Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I'm not sure why writing seems to be so seasonal for me.
I seem to feel that urge to put the pen to paper when we go through a major life change. 

A lot has happened at our house since last year when I wrote about camp.  Our oldest settled into marriage as well as an instant family on a beautiful day in early spring.  It felt odd sitting in my seat as Mama-of-the Bride. This came too fast...but SHE has been walking toward that moment for her all of her life.  From that day forward her heart beat for another and so her daddy and I did what good parents eventually do and we stepped back.  Quite literally dancing on the stage between them was the little girl who became my granddaughter that day.   The icing on the cake!  It tickles me pink that she loves me.  So as my heart was truly grieving, a little imp was there to fill it back up.  My little grandbaby girl walked down the aisle of the church right between her daddy and her Jana to begin their new life. It was all as it should be for them.  I wasn't feeling it.  I can't even find the words to describe the day after their wedding.  I had an old fashioned, take-to-my-bed, shut the door, mama's not sane, I can't lift my arms, "honey, help me walk to the bathroom", breakdown!  Just as I began to recover and take notice that spring was making way for summer, my second daughter said "Yes" to her long time boyfriend and high school sweetheart.  So here we go again...

Some might say that the second time of anything is not as exciting as the first but I disagree.  Same excitement, just different.  I know some things this time around.  The first peek of my oldest in her wedding gown took my breath away. It was such a blur of excitement.  When my second born stepped out of the dressing room in her wedding gown, I knew to slow down, step back and breath in the treasure of the moment.  Although very different, each moment is etched forever in my memory.  I also now know how much I cherish time spent with my oldest and her family, post wedding.  I know that I love to cook big Sunday dinners and I just like saying to anyone who will listen "my kids are coming".  Hopefully the day after this wedding I will remember before I break that the seasons are just changing.

There are other, more subtle changes.  The heaviness that plagued our family for so many years after the adoptions seems be lifting.  PTSD, Attachment Disorder, anger issues and other hidden disabilities that forever defined us are healing.  When they do show up, it's harder to tell if they stem from those issues or if it's just age appropriate behaviors or miss-behaviors:)  The thing about living life, day after day,  is that given enough time it becomes their life too.  Their stories are now so entwined with ours that they know what to expect, even when everything around them is changing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 - To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Thursday, June 20, 2013


We are at camp!  The Children's Homes that we adopted our children through hosts a three day camp each year in June for foster families.   During the three day retreat the foster parents attend classes to earn their training hours while the children participate in summer camp activities.  For many of the children, depending on how long they have been in foster care this is their very first time to go on a mini-vacation of any kind much less a summer camp.   The setting has a retro, sixties feel to it, complete with a lake, some really tall hills and mosquitos!  I began coming here twelve years ago as an employee of the Children's Homes and then for a few years we attended camp as a foster family.  We skipped the next few years because after we adopted our foster children we were no longer eligible to attend.

Shawn and I now serve as ambassadors for the Children's Homes and I also returned to work part time for the Children's Homes.  So here we are again.  Within minutes of our arrival I realized how much I have forgotten.  I forgot what it feels like for our family to fit in.  We see many other families here who look just like us.  I forgot what it's like to not cook for seven meals straight!  (A little selfish, but a BIG perk for a tired mama).  I forgot about snack-time.  The sheer amount of snacks provided by local churches for 600 plus people twice a day is an overwhelming sight!  Every night at 8:30 the snack bar is open and the kids and adults are allowed to get two snacks or a drink and a snack each.  The adults seem to accept this just fine but if I heard one child, I heard ten kids say in disbelief, "You mean I can have anything I want and I don't even have to pay for it"!   Shawn and I had a good laugh tonight as we watched a boy who looked to be about ten or eleven years old with two slushies.  He was drinking from a straw from each slushie at the same time.  I think the snack bar at night is my favorite part of camp.  The phrase "like a kid in a candy store" is so much fun to see in person!    However, the most important thing I had forgotten was the feeling of heightened awareness of seeing Jesus so many times in one day.  He's in the little faces of toddlers let loose to run on the chapel lawn.   I saw Him today in the protectiveness of a foster dad's eyes.  He's here, one family after another.  Often, the only thing the families have in common is that they said "yes".  He's evident in the smiles of the staff who work with and pray for these children and their foster families every day of the year.  I thought about this a lot today.  Why is the Holy Spirit's presence so strong here when it's not really meant to be a time or worship?  I know why.  It's pure religion.  Pure religion, undefiled before God is to visit the fatherless in their affliction. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Grandaddy Shawn

We spent this Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend at "Pump It Up" for a six year old birthday party.  Our family has made  many new friends this year among the parents and kids of baseball and ballet. We still feel so young it's almost easy to forget...that is until birthday boy's dad asked  Shawn if he was another mom's dad:(  ...and the other mom was embarrassed???  Cracked me up until I realized that he must have thought her son who is Christian's best friend was our grandson.  We started the season jokingly referring to ourselves as the mawmaw and pawpaw of the ball team.  Not so far from the truth, I guess.

Amberly got her back handspring yesterday and is doing round-off/back handprings today!  It tickles me pink because that energy that aged me and her daddy enough for us to be mistaken for grandparents is what drives her to master gymnastics without actually taking the class.   In fact, that energy that keeps her from sitting still long enough to make those straight "A's" she so desperately craves (though I know she could if I could manage to keep her still for at least 10 minutes in a row), is exactly what makes her eyes twinkle.   Her sister, typical oldest, high achiever, former JHS Cheer Captain, Valedictorian, firstborn type watched in shameless envy this afternoon as Am tumbled in the living room.  She said that all she ever wanted for all of the six years she cheered was to master her back handspring.  This same sister, the most driven person I know, never met that goal despite hours of instruction in gymnastics.  Now to her credit, she did instruct Amberly on the finer points of one's back handspring technique.  After watching my girls together all afternoon and seeing Jana truly delight in the accomplishment of her baby sister, I am so thankful that God made our Amberly exactly as she is.  My mold for daughters would surely have been stale by this third Davenport girl. 

Other thoughts...I ordered the book "Beautiful Girlhood".  While I'm learning to embrace high energy, I have not liked the sassiness that came with 4th grade.  We already had the companion/study guide.   I'm planning to spend summer mornings with Amberly going through this book and study guide.  We also came up with "Fieldtrip Friday".  If they do their reading and chores each day of the week then on Friday we will do a fun activity.  Today we went to Oak Mountain State Park and hiked to Peavine Falls and then tonight, "Pump it Up".  I.am.not.old. and if I weren't so tired, I'd prove it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Good Conduct

A well-meaning mom wrote on her facebook wall that she was thankful to the PIT (Parent Involvement Team) for the good conduct field trip.  She was sharing publicly how thankful she was that good behavior is rewarded because, in her words, some children may not be capable of making all A's but EVERY child can sit down, be quiet and respect their elders. 

I am so glad that my mama taught me years ago to, as popular country song puts it, "hide my crazy and be a lady"!!!  I did not comment in that forum (I ran to my blog with just one follower instead).  I had to take a deep breath and remember that not too many years ago, I would have said the same thing.  Shoot, I probably would have been the PTI mama who headed up the drive to raise the money to take the "good" children on the fieldtrip!  In all seriousness, I mean no disrespect to the children who have someone in their life who has high expectations for them or even better, who strive to be obedient because they have been carried to church and understand fully that this is what Jesus and their parents expect.  They should be rewarded.  But what about the others.  What about the child who takes the safest does of medication allowed just to be able to focus but it wears off somewhere between lunch and 4th period and doesn't take effect again until 30 minutes after the lunch dose?  What about the little boy who is acting out because mom and dad fight all the time? What about the child who lives with secrets no child should ever have to live with.  What about the one who goes home to take care of themselves and maybe younger siblings because no one else cares enough about them to see that they even have clean clothes. 

I'm sorry but I respectfully disagree.  EVERY child can not sit down, be quiet and respect their elders.  Sadly these are most likely the same children who live with the shame of always falling short of everyone's expectations, like making all A's.  To SOME children, grades and conduct are the least of their worries, school is just a place to get a hot meal, somewhere relatively safe.  SOME children simply haven't been taught.  Then there is the one, like my little girl, who is just too full of spunk and sparkle, on the far end of ADHD, with parents at home who love her and do their very best to teach her to sit down, be quiet and respect her elders...the one that didn't get to go on the field trip but spent the day enjoying meeting the two very nice teachers she got to spend the day with...the one who couldn't understand why I was so upset because she didn't feel left out.  She liked the other teacher's room because it was  quiet:)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood

Tonight, I watched my ten year old daughter dance the role of "Little Red Riding Hood" in front of an audience of 200 people at her ballet school's spring performance.  She took my breath away.  We enrolled her in ballet just two years ago strictly to lengthen her muscles...because  a little girl who can out run all the boys from 2nd to 10th grade is supposed to run track!!!  She can't try out for the track team until sixth grade and we just couldn't sit around and do nothing until then!  But nothing could have prepared me for the sight of her in a red flowing cape waltzing in and out of a living fairy tale.  I will never forget. 

The confidence she had on stage was no where to be found this morning.  I found her crying in the bathroom.  She was crying because she was afraid everyone would be disappointed because Little Red Riding Hood is not supposed to be black.  I assured her that this was not true but I felt so guilty that I could not find the right words to comfort her.  I felt guilty that she is the only black child at ballet.  In fact, she and her little brother are often the only black children at church, at school and on the ball team. I felt guilty for being her mother.  On the way to dress rehearsal, I believe the Lord did give me the words to say.  I asked her who her father was.  She said, "Daddy".  I said no, your other father.  She said, Jesus.  I shared with her that since He is the king, then she is a princess, Daughter of the King.  He does not make mistakes.  He made the color of your skin.  He placed you in your family and He directs your path.  It was His choice to bless you with this role.  You say thank you and you give it back to Him by doing your best.  The doubts she was facing, her confidence that was shaken was not from her Father.  It was from Satan, the accuser.  This was enough for me.  I knew that we had a God moment and we were both relieved by His provision. 

However, this was not enough for her Father.  Not for His princess.  You see, there is a banquet hall next door to the theater and there happened to be a wedding booked at the same time as Little Red Riding Hood.  There also happened to be a large number of children and teenagers in attendance at this wedding...and they happened to be African American.  Five minutes before the curtains opened, in they walked and filled the back two rows of the left side of the auditorium.  Everyone thought they were there for her...and I believe they were. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shadow Mama

Surreal. Foggy. Shadows. Snapshots of Jana catch my breath. I see a younger, "me".  Both girls are head over heals in love and they don't recognize my smile as a vivid memory of  me and their dad as "young love".  Braden is a mixed up reflection of my dad and his dad, the two men who hold both my little girl and grown up heart.   All of these years and I'm still a  "Mommy" to a six year old,  a "Mama" to a ten year old.  I live with the shadow of other faces, echoes. Most days I struggle to embrace the "now" for living in the "then".

If I ever write a book, I  have the name..."Shadow Mama".  I should probably rename my blog.  It suits me.   I'm doing it all again except this time, in the middle of forty.  Two decades later I'm repeating kindergarten and fourth grade, Jesus Loves me and baseball, dance lessons and chores...laundry and more laundry, "because I said so" and mama love. Why does it seem like I did it all much better the first time?   There's another definition that sits below the surface.   I'm taking someone else's place.  This shouldn't be me.  My little girl should look into a face that resembles hers, reach for a hand that is ebony,strong and solid.  There would be no need for constant reassurance.  In this world as it could have been, my little boy would not yearn to look like us.  He wouldn't hate it so much when strangers sneak a second glance and a third. He wouldn't be anxious and angry about things he can't remember.

Perhaps the reason that I struggle with this so much is because I have the mixed blessing of motherhood  by both birth and adoption.  If I had only birth children, we would be a unit - past, present and future.  If I had "only" adopted children, I would glory in the "present", thankful for a future.  I feel caught somewhere between undeserving and not enough.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Life Block

It's hard to believe that the last time I posted was June, 2011!  I just read that last post and I realized, I'm stuck.  Not writers block...more like a life block.  Our two oldest girls...scratch...young women (daughters) are still away at college.  Anna discovered that her wings grew in quite nicely and she actually lands here for a few hours on the weekend.  She is so busy with nursing classes and clinicals. I love to hear about her patients and her interactions with them.  She has found her calling even though some days she is completely traumatized.  Jana is in her junior year of college and has lost all all interest in collegiate activities in favor of a certain someone who captured her attention last September. The "stuck" that I referred to comes in here...while they busy living life, I'm still trying to figure out how to be a full-time mama of three kids instead of five.  They don't need the super hands on, hyper-interested mama that I've always been.  Major confession - still am.  This might explain the eye roll that I get when I remind them to put on their lip-stick like a good southern mama should.  I'm really not stuck at all.  Just musing that "letting go" is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.  I'm almost certain that from the outside we look like we've mastered this but I miss the girls being close by so much.  God's timing is perfect though.  I have three other blessings who still need a mom and dad to delight in them.

A lot has happened in almost two years.  I tried to go back to work at the Children's Homes last February.  Christian wouldn't have it!  I made it from February to April and have paid a full ten month penance for straying away from the full time duty of being his mom.  I was so confused at the time because it seemed so clear to me that God opened this specific door.  He most certainly did but not for the reasons I thought.  The past ten months have been a crash course in PTSD, attachment, trust based parenting, the effects of trauma on children, the list could go on and on!   The resources we needed for Christian's healing were first made available through the Children's Homes. I did not even realize at the time that he had PTSD or what that would mean.  God provided before we knew we needed it.   This experience led us to a unique training opportunity with Empowered to Connect.  We can't wait to share what we have learned with other foster and adoptive parents in the future.  We will never be able to adequately thank this ministry for investing in us as parents.