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Stranger Things Have Happened

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Parenting

When A Baby Changes Everything.

The phone call came at the worst possible time.

We were at the height of the worst year in our marriage. Matt had just been offered a new church, in a new city, and I was seriously considering staying behind permanently on the pretense of selling the house we owned.

Things could not have been worse when the adoption agency called out of the blue.

I say out of the blue because a second baby was not even a discussion at that point.

Isabel was not quite two years old and, while we always wanted more than one child, we both understood that pursuing an adoption in the state our marriage was, was foolish and unfair.

We did not seek it, we did not request it, we didn’t even dream it.

But this was Isabel’s biological brother.

Brand new.

How could we say no?

Continue reading “When A Baby Changes Everything.”

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To Tell The Truth

A few years ago I read that I should be praying for my children to get caught when they sin. That very morning Noah walked into the kitchen with a secret.

I have to admit the idea was new to me. I pray for all kind of things over my children. I pray that they will make good choices. I pray that they will make good friends. I pray that they will love God and know him well. But it had not occurred to me to pray that they would get caught when they sin.

Every morning, before I served breakfast, I would ask three questions of my children:”Did you make your bed? Did you brush your teeth? and Did you clean up your room?” They knew all three had to be done before they came to the kitchen for breakfast.

This particular day, as usual, I asked Noah the same questions. He said yes to all and sat down to eat. But he didn’t know that this morning Isabel would come in looking for the toothpaste and his day would quickly go south.  Continue reading “To Tell The Truth”

That Proverb…

Parenting can be a hard job.

But it can also be as humbling an experience as any you can ever have.

Because I’m convinced part of God’s design for parenting is to sanctify us, the grown-ups.

A few weeks ago, my pre-teen daughter began answering my angry rants about her behavior with the words: “Yes, mommy.”

I would lose my patience and raise my voice and remind her of something she did or did not do and she would simply answer:

– “Yes, mommy.”

No reproach, no defense, no fighting back.

Her answer would disarm me and quiet my frustrated heart on the spot, especially when I was irritated and going on and on about something, as I’m known to do.

Invariably, the rest of the conversation would go down a different direction and we would solve whatever problem we were having peacefully and calmly.

At first it didn’t dawn on me what was happening but soon I began to notice this pattern. Finally, I asked her one day,

–  “What’s up? You usually get mad at me and fight back and when I start to call you on something you did or have not done.”

She looked at me with those big, brown eyes that will melt her husband one day and said,

– “Well, you talked about that proverb the other day and I wanted to try it. I think it really works.”

And she walked away.

That proverb?

That proverb?

What proverb?

Ah.

That proverb.
Continue reading “That Proverb…”

November…Adoption Month.

Two days after Isabel joined our family, I was sitting in the lobby of our church waiting for Matt to fill two carloads of presents and love the congregation had poured on us that night.

I was holding my little bundle closely, feeling blessed, and basking in new motherhood when a dear saint and friend of mine came up to me. She looked at my baby with a sad smile and said, “We’ll keep praying. It may still happen for you one day.”

And she walked away.

At first I was confused by her comment until I realized what she meant by “it.”

Continue reading “November…Adoption Month.”

All Things Noah…

This kid.

Noah

Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the day we first met him.

And it came and went unnoticed.

But I’m not surprised. In fact, there could not have been another way.

See, this is the story of Noah’s life from the beginning.

His sister came to us with a bang. The only baby in the church we were pastoring. Long awaited, lovingly prayed for and hoped for by an entire congregation, who knew our struggles with infertility. She was the darling of our whole world. She had nine baby-showers and innumerable “aunties” and “uncles.”

Noah came as a surprise. He snuck quietly into our lives amid a busy, chaotic season. His arrival was just another tick in an already eventful September. Within the same week we picked him up from the adoption agency, we moved to a new city, took a new church assignment, and said goodbye to old friends and familiar places.

And if the way a child enters into a family has any effect on a personality, then Noah’s was marked by the way he started in ours.  Continue reading “All Things Noah…”

Always For Your Good

Listening to the 90’s Country station this afternoon while I worked, the song “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks came on. I always thought the song was a bit corny. But it’s catchy so I sang along.

Then I got to the chorus: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers…” I looked up from the computer and my eyes fell on my daughter, my beautiful girl. Continue reading “Always For Your Good”

Hope Is a Father’s Love

I love this view.

IMG_2629

Father and son having conversations I know nothing about. A boy and the man he calls his hero.

But if I look a little harder and dig a little deeper I see something else.

Because We Plan…and God Laughs.

When Matt and I first got married, we thought we would like to have two biological children and adopt the third one. But the young don’t yet know that life doesn’t always go according to plan, and a few years into our marriage we found ourselves with adoption as our only option to grow our family.

And I’d be lying if I said we were not disappointed. And broken. And scared. Nobody in our family had adopted before so we had no idea what we were getting into. But we grieved the disillusionment of having to abandon our original plan, dusted ourselves off, prayed fervently for wisdom and courage, and contacted adoption agencies to move forward.

As we processed our new reality, we realized we would be surrendering many of the expected things that come along with biological children: the excitement of the pregnancy announcement, the marvel of watching my body change as our baby grew inside, the creative gender reveal, the birth.  And it was a hard pill to swallow. 

When we decided to say yes to adoption, we also felt led to say yes to any baby who needed a home regardless of race or gender. So we were told from the start that our willingness would most likely result in us adopting a black or bi-racial child because the need was so great.

This meant that we would also be giving up something else we had not anticipated: that our baby would look like usBut after coming to terms with laying down all the other parts of our plan, I was fine with that.  

Or so I thought…until the moment I saw my new daughter for the first time.

Continue reading “Because We Plan…and God Laughs.”

Three Magical Words (or how to deal with a pre-teen girl)

I’ve been at this parenting thing for a decade now. I don’t know about you but I struggle almost daily and often feel like a total failure.

Parenting is hard, man, and anyone who says otherwise I’m willing to bet does not have kids. And the most bizarre thing about it is that, unlike most skills or processes in life, this one does not seem to get easier with time and you don’t necessarily feel like you are getting better with practice. In fact, it seems to get harder in some ways.

Sure, the kids are more independent and you don’t have to change their diaper, feed them, watch their every move. But they are smarter, sassier, require logical explanations, ask difficult questions, call you on your junk and are, overall, more difficult human beings to live with.

It can be exhausting.

My 10-year-old daughter has entered puberty. (Run for cover!) I never knew it could start this early but the pediatrician says it is not unheard of for kids as young as 8 to have signs of going through “the change.” Isabel is fully emerged in this metamorphosis from little girl to demon child teen. I told her she is like a roller-coaster: one minute she is happy, affectionate, interesting and the next minute, literally the next minute, she is grumpy, moody, defensive.

She told me I’m the same way. The nerve!

But, really, she is just. like. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The other day I was chatting with another mom. Isabel came up to me, laced her fingers with mine and laid her head on my shoulder. By the time I turn my head to kiss the top of hers, she let go with a “Humph!” crossed her arms and stomped her foot. The other mom and I just burst out laughing (which didn’t help, by the way) because it was an epitome moment: the epitome of living with a pre-teen girl.

Not long ago, after a day particularly difficult to navigate, I was begging God to spare me the next eight years of my life and bargaining about what I would trade with him (I’ll be willing to go all gray, Lord, if I could wake up one morning and it be 2024) when the Perfect Parent reminded me about the power of words.

Continue reading “Three Magical Words (or how to deal with a pre-teen girl)”

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