Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Little Blurb to my Baby Brittons (on Social Media)

Dear Baby Brittons,

I began blogging many years ago. I don't exactly remember when, but you can easily figure it out yourself. I started writing for many reasons. A few of the top ones being that I just really enjoy writing. It is actually how I often process my own thoughts. Also, I long to live with intention - intentionally transparent, intentionally blessing, intentionally communal, and intentionally processing my life through truth - often accompanied by laughter, tears, ALL CAPS, emoji's and sometimes all at the same time. So when I bring that all to the table of my blog(s), for the few people who actually read it - I hope to bless them by inviting them into community through transparent processing of my little world. We may laugh together, cry together, yell together and reply to each other with all sorts of smiley, winkey faces. It's just what adults do. (Adulting.)

Recently a funny thing happened.

ONE OF YOU - my children - YOU FOUND ME...well, my blog anyway!!!

This year, much to your shame and embarrassment, we opted you out of health class at school. While you were mortified in the beginning, it turned out to be in your favor as you have had time opened up during your school day to just surf the world wide web apparently. You thought it would be fun to Google your mom, and in doing so you stumbled across my blog. Welcome! I'm so glad you are here! We need to talk.

See here's the thing. Parents today (that would be me, your parent) have a new challenge unique to our generation. I'm sure by the time you have children of your own, there will be stacks of parenting books telling YOU how to do it all right. But as for us now, well - we just get to make all the mistakes for your generation to learn from. Hopefully we'll get a couple of things right as well. :) The challenge is the Internet. The whole wide world open to your forming little self. And most recently - Social Media. Oh Social Media. I think about all you little ones are up against in the world of pretty pictures and filtered 140 character life lessons...and well, I cringe. It's hard enough for me - a mature, secure adult (cough cough). I can only imagine what it is like for you.

So anyway, in this new challenge facing parents today - the challenge of Social Media specifically - there are a few things I want to share with you. It's what I'm paid for.

1) Social Media is NOT real life. If you'll just trust me with that, I just saved you many nights of tears and angst.

2) Whatever you put on social media in any form - it will always be there. You think you can delete stuff, but it's just not true. It's all traceable. This should make you consider your words carefully. Written words tend to sting more than spoken words. And the sting runs deep and wide, because someone with not very nice intentions probably took a screenshot of it.

3) There are creepy people on the Internet. Just say no to creepy people. Because well, they're creepy. If you don't know if someone is creepy, ask me or Dad. We promise you won't get in trouble for it. It's not as easy as it was for me as a kid....just staying away from the weird guy in the stalker van with a puppy and candy. Creepy people show up in all sorts of ways online. If it doesn't feel right - it probably isn't. Trust your gut. Trust Dad and I more.

4) You can't believe everything you read on the Internet. Because for every good argument FOR something online, there's 100 good arguments AGAINST it. Choose to move through life forming your own opinions only after much careful thought, prayer and consideration...and obviously what me and your dad tell you. We're always right. And even after all of that, know you may still be wrong. So start over in the process.

5) Humility always serves you well in life. But online - humility is everything. You may not get the most followers, the most likes, or the most friend requests...but you will be humble. And that means people will trust you. And that's just more important than making everyone angry because you needed to stand on your soapbox for half a second.

6) This blog. My blog. Your moms blog. I must admit, your dad and I had a mini heart attack when we realized one of you found my blog at such a young age. (Who am I childers AREN'T young. I just can't get over that!) But then I remembered that with every post I have ever written - I've known that one day you may read my words. That you may read my heart. This brings me much fear, and also much joy. There's so many parts of your little world (and mine) that you don't know about. I've written about some of them, so you will learn. There are so many times that I have tripped and stumbled my way through this parenting gig, through life. I try my best, but I know I fail. You will certainly see many of those times in my words. There was so much joy for me in raising you five kids. But our days don't always look joyful....I don't always look joyful. I hope you see a pattern of joy and love for you and all of my life through my words when maybe you didn't see it in my face or my voice. On the flip side of the joy, I hope you see through the struggle of some of my writings in here that I never wanted to settle - and neither should you. We have to fight for joy. We have to fight for life. We have to fight for truth. And I've committed to that. For me AND for you. In short - Mama's not perfect. But you already knew that....

And while you were so embarrassed to find my Instagram posts or stories here of Tooth Fairy's, relationships, Christmas pageants, and dancing in the toilet (wait...maybe I didn't talk about that one....), YOU - the one who found my blog and told the rest of the kids about it - somehow gave me the biggest compliment I have ever received in regards to my writing. You, my child who doesn't love to read, said to me - "I love it, it's way more interesting than books." But then you proceeded to tell me how I ruined you. So there's that.

Don't worry. I keep the super embarrassing stuff off my blog. But maybe don't ever search #babybrittonblurb ..... (I know. I use too many hashtags. Deal.)

Now. If you are finished here, please get back to class. Or at least doing something productive with your free class period.

 #ThisIsWhatYouGetForGooglingMyName #TheCloudNeverForgets #PrivacyIsDead #SocialMediaGuidebookForParents




you pick

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall, pumpkins and beer

Happy Fall!!! This is my favorite season of the entire year! The smells, the cool, crisp air, Honeycrisp Apples the size of my face, the fact that "Colorful Colorado" actually has a few colors, the maple leaves shedding in my yard, raking leaves, jumping in leaves, raking some more, scarves, fun sweaters, warm hoodies, boots, my outdoor fire pit, sleeping with the window open just to pile on the covers .....these are a few of my favorite things! But near the top of my list is Pumpkin. Pumpkin everything! Pumpkin spiced coffee (that I make myself with REAL ingredients!), pumpkin bread, pumpkin patches, pumpkin scones, pumpkin candles, pumpkin soap, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin filled ravioli with a brown butter glaze, pumpkin curry soup, Pumpkin O's (Trader Joe's, thank you!), pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin corn bread with Chili....and Beer. Pumpkin Beer.

Now that I have swooned over my love of all things fall and pumpkin - this post is actually about Pumpkin Beer. I walked into my local liquor store a couple of weeks ago, and there greeting me right inside the doors, like something straight out of a fairy tale, was this huge display of all the different kinds of Pumpkin Beer available at that store. I stood there for way too long pondering my decision - afraid I would choose poorly and be sad....until I remembered that this particular store lets you put together your own sample pack! So I did just that. I left a happy Pumpkin camper ready to find the perfect Pumpkin Brew. And well, I would just be selfish to not let you in on my findings.

Let me be very clear before we begin. I am NOT a beer connoisseur. I couldn't tell you the difference between a stout, a lager, or an ale ...I can just tell you if I like or not, and I happen to like beers from all the various categories! But I AM sort of an expert on Pumpkin. Don't be jealous. I didn't go to school for it or anything, I was just born with it. So my entire review is based on the flavoring and balance of the pumpkin spice.

In order from my least favorite to most favorite:

Eddyline Brewing Pumpkin Patch Ale: This one was really spicy. I actually couldn't take more than about 3 sips. The guy at the Liquor Store said it was his favorite. So obviously you should take all of my reviews with a grain of salt...but this one was just not for me. I dumped it. It may have had something to do with the fact that I rounded the corner to find my dog drinking out of my mug....she loved it. But no matter, I was planning on dumping it anyway. Bad dog.

New Belgium Pumpkick: This one had a good taste initially. But as soon as it went down - whoa! Watch out! It actually left a strong pepper aftertaste! Pepper does not belong with Pumpkin or Beer. (When I was grabbing the link for this one so you could read the company's actual review...I read that there is cranberry and lemongrass in this beer. Um. No thanks. Apparently cranberry and lemongrass taste like pepper to me....but I also don't particularly care for cranberry or lemongrass. So this explains much.)

Shipyard Brewing CO. Pumpkin Head: There is a bit of a bite when first sipping this beer. Strong enough that I didn't think initially that I would even take another sip. It doesn't go down easily, in my opinion. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the aftertaste! It left a very balanced Pumpkin Spice flavor lingering in my mouth. (After visiting their website, they offer up some recipes that I for sure plan to try. But they also recommend drinking this beer with a pint glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar. And well, now I just feel like I didn't give it a fair shot and will probably have to give this one another chance!)

Epic Brewing Pumpkin Ale, The Gourdian: Because I hate the word Epic, I wanted to hate this beer. I didn't write any other notes other than, "Tasty". Sorry I can't leave you with any other details on this one. It was good though. But they should change their name. (After reviewing their website and description of this beer...I would agree with everything they wrote about it. It is very good. And they wanted a beer that you would throw in your backpack on a fall hike. Well, I'm hiking on Saturday. Maybe I'll give it a shot.)

Boulevard Brewing Company Funky Pumpkin: This one was so good! It tasted less like pumpkin spice and more like apple spice to me. (Is apple spice even a thing? It should be a thing.) You definitely could taste a mild pumpkin flavoring, but it also had an obvious apple presence....or some other fall flavor. I'm sticking with apple. I will for sure buy this one again. Pumpkin + Apple = Fall. Well done, Boulevard Brewing. Well done! (HEY!!! Their website says the pumpkin flavor is scarcely present! Maybe I'm better at this than I thought!!)

Ballast Point Brewing Company Pumpkin Down: AMAZING! Well balanced. Smooth. Just amazing. This one came in a very close second to my number one favorite....

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: This has been my fall back for the past two years. (Get it? Fall back? That wasn't even on purpose.) I really enjoy this one. It holds the title of my favorite Pumpkin Ale. It's a good beginner for someone entering the Pumpkin Beer world as it is very mild and well balanced. It doesn't scream PUMPKIN PIE with beer poured over the top. It's just an easy to drink brew with just the right introduction of pumpkin. (The biggest downfall to this beer is that it is one of the most expensive. But it's still my favorite. And I swear...I am not a rep for Dogfish head...but in the summer, you should grab their Apricot IPA. You'll thank me later.)

I know there are many more that I didn't sample. If you know of one that you love that I didn't review, I trust you will let me know! Please and thank you.

Happy Pumpkin Fall!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

What to Expect When You Don't Know What To Expect. AKA: Get to 18.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have seen a handful of pictures from the past few days highlighting a chore chart that has taken residence in our home.

I had a few comments telling me it looked confusing, or intimidating....but what made me laugh the most was a friend who saw me in real life and said to me, "That chore chart?? No! Just no. Don't put your kids through that." Hilarious.

So I thought I would give you a deeper glimpse into our family "command center".

Our story starts 15 years ago when we began our family. I was a BIG fan of parenting books. Looking back, I realize the books of those early years should actually have their own category entitled: Parenting: Keeping your Kids Alive in the Early Years. There were so many helpful books to me when my kids were littles.

For the sake of this blog, I thought it would be fun to post some New York Times Bestseller Parenting books. However, when I pulled it up, I quickly began to see what is wrong with our children...with us. The top books on "Family" (this is what was translated when I Googled Parenting) included, #1) The Glass Castle. Which, while I loved this book, the only parenting advice I took away from it would be to not be convicted of anything, don't let your husband spend all the money on booze at the expense of your family, and don't become homeless parents. Deep and profound. (Seriously, good book though!)  #2) What to Expect When You're Expecting. Obvi. And my personal favorite in the top 10??? #5) Go the F**K to Sleep. Yes folks, this is a book. Funny....but obviously very crude. I mean, I heard it was funny....

Okay, so of all those books, the only one I had actually ever referenced for parenting was, What To Expect When you Are Expecting. So because the New York Times was no help to my research, I came up with my own list of books that got me through my kids lives from birth to about 5.

1) Give Them Grace
2) Parenting By The Book
3) Baby Wise
4) An entire series by Douglas and Nancy Wilson on Biblical Childrearing and general family topics
5) Growing Kids Gods Way
6) Go the ..... NO!!!!

I'm sure there are a handful of other ones that I thought saved my life at the time...but I have blocked out a couple of years here and there and blame it on sleep deprivation.

Fast forward a few years and all my kids are getting older. I went online to buy, "What to Expect When they Grow Up" , and couldn't find it! Maybe the books ARE there, and maybe I was just too weary of reading all that I SHOULD be doing, but just wasn't....but I realized very quickly that I was now on my own for this parenting gig. The manuals were all finished and I was now considered an expert. The problem is, I'm only actually an expert on how to keep them alive and get them to sleep by 9 weeks. Or maybe how to effectively discipline a toddler, or potty train in a day. (And even at that, I'm only a 50/50 expert!) I'm beyond thankful that there were resources for these topics, but they left much to be desired.

But my kids are older now. And do you want to know a secret?? I have absolutely NO idea what I'm supposed to do with them! So I'll do my has every generation prior. And I'm certain it won't be enough. As has every generation before us proved. A dear friend once said to me, "Every generation vows to do it better than their parents did. You'd think we'd be perfect by now." But noooooo!!! You bet we have a counseling jar in our home! A BIG one and A LOT of them!

So in my desire of and lack of training on how to grow little people into big people - hopefully mature, kind, helpful, serving, loving big people....the resources are limited.

Enter current day. I have five kids to get out the door each morning. Scratch that, four. One decided she wanted to homeschool herself. I can't even think about finding that book....

Our morning routines (who am I kidding? Our morning, afternoon and evening routines...) felt very dictatorship to me. Trying to get everyone ready to go and where they needed to be with all they needed to have while fulfilling all requirements of normal humanhood was starting to make me feel like I was a slave driver...or a circus master, depending on the day....

Aaron and I would find ourselves following around after the kids asking them questions we ask every morning, or reminding them of tasks every day that in our opinion...they should know! Examples: Did you change your underwear? Brush your teeth? Get your planner signed? Put on a new shirt other than the one you slept in last night AND wore all day yesterday? Put your homework IN your bag? Feed the dog? Unload the dishwasher? And did I mention...change your underwear?

I realized we are complete slacker parents to have to STILL be reminding our children about these things, so it was time for action. We sat them down and gave them full opportunity to voice their opinions about all that we asked and required of them. Was it too much? Are we unfair? Should we just put everyone back in diapers so we can change them every 3 hours? Okay....I didn't really ask that last one...but after 528 days straight of reminding a child to change their underwear, it doesn't seem like that bad of an idea!

In many areas, as our kids get older, they learn how to maneuver around what we expect vs. their convenience. Surely you and I have NEVER done that, nor do we still. Right?? But they had. I don't even know appropriate discipline for most of the things they do wrong because they are really good at making a case for how they weren't THAT wrong! It's true...they have outsmarted me.

So after their admittance to us that we do not, in fact, ask too much of them...and that our household requirements (um....growing up into mature people requirements) were not over the top, we then had a meeting about the best way to implement these things without mom going around freaking out on everyone all day.

I had one sweet child who asked for money. See, we don't DO money....AKA, allowance. Not that I think it's wrong. We just have always taken the stance that our kids get to live in the house with all the stuff that WE work to pay for. So if they prove to us that they can take care of their stuff and do the few things we ask of them BECAUSE we let them live in our house with all the things we pay for....THEN we may consider giving them some money when they choose to go above and beyond. But so far we are still working on the first half. So when said child requested money - I couldn't help but laugh. Money is obviously a bigger motivator than INTEGRITY!!! Oh my children to have Integrity!

What's that?? You want me to take the log out of my own eye??? Oh....right...sorry.

After all that explaining, here's the point. We now have a chore chart (for the 612th time). It's lovely. I found a cute shabby chic chalk board at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% off coupon. I had to use a coupon. The board will probably be gone in a week. I'm not Type A. I'm not OCD. I barely follow the rules and chores I know I'm supposed to as an adult. (No wonder I can't teach it to my kids!) And I'm an ESTP. You should have seen me trying to draw straight lines on the board. I was so worried that some super-mom-type-A person would come over and have a major panic attack upon seeing my board! But I did the best I could with my limited abilities. We'll see how it goes.

So far I have had one kid who doesn't wear deodorant mark that they put their deodorant on. Various checks (for REALLY IMPORTANT TASKS) not be checked and still need a Warden Mom reminder for. I've had to to add the category of - Get Dressed - with a certain child's name highlighted. And don't forget the kid who used the color for the other kid (they each have a color of chalk they are supposed to use to mark their chore done so I know who did what and who didn't) to write on the weekly plans something about poop. Very important.

For every kid we get to 18, I'm throwing a party. Forget graduation, sweet 16, golden birthdays....I'm throwing a HUGE bash for - MOM GOT THEM TO 18 AND WE LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT party.

This parenting thing is no joke. And no degree or book in the world could cover it all. But do you want to know the best parenting advice I have ever received?? This is free...and maybe why no other parenting book has been matched in its advice and even The New York Times can't keep up with:

Deuteronomy 6: 4 -9
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

2 Timothy 3: 16 & 17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Chart

Poop is a priority for some

Thursday, August 6, 2015

When hair day feels less like bonding and more like bondage.....

I'm about to write a story that will encourage some and offend many more. Such is the story of my life.

All my life I have had stick straight hair. Very boring. It gets oily when I LOOK at conditioner. I used to (and still do) envy women with beautiful curly hair. Beach waves?? Swoon. I would get perms as a child, and the lovely curls would be gone in a week with my hair mocking me all the while. I curl my hair with a pound of hairspray and all that happens is a new tiny hole in the ozone layer appears. My hair is still straight. And I still try buy the newest $100 curling iron that the guy at the mall can stop me with to convince me that THIS is the one that will work for me!

I'm gonna be of my biggest hurdles when adopting an African girl was hair. Have you seen my hair? No? Oh, that's because it is generally in a ponytail. I get ponytail. That's all I got. I had been around enough adoptive families of African girls to know that there would need to be more knowledge of hair care than a twistie and a brush, if you can find it.

So now I'm gonna be REAL honest. If you know me in real life, this isn't a secret. But for anyone else....well, here goes.

Things with my Ugandan Sweetie haven't been all that....well....sweet. She has been home almost 4 years and I can't say it has been all rainbows and unicorns. I don't need to go into detail of her story, or the many dynamics of our story right now...but there is one particular subject that has been a source of major contention in our relationship.


When I committed to raising an African daughter, I dove into every blog and YouTube tutorial I could find to figure out what to do with her hair. (I kid you not, my bio daughters have asked me why I spend so much time figuring out what to do with their sisters hair, but can't even learn how to french braid.. Fail.) And it doesn't take much digging into the world wide web to read time and time again about the importance of African hair and the proper care of it.

Here are a few key things that I have read and grown to believe to be true about my daughters hair.

1) In Africa, hair is more than hair. It's a culture. It's a story. It has history. It demands proper attention and care. Hair care is a time of BONDING.
2) If my African daughter desires to have straight hair, it is because she does not see the beauty of her natural hair and probably deep down wishes she was white.
3) If I do not care for my daughters hair properly, I will be frowned upon by the entire African American community.
4) It is my responsibility as an adoptive mom to teach my daughter about proper hair care, and until I can teach her, I must do everything I can to give her gorgeous locks.

So here is the deal. My DD ("dear daughter" is what that means, Mom) had hair in Africa that her birth mother, and probably sister, and who knows who else once cared for. I have pictures. So I know this is true. Upon entering the orphanage, sadly, her hair was shaved. I understand this is a disgrace to young girls everywhere. But that moment triggered something DEEP in my DD.

Since she has been home, I have tried everything I can think of, not to mention everything in my limited ability, just as the blogs tell me to. (Have you seen the "Pinterest Fail" photos??? I have an entire scrapbook of "Hair Fail" photos. It just never looks the same when I do it! Where's my twistie???!!!)

So here is what the first few years looked like:
*I tried every style I thought was within the realm of my abilities to do. (Yarn extensions?? Hilarious! She did look a little better than the presents under my tree at Christmas, but that's about it....Two strand twists? Um, no comment. Bantu knots? Apparently those are painful to sleep in. Puffs? Where's the Kleenex?)
*I took her to several different salons that specialize in African Hair care. I don't really want to go into this story....but I will just say that it was obvious that I was not welcome. My daughter was, but I as her mom was not.
*I have had women stop me in public places (even one who stopped me while pulling out of a parking lot by pounding on my window) to tell me I was doing it all wrong.  (Which I wouldn't mind so much had they offered an actual solution.) I left these places in tears calling my AA girlfriends pleading with them to tell me what I was doing wrong and how I just don't get it! (My bio daughters have walked around with Raven's birthing youngens in their hair and not one person has ever said a thing.)
*Relaxers are for white moms who don't know how to care for their African child's hair. (I for real read that on a review of a relaxant.)

But the worst story to tell is the tension that arises daily with my actual daughter over the care of her hair. That one is the hardest. I can put on my big girl panties for the rest of them.

So a year ago I decided to go the route of locs. (Or maybe dreadlocs? Or locks? I don't know...I've also been scolded by other adoptive moms for wording that wrong...) I chose that it would be better to take out the daily hair struggle with a low(er) maintenance style - micro locs. I really believed this to be the answer to the drama in my home surrounding hair. AND...I thought they were super cute. Win!

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to begin to teach my 10 year old how to take a bit more ownership of the care of her beautiful locs. She was heading off to camp for a week soon and wouldn't have me there for daily care. Here is where another issue enters in. She does not much appreciate it when I instruct her in anything - how to fold clothes, how to do the dishes, how to swim, how to do math, how to write, how to sing, how to dance, but mostly - how to do hair. So to avoid this getting more awkward for you, the reader, I will just say that me instructing her on how to care for her own hair went south rather quickly.

Within a month of being in her care, her year long locs began to fall apart. Unravel. Frizz. Fall out. Smell. Turn yellow (seriously). I was so confused. Once I figured out what was going on, Aaron and I realized it was time to come up with a new plan. Ultimately, she was unable to care for them on her own, and me continuing to care for them was not an option either. The hair stress meter had reached its limit. But what was I to do? Her hair had been locked for a year! Aaron brought up the idea of cutting off the locs. Remember the traumatic orphanage story I mentioned earlier??? Yeah...that was triggered at the mention of cutting off the locs. Did you know it was possible for a 10 year old to not talk to their parents for two days? Yup. Totally possible.

I would beg and plead with her to find out what she wanted done with her hair. I thought I had come up with a happy solution with these cute little locs. One day though, she informed me that she wanted hair like her sisters - her white sisters, with stick straight hair just like .... Moms. WARNING WARNING! I'd read about this! We're now supposed to up our game about how much she should embrace her beautiful black hair!!! Right???!!!


See here's the deal....when you have a strained relationship with your child, maybe pushing into what you have read to be true about what they should believe isn't a great time to actually force it. I needed to listen to HER. I HAD to listen to her. It was made harder by the fact that she wouldn't give me ANYTHING to go on...but I had to find SOMETHING that she desired or didn't desire and show her that I cared about her heart in this. Whatever was driving the heart, I don't know...but I cared about it. Hair needed to become a drama free zone, and the only thing she was offering me other than wanting her white sisters hair was that she did NOT want us to cut her hair.

So I turned to YouTube...again.  I found ways to try and revive the locs. But she was not in favor. WHAT ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF LITTLE ONE?!?!?!?! And why can't you tell me????!!!!!!

So then I found that apparently you can UN-loc locs. So I said to Aaron and our Ugandan Princess that the since the only thing I was hearing from our DD was that she did not really want the locs, and did not want her hair cut - I had to try. So for 28 hours (really more like 56 hours since there was almost always 2-3 people at a time working on the loc removal) - I tried. And we did it. We got all 317 locs unlocked. (And WOW! Talk about a protective style!!! Her hair had grown almost 4 inches in a year! It had only grown 2-3 inches total in the 3 years prior!)

And then I did it....I used a relaxer. Which thanks to the movie, "Good Hair" with Chris Rock, I lost sleep over this option. But I had to. She wanted long hair that could be brushed like her sisters. And maybe that is me allowing her to neglect her heritage. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that she would peak around the corner and watch longingly while I would brush, flat iron and pull into a hair tie (because remember, I'm an expert at that) her white sisters hair. Pain free...on many, MANY levels. It was time for pain free (or at least less pain) and drama free.

So for the foreseeable future, I will continue to try and put curls in my hair while removing them from my daughters. (Seriously, girls are so weird.)

And you know what? These pics of her smiling???? It's the first time I've done anything that made her smile in a really, really, really long time. I caught her in the bathroom earlier staring in the mirror running her fingers through her hair with a big smile on her face. She laughed when she noticed I was watching. So I don't know, I'm sure I am doing her hair all wrong.....but today? Well, today, her heart found joy. And in the world she and I live in??? Her joy??? That was a crown of glory.

(ps....A lot of you adoptive mama's have been following our journey on FB and Instagram because you either are in process of locs or are thinking about it....I still LOVE the look of micro locs, and the ease. It really was the most care-free style we had tried. But ultimately, other issues come into play with a 10 year old girl....she needs to own the hygiene of it a bit. If your daughter can't do that, maybe wait. If she can...go for it! They are fun and free and beautiful! Feel free to email or IM me if you want to talk in further detail about my little story vs. your story. Bottom line thought? Don't worry about what all the other adoptive moms are doing...just do what you and YOUR DD need done!)

Big sister SAVED me with her helping hand!

As did some amazing friends!

We liked this look. She did not. But she's still smiling!

Now we know what she will look like as an old lady!

The feeling of a brush going effortlessly through her hair for the first time..... 

Seriously! This girl had NO hair just less than 4 years ago!!

I got to use my hair tie on her. I got this. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

It's my birfday! (I'm not too old to say birfday)

Today is my birthday. Not a number of significance, just one more year in the books. I do always think it's funny that anniversaries and birthdays seem to be made a big deal of on certain numbers only - 15, 20, 25, 30, etc..... Aaron and I enjoy celebrating our anniversary on odd numbers only. We plan to renew our vows and have a huge party on our 19th wedding anniversary. He just doesn't know it yet.

But anyway....

I've always considered myself to be an "old soul", so maybe that has something to do with my feelings about aging. But as for now - I enjoy getting older. I really, really do! I don't fear it. I don't want to deny it. I don't dread the BIG numbers to come. Maybe I will feel different in 30 or 40 more years, but for now - I guess I just feel like with every day older, I'm one day closer to Glory. I have more wisdom to speak of (I hope), more memories to hold, more lives to impact. That can't be all bad, right?

My friend posted a picture of us from 17 years ago. (Sorry Amy - you posted it, now it's on my blog!) I'm weird I think. I look at old photos of me and don't think I look much different. I look in the mirror and don't notice the lines forming. The gray hairs don't bother me (I color my hair for the change, not to cover gray...I actually can't wait to have a skunk stripe! When I have that much gray, I plan to let it be!!) I don't FEEL old, other than the before mentioned "old soul" that I've always felt abides in me. I endure my teenage daughters music with the same distaste as some of the music my husband still listens to from when we were teens (ie: Greenday). My spirit doesn't feel any older than 17 years ago. Is that strange?

Sure I've aged. My body has changed. My joints take a little more TLC. I have to watch my diet more. Gravity works against me just like anyone else. But I when I look at pictures of myself, I still see the Jody that laughs so loud and hard that I get the same squinty eyes as 17 years ago (and the full teeth and gum shot that I've never really loved...but at least I'm smiling). I see the girl who has struggled. I see the girl who can hold much strength. I see the passion and the apathy. I see the sorrows and the joys. I just see me.

17 years ago. When I only dreamed of living in Colorado.

Recent photo

I will admit that there is a HUGE fear I have of getting older, one that I am beginning to understand why it's easy to do....I don't want to grow so old that all I can do is sit and wait for eternity....numb, tired and joyless. I never want the sorrows or struggles of this world to take such a hold of me that I'm left with no hope, no mission, no passion. I don't want to grow so cynical of this life and world that I fail to see the beauty in all things new and different and old and rusty. I don't want to "retire" from all that God has for me. When my mind goes (if it hasn't gone already), and my body fails entirely - I want my heart to be fully alive and renewed with each passing day in Christ Jesus, just as he promises me it will be. I realize I am still too young to even begin to think I know the secret to aging gracefully, but for now - I'm going with that.

I love that God didn't leave us to this life without a glimpse into His heart on aging. If He says it's a good thing and that he is in it, who am I to think any different?

So happy birthday to me. My prayer this year, and every year?? Come, Lord Jesus. Come! But until you do...remind me you aren't finished with me just yet.         (And may blogger be around for 40 more years in case I need to read this one day.)

2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV 
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Proverbs 20:29 ESV 
The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.

Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV 
“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Psalm 92:12-14 ESV
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,

Philippians 3:20-21 ESV 
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Proverbs 16:31 ESV
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV 
Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 ESV 
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Word - 2015

Happy 2015.

I can't say that I am sad to see 2014 go.

I like New Years. I understand that behavior and circumstances didn't just miraculously change from December 31, 2014 to January 1, takes effort to grow into who we want to be (or shrink as goes the case with most people's Resolutions), not just the flip of a Calendar page. But I still like the feel of a clean slate. I think of Marilla Cuthbert (from Anne Of Green Gables) saying, "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." Then I think of Anne breaking the slate over Gilbert's head because I just used the phrase clean slate......

Where was I.....

The past few years I have gone the route of choosing a word for the year. It just seems healthier to me than a list of Resolutions, that according to my Myers-Briggs Personality Type I will break in 2-4 days anyway.

This year I chose three (well, fourish) words. Call me an overachiever if you want, but really, I just needed three (or four) words. 2014 was a year, more than any other year I can ever remember, that I allowed myself to believe lies...not just believe them, but be crushed by them. Feelings of not being enough - good enough, smart enough, business minded enough, holy enough, healthy enough, motherly enough, wifely enough, friendly enough....I just never measured up last year it seemed (well, so it seemed to me). Living in this robs one of much joy, and is incredibly exhausting. So for 2015, I will pray for, and Lord willing return to what I know is true and live out of these three to four words instead:

TRUTH - "and you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free." John 8:32

STRENGTH and REST "In returning and REST you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your STRENGTH." Isaiah 30:15

JOY - "Let me hear JOY and gladness, let the bones you have broken REJOICE .... Restore to me the JOY of my salvation and uphold with me a willing spirit." Psalm 51:8-11

So how do I do this? I sit at the feet of Jesus and let His word remind me that because HE is enough, I am enough. I turn off social media MUCH MUCH more, so as to not compare my imperfect self to the perfect pictures and status updates that we all post. I choose to be present, instead of wishing I was somewhere else. (This one will be a very tricky one, and has been a goal for as long as I can remember....thankfully I'm still here, which means sanctification isn't over yet and I get to keep working on it!) I can laugh at myself, mistakes, and failures instead of allowing them to crush me - and in doing so will hopefully allow them to mold me in a healthy way instead of destroying me. Instead of complaining about the things that hinder my health (no running, no crossfitting, physical pain, weight, etc....), I continue to thank God for the resources I have to be able to treat my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. No more, no less. This list is starting to sound very resolutiony. The point is this: truth, strength, rest and joy have nothing to do with me and my efforts - and everything to do with Jesus and his efforts which have already been accomplished. Time to remember this truth - not only remember it, but live in it.

I bought a book sometime in the last year or two and read only part of it, as is normal for me. I resolve to finish it this time. (Better get it done in 2 - 4 days, I suppose!) It's called, "One Way Love - Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World", by Tullian Tchividjian. First chapter in and I came across this gem....

"Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up. He came to emancipate us from the burden to get it all right, from the obligation to fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves. JESUS CAME TO RELEASE US FROM THE SLAVISH NEED TO BE RIGHT, REWARDED, REGARDED, AND RESPECTED. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves."

Thanks be to God, I have hope for today, tomorrow, and all of 2015.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Preparing....for the Prince of Peace

Every year at Christmas, I find myself deeply longing to feel some kind of Christmas Spirit. I dig out the Advent Calendars and books. I read the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. Usually I make it to about day 5 before realizing that the Spirit of Christmas is something lost on me. Sure it's Jesus' birthday, I get that. But most December days don't feel any different than any other day of the year. I generally beat myself up over this and chalk it up to being a bad Christian. Well, this year - I've made it to day 8 of Advent and I have no intention of stopping. God has shown up in a very unique way for me this year.

Advent. (Noun) the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.

The past three years have held more despair and hopelessness then I ever thought I would face. After the adoption of our last child, I've been stretched in ways I never imagined - as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a Daughter of Christ. Not one aspect of my life has gone untouched from our "new normal". Over the past year, I have grown increasingly .... well .... hopeless. I have doubted God's ability to redeem the hard and broken. Scratch that - I have not doubted his ability to do so, I have doubted that He will do so. In adoption there are many wounds, much betrayal, hurts that run deep, anger, resentment and frustrations. And I'm not just talking about the child. In the words of Dan Allender, "Betrayal begets betrayal". Or more fittingly, hurt begets hurt. In other words - a vicious cycle full of sorrow and bitterness can quickly become the norm when parenting a child that has been taken from Plan A.

Plan A? You won't ever hear me say the words that God planned for my adopted children to be mine. At least not in the sense that those words at face value would mean. Adoption was never plan A. Our children who have come to us from another mother should not be with me. They just shouldn't. Their world's were broken. And in typical God fashion, He is redeeming the brokenness through adoption. But redemption comes with a cost. It comes with pain, loss, sorrow and much effort.

What does any of this have to do with Advent?

This year, the book I picked up in my effort to "get it right" was, Good News of Great Joy - Daily Readings for Advent, by John Piper. It has been like water to my dry soul the past 8 days.

For starters, on Day 1 - I was challenged to prepare. Piper writes, "...engage in sober self-examination. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139:23-24) Let every heart prepare him cleaning house." He goes on to write, "Is not my word like fire, says the Lord! (Jeremiah 23:29) Gather 'round the fire this Advent season. ..... It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights."  I LOVE that picture!

(By the way, I'm writing outside by the fire at this very moment. I'm freezing. Oh, but the fire....)

In all my years of going through Advent readings and candle lighting's, I don't recall a year that the single word - Prepare - has actually hit home for me. Prepare for what? I'm not an Israelite. He already came. Am I supposed to be preparing for his second coming? What do I, as a 21st Century Christian, prepare for during the month of December?

A few days later, I was hit with this fantastic truth: "Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart. And to that end, he rules the whole world."

In a season of feeling such failure and hopelessness - these words held much healing.

I could write you tidbits from each day that have been especially meaningful - but you should just download the (FREE) book for yourself.

You're probably wondering how these two worlds collide - the world of our growing family and the hardships that have come over the past three years and Christmas.

Allow me to tie it up with a pretty red bow.

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving comes and I am determined to "get it" this Advent season. I want to really get it! You know....Jesus is the reason for the season and all that jazz. But every year, my heart goes basically unchanged. Glittery things, yummy foods, party and presents all take over. Oh forgive me, Lord. This year, however, I entered December broken. Not just because of the hardships we face with a child, but because of many areas...remember all those areas that have not gone untouched? Yeah. Them. In this particularly hard season, I chose on December 1 to prepare him room. It's hard to prepare room for someone when you don't really think they will show up - but my hearts desire is for Him to show up, so I made the bed and vacuumed the floor. And guess what? He showed up.

In the past week, I have had a couple of moments with our daughter that I have longed for since the day she came into my care. Hard moments, but needed and good moments. And then it hit me. God came down to this very broken hers and my very broken world... to offer hope. Most years during Christmas, I haven't let myself reach broken. The problem with this is that Jesus didn't come to redeem the glitter and the gifts. He came to redeem the broken. He came to give us peace, and hope, and joy everlasting. But to see the areas of our heart that need such a savior doesn't feel good. And I want to feel good during December. So I'll just say the right words, go to the appropriate amount of church events and call it good. How backwards. I shudder to think that had I not prepared the way, this year would have passed like any other. And on December 26, I would feel just as lost and hopeless. But in my state of longing for redemption, of longing for a Savior....He showed me today in such a unique way that he indeed is redeeming all that I am walking through. It's what he came for. It's what he does.

He offers redemption. He offers hope. He offers peace. He offers joy. To the willing heart, he IS Advent....the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.

So this Christmas season I ask you - what are the broken and hopeless areas of your life? Where have you given up? Where do you NOT see his hand? Where are you waiting for the Messiah to come? Where do you need peace? Go there. Because these are the moments that Jesus came to redeem. I urge you, prepare Him the way!