Monday, May 4, 2015

And the Winner is...

Cynthia New!

Thank you everyone for sharing!  I hope you all take the time to read this amazing book!

Monday, April 27, 2015

A World Transformed

This past Friday I had the opportunity to sit in on my 12 year old's 6th grade Bible/Lit/History class.  They were discussing Roman history, the book of Luke, and the novel, The Bronze Bow. In that 45 minutes or so I was amazed, impressed, and educated.  His teacher is a master at dialectic teaching!  She was asking questions and the kids were answering and it was a true conversation.  And as they worked their way through Luke a thought struck me.  My son, Draden, is the same age that Jesus was when he stayed behind in the temple to listen to the teachers and ask questions.  He is not too young to understand.  And as I sat there, completely absorbed in the educating going on right in front of me, I was again reminded that I am not too old to learn.

I try to learn something new every day.  Sometimes laziness sets in, and I do not reach that goal.  But sometimes, well, sometimes I am presented an opportunity to learn something that changes the way I look at each day from then on.

Such an opportunity presented itself to me when my sister-in-law, Lisa, asked me to read her book. Her book was so impactful for me that now I want you to read it, too!

A World Transformed will take you back to Medieval times and will walk you through a couple of the more famous maps of the time.

"Medieval maps?" you say, "Why do I need to know about Medieval maps?"

That is a very good question.  And the answer is:

To remember who is at the center.


A World Transformed will take you around the world, each step of the way turning you back toward the center of the map.  What is at the center?



When I finished reading this book I was simply amazed at how it had changed my perception of each day.  How much more simple it made turning back to Jesus when I had turned away.  How fascinating I now find Medieval maps. How much I had never thought about before.

My understanding of my journey through life has been altered.  Changed in a way that makes my pilgrimage easier to understand.  Lisa, with her vast amount of knowledge, has taken something that could seem completely overwhelming and has laid it out in such a way that anyone can understand.  I feel smarter, and I choose more wisely when I remember what I have read in A World Transformed.

I believe that anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ can glean much from Lisa's book.  And I am excited to give away one autographed copy!  All you have to do to be entered for the give away is to share this post (either on your own blog or on Facebook) and then comment (either on this blog or on my Facebook post) and let me know that you shared it, and your name will be entered into the drawing!  Yay for simplicity!

Anyone who knows me knows how crazy I am about books.  But I wouldn't recommend just any book to everyone.  A World Transformed, however, finds itself on the short list of those books that I do recommend for everyone.

The drawing will be held on Monday, May 4th at noon CST, so share, share, share!  You can also go to amazon and get it today.  If you win, you can give your original copy to a friend!

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 6, 2015

One Year Home!

Wow. Well, this year has not been how I thought it would be.  It wasn't how years past have been, but it wasn't how most adoption blogs said it would go either.

We haven't faced nightmares or trauma induced behaviors.  We haven't had to go on lock down.  We don't have attachment issues.  Attachment issues are expected in most newly adopted children, so we were surprised to find that this was not something that we had to work through. It is a bit odd because all the blogs and books I read prepared me for war, but what we have really had to deal with were, and still are, minor battles.

The battles have been more about how to be a part of a family.  Like, just because we have a choice about what we can eat doesn't mean that mom will cook more than one meal at a time.  Or how to pick up after ourselves (this one is plural because the other three kids are still learning this one, too!) Or, how to treat others with respect, and to persevere when learning gets tough. Oh these things drove me crazy, and they still sometimes do, but it wasn't how I thought it would be.

Sure the beginning was rough, but I think that was more because of the language barrier than anything else.  Think about how toddlers act out because they don't have the words to use to share their frustrations.  Same concept here.

I guess the lesson I have learned is that every adoption journey is different.  Every child reacts differently to the hand life has dealt them.  Every child has unique feelings, and a unique way to deal with the trauma they have endured. Where Ali can more openly share with me about some parts of her past, there are many other events that she has not shared.  I think she is still finding the right words.  And the right timing.

It has been a beautiful year.  Yes, there have been nights where a glass of wine was just what the doctor ordered.  And I might have had days where I locked myself in the bathroom, when I didn't have to go, just for a little sanity.  There were plenty of days when I felt overwhelmed, and again, I sometimes still feel that way. Furthermore, even though our ride has been more of one of those old fashioned up and down roller coasters rather than one filled with loops and twists, I have many times felt completely ill equipped. Still, on the whole, it was a beautiful year.  And I was able to find joy in every day...even the rough ones.

Our days have become routine.  Our new habits and traditions have been formed.  We have found our new normal.  I am so very grateful for the gift that God has given us in Ali.  She is a treasure!

Every Thursday we took a picture of Ali to mark her weeks home, this video puts them all together and ends how she requested it would end, with a picture of her family.

Happy One Year Home, dear Ali!  We love you forever!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lesson from an artist

Today Ali and I went to pick up a painting I had commissioned by a fabulous local artist.  Failing to tell Ali what I was doing, she chose to wait in the car while I went in to get the art.  After I was all loaded up, I climbed back into the car and buckled my seatbelt, only to hear from the back seat, "Wait, is she an artist?"

"Yes, she is!  Would you like to go in and see where she does her work?"

"Yes!" My little artist said.

So back in we went.  Rita (the artist) was more than happy to accommodate Ali's curiosity.  We had a nice conversation in which Rita called starting to paint a crazy thing.  She wasn't looking for it, but here she is.

Once back in the car Ali said she thought my crazy thing is writing.  I told her I hoped so.  And then, then we started talking about dreams.  We talked about how sometimes grown ups start to think that their dreams can't come true.  She added that sometimes kids think that, too. And then she said something that made my heart skip a beat.

"But mom, dreams do come true.  I have a family."

I caught my breath and said, "That was a big dream, huh?"

"Yes, so I know dreams come true."

My girl and I, we have some pretty big dreams.  And we have proof that dreams come true.  That God answers prayer.  Yep, we have some air tight proof.  So we are going to keep reaching for those dreams.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year, Russ and  I gathered around the iPad so we could FaceTime home for Thanksgiving.  And while spending three hours with our family who was a world away was a unique experience that I was very grateful for, it pales in comparison to being able to hug the people that I love.

This year, Ali's first Thanksgiving, was a wonderful time!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love to sit and eat and talk and eat and laugh and eat and share and eat and hold babies and eat...please, don't forget the eating!  I have pretty much decided that I have the best family in the whole world.  I cannot imagine any people that I would rather be around as we share about our lives and just how much we have to be thankful for.

It has been quite the roller coaster since last Thanksgiving, but all the blessings far outweigh the low parts.  We have faced hurt and battles, frustrations and discouragement, aching hearts and tears.  We have also seen joy and excitement, love and encouragement, hope and family!  And the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances.  I have tried to do that this year.  Sometimes I have needed my prayer warriors to keep my arms up in praise and thanksgiving like Moses needed help keeping his arms up during the battle.  But I don't believe that God expects us to be able to be thankful all by ourselves, particularly in the hard times.  That is why he gave us the need to be together.

So, whether you were with family, friends, or the person you invited off the street to share dinner with you (don't knock it till you've tried it!), I pray that you were able to find something to be thankful for today.  And if you needed help being thankful, I hope you found that, too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Big Hero 6

Spoiler Alert!  (sort of)

So I won't tell you what happens in the climax of the movie, but as an adoptive mama I feel the need to share some of the back story and the leading action of this great new film.

Hero is a young teenage boy who lives with his older brother and his aunt.  The boys' parents died when Hero was 3.  Hero graduated from high school at the age of 13 and is a kid genius.  His brother (who he looks up to and admires) convinces him to do something productive with his big brain.

In a tragic accident, Hero's brother dies.  The rest of the movie is Hero's response to his latest family loss.

Now, I have only seen this movie with my 8 year old daughter, who has never experienced this kind of loss.  I am fairly certain the tragedy of it went right over her head.  However, although this movie is really wonderful, it may stir up a lot of emotions for kiddos who have experienced this kind of loss.  Some kids may handle it just fine, especially those who are open and are able to talk and process through their emotions and histories.  But for other children this film may trigger anxiety, anger, or sadness.

I am not going to tell you to see it or not see it.  I really did love the story, but I also recognize that the subject matter can be painful for children who have experienced loss of that magnitude.

I want to note that the way the loss was handled was realistic .  It was not flippant.  Hero's reactions were true to life.  The filmmakers handled the subject matter in a very sensitive and thoughtful way.

As parents, you are the best qualified to know if this is a film you should take your child to.  Now you know what is coming and you can be prepared.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tales from the Kitchen

8 months home!  Wow!  It has been quite the journey.  It seems like nothing about our adjustment time at home has looked anything like what others have said.  Nothing like the books have warned.  And at the same time, I can see why the warnings and the stories are important.  Yes, we have had our struggles, but as I sit here only 8 months down the road, I am amazed at how well she has slid right into our home and hearts.

November is Adoption month.  And I have my own thoughts on that, which I will get to.  But first a story from today.  Just a little bit ago I was in the kitchen with Ali.  I was working on dinner and boiling things for her as she chopped up the ingredients for her olivier.  Sometimes she gets a hankering for Ukrainian food, and as she is always up for chopping I have no problem taking care of the boiling.  As she was chopping away and I was browning meat for our taco soup she started telling stories about Ukraine.  I asked some questions and she seemed happy to answer.  Then I turned the conversation a bit and said, "I think your Ukrainian mama was very special.  And I know she loved you so much!"  Ali looked at me with a big smile.  The conversation went from there.  Talking about her mom, the struggles they had.  Some of the good things she remembered.  I got bits and pieces of the highs and the lows of her life.

My goal was to let her know that I understand how very important her Ukrainian mama is and I will continue to make that known in all those little moments.  From the smile I got, and all the stories that came flooding from her after my comment, I know that I achieved what I wanted to in that moment.

This leads me back to Adoption month.  As short as my journey so far has been I have figured out a few things.

1. Adoption is a beautiful picture of God's love for us.
2. The beauty of adoption is born from very deep pain, loneliness, and fear.
3. Every journey is different because every child and every family is different.
4. It is wise to get the child's input when celebrating special days.  Mother's day or other holidays or celebrations may cause sadness, loneliness, or even anger.  This isn't a flaw in the child or anything a parent has done wrong.  It just is.
5. If you aren't witnessing number 4 it doesn't mean that the child is repressing anything, they just might not remember.  Though it is always wise to continue to be aware.  You never know when some memory may pop up, seemingly out of nowhere.
6. We need foster homes.  We need adoptive families.  We need people to be a support system for those families that do foster or adopt. But we also need people who can step in and help prevent children from needing foster and adoptive families in the first place.  We need to figure out how to keep families together, whenever possible.

My lessons from my kitchen today (and the last 8 months) boiled down to listening.  Listening and loving.  I am hoping these skills will carry me through, because of all the things I am not, a superhero tops the list!