Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the sting of death...

Today, a husband lost his wife of seventy years.

A brother and sister lost their mother.

Children lost their heritage.

This blog lost a devoted reader.


And I lost a grandmother.
"He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces..."  Isaiah 25:8

Thursday, March 26, 2015

white mama at the black stylist...

It's crazy, I know, but I'm feelin' really good about our last haircut experience!  Not only did we find a stylist to give Jameson a great cut (which she did), but we finally found someone who knows and encourages what we want to attempt and she's willing to help us get there.  

We're going towards this look.  Love it!
There's alot of great variety in black men's styles, but in my town, it's been difficult for me thus far to find a place that understood natural hair care (caring for the hair with products that properly care for, maintain, and celebrate natural kinky curls) and a place that didn't always automatically equate black boy with super short hair.  I tend to like the longer styles, so I want to try one out!

Sure, longer hair on Jameson will be harder to maintain than short.  (and who knows, maybe I'll end up giving up halfway there.)  But really.  My daughter's bald.  I've got time to maintain some hair around here.  As long as he'll let me.

I learned a ton from this stylist, who was recommended to us by a neighborhood friend.  She cuts hair in her home part-time, and it was evident she knows what she's doing!  She gave me some new products to try for Jameson's hair type, and she taught me more about Jameson's hair in particular.

Apparently with Jameson's very tight curl pattern (there are all different variances in curl patterns, by the way-- I naively used to just think all african-american hair was the same), she said it would look best really short or really long. (like the picture above)  And everything else in between would be the "ugly stage."

So hopefully we can survive the ugly stage of growing it out!

His hair will still need regular trimming and shaping every 2-3 weeks as it grows out.  This cut was to get everything even and ready to begin.

When the cape went on, he started BAWLING.  If only haircuts weren't quite so traumatic.

Sweet Caroline came quickly to his rescue with lots of big sister-ly hugs.
 Aaaaand like every haircut before this, we tried all the tricks in the book to get him to stop crying when those buzzing clippers turned on.  

We gave him a pacifier.
We gave him snacks.
We let him watch a show on our phone.
We even tried putting Caroline in the seat WITH him.

 And still, nothing worked.  (although he looks relatively calm in this picture- don't let it deceive you...)
 Thankfully, we got through it. 

She gave Jameson a little shaping on the sides that he's never had, too.  He looks cute and I'm excited to see how it will look!  

I think it was most encouraging to me to hear her say that I'm moisturizing it correctly even if it doesn't always do what I would hope it would do.  I needed to hear that what's happening has more to do with his hair and less to do with me.

Well, whew.  Maybe I'm not as clueless as I think.


 So here's to finding a great barber!

Now let's try and grow some kinky curly hair!

Monday, March 16, 2015


I came across some random pictures on my phone from the past few months!

Our little two-year old Jameson is now exploding with language!  Sooo maybe it's not all that clear to the average hearer, but for a guy who began with ear infections and speech delays, we are thrilled.  He's attempting to repeat almost every phrase he hears you say.

And being able to clearly communicate with him just makes us fall in love with him all the more.

 Caroline is our imaginative seven year old gal!

She made a circus in her room last Saturday.
 And at the very first sign of spring weather, she and her brother put on their swimsuits and made a "pool" to enjoy in her room.

 We have a season pass to the children's museum 
(a 10 minute WALK from our house!) 
and during the winter months, 
it's been a fun after-school activity 
for Caroline and Jameson to play and explore.

In the music studio, 
Jameson likes to take to the electric drums.
And Caroline's all about dat bass.  ha ha
 And out of all the amazing exhibits there,
it's funny that the two of them spend a good portion of time
playing together with these little "excavators,"
as they call them.

Jameson's obsessed with excavators.

Car rides are now just an excuse 
for the kids to search for them.

Construction is exciting stuff around here, folks.
Caroline is LOVING 1st grade and is doing really well in it.  Her handwriting is beautiful, and I'm impressed with all she's coming home learning each day.
 Awwww, look at the love birds.

Almost 17 years of marriage to this guy.

And I still like him.  ;)
 How about the REAL chicks that came to preschool playgroup at our community center last week??  How cool is THAT?!

Yeah, Jameson thought so, too.
 How about the time when he fell in love with the remote controlled R2D2 in the store?

Which was quickly followed by a 
screaming meltdown when we had to leave...
 Cute little pic from the playground across the street.

 Oh!  How about the time I was struggling to carry groceries up to my front door and accidentally dropped a gallon of milk?

Aren't you eager to see that picture?
 I may or may not have cried over spilled milk that day...
You know, there's alot to mourn in life these days.  But these two (as crazy as they make our life sometimes) are a reminder that in many ways, we are living some of our best days right now.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

today they are mommy and daddy...

I cried a thousand tears when we said "no" to the social worker last month.  

We wanted to make it work.  Somehow.  We were intent upon giving these boys a family.

But it wasn't the right thing for them.   We weren't right for them.

I prayed earnestly that God would lead them to the right family.  And I prayed He might even allow me to be a small part of that.

Praise be to Him.  He has heard my cries.

This morning at church, in walked a brand new family of four.  

Little chocolate hands were holding on to big, strong vanilla ones.  My eyes filled with tears.  What a picture of God's love that He lavishes upon us, taking us(!?!) into His family and calling us His sons and daughters.  What a beautiful picture of love.  And commitment.   And all for the sake of those who will never understand or appreciate their sacrifice.

I couldn't stop looking back at them during church.  

For years, this couple has yearned for children and God hasn't allowed it.  I know that heart ache myself.

And yet, today a little child is snuggled up in each of their laps.  Today they are Mommy and Daddy for the first time.  Today I see a picture of beauty and triumph in the midst of brokenness and despair.  Today I get to watch as this precious family unites. 

Thank you, God.

Though I needed to say "no," God has provided us ALL a million "yes"es.   

Whether it be for just a time, or perhaps a lifetime, God has given these boys the loving family they need.  

And He has graciously filled my friends' home with laughter, all things superhero, and post-bath wrestling matches on the floor.  

And He has given me the opportunity to watch all of it and still be present in all of their lives.  

To Him be the glory.  Great things He has done.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

at the death of a college...

Colleges, and especially 114-year-old colleges at that, aren't supposed to die.  We think of them as eternal institutions, living on well beyond ourselves and teaching future generations.
Caroline on SBC's campus in 2012

But just two days ago, and out of the blue, our community was stunned to hear the news that due to "insurmountable financial problems," Sweet Briar College (one of the four campuses in our college ministry!) will be closing its doors for good.

I can't even begin to describe the emotions... disbelief? Shock?  Certainly.  Followed by confusion, tears, heartbreak.  Questions.  What just happened?  Why?  What will this mean?  

Sweet Briar is a private, all-girls' college about 15 miles north of our town.  It's an amazing place with an amazing campus life.  Our Sweet Briar girls have always been a huge blessing to the ministry of RUF Lynchburg.  The pride they have in their tight-knit school is truly unparalleled.  (if you're familiar with the school spirit of the Texas Aggies, these girls would be comparable!)  The deep-rooted traditions and cheers and events combined with the fifth most beautiful, historic campus in the country have made Sweet Briar the gem that she is.

In our seven years in Virginia, the Lord has opened the doors WIDE to RUF to minister there.  We've had a great relationship to the campus and this year, 27 girls are involved in our ministry in one way or another.  (many drive almost 30 minutes to come to RUF large group on Thursdays!)  No other national campus ministry exists at Sweet Briar.

The chaplain's office has always been extremely welcoming to us, and our niece, Callie, moved here this summer as campus staff SPECIFICALLY to focus on women's ministry TO Sweet Briar girls.  (*tears*)  What's especially heart-breaking is that Callie launched her first official small group meeting there Monday night, just hours before the news broke that this campus would be no more.  Who knew that the rest of the week, Callie would be spending all her hours hugging and crying with these same girls.  The Lord certainly placed her in the right place at the right time, and for that, we're so grateful.

I'm sure there are lots of demographic reasons as to why Sweet Briar was suffering financially-- women are less likely to attend single-sex colleges these days, tuition rates were high, and so on.  
Sweet Briar gals!

What makes the news so shocking is that it appears the alumnae (who have amazing connections and resources themselves) were never asked to contribute to this "insurmountable" problem.

From a campus ministry's perspective, it's heart-breaking to watch your current students have their worlds and their future plans collapse in front of you.

It's a collective death, really.  

Their hearts are broken.   They will not only be saying goodbye to their beloved campus and professors, but also to each other.  This is a sisterhood that's dying.  Their futures are uncertain.  And suddenly they're forced into the world of applying for colleges, most of whom have past the application deadlines to attend.  

It may sound like an easy solution for our students to transfer to another college and continue their academic pursuits there, but the implications of a school's death make for lots of messy situations.  One of our girls is an international student, and her visa is tied up to Sweet Briar.  What will this mean for her future?

Other students are facing issues with getting transcripts and don't know where they'll end up.

Fifty five year old professors whose families live on campus (most all of Sweet Briar's faculty live on its beautiful acreage) are suddenly without a job and will have to face relocating.

The small town of Amherst, which is already poor, will take a huge hit economically with its loss.

RUF at Sweet Briar last Spring
The dedicated alumnae all over the world (who are rapidly joining forces to combat the board's decision to close) will only know Sweet Briar College as a memory.

The implications are so far reaching, and so devastating.  Typing it out in words seems so sterile.  I somehow want you to feel this with us, because walking through it alongside a hurting community is gut-wrenching.

We're praying for a miracle.

I think it's possible if enough people care enough to do something about it.  I love seeing the determination and the fight from the alumnae to save their beloved school and not lay down and die without trying.  I think I'm falling more in love with Sweet Briar as I watch her struggle to survive.  It's in these challenges where community flourishes, where people join together for something they all hold dear to them, and you know?   Sometimes, just sometimes, that Hail Mary pass at the end of the fourth quarter is caught.  It seems impossible right now, but only time will tell.

But we'd like to ask you to pray with us.

Pray for our girls in their heartache.
Pray for the faculty and staff.
Pray for the efforts to save the school.
Pray for the alumnae who feeling the tremors of this decision.
Pray for the board and President Jones as they are under scrutiny.

Pray for Callie and Marc as they minister on a dying campus.  It feels so surreal and terrible.

Pray for our RUF ministry, particularly for our Liberty students to care about and reach out to these hurting SBC girls.

Pray for direction and focus, and for donors to continue to support our RUF ministry here, even with one of our campuses shutting down.

And when you're done praying and still want to do more:

Join the "Save Sweet Briar" facebook page to keep up with current pledges from donors.

Show your support of Sweet Briar on social media by wearing pink and green and using the following hashtags: #savesweetbriar  #thinkisforgirls  #pinkandgreen  #sweetbriarstrong

So here's to Sweet Briar, holla holla holla!  There's nothing God cannot do!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

new wig...

She'd started asking for a new wig recently.

She wanted long.

She wanted curls. (twists, to be exact)

And she wanted blonde.

Well, we got two out of the three!

(We had no luck with going blonde... it washed out her complexion.)

So brunette she will stay... for now, anyway!

 I love how a wig to Caroline is like a fun accessory.  Something to throw on and wear here and there, as opposed to something she won't leave the house without, you know?  We don't want Caroline to feel any shame or need to cover up.  She's gorgeous with or without hair.   She rocks the bald!

She hardly even wears a wig.  I'd guess she wears one maybe once or twice a month to school, and that's usually to sport a hairstyle she's wanted to try out.  "Mom, can I wear a ponytail to school today?"

For that reason, we aren't spending much on wigs.  To get a great custom-made wig with real human hair would cost in the thousands.  I'm not opposed to that in our future if she decides she's ready to go that route.  This one was a blend of human hair and synthetic, and it cost us a whopping $40.  It's certainly not the world's greatest.  We'll have to make a few adjustments to the inside for a more snug fit (it's made for adults) and added comfort, but this wig should hopefully get us through another year or so.

the back
You know, I never dreamed my daughter would go bald.  I had never even heard of alopecia in my life before she began losing her hair!, and it's apparent (especially when wig shopping, of all things...) that most other people haven't either.
Caroline's getting really good about just smiling when adults wish her well health-wise because they assume she is sick with cancer and feel the need to show pity to her.

A few weeks ago, just before she fell asleep she said, "Mom, no one at school asks me why I don't have hair anymore."

I paused to see what she'd say next.

"Well, except the little preschoolers.  Sometimes they ask because they have no idea about anything." (ha ha!)

What a crazy life we live dealing with no hair, wig hair, and black hair, I tell ya!

I am just faking my way through it all and doing the best I can.

Thankfully, baldness doesn't much matter in our day-to-day living.  It doesn't keep me from loving her to pieces.  While it certainly affects my daughter's identity, it doesn't solely define it.

She's just Caroline.  My strong, social,  encouraging, routine-loving little leader.  The girl I love the most in this whole wide world.

And she just so happens to have no hair.