eyes and sweet smile, she would hopefully get to meet her and have a relationship with her..but that we would make the decisions about when and where. This was all in answer to Charlene's demand that we bring Lexie to the prison to see her.

For the things I said in the letter, I have no apologies..Lexie came to us from the hospital at 1 week old, still reeling from the effects of cocaine in her little body...while her birth mom was getting high, we were walking the floors at night with her...does that mean that I have a gold star in my crown and Charlene doesn't? Absolutely not. But I still think that some things did need to be said about what we were and weren't going to tell Lexie. I also told Charlene that I hoped she got the help she needed in prison, so that she would be able to have a second chance when she got out-a chance to start over, and even a chance to know Lexie.
I mentioned the letter to Shontel and that I hadn't heard from Charlene since then.
Shontel said, "Yeah, she wasn't too happy about that letter." Carol, Lexie's biological grandmother chimed in, much to my surprise, "You said a lot of things in that letter that she needed to hear. We are so grateful that you're letting us see her, but we know you're her mama."
"Do you think she'd still want to see me?" I asked, sounding like a small child.
"Absolutely." They both answered. We made plans for them to get the paperwork from Charlene again so that we could come visit. I planned to talk to Mike about bringing Lexie to see flesh screamed, "Are you nuts?" and my heart whispered, "You have nothing to be afraid of..."
About the time we finished discussing Charlene, Mike pulled up in the parking lot.
Keegan, Yazmin and Paris ran to the car, and hugs were exchanged all around. Keegan and Noah quickly headed to the playground, and Paris and Yazmin linked arms with Lexie and took a loaf of bread to feed the ducks. Mackenzie and Mae followed a teetering Malachi around, arguing over who would get to hold him next. I sat a bench and watched them all laugh and play. Sat their with my sweet husband, my visiting parents, and Shontel and Carol. I wondered what everyone was thinking, especially Shontel and Carol. I felt my heart softening even more..last time it was for the children, this time towards this aunt and grandma sitting beside me.
We gathered all the kids up on a park bench for a picture. Noah remarked, "Look at Lexie and ALL her brothers and sisters (and cousins)!!" What an interesting sight we must have been, I'm sure.
Keegan ran over with Noah and said, "It's cool that Lexie has two big brothers."
"Yes, It is." I answered. And they were off to play again. mackenzie came over and pulled me aside. "Mom, can we invite them to go out to eat? I want to treat them to go out to eat."
I said, "Have you counted everyone? Do you realize how much that would cost?"
"Yes, and I want to."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I love the way you and dad look after you've just done something nice for someone. I love the way that feels. And I just want to be with them a little longer." I looked at my oldest child, caught somewhere between girl and woman-who has been saving her hard earned money from crocheting hats for something really special. I guess this was it. Her dad and I agreed and she went and asked Shontel and Carol about joining us at pizza hut. They happily accepted and after a little more play time we began to round up the kids. I was surprised when Keegan ran over to me and took my hand. He just looked at me and smiled, and we walked to the parking lot quietly, hand in hand. Almost to the cars, he tugged at my hand and looked up at me. "Yes?" I asked. "Thank you for bringing my sister. She's so beautiful."
"Your welcome." I said. "You know, you and Yazmin and Malachi and Lexie all have the same eyes."
"We do?" He asked.
I paused for a moment, the words stuck in my throat. "You and Yazmin, Malachi and all have your mama's beautiful eyes."
I realize I'm a fool to think I'll ever be her only Mama.
And he just grinned, from ear to ear. As we loaded cars, Mike ended up with Noah and Keegan, and I ended up with Yazmin, Paris, Lexie, Mackenzie and Mae. Shontel and Carol followed us in their car, ejoying a little bit of quiet, I'm sure. On the way to Pizza Hut, yazmin said matter of factly to Mackenzie, "I'm Lexie's sister."
"Yes, you are." Mackenzie answered.
"Are you her big sister, too?" Yazmin wondered.
"Yes, I am."
yazmin thought for a moment, a little 4 year old thought. "Well, then I guess you're my big sister too!" Then she added, "My big, white sister!"
And we all laughed.
As we sat in Pizza Hut, waiting on our pizza that was taking way too long, that's when I felt it..felt like a spectator in my own life. as I looked around-Keegan and Noah, chatting like old friends at their very own big boy table; Mackenzie and Mae supervising the table with Yazmin, Lexie and Paris; And My mom, stepdad, Mike, Carol, Shontel, the two littlest babies and myself at another table. I sat there, watching. Knowing this was not me-sitting here with my adopted daughter's family...making plans to go see her birth mother in prison...making plans to do this again soon.
This was not the selfish me I knew. The me who wanted to hoard my sweet little 2 year old all to myself..the me who wanted to say we didn't have to let them see her at all...
No, this was the me I wish I saw more often. The me who knew that Lexie was not mine to hoard...who knew God didn't have to give her to us in the first place...who knew my heart was changed toward this family beacause of a little boy who gave me a hug, and a little baby named Jesus who would grow up to die for me...not because he had to, but because he wanted to.
And as I sat in Pizza Hut, surrounded by the sweet sound of children talking and laughing, I thought..God, help me to do more of what you ask because I want to..not because I have to. I don't want to be that child, dragging my feet, kicking and screaming...pouting because I don't get to do it my way. I want to be more of without expectations...loving first without guarantees of being loved in return...more of you, less of me.

stuffed mushrooms

My own thrown together recipe for an appetizer that has become quite a favorite!

about 20 whole mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed (save stems for later use)
1 block cream cheese
1 lb browned jimmy dean sausage (with sage is best)
Chopped mushroom stems (use about half of the stems you saved)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix browned sausage, cream cheese and chopped mushroom stems together. Place mushroom caps top side down in a 13x9 pan. spoon cream cheese mixture into mushrooms-piling up mixture on top of each muchroom. drizzle olive oil over mushrooms.
Bake 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. Delicious!!!

Thanksgiving in our new house!

What a great Thanksgiving we had! My mom and step dad arrived safely and we had a nice day together Wednesday as we spent the day getting ready for a houseful of company. My mom helped clean, Mike continued to work on the new wood floor in the foyer (which looks beatiful..), Noah burned a huge load of cardboard and limbs-much to my mothers dismay-, "You let him light fires?!?" She exclaimed as he headed out the door with the matches. My mother in law came over and baked pies with Mackenzie-seven pies!!!! My mother was amazed.."who is going to eat all that pie?" My Mom in law happily remarked, oh this is only half as many as my mama used to make on Thanksgiving..." We mixed up the famous green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole-we decided to try a new recipe from a Paula Deen cookbok Mackenzie had received from my mom. I made a hot onion dip and a pan of stuffed mushrooms-my daughter requested the mushrooms because, she says, "You only make them when we are going somewhere and we never get to eat them!!!" So this batch would be for us to eat on thanksgiving before all our company arrived!!! My mother in law was going to bake the turkey, so the only other things I needed to prepare the day of would be potatoes, corn and rolls.
For thanksgiving, Our guest list included: My mom and Stepdad, Mike's parents and his brothers Paul and John, my sister in law, Julia and our nieces, Anna, Maggie, Evie and Bridget.
Mike's Uncle Tom, His grown children, Thomas, Andi and Mary, Mary husband Shawn and their 2 children, Jay and brand new baby Jordyn, Uncle Tom's best friend's, Porfilio and Joan, and their two college age daughters, Sanina and Kayla, and their 10 year old son Travis. And later in the day, our old next door neighbor from our old house, "Mr Butch", came by for some pie and coffee. Did I mention we had pie? oh my goodness...forget the pie...we had so much food! Joan brought enough food to feed an army, Salad, a HUGE pan of homemade cinnamon rolls, cranberry relish, stuffing, pumpkin bars and fruit and cream cheese cake bars. Shawn made a big pan of homemade mac and cheese. It was such a spread! It was great to have everyone in our new home..something we did not dream we would be doing a year ago. After eating, everyone migrated to the hill out back and the notorious zipline. Who knew grown ups could be so entertained with a zipline??? All the kids (young and old) had a turn, as well as every adult, except for uncle tom, my mom in law and my step poopers!! Even the neighbors came down the hill between our houses with their thanksgiving company to try it out!!! We all laughed till we cried, then we went inside and ate some more! travis and Noah went fishing off our dock, and Uncle Tom broke out his guitar, as he always does. Andi's birthday was today, so we had cake and sang happy birthday to her. I think I caught some of my children absent-mindedly singing, "Happy dry panties...." It was a great day. I'm so thankful that my mom and stepdad could be here, and I'm so thankful for Mike's big family. And by the way, no one even noticed that the foyer floor wasn't finished!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sometimes you need a crowbar....

My mom and Step dad arrive from Florida today. They have not seen our new house, and we have all been working feverishly to get it presentable for their arrival, and also for the arrival of about 30 of Mike's family members for Thanksgiving day. Mike has been painting bathrooms, hallways and doors and ripping out bathroom sinks. He has been working 12 hours a day, this past week 7 days, and yet in every spare moment he has lovingly worked on this house for me.
I have been so thankful and purposeful in telling him how much I appreciate all his hard work...until last night. Yesterday, as I pondered what my day would look like today, here's what ended up on my list: laundry, sweep, mop, clean bathrooms, change sheets, vaccuum, dust, pick up a few things at kroger, and then get ready to head to the airport later this afternoon to pick up my parents. We have been straightening all week, so the house has stayed pretty clean-I was expecting a quiet evening last night, planning to sit down about 8:30 (after the babies were in bed) to work on my menu/grocery list and a to type up some trivia for some thanksgiving day games. Well, there's a Bible verse that begins, "We can make our plans.."
When Mike came home from work about 5:45, he immediately set to ripping up the carpet in our foyer. Some dear friends of ours have a flooring business, and had given us beautiful hard wood planks to lay in our foyer,along with tile for our schoolroom floor and kitchen counters. We've had all these materials for about two months, but due to one thing or another, we had not started any of the above projects. Until, of course, last night-hours away from my parents arriving and days away from a houseful of guests. Anyway, last night was the chosen time by my dear husband, who casually said, "this should just take a couple of hours." "Will you need any help?" I asked. "Oh, maybe just a little." Then the fun began. I was happily preparing homemade pizza, which Mae remarked, is ALMOST as good as Dad's, and Mike began to cut and tear up the carpet with his assistant, Noah. The previous owners had told us that there was concrete under the carpet, so when Mike yelled, "Hey!! come look at this!" Mackenzie and I both answered," Hardwood under the carpet?!?" No, no, no... what was before us was far more interesting..brick red linoleum-in shiny, pristine condition-the design was something that looked like flat rocks (red) with gray grout. Back in 1979, when the house was built, I'm sure many folks entered the foyer of this home and thought, "OOOHHH, that's some fine red rock linoleum you've got there!" And the original owners, I'm sure, beamed with pride. I took one look at it and said, "can you say, 1970 something?" Mackenzie said, "Can you say Brady Bunch?" Mae thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever laid eyes on and asked, "Can we just leave THAT floor?" Everyone looked at her and in unison said, "NO!!"
In hind sight, Mae may have had the best idea....Mike and Noah went to work attempting to peel up the linoleum. I guess I should have worried when Mike walked past me in the kitchen towards the garage and came back with an armful of crowbars and hammers Then the chipping and pounding began. The linoleum obviously was NEVER meant to be removed. I am certain it must have been glued down with pure cement, or something much stronger. A third chisel and hammer were added to the mix, and Mae began chipping as well-it looked like we were having an archaeological dig in my foyer. Lexie was picking up linoleum chips and filling a bucket with them, Norah was happily watching from her high chair, Mackenzie was waiting for her turn with th crowbar and I was just watching....watching linoleum chips fly all over the living room-covering the couch, table and floor. Watching chips fly into the kitchen-onto the table, Norah's highchair, into the dog dish...and watching as a layer of dust settled on everything in the house.
It would be great if all I was doing was watching, but I wasn't. I was thinking. It would have been great if I was thinking, "Wow, my husband is the best. I'm so glad he came home and started this today. He is so thoughtful. He worked all day, yet he is still thinking of how I want everything to be perfect for our company." But I am ashamed to say, that is not what I was thinking. I was like a pot put to boil on the stove..steadily growing hotter and hotter-thinking, instead: "I can't believe he decided to start this tonight. Now it's 10:30-I guess I can forget any of the stuff I wanted to get done tonight. He is so thoughtless for starting this TONIGHT! I am going to be so stressed out tomorrow trying to deal with this mess..and then the house is going to looked like a bomb dropped in it when my parents walk in...." Mike interupted my thoughts.
"I'm sorry...I had no idea this would be so hard to get up. You'll have to have the kids scrape up this glue tomorrow..and then hopefully I can get the floor laid Wednesday when I get home from work." I would love to say that was the point at which I realized what a big baby I was being and said, "yes, dear, of course!" But instead I blurted out, "You know, I DID have other things planned for the kids to help me with tomorrow. " The kids all looked at me wide eyed. I grabbed a crowbar and began to chisel at that stupid linoleum. We worked until nearly midnight, the floor was finally up, and everyone headed for bed. Sadly, I did not even think at that point, that I had been wrong. I had even called my mom and two friends to whine about what was going on at my house, and about my poor pitiful me status. Poor and Pitiful is absolutely right. This morning when I woke up, several HOURS after Mike had been up and out the door for a full day of work, I walked into the foyer and looked at the bare concrete. "Well at least that's done. " I thought, somewhat smugly. Then, I promise, as clear as if He was standing right next to me, It was as if the Lord said, "No.It's just the beginning..I've got soo much work to do with you-Where did you put that crowbar?" I actually stopped and just stood there a second. Then images flooded my mind of the potter at work at his wheel, creating, crushing, recreating his work...
I thought about every verse I had ever read about our tongues and our words....Every verse I'd ever read about plain old kindness. I had been given the opportunity to bless my husband as his helper last night in a project he really was doing for me, and I failed miserably. I had been given the opportunity to show joy and contentment in front of my children, and I failed. I had been given the opportunity to set my own selfish plans aside, and I failed.
It's funny how things like that happen when we think we're doing pretty good. I am ashamed that I acted that way. That I didn't heed God prodding me the whole time we were up to our eyeballs in linoleum chips and dust to check my heart attitude. I know he was prodding me, I was just refusing to heed. Iam humbled as I look at that floor, thinking of all the chiseling God has to do with me. Chipping and hammering and scraping away all the junk. I am so Thankful that he hasn't given up on me, that he hasn't even once thought, "you know, this stuff they used back in 1973, it's just too hard to chip off, I'll just leave it alone..."
Thank you Lord for your patience with me. Thank you for the dear, sweet and patient husband you've given me. Thank you for my precious children, help me to be a better example to them of your love, patience, kindness and gentleness.
This morning, I can already hear Noah hard at work..chiseling and scraping at the glue...just like his father asked. Lord, help me to listen better, and just do the things you ask of me.
I know today I need to start with asking for forgiveness from both Mike and the children.
Keep chiseling away Lord, So that there will continue to be more of you and less of me...

"Go down to the potter's shop, and I will speak to you there. So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as h e had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message, " O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand."
jEREMIAH 18:2-6

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

"You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls." James 1:19-21

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of God made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands." 1 Peter3:3-5

"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies, her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:10-12

"The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. For His unfailing love towards those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For He knows how weak we are, He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we `bloom and die. The wind blows and we are gone-as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. " Psalm 103:8-17

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Potty Training Makes You do Crazy Things...

When your 2 year old wakes up asking you to sing the "Happy Dry Panties" song, You've know you've crossed the line in potty training techniques. But amazingly, our spur of the moment idea has worked for the past week. Night one of dry panties had us doing an impromptu version of "Happy Birthday to You." complete with a candle in Lexie's mashed potatoes for having dry panties for a whole day. The next day she woke up asking for the candle,and the next day, and the next. The whole family has gotten into the act, and last night we had 5 candles in her baked ziti for each dry day. Lexie was so excited. She woke up this morning singing the dry panties song to herself. Should I be worried that at the next birtday party we attend, my whole family may inadvertently start singing, "Happy dry Panties, to you?" Well, I'm willing to take that risk....whatever works!!! I'm planning on posting some more recent pictures in the next few days. maybe I'll post one of the whole family singing to Lexie as she blows out her candles. And just for the record, if you try this at home, candles don't stand up very well in a mound of corn, or baked ziti!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Moving Day

Other new happenings since I last posted....we moved! We had been trying to sell our house for 2 years and finally in early April decided to take it off the market. We were tired of constantly rushing to get the house ready to show and get all the kids and pets out of the house. We were tired of that high that comes when the realtor says, "they think your house is the one." followed by the low when they just don't call back. I just wanted to get on with our lives and be happy in the house I was in. We had thought with all the growing we'd been doing, that we needed a bigger house, but obviously if God thought we needed a bigger house, he would have seen to it that our house sold. I realized I needed to just be content with what I had, which even for it's small space, was more than many families had. Mike stated, half joking, " If God wants us to sell our house then He'll just send us someone Himself-without the help of a for sale sign, without the help of a realtor!" A week went by. After church one Sunday some friends of ours remarked, "hey, there's a cute house in our neighborhood that's going to be for sale soon. We know the owners and we can call them if you want to go look." We rode with them past the house-beautiful-on a lake, big yard, in ground pool...but we told them, "first of all, we can't even afford a house in this neighborhood, and second of all, our house hasn't sold. " "Oh. it will." my sweet friend answered, knowingly. There was a "third of all" as well: another reason why we didn't feel right looking at that house. When we had first put our house up for sale, we had found out about an empty house owned by a lady we knew. We had looked at the house, and had determined in our hearts that that was OUR house. Over the course of the 2 years that followed, we formed a special bond with the owner, an older widow, who wanted nothing more than to have a family move into the house she had raised her own children in. Everytime we'd get a "bite" about our house, we'd call her. We actually went to contract on her house when we had a contract with a buyer for our house. But when the buyer backed out, we were devastated, and when we called to tell her, we reminded each other, that if God intended for the house to be ours, it would be. So, now, 2 years later, we were still at a point where we felt if our house sold, we knew exactly where we were supposed to be going, so what business did we have looking anywhere else? We kept telling ourselves, that we would know the house was not supposed to be ours when someone else bought it. Then, the phone rang. It was the sweet lady that owned the empty home we had had our hearts set on for the past 2 years. "I'm so sorry, but I sold the house. I wanted to wait on ya'll, but I couldn't refuse the offer." I told her we understood, and that if it were meant to be our house it would have been. I was fine. I was content....I was also thinking, this is great! now we KNOW it's not supposed to be our house....Until we drove by her empty house, that we had remodeled in our heads a million times, that we had sat in the driveway of on several occasions just praying that it would be ours...and when we drove by, the new owners car was in the driveway, and her lawn furniture was in the yard...and what did I do? Forgot all about being content and getting a HUGE answer to prayer and cried-just for a minute-then I grabbed hold of the fact that it truly was an answer to prayer, even if it wasn't the answer I wanted. Another week passed and Mike got a phone call. One of those phone calls where you hang on every word, trying to figure out who it could be...or maybe I'm the only one that does that....When Mike got off the phone he had a strange look on his face-half grin, half puzzled. "That..." he began, " was a women who wants to come look at our house."
He went on to tell me that the woman on the phone had gotten our number from someone she worked with. She had mentioned a house for sale near where he lived and asked if the co-worker knew of it.
Turns out, we used to go to church with the co-worker, and when she described the location of the house, he knew exactly where it was and who it belonged to!
I asked Mike when she wanted to come, and he said, "today, in about 20 minutes!"
Can you say, "FREAK OUT?!!?" The house was in major "lived in with 5 kids" mode-how was I going to get it straightened up in 20 minutes?!? Mike seemed to think the whole thing was just funny, and tried to calm me with, " She's not going to be looking at the toys on the floor." I wasn't thinking about the toys on the floor. I was thinking about the dirty bathroom, the 4 foot high lego creation in the middle of Noah's room, the dishes from lunch all over the counter and several baskets of laundry on my bed!!!!" I started to go into drill seargent mode.."Mackenzie, get the comet!" " Mae, stick the laundry behind the shower curtain!" But Mike calmly told me just to leave it. Do you know how hard that was for me?!? Everytime the realtor had come to show the house, I had been meticulous about the neatness of the house-even down to the angle at which the soap dispenser on the bathroom counter sat! Bedfore I had a chance to argue with my dear husband, Noah shouted from his perch on the front porch railing, "A lady's here in a black truck!!!" And so she toured our house, mess and all. Much to my surprise, she came back with a friend the next day! (The houses was clean the second time she came!!!!) She seemed genuinely interested, but I just shrugged it off-the dozen or so other people that had looked had been interested as well! She called us back later that day and made us an offer; an offer we couldn't accept, but an offer, nonetheless. We countered, and then waited. Several days later she called and accepted our offer, and before I knew it, we were all sitting down with her, signing a contract for her to buy our house! We called our friends from church, and told them we were ready to look at that house in their neighborhood. We looked at it, and then had a realtor show us a bunch of over the course of the next 2 weeks. I was going for BIG and remodeled, Mike was going for structurally sound and cozy. We ended up back at the first house in our friends neighborhhood. When we went back the second time, I was determined to point out to Mike all the negative aspects of the house...weird shaped living room, tiny bedrooms, odd bathroom....but instead it was like I was seeing it for the first time-I fell in love with it, and then had to apologize to my husband for wanting to bring him there to talk him out of it!!! There was still the issue of $$$$...this house still was way out of our price range. We both agreed that we wouldn't know unless we made an offer, so we did, and the week that we waited to hear back from the owners was horrible!!!! Especially because if they turned us down, we really did not have a second choice...the thought of looking at more houses made my head spin! Much to our surprise, the sellers were interested in striking a deal, so we signed a contract with them and then went on vacation for 2 weeks!!! We really should have been packing to move, but we had already been planning a trip to see my parents, and Mike said, "If we don't go ahead and do it now, it will be a long time before we get to take another vacation!" looking back, I'm so glad he insisted that we still take our trip...we definately neededa little rest and relaxation before the big move, and it was great to see my parents again. We also left there house with a borrowed trailer loaded down with tons of furniture-my parents were downsizing, and in there quest to get rid of nearly everything, we ended up with a ton of furniture for our new house!
August 1st was moving day-our dear church family and all their trucks and trailers, along with my sweet father in law and brothers in law helped us make the move. The kids were so excited. The kids couldn't wait to jump in the pool and sleep in their new rooms. It's been 3 months now, since we moved, and there is still much to be done. Everytime I look back, I am amazed at how God's hand has rested on every event, every milestone, every adventure. I am humbled when I realize how quick I tend to forget, when things get a little crazy, that He is in control. When I was fretting because it was just days until we had to be out of our house, and we still hadn't closed on the new house..I had forgotten. When I was freaking out because we were coming home from vacation with a trailer full of furniture and no where to put it...I had forgotten. When I thought
our house wouldn't sell...when I was scared to death that it had and we didn't have a clue where we were going....I had forgotten. Forgotten that each and every time, God was and is right there, saying, "I've got this...stop worrying."
"Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns;yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow: They neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glorywas not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe YOU? O ye of little faith?"
Matthew 6:25-30


Today is finally the day... and it's only been 8 months! So much has happened in our little corner of the world. When I last posted, little did I know that we were just days away from a major event happening in our family. Feb. 21, just days before my last post, a little girl had been born at the local hospital. We had no idea she had been born, no idea that she would soon come to be a part of our family, and definately no inkling of the way in which she would take root in all our hearts. We recieved a phone call March 1st about a newborn girl in need of a temporary home.
We said yes, and I was required to go spend a night with her in the NICU before we could bring her home. She was such a tiny little thing, and just beautiful. I remember sitting there in the hospital room that night, rocking her and thinking, "You will not be with us long enough for me to fall in love with you." And God laughed. I'm so sure he really did. I so intended to not be attached to little Norah. To just be her "caregiver" and not her mother. Not because I didn't WANT to love her, but simply because I didn't want it to hurt when she left us. Well, what was supposed to be a few weeks, turned into a few months. Mike and I had even decided that if she was with us for a certain amount of time, we would definately tell the folks in charge of her placement that they needed to move her. Well, that "certain amount of time" came and went 2 months ago. Our social worker, as per our request said, "Ok, so what day do we need to move her by?" And I just cried. I had so wanted to be in control of the whole situation, to be able to say, "this is it, you need to find a new place for her now, because if she stays any longer we will just be too attached to her." But I couldn't do it. I told the social worker I would talk to Mike and we would let her know. I think Mike knew all along we wouldn't be able to tell them, "come get her now." The same way he knew after Austin left, when I said, " I don't want to do this foster parent thing anymore," that I didn't mean it. So we talked into the night about what to do.
I cried some more (yes, I am a big crybaby), as I said to him, " I think it will take more faith for us to let her stay and let God determine when she leaves, then for us to say, 'Today's the day, it's time for her to go.' " We called the social worker the next day and said we wanted her to stay as long as they needed her to. And then I hung up the phone...That was 2 months ago, and we are no more certain about Norah's future today then we were then. But we are certain we made the right decision, and we have certainly fallen in love with her. Just as God knew, well before we did, that Norah would come to us, I must remain confident that He knows if and when she will leave. It is not up to us to "control" the situation; instead it is up to us to trust God and lean on Him, and love this amazing little girl for as long as she's with us.