Monday, November 14, 2016

Tag! We're It!

This weekend we got tagged--I guess that's kind of a trendy way to say that our property was vandalized.  It was just chalk and it was extremely insignificant compared to the millions of examples of hateful vandalism around the country, but it happened all the same.  We washed the hateful words off of the driveway, but in a new way you can still see them--the driveway is much cleaner where the words were and as a result, they are still readable.  I feel like that, personally, right now.  The words are gone, but there is an emotional trace where they were that is nearly as evident as the words themselves were. . . .  

Why were we targeted?  I don't know and I'm not going to speculate.  We all know what assuming does and I'm not going to be a part of finger pointing.  But, we were tagged and it stirred up many feelings inside of me and inside of my children.  We realize first hand how much hate is in this world.

I didn't post about the incident on social media, but Andy did.  The reactions to his post have humbled me, have made me feel safe, have overwhelmed me with love, have alienated me, have made me feel abandoned and have made me feel just about everything in between.  Thankfully, 90% of the responses have made me feel loved.  I want to write about some of the reactions and how they  made me feel.

Like I said, I didn't post, so I wasn't expecting to hear anything from anyone.  But around ten on Saturday morning, my phone started alerting me and I was shocked to see the love and support pouring out for our family via my text messages.  So many people reached out to ask if I was okay, to ask if my family was okay and to truly empathize with the pain they understood I could possibly be feeling.

The internet say:

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.  

I love that definition.  My friends didn't know how I was feeling because I hadn't reached out, but they choose empathy for me and for my family with the understanding that there was a good chance I could be scared or hurt or any number of things.  They stepped out of their lives for a moment and tried to see the world through the lens I was now seeing it through.  I was touched.

I didn't know how they knew about the tagging, so I hopped on Facebook and saw what my husband had posted.  Then I scrolled down to see the hundreds of comments he received and I was humbled (mostly).  The group of people reaching out to our family and loving us was so eclectic.  They were from all over the world, from many different backgrounds and races and religions.  For the most part, all of the comments came from a place of empathy--they put themselves in our shoes and reached out with true care.  I felt known.  I felt safe.  I felt loved.

Over the weekend there have been several comments that have been painful--these were the comments that came with no empathy at all.  These were the comments that were flippant and "logical" and lacked empathy:  "seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another."  Comments dismissing the incident as just chalk or just silly teenagers or just the five percent. . . comments that didn't come close to caring about how we may be feeling after being the target of hate.  With this flippancy, I felt abandoned.

On Sunday morning, I woke up really wrestling with the tagging.  I was snuggling with Gabby, thinking about my responsibility as a mother raising a colorful family in this America.  It was confusing and overwhelming.  I just held Gabby, thanking God for her while being burdened by the responsibility I have to care well for her and for my other four children.  I got up (reluctantly) to go to church and I was burdened. 

In our church, after the sermon, we have a time for prayer requests.  A lady got up and asked the entire church to show their support and love for a family by standing--literally--in unity (I had no idea where this was going at the time)--she then started to talk about our family and about what had happened . . . .  the entire church stood up and looked at my family with love and silent support.  That was true community.  It was true empathy.  I was humbled.  I was honored.  I was overwhelmed and the tears streamed from my eyes.  Tears of so many emotions that I didn't even realize I was having until my church stood around my family in loving support--loving support regardless of the extent of the vandalism, loving support regardless of who did it or why they did it, loving support because for a moment they put themselves in our shoes and cared deeply for all of the feelings we must have been (or could have been) feeling as a result of being targeted. 

So, even though I felt abandoned and uncared for by some of the people who I should have felt the most safe with because they chose not to put themselves in our shoes and they chose to be flippant (or silent), this weekend I was loved by strangers, acquaintances, liberals, Muslims, non-Christians, other marginalized people, dear friend and by my church where we are still the "new kids."  So many unexpected people were the arms of Christ hugging my neck this weekend and I am so thankful for those people who reached out to me and to my family out of true empathy and love.

An Open Letter To The President Elect

Dear President Elect Trump,

I'm not political and I have no desire to be.  I'm an American; however, and I am thankful to be.

I have a couple of dear friends who know you personally.  They have described to me a gentleman who is kind and gracious and genuine.  They have described how comfortable they felt around you both in public and in private.  These women have described you to me as the kind of man you would hope for your kids to have as a grandpa (that is a big one for me since I have five kids).  The man they know you to be is respectable and good humored and caring.  They are thankful to know you and I am thankful for them that they can say they know such a man.

The man I have seen on TV is so different from the true man they know.  I understand that the media can tangle words and misrepresent people to make them out to be anything they want that person to be.  I am very aware at the media's tendency (obsession?) with creating false images of a person.  I'm not naive in that.  But, I have heard your words as they have come out of your own mouth with my own ears.

I don't know the man my friends describe to me, but I do personally know enough famous people to know that they aren't always what they seem to be from the media's perspective.  So, even though I have heard the hate that has spewed from your mouth, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you to be the man my friends who know you personally say you are.  And that is the man I am appealing to in this letter.

Mr. Trump, as I'm sure you are aware, the dark spirit of hate has been unleashed in this country.  Somehow, your election has given permission for people to spew forth their hate across America.  Hate that had been hidden in many hearts and hate that was dormant has been given a violent and disgusting rebirth that has me baffled.  Somehow, with your election, people feel like they can celebrate how much better they are than their neighbor and somehow, with your election, people feel like they have the right to spill out their hate on to their neighbor.  I don't want to lay the blame directly at your feet, but those in power are given great responsibility and your words during the election told people that hate is okay and your words have been exponentialized into vulgar and violent and hateful actions against neighbors; against innocent Americans who happen to look differently than their neighbors.

I'm appealing to you--to the man my friends have described--to stand up and speak.  You seem (from an outsider's point of view) to love to be in front of the camera talking.  Where are you now?  This is your time to be great!  This is your time to lead.  You aren't our president yet, but you have the most unbelievable opportunity to walk out of your home and speak.  I am in awe of the platform you could have right now to speak to America (to the world) and speak a message of love.  Everyone is listening to you and this is your golden opportunity to make history!  You truly can make America great again because it was great before the hate-filled elections began less than a year ago.  Today it is not great because Americans are being persecuted as a result of the permission you are giving these people to hate not only by the words you've been saying for the past year, but because of your amplified silence now.  Be great!  My friends think you are and I believe you can be.  It's time!  Walk outside, hijack some air time and be great!  Be a true leader.  Stand for something great.  Where are you and why are you staying silent while America is falling apart because of hate?

Where are you?  Why are you condoning all the hate with your silence?  Why are you aligning yourself with the hateful by your sudden escape from the spotlight?  How can you not see this time as your time shine, to lead, to inspire?  I feel like this hate-filled time is giving you the most amazing opportunity to stand up and be the man my friends describe you to be.  I am urging you (or begging you) to grab a microphone and LEAD THIS COUNTRY NOW!  THIS IS YOUR TIME!  Be great for this great nation!

Mr. Trump, walk outside and tell America that love is the answer.  We are a diverse nation founded by immigrants in a foreign land to be a nation of brotherly love.  The only way this country is going to be great is if we love our neighbor.  That is THE ONLY WAY.  Why are you remaining silent now when you have been so loud for so long?  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Moms & Dads Need To Read This!

I was scrolling Facebook today while my accounting computer spent hours upon hours updating (wish I could do Quick Books for non-profits on a Mac) and I came across this great reminder.  It is an excerpt from C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters.  I read this book decades ago and now I'm thinking about rereading it!  This letter is such a great reminder!!!

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother. You have a good lead, from what I hear. She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged? I’m so glad to hear it. If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity. With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage. A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips. First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.
As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage. Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that. We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married. Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most. When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper. When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her. Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible. Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on her troubles and pains. Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her. Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching. Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy. If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch. It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else. Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime. If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors. Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband. Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well. Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting. Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here. Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause. If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection. This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom. Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”. Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives. If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved. As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part. Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list. It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children. Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones. We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy. He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did. Insane, I know. We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice. When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days. Do your best to shatter those expectations.
Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her. Let them take and take and take… And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent. Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons. Let the noise bother her. Let their bad behavior surprise her. Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her. Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising. Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives… Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age. Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now. No, no, no… Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea. Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort. We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten. Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation. Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment. Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies. Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,


Monday, January 25, 2016

The Fall

So, this year has been so full of changes for our family and like I've posted before, I am so happy to be in Breckenridge and to be on this new journey.  The transition has been pretty bumpy for Andy, though, and I call it the "not having a business card" syndrome.  Right now he is doing many fun things, but he doesn't have a true title or job description and it has been hard on him.  (I am blogging with his permission.)

All Fall I have been really frustrated by the funk he has been in at home--his "I don't have a business card" funk.  We got to go on a retreat in October with a bunch of couples and we were the "new kids" at the retreat so there were about a zillion times when people asked us "tell us about yourselves."  Andy's answer was always about his work and my first thought was always about our family and Andy and I's relationship.  I found myself uber annoyed and hurt during the whole retreat as a result.

Why did I just take that side tangent. . . well. . . as a result of those two things (the "I don't have a business card" funk and the retreat), I've been doing tons of thinking about the way Andy and I are handling the transition so differently. . .

And here is what I camp up with (disclaimer: I am not a Bible scholar, I don't claim to be, the following is just my uneducated interpretation of a well known Bible story as it relates to Andy and I today):

The Fall.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden as a result of the serpent's temptation, God told Man and Woman two different things.  He first told the Woman that, as a result, childbirth would be awful (how true that is).  He then told Man that he would have to toil hard for the food he was to eat.  Okay.  So?

My interpretation based on this new phase of life we are in (you'll now see why the retreat was mentioned in the second paragraph).  I find my value in my family.  I know, I should find my worth in God.  Great.  But I'm talking about The Fall here.  I find value in my family.  I find value in the worth I perceive myself to be to Andy and I find value in how good of a mother I am.  I really think that as a result of The Fall, I struggle with finding my value in those things instead of in Christ alone.  I believe that the "punishment" is much more than just painful childbirth.  I think it is the emotional pain of being a wife and a mother (along side the great joy and fulfillment and blah blah blah).  On the flip side, Andy finds his value in his job, his title, his work.  I think that is Man's side of The Fall. Not only does he have to work, but he has to struggle with finding his value (his identity) in his work instead of in Christ alone.

Back to the retreat.  I was so annoyed that when people asked us to tell them about ourselves, that Andy went straight to what he does (work) instead of who I felt he was (family).  Right there is when the difference started screaming at me (and annoying and hurting me).  As a result I began to dig and pray and wonder and question.  When I realized (again, my own interpretation) that part of The Fall is that we would both find our value and our worth in places that would never completely fulfill us and in places that were different for both of us, I began to look at Andy with much more compassion because I know what it is like to feel valueless in my family because I'm not meeting my own expectations of myself.  Also, I had compassion because I realized that in the same (sinful?) way that I find my value from what kind of wife and mom I am, Andy finds his value in "who" he is as a professional.

So, as I have been loving the move and the change and the opportunity to play (and live and work) in Breckenridge as a family, Andy has been struggling because he is in a transition from camp to his next phase.  In this, I have two (three?) big things to work on.

1.  I need to continue to find my worth in God.  Period.
2.  I need to be more compassionate and understanding as Andy is in this transition time because I still have my family to meet those needs given to me (?) as a result of The Fall.  I need to understand that Andy is still in transition in terms of his work and therefore looking for his value in his "business card"--not because he doesn't love us (which I felt during the retreat) but because it is part of the "curse" of The Fall.

I'm not sure if it is making sense as I am typing--usually I am good with words, today I feel like I am fumbling.  But it is so refreshing for me (and challenging to me) to see that the results of The Fall are so much bigger than labor pains. . . the results are something that Man and Woman have to struggle with on a daily basis and as a result, I think we can each be more understanding and compassionate with/to one another if we see these struggles for what they really are.

There is my little tid bit for today.  Andy thinks I need to write a book on this.  I can hardly type out a blog that makes sense!

Little side note:  you need to go get William Paul Young's new book "Eve."  It is an amazingly beautiful picture of the story behind The Fall and how beautiful it was (beautiful is a weird way to put The Fall, but it was so much more than just Eve ate the apple and then life got awful).  It is also a great word picture of self-worth and forgiveness.  So, go download the book and read it this week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Confessions Of A Mom With Attachment Disorder"

A friend shared this article with me (please read HERE) after my last post.  I bawled all the way through it!


I'm so thankful to read that I'm not the only crazy black and frozen hearted you-know-what of a mother!  That doesn't get me off the hook, but it was so refreshing to feel known, if even by a stranger deal with the same stuff.

I do have grief I need to deal with regarding Tiki:

  • I still carry a lot of hurt and other feelings as a result of my three miscarriages.  And one of them above all because that baby would have been the same age as Tiki.  
  • I still carry loss--true and deep loss--for the Chinese daughter that was conceived in my heart and is still not in my family.  There is a big hole there with some bitterness and resentment towards Tiki (and Andy).
  • Tiki wasn't the child I headed to Rwanda for.  I would have never considered adopting an older child, but I had met another boy (Lionel) who stole my heart and I went back to get him.
  • I also struggled with Gabby right at first.  She wasn't easy and now that I sit back and think about it, she and I really had some stuff to get through.  (Maggie and I didn't attach at first either for that matter.)
Those are really big deals for me to be feeling just alone but also for me to be feeling and maybe (probably) holding against Tiki in some way.  I need to get help!

It was nice to read that the things I'm thinking--the reasons--are maybe valid:  she mentioned adopting a child that wasn't and infant and adopting out of birth order as well as adopting a child with a language barrier.  Check and check and check.

I'm encouraged--if only a little.  I think I'm encouraged because I can see at least one glaring area where I need help (those four issues--especially the first three--listed above).

But most importantly from this article, I AM NOT ALONE.  (And maybe--just maybe--not being alone makes me not quite as crazy!)

I'm So Thankful God Isn't Like Me

So, this post is going to be vulnerable.  If you're in the mood to criticize, then just stop reading.  If you're in the mood to judge, then stop reading.  Trust me: I'm getting enough criticism and judgement from myself.  But if you're in the mood to pray for me on my journey, then read on and callous those knees on my behalf!

Tiki.  Many of you close to me know what a struggle he is for me.  Those of you not close to me see him for what he truly is: a sweet, kind, loving and happy boy who wants to love life and be a friend to all.  See.  I know those things about him.  I am very aware of Tiki's amazing qualities.  He truly is a fantastic boy.  But, up close and day to day, he drives me crazy!  Part of me thinks he drives me crazy because I want so much for him and part of me knows that he drives me crazy because my expectations of him are set too high and for some reason (no matter how hard I try), I cannot lower those expectations.  So, as you can clearly see, Tiki isn't really the problem.  I am!

Here is where I am humbled by God's unconditional and forgiving love for me.  If God was anything like me, He would be finished.  I know that I disappoint Him and miss the mark every single day.  And yet, He continues to love and forgive and see the best in me and give me more chances.  I, on the other hand, am exasperated and frustrated and overwhelmed by continuously having to give Tiki another chance.  Thank you, God, for not being like me!!!

Tiki does so much right.  But he does so much wrong.  But then again he does so much more right.  Why can I only see the wrong he does more often than not?  And why, in a moment of hope and goodness when I give Tiki an opportunity to succeed big, does he always seem to fail?  This morning is one of those mornings.

He was having a great morning.  He did his morning routine and came upstairs.  Things were going well.  I could see the happy focus in his eyes.  I cooked him a new breakfast with this new protein stuff I got him and he was so excited!  So, I wanted to give him a couple opportunities to feel like I trusted him--to feel like he was as big as the other kids in terms of responsibilities.

First I had him turn my car on (this was try number two. . .last time he turned my car on to warm it up and he had the air condition blasting instead of the heater in -22 degrees).  So, optimistically, I asked him to go warm up my car (with a little reminder to make sure the heat was on).  He was super excited to get to do something that is typically Dax's job.  Great.  When he came back, Gabby and I were working on dinner, so I asked him to finish the lunches I had started.  The littles love breakfast burritos for lunch. Andy had already cooked the insides and I asked Tiki to roll them up.  He did.  And he did a super job.  Then he mentioned that there were too many insides for the three tortillias and I told him not to worry about it because I hadn't had breakfast yet and I would eat them once I dropped them off at school.  Literally 35 seconds later, I look into the kitchen and he is eating my breakfast.  Why?

And then to pour on the frustration, we finally all get out the door and my battery is dead because he didn't turn my car all the way on.

I know.  These two things are so minor.  I know that.  Here is where my ugly comes out.  I was so angry!!!


Andy just walked by as I'm typing and crying.  I got to verbalize my ugly with him.  Beware, I'm about to get more vulnerable and more ugly. . .

Tiki truly does about one thing wrong to every ten things he does right.  That's a pretty awesome batting average.  As a matter of fact, it is a fantastic batting average for this family (for humanity, I'd dare say).  Dax does about four to six things wrong for ever ten things right, for example.  Why does Tiki's one thing make me so frustrated and most of the time I just shrug off Dax's four to six?

A great example of this is his room.  Almost every morning, his room is the ONLY bedroom clean in the entire house.  The other four kids live in their own version of a pig sty.  And yet, I'll walk by their rooms, shake my heads, be annoyed for about three tenths of a second and them move on.  I'll get to Tiki's room--the cleanest by far and I'll get so uber frustrated that I can't bounce a quarter off of his bed.  What?  Or if even his bed is perfect, I'll head to the closet to search for a shirt that isn't perfect on the hanger (or something like that).  Why do I do that?  What is wrong with me?  Why do I try to find something wrong?  Who does that?  I'm a monster!

Andy brought up that it seems a lot like the postpartum I had with Maggie.  I stopped and thought and, he's right.  Lots of the feelings I'm having towards Tiki feel a lot like that awful postpartum time!  Have I not bonded with him?  It has been weird bringing him into our home (into my life) as a six year old.  His throw up and poop grosses me out because it didn't start out as spit up and cute little diapers.  I don't like holding his hand because it is sweaty and clammy; maybe because I never got to hold him and rock him while he cried and sweat.  I have other awful postpartum feelings that I cannot even write in a blog.  Okay, that is acknowledged.  I'm aware of it.  So what can I do?

There is a brilliant adoption specialist who says that for every year a child has not been with you, then the mom needs to spend a month (so for me, six months) alone with that child, meeting his every need.  She says that the mom needs to go as far as rocking him and feeding him in her lap as if he were an infant.  FOR SIX MONTHS!!!  I've tried various versions of this.  I rocked him every night for a semester last year.  He loved it.  Most of the time I tolerated it.  But how am I supposed to take six months away from work and life and my other children and my husband to do this with him to the extent she says? And in the awful state I'm in, I don't even think it would be a good idea because he would annoy me so much!  And that is the only solution I've found in all of my research.  Isn't there another way--another way that doesn't require real life to stop. . . a way we can bond while life is happening all around us?

Tiki needs to bond.  He seems totally bonded, but when I look up the symptoms of attachment disorder, he has all of them except for the violence and anger (thank God).  But it seems like I am the real problem here.  I have attachment disorder with him.  How do I fix that?  Can a mom have attachment disorder?

And then I ask myself what is God trying to teach me.  I thought it was that I need to lower my expectations and not run such a tight ship, but I think that is only at surface level.  Really, down deep, what is God trying to teach me through this?  And why oh why is poor Tiki having to get the brunt of all of my issues as I learn whatever it is I'm supposed to be learning (and I'm apparently a very slow learner)?  Poor Tiki.  Seriously.  He is a better and more loving person than I am by a zillion!

This blog is so all over the place and so random, but I am so confused and frustrated and overwhelmed and lacking hope and angry with myself (for being angry with Tiki).  I just needed to get it out.  Writing helps me so much.  But it isn't giving me the answers and clarity that it usually does.

Even my mom said in Cabo that my she hopes my New Year's Resolution involved the way I act toward Tiki.  (Awesome, now not only do I know that I'm disappointed in myself, but I know that my mom is also disappointed in me.)  No, it doesn't because it has before and I've continued to fail at it so miserably.

  • Why does Tiki's one wrong thing bug me so much in light of his ten great things?  
  • Why does it even bother me when Tiki tries to be good--he tries to help me so often and even that bugs me?
  • Why do I expect beyond perfection from him--so much so that I even look for failures amidst his awesome?

Why am I not bonded to him?  What do I need to do for him since he came as a six year old with a personality and habits and baggage that Gabby did not come with?  I got to start with Gabby from the beginning and she truly feels like my very own flesh.  Tiki still feels adopted--like I'm babysitting someone else's kid sometimes.  I know, with my head, that he is my son, I'd take a bullet for him, but so often I don't feel it with my heart.  And then again, so often I do or else I wouldn't be crying right now.  I'm crying because I do care so deeply for him and I am so frustrated with myself because I suck so bad as showing him that!  I have attachment disorder.  He's just an awesome kid who continues to love me unconditionally!

And then back to the title of this post.  I am so humbled and so thankful that God loves me so unconditionally.  I am His adopted daughter and yet I am equal heir to his kingdom just like his Son.  I mess up way more often than 1 to 10 and yet he keeps loving and keeps forgiving and keeps training and continues to be patient with me.  That is humbling to see the blaring and ugly comparison to the way He loves me versus the way I love my son.

There you have it.  Just a tiny glimpse of my ugly.  Prayers appreciated daily!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Whew. . .what a year!

I love that my Birthday is on New Year's Eve because I really get to sum up my year in a tidy fashion (I get to sum it up at the end of the year instead of in the middle and that speaks to part of me).

40 was great.  It was an age I was kind of dreading--having memories of my parents' funeral themed 40th birthday parties--and it was a great age.  (Full disclosure: 41 seems like a really old age to be.)  I think I felt better at 40 and I was happier at 40 and I had more hope at 40 than at any other age (overall).

But when I title this post "Whew. . . what a year!" I mean it.  WHEW!  I'm not sure we could have packed many more changes into 2015.  It is literally exhausting to think bout!  We rang in the New Year in Cabo like always and I think that is the only time I could use "like always" to describe anything for this year.

Our family was involved in so many new things.  Braces (X4). First loves.  First kisses. Snowboard competitions.  A broken collar bone.  Club volleyball.  A couple's trip to Cabo.  A new dog.  A new dog that is a little dog.  A new dog who made our lives so much better.  (Fine, I'll name names:  Brad Ray!)  House for sale.  House shopping.  Closing camp (I'll be touching on that later). Moving (that, too, will get more details).  New friends.  New schools.  Family hikes.  Girls hikes.  Me and the dogs hikes.  New favorite places to eat.  New grocery store.  New mail box.  Foxes.  A Junior in high school.  Making lists of college visits.  A Freshman in high school.  Two fifth graders.  (No middle schoolers.)  A third grader.  New car pool routes.  A new dance studio.  Adding jazz and hip hop.  Varsity golf.  Visitors in our home all of the time!  New Gap Year destinations.  Working from home. Sharing an office with my husband.  Living at 10,000 feet.  Broken ribs.  Collapsed lung.  Multiple overnights in two hospitals.  A church where I feel at home.  A community I feel loved by.  Snow shoeing!  Mountain views.  I could go on and on. This year was a wild ride and looking back, I am happy.

Closing camp will probably be my biggest change for 2015 even though I don't really feel the effects of it yet.  It was such a whirlwind and closing marked the end to something so exhausting that I don't know that I've mourned what closing camp actually means in my life.  2016 will be my first summer since I was born that I will not have summer camping in my life.  I'm sure when summer rolls around I will have many more feelings about that change.  I don't want to ignore it, but for now it hasn't hit me.

The biggest change that I am so very aware of is moving.  I am home!  Breckenridge is home.  I am so happy and content and thrilled to be living in Breck.  There are a zillion things I love about it!  I think the highlights are:

  • The mountains.  Seriously.  You know those cute signs that say, "the mountains are calling and I must go". . . ?  That is how I feel.  The mountains take my breath away every single morning. Being in Cabo has been such great confirmation for me.  I love Cabo.  I love waking up every single morning to watch the sun rise over the ocean and hear the waves crash on the beach.  But even that doesn't compare to the way that the mountains both take my breath away and draw me to them in the same moment.  I love the mountains.
  • The people.  I feel a community in Breck that I haven't had in a long time.  It is amazing to me that I've only lived here for four months and I can already say that.  The friends I've made here are keepers!  They pursue me and love me.  I have an overflowing handful of ladies who I am so thankful to be able to call friends!
  • Location.  Not only is Breckenridge a beautiful little town, but I get to go to golf tournaments in Aspen and Steamboat and Vail and Beaver Creek and Keystone.  I get to go to snowboarding races in those same places.  I take Dax to Copper Mountain three times every week.  Our orthodontist is in Beaver Creek on the days he isn't in Breckenridge.  I am just over an hour from Denver--a real city that I can visit and enjoy and love and not live in!
  • Company.  The people I have had coming in and out of my house have brought me to life again!  Durango was so isolated and guests were rare.  It seems like everyone is in Breckenridge to play and they are so generous to share parts of their vacation with us!  I love having company.  I love that I can have KCO/KIVU reunions at the house every month.  I love that people come to ski and will come to dinner.  I love that I can run down to Denver for those not making it up to the mountains.  I love that I can invite the Japanese and US ski teams to Thanksgiving dinner (even if they didn't come).  I love that I can give rides home to the German snowboarding team when they don't have a car.  I love that I had a house-full of ladies at my Cookie Party.  I love that one week hasn't gone by yet without a visitor!
  • Me.  I feel like me again.  I didn't realize it, but I've apparently been lost for the past seven years and I am me again.  My motto for this year is YES!  I'm saying yes!  If someone needs help, I'm saying YES.  If someone in church has a baby, I'm saying YES to bringing a meal.  If the youth group needs treats, I'm saying YES!  If someone asks me to go for a walk, I'm saying YES!  This is my year of YES because I don't want to miss a thing.  And because of that, I am me again.  I'm cheesy and giddy and so happy to be living in Breckenridge.
And best of all, this year was a great year for family.  I love my family.  
  • I have a fantastic husband and even with all of the bumps and bruises from changing jobs and cities and everything, we are in a great place.  My husband highlight is for sure snow shoeing! 
  • Hays is so grown up and such a great young man.  He wasn't happy at all about moving, but he handled the hurt and disappointment with so much class.  It has been fun to grow with him through the pain and to watch him handle the transition.  Dreaming of colleges has been fun (and oh so tearful) with him and I am looking forward to see what the future holds there.  Our time together in the hospital was priceless.  I wouldn't want to do it again, but I'm thankful for the one on one time he and I had together.
  • Maggie is a dream.  She is so dear and so sweet and so funny.  I'm so thankful for the friendship I have with her.  I could have never in my wildest dreams imagined having a daughter who would truly mean so much to me.
  • Tiki is coming along.  I've noticed real progress with him this Fall and I have hope for his future.  I cannot wait to see the kind of young man he grows into.
  • Dax has gotten so independent this year and has found his wings to a certain extent.  He has a good friend in Breck and he loves being involved with the snow boarding team.  I'm thankful that he is coming out of his shell.
  • Gabby is growing up so quickly and she has shown me the true meaning of tenacity this year.  I know for a fact that she is going to blow my mind as she grows up because she will work harder than anyone to achieve something she sets her mind to.  I cannot wait.
  • And I cannot forget my dogs.  Baylor is a dear sweet old soul (only 3).  And Brad Ray has changed our lives forever!
So, all in all 2015 and age 40 was amazing.  I couldn't have asked for more.  I am happy.  I am thankful.  I am hopeful.  I love where God has me right now for this time.  Wow!  I'm blessed!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meanwhile. . . In Breck

We have loved living in Breckenridge!  There has been so much going on and so many fun things to do!!!

Unpacking.  We've unpacked and unpacked and unpacked.  This picture does no justice to the amount of boxes we have unpacked and organized.  Exhausting, but we are finished!

Visitors.  We've had some really fun visitors (not all visitors pictured).  I'm super excited to be living in Breckenridge for that reason!  ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO COME VISIT!  Already, in the two months (less than two months) that we have been living here we have had more visitors than during all six years in Durango!  I'm making a fun photo album of all of our visitors during our first 12 months here!

Being in Breck.  We've enjoyed the weather and the town.  We can walk downtown from our house and that has been so much fun!  Another one of my favorite things about living here!
Yes, that is a fox on top of the car at church.

Hiking.  Hiking has become one of our new favorite things to do!  Gabby and BradRay and Baylor are my usual hiking buddies, but we've gone on a couple of family hikes on Sundays.  
School & Soccer.  The littles are going to Upper Blue Elementary and I really like it.  The teachers are great and the atmosphere is fun and friendly.  Tiki is playing soccer and I think he is really finding something he loves!
New Friends.  Oh my goodness!  I feel like God has really blessed me with some great friends (not all pictured)!!!  There are several ladies here that have gone out of their way to make me feel included and to show me true friendship.  I'm excited to see where each one of these relationships goes!
My friend, Shannon, who has been so much fun to get to know and to spend time with.  I feel like we have been friends for the longest time already!
My friend, Megan, who planned a girls night out for me (sequins required).  She is a fellow adoptive mom and I even interviewed her for Kanakuk when she was in college.
10 out of 10.  For me, Breckenridge has been a TEN.  I love it here!  I love being close to Denver.  I love the people.  I love the outdoor fun we have.  I love where we live.  I love the potential my house has.  I love the new start!  I'm so thankful to be here!

HoCo 2K15 (As Maggie Refers To It)

This past weekend was Homecoming for Summit High (since I'm behind, let me do a quick update:  we moved to Breckenridge and Hays and Maggie attend Summit High School).

The littles and I headed to the football game on Friday night (Colorado mountain football is NOTHING like football in the South--interesting.)  We had fun watching the game and laughing at Gabby (she asked if a first down was a home run--clearly we need more football in our lives).  All of us bought some SHS swag since we are the newest Tiger fans!

Maggie has found a fantastic group of friends here in Summit County!  They are great girls and they have been unbelievable about including her in their group without hesitation!  I have been blown away by that!  They are planners (meaning they make big plans but they seriously lack actual organized planning skills) and they love to make stuff happen!  For Homecoming they met at Mia's house to get ready and take pictures--there were girls and moms and curling irons and mirrors and hair spray and selfies and strapless bras and make up and dresses everywhere!  It was so much fun!  The moms brought food and sparkling grape juice and cameras.

Getting ready was supposed to start at 3:00.
Then the girls only pictures were scheduled for 5:40.
At 5:45 dates and dads showed up for more pictures.
After that they were off to Ben's house for a huge dinner (more than 30 Freshman showed up) where they had more pictures and more dads and more dates and then ate before heading to the dance.
Maggie invited a friend, Chase Renner, to the dance.  He goes to another high school and had to have an invitation to go to Homecoming.  Maggie was so thoughtful that she didn't hesitate even once second when she found out that he needed the invitation!  I love her!
After the dance the girls had a sleepover.  Whirlwind!

Hays was the exact opposite.  After no plans for weeks, we decided Erin should come at the last minute and that was a great choice.  (She's adorable and we love her.)

They had a relaxing day of exploring Breck.
Then they got ready in time to meet for the 5:45 pictures with Maggie (they even stopped by to pick up Maggie's date).
What Junior boy does that for his mom and his sister?  He even brought his good camera.  I was floored and so grateful.  I love my boy!  Then he and Erin went to dinner downtown and headed to the dance.  Much to my surprise, he knocked on my bedroom door about 10:20 to say that he was home because the dance was dumb (tons of people just grinding and that is gross).

Could they be any more different?  Nope!  And I love that!