Saturday, April 28, 2007

Meeting An Angel

There have been many times in my life where I literally feel God's hand on my back. I feel His guidance and His comfort; I can feel Him almost carrying me through the day. The last couple of weeks have been this way. I have seen His hand in our adoption and I have seen His hand in other ways.

Eric was out of town on business when the news arrived that his brother had passed away. Although it wasn't a surprise, it was still a shock. Death always is.

On the plane coming home, Eric sat next to one of God's angels. She noticed Eric seemed sad and asked him about it. As he explained the situation, she was a comfort to him. Then, she was an encourager. She shared her own story of grief.

Five years ago, her husband had a stroke. She tried to care for him at home and did for some time, but eventually had to put him in assisted living. Over the past five years, she has had to watch their life savings dwindle as she continues to pay for his care.

A year after her husband's stroke, her 27 yo son died of a sudden heart attack. A year later, her 21 yo son died in a car accident. Six months later, she, herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her flight with Eric was to come to help her daughter, who had just had surgery for breast cancer too.

I couldn't believe that all these tragedies could happen to one person in just five years! I asked Eric if she seemed normal, sane, still able to function? He said she was a warm and wonderful grandmother type who told him faith is the answer. An angel. Faith keeps her going. Faith keeps her putting one foot in front of the other every day to live life with glory for God. Faith. It truly is the key to overcoming life's difficulties.

This sweet lady was reading a book and she recommended it to Eric. (She even tried to give it to him but Eric knew she hadn't quite finished reading it so he promised her he would buy a copy for himself.) It is called 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death. I can't help but feel God has a message for us in that book. I KNOW God put this woman next to Eric for a reason.

God is watching over us. It is a comfort.

We haven't yet heard anything on our adoption referral. We continue to wait. Although we are anxious to meet our new little one, we know it will happen in God's perfect timing. God is watching over us, and it IS a comfort.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Live Like You Were Dying

Today is a very sad day. Today, the world is a lonelier place.

Today, Eric's brother, Mark, lost a long and courageous battle with leukemia. He was 54.

Mark lived life to the fullest and saw many places most "rednecks" would never dream of. Yes, he was a Redneck and proud of it! But he was not your normal redneck. He could drive a tractor one day and the next, be on his $8,000 bike, training for the upcoming Livestrong race. He could hunt and fish but also scuba dive and golf. He was a retired police officer and a Marine who received a Purple Heart in Vietnam. He was a storyteller of grand proportions and always had a joke to share. He was the type of person who would help anyone with anything. His most important title? Grandpa.

More than anything, he was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend.

To be sad for him would only be selfish for me. I know he is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in a place far more wonderful than any of us can imagine. And yet still, I miss him already, and know life will be a lot lonelier place, without his laughter and encouraging words.

Mark knew for a long time that he only had a limited amount of time. He lived his life fully, with great purpose and vigor. He lived his life like the man in Tim McGraw's song, "Live Like You Were Dying". Listen to the lyrics, and you will know how Mark lived his life.

We should all live like we were dying. We should all live like Mark.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Anticipation Is Making Me Wait - (sing this)

The anticipation grows- wondering just who this little person will be! Wondering who God has in store for us. I'm caught between loving a little one who is a waiting child who I can see being a wonderful part of our family and the knowledge that God may have a different child for us - one He knows has been the one for our family all along. I continue to pray and trust those at Holt who will pray over this issue, pray over the children's referrals that will be given to them, and know, without a doubt, which child is meant to be ours.

I also pray that WE will be open to the child we are referred. I mean, weird things go through my mind, like, what if they match us with a 17 year old? Eric worries they will match us with a sibling group of six! :-)

I spent last week doing all the things that need to be done in order for me to be free to work on our dossier (adoption paperwork we will do once we receive a referral). Things like taxes (just under the deadline folks!) desk work, errands etc.

On the other hand, lots of things could happen and I could be getting all excited for nothing. That can all be part of the world of adoption! I don't want to set myself up for disappointment for we could still wait a long time to find out who our child is. Can you tell my emotions today are here and there and everywhere???

One thing I have done to prepare for this adoption is lots of reading. Here are my favorites:

Attaching in Adoption: Deborah Gray
Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft: Mary Hopkins-Best
The Waiting Child: Cindy Champella

A book that looks intriguing that I haven't yet read is Connecting With Kids Through Stories: Using Narratives To Facilitate Attachment in Adopted Children by Lacher, Nichols and May.

Thinking of telling our child stories reminds me that once we get our dossier sent off, I plan to step up our plans to learn to speak Vietnamese. I hope I am more successful with Vietnamese than I have been with other languages! I think the Latin-based languages are hard enough!

Perhaps the next time I blog it will be to introduce our very much anticipated, to be very, very loved, little person! I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Poem For Our New Child

The fact that this is the second posting today is a great analogy for just how long this week has been. Waiting for Robin to return from Vietnam and hoping for a referral/match soon makes the week seem long.

We're getting new carpet upstairs next week so I am cleaning out the walk-in closet. I just found the enclosed poem and thought it timely to post it. Even though we won't be adopting a baby, adopting an older child internationally is a lot like adopting a baby in terms of how we will parent and attach with our new child.

Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I will make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!

Elizabeth Prentiss: Stepping Heavenward

The Benefits Of A Large Family

Since we're on the subject of a large family, I thought it might be a great time to discuss it. We get questions about our family - if all the kids are from the same marriage, if we are Mormon, if we are crazy (yes, no and no - at least last time I checked :-) People wonder how we can afford "all those kids" and people wonder if we are "done yet" - I always feel like a turkey when someone asks me that!

But there is one big question that always goes unasked: "How do you give all those kids enough time and attention?" There is sometimes the unspoken observation that it would simply be impossible to do so.

I am here to tell you, it is not impossible! And in fact, I believe it is actually a huge benefit to children to be raised in a large family. As a mother, I become more organized with each additional child and more efficient with time management. My life becomes more streamlined and, although I give up more and more of my own personal/free time as we add a new child, my life becomes richer. Everyone's life does. There are so many benefits to being part of a large family, at one time I wrote out a sampling of my feelings on the subject. I have printed part of it below:

REASONS TO HAVE A LARGE FAMILY
LIFE ACCORDING TO ANN:

1. It is almost impossible to spoil children in a large family - in every sense of the word. The are less likely to be spoiled with material items or to be spoiled in the area of discipline.

2. Kids learn to share belongings, space and bedrooms. This will benefit them greatly when they get a college roommate and when they get married.

3. Children develop a strong sense of family, responsibility and self-esteem. There is always at least one sibling they will connect with and form the strongest of bonds. (These two will not necessarily be close in age.) Kids learn how to get along well with a variety of personalities. There is usually another person in the family with the same "struggles" whether it be learning to read or wetting the bed, so kids don't feel so "different". At the same time, there is always one area that each child excels in, giving him/her a sense of accomplishment and pride. (It is important for parents to foster this.)

4. Children learn early on that they are not the center of the universe. This is better to learn when you are five than when you are fifty.

5. Children learn how to be independent. They learn how to help themselves and to serve others.

6. Family gatherings and holidays are a blast in a large family! Traditions take on a whole new meaning.

7. When a child is disabled or has a medical condition arise, they are surrounded by a loving core of siblings who will be there with them - for life!

8. There is a greater sense of "oneness" and less of a sense of "you against me". There is always someone to listen to you, cuddle with, talk to, play with, laugh with, and understand.

9. Older children learn how to be good parents by watching their parents raise their younger siblings. The younger siblings learn good parenting skills when the older kids bring the grandchildren back to visit.

10. There are more trials and sorrows in a large family but the joys are increased ten-fold!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Best Friends For Life

The last two days were a lot of fun. I had my three sisters here for a surprise birthday party. It was sister A's 40th birthday. Part of the surprise was having all the sisters together. We all live in different parts of the country so it is very special when we are together.

Friday night we stayed up late sharing stories and laughing about everything from the time we drove our parent's car (we didn't have a driver's license) to how we felt about the Duggar family on TV. We all agreed we would like to at least see one episode where one of their 16 kids throws a world class nuclear meltdown! It's got to happen sometimes!!

I let my two daughers (10 and 14) stay up to hear all the fun stories and as I was tucking them into the hide-a-bed late that night I realized that someday they would be the ones staying up late, eating junkfood and laughing about the past. They will be the ones sharing stories from their childhood, celebrating a 40th birthday. I reminded my daughters that a sibling is the greatest gift a parent can give a child; a gift for life. I reminded them that this is why it is so important to love each other now, to make good memories, to be each others' best friend right now - because now turns into forever. And my girls are very close, I do see them always being best friends, just like I am with my three sisters, but it never hurts to remind them.

There was a time when I wondered if it was fair to the children we already had to add another baby to the family. This was back when we only had three children. Around the time we added child #5 I realized the greatest gift I could give my kids was another sibling. True, each child didn't receive as much individual attention from me, but they made up for it and a whole lot more with the interactions they had with each other!

With our youngest, I actually began to feel sorry that my older boys did not get all the attention and love from older siblings that he received. It's amazing he even learned how to walk as much as he was held!

There is always someone to play with in a big family. There is always someone to cuddle with at night, and always someone to help you with your homework. Interestingly enough, our younger children almost never fight and rarely need disciplined (though I do still get the joy of an occasional nuclear meltdown). So, maybe the Duggar's really are for real! Maybe by the time we add our 16th child, there really will be so much love and harmony that our children will never even throw a fit! (Just kidding Honey, I really don't want 16 kids! I think that would be just a few too many, even for me! :-)

But, I can't wait to add #8. He (she?) will be surrounded by so much love . . . and seven best friends - for life!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Names For Boys

All these random thoughts keep going through my mind. Now that we have made our decision regarding a boy, we're looking at some boys on the WC listing, and knowing Robin will come home with some referrals (maybe the one God has chosen for us?). This all brings the reality of our nearing adoption to the forefront of my mind.

When the wait began to get longer than anticipated I decided it just wasn't going to happen until at least summer. When I would think about it, I would just try to put it out of my mind. That's really impossible of course, but I did try.

Now, I know it is close. Now, I feel incredible excitement. The possibility of a boy also brings a new excitement. How will we arrange the bedroom? What will I need to buy? What will we name him? There's a BIG question.

I know we will keep his Vietnamese name as some part of his name. We will also incorporate a famous baseball player's name somewhere, and a biblical name too. All five of our sons have two middle names. That's a lot of boy names!! So far, our boys have been named after: Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, and Lou Gehrig. It's a fun tradition. Can you tell we like baseball in our family???

If you have any favorite boy names you would like to suggest, leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Surreal

Surreal. That is the word to describe this week. Surreal. Surreal because we have waited so, so long to be matched with our child and now we are getting so close! (We have been talking about another adoption for the last seven YEARS - so when I say long, I mean long!)

After talking about the boy vs. girl issue over the weekend we decided that what we really want is just another child to love and enjoy. We love being parents. We love little girls and we love little boys.

So, I called Robin on Monday and told her how these long months of waiting have helped us to see the plight of older boys. When I told her we had decided to be as open to a boy as a girl I almost cried - and so did she. We were both so happy! It was emotional!

We also spoke about a couple of the little boys who are waiting. We will speak more about that when Robin returns. Then again, maybe Robin will bring back the referral for the child God has had picked out for us all this time.

I am so excited as we near the time of "meeting" our child!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Another Brother From Another Other, Other Mother

First, to report on brother number 2. Joe tolerated the chemo well. He now looks like he has cancer, not because he is thin, but because he is very chubby - that round face many chemo patients get due to the steroids and other meds. He is also completely bald now. But, he is still in good spirits and I have come home with a great, great feeling that he is going to be okay.

We talked about how he was always the healthiest child in the world. He never, never got sick. I always said scientists should study him! Well, when we were talking about this, we realized that even though they will completely kill his immune system with chemo during the stem cell procedure, he will get a new immune system but it will be produced by his own stem cells which have always been amazingly strong!!! I just feel a sense of peace that he is going to make it through all of this. He is going to be okay.

Thank you to everyone for your blessed prayers! Keep praying! His stem cell has been pushed out another three weeks and he will have one more round of chemo before then. They are hoping for financial help from the hospital for the procedure. Pray for that too :-)

Now for talk of other brothers:

Kim has this funny saying when talking to her brothers. She will tell Paul he is "A brother from another mother," and then tell Patrick he is "Her other brother from another, other mother." They will all laugh then and I have to smile too.

Well, we are back to thinking about adopting a boy instead of a girl. Last night I asked her if she would like "another brother from another other, other mother." She smiled and said, "Yes!!!"

We were looking on the Holt website and saw yet another little boy put on the Waiting Child listing. He is healthy but he has not been matched with a family simply because he is an older boy. This little boy is five. We would like a child between the ages of 3 and 7. There is another little boy on there who is also very healthy, he is seven and has been waiting for a family since he was 6 months old, through the Vietnam shutdown, the reopening, and he is still waiting. My heart just goes out to these little ones! I love little boys just as much as little girls!

Okay, so here's the weird thing. I have been really, really praying about this issue and I have had two very, very vivid dreams about adopting a little boy. Last night I dreamed we adopted two brothers!!! I do believe that sometimes God gives us answers through our dreams.

So, this weekend, we are contemplating once again, calling Holt on Monday and saying, "We would love to have another brother from another other, other mother!" Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Joe Needs Prayers

Today we are off to visit Joe in the hospital. We will spend the next couple of days down there, spending the night with my SIL. This will be his last round of chemo before the stem cell transplant, which will occur in about three weeks.

Please pray for Joe. He was very downhearted last night, which is unlike him. He is dreading the chemo and said he is tired of feeling sick all the time. He has also lost all of his hair and that was one thing he was really hoping would not happen this time.

Please also pray for Joe's walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is far from God right now. He was raised Christian but started wavering in his faith in high school and having cancer has actually distanced him further. Pray God will put people in his life who will help him see The Truth. Pray he will feel God's presence all around him. Pray for him to have powerful dreams which will bring him back to the Lord.

I know many people are praying for Joe and that comforts my heart more than anything in the world. Family, friends and FAITH, I do not know how people get through life without those three blessings.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Happy Birthday James - Our "Guinea Pig"!

Happy Birthday James! James is coming home from Phoenix today. He went with his dad for a birthday trip. Eric had business down there so they decided to have some father/son time: golf, a couple of beers, and just hanging out together. They've had a great time.

James is now 24! That must mean I am getting old! When I had him, I was young. The nurse at the doctor's office asked me what high school I attended! In actuality, I was married, all grown up at 19, and a sophomore in college. I always looked young tho (then, not now :-) and many people often asked me if I was his babysitter!!!

James was our guinea pig, like all firstborns. Perhaps he suffered more than most because I was always reading some new book on how to parent the "right" way, and the experts all had their own opinions so things were always changing. Finally, about the time Lizzy came along, I gave up on most of that professional advice and found my own way--a concoction of everything I had read and everything I already knew. It's a wonderful feeling to finally reach that point in parenting. I finally realized I wasn't going to psychologically harm my child for life if I occasionally responded the "wrong" way (whatever "wrong" means) and I also learned it is okay to discipline kids - gently, lovingly, but firmly. I love the statement by Dr. Wm. Sears, "It's not the severity of a consequence, it's the certainty of it!" Kids actually feel more secure when parents give them boundaries and are consistent in enforcing them. Consistency. There we go. That's the word I'm looking for. Consistent. Hard to do. But probably the most important thing we can do for our children. Along with loving them, of course - but that's the easy part!!

Despite all this experimentation, James turned out okay! In fact, more than okay! He's a most amazing young man and he has taught me so much about life. He loves sports and is very competitive, yet he is also one of the most laid-back people I know. He knows how to enjoy life. He knows how to remember the important things in life.

When he was a senior in high school he needed to take one more honors class in order to graduate with Honors. He knew it was going to require two hours of homework a night and he decided NOT to take it. I couldn't believe it! He was so close! Why would he stop one class short??? His reply? He was a three-sport athlete and worked part-time and he told me he just wanted to enjoy his senior year a little bit; enjoy life a little more. Though I couldn't understand his decision at the time, I understand it now. I have often applied that lesson to my own life: slow down, enjoy more.

James has so many gifts, some God-given, some earned through sheer determination. But, you know what I am most proud of? His kind heart. I remember his last basketball game as a fourth grader. There was one little boy who hadn't made a basket all year. James was determined this little boy was going to make a basket before the season ended. James was a great rebounder and he kept rebounding the ball and passing it out to the little boy who hadn't yet made a basket. The little boy would shoot it up, hit the rim, miss, and James would rebound it again, passing it out to the little boy for another shot. He repeated this over and over and over and finally, right at the end of the game, the little boy made the basket! His only basket of the season. That little boy was his little brother, Joe.

The fact that those two brothers often had their moments of Cain Vs. Abel made that day all-the-more memorable. But then, James was always surprising me with something, giving me more to think about. Sometimes I wonder who was really raising who? Happy Birthday James!!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Live For Today!

Today I like the pink much better. It is all in the eye of the beholder! Today it looks bubble gum pink. Rose pink. I like it. Kim loves it. And Anna Rose will love it. A rose room for our little Rose! (Then again, it might be a boy and he will be in with his two brothers. He will like the royal blue stars in there!)

The other fun thing I did last weekend was drive to the coast to meet a dear friend who was up here from California at a conference. We have been friends for fifteen years. Sometimes years go by without us seeing each other and often, months go by without calling or writing each other and yet, when we get back together, it is like we never skipped a moment together. She is one of those friends who you can sit with, just being silent for a long. long time and nobody feels uncomfortable about the silence.

D. and I were talking about life and one of the epiphany moments we have both experienced in the last year is how many people don't live in the NOW - ourselves included sometimes. I remember last summer writing in my journal that we can spend too much of our time either pining for the past or worrying about/expecting the future. We all get into that trap sometimes. Life is always going to be better when _______. Or life was better when_______.

I am determined not to live that way. I will live in the now. It's a good thought for everyone.
Living in the now keeps us from worrying about the future, or regretting the past. It keeps us from speeding through our lives, passing by the beautiful roses that we never stop to smell because we are so intent on climbing into our future. It keeps us from being bitter about our past, or holding it like a shrine. It makes us enjoy each day to the fullest.

Live for today! Live in the now!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Weekend Adventure

I have had a very productive weekend. I have:

1. Cleaned the ENTIRE house.
2. Powerwashed and revarnished the deck.
3. Made new curtains for the familyroom.
4. Painted the girls' bedroom a beautiful shade of blue.
5. Knitted a scarf for my mom's birthday, which is tomorrow.
6. Purchased new Easter clothing for the entire family - shoes too, of course!
7. Gave the dog a complete bath, ear cleaning, nail trim and brushing.
8. Tricked you, at least for a bit, that I actually accomplished anything at all this weekend. The only thing I actually did was paint the girls' room so April Fools!! Oh, and the girls' room was going to be blue and then, at the last minute, I decided a most beautiful shade of pale pink would look wonderful and so it is pink. Unfortunately, it is not a most beautiful pale pink. It is Pepto-Bismol pink! I HATE picking paint off those 1" swatches! And that is not an April Fools!!! My only solace is that I think Anna is going to love having a room that is Pepto-Bismol pink!