Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Questions, Comfort and Control

How is it possible that our little pumpkin is almost one?????
     We’ve often been asked about our experience when The Little One was born – what was it like in the hospital? When did we ‘get’ her? Did her birthmom see her? Did we ‘let’ her see her?  So as we approach TLO’s 1st birthday I wanted to share a little about what the adoption experience can be like in the hospital to help others understand. This was what it was like for us and it’s important to realize that every adoption is different.  This is also a lot of my opinion and others may not agree, and that’s okay too!

     First, it’s important to note that nothing ‘officially’ happens with the adoption until the birthmom signs consent to terminate parental rights. The timeframe for signing consent varies by state – but she cannot sign until 24-72 hours in most cases. This does not mean that they have to sign at that time, they can and should (in my opinion) take as long as they want – this is a huge decision and shouldn’t be made just because a clock says it should. Also, until she signs that consent all decisions about the baby belong to the birthmom. That means she makes all medical decisions and can decide she wants to keep the baby with her the whole time, she can decide when the adoptive parents can see the baby and if they can spend the night in the hospital with them. This is one of the hardest times for adoptive parents because that little baby that you’ve come to think of as ‘yours’ really isn’t yet. Legally the woman who just gave birth still has every right to that child, she has control and you don’t. (You would think that adoptive parents would be used to not having control because we have so little control during the entire process, but you never get used to that feeling!) But here’s my opinion on this timeframe: this time before she signs consent is a precious gift to the child. This is the time I imagine I will tell TLO about when she gets older. I will tell her about the first night of her life that she spent in the room with just her birthmom, the day we spent sharing the responsibility of caring for her; playing with her tiny toes and talking about her beautiful hair; the talks we had about careers, goals and life; and learning to love each other. I will be able to tell her how she held her one last time before we left the hospital and couldn’t take her eyes off of her. I will show her the pictures with loving arms wrapped around her and a face that both beams with love and is crushed with sadness. These are the just a few of the experiences I have to share because of this time we had together. We were very uncomfortable going in to this time, in fact ‘uncomfortable’ is an understatement. But I will be forever grateful for those precious hours.
     The state TLO was born in has a 72 hour wait before the birthmom can sign consent but she was discharged from the hospital at 48 hours. For that 24 hours she stayed with a very sweet family arranged through the agency, known as ‘cradle care’. This family welcomed us into their home whenever we wanted to be there and showered her with attention while we enjoyed 1 last night alone, got some sleep and frantically shopped for all the last minute things we forgot about. And approximately 72 hours after TLO came into the world we could officially call her ‘ours’!

Father God, thank You for putting me in a situation that made me uncomfortable. Thank You for giving me peace as we walked through a situation that we had no control over. You gave me a peace knowing that You were in control. Thank You for the sweet woman who chose life for her child and then chose us for her future. Thank You for this amazing child who is approaching 1 year old as she continues to help me grow! Amen.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Labor Pains and Real Parents

Okay, today I have another one of those "please bear with me, I just need to get it off my chest" posts. I was recently sitting with The Little One in a cafe when a random woman walks by and says "I think it's so cool you adopted. And think of all the things you didn't have to deal with like labor pains and recovery like a real mom would!"  Um, where do I even start with this?????

Let's start with the labor pains. No, I did not experience physical labor, didn't gain 15 lbs in water weight over 9 months and have my feet disappear below my stomach. I did not have contractions, I didn't have to push and I didn't have all the physical recovery that comes with passing a cantaloupe through a teeny-tiny opening. But let me tell you about the pain I did experience. Anyone who was working with me the day that TLO was born can verify that I most certainly experienced labor - it was just mental. Coming up with a last-minute plan of how to travel 1000 miles in a couple of hours along with all the "stuff" we had but hadn't yet got organized was crazy.  I nearly hyperventilated with my frantic breathing while walking up to a ticket agent and telling her "I'm having a baby in Phoenix and I need to get there as soon as possible!" and then pacing in an airport waiting alone for my flight to get to my sweet daughter. And then, after years of waiting to have  a family with my husband I was alone in an airport when I got the call that our baby was born - she was only a few hours away from me at that point, but my husband was still about 15 hours away! And my recovery...well, sometimes I still wonder if I've recovered! The utter shock, franticness and total disbelief in something so amazing happening in my life made it so difficult to recover. My 9 months of mental preparation were crammed into 2 1/2 very short weeks and that makes it very difficult to wrap your brain around what's happening. Couple that with sleep deprivation when she was little and I was trying to process all the changes and it's an even bigger challenge.  My heart still aches from the pain that another woman went through. I would go through any pain imaginable to have my daughter. Please don't ever say I didn't have pains with our daughter's birth.

And now, my soap box is getting a little bigger...I am a REAL mom lady. Let me pinch you and I'll show you just how real I am. I am the mother of this sweet child. I am the mother who cries when she cries, who holds her when she's scared or hurting, I am the one who wipes her tears, knows every mark on her body and knows her favorite little tickle spot under her chin. I am so real and I am so her mom.

....stepping off the soapbox now...

Thank You Lord for giving me this child who has blessed me beyond imagine. Thank You for taking me through the adoption experience and making me the mother that I am. Please continue to help me with the ache for the sweet birthmother of our little one. Help me to heal as You help her continue healing. And God, please help me get the word out to erase the ignorance that exists in our world to let people know that adoptive parents are REAL parents and that the pain we experience is real, it's just different. Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You Are Not Alone

My Little One turned 11 months old yesterday. 11 months! I can't believe we're already planning her first birthday party! But here's the crazy thing - a year ago we didn't even know about the little blessing who would soon come into our lives!

But with an 11 month old comes some not-so-fun problems - separation anxiety. Ugh. Just the simple act of setting her down elicits a crumpled face and tears. And Heaven forbid I leave the room once she's set down!   We're in the "pick me up and hold me, no put me down look at all those toys I want to play with, no pick me up" phase.  It's a frustrating stage (please Lord, let this just be a stage!) but one that I can sort of understand...sort of.

When I've been comforted in the arms of my Lord, held tightly and comforted to know He loves me, the last thing I want is to be left alone. I remember the times I have felt like God set me down after holding me in His arms. Times when He has stood me on my feet and says "it's okay, you'll be alright, you can walk now." How overwhelming that feeling is! How I have longed for the comfort and safety of being held in His arms! And the times I have sat with my own face crumpling and cried to be held again. But like my daughter, once I'm held I look and see the fun things I could be doing and want to get down and play on my own. But just like The Little One (TLO) and I have a compromise that I will hold her hand for a few minutes until she's ready to go play on her own, my God will hold me hand when I need it. He will hold it until I'm ready to walk on my own. Or in the words of the old song 

Hold my hand all the way 
Every hour, every day 
From here to the great unknown 
Take my hand 
Let me stand 
Where no one stands alone 

I try to reassure TLO that she will never be alone, that even if I leave the room or leave her with someone else I will always come back. I will always hold her hand. 

"...I am not alone, for my Father is with me." John 16:32

Lord, You have given me great blessings! You gave me such a beautiful little child who teaches me big lessons. thank You for holding my hand, for supporting me when I am weak and when I feel alone. TThank You for comforting me when I crumble under my fears and anxieties. Thank You for holding me in Your arms when I need it and holding my hand while I stand on my own feet. Thank You for reminding me that I am not alone. Give me the patience to provide similar comfort to my little one when she feels alone. Help me show her that she will never be alone. Amen

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love is Love

I have been thinking about this post for over a month and have struggled with how to write it. I came across another blog post this morning that gave me some insight, so here you go!  Bear with me for a little backstory...

     We recently went to Washington D.C. when my husband had a conference to attend. The Little One (TLO) and I decided to tag along so we could visit with family both before his conference and after. But this turned out to be one of the more challenging trips we have taken. Within the first 3 days of our trip TLO crawled off the bed in the hotel twice, which she had never done before and resulted in a frazzled mom and baby. She also is a horrible sleeper when in a hotel (I see you mommy and daddy, so that must mean I don't have to sleep!!!!) I spent our first night at the DC hotel bouncing her on the side of the bed and humming for almost an hour trying to be mindful of our hotel neighbors. At some point in the morning she ended up in bed with us and all my attempts to get her to take a nap later that morning were futile as well. Since TLO's dad was headed off to his meetings and it was just us alone in the big  city for 2 days, I ended up getting a pass for one of the hop-on-hop-off tour buses and we just rode around the city. She slept great on the bus in her stroller but woke up if we got off.
I got to see a few sights and hear a lot of information from the audio tour on the bus, but all the things I thought we might get to visit didn't really happen. We did this for 2 days and it worked as well as it could.  But considering how hot it was it was, I was exhausted after wrestling her for 2 days through a hot city with little sleep. I was beaten down, worn out and questioning my sanity. And then we had the best dinner ever! Yes, that's right, it was a dinner that changed my whole trip and my whole perspective!
     We left our hotel and walked to a restaurant a few blocks away. While I was putting our name in for a table and trying to get the stroller stashed away in a coat closet, my husband was getting eyed by a couple of ladies at the bar. Well, technically it was TLO being eyed by the ladies, but he was holding her! As the host tried to take us to the table the ladies stopped me and asked to bring her closer so they could see her.  This sounds weird, but we rarely go out to eat without being stopped and told how adorable she is, so we're kind of used to it! She was oooh'd and awwww'd over her and then we went to our table. Dinner was nice, but TLO was tired and about ready for bed so she wasn't at her best. But as we started to leave the same ladies were still at the bar and waved us over again. One of the ladies said she teaches dance and would we please bring her to her mommy and me dance class?  We told them we were visiting from out of state, but thanks for the offer. And then it happened. The 2 minute exchange that made all of the frustration, exhaustion and stress from the previous days disappear. One of them said to us "thank you so much for going across the racial lines to adopt! I had a rough home life and would have given anything to have had 2 loving parents of any color instead of the situation I had.  You can tell she is happy and healthy and that you are too!"  This meant so much to me to hear this.  In our everyday life I rarely think about how we look as a family. But while we were in DC where there was a larger African-American population I felt the looks we were getting while walking down the street.
All 3 of us at Mount Vernon
Sometimes it was just a puzzled look, often it was just smiles at something TLO was doing, but sometimes I had felt judged. Sometimes I could almost hear the thought "why do they have a black child? That child should be with a black family who can teach her about her heritage and how to be a strong black woman." It's probably just my own insecurities that make me hear those things but I want to be honest about how I was feeling. But here we were in a restaurant with 2 African-American women telling us that they admired us for what we were doing.  So there I stood with tears in my eyes as they told me "keep doing what you're doing. She is beautiful, I can tell you spend time taking care of her hair which is important. Give her education and opportunities to explore all her talents. Give her all life has to offer. But most importantly, give her love. Love is love, no matter the color."
We left the restaurant that night standing a little taller, with tears in our eyes and smiles on our faces. We left there and said "that just made my week."  That night in the hotel even seemed to go a little better.  TLO probably didn't sleep any better than she had been, but I felt like I had a little more energy to deal with it.  We've been told similar things before, but there was a difference.  Usually when we're told that someone admires us for adopting transracially it's either by a friend or by someone who is white. So I guess I tend to brush those comments off.  But having someone I didn't know who was black tell me such things just made me melt. It was like all my insecure thoughts got a whole lot smaller. Those thoughts were being fought with positive affirmations. And as little Noah reminded me in this article, Martin Luther King, Jr told us "it's the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin."  Or perhaps in our case, "it's the content of your parenting that matters, not the color of your skin."

     So to the 2 women at a restaurant bar in Washington DC, I'd like to say "thank you." Thank you for helping me work on my insecurities. Thank you for letting me know how you feel so I don't make up my own interpretations of what you're thinking about us when you look at us.  Thank you for giving me positive affirmations and your endorsement.  And thank you for giving me a little extra energy that night to get through the rest of our trip.  Sometimes God answers our prayers in ways we wouldn't expect.  That very morning, according to my journal I had prayed "please Lord, give me a reprieve today. Help me to find a way to enjoy this day in spite of my fatigue and the heat and a cranky baby. Remind me God that I want to help this child see sights across the world and that this trip is just one of many.  Lift me up Lord, lift my spirits and my heart and help me to see You."  I never would have imagined that the answer to my prayer would come from 2 women at a bar, but it did!

     I had been wondering how to write about this experience when I came across this blog post by Shaun Groves this morning. The verse he shared hit home "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." -Ephesians 1:17.  On that day God blessed me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation and I came to know Him better.  What have you been praying for recently?  What lessons have you learned?  Are you praying about your insecurities?

Lord, thank You for accepting me as I am with all my insecurities and flaws. Thank You for giving me wisdom when I need it. I am but a flawed human and know that I will continue to struggle with these insecurities, but help me God to turn to You for a reminder. Amen.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birth Certificate!!!!!

I don't know if I've ever anticipated a piece of paper arriving in the mail as much as I have been for The Little One's birth certificate! Every day for over a month we've been waiting for it to show up. Last week it showed up but they had spelled her name wrong - major fail for the state of Arizona! But today we have a beautiful piece of paper listing Mark as the father and me as the mother. Wow. At this point I'm not sure if there's anything more beautiful to see! It still amazes me how God has formed our family. A year ago Mark and I had just taken a vacation to Las Vegas to get some perspective on our situation and step away from fertility treatment, children and adoption talk. We were preparing to take another trip to Kentucky for a conference Mark had to attend and then to Indiana to see family and then later to take a cruise. We never in our wildest dreams imagined that 4 months later we would be in Arizona with a baby - our baby! Thank you Arizona Office of Vital Records for sending us that blessed piece of paper!

God is good!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What's In A Name - Who's Your Daddy?

In the spirit of Father's Day, I would like to make a second post.

I think most of us have one specific name we use for our father, whether it's 'Dad', 'Daddy', 'Father', 'Pops' or 'Papa', we have a special name for our fathers. I call my dad 'Daddy'.  But I also have a great talent - I can make that 2 syllable word become 5 or 6. Daaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddyyyyyyyy!  Yup, I learned at a young age that when needed adding a few extra syllables to the word and making my eyes a little bigger could make great things happen. There were also the times when it was said in exasperation with hands on my hips "Dad."

When you talk to your Heavenly Father, how do you say His name? Is it 'God'? 'Heavenly Father'? 'Lord God'?  Those are the usual ways I hear prayers addressed. But do they really describe the One Who created the world, Who hears my cries, Who heals my hurts, Who provides for me, Who watches over me and the One Who knows me? In America we don't usually think about the meaning behind a name except when naming a new child. But in many countries, as well as is seen in the Old Testament, a name has a meaning and that meaning is well understood when used. Blue Letter Bible offers us a small glimpse at some of the names used in the Old Testament. 

I am so blessed to be able to know that when I call on my God for help, He answers no matter what names I use for Him. But how awesome is it to be able to know that when I feel alone I can turn to my Jehovah Shammah and when I am in distress I can call on Jehovah Shalom!?  Jehovah Rapha has healed my hurts Jehovah-Raah walks me through the valley of the shadow of death. Are you allowing El Elyon to be The Most High God in your life? Which aspect and name of God speaks to you where you are right now in your life?

El Shaddai, how can I begin to thank You for the blessing You have given me?  But I thank You now for the way You allow me to talk to You, to know that when I need you, Jehova Shammah, The Lord Is There. I thank You for all the ways You protect, comfort and heal me and for ways You allow me to address You in these times. Please help me Adonai to serve You better and to allow You to truly be Jehovah Mekoddishkem to me!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A First Father's Day for My Husband!

"Don't you see 
that children are God's best gift" 

Psalm 127:3

I wrote about the emotions I felt during my first Mother's Day, but now I get to experience another first - watching my husband celebrate his first Father's Day.  Overall it seems we Americans tend to put more emphasis on Mother's Day (and let's face it, us women kind of enjoy that!) but there is nothing more rewarding than watching the man you love become a father.  The way Mark got to become a father is different than many - how many of you had 3 weeks notice of a baby and then drove 16 hours alone to meet your baby????  Yes, we found out just 3 weeks before The Little One was born that she would hopefully be our daughter. And the day we got the call that her birth mother was in labor was a crazy one - is it real labor? should we go now? will I fly and he'll come in the car? what if we get there and she changes her mind? Because we had already planned to drive out the next weekend to be there for when TLO's birth mother would be induced, we had a lot of 'stuff' to take. Since we wanted one of us to be there right away, it was decided that I would fly out that night and Mark would drive and arrive the next day. I remember the phone call I got to make from the airport in Las Vegas during my short layover to tell him "You're a dad!" He had stopped for a quick dinner and from what he's said, that phone call made his dinner speed up a little more! I sent text pictures and talked to him on the phone along his journey, but nothing was better than when I got to place that beautiful baby in his arms and see this smile!

And then there was the next day when he looked in her beautiful eyes and asked her "will you let me be your Daddy? I don't know what I'm doing but I'll figure it out."

(You know there's tears streaming down my face as I look back at these pictures and think about that time, right?????  I had to look through all 400+ pictures I took during those first 2 days to find the ones I wanted to use here.  And now I'm an emotional mess all over again!!)

Yes, my husband who openly admits that he learned how to hold a baby from holding our cat, has become a truly amazing Daddy! He does everything with her except bathtime and hair (all that hair conditioning and combing is left to Mommy!) And TLO is definitely a Daddy's girl! The look of glee on her face when she looks up to see him and says "DaDa" is enough to light up a room!  So please join me in wishing my friend, my husband a very happy FIRST FATHER'S DAY!!!!!!

Thank You Lord God, for being my Abba Father. Thank You for blessing me with this man to be my husband and teaching him to be the amazing father that he is and continues to become. Please help him through the years to come to remain calm, patient, understanding and to remember the way he felt on that blessed day in October when TLO was placed in his arms. Thank You my Lord and my Father. Thank You for the examples of Godly fathers you placed in both of our lives. And please help me to remember that everyday is a day to celebrate You and the fact that you are my Abba Father.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mommy's Meltdown

So Mommy had a meltdown tonight. And by 'mommy', I mean me. And by 'meltdown', I mean tears flowing, throat tightening so I couldn't even eat later, headache-inducing crying. Why did Mommy have a meltdown? I really couldn't tell ya! All I know is that Mommy needs a time-out! I got a sinus infection last week and then had to work the weekend and I really just needed sleep so maybe that's the problem. The Little One has decided that instead of waking up between 7:00-7:30am like she has for the past 4 months that she will wake up at 6am which hasn't helped. Not to mention the 7 1/2 month clingy phase has started where I can't be out of her sight at home. So she's not napping well unless she's being held and not playing well unless I'm in the room. TLO not napping well makes for a cranky baby, Mommy not getting any down time while TLO naps makes for a cranky mommy. It's just the way things work.

Part of the dilemma for me is this: What right do I have to complain about being weary from being a parent when I wanted this so badly and there are others still waiting?  I prayed and prayed for this child, I waited and longed for this child, so do I really have a right to complain when I am frustrated after a few rough days? Is it wrong for me to still crave some alone/ME/quiet time? I prayed for this, right? Actually, I prayed for the snuggles, smiles, kisses, wrinkly feet, etc. But I knew there would be days filled with poopy diapers, constant cries and the need to be held. I knew there would be days when I wouldn't get anything accomplished around the house and the toilets would be dirty, the floors would be dirty and all our clothes would be dirty. But I don't think I knew the ache that would  happen in my heart when TLO cries when put in her bed and continues to cry when left alone. I don't think I knew how it would drain my energy to hear those cries. Still though, I prayed for this and God granted what I asked of Him - and so I ache and I am drained and mommy had a meltdown. But don't worry about mommy, I'm scheduling myself for a TLC day very soon!

I can't help but wonder the drain God feels when His children are crying uncontrollably and can't be comforted, when they yell at Him, curse at Him and cry to Him for relief. I wonder if He ever craves a time when one of His children doesn't need to be held or comforted or just to know His presence. Does He crave quiet time as much as I do? Does He ever want to pull a blanket over His head for a few minutes and close out the world?

I'm sorry Lord for the times I have drained You and made Your heart ache. I'm sorry for the times I have yelled at You, questioned Your reasons behind my pain. I'm sorry for the times I wouldn't let You comfort me. But I feel Your hand now Lord, I know You're with me. I thank You for the sweet, sweet child You have given me and even for the times I throw my hands up not knowing what else to do. I thank You for the wonderful husband You have given me to hold my hand through this journey. Thank You Lord, for all our blessings. Amen.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hold Me Tight

When we were traveling recently The Little One got a little over-tired on a couple of days when she didn’t take good naps. We were trying to get her to sleep in a pack-n-play at our hotel, which usually wouldn’t be a problem, but these nights she was just NOT settling down. She was in full-fledged “must keep moving and move all extremities or I will crash hard” mode. Finally both times I ended up putting her in bed with me (yay for king-sized hotel beds! This wouldn’t work well at home in our queen!) pulled the blanket over her body tightly and held her down.  If I’d had a blanket large enough with me I would have swaddled her, but this was the best I could do. She eventually stopped wiggling and stared into my eyes with a smile. I couldn’t help but smile back even through my frustration. I could tell she knew she was safe, she was comfortable and now she was happy. Within a couple of minutes she was out like a light (and moved back to her bed!)  She just needed a little help to slow down and calm down. She needed peace.

I couldn't help but post this picture from when she was just 1 month old. Swaddling made everything better! 

I’ve had many nights when I can’t sleep because my mind is racing and I wish for a way to swaddle my brain up tight to calm it so I could drift off.  Sometimes we just get so wrapped up in the craziness of our lives that we’re not able to soothe ourselves. Have you ever just stopped to ask God, “hold me down Lord, hold me until I can function the way I should”?  I may not have said it in those words, but I’ve definitely asked for that help!  I should probably ask for that more often.  Should you? When things are crazy and deadlines are coming due and the kids aren’t behaving and you’ve got to make dinner and you’re supposed to be making 3 dozen cupcakes for tomorrow…remember to ask God to swaddle you tight and calm you until you can handle the mess on your own. Sometimes all you have to do is be still.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Hold me tight, dear Lord. Swaddle me in Your arms of comfort and love. Let me feel Your presence and know that with my Father’s hand on me I am safe. Let me smile at You, Lord as You help me to know that I can do everything that needs to get done, but only in time and that it’s ok to take time for me too. I know You get frustrated with me God, and I sure hope You smile through Your frustration too! Thank You Lord for this comfort that only You can provide. Amen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Home and Hope

I have been asked so many questions about The Little One and her adoption that I really should be used to them by now. I understand people want to know, but please don’t be offended if I tell you that some things we don’t talk about – some things are private information for her to release when she wants to. Typically we’re asked things like how tall her birthparents are (about the equivalent of my husband and I), how old was she when we ‘got’ her (3 days!!!), how long we had to wait for her (not very long!), how expensive the adoption was (sorry, that one’s off limits in almost every conversation!)  But there is still one question that always makes me freeze – “where’s she from?”  Huh? What? We live here in town, in Smalltown, Oklahoma. Some people think I talk like a Northerner, is that why you ask? But then again most of the time I sound pretty southern, so maybe that’s why you ask? Oh, right, you’re asking because she’s black. No, she’s not from Africa or Jamaica or Haiti, she’s from the good ‘ol US of A!  She’s as American as I am, just blessed with more melanin than her Mama!

I can’t even begin to count how many times we’ve been asked where TLO is from and I’m sure we’ll get that question for years and years to come. When she gets old enough to answer for herself I can already hear her laughing and saying something like “I’m just an Okie.” LOL!  But after the most recent time I was asked this I started thinking about this. My patients ask me all the time if I’m from “here”, usually my response is “no, not originally, but I’ve lived here for 3 ½ years”.  But in theory, where you’re “from” implies the land you belong to, right? What if I don’t really belong to this land? What if I really belong to a kingdom far better? You see, I’m really very other-worldly! This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. I can’t really say it any better than my niece put it when she wrote this on her blog last week:

I’m not always sure where to call “home.” When we moved to Oklahoma last summer, that was so incredibly upsetting to me, and I froze every time someone asked where I was from.
“Like, where I was born? Or where I grew up? Or where my family is? Or where I currently live? Or where the most of my heart is?” Yeah, people don’t really expect it to be that difficult of a question.
Almost 11 months later, I’m seeing that it doesn’t matter where I’m from. When I opened my eyes to find Jesus in the confusion, I found peace in Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Philippians.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:19-20
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21
And that’s where the messy became lovely.
Where I live and call home on this journey isn’t a big deal. Or a small deal. It’s basically irrelevant.
Did you catch the word “journey” in there? I’m really just traveling through here, hanging out for a little while until I reach the place where my citizenship really is. And that’s gonna be sweet.
Until then, I’m living this journey to the full. 
Pretty beautifully put, huh? And she’s only 15!
So now I’m wondering if I should re-think my answer I give when asked where TLO is from. Her home and hope, as mine are, are in Heaven.  And really, she was sent to me from Heaven, because only my wonderful Father in Heaven could have possibly crafted someone so beautiful, funny, stubborn and perfect.  So go ahead, ask me where my daughter’s from!

Father, thank You for the home You have prepared and waiting for me. Thank You for helping me to see these experiences in life as learning experiences and using them to strengthen my relationship with You.  Please help me choose my words correctly when answering questions about my little one and help me continue to share our story and love.  Help me to use our story to glorify You. Thank You for my sweet little Okie! Amen.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Forward Motion

I have learned that there are few things in life more frustrating than watching your child struggle – whether because something is wrong or trying to learn something new. The Little One in our house has started crawling. It’s not always a pretty crawl – sometimes it’s a combination of frog-kicks, face-planting, bear-crawls on her toes and sheer willpower. But she moves forward and gets where she wants. She’s been working on this skill for several weeks now and watching her struggle to reach something only to ultimately propel herself backwards and end up 3 feet away from her desired toy instead of the 6 inches she started was hard to watch. It was hard to hear the desperate grunts and silent pleas of help as she looked at me. She spent more time with her face buried in the carpet and rubbing her nose in it out of frustration than trying to move towards her prize.

As I watched this development happen before my eyes I started to think. What if we didn’t crawl before walked? Would we first learn to walk backwards? (Don’t judge, this was in one of my less philosophical thinking sessions!) But I quickly started thinking about my crawl/walk with Jesus. How many times in my life have I been crawling along through of a mire of self-induced mess and then pushing backwards to separate myself from Him when I was trying to move closer? How many times did I bury my face in the ground instead of keeping my eyes focused on the Prize? How many times did I just give up, get distracted and go onto something else only to realize later how vast the space was that I had created? The answer to every one of those questions is ‘too many.’  I can say that I never pushed away from Jesus on purpose, just like TLO didn’t push away from her toys on purpose, but it doesn’t matter if it was on purpose or not. Neither one of us ended up in the position we wanted to be in. How much noise did I make as I tried to propel myself forward again? How much did I cry out to the Lord as a plea of help?  Thankfully, the answer to those questions is ‘a lot!’ I think of David crying out to God in the Old Testament; how much noise he made in response to his pain and frustration. My own cries weren’t nearly as eloquent as David’s but we were both in the same boat – separated from God. Sometimes I had to close off my ears to TLO’s sounds of frustration and allow her to figure out how to propel herself forward, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t down in the floor in front of her encouraging her with each attempt “Come on baby! You’re doing great! Almost there! Way to go!” And I can just imagine my Abba Father down on His knees encouraging me as well as I realized how distant I was from Him and began my journey back to Him. His tender voice saying “Come on baby, I’m right here, I’ll never leave your side once you’re with me. You are so loved, come back into My arms, they’re waiting open wide!” I experienced frustration watching TLO struggle so much, I can only imagine the frustration, sadness and despair my God experiences when he watches His children struggle.
Thankfully, just as TLO finally figured out forward motion, so did I. The first time she crawled she got smothered in smooches on her cheeks and sounds of glee (and she got to play with the toy she so desperately wanted to…my painted toenails!) And when I figured out forward motion in my Christian life, I got held in the arms of Jesus where I can stay forever. What a prize!

Thank You Father, for kneeling on the ground waiting and encouraging me as I figured out how to crawl forward to You!  Thank You for teaching me, encouraging me, and always being there for me. Thank for the sweet child You have blessed me who opens my eyes to Your awesomeness! And thank You Lord for giving her the strength and abilities You have blessed her with. Please continue to allow her to grow (but not too fast!) and learn and to see Your awesomeness for herself. Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Things Have Changed!

Blogging on an iPhone is not very fun. But I just had to reflect on some changes in my life over the last year. Last year around this time we were getting ready to take a trip - heading to Las Vegas for vacation. I packed pretty simply and had everything that I needed planned out several days in advance (I'm a little OCD that way - don't judge!) My airline liquids bag going through security had makeup, hairspray and hand sanitizer (I'm a nurse - don't judge!) And I had a couple of nice books to enjoy by the pool of our Hilton resort pool.
We recently had to fly with The Little One and my liquids bag had butt paste, infant Tylenol, gas drops, oragel, hand sanitizer and a random tube of lip gloss. Things have changed! You can see the suitcase situation yesterday. TLO's suitcase was almost completely packed and mine was completely empty. I had a list made out of what I needed to pack for TLO and had very little idea of what I was taking for myself. Things have changed! But now all the suitcases are packed and loaded in the car, TLO has a bag of toys she will hopefully enjoy for about 10 hours and I have a stash of baby/parenting magazines stashed in the glove box to enjoy in between times of placating/entertaining TLO. Things have changed! And I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Thank You Lord for change!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shopping, Money Saving and Pictures - Randomness!

Last summer my husband and got dressed nicely, went and spent an hour outside and smiled at each other and at others around us. We sat in the dirt, we sat on rocks, we made each other laugh. No, we weren't on a date...we were taking pictures to put in our profile book to tell a birthmother about us.  And I must admit that as cute as we were just the 2 of us, we are so much cuter with The Little One in the mix! 

But, now is the time I've been waiting for. We get to take our first official, professional family picture! We're not taking the pictures for another couple of weeks, but since we'll be traveling for part of that time I wanted to get something very important figured out ahead of time - what we all wear!?!? Yes, those are very important details!  LOL! Now my husband's wardrobe is easy - I simply need to choose a polo that will coordinate with mine and TLO's outfits. Easy. We'll put that off until later. But us girls have got to spend a little time thinking about our stuff! So I've been enjoying the convenience of online shopping today and have narrowed the options down to 2 choices for both of us, however my choice will be made by which ever dress she ends up wearing, which will probably be decided by which one fits when they get here and/or which one gets a spit-up stain on it as we head out the door! Now that I'm only working 1 day a week I'm always looking for ways to save money or make a little extra. So in under 5 minutes I completed my check-outs at 3 different online stores, had coupon codes for all 3 plus I will be getting cash-back rewards from . I love ShopAtHome! If you go through their website to access your favorite store (they don't have all stores but they do have a HUGE selection) you can get a percentage of cash back on your purchase. Usually it's something like 3% which isn't much, but sometimes it's 6% or 10%. And once you have $20 available for cash back they send you a check. Since I started using it in August I've received over $200 in checks. Not bad considering I would have been spending all that money anyway. This is one of the ways I've found to help us save money but I also do things like using the Target debit card when I shop there to get 5% discounts and free shipping and have become a couponer, ad scourer and online price researcher.  If you'd like more information about ShopAtHome or other ways I save/make money, let me know (I do mystery shopping to get free meals and other stuff too and have iPhone apps that make money!) 

But anyway, the convenience of online shopping...we live in a small town which doesn't feature very many of my favorite stores. My husband thought I would spend less money shopping when we moved here since I don't like having to drive an hour for shopping very frequently. I have proved him so wrong on so many occasions! I look forward to sharing our first official, professional picture here next month by my new friend (and mother to TLO's sweet new friend too!) Allison Harms. Local friends, go check out her facebook page! She just moved to here but takes beautiful photos! Tell her Lana sent you! 

Well, that's the end of my rambling about pictures, shopping and money saving. Now go forth and save some money! And go schedule your family pictures - preserve those sweet faces of your family!

Thank You Lord for the blessings you have given me. Thank You for showing me ways to better use the resources you have so richly blessed me with! Always help me to remember that everything I have is from You and that I should use it all wisely. Amen.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My First Mother's Day

April 10, 2012, adoption finalized!

I am 34 (*gulp!*) and this is my first Mother’s Day. It is one of those days that for the last 2 years I dreaded. I came to hate the second Sunday of May. Maybe we can leave town for the weekend. Maybe I could ignore my alarm and oversleep and we would miss Church services. Maybe I’ll wake up with a fever or throwing up. Maybe everyone else forget what today is. Maybe the sermon won’t focus on mothers and there won’t be the usual flowers given out to each mother. Maybe if there are flowers given out the kid giving them out won’t try to hand me one like they did last year.

Yes, those are the thoughts that go through the mind of a woman who is NOT a mother on Mother’s Day. Well, maybe not all women who aren’t, but at least those who so desperately want to be  typically think at least one of those thoughts. For a woman who is either trying to get pregnant or going through the journey of infertility it can be an unbearable day. I vividly remember in 2010 how we had just received news of infertility the week before and how it felt like salt being rubbed into a wound to just be around so many happy people that day.  Most people don't understand the feeling of NOT wanting to worship on Sundays with your church family, but there are days when that is the case.

On October 24, 2011 my identity changed. I became a MOTHER. I love that day, I love the phone call I got while at work, the panic as I tried to find a way to get to Arizona as fast as possible, I love the text message that will forever be saved saying "had the baby at 3:46pm. 5lbs, 6oz. Cute, CUTE baby!", and I love that first time I got to hold her!
Self-taken picture to send to Daddy telling him to "drive faster, your daughter wants to meet you!"

This year I am thankful to my sweet co-worker who switched days with me so I could be off work for my first Mother’s Day. This year I am so excited to be able to celebrate The Little One in our life and all the things God has done in my life. This year my eyes will probably "leak" a little while we're at church as I praise God for my blessing. But I want to be mindful of my sisters in pain who may read this and encourage you to be mindful as well. There are women grieving the loss of a child who will despise today, women who long to be pregnant who will resent those who are, women who have lost children this year, women who are waiting for their precious adoption match, women who had a failed adoption who are only reminded how empty their arms are, and women who have placed a child for adoption who remember the sacrifice they made and the loneliness they feel. I pray I will never forget those feelings I had during the dark times so I can encourage and offer my love to those who still hurt. I pray I will never forget the feeling of tears dripping down my cheeks as I sat in a church auditorium and looked at all the smiling mothers and wondered when it would be my turn. I pray I will be able to help ease the pain of those who still suffer.
Laura Story sings a song "Blessings" that made me pull my car to the side of the road the first time I heard it because it had me in tears. I can't express it any better than the chorus of her song and am so thankful for it's truth.
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?’

Father, You have given me a great gift this year and I can never use words to express my gratitude. Help me to use my life and my action to show my gratitude instead. But more importantly, I need to fall on my knees as I praise You for the dark times You brought me through, for the fire of refinement my spirit had to go through. I thank You for those times, Lord and ask that you help me to  remember those experiences today and through the years and that I will be a testament to Your great power of healing and the miracles that only You can work in our lives. Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BirthMother's Day

Saturday is a day that women and families across the U.S. are celebrating. A day that comes with so many more emotions than Sunday's celebrations will have. Today’s celebration is part grief, part joy. Today is a day to recognize the women who knew our children so intimately before we did – they gave life to our child, felt their first kick and comforted our child with their heartbeat. Today is a day to recognize the women who made a choice to save a life and allow that life to be placed in the arms of another family. Saturday, May 12, is Birth Mother’s Day.

First celebrated in 1990, Birth Mother’s Day was created by group of birthmothers who recognized that Mother’s Day is very hard for them and wanted to celebrate the adoption decisions they made on a day separate from that. It is celebrated each year the day before Mother’s Day (on Saturday). There is some controversy in the adoption community about Birth Mother’s Day as some birthmother’s may not want to celebrate - they want to grieve, or in many adoption situations there is no known birth-mother (such as with international and some domestic adoptions) or the adoption came through foster care and parental rights were terminated against their will. Whatever the reason and whether it’s a day for celebrating or grieving, I view it as a day to think and pray for those women who carried a child for 9 months and now have empty arms.

Let me assure you that I think of, pray for and celebrate our Little One’s birthmother every day. Knowing that all our hopes and dreams came true at another woman’s expense is…well, I haven’t really been able to put words on that experience (maybe another blog post for another day?).  I think of the tears she shed as she kissed her sweet child and handed her to me one last time. I think of the sacrifice she made so our Little One could have what she didn’t have and couldn’t offer. I think of her, her smile, her laugh, her face, her heart. But today I offer this simple offering of thanks to a beautiful woman who chose life for her child over abortion and brought joy beyond imagine to our lives. If you know someone who has placed a child for adoption, do something special for them today – give them a hug, take them flowers, take them out to eat or just say a special prayer of thanksgiving, comfort and peace for them.

I wrote this poem just after our Little One was born, as I was flying out to meet her. I wrote this for her birthmother, but maybe it will help you understand the place a birthmother can have in the heart of an adoptive mother.

You gave a gift to our family,
A life that we couldn’t give;
And so forever in our hearts,
A piece of you will live.

You gave her life and breath,
We’ll give her a home and love;
And each day we’ll be thankful,
Giving praise to our God above.

To express the way we feel
Is so impossible…and yet
This sacrifice you are making
Is one we will never ever forget.

The days to come may be trying
But I hope that now you see
We have a connection now,
Beautiful baby, you and me.

Father God, Jehova Rapha our healer, thank You for the woman who gave our Little One life. I ask that You place Your hand of comfort on her, Father. Give her peace and healing. Let her face look upon You and know that she is not alone. Let her know that this child is loved, happy and healthy. And Lord, please bless our efforts in raising this child to know You, love You, and serve You. Thank You Father. Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Race and Generational Differences

I had a conversation today that shocked, enlightened and saddened me. I was caring for a patient who was in her 90's. She began telling me about her daughters - telling me about their adoptions. I hadn't told her about The Little One in our family, so I shared that I had a 6 month old daughter who was adopted and that adoption was a special gift in my heart. She proceeded to talk to me about adoption and asked me when we would tell her she was adopted. I kind of chuckled and said "well, she's African-American, so we will always be open about it, in fact I already talk to her about it." Imagine the look on my face when this woman who had just an hour before been visiting with her minister asked me "honey, why in the world did you choose an African-American baby?"  The only response I had (and I thank God for helping me keep my wits and supply my answer) was "I didn't choose her, she was chosen specially for us by God." "Well surely you look at her and feel differently about her because she's African-American?!"  "I look at her and see a beautiful child of God. I see my daughter."

At that point, I had thankfully finished my task at hand because I really needed some space. This was such a sweet lady and I didn't want to hear these things from her. But I walked out of the room reminding myself of the generation in which this woman was raised. And then I realized that she was the same age as my paternal grandmother would have been, was born just a month before my grandmother, and ironically used to live in Iowa just as my grandmother did. My grandmother was the most color-blind woman I have ever known. She raised foster children of different races, worked at a children's home as a relief house parent with children of different races, became a "grandma" to children in her neighborhood of different races. So how can 2 women born within a month of each other, raised in the same state with similar education backgrounds have such drastically different views? It is a question for the ages I guess. I don't have any angry thoughts for the woman I took care of today and I know I may never see her again. But I do have sadness.

I don't have any really grand thoughts on this (I did work for 12 hours today after all!) but this stuck in my heart and mind and I needed to write about it. It reminded me how much I have to learn and how big my job is with TLO in letting her know that she is a beautiful child of God and that no once can take that from her or belittle her or in any way change her wonderful potential. There is a book I have been planning to order and just haven't done it but tonight I will. Brown Babies Pink Parents is described as a "practical guide to transracial parenting." 'Practical,' that's me! 'Pink Parent,' that's me too! 'Brown baby,' that's my beautiful Little One.

Please don't leave negative comments regarding this incident or this woman, only kind words and prayers that some day our world won't care how what color of skin a person has. "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Thank You dear Lord for giving me the words I needed to say, for the calm you gave me in my soul to continue to do my job today. Thank You for our sweet child, my sweet brown child. I ask that You help me to strengthen me and help me grow, help me to be able to take on the job You've given me and to be able to help my child grow in Your spirit and Your word. Amen.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Where Is Her Owner's Manual?

Why does every computer we have, every cell phone, radio, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, toaster and coffee maker have an owner’s manual but I was handed a child without one?  Seriously, if I’m working in Microsoft Word I can simply hit F1 and a little box pops up where I can type in my question.  On my iPhone I can do a simple search by word of phrase and find almost any answer imaginable.  But I have a child who is crying and I can’t seem to find her F1 button, she has no pop-up question boxes and no search fields.  She doesn’t have an index to flip through for trouble-shooting or a customer service representative.  

I was 33 when I became a mother.  For years I had been paying attention to what other mothers did with their children so I would be prepared.  I baby-sat, helped in the church nursery, and held every baby I could get my hands on I also had a few years under my belt as a Registered Nurse, so surely I would know what I was doing, right?  Uh, yeah…I know what I’m doing…yeah…  At least that’s what I keep telling The Little One! 

No, I don’t have an owner’s manual for my child and there is no help button. But I did read the Babywise book (worked GREAT for us, thanks to my sister-in-law for that recommendation!), watched The Happiest Baby on theBlock videos and read numerous books, websites and more. I have also found amazing blogs and message boards to help me learn new things (thank you Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care!) I have friends and family who are willing to support me when I ask for advice.  And most importantly I have my Lord who listens when I am down on my knees saying “Lord, I’m tired and weary and don’t know what to do to help my child.  I promised to comfort her and keep her safe, and I feel like I’m letting her down.  Show me Your way, Lord.  Teach me how to do this and provide us both with comfort.  Show me how I can help her be happy today.” 

And in just a few short months I have learned that a simple prayer like that will often be answered with laughter.  And that laughter will be mine (although I’m sure God is having a good chuckle too!)  A few days ago I said that prayer and then put TLO in her high chair to eat dinner.  She kept reaching to put her hands in her food and I kept moving it away. Because of course if she got her hands in it there would be a huge mess.  However, the maker of the mess was me.  I wiped her face in between bites and as my arm came back my elbow landed squarely on the side of the plate, sending the whole plate of rice cereal and squash flying through the air.  Um, yeah God, comfort?  Okay, but she’s happy – some of the food landed on her high chair tray and she’s feeding herself!

See, she's happy!

Lord, thank You for the gift of laughter to break my moods. Sometimes the laughter is mine, sometimes it belongs to our little one and sometimes I think it’s Yours! I Thank You for the showing me the times when I need to drop to my knees and ask for Your help and for the help You have placed in my life to support me through my journey. Thank You for reminding me that I may not have an owner’s manual but I do have a 24 help-line available at the drop of a knee. And Lord, help keep me laughing! Amen.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

You Are Beautiful! -

All hair is not created equal. Seriously. I really had no idea how different hair can be! I remember when I first found out The Little One would be joining our lives and one of my African-American co-workers replied “I hope she has good hair!” I laughed and said something along the lines of “I’m sure she will!” I didn’t really understand what it meant to have “good hair” or “bad hair” except in terms of my “good hair days” when my hair cooperated and stayed how I wanted it or “bad hair days” when it frizzed to high Heaven and then clung limply to my face! But how can hair be inherently good or bad? Here’s my version of a culture lesson to all my fellow fair-skinned people. (This is a huge generalization, so forgive me for that!) African-American hair is DRY by nature. It is coarse and it is curly. It doesn’t grow out, it typically grows around and around.
 I came across this chart of hair types and these types are referred to all the time on discussion boards I’m part of. You’ll see someone say “my daughter has 4a hair and I’m trying to figure out how to…” Well that’s something I was not used to seeing! But it’s just another example of how God made us all so different! Whether you have type 1 hair or 4c hair, you are a child of God.

Maybe I’m a little biased here, but my daughter is beautiful. She is and I can’t take any credit for her external beauty. But I plan to instill the values of internal beauty to her as well and well, I’ll take a little credit when that happens! :)  For now, she has a beauty that melts my heart. However, with that beauty comes her hair. Don’t get me wrong, I love her pretty little curls and someday I will feel confident in fixing those curls. For now, I have a go-to website called Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care! Catchy name, huh? But it was created by a woman just like me raising an African-American child. Did you know that there were butters for your hair? Milk for your hair? Or that olive oil and coconut oil make the best moisturizers? Yeah, me either! The first time I put olive oil in TLO’s hair she smelled like she was ready to be put in a frying pan! I’ve gotten a little better since then and now she just smells lightly basted! :) I only put that on at night and during the day we use the fruity, tropical smelling moisturizing cream so you just can’t but want to smooch on her!

Here’s part 2 of my version of your culture lesson: all those little braids and twists and styles you see on the beautiful black children, those are done out of necessity, not just for fun. If the hair is not braided, twisted or otherwise controlled it will dry out even more, tangle and break. Broken hair means short hair and short hair is just not the goal (the ‘why’ behind that will have to come in another cultural lesson!) So hair needs to be put in protective styles in order to grow. Sometimes those protective styles come in the form of cornrows, sometimes in other braids, twists or puffs (think little pony tails with poofy hair). A couple of weeks ago I moved out of my comfort zone of just keeping TLO’s hair moisturized and detangled, putting a bow or headband in it and calling it done. I moved on to finger coils!
 Don’t get me wrong, it was cute, but it only lasted 1 day. Now part of my goal in doing TLO’s hair now is also to get her used to sitting *mostly* still while she gets her hair done because this will be part of our routine for years to come. But there was no way I could ask her to do that every day while I re-did her little coils. So I would do them on the go – literally, she was playing on the floor and I’m sitting over her with our hair milk trying to twist that little section of hair before she rolled over! (good thing we don’t have video of that!) We repeated this fiasco for a week. (At this point I became very jealous and bitter of my friends with their little fair-skinned babies who only require a headband with a flower or bow! Dont worry, I'm past that now! Love you guys!) Then I was told try doing it while she was asleep. Yeah right, no way that will work! Wrong. 2 days ago I twisted the whole front half of her hair into little fake cornrows while she slept! 

I did it complete with little elastic bands! This helped it stay in place and looked so cute when we went to the botanic garden to take her 6 month pictures!
Sweet Little One, you are beautiful, but you are getting too big too fast!!!!!

I will someday soon learn to do more exciting hairstyles for her, but for now I'll take pride in the small steps I’ve made. And I continue to teach TLO how beautiful she is inside and out. For now she sits on the counter looking into the mirror and I tell her she is beautiful, she is blessing in my life and she is my child. You see, we may put a numbering system on hair types and call one “good” and one “bad” but God doesn’t do that. No, my Father stands behind me as I look into a mirror and tells me I am beautiful. He tells me I am created in His image and therefore there is nothing wrong with me. He tells me I am His child.

Father, thank you for creating each one of us to be uniquely created in Your image. Thank You for the beautiful children you have created in every color with every hair type. I ask you Lord to help me as I try to raise my sweet child with an understanding of her outer beauty and respecting the ways she may look different from others around her, while placing true value on her inner beauty and recognizing that her value comes from You. And selfishly Lord, I have to ask…please help my fumbling fingers learn to move in the ways the need to in order to braid, twist and fix her hair in the many ways she will want it done in the years to come! Thank You! Amen.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Profession of Nursing meets The Profession of Motherhood

I'm used to working 12 hour shifts. I'm a nurse on a medical floor in a hospital. For those of you that don't know, that means that for 12-13 hours a day I am on my feet with an occasional chance to sit; it means I run at times to keep someone from falling or getting out of bed, I run to grab a crash cart, I run just to stay on top of my ever-growing list of medications that need to be given, dressings that need to be changed, patients who need education on their condition, documentation that needs to be completed, patients who need to go to a procedure, etc. It also means that when I get home from all that running and finally sit down with my feet up I don't want to move again. Yes, I am exhausted by the time my shift is over. But I have been given the opportunity to touch the lives of people I might never have come in contact with otherwise. I have been given an opportunity to show compassion to those the world may want to avoid - the alcoholic who is admitted again for detox and liver failure, the homeless and uninsured man who hasn't taken his medication or seen a doctor in months because he can't afford it, and those are are just generally unpleasant and miserable especially when they're ill. And when I start to feel the frustration and bitterness when taking care of these patients I try to remember Jesus' words "whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me" (Matt. 25:45). 

I often say now that I am only a "part-time" nurse now since once TLO joined our family I am only working 1 day a week. But that's really not true. You can't be a nurse part-time. Once you have the knowledge and skills, you are always a nurse. A few years ago my husband and I were on a ferry between Scotland and Northern Ireland when a call came over the intercom asking for a medical professional to assist a passenger in distress. I remember looking at my husband and asking "am I still a nurse here?" Yes, I responded and you can read my version of this interesting experience here. And then last year I was called upon for a similar situation while on a plane, my version of that is here. Vacation, land, air or sea, a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. I pledged in the Nightingale Pledge to "practice my profession faithfully" and that's what I'll continue to do.

Although I don't get "shifts" as a mother, I generally am "on-duty" for 12 hours a day and "on-call" the other 12. Yes, I am blessed - TLO has slept 10-12 hours a night since she was about 4 months old. So I consider those hours my "on-call" time. I'm on-call if she needs me, otherwise I get quiet time, a good night's sleep, and time with my husband. My "on-duty" time as a mom doesn't leave me with swollen ankles, aching feet or a bursting bladder like my nursing profession does. Instead, it leaves me with stained shirts, finger-printed glasses and pureed green beans in my hair. It doesn't leave me with the ache of wondering if I did everything I could to comfort and support my patient. It leaves me with a smile, a laugh and an amazement at how much change happens in a child in such a short time. It doesn't require me to document everything that was done throughout the day, every intake and output, every action or conversation and doesn't follow the "if it wasn't documented it wasn't done" rule that we live by in nursing. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to document in photographs and video the moments I want to remember forever and be able to share with family and friends. But while nursing is my profession, my job, my calling, motherhood is my gift from God. "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3)

So I am a full-time nurse, full-time mom and full-time amazingly blessed child of God. If it weren't for the last part of that sentence I would feel a little overwhelmed. But God gives me the strength to do everything I need to do. "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength" (Phil.. 4:13).

I prayed to God to find my calling and He answered with the profession of nursing. I prayed to God to be the mother to a child who needed me and He granted all that I asked of Him...and so much more!

Thank You Father for allowing me to be Your hands, Your feet, Your servant. Thank You for allowing me to serve others in the profession of nursing and help me to remember my purpose and  calling when I grumble about my job and have a bad day or difficult patients to care for. Help me also to remember that You have given me the gift of motherhood and the great responsibility that goes with it. Give me the strength to know that while I can't be all things to all people, I can be a good nurse, mother and blessed child of Yours without becoming overwhelmed. Amen.