Going through it {Welcome Baby}

“ You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it. Uh-huh! We’re not scared.”

That little mantra comes from one of my kids’ favorites books and it has been on repeat in my head for the last several weeks with one exception. The kids from the book who are going on a bear hunt bravely declare that they are not scared, but with timidity, I kept thinking about just how scared I was. I finally took a sigh of relief this past Friday.

Let me back up to the day that little mantra started playing in my head. I was roller skating, yes, roller skating with a bunch of gangly fourth and fifth graders from my son’s class. As we wrapped up the event, I asked a teacher to take a picture of an unenthusiastic Greyson and me. As she handed my phone back I noticed I had a few missed calls. They were all from the same unknown number, and I had a voicemail. The kids took the bus back to their school and I hopped in my car to head home. I was thinking that I hated the smell roller rinks left on your clothes as I tapped the speaker button to play my message.

It took me a minute to register that it was a caseworker from an agency near Detroit asking me to call her back as she had good news to share with me. Now, I’ve heard that it’s typical for the labor and delivery process to get quicker with each child you have, but no one ever said that of an adoption process. Yet, we had been through a four year process with Charlie, to a thirteen month process for Sawyer and now it had been six short weeks since we began waiting in this adoption. Surely, this was not the good news the caseworker meant, but I intended to find out. I called her back immediately.

Thankfully, I was around the corner from Ron’s office so I pulled in and headed to find him. He wasn’t in his office, but I took a seat at his desk and began to furiously scribble notes as the caseworker talked. Ron walked in a few seconds later with a confused look on his face, and I mouthed the words “BABY!” and pointed at my phone. Sure enough, there was a pregnant women who wanted to meet with us, and could we drive across the state next week? We could, so we did, and there we met the birth mom of our fourth child.

When we started waiting in September I just had to ask the average wait of families at the agency. I was given the politically correct answer that of course they couldn’t ever really say, but it seemed to be somewhere around six to fourteen months. I did the math in my head and liked where that put us, past the busyness of the holidays, past the trip we had planned to take in January and into spring or summer where it’s easy to get out with a baby. Yet, here we were meeting a brave, spunky women who had needed to find a family quickly for her baby because she was due in four weeks. Again, I did the math and asked “Your due date is on Thanksgiving?”.

We didn’t even wait those four weeks to meet our baby. While I was still trying to wrap my head around it all, I got a text from the birth mom one Friday morning. She would be getting induced. … today. Which was a little more than a week prior to her due date. Sometimes I wonder if God thinks its fun to mess with me. Kinda seems like maybe He does. This whole scenario was so far away from what we had envisioned, and lets be honest, what I had planned. I kept telling people when we started the process “I have no expectations,” and I certainly didn’t expect THIS.

THIS being that this adoption was not a clear cut situation. THIS being that while we were able to be there an hour after the birth to meet our baby, he would not be coming home with us. Yes, we were allowed to stay in the hospital with him until he was released, but he would be going to a host care (think agency foster care) rather than home to our family. Goodness, I cried about that. It seemed unfair. I have grieved missing the first year of two of my kids’ lives, and swore that this time it would be different. It was different. We could visit everyday, but there were strict rules put into place. We couldn’t be with him longer than two hours a day, less than that on the weekends, and our kids were not allowed to meet him or visit with us. Of course they had gone over all of these scenarios with us, but we were told it was pretty rare for a baby to go to host care. I just didn’t expect for both his birth mom and his new family to be leaving the hospital without him. Again, the little mantra played over and over in my head. “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, You’ve got to go through it.” And I felt scared.

There we sat; Ron and I in a hospital across the state falling madly in love with our tiny 5 pound 6 ounce baby, while his first family sat in another room just down the hall. We kept him with us at night, but he would visit her during the day. We visited with her too, met her parents, and her nana. We all cooed over the baby. It felt a little surreal. Then just like that it was time for her to head home. The lump in my throat grew as we wheeled the bassinet into her room for the goodbye. She picked him up and held him close, tears streaming down both our faces. Then she bravely handed him over to us and out she went. I can only describe this as the rawest form of true love I’ve ever witnessed. She put her own desires aside for the needs of her baby. She holds a piece of my heart.

We woke up the next morning in the hospital feeling anxious and discouraged. Today the host family would come to take our baby home. After a few restless hours, the caseworker walked in and immediately my lip began to tremble. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it.”

Ron says I am being dramatic here, but I don’t know how else to define what happened next. An extreme presence of peace was ushered in with the host mom. It was like Jesus walked in with her. She had a warm, welcoming smile. She empathized with us and although I bawled when she put my baby in her car, I was certain he would be loved. God has been so good to us. Our wonderful host mom told us to come as often and as long as we wanted, she sent pictures and texts daily, and most importantly, she loved on my baby. I don’t know what kind of person signs up to take on a newborns schedule, but they are some kind of wonderful. It wasn’t an easy couple of weeks, but this family certainly lightened the load.

Our final step in this process was court, not for us, but for the birth parents. Without going into too much detail, this is where all the issues came into play. Legally, certain steps must be taken in order for our baby to be able to come home. We knew there were concerns, but the agency felt they had a good handle on the situation. Forty eight hours before paperwork had to be sent, I got a call. The caseworker explained that things had not gone as planned, it was proving more difficult to get everything in order than originally thought. They had had a meeting with their legal team. If things didn’t turn around in the next couple of hours, court would need to be rescheduled. The caseworker said “if you have people willing to pray, I’d contact them now”

That is exactly what we did. One of my prayer warriors said as she was praying, “ Thank you God that you are in the midst of the details, that nothing escapes your eye.” So yes, we were going through it, but we were certainly not going through it alone. I am so thankful for faithful friends and family who covered us in prayers, watched our children so we could make visits a reality, and constantly checked in on us to see how we were doing. They helped carry us through.

Nine hours after my original phone call from the caseworker, late in the evening, she called again. They had a break through, they had dug up new information, and just a few minutes before she called me, all the time sensitive paperwork was completed. Only God, only God. We give Him the Glory for moving on our behalf. One week later, this past Friday, court went on without a hitch, and our sweet boy came home to brothers ecstatic to meet him. I choke up just thinking about all the emotional ups and downs we have experienced these past five weeks. When I asked the birth mom the reasons she selected our family, one of them was that she wanted him to have a large family filled with boys. She said “I think he will fit in great with your crew.” We couldn’t agree more. Marge, maybe not as much.

God never ceases to amaze me with His plans, His purposes, and His timing. We give Him praise for our fourth son:

Bennett Ray-Isaac Cook

A bat to the head and the scars to prove it {when good intentions go bad}

If you were to walk into my house at any given time (unless I know company is coming and I've hidden everything) you would find sports cards laying around. And even though they aren't allowed in the house, you'd find a ball. My boys like sports. Even my two-year-old is always wanting to play catch or shoot for the hoop. All year long we cheer at basketball, soccer, football, and baseball games. Thankfully, we've been injury free up until this past baseball season.

 

To be honest, I kinda hate baseball. The season is just so long. When it starts, we all have to bundle up and huddle for warmth as spring slowly enters Michigan. By the time we are finishing everyone is in shorts complaining that the bleachers face directly into the sun. Often, the games seem to be scheduled in the middle of nap time. We rarely make it to the 7th inning stretch without a fit because the snacks are gone, no more candy is allowed, and the toys we brought are suddenly "so boring".  Even so, there we sat this year to watch our oldest and middle pIay.

 

This particular game did not start until seven in the evening. Our team was up to bat, and since my boy had batted the last inning, I knew he wouldn't this time around. We weren't watching too closely because his little brothers were completely over it. They were busy running near the side field where we were standing. It was during that time when I heard a few people in the crowd take a sharp breath in. It was collective enough to catch my attention. I directed my eyes to the field and saw a little boy, right near the dugout, laying on the ground. I immediately thought "oh shoot, somebody, got hit with a ball." Before I had time to reassure my mind it couldn’t be Greyson. Another dad standing near us asked, " Isn't that Grey?”

 

 At age nine, my oldest is seeking independence, but sometimes he still wants his mom around. As we quickly walked closer to the dugout I was having a mental debate about whether  or not to go to him. Before I could make my decision, his coaches raced over. At the same time, I realized he hadn't been hit by a fly ball. He had actually been hit in the head by a swinging bat. Now there was no debating, my husband rushed out and swooped him up. 

 

Much later we learned that Greyson had noticed a bat lying on the ground. He had told me through tears that he hadn’t wanted a teammate to trip on it. He ignored the rule that you must have a helmet on outside the dugout and scrambled to grab the bat. What he didn’t account for, was that his team member was taking practice swings in the same area. Wrong place, wrong time. WHACK!

 

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t see the bat coming? Maybe your intentions were pure, but your timing was misplaced? Rather than take a step back and analyze the entire scene, you cannonballed right in. After all, you just wanted to help. Man, I’ve been there and I hate that place. Not too long ago I found myself smack dab in the middle of a similar scenario. It wasn’t until after I was lying on the ground in a puddle of tears that I started to ask God some questions.

 

When I did finally take some time away to pray, God led me to a really good book that helped me sort out my thoughts. Then he gently whispered to me, "I never told you to involve yourself there.”  The minute I heard that correction drop in my spirit, I felt a multitude of emotions. Embarrassment, anger, disbelief but also peace. My first thought was, “you’re just telling me this now?”  Even though I was the one who hadn’t asked in the first place, this project had taken up a lot of my time and I was feeling frustrated. Still, for the first time in a while, I had clarity and direction.

Weeks later, I was still unsettled. I was wrestling with feeling like a failure. The thing was, I had done a ton of work and helped in a lot of different ways and once I realized it was time to put that project down, I felt like a quitter. I don’t like to quit. Finishing strong and receiving praise and approval is much more style. I was having coffee with a mentor and giving her an update on the situation. I told her I felt dumb for missing the queues and that I was disappointed in myself. My mentor said to me, “but aren’t you glad that God loves you enough to not leave you in that place?”  I had let myself believe that God was just waiting to knock me down after I messed it all up.  But God wasn’t swinging a bat in my direction. The minute I fell under my self-imposed weight, He swooped right in. I was just too busy feeling sorry for myself to think of it that way.

 

The story didn’t just end when my husband carried our little man off the field. As we sat next to our son on the bench two women walked over. One was a nurse and she had brought us an ice pack, the other a Physicians Assistant. Both checked for signs of a concussion and took a peek at the sizable bump forming on his head. They offered solid advice and encouragement. After they walked away, I suddenly remembered my other kids. Seriously, how embarrassing. I jumped up from the bench and saw that the couple we were talking with had stepped in to help with them. One of my boys was playing catch and the other was being snuggled. Everyone was okay. Later that night, as I laid down in bed, I got a little choked up. All these different scenarios of what could have happened played through my mind and none of them ended well. We could have rushed to the hospital because of a serious injury like a cracked skull, a crushed eye or damaged ear. Instead, he just has a scar.

 

And do you know, my story hasn’t ended either. When I sat down to talk with God, His Holy Spirit offered me some solid advice and encouragement too. God placed people in my life at just the right time. When I compare my son's story with my own, it helps me better understand something that I learned years ago from a gifted teacher (thanks, dad). When it comes to dealing with the messes we can easily create for ourselves, it’s really important to grasp that 

 

 Correction is not rejection, it’s redirection. 

 

Isn't that so true? We all have scares. Sometimes they are easy to spot and other times we’re the only ones who know about them. But our scars aren’t there because of rejection. We’ve got to remember that our scars are there because they are a sign of our healing. Scares are marks left behind from the process of our Heavenly Father doing a good work in us.

I needed to learn a new language {so I saw a therapist}

Hi, my name is Erin, I see a therapist. Sometimes, I feel like that's the way I should start conversations. Then maybe if people hear or see me acting in a very particular or specific manner, they'd understand.  I sometimes hear myself repeating what I've learned in therapy and I think "you're a nut". The thing is, sometimes being a little nutty actually works. 

It started almost a year ago. I knew something had to change because the way I was, or wasn't, connecting with one of my kids.  It was affecting our entire family. I would try so hard to be what it was he needed, but not matter what I did, we just kept butting heads. It wasn't like every once in a while we'd have an issue, it was like every couple of hours.  You know when you flip through channels and land on one about animals in the wild, and they show two males fighting for dominance. You can't change the station because you're curious who is going to win, that was us. 

 So we set an appointment and we went together for a few weeks until we decided it was best if only I attended the sessions. I've had to stop saying we have gotten our kid help because if I am the only one going, it's safe to say, we're just getting me help. I don't really care how we label it, I was desperate and so was he. 

 We started out small discussing the problems and really just letting me vent my feelings and fears. Then she started to give me “homework”. This is where the nutty part comes in because I was told to use very specific phrases and words in a monotone voice and show no emotion. I keep comparing myself to that Will Ferrell skit from SNL.  "I SUFFER FROM VOICE IMMODULATION".  Funny stuff unless it's you. I felt so dumb and embarrassed because when my kid was flipping out and I'm dodging the items that were getting thrown in my direction, the only thing I was supposed to say was " I see you throwing your toys, I hear you screaming". 

It was like I was learning an entirely new language , and it felt odd rolling off my tongue. It took patience, perseverance and commitment.

After that lesson was mastered, we moved on. Next, we started conspiring to integrate actions with feelings. It’s really hard to connect with a child when they can’t articulate what is making them upset. His defense mechanism was to react in a negative manner, but I began to realize those were just red flags pointing us to deeper issues. It became my mission to insert words like safe, scared, kind, sad, tired, lonely and angry into all kinds of everyday events. Slowly, it started to work. He began taking steps to claim an emotion attached to a certain behavior. It blew my mind.

It was a different way to think and I am still working on remembering to practice this new language. Its been several months and now I can look back and see that the foundation for getting things headed in a positive direction was to learn how to speak to his heart. Really, truly the key to it all is letting him know that I see him and I hear him.  There is a lot of stuff that I just don't relate to about my boys. For one, they're boys, sometimes I just cock my head in disbelief at what they find humorous. Then we pepper in all that testosterone, fierce competition, need to be right and respected in addition to race and adoption components. I hear myself sighing often.  Out of the many ways I can't or don't relate to them the need to be seen and heard is not one of them. I completely understand that need, can't we all?

 While I’m not screaming and throwing things at my loved ones, I have learned plenty of ugly behavior.  Like with my boy, these behaviors are simply signs of a deeper issue. Sometimes it’s easy to get tangled in the web of lies that we are alone. It’s when the marriage is stuck in unmet expectations, or the body is yet to be healed. Times when our dysfunctional childhood spills over into our adult lives, and we wake up with anxiety and depression. It occurs when we are overwhelmed with our workload or the responsibilities of raising children. Certainly we have all looked around and felt anger at the injustice of a situation that fell in our lap. It’s hard not to get emotional when you had no control over decisions that have now greatly affected your life.  It’s then that we begin to question, why me? And we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are not seen and we are not heard, but that's not true. 


My Pastor once said “We have a God with Scars.” 


Meaning that we don’t have some religious belief system where we are constantly trying to prove our worth by being a good enough person. We have a God who already proved our worth by the shedding of His blood.  So when the therapist kept reminding me how important it was to speak direct truth into my little boys heart, I couldn’t agree more. The truth is: He is El Roi, the One who Sees. He is an intentional God, who purposely sent His son to us, so a relationship could be built with us and now dwells in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because He was forsaken, we can rest assured that we never will be.

The world tells us it’s okay to behave in certain ways, to allow our emotions to run wild, yet it leaves us feeling alone. Learning the language of the Word and applying it to the dark spots in our hearts, will produce transformation that can only come from the realization that we are seen, heard and loved far beyond what we can even comprehend. Even if we feel a little nutty in the process.

 

Timeout {I've got to ask my dad something}

My husband and I were standing in our bathroom having a conversation when our son burst into our room yelling for his dad. It is common in this stage of life for our conversations to be interrupted. Between three boys and a dog, someone always needs something.  In spite of this regular occurrence, his request intrigued me.

 

Our gangly, sports-loving boy was playing a game of one-on-one basketball with his neighbor buddy, and he was getting his butt kicked. His exaggerated expression and serious tone told me he was feeling pretty frustrated. Expecting him to complain, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him ask his dad for advice. I listened as he explained all the tricks that were already tried, but had failed.  My heart swelled that he thought his next best move was to call a timeout and ask for his dad's advice. 

 

The man I married is an incredible dad, and he truly shined in this moment. Rather than telling Greyson, our son, to try harder, he asked him what he knew to be true about the situation. Greyson stated that his friend was taller and could shoot better. However, Greyson was faster.  Next, my husband asked the advantages of being faster. The conversation continued a few minutes longer and ended with them running plays around our bed.  Greyson walked out more confident and ready to implement all he had just learned. 

 

I don't ever recall doing something like that when I was little. I'm pretty certain I just convinced my friends to play games I knew I could win.  The whole scene stuck with me for a few days. I kept thinking how proud I was of Greyson. His emotions could have taken his actions a number of different directions, but he chose to get help.  Ever play against a sore loser? A person that lets anger or jealousy get the best of them. I can distinctly remember a time when I was winning at monopoly and my opponent didn’t like it. Rather than strategize their next move, they just flipped the board up. Paper money and little gold tokens fluttered to the ground, game over. Or sometimes people just give up. They don’t see a quick win and decided it’s easier to quit. Honestly, in the game of life, I sometimes look more like the sore loser rather than one seeking out a fresh perspective. I was humbled by my kid and I wondered, what if I put into practice asking my Father for help when I couldn't figure out the next move? And what would He say to me?

 

I believe the conversation would greatly resemble the one that took place in my bedroom. My Heavenly Father would not placate me with a quick answer, but rather point me to what is true. And there is no better place to find the truth, but in His Word.  The Bible is like the worlds best playbook and reveals answers to my questions when I am struggling. Taking the time right in the middle of the "game" to simply ask for some help would not only change the way I played the game. It would change me.

 

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
— James 1:5

 

I would be able to walk out confident and equipped for whatever comes next because He too, is an incredible dad.

 

 As Father's Day draws near you may be reflecting on your personal experiences with your own dad. Maybe he was really good at answering questions or perhaps not. It could be you didn't know your dad or what you did know of him, you disliked. In any case, the good news is that  Our Heavenly Father is the kind of dad that lavishly loves. He will always take the time to show you the right play. All you have to do is ask.

 

{The very best advice}

Middle school was a little rocky for me. One minute I was experimenting with blue eye shadow and the next I still felt like playing with barbies. I got braces, and learned to shave my legs, and suddenly noticed boys in a different light.  It can be an awkward stage of life and I often relied on my mom for advice.

I remember over the years specific times when her advice was pivotal. In seventh grade, I really wanted a two piece bathing suit, but simply put, I was chunky.  My mom took me to the store and I tried out a lot of suits. She finally said very kindly, "maybe this isn't your year for a two piece".  Good advice.  In high school, my senior year was tough. Girls can be ruthless, and I found myself lonely and misunderstood. She made sure I knew the difference of remaining kind, but not getting walked all over.  More good advice. Later, when the choices in life were bigger and more important, she would listen and then hand out words of wisdom. But the very best advice my mom has ever given to me is: let's pray about this.

Now I'm the mom, and as a mom, I've done some things exactly like my mom used to growing up. While other times I've decided to do things differently. In any case,  I often feel the pressure of caring for three boys day in and day out. Parenting is such a huge responsibility, but each day we are given the opportunity of repeating small acts, which can eventually lead to a big impact.

 Small acts are another thing I learned from my mom. She had a way of subtly bringing up Jesus all throughout the day. We used to have a pool, and we loved to swim. Often she would say things like "my goodness, isn't Jesus clever for making water good for our bodies and fun to play in."  Or each time we pulled aside to allow an ambulance to speed by or happened across a traffic accident, the first thing she did was ask who wanted to pray for the people involved. By consistently bringing up ways to acknowledge our heavenly Father, she was teaching us kids a form of communing with Him all day long. 

That is the kind of example I want to be for my kids. My mom was not perfect. I am not perfect, but isn't that where Jesus works the best? If we wake up in the morning, and hand Him our day knowing that without His grace it will be impossible to get through, He meets us there.  

If we, as moms, are created in His Image then we have the ability to be used by Him every single day. Since His Holy Spirit resides in us then we have the power to introduce eternal perspectives on our kids' circumstances. We get to show our kids each and every day what abiding in Jesus looks like. Not by huge gestures, but in quiet whispers. Cheering them on at sporting events, taking an interest in things that interest them, or slowing down to simply be with them. Rather than trying to change our kids to be become the people we want them to be, we can love them exactly the way God made them to be. Not by being wonder mom, but by teaching them through our own mistakes and flaws that God's love for us is unconditional.

 Each one of my kids is a unique individual with specific needs. So I have read a lot of books and searched out a lot of advice regarding parenting. Yet, the best advice I ever received still comes from my mom. She exemplified Jesus beautifully when she consistently taught me to take the matters of life and bring them before God in prayer. Thanks, mom. Happy Mothers Day!

 

You're not you when you're hungry {Jesus satisfies}

I took a deep breath and walked toward my four-year-old whose crying had quickly escalated into a full blown screaming fit.  This middle child is an intense one and has no problem expressing his deep felt emotions in loud, challenging ways. But this particular morning he was very hungry which did nothing to help his mood. We have a term for this kind of behavior in our house, “Hangry.” 

 

You know those Snickers commercials, the ones that show a person acting very unlike themselves until someone else hands them a Snickers. After taking a bite, the person magically transforms back to themselves and then the slogan comes on the screen

 

 “You’re just not you when you’re hungry. Snickers Satisfies.”

 

That describes hangry perfectly, and for my kid, he gets unreasonable, angry and crabby when he’s hungry. Let’s just say he comes by it honestly. My husband can come home and see me frazzled or tell by my less than kind responses that I need to eat. That’s the way our bodies work, we can’t expect to be nourished the entire day by eating one meal, but rather, a consistent refueling all day.

 

I started to think about that specific thought and related it to my spiritual life. Because unfortunately, my hangry tendencies not only affect my physical body but my spiritual one as well. I find that I compartmentalize my time with the Lord. For example, if I get up and read a devotional, pray or spend a few quiet moments with Him, it’s like I can check that off my list for the day. However, I would not consider doing that to my physical body. I wake up and eat breakfast, but a few hours later my stomach informs me if’s time for lunch. How then do I expect to get through my day when I am starving myself spiritually?

 

I am the bread of Life
— John 6:48

 

 

As I walked over and picked up my little boy, careful to avoid his swinging legs, I sat down with him and helped him eat. Within a matter of minutes, it was clear his sugar levels were evening out. He was much happier and even smiled, but he needed to be fed in order to get his attitude into a better state.  And while I don’t have physical temper tantrums, sometimes in my mind I’m kicking and screaming. That’s why it’s so important for us to be feeding on Him, the bread of life, all day.

 

To bring our hurts, anger, fear and doubts to Him. Letting His Word replace them all with His good promises.  I need to remember to let Him pick me up and take me on His lap. Allow Him to feed me, bringing nourishment to my soul and correcting my behavior  at the same time.   

 

Snickers might be on to something with their slogan except I would argue it this way:

 

“You’re just not you when you’re hungry but Jesus Satisfies.

The Christmas song that used to annoy me {Mary did you know}

With two kids' birthdays just around the corner, I've been reflecting on their lives. Where they currently are, and the hopes I have for their futures. I think a lot of moms do this because I've noticed a trend on my social media pages. Many of us post a picture of our little one with a Happy Birthday message not only about how great our kid is, but also acknowledging  all the things that encompass motherhood. For example, some of us say, "to the one who made me a mom" or "my life is so much better with you in it" and " you've taught me so much".  Because welcoming a baby into your life changes your whole world, and I've been thinking about that this holiday season.

You know that Christmas song, "Mary did you know?" It used to really annoy me, it goes on a little too long and gets a little too whiny for me. Since becoming a mom, I can actually appreciate the words in the song.   If Mary were to know all the things Jesus was sent to fulfill, would she have agreed to be His mother? 

 

I wonder what she saw in him as they both lay there, recovering from birth. I wonder if she imagined all the things his life could hold as she counted his ten wrinkly toes.  I bet her dreams for that tiny bundle, who smelled so sweet, never matched up to how his life actually went. I wonder if at times when he was growing, she stood there completely perplexed by him. He would have been so different from every other child. Never giving her a reason to discipline him, never talking back or acting out. Would her proud post on Instagram have been a picture of Jesus teaching in the temple?   #hesonlytwelve #sayshesaboutHisFathersbusiness 

 

Somewhere in the back of her mind did a mother's intuition cause her to be just a little unsettled? At what point in life did she begin to realize that her son, the Messiah, was nothing like the images she had in her head. The ones of the promised King. After all, in Jewish mindset, this King was coming to vindicate. I imagine that to them, vindication did not look like a battered body, hanging on a cross.  

 

It almost seems like a cruel joke. Mary mothers a truly perfect child only to watch him grow up and be hated, mocked, judged, tormented, beaten and eventually brutalized until death. All right before her eyes. And for what? She must have wondered for what? Because Mary didn't know, she didn't know the ending. 

 

Do you ever feel like Mary? Confused by Jesus and His ways? Does it ever feel like life is going the exact opposite of how you imagined? Are you having to walk through situations or maybe watch as others, who are close to you, go through tough stuff. Are there things in your life that bring grief and pain?

 

I've got em, those issues, those questions that are sometimes asked in disbelief. Everybody does. But here's the difference between Mary and us.  We know the ending to the story. Yes, this life is hard, and often it's different than what we expected.  But this story, which is filled with holy mystery, and is not always easy to comprehend. This story did not start in a manger and end in unmet expectations on a cross.  Those weren't the final chapters. It was just the beginning.

 

So when Mary had her baby, he didn’t just change her world. He rocked the entire earth. He  reached out toward the outcasts rather than looking away.  He loved the unlovable. He fixed what was broken. He healed what was diseased. He redeemed us by conquering sin and death. 

 

His name is Jesus!

 And because His story ends in triumph, ours does too.   

 

 

Accepting help is sometimes hard {for me}

I used to work at Cygnus restaurant before I got married. It was by chance that I got the job. I had gone to a mass interview process for jobs at the Devos Place and was pulled aside to interview for the hostess position at the upscale restaurant on the top of the Amway hotel. I got offered the job that day and worked there for about eighteen months leading up to my wedding. It ended up being a fun job.

Sometimes I witnessed a marriage proposal, often times families were out celebrating something special or business people were wining and dining their clients. The job was easy; just show the people to the table, smile and make sure you used the phrases they taught you in training like "my pleasure" and "certainly Mr. so-and-so." Never point your finger but always use your entire hand to gesture.  I came to recognize the executives high up in Amway that frequently dined with us. I learned the names and faces of our regular clients. One in particular always caught my attention.

He came in about once a month.  He always requested a particular table and dined in on a weeknight when we weren't as busy. He was curt, but polite and always carried a book. He just sat comfortably and read, enjoyed his dinner and left. I was told he tipped well. I always thought to myself " Who does that? Who has the time to come in every month to an expensive restaurant just because?" 

Tonight, that was me. I have actually never sat alone at a restaurant and eaten, but tonight I found myself with a good book and an even better glass of wine sitting at a table for one. A few nights ago, I dropped a full bottle of water on my toe. I immediately dropped to the ground and started sobbing. No joke.  I mean it actually hurt pretty bad, but sobbing is a little dramatic for a toe. My husband, who is a pretty smart guy, just let me cry it out. I went and took a hot shower and came out all blotchy, red-faced and swollen eyed. We sat next to each other for a few minutes before he broke the silence by telling me he had booked a hotel for two nights and he expected me to go, alone.

I said no. I gave every excuse in the book why this was impossible. He had work, I had to get a child to an appointment, there was a book report due, football practice, Sawyer has not been home very long, Charlie isn't sleeping and so on. He just sorta glanced at the water bottle then back at me. He said,  "I don't want to argue about this, but I think you could use a break." I still said no. But here I am, sitting in a hotel room with me, myself and I and it's a little awkward.

I don't think I have been by myself overnight anywhere for years. I've been away, I've had vacations but I have always been with someone.  I don't really know what to do, I have a hard time just sitting at home, so this is a struggle. Which sounds funny because I don't know how many days a week I think about just getting a few minutes alone and here I am alone. 

Last week at church we had a special guest, he was really good, and I keep thinking about what He spoke on. He taught about receiving and how it's just as important or maybe even more so than giving. After all, how can you give if you never receive anything? Of course, I had heard this before. You must be filled up spiritually in order to give to others. Quiet time with God is essential for getting through your day. Fill your tank so you can go somewhere etc. But he said something  that I have been thinking about since that service. In the context of the sermon, it was something close to " The inability to receive is actually a sign of arrogance." Hmph.  

He shared that God had been laying on his heart to start a community of generosity. His merchandise was available to buy after the service, if you couldn't afford it, but wanted it, just tell the people working the table.  They would simply give it to you. If you could afford it and afford to pay for someone else's, then do that. If you could afford it but God was telling you to receive one for free, then go ahead and do that. He told a story about a wealthy lady who had bought a bunch of merchandise for herself and had bought even more to donate. She went to leave but was physically unable to exit the building. Crying and in tears, she went back and asked for a free book. She had so much in life, she didn't feel she had the need to receive.

Receiving can be hard. I think, for me, it's hard because it means I am lacking something. Why is it so hard to ask for help? Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be able to ask for help because my family is healthy, my husband has a stable job, we live in a nice house, we have food in our cupboards. I feel as though I really don't deserve to ask for help. And I don't know why I feel that way, but to me, it's a reflection of what I can't handle. My Type A personality really struggles not handling things. I have a real need to be doing something. Whether it be for God or others. I am always praying, "God, what can I can do for you?" I just didn't expect him to say, be still and receive. 

So when I heard that in certain terms not asking for help is a sign of arrogance, I felt a little twinge.  Could it be that my unwillingness to ask for help and taking the time to settle my soul is actually a sign of disobedience? When I thought about it that way, I agreed to a few days away.  My husband was being sensitive to the Holy Spirit when he set this up for me. (He is awesome)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack for nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake

So could a dinner alone be an act of obedience? Can receiving a break for a few days away be steps in humility? And is it possible that just being still before God is really all He is asking of you right now? I think yes. What a Father! One that is able to understand my heart and my anxious thoughts. He adjusts my view and opinion not by condemnation, but in a quiet whisper.  I am so thankful for His help.

Who's my Dad?

My dad, he is one of the goofiest people I know. For one thing, he thinks his jokes are funny and often times they are, but he gets this look on his face right before he shells out a one-liner, and it completely gives him away. You know he is going to say something funny because of that look. 

Growing up he was and still is a good dad. I remember him throwing me up in the air and saying "whoosh, whoosh" over and over again until we were both out of breath. On Sunday's, he would come into my room to wake me up and I would ask for five more minutes, to which his reply would always be "okay, but just because you're the princess of the world." This tradition carried on until I moved out of the house at nineteen. Even though I am in my thirties with three kids of my own, he very rarely calls me by my given name. Instead, I still answer to Smooch, just precious.  

I remember clear as a bell one Christmas we were delivering gifts to a family whose father was in prison,  my dad and mom used to be involved in prison ministry at our church, and there happened to be another child in the home that we weren't aware of.  We didn't bring a present for him and these presents were the only gifts those kids would receive. We got in the car after the drop off and with tears in his eyes, he said he couldn't stand the thought of the little guy watching the others opening gifts. So off to Meijers we went to buy a toy.

 He has a compassionate side to him that I love. He also has a rigid justice side to him, one I inherited. This is good and bad because we can both struggle with lending mercy to those we feel have treated us or others unjustly.  I know these things about my dad because I've spent time with him. I'm confident about the type of person he is, far from perfect and with flaws like the rest of us, but a good dad.

The thing I love most about my dad (and mom) is the introduction they gave me to my Heavenly Father from the very beginning of my life. My dad is a studier of the Word, he prayed with and for me often as I grew up. He can still be found on their couch with a book, bible and study bible out just soaking it in, his familiar handwriting scribbled all over the legal pad that lays next to him. And I think because of this, I love to do the same thing. I love my dad, but that Abba Father he taught me about, He is truly incredible. 

Recently, I've seen a connective theme in sermons at church, a book I am reading and a devotional. Typically, when I see this commonality within numerous areas of my life, my "spiritual ears" perk up.  I try to figure out what God could be teaching me or what new facet about Him I can learn.  But it's hard to get to know someone unless you spend time with them.

This theme that keeps repeating itself to me involves confidence, not in myself, but in God. Numerous stories from the Bible keep popping up regarding people believing God is good, no matter what and that His intentions towards them are also good.  Take Martha, Lazarus's sister for example. Lazarus dies and Jesus knew he was dying and He didn't come to heal him like she had asked.  And when Jesus finally shows up days later, she says to him "even now" (John 11:22) I believe if you wanted to heal him you could. How'd she have that confidence? To believe that although her brother was already dead, He could raise him back to life.  And that whether He chose to or not, she still loved Him.

Or we could think of David, long before King preceded his name, he was stuck with sheep. But that same shepherd boy had the confidence to look a giant in the eyes when no one else was willing to and challenge him to a dual. My pastor recently taught on this and emphasized the fact that David even went as far as to ask Goliath who he thought he was, attacking God's people. This teenager was average size and the Bible describes Goliath as over ten feet tall. Where'd he learn to trust God like that?  All that time watching sheep, David spent praising and talking with God. Tim Kellers devotional on the Psalms if filled with reminders that David had gotten to know God well enough that when He told him to do something seemingly insane, He did it.

I want that, I want to know my  heavenly Dad in that way. Like  Martha, David, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, etc. These people were put in extremely difficult situations and yet after listening to the voice of the their Father, came out alive and confident in His Goodness. It's not that He changed the situation for them, but rather He proved that He would sustain them through it. Over and over again, He renders himself trustworthy.

And maybe thats a hard thought for some, trusting a dad. Maybe you wish you could have a better dad, or you never knew your dad. It could be that your dad is the cause of years of hurt and pain. But this is different, the hurt and pain that is inevitable when dealing with other humans is non-existent with Him. Because on earth even the best dads are flawed, but He is perfect.  I just love Chris Tomlin's song Good, Good Father, especially the opening lines:

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night. And you tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone. You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are...

Do you know that? That this Fathers Day you can have joy because He is pleased with you and you're never alone. He deeply desires for you to get to know Him. It's a vulnerable thing, letting Him in, but I'm learning to treasure allowing Him to be what He was always intended to be in my life.

I appreciate all those dads out there past and present who exemplify the Father's love regularly  to their families, my dad and husband included.  Happy Fathers Day!

A bittersweet pang

Yesterday, I took all three kids for a walk after school.  We've had Sawyer home for nine days and I hadn't taken all three of them out together.  I certainly had not taken them out with Marge.  She is like an amazingly high maintenance fourth child.  One that requires a walk every day or she goes bonkers.  We have had a lot of rain which means not a lot of walks.  It was inevitable, I was either going to lose my mind or just bite the bullet and do it.  So, we headed to a park where Marge can run off of her leash and expel her boundless energy.

 

The walk was going okay, but then Sawyer didn’t want to be in his BOBA on my back anymore.  I let him down which decreased our speed.  Next, Charlie decided that his walking stick would be better used as a “whack your older brother in the head stick.”  And then chaos ensued.   All three were crying.  I kissed the head of one, took the stick from the other and tried to soothe the third.  Marge had gotten twenty-five minutes of running, that was enough!  I half dragged Charlie towards our car since he was throwing a fit about the stick, and as we rounded the curve, we all stopped a little short.  There in the parking lot and spilling over into the entrance of the park were souped up trucks, a large party bus and tons of teens dressed for prom.  My first thought included a four-letter word. 

 

I took a deep breath, got Marge on her leash and we all started walking toward the mass of tuxes and sparkles.  We walked past the group of kids and I felt a bittersweet pang.  I stepped outside myself and wondered how did I get here?  How did my Friday night outing become dragging three kids for a walk with the promise of pizza afterwards?  When did I become the mom?!?  I guess what they say it true, blink and ten years( give or take a few) have passed.  I can hardly remember what it was like to be carefree. 

 

 

When I was younger, I babysat all the time and it always amazed me how grateful the parents were when I would bathe the kids, put the dishes away and make sure the house was picked up before they got home.  The moms used to say that it was so nice to come home to a clean house. I didn’t get all the hype.  Driving home I would think about having a family someday and how I wanted a bunch of kids because taking care of kids was easy.  Then I would get home, lay down in my bed, and enjoy hours of uniterrupted sleep.   So naive and ignorant.

 

Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. The shift lasts twenty-four hours, all three hundred and sixty-five days of the year.  Some days I wonder what I was thinking, picking this.  But I did pick it.  Eight years ago we decided to try for a baby and thirteen months later we were given the gift of Greyson.  Then five years later, after fighting tooth and nail, we were given the gift of Charlie.  And just three weeks ago and in really  unexpected ways, we were given the gift of Sawyer.  All three are true gifts, not really mine, but given to me to steward.  It’s a humbling thought.  One I don’t always remember to be grateful about.

 

There are days when I forget to let the seven-year-old be seven by telling another “hilarious” fart joke, quoting sports facts and asking me to watch just one more trick.  I forget that the three-year-old is just three.  The things he gets so worked up about are relative to his stage of life, his little hands are capable and strong but only so big and still require a lot of guidance.  The baby, so sweet but constantly taking apart drawers, emptying contents of cupboards or whatever else he can get his pudgy hands on.  I forget that he is learning, discovering his world by touch.  All I can think about some days is how many hours until bedtime.  When will I get a few minutes of quite and reminiscing, as I did the other night at the park, about being young and free? 

 

But that young and free was just a season, a gift of youth.  And this too is just a season.  These days, which are filled with messes and tears, but also giggles and silliness.  Just a season.  I am certain that in reflecting on my life today and thinking, "Wasn't I just the one getting ready for prom not too long ago?"  That in a flash, I will think back to these current days with fondness and also a bittersweet pang.  My oldest had some questions about the teenagers dressed up and I told him that in a few short years when he was in high school, he would get to go to prom.  And oh my goodness, he will.  How can that be? 

 

So this season of constantly being needed, of lack of sleep, of stepping on legos and trying to keep my patience but also one of open mouth, slobbery baby kisses, being given dandelion bouquets and reading bedtime stories to soapy-scented little bodies.  This exhausting season is a gift.  Today especially,  I am incredibly grateful to the One who gives me these gifts.  For His faithful love and care for me so that I can love and care for mine. 

 

This mom gig is not always so pretty, but it is beautiful.

Whatever season of motherhood you're in:  Happy Mothers Day!

Ours

Little buddy bravely joined our family today, although to us, he’s been ours since we got his picture nine months ago.  I found a quote a few weeks ago that resonated so strongly with me. It’s been on my mind the last few days as we prepared to travel. It goes like this:

 

Your identity is simply who God says you are

Love it, especially for all our boys. Before they were anybody else’s, they were and are His. 

 

 Over the past few years I have come to dislike the phrases: “ so lucky”  “how blessed” and “saved”  in regards to adoption. While I understand them and typically they are well intentioned, they leave a bad taste in my mouth. Mainly because we are the lucky ones for getting to add another adorable boy to our family. We are blessed to be chosen to parent him and Jesus already did the saving, so I will just do the parenting through His grace. 

 

It’s true our family has been made by unconventional methods, but the way they came to us, does not make them who they are, it’s just one part of many that make up their story. To us, they are just our sons and today we added a third to our family.  

 

He is doing pretty good, lots of crying right after we got in the taxi but he calmed down once we brought him into our hotel. We have not seen a lot of smiles although we did hear his little voice a few times. We were told that his foster family has been preparing him and telling him about this next step in his life. They are awesome! 

 

We got to meet the foster dad today as he came with the mom to the agency. They broke my heart, so in love with our boy. We gave the mom a bouquet of flowers although there aren't really any proper ways to truly thank her. We walked out with four bags filled to brim with stuff and she made food for Sawyer for the next few days. Everything was neatly prepared and put in containers.  Naturally, I was crying when it was time to say goodbye. His foster dad took his cheeks in his hands and planted a big, huge kiss on his forehead, whispered to him in Korean and stood back. At first his foster mom did not want to hold him again. I had picked him up and he was doing well in my arms, so she didn’t want to disturb him. I told her “really it’s okay” and she took him and held him close as tears filled her eyes. A tight squeeze and big kiss then we all walked to the elevator and he was handed back to me. He cried and cried as did I. Such wonderful people!

 

He has done very well, ate dinner and played in a bath. He cries occasionally but is really doing excellent so far. We are just waking up and slept okay. I included some pictures of the flowers, beautiful flower shop, "american" section at the grocery store across from our hotel and of course him.

 

Welcome to our family Sawyer Nathaniel Harang Cook 

 

 

 

They said four weeks...

It’s good that I can type this journey out and don't have to talk to everyone to share it. Right now I have a bad cold and if you could hear my voice, you might mistake me for a chain smoking man. So I am thankful for words on paper.

 

Last week I talked with my caseworker as a follow up from our first trip. We also discussed some legal documents regarding Charlie and his legal name. I’ll spare you the boring details, but seriously if one division of the government could talk to another division and they could all get on the same page, that’d be great. Enough said. So, when she called me yesterday, I figured it was a follow up from our previous conversation.

 

She asked how I was after hearing the condition of my voice over the phone and I explained about the cough thing. Then she said, “well get better soon because you are due back in Korea two weeks from today.”  That news did not help my cough. After getting myself back under control and clearing my voice, all I could say was “WHAT?”

 

With Charlie, they told us to expect 4-6 weeks. It went just like they said, we had been home almost four weeks when we got a call that we needed to be in Korea in about ten days. They told us the same thing this time. We've only been home ten days. We booked flights last night for thirteen days from now.  We will be home with Sawyer six days after that. This process!! It’s so hard on a person who likes to plan, like me. But my goodness, am I thrilled! He is coming home!

 

So last night as I lay on the couch, willing my body to get better, for the fifth night in a row. I got thinking about God. I just really like Him, even if He keeps throwing me curve balls. Why is this time around going so fast compared to last time? I don't know. Why has this time been pretty seamless and last time it was as crooked as can be? I don't know.  What I do know is His faithfulness is the same. 

 

You might remember my post about us believing to get Sawyer home in November. That didn’t happen, another thing to add to my “I don't know why” list. You might also remember me asking for prayers because we were told that best case scenario we would hear something in March and worst case scenario would be June. I was devastated and worried because we had vouchers from last year's Spring Break that had to be used before April. All I could see was situations out of my control, but if I’ve learned one thing, He works best where I have no control.

 

Here’s what He did in those situations.

Less than two weeks after we were told March would be the soonest we would hear anything, I got a call telling me we moved through that portion of the process in record time.

Six weeks after that, while at a retreat about adoption, I got our travel call. 

Instead of hearing something by March we traveled IN March.

 Ten days after being home (yesterday) we got our Visa call. 

We will be home with our third son before May.

Last night we went to book our flights and found out that the remaining balance of our vouchers (they were worth almost $6,000) were, in fact, still useable. They expire in five days. 

Ron came out after talking on the phone with the flight desk for over an hour and said: “guess what our grand total is?” I hate guessing games and I can hardly talk so he just told me. Six hundred bucks, which includes us riding home in FIRST CLASS!! The only time I have ever ridden in first class was when we got bumped up on a pretty short flight a few years ago. It was awesome, this will be more awesome. The attendant told him for some reason it was actually cheaper given all our miles, points and vouchers to do first class. Ron didn’t argue. 

 


My best case scenario falls short compared to His provisions. Do you see why I not only like Him, but trust Him?


 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know this next part is difficult, I am aware of what raw grief and fear look like in the eyes of a baby who doesn’t know what is happening to his world. I know that sleepless night and long days are coming. These times take a toll on marriage and families. I don’t deny that while this all sounds fun, most of it is not.  Adoption is costly on every level for everyone involved.  But since He has proven himself over and over and over again, I can say with confidence, I know He will be there for this, too.  

 

Thank you all for your prayers! I don’t really know how to express what they mean to us, but it’s a lot. This next part is the hardest, especially for Sawyer. It seems that most people think that the process of getting your child home is the journey. When in the fact the journey is just beginning. Please continue to pray. 

"Behold, I am the lord the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?"    Jer 32:27

 

Next Stop. Korea!

His cheeks are legit

I'm sitting in my hotel room the last night before we fly home, without him.  Him being the little, squishy boy I had the pleasure of meeting this week. Boy number three! In some ways these last few days have been a whirlwind, in others, time moves so slow. The day to day of finding ways to fill the hours until our next chance to meet him or court session are long, but the times of importance when we get to be with him are fast.

 

Of the seven full days, we spend in this country, only two hours are spent with him. The first hour was spent at his foster home, which was lovely. The second hour was spent a few days later at the adoption agency, not as lovely.  Monday we arrived at the agency at 9 am and found out that his home was a forty minute cab drive away from where we were. So, the caseworker loaded us into a cab and away we went. We drive through the city of Seoul, out onto a highway and towards a suburb just outside of Seoul.  A few more turns here, some stop signs there and we pull up to a building. It all feels so real and surreal at the same time.

 

  “His house is just there, on the first level” our caseworker points as she leads the way towards the door.  We don’t wait long after knocking before his foster mom opens it. She must have been watching for us. So much is going through my mind. I wonder if she feels the same way too. This is not an easy thing, and it’s her first time fostering any child. We are not the only ones with mixed emotions.

 

 I remember to slide my shoes off before walking through the door  and there dressed in a black and purple sweatsuit stands my third boy, Sawyer Nathaniel Harang Cook. He is adorable!  In the pictures we have of him, he appears to be big,  especially his cheeks. Everyone who has seen his pictures always says “ look at those cheeks.” In reality, he is little and very much a baby, but the cheeks, they are legit. 

 

One look at me and he begins to cry and I think I might as well, but instead I just crouch down and say “hi”. He is not impressed and runs to his “ Eomma”,  which is mom is Korean. He drags a bag of Duplo blocks behind him. We all sit on a mat on the floor.  We exchange some pleasantries, give them some gifts, but I can’t really wait anymore. I reach out to brush my hand against his head. This causes some more crying. He was very wary of us. I imagine he has never seen people that look like us. An emotional, blonde haired, white girl, invading his personal space, but I brought bubbles and that piques his interest. We blow and pop and play for a bit until he grows tired of them. Then he and Ron play while I ask all sorts of questions to get a handle on his life. I want to know his likes, dislikes, schedule and his favorite things. 

 

It turns out he doesn’t really care for beef, will tolerate pork, but loves chicken and soft white bread. I can’t help but laugh, he’s my twin.  He also loves the outdoors, dogs and playing with his foster brothers. I feel a bit of the tension in my shoulders release. He is going to fit in so well at home. After we are served some strawberries and juice he lets me hold him, he even waits for five full seconds before letting out a wail. That was okay, it was enough time for me to snuggle his neck and plant a kiss on his cheek. The clock moves so quickly and already it's time to go. Some waving, bowing, kissing and a thank you then we’re done. Not too bad.

 

On Wednesday, we get to have our second meeting. This time at the agency.  He is already there when we arrive, drinking his bottle. He is preoccupied so it’s much easier for me to hold his hand and rub his head. Eventually, he finishes and I pick him up. He pouts his lips out and makes a whining noise, but I ignore it and bounce him around. He’s not happy about it, but he lets me continue to hold him.

 

 We go to a small room off of the hallway. Our caseworker says that the foster mom will stay the whole time and that we can play with all the toys in the room. It’s awkward and hard to play with a baby that really just wants to go to his mom. He doesn’t cry as much as we expected and we even get a bit of a laugh from him. He is quite shy and very serious. It’s as if he can sense that his life will soon change. His foster mom kept giving him bouncy balls and telling him to bring them to me , Eomma. I absolutely hate the look of question in his eyes. He looks confused at her when she points to me and says “Eomma”.  My heart sinks at what is to come, so much heartache. He loves her, as he should, and he has no clue that in a few weeks his world will be flipped upside down. There is no way around the pain, we must walk through it, but not yet. Soon the hour is over and I attack those cheeks with kisses. I thank his foster mom  again and wave goodbye one last time.

 

Finally, Friday is here and it’s court day. Back to the agency we go. This time, we pile into a van along with two other families. We travel a few minutes until we reach the court building. We sit for what seems like forever before they start calling us in. Each couple must go in by themselves. We are told our judge is new to the adoption side of Family Court, but that he is a kind man. We find this to be true. Through the interpreter, he asks how we will manage three kids, as “that’s a lot”. I feel myself squirm a little. I don’t have the answers and I assume it will be how I handle most things in life, prayer and chocolate.  You take it one day at a time, right?!? 

 

He has a few more questions, he asks me in particular some things about raising children and then asks Ron why we have enough land for a farm, but he is a funeral director and not a farmer. Ron handles himself well, meanwhile, I’m like the little kid in school who’s trying not to let the teacher see them laugh. I just keep picturing myself with livestock…

 

Then that’s done as well. We walk out and into the subway system. We have thirteen stops before the station to get off at our hotel. Mostly, we just kinda stand and stare into space. I feel tired, it’s been a big week topped off by a big morning. I am so thankful that it’s all gone well and as big as some of these moments are, I have a much bigger God walking with me each and every step of the way. He is faithful and I lean on that as we travel back home while the chubby cheeked baby stays here. 

 

While a lot of the trip is serious and emotional, not all of it is. We have had some fun. Seoul is hard to explain. It’s just huge, with people everywhere! There are also plenty of things to do and see there. We’ve hiked mountains in the dream forest, walked among ancient palaces, visited the Olympic park, explored a traditional village, strolled along the hundreds of shops, drank tea and sampled all kinds of different food. The cultural experience is amazing. 

 

 A huge highlight of our trip was traveling to Busan,  where Charlie was born. Because as if meeting your third child is not emotional enough, we decided to see where our second child was born. Have I mentioned how tired I am?  Busan is a coastal city with a very different vibe from Seoul. It is a really beautiful place and I treasure getting to see it. I feel so privileged to have caught a glimpse of this amazing place and these wonderful people.

 

Mostly, I am just so challenged and grateful to God through this journey. It is so much more than I could have ever imagined.

The sheep at the hospital

About three weeks ago my little guy had surgery. I have learned that he internalizes things, so I struggled with when and how much to tell him. On one hand I wanted him prepared about going to the hospital, but on the other, I did not want him worrying about any of it. I was doing enough of that for both of us.

 

It doesn't seem to matter what you know about the medical field, when it comes to your own family, you worry. Ironically, I have worked for an ENT for the past several years. I know enough to be dangerous, and that is probably not a good place for a mom with a kid that has a chronic ear, nose and throat problems. So, yes I knew that this was a routine surgery, and yes they almost always go very well. It's the times when they don’t that worried me. It was remembering all the little faces that would come into the office where I worked after having just recently had tonsils removed. Tired, pale little faces that hold their necks pretty stiff because I imagine it hurts their throat to move. I know it typically gets worse before it gets better. That in addition to Charlie reacting poorly one other time during surgery had me worried. I hate worrying and yet I seem to be really good at it.

 

I decided to casually mention that his throat and nose and ear all needed to get better and soon he would go to the hospital so they could. That was about a week prior to surgery. Then we happened to be driving past downtown and I pointed out the children's hospital. Just subtly getting it into his brain. Finally, the night before, Ron and I told him tomorrow was the day. We were going to go to the hospital and both mommy and Charlie were going to sleep there for one night. He seemed fine. He has had two previous surgeries so this was not a totally new experience. We all slept well and off we went in the morning.

 

After we pulled in and got registered Charlie went from walking on his own to wanting to be carried. He was chattering away, but then got much quieter. It’s like he realized something big was going to take place, and that made him a little bit nervous. Maybe this hospital thing wasn’t exactly what he thought it was going to be. Soon we were taken back, vitals were checked, the terrible fitting hospital gown was put on, and he was given some medicine to “keep him calm”.  Basically, they make your kid a little loopy so they aren't so aware when they are wheeled into a big, intimidating surgical room. It's funny and you kinda need the comic relief.  He was just laying on the bed, holding the stuffed animal they had given him. He looked at me and asked “mama stay?”  I said, “yeah buddy, mama stays”.  Then the surgeon came in and the anesthesiologist who wheels Charlie back. I watched him connect with Charlie and make him laugh, but I also noticed my little guys eyes darting back to me. And again the question “mama stay?” and again I assured him that I was not going anywhere.

 

We walked as far as they would allow us and twice again Charlie asked if “mama stay?”.  It’s hard to say yes when they are telling me this is the furthest point I can go. I said, “mama is staying right here in the hospital with you and I will see you in a bit.” The anesthesiologist made the bed become a race car, and off they zoomed both giggling, loved that man. We were seated in the family waiting room with all the other people waiting for word on their little ones. I was doing better than I thought and I think that’s because of the devotional I had read that morning.

 

Basically, it was about Jesus being our good shepherd. The reason he could be such a good shepherd is because He has also been the sheep. The main scripture text was Psalm 23 and the message after was titled “Peace in the Midst”. How timely for me as a mom to remind myself that Jesus has been through it all, even death, and I didn’t have to fear. I found myself thinking that all morning I had been saying the same thing to Him as Charlie had been to me. Charlie was saying “mama stay?” and I was saying  “Jesus Stay?”. 

 

 The difference was Charlie’s concern was legitimate since I was only permitted to go so far. Whereas my concern came from a place of fear because I forgot to remind myself who He says He is and what He says He does.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not fear, for you are with me. Psalm 23:4

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you: he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6

It’s something I need to remind myself of a lot. Between surgeries, travel and court date for an adoption, adding a new little one to the already busy mix, and the list goes on. I find myself anxious and feeling overwhelmed.  Are you in that place too? Feeling fearful about something?  Could it be that it might have to hurt a bit more before it gets better? Are you aware of just enough of the bad to forget the good?

I might have to read those verses aloud daily in order for my heart to be able to rest in the truth. And the truth is that we don’t have to ask Jesus to stay with us. He’s already there and He isn't going anywhere, ever. 

GOAL!

I think that both gyms and authors must love January.  It’s around this time, when a New Year begins, that we all feel the need to make some resolutions.  Everybody has those extra pounds they will absolutely lose this year, and that gym membership is going to jump start the process. 

People decide that they don’t want another year like the previous one and buy a self-help book to transform themselves.  Maybe others invest in a budget app because they don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.  We are busy making goals and plans in hopes for a better future.  And for the most part, that’s a good thing.

I guess I do try to set some resolutions.  I’m not always great about getting healthier. I really don’t mind working out, I like the way I feel when I do, but I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth.  Put a cake in front of me and my goals go out the window…sigh.  I can make a conscious effort to read more, slow down and be more present with my family.  I am a “set goals” kinda girl.  I love checklists!  The nerd in me absolutely adores crossing things off of it.  If I start a book that is a real page turner, I’m staying up until 3 am to finish it.  I can’t simply clean certain rooms on certain days. I’m going to clean the whole house at the same time.  I struggle to sit at night if my kitchen counters are not clear and all toys are not put away.  So, it’s either goals or maybe I’m a Type A personality, but, either way, I like things getting done.

Goals are good. We should set them, but sometimes I wonder if once they are set, we become so focused and unwilling to deviate from them that we miss what God is trying to do with/through us.

In looking back at this past year, I realized it turned out so differently than how I planned. We knew we would like to adopt again, but in no way would it be from Korea. This decision had everything to do with me and nothing to do with God. In fact, I didn’t ask His thoughts on it at all. I made the decision based out of my past experiences.  Then I went to a conference last February called IF: ( side note, if you have not been, look it up, find a local church hosting it, and attend. You won’t be disappointed)  Towards the end of the conference they had you do some soul searching. Basically, what was God saying to you about you, your life, and Him in your life. They asked that whatever it be you write it down.  

Consider Him. That’s the impression I got. Consider Him in all things. I felt like God was saying “Maybe just consider that what I have for you is different than what you have for you”.  It’s hard. I like my plans because they are all about me. It’s a work in progress because some days, I just don’t want to consider Him. My flesh desires self-promotion and self-satisfaction.  He desires me to lay my life down, but by doing so, I pick up something so much better. 

I have often thought that when people used to say that, “ He has something so much better” they meant in material gain. Like I just wanted a warm coat for the winter but then God blessed me with boots, too. There is truth in that, His blessing on the small things. His concern for our everyday life, but I think “the better” is really more about Him. For example, the things we have gone through in our adoption processes (mostly Charlie’s) were awful and it wasn’t that God was going to make the process all smooth and easy for me that was “ His better”.  It was what He was revealing about Himself, His ability, and sovereignty to move in my situation. That was “His better”. 

I have never been closer to God than while adopting. In fact, about six months after Charlie was home I thought. Well now what, God?  Those years were a roller coaster for my emotions, but my spiritual life was at an all time high. Funny how that works. When you are willing to do something that to you seems impossible, unlikely and difficult. That’s when a God full of never-ending possibility shows up.  Some of the toughest stuff I have walked out in obedience, are also the times I felt nearest to God.  And in all of those situations, adoption related or not, I wouldn’t have picked that for me. I would always pick easily attainable, healthy, non-suffering, happy-go-lucky every single time, but where does that leave God? How can I show a hurting world He is ABLE if I am not willing to walk down a painful path, and let Him sustain me through it?  How can I step outside myself, and consider that maybe my situation is not just about me. Maybe, I am the vessel He is using for a greater purpose. 

 

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

The hard stuff

The ugly stuff 

The I hate this stuff

The I don’t understand You stuff

The I don’t want this for me stuff

 None of it even comes close to the “ Oh, look what you did there…. for me, for them stuff.” 

That’s what I want more of, but  I also joined a workout group, started a new devotional, and will try to play more WITH my boys, rather than sending them away to play.   I hope I’ve made some good goals for this year, but more importantly, I pray that I am resolute in His will for my life. 

Not the call I was expecting

This is not the post I was expecting to write.  I was expecting to be writing an excited post filled with travel information.  Instead, I am feeling vulnerable and struggling to form words for my thoughts.

July seems like a long time ago.  We received a referral in July.  It included a picture of a chubby baby that we now call our son.  After formally accepting our referral both Ron and I felt an urge to pray for November.  I didn't receive a whole lot of instruction, just pray.  In August, I started reading the book The Circle Maker.  It's an excellent book, I really enjoyed it and felt spurred to "Pray Big" as the author put's it.   So that's what I did, I prayed daily and fervently for a November court date.  I took notes from the book and felt like I was reading it for this appointed time.  After all, we felt such a heavy impression to pray for November.

The last day in November came, the call did not.  This past Friday I was working the Christmas Shop at our kid's school.  I am on the committee team for the event because any committee that entails large amounts of shopping, is exactly where I should be. So I had to be there most of the day. Midway through the morning I checked my phone and saw that I had a missed  a call and had voicemail from my caseworker. My pulse quickened and my palms started to sweat.  This was it!  I just walked out of the gym leaving my station and the kids to pick out whatever gaudy gift they wanted.  I couldn't wait.

Once outside the gym, I hit play and listened to my message.  My caseworker rambled on and on about an urgent email they received from Korea the night before.  We were required to get a new set of fingerprints.  This time from the FBI, not Homeland Security even though we had a set done a few months ago.  Those were irrelevant now.  She wondered could we get this done ASAP, could I call her back to discuss, could I do this all by Monday?  Our paperwork was up to move forward but could not unless we got this done.  It was a short window and she did not want us to miss it.  Again, this was not exactly what I thought I would be hearing. 

I finished out the afternoon at school, helped clean up and went home.  I called Ron and told him everything.  I then set up the appointments (thankfully this could be done the next day) and put Charlie down for a nap.  Next, I just sat down on the couch, perplexed.  I am still perplexed.

Not only did we not get a travel call, after talking with my caseworker I found out that best case scenario we might travel in March.  Worse case scenario we will travel in June.  I sucked in my breath and said "June, seriously?"  She went on to say that all the families ahead of us had waited eleven months to travel and June would be eleven months for us.  JUNE!   The warmth of June seems so far away from this chill of December.  I have no idea why we felt such a need to pray for November.   We really believed God would do it.  I still know He could have done it, but I just don't understand why He didn't.  Especially after all the confirmations we saw during the month of November.

We received three cards from different people in November.   They all said that God had laid us on their hearts and they were praying for us.  We also had a young woman approach us while we were walking Marge at a park.  She admitted that while she felt uncomfortable doing this, she believed God wanted her to pray for us.   She wondered "Was there anything we were specifically believing God for and could she pray over us?"   For real, that happened!   In addition, through a series of random events we were informed a local church found out we were adopting and wanted to support us.  We do not attend this church. Last week a $2,000 check arrived in the mail from them.   For real, that happened, too!  God was moving on our behalf left and right. 

As I sat on the couch reviewing all of this in my head, I wondered if I had missed Him completely?   Did I interpret His will according to what I wanted it to be?   I had spent the last six weeks with a restricted diet as a form of fasting.  Not so that He would do what I wanted but as an act of faith in accordance to what I believed He was doing.   Why did I, a girl who has an unhealthy love of sweets, give them up?  Was it all for nothing?  I wish I had some clear answers, but I don't.  Do I feel sad, mad and confused?   Heck,  yes and then some, but do you know what else I feel?  I feel thankful, grateful and assured that He is still good.

Thankful because after I sent out a text to our families with this update my dad called me a few seconds later.  I answered and he just said,  "Smooch, (apparently I can't outgrow that nickname) I love you."   Then he listened as I cried, encouraged me and pointed me back to the goodness of God.  He's a keeper.  My mom called as well only she was mad about the situation. The kind of mad that lets you know she loves your kid like you do and wants them home too. It's endearing.  Then came the text from Ron's sister.  She, more than most, knows what it's like to spend time on your knees speaking the Word of God over your child.  She encouraged me as well.  His parents let us know they would continue to pray, too.  I then texted my two dear friends who also happen to be neighbors.  One came walking across the street moments later with a bottle of wine in her hand and embraced me in a hug.  The other showed up later that night with an entire cake.  Clearly, the sweet fast is over.  Thankful for them all.

Grateful because while this was not what I had wanted to hear, it is news.  We now know where we stand and where our paperwork is in the process.  The not knowing is brutal and now I have some direction.  That is more than I had before I got the phone call.  As Ron reminded me, at least we are moving forward, slowly, but forward none the less. 

Assured because through the roller coaster of emotions I felt on Friday, I also felt Him.  He never leaves, ever.   He was there when I wasn't ready to talk with Him about it and He was there was I ready to yell at Him about it.  He is good even if I don't understand His ways.  I can trust Him because he has proved His faithfulness to me over and over.   He is worthy of my praise simply because of who He is. 

Now, I have a choice.  Over the last few months, I had purposely carved time just about every day to pray.  Do I continue to sacrifice other things to find time to spend with Him?  Let's be honest, It's easier to make the time when you think doing so might help you reach a goal.  Now that I know that is not going to happen will I try as hard to meet with Him? Heart Check...

Maybe I will never know what all of this praying was about. Maybe I will find out in a few months that something specific was happening in November and my part was to be obedient  and pray it through. In any case, while this is not at all how I hoped it would go,  the time spent in His presence is.

 

What the heck is "Orphan" Sunday anyway?

I talk and wonder. I read and wonder. I search and continue to wonder. As I am talking and reading and searching, I am also trying to be very careful. Careful to be sure what I say is clear and accurate. I want to give voice to issues but not say too much. To inspire, but not shame; making sure what I say has a positive effect on the little boys that call me mom. I want to do right by them, but most importantly, I want to do right by Him.  So, I'm nervous because I talk and blog about a group of people that I am not part of and that leaves me wondering what exactly should I be saying?

It's November and if you are someone involved in adoption or foster care then you know that this month is about awareness. This month is the month that churches in our country host "Orphan Sunday". Not gonna lie, I hate that title.  It's not a bad title, it's just that most of the time it's an inaccurate one.  I like the term Adoption/Foster Awareness better.  I struggle with the title because our kids, who we added to our family through adoption, are not orphans.  They have birth families living around the world, people who could someday show up and into our lives. I do know that some children are waiting because they are in fact true orphans. In either case there is a need for a home.

A few weeks ago, I got up and spoke at my church. My goal was to inspire other people to open their eyes, hearts and homes to children who need  them.  I was instructed by the pastor I had been working with to sit in the second row of the sanctuary. Some time during the middle of praise and worship I turned and looked around. We attend a large church, there were a lot of people in both services. I was nervous. Later after it was all said and done I realized that the crowd was not what I was nervous about.  My nerves came from my desire to say the right thing. I am still learning what that looks and sounds like. 

I read a lot on adoption. The last few books and articles I have read scare me to death. They consist of viewpoints from adoptees themselves. They include first hand accounts of adoptees thoughts and feelings.  Some of it is so good and some of it is so sad and all of it makes me second guess myself and blogging about adoption.  Yet, the fact remains, too many kids do not get to experience growing up in a family. So, what's a good balance of bringing people into awareness about the need and not making it about any one individual child? I repeat: I am still learning what that looks and sounds like. 

I am hoping that in sharing my heart about the journey of adoption, I have not overshared about my own children. The story of their life, is just that, theirs. But the prompting of the Holy Spirit that moved us towards action and involvement in adopting is ours. This is a balancing act with  some pretty heavy packages.  

What I want it to look like is this:

- The journey I share is honest and raw. It is packed with emotions because we are dealing with God's most important creation, people.  

- The words I say are kind, considerate and filled with grace. 

- God's faithfulness is revealed in both the lives of the adoptive parents and the adopted child.  

- It does not involve me telling every little detail about any of my kids.

- It does not involve any one "right way" for my kids to process, grieve, share, not share, care, not care about who they are and how they came to join our family

- It does include me relying heavily on Jesus and His Word, daily.

That is what I want it to be, but I know that mistakes will inevitably be made along the way. Mostly, I want to glorify God and protect the heart of my children at the same time.

So, lets be aware. Aware of the need and the way we present it. Aware of adoptees and their right to privacy as people, not as a campaign.  Aware of the questions we ask and things we assume. Aware of the parent's who are protecting the children they love. And as we navigate through our lives let us be aware of our Heavenly Father. For He meets us all right where we are and loves us just the same.

At least I had a choice

Greyson had the stomch flu not long ago. He was pretty miserable the first day. It was no fun and I hated it for him.  At bedtime that night after the shower was done, the jammies were on and he was tucked snugly into bed. He began to cry.  I rubbed his back and looking into his tired eyes, I asked what was wrong?

Hunger. He was hungry and exhausted.  Since being awoken by sickness the night before, anything that had previously filled his stomach had been emptied out. The fever had not broke all day. It seemed the last twenty four hours proved too much as the cries turned into sobs.

He couldnt understand why I wouldn't let him eat.   He didn't know his body needed sleep.  He needed comforting.  I felt a little helpless in that moment.  I couldn't offer him anything more that some cuddling and reasurance that tomorrow would be better.  Finally, he settled down and fell into a much needed sleep.

I walked back upstairs and began to cry myself. Not becaues I too was exhausted, but because a few days earlier I had watched a video about the countless displaced people on the other side of the world. The clip kept circling in my mind.  I saw the first hand account of people reaching solid ground after being at sea.  Packed like sardines in a tiny little life boat, they risked all they had to find safety for their children.  I had been thinking about the clip for days and seeing my boy crying and in pain made me think of those kids.

I thought about the little girl who's father just handed her off to complete strangers, asking them to please take her to safety. I can't get the images of that little boy out of my head. The one so similiar in age to mine.  His lifeless body washed up on shore.  The article I read about the women and her husband who worked like slaves for months to save up enough money to pay the travel fee. They were capsized at sea. Her husband saved her and other women by giving up his life vest. She will spend the rest of her life missing him.



 

My son was just downstairs safe in bed. He was getting the rest he needed as the bug worked it's way out of his system.   At least I had a choice to withhold food for a few hours so his stomach could settle. That's not the case for those kids.  The only choice for them was to trade one dangerous situation for another. Just as I felt a little helpless as to how to help my son when he cried.  I feel completely helpless as to how to help those running for their lives.

 

And if this tugs at my heart, it makes me wonder how He feels watching His children suffer. 

Since the problem is so far removed, often it's out of sight and out of mind, but it shouldn't be. We should be looking at these people as Jesus does. Dearly loved and deeply treasured. That brings up the question, now what? Here I am,  what can I do? So, I compiled a list of organizations that right now have boots on the ground. I can't be there but they can. They are showing the love of Jesus by offering blankets, food, a place to rest, a hug and prayer. People who might never know Jesus are catching a glimpse of Him in these workers.  I love that! I love being able to know the Light is being shown in this dark situation.

 Give because you can. Pray like their lives depend on it, because they do. 

 

www.samaritanspurse.org

www.convoyofhope.org

www.preemptivelove.org

www.A21.org

www.club1040.com

 

 

 

*photos are from Humans of New York, NY Times, CNN, rescue.org  and video from Samaritans Purse

 

 

 

 

Prayer Warrior's

We adopted a baby. Well, I thought he would be a baby, but after nearly four years of waiting he was closer to a toddler. It was a grueling process with a lot of roller coaster moments. The biggest moment came while we were in our son's birth country, but that's also when a few prayer warrior's showed up.

The list of things that went wrong or took longer than expected while we were adopting is too long to cover.  If I were to recap them all, you would get bored, but I assure you it's many. The good news is after almost four years we finally received a travel call and a court date. We traveled half way around the world to meet our son. Origionally, we were only suppposed to travel one time. It should have been a quick trip to pick up our son and bring him home. Over time though, the government decided that the regulations should be changed and that two trips were now necessary. 

That's hard to hear. You wait and wait and think that when your time comes to go, you get to bring the baby home.  That wasn't the case for us. We still waited and waited, but then we had to go and meet him, have a court session, fly home, wait 4 weeks for approval, fly back and THEN take him home. You dont really get a choice or a say in the matter. You do what you have to do. So we did.

I received an email midway through our fist trip. We had met our son for the first time the day before and were madly in love. I was still running on adrenaline when my inbox flashed that a new message had come in. I openend it and read that once again regulations had been changed. Now, in order to have your adoption finalized, you would need a full psychological evaluation. I immediantly thought this would not apply to us. We were in country and had our court date in 2 days. There was no way this would apply to us. Turns out it did. Unless you had already had your court date, this would apply to you. We were 48hrs late. 

The real issue was that they were still figuring out all the details of this new rule. The list of test's they were going to require would not only cost thousands of dollars but were only available in certain states in the US. We would have to go home, wait until they figured all the kinks out and then schedule our testing. We were told it could take up to 6 months to finalize.

So, here we were going for a second visit with our son the very next day and now realizing that it might be months until we would get back to see him again. Months of him growing without us. We would miss even more milestones than we already had. He would bond even tighter to his foster family. We cried, we got angry, we called our caseworker, we cried some more. Then we stopped and knelt down and talked to God. Next, we put a plea out on the blog for prayer. Like really intense prayer! We asked for people to believe with us that a miracle would take place and we would be exempt from this. The peace of God filled our hotel room and we rested well that night.

The next day was tough. I held that sweet little boy and cried my eyes out not knowing when I would get to hold him again.  The following morning as we geared ourselves up for our day in court, three women texted us saying they were on their knees praying. This is a big deal because not only did they take time to talk to God on our behalf but it was the middle of the night at home. They lost sleep, they dragged themselved out of bed, they showed up half way around the world, for us. I tear up now just thinking about it.

We found out that we were meeting with the kindest judge and all the agencies loved working with her. Our caseworker and interrupter accompied us into the court room. The whole thing lasted about 7 minutes. Then we waited in the hallway for about thirty minutes. Our caseworker came out and said in broken english "I do not undertsand why, but the judge feels that you have been treated unfairly and she is waving you through. The judge is exempting you from these new regulations". We really couldn't believe it. It happened though, her ruling held firm. We went home the next day and returned 4 weeks later. This time we traveled home with our son. 

I learned after our court session that almost 30 other families were meeting with judges that day. Of the thirty families only the three that saw our judge were exempt. Not only did some prayer warriors show up on our behalf but God showed up too. It reminds me of the verse that says " where two or three are gathered in my name, so I am also".  Showing up for one another does not always have to be in the physical. We can be on opposite continents and different time zones. There are many ways to show up for another. I am so humbled and grateful for those women who did show up in prayer for us. I am much more sincere now about actually praying for others when they ask for. It touched me so deeply that someone would do that for us.

 

Sometimes I just forget

I love Little Critter books.  The accuracy of life with kids detailed in the books often reminds me of things going on in my own house.  Mercer Mayer, the author, does such a great job of capturing the thoughts and actions of children.  We own "Just A Little Critter Collection Book" and the title of books included in the collection crack me up.  There's  "I was so mad" , "All by myself" and "Just go to bed". My favortie is "I just forgot".

Life can be so busy. It's easy to get caught in the cycle of everydayness (I know, not a word). Kids need to eat, dogs need to be walked and bosses expect us be at work on time.  I often find myself running through my never ending mental check list. Pick up prescription, respond to the email, write the check for school, pick up snack for soccer team...  on it goes.  My mind is so jammed up with to-do's that sometimes, "I just forget".

In the book, each page describes things the little buddy remembers and forgets. Like he remembers to brush his teeth but forgets to make his bed. He remembers to wear his rain coat but forgets his boots. He was only going to eat three cookies but forgets to count, this happens to me too. As I was reading it the other day I thought about all the things I forget.

I remember to grab a quick kiss from my husband as he heads out the door but sometimes I forget I am the lucky girl he picked to marry. That it's so much more than a partnership, it's a holy covenant. That we not only love each other, but we really like each other too.

I remember to bath and feed my kids but sometimes I forget to just enjoy them. To listen at all the hilarious things coming out of my seven year olds mouth. To watch in wonder as my two year old grasps another concept.

I remember to complain about the laundry and the dishes, but forget that having to take care of them means we have plenty of clothes to wear and full bellies.

I remember to look into the mirror and see the new wrinkles on the forehead, judge the way some things don't look like they used to. I forget to be kind to myself.

Towards the end of the book after listing all the things he forgets.  Little Critter says that there is one thing he never forgets. He always remembers to have his mom tuck him into bed and he always remembers to kiss her good night. This statement caused me to pause. In the list of things I forget in a day, do I remember all the things Jesus does and says concerning me?

Have I forgotten that He is the God who sees me, in all things. He created every inch of me with care. Do I remind myself that the promises of His word are for me. He is alive and active in this world; if I am willing to pay attention. He has a purpose and plan for me to accomplish and it's good.

 That's my prayer, I want to be like Little Critter who at the end of the day never forgets the one thing that is most imortant to him.