Saturday, April 19, 2014

A-Day 2014

One of the things DW looks forward to each year is going down to Auburn for the annual A-Day game. This year, we made the trip over with our friends, Stephen and Amber and LC's buddy, Z. We loaded the kids in the car together so we could let them entertain each other and it wasn't long before there were lots of giggles from the back seat. And also...romance. Ha!

Road tripping over to Auburn with my best friend... #texastechrepresent


After lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Amsterdams, we parked and walked around, taking in the changes on campus and visiting the bookstore to pick up our AU gear.  We also took a couple minutes to take pictures that we joke we will recreate in 2030 when the kids head to college. 
 

Headed to get our seats...clearly LC and Z enjoy holding hands because they do this without being prompted.  I guess this is what friendship from infancy looks like.  I adore it and hope they will always share a special bond, even if its more like brother and sister one day.
 
 
Often, little miss Sassy Pants leads Z around by his hand and he's patient and sweet enough to let her.  Here and there, though, you have to wonder if he gets tired of being (wo)man-handled.  This picture would make one think so...


Getting ready to cheer for our team with my Daddy...
 

 
All War Eagled out...
 

Monday, April 7, 2014

On that 6th Time Around...

About the time I became a mother, something inside of me shifted from completely open about any and every subject to slightly more private in certain areas and very private in others.  As the writer of this blog, I feel like I shared our journey as a couple and through infertility (with DW's blessing) to whoever chose to come and read about our story in a very unguarded way.  At the time, it felt safe and natural...so it never occurred to me to filter much of anything I said.  And then...

One afternoon when LC was sleeping (a miracle in and of itself), I sat down and started reading back through old posts...like, really, really old posts...and all of the sudden, I just felt a little...nekkid.  Like, I really told people ALL that? I remember thinking.  It was a really weird moment.  I guess when you're reading or writing about intimate thoughts that you know your child might read one day...it just sort of changes things. 

At first, I didn't want to write much because we hadn't finalized the adoption and I wanted to protect LC and our family as much as possible. 

And then, it was something else.  All my words and desire to "talk it out" just left me.  Looking back, I know what triggered it...when life is good (albeit not without struggle but good as a whole), having a community of people invested in you can be a nice feeling.  Having a group of people surround, comfort, and pray for me/us during a painful season of dealing with infertility was very healing and wonderful to experience. But then this thing happened where my whole world radically changed in every way.  And I mean every.  

And not only did I not know how to deal with it myself...there was this sudden realization that I didn't think I could handle people watching me figure it out.  I didn't want to get on the blog and write about life and motherhood or marriage or health because all of the sudden I felt like I didn't know what the "balance" was anymore.  I didn't want to pretend I had it all together but I also didn't want to put myself out there for unsolicited advice from people who didn't know all the details of what we were going through as new parents or as a couple or while I figured out how to deal with my health issues, either.   

Suddenly, DW and I weren't just two people who had spent the last 6+ years alone, having funny conversations or doing spontaneous things anymore. Instead, we were exhausted, co-parents to this wonderful little human (and also tiny terrorist) we had yet to figure out.  I'm not complaining, only stating we could barely finish a sentence - much less have a conversation - without interruption.

Suddenly, I wasn't so much worried about small "luxuries" like whether my shirt was cute or whether my hair looked good, I was more worried about whether my shirt was even buttoned correctly or whether my hair had vomit in it. Ha! 

Also, I recognized that pretty much every blog post I would have written post adoption would have said the same thing over and over.  Something along the lines of: "I can't believe God has done this amazing thing for us..."  I still feel that way pretty much every day but I also wanted to take some time to process those feelings on my own. 

And then, after the new and different wore off a little and it became a little more normal, a new "season" hit.  A season where, even though I had looked fully in the face of God's grace and sovereignty when He entrusted LC to us, I didn't feel as close to Him as I had in the past.  It made me feel guilty.  He did this crazy, amazing, great thing that a lot of y'all watched happen and yet, here I was already doubting Him about other areas of life.  I'm pretty sure I may fall in the category of His "problem" children. ;-) 

While I don't plan on sharing the details, I will just simply describe it by saying that I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark and I wasn't going to bring anyone in there with me.  This particular journey was/is for me and Him alone to walk through.  What I do want to share, however, is a realization I've had as I look back over this little season. Well, and every other season of my life where I've felt a little "off" in my walk with God...   

When I get in "trouble", it ALWAYS corresponds with times when I trust my feelings instead of my Faith. 

Example?

I was absolutely 150% convinced that there was no way I could love an adoptive child the way I would love a biological one.  When people even mentioned adoption to me as a "solution" to our desire to grow our family, they were lucky I didn't rip their faces off.  Those of you who have been reading for a long time know this.  I mean, did I not say that "if God were going to call us to adoption He would literally have to drop a baby in our lap"?  (Dear Lord, I'm so sorry I was so spiritually immature and such a jerk by the way.  I should have known better...) 

But I couldn't have been more wrong.  Biology hasn't absolutely nothing to do with our capacity to love another human being when its what God intends.  Trust me when I say, my heart is fully satisfied.

But could ANYONE on this earth have ever come to me when I was in the midst of the infertility struggle and told me that I would FEEL like this now?  NO.  I just had to keep leaning on my faith until the picture became clear because, I can promise you, there were times I wasn't sure things were ever going to change for me.

It's ok to have feelings...doubts, struggles, fears, hopes, dreams...if it weren't, I would be in a whole lot of trouble because lawd knows I'm full up on those.  And one thing I've realized is that it's even OK to be tempted.  Jesus was even tempted.  We are going to falter at times...we are human.   

But to justify my feelings as more important than my faith is wrong.  Feelings are good sometimes but one thing to always keep in mind is that Feelings lie.  All I have to do to know that is true is to look back over my life and recall times when I was SO sure that I couldn't/wouldn't be able to survive or live without this particular certain someone in my life or without having this certain outcome I'd expected or hoped for.  And now I look back with that perfect 20/20 "hindsight" vision and want to literally beat the crap out of myself for thinking that way. 

Fact: I have feelings that are contrary to scripture.  Probably every day, in fact.

Fact: I have times when I think God's way might be a little too "old school".

Fact: when I don't understand God's plan, I almost always catch myself "bargaining" with Him to get Him to do it my way.  I often catch myself offering alternate solutions to His plan when I'm uncomfortable.

Fact: when I'm uncomfortable in what God or His word is telling me to do, I usually find myself justifying, "surely God doesn't want me to feel this way..."

Fact: I've been known to struggle with a "Grass is Greener" syndrome.  But like an awesome local pastor said recently, "If the grass is actually greener over there, the water bill is also probably much higher..."  I may need to tattoo that on my body somewhere. 

I recently met with a lady who is a very discerning and wise mentor, biblically speaking.  She works with women a lot and one of the things she told me about myself was that I put too much value in my feelings.  She said what I'm saying now: "We can't always trust our feelings.  With feelings, you have to line them up against God's word and, if they don't match, then your feelings are what's lying to you - not God - because God doesn't and can't lie.  It's not in His nature or character." 

This woman also gave me some emotional/spiritual homework to do and I know, without a doubt, that I looked at her like she had lost her mind.  I know this because she told me I did...and, let's face it, I'm not one who hides what I'm thinking well. 

What if it doesn't work? I asked, like a petulant child, one hand gripping each demin-clad thigh in frustration.  What if I do what you're asking me to do and nothing in my life or heart changes?   

"Honey," she leans in toward me, pinning me to the back of the couch with her intense stare, and says: "Don't you think that on the 6th time around  the city of Jericho the Israelites looked up at the sky toward God and said in frustration, "Lord, this ain't working! 

But, she continued, the walls came crumbling down on the 7th trip around.  And do you know why?" 

I don't think I said anything...I only remember shaking my head "no".  Why?

"Because they followed their faith (in God) not their feelings..."  God blessed them for doing what He said, not for doing what they felt

Kinda awesome. 

Also, kinda overwhelming. They weren't even told the exact number of trips it would take to make the walls crumble around Jericho.  They were only given the instruction to TRUST and start walking. 

And definitely kinda scary...I mean, what if they had quit on that 6th time around?  What if they were more like me and were the kind of person who says, "I don't want to do what you're asking me anymore...this ain't working."  I don't know about the Israelites but I'm someone who likes to have a pretty clear plan in mind before I start walking the Path. The irony about Faith is, however, that God most often expects us to learn by leaping.

So instead of my feelings, I find myself leaning on some classic biblical truth today in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (God, my situation makes no earthly sense to me)

...in all your ways submit to him, (Lord, you know what you're doing even if I don't)

and he will make your paths straight (and one day I know I'll see what You were doing - just like I have before when I trust you.  I'll be able to understand WHY You made you go that route)...

I don't know about you but what I want (desperately) is to stay on that straight path.  There is a phrase I have been repeating to myself in my lowest moments of each day when I feel defeated or when I feel "tempted" by my feelings.  In the midst of my feelings that want to lead my off track and despite my stubbornness, I know that my Faith won't lie to me.  I must fall back on this one, single truth that has never once failed me:

What The Lord wills for my life, I will for my life...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Vision...

As I think about how long it's been since I posted here, I'm actually wondering, "Do people even read blogs anymore?" Ha!  In fact, I catch myself feeling like I'm on one of those live TV shows, playing the part of that very unsure person who walks up to a microphone in the center of a large wooden stage, leans in a little too close and asks, voice garbled as their lips graze the mic: 
 
"Ummmm, is this thing on?"  and then does the Tap. Tap. thing people always do even though they've seen enough movies to know better, surely.
 
In my imagination, the mic makes that atrocious, squealing feedback noise causing the speaker to step back and grimace, realizing they've caused everyone to grab for their violated ears and cringe for just a second.   Awwwwkward

Yes, I feel that out of practice.

Still standing in front of this imagined microphone, I'd clear my throat and try again...

"Well, hey there...it's been a while."

My eyes would scan the audience, thankful for the ones who came and scattered themselves in the seats around the room.  Some people, I'd notice, would be nodding in encouragement, willing to hear what I have to say and ready to catch up. There would be a few, like those who have reached out over the last couple months, who would have a bit of concern etched on their faces. Has everything been okay? their eyes would ask, silently. Others, probably those most like me, would be leaned back in their chairs, faces stoic and arms crossed.  One look in their eyes and I know I'd have to earn them back...after all, it's been a while. I feel like the friend who asked them on a coffee date each week for years and then one day stopped showing up, without explanation, for our regular meetings.

Mostly, I know I'm over thinking it but, hey, it's what us slightly strange, semi-creative people do. We over think. Usually everything in this girl's case.

Moving right along in my weird little mind...it occurs to me that if I were going to "come back" for the first time in a long while, I better make it "good", right? As in, really give you a glimpse into where my heart and mind has been during this quiet season.  But that seems overwhelming and so I thought I would share the most important thing...and the thing that I was last and most focused on when I left off.  The rest I can save for other posts and other days. 
 
In an ideal world, I wanted to share this video when I'd made progress...like, for instance, once the website was fully up and running and when my 501c3 non-profit status was established. But life, especially with a two year old constantly underfoot, both flies by and drags on.  Not much (at all) has changed since we filmed this Custom Made Kid video with our friends from Burgeon Media...time has simply marched on.  Baby steps, right?

When I took a peek back at it the other day, I realized that DW and I have been married a year longer than the video says and our child has almost literally doubled in size.  So instead of using this video as an introduction once it's all complete, I've realized it is instead, time to share it as "the vision" for what Custom Made Kid is...and where it's headed.

All I humbly and hopefully ask, is that if you take/took the time to watch and "get it" - if it sparks something in your heart or you see any magic in it - please share it however you feel comfortable. On your twitter, your facebook, your blog...whatever. I'd love to get the word out and there are lots of adoptive families and future adoptive families out there, with their very own "Custom Made Kid" or Kids that I can't reach without your help.  CMK is also on Facebook now if you want to "like" the page and get updates on the (very slow) progress of the book and non-profit. I don't know if it will be weeks or years before it all manifests. I only know that I feel like God, from all the pain of infertility and the joy that LC has brought us, has put this passion in my heart and it's time to "step up to the mic", if you will.  Passion from the pain...what a beautiful thing!
 
Without further ado...click the pic below to go see our video!

http://vimeo.com/76237927
 
 
   
 
Thank y'all for sticking with me on this journey...and for watching.  :-)
 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Though She Be but Little...

"Though she be but little, she is fierce." - William Shakespeare
 
Happy 2nd Birthday to my favorite little girl in the world. LC, you have brought joy to my heart in unspeakable ways. Your life - and especially your presence in our family - is a *constant* reminder of God's infinite love for and grace on me...because how else would I have ever been so blessed as to call you my daughter? 
 

I thank God every day that you were always in His Master Plan for our life.  I pray for you each and every day, baby girl...that "though you are little", you might always stay "fierce".  I truly believe with all my heart that He has a special plan for your life and it is my greatest joy to be allowed to come beside you in this journey to not only help guide you and protect you but also to champion you.   
 
You are "Custom Made"...


 ...and don't you ever forget it. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Claus & Aubie Claus

Last weekend, we took LC to meet up with her best friend, Zachary to do the obligatory Santa Claus photos.  These two really do love each other and, I swear, I need to write a kids book with them as inspiration.  They call each other "Khaki" and "Lanlee" which is pretty adorable. 
 
Anyway, we stood in line as the kids played, waiting on Singing Santa to stop singing and get down to business.  LC played a little hard-to-get with Zachary, paid a little attention to their 2 month old little girl, MB...


 
 ...and snuggled a little with her Daddy (although she still purposely calls him "Gaggy").  I get told constantly how much LC looks like me from absolute strangers but this particular picture blows me away how much she looks like DW.  Makes my heart pitter-patter in my chest a little. 

 
...and then we got close enough to spot Santa...
 
 
LC wasn't too excited about it as you can see.
 

Honestly, I wasn't sure how LC would do because she is not a fan of strangers but she held her own. What really freaked me out was when I compared the difference between last years pics and this years pics. I can't believe how much she's grown. Although, I kinda can since it feels like I'm carrying a 13 year old most days. She is super tall (and dense) for her age or something because I know several 4 year olds that LC is looking at eye to eye.

   
Clearly she thinks Santa is for babies...(eye roll).
 
 
Zachary's face makes me laugh...I love that kid. It was like a very painful "Cheese".   
 
 
We also, as Auburn fans, couldn't miss out on the opportunity to take the kids to go see Aubie-Claus. The real Aubie was actually visiting a local church and taking pics with kids so we reserved a time and headed over. 
 


 
LC with her two crushes, Khaki and SEE-ven.

Zachary's face lit up like a Christmas Tree (to use a seasonally appropriate expression) when he saw Aubie and, as you can see from the pic, was absolutely thrilled to get to meet him. 


LC, on the other hand, went into full blown cardiac arrest. Her daddy can only hope this doesn't mean that she grows up and becomes an Alabama fan.  DW's entire family and my Dad, her "Ace", wouldn't be sad in the least if this catastrophe happened. 

   
 Notice to Alabama fans: the comment section of this blog post is closed.  ;-) 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Single Girl's Manifesto

I'm not single but yet the whole "singleness" thing has been heavily on my mind and heart lately.  I can't even really tell you why.  I guess, as the mom of a little girl, I see the world very differently when I think of it through her eyes.  I already see a yearning in her for male attention and it makes me realize how intentional DW and I will need to be about showing her how to value herself from a very early age so that when she reaches the dating era of her life, she'll be well prepared. 
 
In thinking on these things, a list started forming in my head of things I'd want to tell her "one day" pertained to dating and choosing someone to "do life with".  I called it a "manifesto" simply because a manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.  Clearly, I don't claim to have any professional expertise in this area nor is this list comprehensive. It's just some personal thoughts...feel free to comment and add your own two cents.

As I was considering what I wanted to write down, I asked two very close friends the question, "If you could have a conversation with your 'former', single self about what you wish you knew then about relationships, dating, men, marriage, etc...what would be the one thing you would want 'her' to know?"  Their answers are included in this list but this post is largely based on my own long list of poor dating choices, faux paus and personal transgressions.   
 
The Single Girl's Manifesto

1. Be yourself… Like, your real no-holding-back self.  If they don't like you, so what?  There will be someone else who will.  Worry less about making an impression on someone and more about just being "you".  It will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.   Honestly, this is a mistake I made frequently when dating.  I wasn't  NOT myself in the sense that I pretended to be something I wasn't but I let the idea someone might not like the real me affect my ability to just have fun and enjoy the process.  Bottom line, I cared too much about what people thought about me instead of focusing on evaluating them thoroughly. 
 
2. Be honest and expect honesty back.  I feel like this one is self-explanatory but, again, it needs to be said.  I think too many times people are afraid to offend in the dating process or be open about their values, standards, and expectations about life, love, etc but, if more people were, maybe there would be less divorce.  Dating should be a process of elimination.  Eliminate wisely and don't let it rock your value when others do the same.

3. Learn to be alone with (and actually like) yourself.  Again, another failure on my part.  Sometimes I wonder how I'm ever going to be able to encourage my daughter to do this when I was so horrible at it myself.  I feel hypocritical, in a sense, because I didn't learn to love myself until much later in life and I'm still working on it.  But if, for a moment, I could live by the principle of "do as I say, not as I did", it would be to encourage this:

Don't be afraid to be single. Don't be afraid to be a little bored or feel a little lonely.  Instead of looking for someone (anyone) to be your crash pad, find other things besides a relationship to try and/or embrace.  Try something new.  Check off some "bucket list" items.   Even if you don't necessarily want to do them by yourself, do them. If nothing else, it will make you more interesting to talk to and get to know. 
 
4.  Choosing to be single for a season doesn't mean you are completely missing your chance.   Don't get me wrong, I know there are women who feel like they might have missed their chance and I'm not minimizing or belittling their single status.  I don't know that pain.  What I'm referring to is a short season to just be independent, self-contained, and to figure out how to do #3. 

5.  Just because you're attracted to someone don't mean they should be let into your life...or your heart.   Even if you are inexplicably, insanely, incredibly attracted to someone, ironically, it doesn't mean that you should be with them. Especially… Especially… Especially…(are you getting this?) if it is mostly based on physical attraction.  Looks fade and sex is like lighter fluid...it makes things burn bright and hot but if the slow-burning embers aren't there...your fire will die.  It's only a matter of time.  If you don't actually LIKE the person as a person, hit the road, Jack. 
 
6. Have a "no compromise" list. I'm not talking about a long list of superficial physical qualities or personal attributes that you impose on someone or that you can't look beyond. I am talking about some issues that you absolutely can't bend on because they are "core values" that reach to your very soul.  If someone has any of your "no compromise" traits...do just that, don't compromise. 
 
7. Be smart. If you start recognizing the signs that it's highly unlikely to work, jump ship before you get your feelings deeply involved. Too often, I think women keep trying to make something work that deep down they know they shouldn't. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole. That's just begging for a broken heart down the road. You'll end up kicking yourself for not going with your gut back when.
 
8. What you feel early on aren't real feelings, it's emotional adrenaline.  It's too easy to confuse infatuation and those "new" feelings that you have when dating with something more permanent.  Those fluttery, excited feelings you get when you are getting to know someone shouldn't be confused with the verb "love".  Love is an action, not just a feeling.   

9. Let yourself be pursued.  Don't do his "job" for him.  I'm not saying play games at all...but what I am saying is not to be the one to initiate every conversation or meet up.  Don't always be the first one to reach out.  Let him seek you out.  Let him romance you.  I'm afraid women in this world have forgotten how to let themselves be romanced and I'm more afraid men are forgetting how to do it because they aren't really expected to anymore.
 
10. Less is more early on.  Don't rush the process.  Enjoy it.  Don't wait by the phone for him to text or call.  Don't not do things you want to do or cancel plans with friends to accommodate his schedule.  Live your life authentically and thoroughly.  Don't make him more important than you and don't treat him as less important than you.  Simply, keep on running your race and let him come alongside you. 
 
11. Dating should be the easy part. Newsflash: there are no trophies awarded for making a dating relationship work.  Again, as I said before, dating is an elimination process and not everyone deserves to make the cut.  In fact, only one person can make that final cut.  I've done it myself and I've seen others continue a relationship that isn't healthy nor fulfilling.  Marriage is (or should be) a lifelong commitment and it's very hard work at times.  If your dating experience with someone is difficult or conflict-filled, consider there is a reason for it and recognize it doesn't get any easier. 

12. Break the technology bond.  Can you "do life" well face to face?  Sure, texting can be flirty and cute and fun but if you can't have a real, emotionally fulfilling conversation face to face, do yourself a favor now.  Bail. It is simply a false sense of "intimacy".  This rule could also include the statement that if you find that you're checking your social media accounts on your phone more than you're giving (or getting) quality face-to-face time with him, you might not be that interested.  When you really care about someone (or vice versa), you listen with your face

13.  Don't jack up the balance of power. If he takes an unexplained step back, don't step forward.  Hold your ground.  Don't try to "fix" it. Don't force it.  Just be that real, authentic you and let him work through whatever it is.  If he needs your input, he'll ask for it.  If it's supposed to be, it'll all even back out but not if you start smothering him. 

14. Don't over think it. Men have compartments. Your compartment might be closed right now and if you act like Andi Anderson on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, you're the one who is gonna blow it.  If he gets quiet for a couple hours or a couple days, chill out.  He'll be back.  And if he doesn't reappear, consider yourself blessed for knowing sooner than later. 

15.  If it seems like he's probably not interested, he's probably not interested. Don't overlook the signs just because you don't want to see them or because his lack of interest in you makes you feel rejected. 
 
16. If you believe you need to end things, go with your gut and make the cut.  It's a lot like taking off a bandaid...the sooner and the quicker you do it once its time, the less it will hurt.  And even if it hurts really, really bad, it will hurt a lot more the longer you wait or the more you drag the inevitable out.
 
17. Men are resilient.  Trust me, he'll survive.  Don't be afraid to do what's best for you.
 
18. Don't worry about some one's feelings that doesn't worry about yours.

19.  Don't be one of those girls who wants what you can't have.  Ever met the girl who seems to date the men who are "bad boys" or heart breakers and then wonders why they get hurt? It's very unlikely you'll be the one to "change him" and it's not smart of you to try.  Don't be that girl.
 
And on that note:
 
20.  If you play with fire, expect to get burned.  If you know someone has a certain reputation, consider they might have gotten it for a reason.  I'm not saying to be judge-y but I am going to stick with the fire analogy and state the obvious: "where there is smoke, there's usually fire". 

21. Be smart.  Oh did I say this one already?  Well, I meant it.    
21.  Don't start doodling his last name.  What I mean by this is don't start fantasizing about a future with someone before you really take the time to get to know them.  If you're so focused on getting from Point A to Point Z, you might miss a lot of things.  Namely, some very important clues about the person you wish you would have known.  Great that your names go so perfectly together when doodled on a piece of notebook paper but will your life be great together because you're equals?  Infatuation isn't the same thing as Love. 

22.  If you've ended the relationship, keep a mental list handy of the reasons you ended it.  Feelings are misleading.  If you know - deep down know - that you don't need to be in a relationship with someone, it doesn't mean that every last feeling will immediately go away.  Give yourself time to heal but, in the meantime, make a mental list of reasons that you ended the relationship so that you won't let your emotions rule you. 

23.  Refer to that above list of reasons as often as needed.

24.  Don't make excuses for someone and/or cross reasons off the list that should stay on the list. Come on, you know you've done it.  Don't start bending on your no-compromise list to make something work that shouldn't work.  You're asking for trouble and heartache down the road. 
 
25.  Whenever you go, there you are.  Don't think that a new situation or a new person is what's going to make you feel complete or happy.  No person can do that for you.  You can only do that for yourself. 

26.  Don't marry someone just because they ask. True Love and being "safe" are not the same thing.  Too many times I talk to women who admit they thought a LOT about getting married, planning a wedding, and dreamed of their diamond ring but did very little thinking on the fact that an actual Marriage comes after all that.  Don't let superficial things matter more than the real thing. 

And finally, one last, really important one...

27. If you have doubts, slow down and wait.  And if you have really big doubts, don't be afraid to stop.  If you think it will "be embarrassing" to call off an engagement/wedding or you're "worried about what people will say", I'd submit it would be about 1000X more difficult to announce your divorce.  And think about what those gossipy people will be saying then.    

In summary, Take your time.  Be discerning.  And, for goodness sakes, value yourself.  .Afterall, this is potentially the whole rest of life we are talking about here. 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Paid in Full...

When DW and I were adopting LC, there were a ton of steps to the process.  We had to have our initial home study done to determine whether we could provide a safe environment, a Federal background check to ensure there were no crimes against children in our backgrounds, we had to hire a lawyer here in Alabama to work on the actual adoption and a lawyer in LC's birth state to do all the things necessary (like terminating the birth parents rights, making us legal guardians, etc) to make her adoptable.  Needless to say, it wasn't inexpensive.  And also needless to say: it was a hundred million times over worth it.  

When I sent the final payment to the Alabama lawyer, we received a letter back from them in the mail.  I tore the seal of the envelope open and there, at the top of the page and in all caps, were the following words:

ADOPTION STATEMENT 

Below those two words, there was the original total of what we owed, followed by a line by line detail of each of the charges incurred during the process of the adoption.  Each one of those items, in a very long list, had cost us.  In fact, they filled the entire page.  Our debt was large.

My eyes continued to scan down the page and I finally found what I was looking for.  In red capital letters, there it was: PAID IN FULL.  Immediately, I felt that burn you get behind your eyes that tell you the tears are a'comin.  


In fact, if someone had asked me to talk in that moment, I'm not sure I could have past the huge lump in my throat.  Not only did that Paid in Full symbolize something wonderful for our little family - in every way LC was ours and ours completely - I couldn't help but think that it was a perfect picture of what Christ did for us.  

I imagine salvation as a tangible thing and this is what it looks like.  It's a letter that comes in the mail and at the top it says: ADOPTION STATEMENT.  God looks down this long list of charges against us, knowing each one of those charges created a debt.  He KNEW that loving - and saving us - would cost Him but He did it anyway.  With His life, he marked our debt:  PAID IN FULL  

It blows my mind every day that He invited me into a relationship because He wanted me and because I needed Him.  He paid the full price to adopt me, made me a full heir - equal in every way to the best and the least in His family - and chose to love me without condition.  I'll say it again: blows. my. mind. 

Before, in a life Pre-LC, I didn't understand adoption.  To me, it was a great concept...it was important there were people (others better than I) who would adopt...but there were more reasons NOT to adopt than TO adopt.  

I feel physically sick when I think of what it would have cost me to not sacrifice our finances to adopt our daughter, the very light of my world.  Our bank account would have been much more full but our lives and our hearts...our very existence...would have been so much more infinitely empty.

I feel both humbled and heartsick that my list of excuses was always so long...

...what if I don't love them?
...what if they don't love me?
...what if they have problems from _____ ?

But the very first one on my list was always: IT WILL COST ME TOO MUCH.  

It could cost me emotionally.
It would most assuredly cost me financially.
It would require I sacrifice myself for another...lay down my life for another.  

I say those words again, with tears pouring down my face: It will cost me too much.  

How glad I am that my Savior didn't say that about me.  How glad I am that He didn't make a list (like I did), of all the reasons saving me (and loving me) wouldn't make sense.  How grateful I am that He didn't choose to look at the long list of "debts" against me and say, No, this one isn't worth saving.  It will cost me too much.

It humbles me to know that I have been privileged with the ability to adopt and, in doing so, have a new and intimate understanding of what Christ has done for each of us.  I think, despite my resistance to adoption, God knew it would brand my heart with the truth of His indelible grace and so it would be.  I've been blessed beyond my wildest imagination by the gift of adoption and so you'll never, ever hear me complain about the cost.  And if I could sit down and have coffee with Jesus and ask Him how He feels about what I cost Him, I imagine I wouldn't hear Him complain either.    

He'd simply reach out and hold my hand in His nail scarred hand and, with a knowing smile, say three of the most beautiful words I've ever heard...

PAID IN FULL.
   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Almost

When LC first became our very own Custom Made Kid, I had soooooo many moments throughout every single day where I thought with surprise, "Holy Cow...I'm a mom."  I would look at her and feel this sense of awe that she was actually a part of my life.  I was doing the day in, day out role of a mom but it felt a lot like putting on a new pair of jeans that hadn't been broken in just yet.  The jeans fit but they weren't comfortable and I wasn't sure exactly how to wear them.  With a little time and a few trips through the ringer, things changed.  Things began to fit just right and now, well, it's my favorite pair.

During that early season, there were so many times where I also thought, "Somehow someone is going to realize I don't deserve this..." and it felt like just as rapidly as our world changed for the better, it would all disappear just as quickly.  But with time, LC and I both (and DW, of course) settled into our rhythm, I started feeling "safe" that this good thing really had happened to us and was here to stay, and being a "mom" felt like less of a "role" and became something "organic" inside of me.  Somewhere along the way, it stopped being a thing I was doing and became a part of who I am.

A Day In The Life of Almost Two

One moment I'm sitting on the couch folding laundry while she's playing with toys and LC runs over and says, emphatically, MOMMY!  HUG, peas!

My heart melts.

Fifteen minutes later, I walk by LC, lean down, and say, Can I have a kiss?

NO PEAS!  she whines, turning her head and body away from me so fast that wispy blond hair whips her in the face.

Well, ok then.

I made the mistake (?) of trying to teach LC to say "No, thank you" when she doesn't want something instead of having a meltdown.  Instead, it became "No peas!" and it is used so often I dream of a rewind to the day I thought that was a good idea.  I think it was my dad who, during the middle of a tantrum, laughed and said, "Well, at least she's polite in her disobedience..."

Oh yea, mark that one in the "win" column... (shaking head no)

One moment I say, "Ok, lets go to school..." and she responds like this:

NO PEAS!!!


Ummmm, I reply, I need you to be sweet, please...

Weet, she replies, a total transformation coming over her.



Beyond the moments of crazy almost two, LC has become such a funny little girl and I absolutely have so much joy in my heart because of her.  Last night I was sitting at the table with her and wanted her to try a bite of a food she really doesn't like but will tolerate.  I handed it to her and said "Take a bite, please..." and she replied, "No peas."

"Yes" I counter and she raises it to her mouth, does this squirrel nibble on it (she didn't even touch it) and then she (fake) dry-heaved and said, "Sca-wee."  (Scary).

I'll be the first to admit that I have far more "hanging on by the skin of my teeth" moments in motherhood than I expected.  Being LC's mom has made me crazy (at times), a hypocrite ("I will NEVER do that with my kid), a more outwardly emotional person (inward has never been a problem), and it has humbled me in ways I didn't know were possible.  It has also fulfilled my dreams and then some.

Thinking of a life without her...now that's Sca-wee.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

CMK Model...

A few weeks back, I wanted to test the sizing and quality of various t-shirts and couldn't resist sharing a few pics of LC modeling her very own Custom Made Kid™ tee.  I seriously underestimated how happy this would make me and how much I would die over the cuteness of seeing her wearing her very own LC-inspired "brand". 




 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all...

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous Fall day here in Alabama and LC was in a super cute, playful mood.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend a few minutes behind the camera...


Can you say cheese?
Chiss.


What are you holding?
Egg.



 Can you dance for Mommy?


A bug has been spotted...


This photo shoot is officially over, Mommy...



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SOOT!

On Sunday night, we took LC and met her bestie, Z, at the Birmingham Zoo for their annual "Boo at the Zoo" celebration.  The kids were definitely a little young to understand the whole thing but the lights and all of the costumes people were wearing was super entertaining and it was just fun to do something different.  


We did stop to take a quick cameo with a skeleton that was in the corner of the petting zoo.  It's a miracle...we actually have a picture with all three of us in it.  


The Stone family...minus Miss McKenzie.  The Stones, although not in the picture, just added a sweet baby girl to their family this month.  I seriously still can't believe Amber was willing to get up and walk the entire Zoo.  Tough lady!


LC wasn't sure about standing so close to the creepy skeleton...


...and, of course, what post is complete without a picture of LC's little tongue sticking out?


Speaking of LC, she is growing up waaaaaay too fast.  Today I was running some errands and ended up forgetting something at the store so I went "Ugh!" and whipped the car around.  From the backseat I heard a tiny little voice say: SOOT! (Shoot!)  Guess it's time to more mindful of my exclamations.   

On this same errand adventure, I had to slow down to let a high school-ish boy cross at the crosswalk.  He was dressed nice and, admittedly, a handsome little thing in a total non-cougary way.  Statement of a fact. 

We paused and waited as he crossed and in my rearview mirror, I could see LC craning her neck to look at the person crossing the street.  Then, from the backseat she commented:

"Boy. Boy."  and then added "Coot Boy."  Heaven hold me.  I'm not ready for this although my mom tells me that I was about LC's age when I threw myself down in front of our teenage next door neighbor, batted my eyes and said, "Hep me up..."  I guess life has a way of humbling you.  ;-)

More recent LC-isms...

The other night for dinner, I threw some chicken on the grill and when DW walked in the door from work, I asked him if he would go check it.  Since he was holding LC in his arms, he took her with him.  When he opened the lid, he said something along the lines of, "See the chicken, baby?" and she replied:  Bock.  Bock.

He came back in laughing so hard because he said that right after she made the chicken noise (which she has done before) she took this long pause and under her breath said, "Bye Bye Chicken."

I still laugh every time I think of it.  No idea if she made the connection for real or what but still...

Recently, I've really been working on getting LC to "use her words" instead of whining.  When she starts with the tantrums, I make sure to ask her, "Are you whining?  Is whining a no-no?" and she will often respond, "Whining...no.no."  There are times that pointing it out and just getting her to articulate stops the whining but, if she chooses to continue, we tell her to go put her nose in the corner. For LC, this is a VERY effective method because she's big on attention.   We give her a minute to center herself and when she stops whining, it's not uncommon to hear her yell, "ORRY!" from the corner.  

Once she apologizes, we let her come out and ask her to come to one of us and "talk about it."  We want her to understand why she got time out, obviously.  Discipline without instruction just seems wrong to me.  I feel like just getting in trouble without understanding "why" just begs to teach a kid how to be deceptive.  I desperately want to teach her to have a heart change...not just hide her "bad" behavior.  Our conversations often go like this:    

"Come here...let's talk about it.  Do you know why you had to stand in the corner?"

"Whining..." she will usually reply...or if she doesn't, we help her with her answer.  

Is whining a no-no? I'll ask.

No no.  

Ok, well, lets not do that, ok?  Can you tell Mommy you're sorry?

Orry.  

Ok, I need you to look at Mommy's eyes when you say you're sorry.  Show me you mean it.  

Eyes.  Orry.  Mwean it.

Thank you, baby.  I forgive you, ok?

Ok.  

Can I have kisses?  

I always try to talk about what she has done and then I always want her to know that her actions - even bad ones - don't change how I feel about her.  I want her to be able to tell people she's sorry when she's wrong and I definitely want her to learn how to give and receive forgiveness.  And then we always end it by reconnecting.  I don't want her to feel distance between us and, while she might refuse my "make-up kisses" one day - that day isn't today.  It's so important to me that she know that discipline doesn't mean I withdraw my affection.

Granted, it doesn't always work like this but the more we do it, the more it does...at least at home.  Public tantrums are a different story.  Oy.  

The other day, she walked into the kitchen and started whining about something.  I raised my eyebrows and gave her "the look" and she instantly said, "WHIIIIIIIINING..."  I almost laughed out loud but much to my amusement and surprise, she walked herself to "her corner" saying, "WHHHHYYYY-NING...." over and over againg as she put her own nose in the corner.  I still didn't say anything because I was curious what she would do and it wasn't two more seconds before I heard, "Orry!" and she took herself out of the corner.  Into the kitchen she ran and said, "KEESH!"  

Kiss.  It's what we do, like I mentioned earlier, and I LOVE that actually recognizes that's a part of the process.  :-)  It was cute but, honestly, it melted me.  It was one of those all-too-rare moments in motherhood where I thought, "What I'm doing is working..."  There is a lot about motherhood where I just HOPE she's getting it but in this case, I was able to see that she was.  It's like getting a much-needed pat on your back at your job (although please take the word "job" loosely). 

Anyway, not too long after the self-discipline incident, DW and I were driving somewhere and we got into an animated conversation.  We weren't fighting but we were definitely talking about an issue - debating - and we both got really engaged about it.  Suddenly, from the backseat we realized LC was yelling, "WHINING! WHINING!!!  Mommy! Gaggy! WHINING!"

She recognized that we were definitely not using our normal tones and she let us hear about it. We have incorporated "WHINING" into our vocabulary thanks to LC.  Every time of us catches our self complaining about something, we cut off the negativity simply by saying "WHINING!" in an LC-like voice.  Usually it sorta clears the air and makes us laugh.

And, boy, does that girl ever give us reasons to laugh...  



Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Steps...

I am having far, far too much fun with developing Custom Made Kid™ to be able to consider it "work" in any way and wanted to share what I've been up to lately with CMK.  It's been absolutely amazing to feel how "home" I feel to be working on this project and how much I feel the Lord encouraging me to keep going.  Follow through isn't always my strong suit. 

I'm almost done with the website that I've been working on.  In a moment of stark-raving insanity, I decided I would attempt to design the website from scratch all by myself.  Days, weeks, less hair, and at least 12 migraines later, I think I'm almost done.  I'm actually pretty proud of it and keep telling myself it's ok if it looks a little bit like a 6th grader designed it.  It's a website about kids afterall so maybe people will just assume I did it that way on purpose.  Yea that.  Either way, I had three main goals...give clear and concise information, keep the website super easy to navigate, and keep the overall look clean and simple. 

Here's a couple shots of some of the pages although the quality isn't anything like what the actual website looks like...but it gives a good idea.


My friend, Jessica, shot the picture below for her friends that are adopting.  I fell in love and begged her to use it on the website.  It pretty much says it all for me!




Currently, as some of you saw elsewhere, I'm trying to decide which "style" I'm going to go with for the kid's shirt.  Note: not using the black shirt...it's "for example" only. 

tshirt image courtesy of american apparel website

I also think I've narrowed down the first round of women's CMK shirts to these three and plan to put them on Alternative Apparel brand tees because they have that super-soft feel without being cheap. 

tshirt image courtesy of american apparel website

tshirt image courtesy of american apparel website

This last one, I questioned for a while because it looks a little LSU-ish and, if you know a thing about the SEC, you know they be cray.  Nothing against LSU but it's like a rule that SEC people don't wear other schools colors.  I finally decided that people that would hate on this shirt for the colors are the kind of people who would kick puppies.  You can wear purple and gold for the chil-rens. 

tshirt image courtesy of american apparel website

I couldn't pass it up since that banner the kids are holding in the logo has exactly the gold and purple for two of the flags. 

Anyway, these tees and a couple others are going to be on the website eventually under our "shop" tab.  Any other colors or styles you'd like to see?  I'm open to suggestions...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue Door Diary

This picture creates so much perspective for me. I look at LC on her tiptoes, reaching up to try to open that blue door, and something about it has stuck with me for the last few days. I just keep going back to look at it. 
 
 
 
My friend, Jessica, and I decided that, since we both had our afternoon free earlier this week, we would meet up halfway between our two great states - Georgia and Alabama - and have lunch and let our girls play.  While LC and I were waiting on Jessica and Olivia to arrive, we were walking up and down the sidewalk in a cute little renovated town and came upon this row of offices that looked more like something European-esque to me. 
 
Five Blue doors spread out in a row in front of LC and I watched as she went to each one, knocked, wiggled the handle, and tried to figure out a way to open the doors.  Up and down she would walk. 
 
"Knaw-Knaw" she'd say, tapping her tiny, balled up fist on the door and trying to repeat the "Knock-Knock" we've taught her to do before coming into a room.  Most of the offices were closed for the day and I didn't have to worry about us bothering anyone so I just let her explore. 
 
Of all the doors, there was this one in particular LC kept coming back to and I found myself wondering, "Why?"  Why did she want that one?  What was it about the idea of entering Blue Door #4 that captured her when there were so many other doors to choose from?
 
I couldn't help applying that analogy to life and faith as I stood there and watched her.  How many times, in my own life, had I decided on a particular Door and just felt determined it was the right one, forsaking all other Blue Doors without a backward glance?  
 
There have been many of those times, I know. 
 
I know that I did that with motherhood.  In my infertility, I looked at Biology door and thought, "That's my door...that's the only door for me." and then I proceeded to do everything I could do to get in. 
 
Locked? 
 
Meh, no matter. I'll just wiggle the handle  and pound on the door and scream and cry and shake my fist until it opens because I only have eyes for this door.  Surely with enough persistence the door will open or someone on the other side will hear the pounding and let me in.  Who would keep someone outside that wanted in so desperately?  Surely my cries wouldn't be ignored.  Surely.   
 
But no, the door stayed closed and instead of stepping back and looking with fresh eyes at the other doors - those other opportunities that might be better for me - I somehow thought that leaving the locked door and walking through another one must mean I was giving up.  After all, Biology Door was what I desperately wanted...and didn't that mean something?
 
I wonder if God looked down at me  - His little girl - as I stood there on my tiptoes, rattling the handle and pondered why I was so incredibly determined to get in that door.  The one He had sovereignly locked me out of for a very good reason.  Quite simply, it wasn't the best door for me.   
 
I wonder if He marvelled at how long I was willing to stand there and pound, even though it was so clearly locked.  And I wonder if it hurt Him when I turned to Him, tears streaming down my face as I shook my little fist, angry He wouldn't let me in. 
 
If you love me like you say you do, I screamed, HOW CAN YOU JUST STAND THERE AND DO NOTHING?
 
I wonder if it broke His heart when I turned away from Him and dropped to my knees in front of that door, head hung low in despair, and said, "I know you told me that you have a good plan for my life but I'm not sure I believe you anymore.  I've been asking you for help and you're just standing there."
 
I remember now, though, how He gently called to me and reminded me there were other doors.  I see now that there were times He tried to let me know that behind a different door there were greater things ahead for me. 
 
I remember how He walked forward and gently embraced me as I cried and I remember how He stood and held out His hand to me and said, "Stop fighting, little one..."
 
I recall how His arm didn't grow weary and He never stopped reaching out for me, even as I refused to stand up and take His hand.  He waited for me to cry all my tears.  He patiently waited for me to tire of pounding and screaming and, as a parent now, I know how that must have hurt Him to watch. 
 
And, finally, when I had given up on my own Blue Door dream and said, "Show me.  I want to see what you've got that's so great..." He took the hand I offered and gently said, "Come this way...you're going to love it."
 
And He was right...
 
Unimaginable blessings and happiness and hope and peace.  Behind a different door I'd find my passion and I'd, for the first time in my life, truly find my purpose.  Behind a different door - one I was so dang determined to ignore - there was a beautiful story waiting for me.  I only had to stop pounding on the wrong door and start seeking out the Door I was meant to walk through. 
 
Little girl in front of the Blue Door, may you always find your way...      
 
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8