Friday, December 3, 2010

Just Part of the Plan

We finished the project! It is so precious. Remember, we have no pictures from birth to two and a half. Well, we have one but she refused to use it. We're still debating on having it copied and cropped to just show her. We drew the time line. The first line stands for the day she was born. We made itty bitty feet print using her pinky finger prints and painted little toes. She loved it! At the bottom of the line we glued a flower pot and flower out of quilt themed scrapbook paper and put "It's a Girl" in the center of the flower. We added a poem that says "A family is like a patchwork quilt, gently sewn together. A family is meant to last all the years, a family is forever." The first picture is the picture that was taken of our family the night she came to live with us. As we were working she noticed that there were no pictures for the first two years and she asked me why. I told her that we didn't have any pictures other than the one with her birth mom. I asked her if she just wanted to write that she was in foster care. She said, "Foster care? (insert long pause to think)...MAN, I've lived a whole lot of life!"

I choose to take this as a sign that she is finally making strides to a healthy place emotionally. My friend made a valid point. Amberly being our daughter WAS the plan.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Growing Pains

Ambelry has a project due for school. It is to be a poster board type project, a time line from birth to present. I guess to be honest I'm a little ticked. The story of her birth and adoption "is what it is" but sometimes I just wish for one minute of one day she didn't have to be reminded. She is a different race from those who love her the most so it's not something she can tuck deep in the family bible. Some adoption stories are just so miraculous and are truly meant to be shared for various reasons for encouragement and for ministry. Our ministry was foster care and her life story is a beautiful story of redemption. We're not in ministry anymore. We were called for a time that I believe was meant to lead us to the rest of our family. Now we are just that, a family. It's not that we have hid her beginnings from her. She remembers every horrible transition that we went through together. It took years to find a normal day. In thinking about this project I'm struggling with how much to share. Does she put her birth name? It's different now. She picked it out herself. We have one picture of her during her first two years. She was nine months old and her mother was holding her at a visit. She told me she didn't want to put it on the poster. Why? Is she worried about me? Is it confusing? Does she not want to answer questions? Probably all of the above. Maybe it's just something that she wants to keep for herself since she has to answer questions about her family almost every single day. We can't leave out her first two years. Birth is a basic human right. If we only had a single picture to put for birth to two this wouldn't be an issue. I know that these are just growing pains. If she were adopted in a traditional way I think it would have been easier to share about the wonderful way she came to our family. The fact is, she came to our family because she was neglected, abused and almost past the point of no return. I know the miracle that God did for her and for us. I'm still overcome with thankfulness at the most unexpected times but right now she's at such a good place. She is finally, for the most part a very carefree little girl.

Adoption is such a personal thing. I adore the beauty of the whole plan. It's just as miraculous to me as birth. I've tried to share that wonder with all five of my children. I love to tell about the blessing of children when God gives me the opportunity. She's just eight. I just don't think it is fair to expect her to post all the details of her life in the hallway at school unless that's her choice. I just wish they would stick to reading, writing and arithmetic.

It's due December 6th. We will learn from this and we'll figure out a beautiful way to share her story but Mama Bear just may have to figure out a way to make that trip down memory lane with her...all the way to the school.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Here We Go...AGAIN!

It seems like just yesterday I was taking the scenic drive down the winding country roads to Junior Day at the college that Jana now calls home. There just aren't words for the shock of realizing that you have a child ready to leave for college. Everyday moments and the many big events of her senior year were marked with "this is it" or "last time". I just couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that we were here already. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know it would be at lighting speed!

Anna is a senior this year and for the most part, at least in the everyday things, I have been spared from being blind sided. I knew this was coming. I didn't cry on senior picture day. I didn't have a pit in my stomach the first day of school. I'm actually very excited for her because I know that God has many wonderful things in store. College preparations have been smooth. I've cherished the everyday moments because I know that this is the only time I will ever have with her as my oldest still living at home. I'm good.


Scholarship Day at college was this past Saturday. We took the same winding roads and this time we were not alone. Anna's best friend who happens to be her cousin and her mom went with us for the testing and tours. This didn't start out as a particularly nostalgic day as the college was not first choice for either of the girls. We basically went because we love Jana and did not want to dismiss the place that is so much a part of who she is. We parked the van and with our usual very loud girly chatter we all got out to go register at Jewitt Hall. I turned around to say something to Robin and the very moment I didn't expect to have slipped up on me! Walking a few feet ahead were the two girls who have been best friends since they were side by side on a quilt in Nana's floor. Their heads were leaned in toward one another in the way it always is when they are walking and talking. The were nonchalantly taking their first steps away from us.

Why did I think I would be immune from the jolt of the beginning of the end of her girlhood. This child, the one I have spent thousands of hours with on the road to violin lessons, rehearsals and functions. The talks, the secret fast food fixes, the arguments, the she sleeps and I drive, the mass of curls across the seat, her hazel eyes so full of whatever she feels that day. To have her look at me and say, "Mama, this is it. I feel safe here" and to know that she is so independent she would never have said it if something hadn't taken hold of her will. She was the one who was moving to New York and never getting married, the one who swore she'd never give me grandchildren. But there she stood ready to be obedient to any change in her plans if that's what He wanted of her.

We're here again. This is our last Christmas with our beautiful, strong-willed second born before she only lives here half of the time. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know it would be at lighting speed!

Friday, October 29, 2010

What I love about....

Jana...she left us all for college and she's having the time of her life. I love that she is strong and poised and confident. She sees beauty in everyone. She makes up her mind to do something and she does it...even if that something isn't the norm. She looks like a cowboy/girl on a horse! I love the shape of her face when she smiles. You can see strength.

Anna...her messy up do that has become her signature style. I love her heart that belongs only to one. She argues and knows she's right. She plays music with her heart and not her mind. The twinkle in her hazel eyes. That she's not ashamed to let me fill out most of her college paperwork. She'll be a good boss one day.

Braden...that his eyes speak. He's so handsome he takes my breath if he looks at me just right. I can't wait to see his wife on their wedding day. I love that the little boy who seemed so insecure struggles with vanity. He rides a horse like the cowboy he is and is proud of the bruises.

Amberly...her dimples and her dark skin. Her skin used to be so difficult and now when it's moisturized I just want to touch her. I love her athletic build. I wish she had the confidence that Jana does. The great thing about being the fourth child...your mama realizes that time heals.

Christian...his eyes crinkle when he smiles. He has charm down to an art form. He loves me almost as much as his daddy does. He calls me mama doll. His beautiful brown skin. His build, he's just like his daddy and has a mole in the same place as Amberly. His hero is his brother and Cam Newton and Javae. I love that he has heros.

Shawn...he loves me like Mr. Rochester loved Jane Eyre. He touches my face on an ordinary day. Though he's last on the list, he's first in my heart.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite Things (about Fall)

1. My handcrafted chenille pumpkin made from 1940's chenille. My sister-in-law Robin and I bought one several years ago in Gatlinburg, Tennessee from a local craft vendor. We were already over our mini-vacation budget but we each splurged a whole $16.00! It is my single favorite possession and it adorns the center of my dining room table every year from September until November. I have been known to work it into the Christmas decor!

2. Pumpkin scented candles on my mantel.

3. The horses that stand under the same tree in the pasture straight across from my front glass door. It seems like they only stand in this spot in the fall.

4. The color orange.

5. ...and blue. WAR EAGLE!!!

6. Chili & Potato Soup with cheese and onions.

7. The kids play outside for hours on end.

8. Hearing their laughter through the window.


10. Watching the shows about haunted places on t.v.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who I Want to Be

Joyce Christine Connell Horton was my maternal grandmother. I have not seen her face for over eighteen years but her presence is still so strong in my life. I think of her when my daughter comes home from college and my heart leaps, when my friend is mourning yet another lost loved one, when I dream of my grandchildren. All of the ways that I love come from the way that she lived. I, along with many others, thought that I was her absolute favorite! I don't have any illusions that she was perfect. She could gossip with the best of them and she would argue with herself. She had demons in her past, things she never got over.

I remember her cooking for days before the holidays, filling her freezer and counters for seven children, their spouses and twenty-five grandchildren. If someone passed away, she was the first one in the kitchen cleaning and cooking and taking care of everything behind the scenes. In her spare time she crocheted. She had counted stitches for so many years that her lips kept time long after she she quit counting. She had boxes of little baby shoes, caps and blankets that were ready to gift at the mention of a babyshower!

When I was expecting my oldest child I spent many hours thinking about the kind of mother I wanted to be. I made conscious decisions based on examples from mothers that I admired, including my own. I'm coming to a different place in my life and once again there are choices to be made. I want to love like my grandmother. I want my children to choose their mates based on the love they see at home because settling would be out of the question. I want to always be aware of the leap in my heart when my children come home again. I want to prepare scrumptious feasts to celebrate them so that they will always want to come home. I want my friends to know that I love them and that I'm there when they can't be strong. I want to play favorites with all that I hold dear. That's who I want to be.

Titus 2:4 that they admonish the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children...

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Son

Twelve years ago God answered my earnest prayers. He gave me what I asked of Him, a beautiful little boy. Braden followed a miscarriage and is five and six years younger than his sisters. S-P-O-I-L-E-D!!! The "new" soon wore off for his sisters! He was just far enough behind them in age to be a major P-E-S-T!!! He is 5th in line of cousins on both sides of the family and not the first boy on either side. Although everyone loves him very much, he probably doesn't ever feel like he is anyone's favorite. Factor in two adopted younger siblings and the fact that he gave up his spot as youngest for that of the middle child. Since he was old enough to walk I think I have been sensitive to these things for him. I've prayed for a close boyhood pal and have been disappointed that just one doesn't really stand out. I think the main thing that I've longed for and prayed for him is that he would feel really special to someone.

My prayed for little boy is growing fast into a young man! In early August I took him to seventh grade orientation. As we were walking in I noticed a couple of boys standing alone on the walkway. They were the cool kids and they were peering at everyone that walked by. My heart ached a bit that he would probably never be accepted by them. They didn't speak and we walked on. Coming toward us was a grandmother with a boy about my son's age. The grandmother looked tired and unkempt and the young man walked a little further ahead with his head kept down low. Braden said in passing, "Hi, Criag". I stopped short as I watched the smile on that boy's face as he raised his head and said hello back. A few minutes later we went to meet his new teacher. This time a girl was sitting with her mother. I noticed immediately that she was very anxious. Again, my son said hello and called the young lady by name. A smile lit up a shy but pretty face. I can't count the people that my son spoke too that day. He did not see social class or beauty or coolness. He saw people.

I don't pray for him in the same way anymore. While I was praying for him to have a close friend, he was making friends with everyone. When my selfish mother's heart was worried about him feeling special to someone, he was using his boyish good looks and charm to make others feel that they mattered.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christian's Prayer

This morning I was standing in the kitchen and Christian said, "Mama did you pray for Braden's football team?" I said, "No honey, I didn't pray for them today...but you can". He stopped what he was doing, dropped his little head and this is what he prayed, "Dear Lord, please help Braden's football team and let them win a game. Please be with Jana today when she takes her test. Please make Rosalee stop biting PawPaw in the head. Please help Braden's team win a trophy and I love you and thank you."

Braden's team may not win this year, but if there's a chance, I'll bet it's this Saturday! Rosalee is a HORSE!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Today is a pretty typical fall Saturday for our family. Jana is on her way back to college a little early for a play that the upperclassmen are putting on. Anna is headed south for a band competition (I'm soon to follow). Daddy is staying home with the little one until Braden's football game. Amberly gets to spend time with grandparents tonight and watch some Bama football. Christin is tagging along to his brother's football game because in his own words, "that's my brother" and he's hoping to sneak onto the sidelines. It's a juggling act every single day! I'm trying so hard to slow down and remember that "I'm gonna miss this"!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One day till grocery day MEAL!

I have four hungry mouths (not bad compared to our usual seven) to feed. It's 5:20 and for some reason I just didn't plan anything for dinner??? Mama said there would be days like this...I have in my cupboard various cans of veggies, one box of hamburger helper and rice. In the freezer I have two hamburger patties. Times like this is when I realize that we really house and grow piranha. If it's edible, it's gone. I browned the two hamburger patties, mixed in the hamburger helper and a drained a can of vegall. I cooked the rice and topped it with our cool beef and veggie blend. The little ones think they are eating gumbo and we'll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Fall is in the air! As much as it can be in the deep south. Amberly and Christian have recently discovered "mud pies" and have spent the last two days outside literally playing in the dirt. A delightful break from their normal after school chaos. There are so many things to worry about but my sweet hubby reminded me this week of the words to one of his favorite songs, "Beautiful Boy"...Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. These simple days are life.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rhinestone Cowgirl

A little girl fell off of her horse. Though she tried, she couldn't overcome her fears...but then one Thanksgiving, the year she was ten and for no good reason, something clicked! She closed her eyes, swallowed her fears, went for a ride and NEVER looked back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A secret

This is our family's "Year of Change". I came home full-time to take care of Christian and to be more available for all of the kids. With four of them diagnosed with asthma, I was home more than I could work anyway!!! The biggest change came this August when Jana left for college. She's not far away, less than 50 miles from the front door-steps! Still I can't understand why everyone says "that's not far". She's still not in her bedroom at night. I don't see her sweet face for days at a time. She might as well be a thousand miles away, because she's sure NOT here! I don't know how to describe how it feels exactly. We went to Disney this summer and by far the favorite ride was Splash Mountain. We rode it over and over. The beginning of the ride is curvy but you go at a leisurely pace. There are a few surprises as you wind around the familiar characters and listen to happy little tunes...for a moment you forget about the big "splash" that's coming. The scenes and the music seem to last forever but before you know it you are slowly ascending the incline and you KNOW that when you get to the top your body will drop but your stomach rise to catch in your throat. That's how it felt letting her go. I remember holding her in the hospital room like it was yesterday. Somehow feeling like I'd always known the shape of her nose, her hairline, her smell. You don't even know that the first time you hold them that you are already letting them go. I barely blinked and then I was sitting at her graduation. But there is a secret at this point in the journey. It's not earth shattering, I've never read about it. No one told me about it. It's just something that was a very sweet surprise. The story of the prodigal son alludes to it even though in this case she's not at all a "prodigal". Luke 15:20b..."but when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." That's my secret, no one told me that on a regular Tuesday when my daughter calls and says, "Mama, I think I'm going to come home tonight, will you ride to Walmart with me"...that my world would be right. It's an anticipation unlike anything else I've ever experienced! Nothing compares to knowing that for a few hours tonight all that's mine and cherished will be within my reach.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

I love to read blogs! I follow two or three for inspiration. I felt so inspired that I decided to start a blog (mostly because I couldn't find many families like ours to read about). I wrote two or three heartfelt posts and then...I LOST IT. I didn't loose the inspiration, didn't loose the motivation...I lost the BLOG!!! I couldn't remember how to get to it. Who does that??? I guess that's an insight into my "beautiful mind". A day or two ago I read on Facebook that my cousin decided to start her own blog to journal about her family. I jokingly commented that I had a blog but I lost it (sad face). It was very comical to me but in my heart I was cheering her on because, well...she's young. She WILL remember where she put her blog and she's much more technical savvy than I am. So today, I read her first blog post. I was moved to tears. I love it! Of course I had to comment. I wrote my sentimental comment and a window popped up for me to choose a "thingy"... I chose the "Google" link. I knew that at some point I must have done something online that required a password for Google. I entered my email and my old standby password and posted my comment. When I went back to her post to see if my comment had posted, I was delighted to see MY BLOG name! I FOUND IT!!! What fun to go back and read about my family a year ago. So much has happened in a year! Last April we finalized the adoption of our sweet little boy, Christian!!! He is playing happily in the floor beside me as I write. Our little girl is a very happy second grader and loves her teacher, her friends, gymnastics and violin. Braden is now a strapping twelve year old and right in the middle of football season. His daddy is his coach and his cousin, Nathan plays on the team too. Anna is enjoying her senior year and is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!!! She is living her life out loud! Our oldest is away at college and I miss her EVERYDAY but she is blissfully happy and I love hearing about her adventures. Hopefully I will be able to remember where I put my blog tomorrow and the day after...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Apple of My Eye

For several weeks I've been pondering the phrase the "apple of my eye". That's hard to say about one of your children when you have five or three or even two because it implies favoritism. However, that phrase is exactly how I feel about Christian and I've been keeping these thoughts all to myself. I researched the phrase this morning and low and behold that was the precious comfort I've been needing from my Father. I think the reason I've been thinking about that phrase was because at the right time, He had something to say to me about it.

This is what appeared when I Googled it:

It also appears several times in the Bible, for example, Deuteronomy 32:10 (King James Version)

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

My little one was found in a desert land, a waste howling wilderness. Christian is the apple of God's eye and He has kept Christian and has given him to me to keep as the apple of my eye. It's o.k. of me to keep him as the apple of my eye. That's right there in scripture!

Can you see it!!!

Listen to this, my prayer for Christian has always been protection. Something inside me (Holy Spirt) always knows when something is up...this is the other scripture:

and Zechariah 2:8:

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

Christian is safe, he's protected. The Great I AM is his protector

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Almost There

We had our children's picture made last Sunday afternoon. It was in a beautiful field of daffodils and it will be the first portrait of the five children as a complete family. We sign our adoption agreement for our little boy next Thursday! I was so afraid that this day wouldn't come and almost afraid to pray for it for fear that the answer would be no. I cannot imagine a day not knowing that my little boy is safe and loved. As for that portrait. It is symbolic to me. It is the last picture before things change forever. Jana will be leaving for college this fall and Christian is a brand new forever son. And the daffodils....they remind me that God is so faithful to array the lilies of the field and the beautiful array of colors that He painted my family is of His design!