Saturday, January 31, 2015

the humor of hair...

Five years ago, I'd have never guessed how much the subject of HAIR would rule my life!  I've gotten to the point where it's humorous, really.  

I mean, who'd have thought my daughter would lose all her hair at age 2 and be BALD?  Whew- what a unique and challenging feat!
Then!  God graciously gives me my chocolate-skinned baby boy, and suddenly I'm now learning how to do BLACK HAIR.  (Also, no small task.) 

And as if all that wasn't enough when it comes to hair, then one more hair comes into my life.... 

frizzed out American Girl doll hair!  Aaauuugghhh!!!!
Lord, no!  I can't take it!  (ha ha)

Yep, it didn't take long for my daughter (who has no hair and thus, little ability and experience doing hair) to turn her new American Girl doll's hair into ONE. MEGA. FRIZZ BALL.  

Leaving ME googling yet another genre of hair and hair "disorders."  (ha!)
So after some research and a couple of hours with a spray bottle and a wig brush, I got it back to this.  I'd say I did alright, eh?  (Note to future moms of AG dolls... maybe consider ones withOUT curly hair??  Of course, guess what Caroline wants her next wig to be... blonde and curly...)

HAIR, people.  

This, my friends, was an attempt I made after reading about ways to create twists in hair without heat.  This time, using rolled-up magazine pages and bobby pins.   It's amazing what you can learn on the internet.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy.  This life I have with hair sure is!

But whether you've got hair, no hair, black hair, wig hair, 
or wild, synthetic frizzed-out hair, 
I love you all!

Friday, January 30, 2015

what they'll do for ice cream...

It's been 3 months since Caroline's bike accident which left her in surgery to repair a broken wrist.
 The scars are still healing.

And so is her heart.

She's been afraid to get back on the bike.
Thankfully it's been too cold to try anyway.

But on a warm Sunday afternoon last week, 
it was time.

We'd already talked about this day.
She wanted to ride on the level basketball courts across the street.

We promised her ice cream if she could face her fears.

 This guy wanted to come along, too.

"I ride, Mama!"
She wanted Daddy to walk beside her for the first few seconds.

 And then she was off!

From the look on her face,
you could tell she was so happy to be back on that bike again.

(though she wasn't the only one that was nervous, honestly!)

My turn to run alongside her.
Man.  He's so cute.

I'm so proud of her for conquering her fears of the bike!

Even if it was for ice cream.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

at (almost) 7...

flower girl in our RUF students' wedding!
Where does the time go?  How is my baby girl almost 7?

God is fashioning her in such a beautiful way, and I'm so privileged to have a front row seat in her life.

At almost 7...

  •  This gal is quite the little leader.  Really, she always has been, but she cherishes any opportunity to lead.  Give her a job leading others and she'll relish it.  Her teacher told me she turns down candy for the opportunity to read out loud to her class. (??!!)
  • Her vocabulary and spelling is on par with a 4th-5th grader.  (she's in 1st grade)  
  • Caroline's favorite things to do right now are: drawing & writing, playing tag/chase at the park with other kids, "screen time," dressing fancy, building forts, going to the children's museum, and playing pretend.  She wants a Frozen-themed birthday (like every little girl this year...).

  •  She doesn't like anything she can't succeed in the first time.  She gets frustrated and quits very easily.  Playing board games or anything competitive with her is not enjoyable if she doesn't win. (though it's obviously for her best)
  • I couldn't be more grateful for how much of a help she is to me when it comes to caring for Jameson.  She often fixes him snacks, entertains him, and is quick to do whatever needs doing in a given situation.  
  • Her favorite foods are: ice cream (or anything with sugar, really), grilled cheese sandwiches, soup, pizza, all fruit, thai food, noodles with butter & parmesan cheese, and bread.  Yep.  This is the same gal who was on a gluten free, dairy free, soy free & JOY free diet just a few years ago when we thought her hairloss might be related to gut issues... :)  
  • She's at the age where she asks for everything, all in one sitting.  "Mom, can we go to Amazement Square?" "Mom, can I take ballet lessons?"  "Mom, can we go to Fresh Market?"  "Mom, can we make banana bread?"  She loves a plan and a schedule.  Hmmm... sounds a little like her mama....

she's 6.  he's 2.

  •  This gal is (and has always been) my good sleeper!  Even with a little brother up and down the halls every night, she sleeps right on through.  Sometimes she needs a little extra TLC from us when she fears monsters in her room at night or wakes up from a bad dream.
  • She is still my confident alopecia gal!  On occasion, she'll wear her wig to school for fun, but as soon as she hops in the car, she's pulling that thing OFF!  I know she'd definitely prefer to have hair, but I feel like she's caring less about people's stares these days.  I'm so proud of her.  I can see it helping to shape the amazing woman she will become.  She teaches me what true beauty is every day.
  • Caroline cares about how things are "supposed" to be.  I guess it's a first-born thing.  She's the rule follower.  If you don't do what you "should" be doing, don't worry.  She'll gladly let you know.

Words to describe Caroline would be: smart, confident, social, verbal, active, strong-willed, caring, intense, encouraging, anxious, musical, and assertive.

Sure, she can be quite the handful at times, but I couldn't have a more special gal to love and cherish.  Thank you, God and Birthmommy Megan, for this precious girl and joy of my life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

white mama at the black barbershop...

Put a white mama in a black barbershop and there's bound to be a good story to tell.

This time, for sure!

We decided to try a new barbershop that had been recommended to me.  Marc and Caroline came along for the experience.  We pulled up to the address, but couldn't find the barbershop in the store fronts.  There were no signs for the place.   We knew it had to be here somewhere.

We saw a door that looked like a possibility, and Marc encouraged me to go check to see if it was inside.

"I wanna go!" Caroline immediately jumped out of the car and grabbed my hand.

We walked through the door, and down a hallway.  I heard boisterous laughing and talking coming from one of the rooms on the left, but there was still not a single sign in sight.  This place is simply word of mouth? I thought.

I cracked open the door, and together Caroline and I peeked inside.  It was most definitely the barbershop!

Their guffawing suddenly stopped when they saw us.

"Hi, are you _____ Barbershop?" I asked them.

"Yes we are," they answered.

"Would y'all be able to cut my two year old's hair?"

Now.  Normally that question wouldn't be anything but typical, right?

However, when you're a WHITE WOMAN showing up at a BLACK BARBERSHOP with only a BALD GIRL right next to you..... you can understand why a few of them started chuckling under their breaths.  (Is this a joke? maybe they thought.  Does this girl even know where she IS? Hahahahahaha!  I was so nervous in the moment that I didn't realize how humorous everything looked until later!)

I didn't have the one thing with me that would've made our entire encounter make sense: my SON!

"Go tell Daddy to bring Jameson in," I whispered to Caroline.  She took off running outside to where he was waiting in the car.

Upon seeing Jameson, immediately the comfort level between all parties began to rise.  He was like our ticket in.  Okay, whew.  That was quite an awkward beginning!  

Getting ready for his cut
One of the guys ushered us through the barbershop into the waiting room in the back.  They turned on a movie for the kids.  As we waited our turn, Marc and I couldn't help but overhear the black talk radio they had blaring from the boombox.

On the program, they were discussing stand-your-ground laws.  "I bet he was a conservative..." I heard the talk show host declare, and from the emphasis on the word "conservative," it was evident that wasn't a good thing.   I didn't catch much of the conversation with all the noise around me, but at one point I did hear a caller recounting an interaction with a WHITE man.  (again, the emphasis on the word "white" also made it clear that wasn't a good thing.)

Ummm.... I began feeling uncomfortable.  Do they see I'M white?  :)  Was I not supposed to be here?  I'm honestly not familiar with black talk radio, but I quickly figured out I was definitely the outsider!  I've never felt so... well, "white" before.

Would a paci and Mommy's hand keep him from crying?
And then it hit me.

Do you think this is how they, as minorities, must feel in white culture every single day?    

You see, before Jameson came into our life, I didn't have to venture out into places like the black barbershop.  I could stay in my insulated, predominantly white world where I'm not the one standing out.  I could go places where I would never have to think about my race as a factor.  I could walk into job interviews, or gas stations, or get stopped by the cops and never think about my race affecting the outcomes of those situations.

But here I was the minority.  Suddenly I felt what it is to be aware of my race, my culture, and my differences.  It was a great cultural experience, even if it was a little uncomfortable.

No it wouldn't.  Or Daddy's arms.
As we expected, the guys there were GREAT.  SO great and communal.  Once Jameson started his cut, they all so beautifully shared in the experience with us, laughing with us and talking to him.  They were warm, personable, and welcoming.  (I noticed they turned off the talk radio when it was our turn to come in the room- ha!)  They tried offering us things to help Jameson stop screaming as he thought he was being murdered the entire time...  uggghhhhh, so hard and awkward, especially because I'm the white mama and I don't know what everybody's thinking as they watch me deal with my son.

But we got the haircut, and even though it's a little shorter than I wanted to go, Jameson's still my little cutie.

All done, though not so happy
What a fun, crazy, challenging & rewarding journey it is to be a transracial family.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

six year old guest blogger #5...

Our resident six-year old blogger is back again, ready to share her photos and her thoughts with you all.  Enjoy!

Photo's by Caroline
Hi! So happy to start another blog! This blog will be about our Washington D.C. trip! How pretty is this? I took it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Down where I'm standing (In this picture) you can't see it but MLK's speech was on the ground.
Mom, Jameson and me are standing IN FRONT of Abraham Lincoln! (statue) I think dad took this one. On the right side of the Lincoln Memorial there is Abraham Lincoln's speech!!!!!
Look how pretty the reflection is in the pond! That is so pretty!
Who has ever been THIS close to the White house? I think I zoomed in a little bit. Sorry it's blurry.  My hands wobble mostly when I take a picture.

This is Nick and Megan's dog. We stayed at there the whole D.C. trip.
The dog's name is Moose.
My FAVORITE! THE METRO!!!!!! The first time we got on, We got in the first car and sit right near the driver! The Metro goes super fast!

Here is a picture of the outside of the Metro.
I loved looking at the sign of when the next train  would be there.
The metro took us to the zoo!
The elephant was doing tricks!!! That was so cool! We saw so many animals.
The cool part was that a monkey was climbing on wires! ALL around us!
So cool!
I think I told mom to just pretend she was taking a picture of me. Ha ha! :) :)
This is a Hope Diamond. Ooh la la!
I am pointing at the Washington Monument.

We were walking back to the Metro when all of a sudden, 3 helicopters flew over us. The middle one came down TO THE WHITE HOUSE. That was the President. I'M SERIOUS!!!!!

Bye! See you again soon!

by: Caroline

Thursday, January 22, 2015

the hospital...

I've just returned home from a visit to the hospital, where the father of one of my sweet friends had surgery this morning.  I was sitting in the waiting room, and while my friend was receiving the news of the surgery in the adjacent consultation room, a large family gathered directly behind me.

It was quickly apparent they were not expecting to be there.  This was not a scheduled surgery.  They were crying.  In shock.  The grandmother made a comment to which all of them broke out in, "No... don't talk like that.  We need you here.  You can pray, grandma.  He's going to need us now."

Hugs.  More tears.  Disbelief.

A minute later, they began putting some of the pieces together.  One family member recounted, "He called me at 2am and said, 'Come help.  I'm bleeding.'"  Another used the words "crime scene tape" and "fingerprints."  They began speculating.  Who could it have been?  The neighbor who is on drugs, perhaps?

Whatever had just happened overnight, it was serious.

Suddenly a doctor appeared at the doorway and motioned for the entire family to come into the consultation room next to where my friend was.  I watched as they rushed to gather up their belongings, sensing the weight of tragedy they have just endured.  The door closed behind the last family member.

Upon returning home, I checked our news station online and sure enough, there was the beginnings to this story I had just overheard: "investigators are saying two were wounded overnight.  The sheriff's office is calling it serious."

It would've been one thing to read this story on the news.  But it's a completely different experience after sitting next to their grieving, fearful bodies in the hospital waiting room.

I feel rattled.  My heart aches for that family who I don't even know.  God, I beg You for mercy in this situation.

Suddenly the pity party I was having for myself on the couch last night doesn't even matter.

The hospital, you guys.  The hospital.

It's literally the intersection between life and death.  It's a place where worlds are holding on by a thread.  It's the place we go when our bodies suffer.  We have to go there in order to be well again, but no one wants to be there.

The hospital conjures up so many memories of times when my world was falling apart.  I can't go there now without such strong flashbacks of my own father's lung transplant and all the days I spent in the hospital praying for his recovery.  Today's waiting room was the exact room in which I anxiously awaited my six year old daughter to come out of wrist surgery.  And more than those who sent texts or called me or clicked "like" on my facebook statuses (though those are nice!) are the memories I'll forever have of those who physically showed up.

The more I reflect upon this morning, the more I realize how much our bodies are meant to be in community with one another.  It's well and good to read about tragic situations on social media and to pray for those involved.  But ultimately, I'm not truly connected, nor do they require me to be.  In a way, I can keep people's suffering at arm's distance.  A click away.

But it's another thing to show up.  To be present physically.  Bodily.  The way we were created to be with one another.  To smell the smells.  To see the tears.  To feel the sting of emotion and give an actual, physical hug rather than a cyber one.  To face the awkward moments when we don't know what to say or do, but we're just there.  Watching the clock tick by.

There's nothing like the hospital to snap you into reality.  To suspend everything going on in the outside world because there's a sense in which "this is all that matters" here.  Too often I live in a very surface-y, sterile reality where my soul doesn't get rattled, and it doesn't get suspended, and that's probably not a good thing.

But one trip to the hospital, and everything blurry and distorted suddenly comes in focus again.

Addendum:  Here is the link for the family's story.  They've just updated it with more information and it is so, so sad.  Please be praying for this family as they've lost one family member and for this man as he fights for his life.  God, have mercy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

all about 'dat juice...

I love my guys!
It's been months since we've juiced.

But like everyone else trying to be a little healthier in the New Year, we've pulled the juicer back out with intentions to use it more.

And no one in the family likes making a fresh juice more than Jameson!

"Juice, dad-DY!"

This boy loves to juice with Daddy.

 We throw an assortment of vegetables and fruits in our juices-- spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, pineapple (the best!), apples, berries, etc.--and just as long as there's enough citrus to help cover over the vegetable taste, it'll be delish.

Where's the berries, Jameson?
 So you put the food in the top...
 Turn it on, press the top down, and out comes the juice!
 We like to let the juice get nice and cold in the fridge for a bit.

Then it's time to shake it up!
 And enjoy all that nutrition coming your way.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


It's MLK weekend!  Which means it's a perfect time to go see the newly released movie "Selma," which chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign to secure equal voting rights during the Civil Rights era of the 1960's.

We took some RUF students to see it a few nights ago, and it was nothing short of amazing.

I'd guess that if you're like me, you enjoy the holiday, but you may not know much about the man.  I was probably in middle school the last time I was taught anything about Martin Luther King. (or "MLKJ" as Caroline calls him sometimes... ha!)  I knew he gave the famous "I Have a Dream" speech.  I knew he was a leader during the Civil Rights Era.  I knew there are alot of streets named after him.

And that's about it.

But with Jameson entering our world, we've thrown ourselves into the business of learning and embracing african american history and culture very intentionally.  And suddenly all the scenes of this movie aren't so "historic" anymore.  They're personal.

As I watched the historical account of "Selma" on the screen, it raised so many questions in my mind as to how the issue of race could be such a blind spot to the southern evangelical church.  How could the very people burning crosses in people's yards on Saturday night be teaching Sunday School at church the next morning?  How could churches be SO orthodox theologically and yet miss the very oppression and hatred they were supporting by barring people from their doors?

If the message of the Bible is about a Christ who comes to reconcile us to God and to one another (Jew and Gentile) and graft together people groups that typically hate one another, how did that not have implications to our white brothers and sisters?  If a founding belief in our country was "all men are created equal," how could blacks and women be denied the right to vote?  Or even the right to drink from the same water fountain?  Why did white clergy in the north flock to help MLK's march from Selma to Montgomery (a very touching scene in the movie), but yet white clergy in the south were absent?  Where were the white southern evangelicals?  What Gospel were they preaching?

So many questions my heart grapples with.  Of course, it all seems so clear and ridiculous now, 50 years later, doesn't it?  But it makes me take pause and wonder what are the blind spots of our evangelical culture today?  Where are we "missing it"?  What will be clearer in 50 more years about the church's attitudes and behaviors of this day?

I also can't help but wonder why most of our churches today continue to remain so divided along racial lines, almost as if Jim Crow is still in existence.  It is said the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning.  We know from Scripture the people of God are made up of every tribe and every nation.  The Gospel unites Jew, Gentile, black, white, old, young, rich and poor.  Why do our churches often look like just one tribe?  Do we desire to see them look more like the diverse people of God?

Marc and I were running late for the movie.  For several days, our facebook newsfeeds had been lighting up with people RAVING about this movie "Selma," and with all the great reviews we were seeing from our friends online, we feared it might be sold out.  Thankfully, we had bought our tickets online just to be sure our seats would be secure.  So we scuffled into the theater... only to find about 15 people there!  (and more than half of those were our RUF students...)  Now, I know you can't judge a movie's success or interest simply by the attendance of a single showing, but it did disappoint me that out of all those people lining up for movies outside, very few were coming to this one.

I guess I'm consistently surprised at how little my own white culture seems to interact or overlap with our black brothers and sisters.  We're so isolated.  I recently read a study that showed the average white person's facebook newsfeed is over 90% white, while the average minority's newsfeed was far more diverse.  It's a sad reality how physically isolated and socially isolated whites are (whether by choice or natural circumstances) from minorities.  And it's honestly our loss.

I think the movie, along with recent events in our nation, shows how far we've come in some ways, (thank goodness!) and how things really haven't changed in others.  We still have a ways to go.  While on the surface, we may have learned a few things from the absurdities of Jim Crow, etc, I know that racism is a deep-rooted sin issue our hearts must continue to struggle against.  In Christians' fight with sin, this one often gets ignored.  We're quick to defend ourselves-- "I'm not racist, I have black friends"-- but not so quick to confess our struggles in this area, too.

After the movie, Marc and the students left the theater and I stayed back to wait on someone who had run to the restroom.  I was standing in the hallway, reflecting upon the movie, when a middle-aged black gentleman came up to me.

"What did you think of the movie?" he asked me.

At first, I was confused.  I hadn't seen him come from the theater we just left, so I wasn't sure if we were talking about the same movie.

"Oh, did you see Selma?" I clarified.

"Yes!  And what did you think of it?" he asked me again.

And just how do I communicate the depth of my emotions in this moment to you, sir?  Like, can we just sit down and talk, for say... the next 2 hours???  

"It was great," I think I said.  Sometimes I wish eloquent, intelligent words would immediately leave my lips.  Instead, the next words that popped out of my mouth were, "My son is black."   (ha ha!)

"What's that?" he quickly responded as he leaned his ear down as close to my mouth as he possibly could just to make sure he heard me right.  I'm sure he wasn't expecting that one!...

"My son is black.  We adopted him," I started speaking so fast, "And it's so important for me to learn about his heritage and feel much more apart of it."  Just keep your mouth shut, Amy.  I'm such an idiot sometimes.

But what the man said next was as if God Himself was speaking directly to my heart in that moment.

The man stood back up, looked at me with a warm smile and all the graciousness in the world, and said, "You know, it's not about the problems of our people.  It's an American problem.  That was the point of the movie, you know?"

"Yeah," I nodded and smiled, taking his words to heart.

You see, I don't need to care about this young preacher Martin Luther King Jr. or black history and culture just because my son is black.  I need to care about it because I'm an American.

We all do.  It's our story together, and in order to move forward, we need to know where we've been.

In hindsight, I wish I'd have shut my mouth and asked him what the movie meant to him instead of rambling about my own black son and such.  I would've loved to have heard his answer.  There was no doubt God's hand directed him to speak to me.  And he so poignantly brought it all home.

Maybe you're not black, and maybe MLK day doesn't seem to touch you.  It certainly does to me now, because without MLK, regardless of all his personal struggles with sin, I wouldn't have my beautiful son.

But if you're an American, MLK is part of your story, too.  Your country and your culture have been shaped by the efforts of this man to stand up against injustice and resist acts of hatred with acts of non-violence and love.

"In the final analysis the weakness of Black Power is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man. However much we may try to romanticize the slogan, there is no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white paths, and there is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share that power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity. We are bound together in a single garment of destiny."  -Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy MLK weekend!  Go see that movie!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

i would drive 500 miles...

You know, driving cross country from Texas to Virginia with young children isn't my favorite thing in the world to do.  

But we had the time, and it provided us the ability to stop and see people who are extremely meaningful to us along the way!  

Like Molly.

Molly, an alopecia buddy, has actually been in our life for several years though this was only our second time meeting her in person! (Here was our first meeting & more about Molly.) Seeing Molly again was a huge motivator to drive through Memphis, and our visit with her definitely made all the long hours worth it.  So glad this lady is in our life.  Caroline absolutely ADORES her!  (so do we!)

And we got to make a quick stop in Nashville for lunch with Alyssa!  Alyssa was a student in our RUF ministry at Texas Tech (before we began the RUF here in Lynchburg) and she is super special to our family.  I love relationships where distance doesn't mean a thing because when you see one another, you pick right up and keep going where you left off.  What's so cool to me is that she's actually living with HER RUF intern (Della) & their family.  It's beautiful how these relationships in a transitional time like college ministry still last lifetimes.

We were also thrilled to stay the night with our friends, the Browns, in Knoxville that night.  (I regret I didn't get a picture- oh well!)  It had been years since seeing them, and it was great catching up.  I'll never forget the visit there, especially because at 3am in their basement, that's where my vertigo attack began in full force, so Marc helped my nauseated self hobble to the bathroom without losing my balance.  (boo.)

Anyways, a day or two after settling back in at home, we FINALLY had a little Christmas of our own!

Caroline and Jameson both loved the marble run.  Caroline likes building and designing the runs, and Jameson loves to drop the marbles in and watch them go.
 And any sports lover would go crazy at a basketball goal, right?


You probably see that bed set up in the living room?  
That's because Caroline got a new bed (a full size mattress for free from our neighbors- thank you!) and beautiful bedding to go on it!  

So then Jameson got Caroline's old twin-sized bed instead of his little toddler bed, and we're hoping that it will inspire him to stay IN the bed throughout the night... so far, it was a nice thought...
 Caroline Abbott, Caroline's new doll, wanted to show you SHE also got a new set of bunk beds as well.
PLUS there's a closet on the end of them to hold all of Caroline Abbott's outfits and accessories.

BOTH Carolines were super excited.

Minus the vertigo, it was a great trip and a great Christmas.  Our cups are full from the quick visits we were able to have on the long trek back to Virginia.