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.