Truth

“Alicia, if I had been born in China, I would have been given up for adoption.” This truth my husband spoke to me a couple weeks ago took my breath away. But it is just that, it is truth.

Eric was born with partial hearing loss and later he lost his hearing completely. By many standards, he was imperfect. Eric wore inner ear hearing aids and one day, at age 3, he lost his hearing completely. At age 4 he had a cochlear implant, allowing him to hear when wearing his hearing aid. He is now in his 6th year teaching at a local high school and is working towards a job as a principal.

His parent’s fought for him every step of the way. They worked to give him every advantage that they could and never looked back; they drove him out of state to doctor’s appointments; they provided speech therapy for him and worked with him non stop on his pronunciation of words. He was perfect for their family. And I can’t imagine life without this man by my side.

It was this conversation, this truth, that helped us make our final decision about what our adoption would look like. We want to fight for a child in China. We want to come alongside them and give them every advantage that we can.

To us, the “perfect” child doesn’t mean one without physical disabilities, it means the one that God has picked out for us. It doesn’t mean the one who doesn’t need extra medical care, it means the one that God has called us to love and call the final piece of our family.

When talking about God’s love for us, I often describe it as an even greater love than than my love for my daughters. When my Emma, my oldest, was born, it was as though there was a whole room in my heart, that I didn’t even know was there, and that room was overwhelmingly filled with love for her. And God feels that, and so much more, about each of us. And He has now called me to feel that for a child that I don’t give birth to. A child that He has chosen to add to our family in a different and unique way. And, because it is all a part of his plan, it is perfect. Not without struggles, fear, and pain. Not ideal or easy. Yet, perfect.

This is our truth.

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Kindergarten

Kindergarten.

Who knew that a  5  almost 6 year old’s activities could cause such a tug of war on a Mama’s heart? I was mostly clueless. Maybe that explains my emotional state this past week? Sometimes it leaves me breathless, or with wet eyeballs, but also with a full heart. This is my tug of war.

Kindergarten; a time that you look forward to for so long, and then when the first day comes, it takes your breath away.

Kindergarten; a thing that you talk about, daily, getting your girl so excited for, and then your eyeballs get a little wet when you leave her there and drive away.

Kindergarten; a time when you are so proud as your child runs to the playground, almost forgetting to wave goodbye, but also so sad that they don’t hold on for a little longer.

Kindergarten; a time when someone else teaches and takes care of your kid, but also a time when you’re a little sad that someone else is teaching and taking care of your child.

Kindergarten; a time where you’re excited that your child has an opportunity, for the almost the first time in her life, to be Jesus to those around her who don’t know about Him, even the littlest ways; but also terrified that that is not what all her classmates are also hoping to be.

Kindergarten; a time when you pray more for your child then ever before…and then wonder how much you’re going to have to be on your knees when Middle School and High School roll around.

Kindergarten; a time when you get to see your child, with a bit of independence, with a chance to make choices without you there, and you realize that they are making choices that make you so proud and humble all at the same time.

Kindergarten; a time when you feel all the feels you didn’t even know you could feel and you realize your heart still hasn’t burst.

Kindergarten; a sad and happy time, all at the same time.

And we will make it.

 

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

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Don’t Miss It.

A dear friend gifted me a mug a few months ago, and it has quickly become a favorite of mine. It reminds me daily that there are things that are going to happen that day that I won’t ever get back. So, don’t miss it!

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This morning I had a gut check moment as I thought about this. Emma has been getting in trouble for lying a lot lately. It breaks this Momma’s heart every time it happens. Usually its about things that don’t even matter, and it can quickly get frustrating.

I found myself just wishing it away. Get past this girl, come on!

But, also this morning, as I was looking at my sweet Emma girl’s face I realized one thing..this may be one of the only chances I have to nurture her heart in this area. Don’t miss it.

I may not have another chance to help her realize that this is a heart issue and the only way it will change is if God changes her heart. Don’t miss it.

I was nearly in tears as I realized, I can’t wish this away. I can’t hope that tomorrow I don’t have to deal with this.

Rather, my prayer should be: “Lord, let this continue until Emma realizes what it means for her heart to change. Give me the words to show her this. Please don’t allow her to stop until you have changed her heart and she realizes it; until you have a hold on her heart and you won’t ever let go.”

This is my new prayer. This is my whole purpose as a mom. Don’t miss it. 

I don’t want to wish this phase away…I want to embrace it until she has learned everything she possibly can from it.

Don’t miss it. You won’t ever get it back.

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Little Moments

Some days, as a mom, I feel like I fail my two sweet girls. I spend more time disciplining and overseeing them than I do being with them. I get busy with laundry, dishes, and cleaning bathrooms. I breathe a sigh of relief when it is nap time and bedtime. Often in the mornings, I say to myself, today will be different. And I try to make BIG changes. BIG changes aren’t lasting changes though. BIG changes are daunting. It is then that I reminded that all I need are little moments.

Each day, I need a “little moment” with each of my girls. It can be playing a game of Jenga will I’m cooking dinner; it can be sitting on the couch reading a book with one of them in my lap; it can be a tickle match on the floor; and it can even be singing songs with the littlest one while she is on the potty trying to make pee-pee come.

It does not have to be glamorous, or BIG. Once a day, make the little moment with your child the one that matters the most.

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And, I’ve found, that most of the time, it is the little moments that are the best moments. It is the ones at the end of the day that I look back on and love the most.

 

So, I encourage you, today, to take time for the little moments. Make them a priority. Put down your phone for 10 minutes and embrace the uninterrupted time with your kid.

It really is the best.

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Kennedy Turns Two!!

My month of May felt completely crazy. I wrapped things up at the church for the summer, helped Hubs put the backyard in at the new house, tried to keep up with all the end of the year school activities at Emma’s school, and somewhere in the middle of that, have a birthday party for Kennedy who turned two towards the end of the month.

In my mind, I took myself out of the race on this one. I’m not even going to try to compete in the “do it all, do it well, over the top, homemade everything birthday party” race. Many times in the month of May, and in reference to KJ’s party, I put my hands up in the air and just told Eric “I’m out, I’m not even running the race.”

So, I didnt:

  • make homemade invitations, or even send out store-bought ones
  • make a huge spread for dinner for everyone
  • decorate the whole house
  • make an extravagant cake

Here is what I did:

  • sent out a text 9 days in advance letting people know when the party was
  • ordered chicken from Albertsons for dinner for everyone, and let my MIL bring a couple salads
  • picked out a cake from Roseaurs…did you know for a 2 tiered cake with filling it is only $13.95? This was my first time ever buying a cake…ummm why have I not done this before??
  • Bought balloons at Zurchers
  • Covered tables with butcher paper and let the kids go to town with crayons all over them.
  • Party favors?? The kids each got to paint a wooden letter and take it home with them.

Here’s the thing. Eric and I sat down, once everyone was gone, and we both said…”that is the best birthday party we have ever thrown.” No joke. The kids loved it. Kennedy loved it. She never complained that I didn’t make homemade invitations or that her cake didn’t take me hours that morning.

Sometimes easier is better. Sometimes I need to choose time with my kids over making everything look perfect. Sometimes I need to let go of my expectations and realize its not actually about me.

So, Kennedy Jane, Happy Birthday!! We LOVE you so very much.

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Words With Kids – Take 1

Kids say the best things, am I right? Hearing the words they have to say are one of the things I LOVE most about having children. Here are a few from the last few days with my girls.

1. Chocolate Milk///   Just this week Kennedy starting putting two and three words together…her absolute favorite combination – chocolate milk, please. Her reaction when I say no isn’t quite as polite.

2. Sunsets///  I don’t even remember what night it was, but we noticed there was a beautiful sunset and I took Emma outside with me to look at it. She said “Look Mom, God painted the sky!”

Yes, sweet girl. Yes He did.

3. Soccer/// I made the comment to Eric the other day that I think I would be really bad at soccer. I can run and kick a ball just fine, but I just never played, so I have no clue about the strategy or the game play that goes along with soccer. Give me a volleyball and I am all over it, but soccer has just never been a sport I’ve watched or played much…Emma heard our conversation and probably about an hour later, after she had thought about it a long time, says to me: “Mom, i played soccer, I think I could teach you how to play! We will do lessons in the backyard.” Now, this is most hilarious because of Emma’s track record with soccer….Let me give you a quick rundown…a. she sobbed her way through the first game, and never actually made it onto the field. b. her first goal was scored after she kicked the ball out of bounds, ran, picked it up, carried it to right in front of the goal, and kicked it in. We had told her the only way you can touch the ball with your hands is if it goes out of bounds…we will be more detailed in our explanations from here on out. c. when Emma played, they played 3 on 3, so usually 5 of the players were near the soccer ball, and then there was Emma. She would either be at the other end of the field, completely oblivious, or she would be running large circles around the group of kids with the ball…never really with the intention of trying to get the ball.

4. Bless You/// Kennedy just started offering “bless you’s” to people after they sneeze. Unprompted. It is just the cutest! “Bless you daddy” “Bless you Kennedy”…whoever it is, they always get a blessing!

5. The other night on the way to Bible study, Emma asked what cemeteries were. This led to a conversation about our souls and heaven and all the things. I feel so inadequate at times like this and I just pray that God can take my words and my answers and make them exactly what Emma needs to hear. That girl’s soul is something I’ve prayed for since the moment I found out I was pregnant.

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Time

I saw this quote on Pinterest a few days ago and it really caught my attention…

I don’t want to look back on my life in twenty years and realize that I wasted the precious time I had with my children by living in a state of perpetual distraction,” – the Undivided Mom.

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Ouch. 

I only have these girls for a time. I only get to giggle with them, craft with them, hold them, read to them, teach them and raise them for a time.

These sweet hands, praying before dinner, are only going to be at my table for a time.

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I’m only going to be able to tickle this girl while she is in my arms for so long.
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In the moment, or in the day, it may seem long at times. But the years, they fly by. And what am I doing with that time I am given? Am I present? Am I involved?

Outside of my relationship with God and my relationship with my husband, being a mom to my two girls is my highest priority. It is my mission.

This isn’t always easy, and I by no means am perfect. But it is my goal. It is in the back of my mind each day.

How am I going to teach them about God’s perfect love, if I don’t take the time to love them every minute I have the chance. How am I going to teach them that they are so important to God, if they feel like they aren’t important enough to me to have my undivided attention each day?

This doesn’t mean that I can’t take time without them. It just means that when I am with them, I am present. I am there. And it means I am intentional about having time with them, more than planning time without them. It is not without sacrifice, but it also, is not without its rewards.

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Living Through the Mundane

Do you ever feel as though your life is full of mundane tasks? This is a daily struggle for me.

Diapers, dishes, naps, meals, cleaning, dropping off, picking up…preschool, swimming lessons, basketball, golf…all the things.

These things, these little seemingly mundane things are the things that make up most of my days.

For my devotions lately, I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah. In chapter 3, there is a lengthy list of all of the people who built small sections of the wall around the city of Jerusalem. They each obeyed, and moved rock after rock in order to build this wall. It wasn’t beautiful or glamorous or anything of the sort. It was mundane.

Just think though, how great is a wall that has holes everywhere? Or even just one hole? A wall with holes won’t keep the enemy out. Had any of those people decided they couldn’t do the mundane, decided that they needed something glamorous, the entire wall would have been useless. Which over the course of history, could have changed the entire story for the city of Jerusalem. There are direct links between the wall built in Nehemiah and the Siloam Pool in John, where Jesus heals the blind man. This is also where Peter later healed the man who couldn’t walk!! These are big things! Big things that were brought about by people, years earlier, doing the mundane things that God had called them to do.

We never know what God has planned for our kids, our husband or even ourselves. We have no idea how He is going to use the mundane to fulfill His plan for amazing things in the future.  Take heart though sisters, because He IS going to use them!!

So enjoy those moments in the car on the way to drop off and pickup. Enjoy the tummy tickles while changing a diaper. Take time let little hands join you in the soapy dish water after dinner. Embrace the mundane moments of life.

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You only get these moments once and you never know what they are doing in the lives of others!

 

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Oh, I love you so.

To my sweet boy or girl,

The first time I ever heard God speak audibly to me, was when He told me about you. I will never forget that day, or the tears that were shed.

It was in that moment that I knew there was a child out there that was supposed to be a part of our family…a child not of my flesh and blood, not of my genes, but a child I was called to love as though that were the case. Just as Christ loves me.

I want you to know these things child of mine…

I do love you. Already. I love you and pray for you every day. And I have since that morning when God first whispered to my heart about you.

In my eyes, you are already a part of our family.

Please know that I am broken. I am imperfect and I will make mistakes. I know that this journey we are embarking upon may be one of the most difficult of my life, but baby, it will also be one of the best.

I can’t wait to learn with you, to grow with you, to watch how you complete our family. I know its not easy. And it won’t be. Its not supposed to be.

There isn’t a single thing you can do that will me love you less. There will be days when you go to bed frustrated, or when I go to bed frustrated. But know, that through that, you are my child, and I LOVE you!

I don’t know your story yet. I don’t know why you get to be a part of our family instead of the one you were born into…I want you to be able to ask me that. When you are ready, child of mine, I want you to ask any question you can think of. I want you to know about your heritage and I want to help you celebrate it.

God is going to do something amazing with that story of yours, the one we are writing and adding to each day…I want to learn how to embrace that with you.

Have patience with me, sweet child, and I will try my best to do the same. We are both learning. We are both new at this…lets remember that, and remind each other of it, when it seems like we have forgotten.

And like I said earlier, always remember, I love you. Always have, always will.

-Mom

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Lessons from a Potty Training Mama

Last week I decided to start potty training my Kennedy girl…I mean, who doesn’t think that is a good idea?? And by last week, I mean on New Years Eve…just the perfect time, right?

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Well, I’m not sure how well the potty training is sticking, and its not without trying hard you guys, trust me, but there are some other lessons being learned…by me, not her.

Isn’t that how it works…you try to teach your kid something new, and end up being the one to learn the most? I find this an obvious pattern in my life.

So, here are the lessons I’ve learned…

*DISCLAIMER: THESE ARE EXPRESSED IN THE FORM OF POTTY TRAINING, AND TEND TO INCLUDE THE TERMS PEE AND POOP…BUT I’M PRETTY SURE I’M SUPPOSED TO LEARN THEM JUST IN LIFE AS WELL.
  1. I am fiercely stubborn. “Oh, you don’t want to go potty right now? Well you are going to sit here until you do, because I am NOT losing this battle. This can be a good thing. It can also be very detrimental when used in the wrong way…
  2. A close follow up to the first one, sometimes its best to just surrender. Sorry, mom, but making her sit there for 2.5 hours is not going to cause her to enjoy the potty training process even a little bit. And it is most likely to back fire in a big way.
  3. Sometimes you just have to let your kids pee in their panties..they have to feel the uncomfortableness in order to understand the why.
  4. Attitude is everything…so get yours in check. How often is it that I get to spend every day, all day, reading stories with my girl in a 12’x 16′ space because it is the only space in our house with hard floors? Not often (thank You, Lord!!!), so enjoy it. Embrace it and all its dimensions. Before you know it she will be married and potty training her child…ok, not really, but still!!
  5. The moment that poop hits the water in the toilet, you think…”ahh this is totally worth it.” No longer will there be a poopy baby in her bed, in your living room, sitting in your favorite chair with only a thin diaper protecting it from what lies within. Sometimes the stinky things in life are totally worth it because of what they bring about.
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