Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friendship

"Friendship" has been bouncing around in my head since last fall, when I attended the Women of Faith tour in Greensboro, NC with our Sunday School and two of my friends.

Lisa Whelchel, former Facts of Life star, a strong Christian AND homeschooling Mom, now part of the Women of Faith Porch Friends, spoke about her difficulty in making friends, and some of the pain she's experienced through betrayal along the way. I vividly remember her saying that she never learned "how" to be a friend because literally she grew up on the set of The Facts of Life. As she began to make friends as a young woman, she spoke about the pain betrayal had brought as she described how she was "used" by a friend that betrayed her confidences because of who she was. I sat there, mesmorized, at the pain she so openly spoke about, and the redeeming power of God as she looked over her shoulder, calling the ladies on the Women of Faith Porch, her friends.

There is hope.......

My dear friend, Ellen, who had travelled from the other side of the state to attend this conference to share some "girlfriend time" with me, was also deeply moved by Lisa's talk. Outside one of the Compassion International tables, we talked about how difficult adult friendships were to make, and how the betrayal of past friendships had made it more so. I shared with her one of my deepest betrayals.......a friend that was a sister to me, dropped me a dear John letter via email and then refused to take any of my phone calls. For 22 years, she was a sister to me...and then poof........It still brings tears to my eyes....the pain has subsided, but scar is still there......

This past weekend, I spend the weekend with another dear, old friend from High School, at the SheSpeaks Conference for women in Speaking and Writing Ministry. Throughout the weekend, I watched, observed, and admired the friendships of the Proverbs 31 Ladies. They had true love, support and encouragement for each other. They truly loved one another.......selflessly.

I stood back, amazed. And then it hit me.....

We are not meant to have just one earthly friend.......Jesus had 12...and yes, one betrayed him too. Betrayed to the point of death. My friends, there is no earthly betrayal that could ever measure up to the betrayal of Judas. Jesus knew his fate here on earth long before he was ever born, but to experience a pain that runs as deep as betrayal. He KNOWS how we feel........because HE felt it.

I drove a ways (hey..that's pretty Southern, isn't it?) tonight to meet my dear friend, Ellen for dinner. Here's what's pretty funny about our friendship: we live in the same state, but travelled across the world and met one dark night in a city called Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We shared all the emotions of becoming a parent through adoption on a continent called Africa, we shared a Guest House for the week in a country that seeped into our souls. Through this, we bonded a bond that could only have been a divine appointment. She gets me.....she inspires me......she calls me on the carpet when I'm wrong.....I love her for loving me, and for not being afraid to tell me I'm wrong.

And then there's Ann......my friend since 2nd grade. She is my memory, and so much more. She's bailed me out of more misery and pain, never judged or complained. To her, I owe a debt greater than I could ever repay.......her friendship has showed me that love is a give and take. And in her case, it's always been more giving, than taking. I love her for always being there for me.

And Stephanie......she first thought I was pretty cool because I had Ethiopian children. Now she knows my children are as imperfect as everyone elses! She encourages me with her great motherly wisdom: "God fills in the gaps," and lately, she inspired me with this: "If I could go back, I'd spend time with my girls playing Barbie, instead of.....fill in the blank..." She bails me out in a crunch, and is always willing to step in and help in a moments notice. I love you, Stephanie.

Mystina......the Dianna to my Anne. Younger in age, but my spiritual mentor. My Titus 2 friend who lives her life by example. I pray one day, I could be the Christian woman she is! Love you sweet friend! You brighten my days and make me smile.

Sally......encourages me in my journey, both as an adoptive Mom and a Homeschooling Mom.

Linda.......who's more like me and wow ,..... are we dangerous when we are together! I love you sweet friend, for being real and stepping out on adventures with me......even if we did put a dent in the boat!

Cheri.....a Mom later in life, like I, who share the trials of being an older Mom........."Momma's going to have a meltdown....." She so gets me! Love you too....we need to spend more time together!

Dawn.....a high school friendship rekindled through Facebook. I spend an incredible weekend with her at SheSpeaks this weekend......As we journey in our "ministries" together, may we continue to encourage each other to be true to the One that centers us! Love you!

Each one of these beautiful women have a divine plan in MY life, ordained by God.......

It's time to stop running........

I'm ready to break free of the fear, and embrace the journey God has prepared just for me......

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Sandpaper Child

A few random thoughts: I really don't want to write this post..... I'm waiting for the coffee to hit the bloodstream. Why am I up at 6:30, when hubby is out of town, and the kids are fast asleep???? I'm been procrastinating (who, me????) this morning, trying to talk myself out of getting out of bed and writing this post. For me, this post is about personal reflection. It is a post defined only by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Much worse than your mother nagging you about something you know should do......... sigh ............. So here goes....... I'm an older mom; most of you know that. Older moms have different challenges and struggles than younger ones. We've had "lives" before children and sometimes struggle as we adjust to the changes that children bring. Some of us have yearned for children for years; others, like me, were totally convinced we weren't born with a biological clock until it went off like at time bomb in our mid-thirties. It then became an all consuming obsession to "get pregnant." Pregnant women all of a sudden were taking over the world and we wanted to be one of them. The desire to have children did not prepare me for the realities of having children. I had one child for a long time. He was 7 when we brought Pickles home (did I ever tell you that I really hate that name Pickles? Oh well, I digress....another post for another time......). And, for the record, one child is a piece of cake compared to two. Adding the second is like exponents in math (ha...are you impressed? thank homeschooling for that one!). Jumping from 2 to 4 children was like nothing I can put into words. The reality of 4 children was like a train wreck for a very long time. So, where on earth am I going with this post. Honestly, I'm not sure. I have a lot floating in my heart and in my head and I'm not sure how it's all going to end. "Before Kids" the following occurred regularly:

  • worked out 5x a week

  • had regular (every 6 weeks like clockwork) hair appointments

  • pedicures and manicures

  • hiked

  • biked

  • worked full-time

  • had a clean house

  • had an organized kitchen everything was in its place
Life was, well, pretty tidy. I like tidy. Actually, I thrived on tidy. I didn't like chaos. I liked neat and tidy. Adoption #1 - infant, 8 months old, I was 40-something. Reality:

  • worked about maybe 3x a week

  • walked with a really cool walking/stroller

  • worked part-time

  • had a "less" tidy house baby bottles and stuff everywhere

  • a tad bit stressed (total understatement) frazzled, running around dropping one child at school, another at childcare
Adoption #2:

  • work out sporadically (ok, I'm being kind here...it's almost like NEVER) SAHM add in: Homeschooling 2 children (Yikes...how on earth did that happen????? Never saw that in "my" plans....")

  • frantically trying to keep up with laundry clean and tidy kitchen: not in this liftime!!!
The reality here is that on the outside, I had it together, masking the little girl inside who thought by controlling the externals, that I could keep the inside "clean and tidy." And here comes the "Sandpaper Child." The child God sent to work on my heart. The child that openly rubs me the wrong way at every turn. The child God sent to heal me. The child I didn't want to love, because if I loved her, then I'd have to find a way to love myself. The child I vehemently denied was "like me" because all I saw was her vanity, the one personality trait I could not identify with. My heart was tightly held inside the iron cage I had formed to keep from being hurt, betrayed and from breaking. Slowly, little by little, the Sandpaper Child began to wear away the iron cage around my heart, to smooth out the rough edges (ok....maybe they were more than rough edges.....). God had send this child as a balm to my soul....I only had to open my eyes and my heart and allow myself to heal along side of her. You see, she couldn't heal her brokenness until my brokenness was healed. Or at least until I was able to recognize the brokenness I thought had been resolved through many years of counseling. We were tied together, whether I realized it or not. Whether I wanted it or not. Some days it felt like trying to shake off a prickling thorn that would not let go..... Some days the feelings I had for her were the feelings I had in my own heart towards myself.....ugly, cruel, unworthy, and unlovable. Thankfully, over time, The Sandpaper Child perservered. The Sandpaper Child's desire to be loved was pure and innocent and had not hardened or turned bitter like mine had. We still have a ways to go, but I can see the healing, both in me and in my Sandpaper Child. We both desired to be a Princess: to be loved and cherished. She had hope while I had abandonded mine. The Sandpaper Child restored my hope, and God is using her to heal my heart. God knew exactly what he was doing when he chose each one of my children. He chose each of them to heal me........to bring me closer to Him.
We didn't rescue three beautiful orphans, they rescued me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday - "The Hunt"

First, let me preface my comments by stating that I am NOT a shopper...at least not the typical one. I despise crowds, hate the markdown rack, and would prefer to shop online in the comfort of my home.

This has absolutely nothing to do with having 4 young children; I've always hated shopping. I guess I'm just not the typical woman. If I do have to shop, I'd much prefer to shop on my own; get in and get out, throw the bags in the truck and go home. I'm a woman on a mission when I have to shop. I'd rather be hiking than shop......GASP!

So, this year, I've watched with great interest the flurry of activity on Facebook regarding Black Friday preparation. I saw pictures of people perusing the "ads" on their coffee tables, floors, couches, etc., all on Thanksgiving Day. It's become an annual ritual for many.

I compare this ritual to that of men when they prepare to go off hunting...it's almost the same, yet with a different goal. The flurry of activity, anxiety and excitement as they countdown the days to Opening Day of hunting season. And then, BOOM, no pun intended, they take off in a flurry of excitement and anticipation. The results differ: the success of getting that Buck or Doe.....the success of getting that HD TV for $199.00 at Wal-Mart, etc. You get my drift.

But I find it interesting when we compare the process of "the hunt" between men and women. We, meaning women, complain that men just don't understand us, and vice versa. If we step back and observe, we are very much the same, but our desires and objectives are different. The process is exactly the same, but the outcome of success is defined by whether we got "the deal" or if they got "the buck or doe."

I guess what saddens me more than anything about Black Friday is the amount of energy and effort that goes into it, both emotionally and physically: the hours poured over newspaper advertisements, getting up at 3am. The only time I got up that early INTENTIONALLY was to nurse my son when he was an infant or to catch an early flight.

Please don't think I'm judging...I'm not. I'm just an observer. I'm fascinated by people and have always observed and analyze behaviors.

But I wonder......why don't we put this much energy into our Faith, into reading our Bible, into sharing the Gospel with others, into really doing something to help the plight of the orphans and widows. If each one of us put even half the effort into helping others, showing kindness, we could change the world.

Call me an optimist,,,,,yeah, maybe. But from a former pessimist, this is SUCCESS!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I was WRONG....

to think that holidays didn't matter to me anymore....

after many years of being the square peg trying to fit into someone's else's round hole, I was kind of indifferent towards holidays....

I was always the extra place set for dinner.....

the one with no place to go...............no family to call her own......the extra plate at dinner........

So I married David almost 7 years ago....

we've struggled to blend our families.....his, mine and ours through adoption.......each changed the dynamics of our family forever....

yet still trying to make it all fit.......and somehow trying to achieve "normal."

So.........in my complete selfishness, along with my non-nonchalant attitude towards the holidays, I picked a Women of Faith weekend (tickets already purchased) over sharing a Thanksgiving meal with my family intact.

And my dear husband David is thousands of miles away in the Philippines......

.....in a hotel room by himself.

I made a mistake....

In all these years of pretending that family didn't matter...

that I really didn't care about holidays...

I realized I was wrong.....

I am sad......

I am lonely....

I realized he really is my best friend......

After all these years of being fearful of letting anyone get too close, it happened without me even realizing it....

And now I care about holidays with my family...........

and I'm alone with my 4 children.....and they are all missing him....

and worst of all.....David is thousands of miles away....and he truly is alone. I have our children here with me....and the familiarity of our home........the one we've been building together for the past 7 years ........

and he is all alone......

not only was I wrong....

I was terribly wrong...........

Friday, November 19, 2010

To Be....or Not To Be....

Honestly, it's been awhile since I've really written from the heart. I am not one of those people that can sit down and just blurt out the events of my day. Mostly, my writings are inspired in the middle of the night by a knock in my brain from God. Lately, I haven't received any of those knocks.

So, I'm not really sure what or where this post is going to take us.

But I'll start here:

A bunch of us crazy women from church went to Women of Faith last weekend. What an incredible, God-filled weekend. Too many things to mention without boring you all to death. But I will touch on a few.

1) Orphans....Mr. Stearns, President of World Vision, spoke on Friday night....followed by a video from my favorite place in the world: Ethiopia. My friend Ellen, who I had to travel half way across the world to Ethiopia to meet, traveled from the coast of NC to WOF and was sitting next to me. Both of us have felt the pull of the plight of the orphans after spending time in Ethiopia. Yet to sit next to her and watch the video depicting scenes of Ethiopia with her right next to me, kind of brought me back....to the place my head and my heart longs to return to. Ethiopia on my mind.........

Mr. Stearns asked two important questions that night...both having to do with following the Will of God.....What will you do? he asked. "Whom shall I send......Send me!" I've prayed to God for many years now....it always seems to get me into trouble. Not real trouble, you know...just the kind of trouble you don't expect to see yourself in: over your head, out of your comfort zone, and in a place you don't know how to get out of by yourself. The place called FAITH.......real FAITH is trusting when you can't do anything else......

And most of you know I'm a Homeschooling Momma now...WAY OUT of my comfort zone and relying on FAITH everyday.......The Bible study we are doing with the boys had an interesting lesson a few weeks ago...OK, maybe it's a few month sago..I'm losing track of time (please don't tell me that's an age thing, I'm blaming it on being an older Mom to pre-schoolers...just let me go with this for awhile, ok???). It was about obedience..you know the word..the one every woman in America cringes at when mentioned. Well, all these years I thought I was being OBEDIENT by following God's will, but I wasn't....Oooh..shameful admission going on here.....

Obedience is following God's will for your life with a willing and loving heart.

Can you say:

O U C H ! ! ! ! ! !

Wowzer...that really hurt.......to be caught red-handed in a sin so blatant.......

I realized I was doing what I was suppose to be doing, like I've done all my life....but my heart wasn't in it. I still was arguing within myself to do what I wanted to do and why I felt I deserved it....I wasn't dying to self.....Ohhhhh.....now that one really hurt too.

My heart changed......my life changed........and my spirit has changed.......

Living a life of obedience from the heart is changing my life....

Good-bye, old friend.....

Hello Peace, Love, Joy.....

OK, OK, OK, ....I'm still working on Patience....

let's not push our luck! I still have a lifetime ahead of me........

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm so LAME....

in keeping my blog updated.....

I'm just going to post some pictures I've taken over the summer.

We've had a lot going on this summer:

Sy got braces:
















The girls got some really cool princess dresses
from a friend in AZ (thanks Staci!)






































We had a "Camping Day" in the back yard: made canoes out of Okra (better than eating it!)

































Played Bean Bag Toss



















Just being cute.......(she does that too well)



















Cooked hot dogs on the open flame (Hubby is a 40+ year Boy Scout....so trust me....all safety precautions were in place!)




















Kick Ball Game with Big Brother DJ















And finally...Sy's concoction: Pickle, Potatoe Chip and Ketchup Sandwich ....YUCK!

Monday, July 12, 2010

From 1 to 4 in Less than 20 Months

Seriously, what were were thinking????

Ok...I know it's been awhile since I've written. I'm not sure anyone out there is even still following...or still cares. But that's OK...I write more for me as a way to journal and purge stuff from my mind and sometimes my heart.

So, what were were thinking? Although I've asked myself that less and less over the last few months, there were many, many months that it was a daily question. I look back over the past 13 months and wonder how we made it. More so, how I made it. My husband is much stronger than me, much more cut out for being a Dad to many children than I am being a Mom to 4. Although 4 doesn't seem like a tough number, I think sometimes it's the dynamics of the 4 that make it so challenging.

Here's why:

1) Squeeker - only child for 7 years.

2) I'm 40-something......too darn old for the preschool/puberty/peri-menopause combination (did I really just type that????)

3) Pickles -- my, oh my, that girl has snatched my heart and run off with it. Even in the "throws of three," she is still my girl.

4) Birth order disruption....and this is a biggee! Doesn't seem to be a big deal unless you've turned a child, or in our case, two children's birth order upside down. Literally, we took two pieces of bread, and made them the peanut butter and jelly. Not an easy transition.

5) Size --- our youngest is actually bigger in weight and height than the next oldest. Definitely causes some major issues as they've tried to sort out the "pecking order."

6) Working Mom of ONE to a homeschooling Mom of 4. Yikes...enough said there! Big transition!

7) Dying to self.......this by far, has been my biggest struggle. Letting go of ME and truly living each day for my kids. This too, is a season. One day, so they say, I'll miss this. Preschooler....mmmm..really not so sure about that.

8) Birth order issues...didn't I say that already? Yep...but I can't stress this one enough.....it's a BIG deal.

So......as we are turning the corner into beginning our 2nd year home with our sibling group, I must say, I've been stretched beyond my wildest imagination, challenged daily, hourly, on the edge of the ledge, come back from the brink. Would I do it all over again???? Ahhhhh..that's the BIG question. Would I? If I knew then what I know now, would I?

Today, that answer would be an astounding YES......a few months ago, hmmm...can't really say how I would answer that. There were days in the not so distant past that I would have "undone" it.......... no doubt about it. But I've looked at how we've grown together as a family, how much I've grown as a wife, mother and a woman, and realize that God's got it.....God's had me all along......if only I'd have let go of needing to do it all by myself. It probably wouldn't have been so hard, so challenging, so frustrating.

We still have a long way to go.....But each day, each hour, each minute, God is weaving the tapestry of our family together....And one day, we'll look back at how marvelous our God is to have brought us together the way He did.