Sunday, May 31, 2015

summer stress...

We've done it to ourselves again.

Some people use the summer to relax by laying by the pool.


We bought an 1820(!) fixer upper to rennovate and turn into a beautiful investment property.  How's that for relaxing?.....

It looks good on paper.  It looks great inside. (I'll share updates at some point!)  It will be a good investment for the future, and an opportunity to bless others with a beautiful, rustic historic home.

But let's just say Work Day #1 came to a halt when we walked in and fleas jumped all over us.

Why do we do it to ourselves?  I have to keep reminding myself this is what Marc and I find "fun."  The "before" isn't so great, but the reward of the "after" will be so worth it, right?

It was one thing to do these investment projects (this isn't our first rodeo) before kids.  It's now another thing to figure that out... umm, free babysitting, anyone???

To add to the stress, this guy's ears are at it again.

Infection followed by infection.  Filled with fluid, and causing him problems.

As a result, he's downright irritable these days.  Screaming out of control.  And he's 2.  And he's not sleeping well at night, unless he's in bed with us... I'm convinced parenting is all about choosing your battles, and right now, sleep wins out.

Jameson's scheduled for his second round of ear tubes and adenoid removal this Thursday morning.  I am sure it will be a relief to how he's feeling and hearing, but ohhhhh, no mama wants to put her baby in surgery.

School has ended now and very soon the frustration will set in for my structure-loving Caroline, who is also losing her cool with the screaming toddler in the house.

Add another vertigo attack for me into the mix this week and we're just not functioning on all cylinders right now.  Somehow we always end up doing this to ourselves.  
Because what fun would a normal, boring life be?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

the gift of adoption...

Dear Caroline and Jameson,

Though we didn't give you the gift of life... gave us the gift of YOU.

We love you both.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

teaching your white children about race...

If you're like I was before adopting transracially, you honestly may not even know where to begin when it comes to teaching your white children about race.

No one around you is really talking about it or sees the need to.

You're afraid to bring it up for fear of saying something offensive or stupid.

Or what happens if your child takes something you've said and embarrasses you in public by an innocent, but potentially offensive, racial comment?

Whatever your fears or reluctancy, I'd encourage parents to begin teaching their white children about race.  (I specify white children in this blog post because I think it's fairly safe to assume parents of minority children are already naturally talking about race, while white culture tends to avoid the topic like the plague in the "virtuous" attempt to be colorblind.)

Pleeeease teach your children what race is, why we're different, and why we should CELEBRATE the fact that God designed humans in a vast array of colors.  Don't shy away from teaching them our country's shameful history with race, and how they can grow up breaking the generational sins of racism for our future.

Do it for the benefit of your child's world view.
 For the benefit of their future relationships.
For the benefit of our cities and our country and our world.

Here are just a few practical ways to start.

 1.  Children's books.   The library is an educational gold mine for parents in so many ways.  But try looking at children's books through the eyes of my son, and you'll quickly see how overwhelmingly white our world is.  

Look for children's books where the main character isn't always white.  (I'll warn you, it's unfortunately a challenge.)  Look for stories set in the context of other cultures that might provide a good springboard for discussion.

Check out or purchase children's books about important non-white historical figures on your child's reading level.  We currently own children's books about Martin Luther King, Jr, Jackie Robinson, and the story of Ruby Bridges, and I'm always excited to get my hands on more.  These stories (even written on the level for Jameson!) don't sugar coat our nation's history, and I'm telling you, it was initially really hard to read the words "Black children were not allowed on the playground with white children" aloud to my children.  (Ugh.  Can't we just skip over that part?)  But it's important that our kids know where we've been in order to understand the world in which they live and continue the long-term process of reconciliation in America's dysfunctional race relations.  
I found this artwork the other day when Caroline had traced her and Jameson's hands.  I love that she connects how history (particularly the efforts in the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) has enabled our family to exist!

2.  Toys.  Buy your younger children dolls and toys of other ethnicities.  Our kids take their cues in beauty and value from us.  As parents, we have a unique opportunity to help shape our children's worldview by being a little more intentional about what we place in front of them.  Brown-skinned dolls are not just for brown-skinned girls.  In our house, we love Disney's Doc McStuffins, because it's a rare treat to find a tv show where the beloved main character is African American.

3.  Conversations.  As a family, we have an open, ongoing dialogue about race just as we do about subjects like adoption, family, God, healthy foods, alopecia, etc.  In other words, the topic of race isn't a "once and done" discussion. (obviously, for our family it can't be!)  Ask your kids open-ended questions and listen to their thoughts and ideas when it comes to race and differences.   

4.  Relationships.  I can't stress this one enough.  The best way to "teach" your white children about race is to encourage them to enter into relationships with children of other races and have them see YOU doing the same.  We didn't move to our current neighborhood just so that Jameson could be around kids that look like him.  That's certainly a huge benefit.  But we realize it's just as important for us and for Caroline to be in a diverse community, too.   

Sadly, statistics overwhelmingly show that whites prefer a white world, both in their neighborhood, school choices, facebook newsfeeds, etc.  I'd argue this racial isolation is truly a loss for whites, because while exposing oneself to other cultures and ethnicities might at first be uncomfortable, it's unbelievably rewarding and challenging (in a good way!) to one's personal growth.  

I can't talk enough about how my own cross-cultural relationships have changed me.  We all need friendships where we can ask honest questions without the fear of judgment.  When we enter into relationships with people who appear to be different, we have a unique opportunity to see how very alike we all really are (because we're all made in God's image) and learn from His diverse children who carry beautiful perspectives that we white folks need to hear. 

So go ahead.  See color.  Teach your kids to do the same.  And marvel together at what an amazing display of color and culture God has made in humanity.

Monday, May 18, 2015

caught white-handed...

Well, I guess you can't say his hair needs any moisturizing...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

my boys hard at work...

Marc and I were both choking back tears at the sweetness of this scene.  I know these days won't last forever.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

mothers through another mother...

Mother's Day.

Even almost a decade later, there's something about Mother's Day that conjures up the sadness of my own fight against infertility.

Something about Mother's Day, even now as a mother!, carries sensitivity for me, probably because of all the Mother's Days in years past when it was emotionally the hardest day of my year.

I am a mom now, and I can't believe I'm a mom.

 I waited SO long for this.

I cried so many tears to be where I am now.

And looking at the joy in the faces of my children (yes, complete with underwear on their heads), I can see clearly now how good my Father was to tell me "no" for that season.

This was the plan.

These were to be my children.  Not from my own womb.

I'm not a mom because I deserve to be.

I saw a meme that jokingly said "All moms give birth to a child.  Except my mom, she gave birth to a legend."

And after I laughed at it's silliness,

I thought, "All moms give birth to a child?  I didn't give birth to a child."

And yet I'm a mom just the same.

Being a mom isn't about counting the weeks your tummy grows larger.  It doesn't require labor & delivery, breastfeeding, or even the same last name.

Being a mom is the commitment to give a child all that you are,
to never give up on them.

Being a mom is kissing boo boos.  It's being the one to wipe the tears from little faces and reassure them everything will be okay. 

It's a love that commits to do anything, ANYTHING for the sake of your child.

Mother's Day is always a reminder to me that another mother has lost a child in order for me to gain my own.

I can't help but think about my children's birthmommies.    

What does Mother's Day feel like for them as they think about the babies they lovingly placed in my arms?   

It's because of their painful sacrifice I can be called "mommy" in the first place.  

I am so unbelievably humbled.  

Being a mom in the day-to-day is really tough.  

Most days, it feels like it will literally do me in.

But in the strangest mysteries of God's providence,
He has chosen me (ME!?) for this purpose.

And He's entrusted two precious little ones to my care
who call me "Mommy."

To all the new adoptive & foster mamas out there
who (like me) can feel a little less "qualified" in our Mom role, and feel the complexities of Mother's Day, who are kissing boo-boos and tucking in at night
just the same as any of 'em...

And to all the mamas everywhere,

Happy Mother's Day to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

that's a wrap...

After a year of starting over in many ways, we had a strong finish to our 14th year of campus ministry in RUF.

Like every year, it had its challenges, with the hardest being the announcement of Sweet Briar College's closing.

And like every year, it was super hard to say goodbye to some incredible seniors.

Who's the best dressed East-Texan?
But it was encouraging to see a new group of student leaders emerge and truly begin to take ownership of the ministry.  Makes me excited to see what they will accomplish together next fall.

We ended the year with a tradition Marc and I brought here to Virginia from Texas: our "Hands on a Hardbody" party!  We watched the hard-to-find documentary, "Hands on a Hardbody" where a group of very eclectic East Texans compete for a pickup truck by standing around it with their hands on it, and the one who stands the longest (we're talking days!!) wins the truck.

The final two in our costume competition...

And the winner goes to... Angela!
And look what shirt our Sweet Briar senior, Leah, showed up wearing!!! Guns up, Texas Tech!  (we miss you, Lubbock friends and alumnae!!)

So it's a year in the books for this fabulous uncle/niece duo.  (well, with the exception of Summer Conference in just another week!)  

Thank you, THANK YOU for all of you who financially support our ministry and allow us to impact the lives of students with the hope and good news of the Gospel!