Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Amazing Will

Will has an awesome trumpet tutor and has been working so hard on a solo for Solo and Ensemble.

His hard work paid off as he received a 28 out of 30 points!

A superior rating!

Tonight, he was able to perform his solo at the High School Band Concert!

He loves to perform and I love to watch him. 

However, I apologize in advance for the shakey video...

I was SO nervous for him!!!

 

The Lord is so good and we are so blessed.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Caleb...

Can I just say something about my "baby boy" who is the "middle child" of 8 siblings, is taller than me and is getting ready to graduate...


Caleb may not win all the awards and he may not get officially recognized for the decent young man he is becoming but let me tell you, he is kind and responsible and mature and he is my quiet helper.

He doesn't seek the spotlight but he does seek truth and justice and peace and order - which is hard to find in this house of crazy

He has not been your typical high schooler and his quiet, reassuring presence will be so missed next year as he begins to seek his purpose.

So while he may not receive much "official recognition", I see him and those who love him see him and the Lord sees him and sees his heart and in Caleb's quiet, unassuming way, he will change this world...

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Inspired and Broken

It was two years ago today and I will never forget it. I never doubted her determination but there were times I doubted those legs of hers. She is a fighter and she is strong, so much stronger than I. She teaches me about sheer grit and fortitude and compassion and joy and grace, lots and lots of grace.


It took Lucy a long time to finish this race but she never gave up. If you look in the background, you will see the entourage of police cars and firetrucks that silently followed, cheering her on as she doggedly fought for every single step!


I realized today that there are so many moments that inspire and shatter all at the same time and it is typically after those moments, in the quiet of my solitude that my composure fails and I am broken. I look at this picture and I am filled with awe for Lucy's gift of determination and I am filled with gratitude for so so many who "have her back" and yet I am crushed by the fight and the weight of the challenges and I would not change any of it!


It is in those moments of weakness that the Lord shows me His strength and I am renewed and Lucy is a gift and I am grateful to feel because I - am - feeling!!

Friday, April 30, 2021

One Day...

What a difference a day makes...

For Will, one day made all the difference...

He was one day from aging out...

one day away from life in the "second orphanage"...

There is so much left unsaid...

so much left unwritten...

maybe "one day"...

For now, I just want to share just a small part of the blessings that come from allowing God to work through "yes".

Lord you make beauty from ashes and use the broken and we are forever changed and forever grateful

Saturday, April 24, 2021

I Am From...

So Maggie wrote a poem... 

and it was hard and it was good...


and it brought me to my knees.

Organizing her thoughts into understandable words is a struggle.

The effort it takes to transform those words into coherent sentences is considerable.

Taking that effort and twisting it into a poem is extraordinary but I have learned to expect extraordinary and while that extraordinary was celebrated, it is not what brought me to my knees.

What brought me to my knees was the poem that formulated in my heart, the poem that could have been...

I Could Have Been From...

I could have been from where the darkness hangs above me.

I could have been from where the beds are comfortless

and the smell of hopelessness wafts all about.

I could have been from where the green grasses are absent 

and the trees are only for those allowed outside.

I could have been from where the hungry homeless dogs 

overcome fear for food.

I could have been from where laughter dare not exist

and where love slowly fades into survival. 

I could have been from where faith is persecuted 

but Almighty God lives and weeps and moves and grows.

I could have been from where very little is wonderful and learning is not for me.

(Church) Where . are . YOU...

Y'all, this "could have been" for all of our precious children from Ch*na and all we did was say "yes". 

However, we did not rescue them, we are blessed by them as our "could have been" is just as hopeless, it's just a gussied version of hopeless.

It's that version of hopeless that the American church slaps some lipstick on while living their "best life".

Why does abortion continue to be the number one cause of death in this country, year after year?

Why do children wait for foster homes?

Why do foster children simply exist in foster homes never hearing about Jesus?

Why does the cycle of abuse and neglect seem endless?

Why do orphans wait for forever families?

Why do orphans and foster kids age out?

Why are we relying on a system instead of the church?

Why... because we are from where there are beautiful chandeliers and green grasses and plentiful trees and soft sofas and laughter and love and the broken is messy and we are not saying "yes"...

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Jones's

I posted this on FB a few years ago and wanted to include it here. Charlie has since graduated high school and is actually graduating college next year and it is all good. However, now Caleb is getting ready to graduate high school and while my walk with the Lord grows as does my faith and my peace, I still have moments of weakness where the world creeps in and I begin to question.

FB POST FROM  2018...

I don't watch much TV. 

Funny how we have so many channels but so very few shows that I find watchable. H*TV and Fo*od Network are on my short list and Pion*er Woman has always been a fav.  


 She is a Christian, she is a mom and many of her shows revolve around her family as well as her food. Using cheap, easy, short cut ingredients, many of her recipes are doable, even for a Mom of 8!

This morning I happen to see her show. I don't normally watch TV during the day. TV watching usually happens at night, accompanied by a glass of wine and baskets of laundry to fold...


It's the best way to watch TV cause no child will get within 100 yards of baskets of laundry that need folding!!

*grin*

This morning, however, it was raining, forcing my walk indoors on the treadmill (sorry pups), and this morning her show was all about High School Graduation.

 Now because I have a senior getting ready to graduate and I have no idea what we will do to celebrate, I thought this was perfect - meant to be! 

 I set my speed and settled in to watch and as I watched, my heart began to sink...

Being totally real here but this show did nothing except make me feel woefully inadequate as the Mom of a senior and the Mom of a Sophomore in college and the Mom of six more who will all eventually graduate...

God willing😊 

 I know I know...

I write a lot about letting go of the American Dream and embracing our "not so normal" life but sometimes my arms get weary and I loose sight...

I momentarily turn away from what I know the Lord has called me to. 

 It's not always easy, this life of mine.. . 

 Most days have hard but most days are blessed and the days that are most hard are the days that are most blessed.  

Try to explain that!

*grin* 

 This morning, however, I got lost in what we could not do, in what we could not provide and it was ugly y'all.

I was so disappointed in this show. The graduation party she and her friend provided for their daughters was way beyond anything I could do or we could afford. It was so over the top with a live band, a photo booth, a chocolate fountain and food from about 3 different caterers, including herself. 

I felt defeated. 

 I felt less than. 

I felt "not normal".

I allowed s*tan to use it to beat me down. I was left feeling lacking about the small gathering we had at our home for Christian when he graduated and inept for not having any idea what to do for Charlie. 

Now I am not looking for sympathy. I don't blame her for being able to provide such a shindig for her daughter and I am so disappointed in my reaction to this show - just trying to keep it real! 

I know many most Moms have felt this way at one time or another so I know you all get it. 

So as I bring myself back around to where my heart should be... 

I refocus my lens and remember that my identity is in Christ...

not in Martha St*wart or Ree Dru*mand😉

Friday, March 26, 2021

Twenty Five Years!

 Twenty five years ago, we made a promise to each other, before God.

Twenty five years ago we were clueless.

We repeated the words and stood before an alter eclipsed; one that we knew little about, as we worshipped at the alter of our selves.

Expectations are clear. Happiness is expected. Goodness is misunderstood and our comfort is killing us.

Twenty five years ago there was love but we were preoccupied and unknowing and our alters almost consumed us but the Lord's pursuit of us was relentless.

We were hard fought and it wasn't because we were evil in the eyes of the world or had no concept of God or had never stepped foot in a church building...

No, we were hard fought because in the eyes of the world, we were "good" people but we had no true understanding of good. 

With the exchange of wedding bands, divinely engraved💗 our journey began. We assimilated into a life that was expected and familiar, post wedding vows and it was all "good"...

until it wasn't...

until He wrecked us...

until our hearts were broken, our eyes were opened and our pride defeated.

We thought we knew. We thought we had it all. We thought we were in control as we settled into our comfortable. But it was the wrecking that brought the seeking, the broken-ness that brought clarity and the release of control that brought peace.

In 25 years, so much has changed around us and within us. Our transformations were arduous and sometimes painful as we recognized our own broken-ness and sin and yet, it was in those moments that He met us and cared for us and revealed Himself to us. Prayers were answered and the Lord's goodness replaced our worldy comfort and settled into our hearts.  

Twenty five years we said, "I do", benevolently oblivious to what we were agreeing to😉 


Unconscious in our existence as we fell in step with a fallen world, the Lord's plan for our lives began to unfold and I am deeply grateful for His relentless pursuit of us. 

"My gift from God"

This is the inscription on the inside of both of our wedding bands as the Lord's "gentle whisper" began to reach our hearts and we realized that we had each been prompted to inscribe this without knowing the other was doing the same.

My gift from God...  

The extravagance of this gift has seen me through the broken as this man has carried my fears, cried my tears, affirmed my value and hugged away my disquiet. We have fought along side each other and for each other as we welcome the broken and recognize it within ourselves. Prayers were answered as I watched this strong, amazing husband and father submit himself, surrendering his control and the expectations of the fallen, saturating me with awe and the immenseness of God's faithfulness and power.

"Being in love first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise.” Mere Christianity

As that gentle whisper began to change our hearts, the "quieter love" consumed us and is walking us through what the Lord has called us to.

Twenty five years later... 

and we are still clueless but we know we are clueless and that knowing allows the Lord to lead us and as our idols continue to fall away, we rejoice in the good, give thanks for the blessings, let go of the worries, trust Him through the hard and just love love love.

Thank you Lord for 25 years of amazing!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Second Orphanage

It is called “the second orphanage.” 

It is the place Will would have spent the rest of his life. 

In 2013 we had just returned home from China with Maggie and Lucy, when we learned about Will. He was Maggie’s foster brother, was 10 years old, was blind and he was still waiting... 


but we had seven kids...


Maggie and Lucy were both nine years old and both had cerebral palsy and our family was busy as we managed life with doctors and therapists and soccer and school and 7 kids...


but Will was still waiting...

For five years I advocated for him. 

For five years we prayed for a family for him because… life was busy. 

For five years the Lord worked on our hearts, exposing and transforming those bitter parts that tend to hold us back from allowing Him to have total control. We were works in progress and at times that progress was painful, but it readied us. 

In November of 2013, just a few short months after bringing Maggie and Lucy home, my husband was laid off and all at once, we learned what it was to be completely dependent on the Lord’s provision. 

It was during those years that we began to let go of our American Dream and began to embrace His dream for our family. 

We learned the importance of time well spent with Him, in His word, and about trusting His answers to our prayers and His provision for our family. That time was full of hard but so full of growth, a glimpse into the kind of love that transforms the courses of lives. 

By the Summer of 2017, Will was still waiting and the Lord began to change our prayers for him. 

No longer were we praying for any family for him. We were now praying and asking the Lord if we might be Will’s forever family. 

Life was still busy and Will was still blind but our hearts and our dreams were not what they once were. 

 By the Fall of 2017, Will was almost 14 years old and in a few short months, would age out and begin the rest of his life in “the second orphanage”... a dark reality that so many children face after families who could be their "forever", turn away from God’s call on their lives, distracted by the expectations of their familiar. 

We learned more about Will, how he loved to laugh and play music. We were told that he was kind to the other kids and funny, so very funny. We saw a video of him playing the piano for a visiting team of volunteers and were told that he knew, he knew that he was literally playing for his life. This was his last chance and he was nervous and he wanted to impress and we found ourselves beginning to understand a bit more about our journey and with each new revelation, the Lord prepared us. 

By November of 2017, we knew what the Lord was asking of us and by His patient preparation, we were ready to say yes, ready to race to get to our son before he aged out. We had very little time but we had seen so much of the Lord’s goodness and power and sovereignty, that there was never a doubt that Will would come home. By His grace, we made it to Will the day before he turned 14, the day he would have aged out and been left with no hope for a family or a future. 


He came to us nervous but ready. He spoke no English and could not see but somehow he knew and together we began to get to know one another. We laughed over the crazy google translations, we shared his very first birthday cake, we bonded over first amusement park rides as well as first plane rides and trust grew as he relied on us to be his eyes. 


 Will has been home for a little over three years now. He attends school, is learning braille, serves in Beta Club, plays the trumpet, has composed music on the keyboard, made All County Band, and is killing it in math! He is also a member of our high school’s marching band and serves as an inspiration for all who know him and marvel as he plays by ear and stays in perfect step on that football field! 

How could the transition of a 14 year old boy into our family who is blind and spoke no English have been so amazing? 

Looking back on those times in our lives when we had to wait, when we had to endure hardships, when we learned to lean into Him and depend on Him for all of it, every last bit of it, when we finally realized that the American Dream is really not the Lord’s dream for our family... 

we understand now that it was our hearts that needed transitioning. 

Sometimes it is hard to understand why we have to wait, why a sweet, funny, talented little boy in China had to wait 14 years to feel safe, to know hope and to be loved. I don’t think that we will ever know all of the reasons why but we know enough of the Lord’s goodness to trust in that un-knowing. 

Scripture tells us to care for the orphan. Scripture also tells us that He has good plans for us, plans for a hope and a future. From what we have learned about the “second orphanage”, it is a place of hopelessness and abuse, a place that so many enter and never leave, unless they can escape, but life on the street is just as hopeless and just as filled with abuse. 

It is easy to turn away. 

 It is easy to be busy. 

It is easy to get discouraged by well-meaning family and friends. 

It is easy to live that American Dream...

but once your eyes have been opened and your hearts completely shattered, there is no excuse that satisfies. 

Older child adoption is not always easy but scripture also tells us not to expect easy. As a matter of fact, the Lord clearly tells us that if we have embraced Him and His plans for us, we will have trials, and that it won’t be easy, but in a way that only God can do, that “hard” is completely blessed and blessed in a way that is transformational and eternal.

As I watched this breathtaking commercial during this year's Super Bowl, I was reminded of the power behind that one simple word...

"YES"

Maybe the Lord's power is just waiting behind your "yes"...

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Happy Birthday Em

Stop the clock, I wanna get off!

Fifteen years has brought us from smocked dresses to ripped jeans and I am not ready!


Fifteen years ago, I was in unfamiliar territory...

I mean, OK, the hospital was familiar, the unattractive and well ventilated hospital gowns were familiar, the really uncomfortable pillows were familiar and the awesome nurses were sweetly familiar and such a comfort to me. 

But... 

after 3 boys... 

this whole girl thing was totally unfamiliar.

I mean, OK, I am a girl so that was familiar but I had never raised a girl!!!

Totally unfamiliar...

Sort of😉

and so totally awesome!

I mean after 3 loud, rowdy, burping boys... 

I now had a sweet, quiet, dainty little girl...


who can burp with the best of  'em...

and whose Dad totally encourages her because that will certainly keep the boys away...

Yeah right...


Sigh😉

Without warning, 15 years has slipped past and the little sister with three bigger brothers is now threatening to "out height" them and I am not ready...

  My precious one, your delightful innocence is weaved throughout your beautiful maturity. Your heart is full of love and laughter and compassion and broken-ness as the Lord has already opened your eyes and burdened your heart for this fallen world.

He has entrusted you with much baby girl and I am overwhelmed watching  as God's plan captivates every ounce of you. 

"God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day." Psalm 46:5

Trust in that sweet one and whether easy or not, the rest will flow.


Happy Birthday baby girl!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy 18th Birthday Caleb

My dearest Caleb...  

Today you are 18 years old.


The world now sees you as a man.


I still see you as my baby boy.


You have always known how to make me laugh...


and how to touch my heart...


and I am not sure I am ready as the moments we have without you begin to overtake the moments we have with you.

"Mom, when I grow up do we have to be separated?"

A question asked from your 6 year old sweet self!

The reply from my formally 46 year old self caught in my throat as my answer danced around my heart's desire and the absoluteness of time.

In the preciousness of the moment, I want it to be but I have learned to treasure up all the moments in between as that baby boy becomes 18.


With each of you, I think I began to mourn this time even as I held you all for the very first time, not fully understanding the beauty of the journey, because it is beautiful.


The ache of arms outgrown is gently replaced by the anticipation of purposes fulfilled. 


The Lord entrusted you to me and with every one of those precious, passing moments, I have been releasing you back to Him.


Caleb, you are funny and interesting and talented and have a maturity that allows me to release with more ease...


or maybe it's the five other distractions still at home????


Nah, it's definitely your maturity😉


“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
C.S. Lewis

You have good aim my darlin! Don't allow this world to turn your gaze away.


Happy (gulp) 18th Calebebeeeee!!!