June 30, 2011

Burnout and guest posting

Today, I am honored to be a guest at Amy's place. She asked me to talk about the burnout that can happen in ministry to pastoral families, from the perspective of the pastor's wife. Here is a little preview:

The last year in the first church Matt pastored brought to a head all the rookie mistakes we had made as a new pastoral family, and we almost did not walk away whole. The church was small and the needs were many so we stretched ourselves thin serving, working, and giving without taking the time to replenish ourselves spiritually or emotionally as individuals and as a couple. By the time we realized it, we were in trouble, with a new baby and a shaky marriage.

Won't you click here to read the rest? And leave me a comment if you have a minute so I know you stopped by!

June 29, 2011

Dreaming at Held

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning you may recognize this post. It was one of my earlier ones and one that is dear to my heart. Today I am honored to be guest blogger at Held, a Hannah's Prayer Ministry. Won't you click over to read the rest and be in community with some amazing women? And, if you have a minute, I would love for you to leave a comment over there so I know you stopped by!

We were made to procreate. God placed in each living being an instinctual desire to re-create and continue the species. Humans being were further given the opportunity to make choices about procreation. We can choose to do so or not to do so. We are not just driven by instincts. We can logically and personally decide if we want to bring forth children or remain child-free.

Except when you can’t. What most take for granted for some of us is unattainable. You don’t really understand the power of that choice until you don’t have it. Infertility is cruel and random. You mostly don’t think about it until it invades your life, turns it upside down, and takes over your dreams.

Click here to keep reading...

June 27, 2011

Does God go camping?

So I did it. I gave in and went camping with Matt and the kids. In a tent. At the beach. In the summer. In what I, a city girl, consider the wilderness while Matt sees a very civilized campground with bathhouses and electricity. And you know what? I didn’t hate it! I am not sold on Matt’s idea of making this a yearly event but I might do it again for a few reasons.
There were lots of first for me this last weekend. First time to see live raccoons and feed wild deer (I told you it was the wilderness). First time to take a private port-a-potty on a trip (although, mercifully, I did not have to use it). First time to sleep in a tent with my family and the dog. First time to sleep outdoors near the ocean.
Really, this not my very first camping trip but it was my first camping trip of substance. A little over ten years ago I gladly agreed to spend one night on the floor of a tent on a crisp spring for the chance to glide alone in a canoe for four hours with the boy my heart desired. But that was then and love was young and so was I. So the prospect of two nights at a state park campground with two kids and a dog, cooking food on a campfire, sharing showers and toilets with strangers, being constantly sandy, hot, and sweaty did not appeal to this girl raised in a concrete jungle. But when the boy-my-heart-desired turned into the-man-who-holds-my-heart asked me to go, love could not say no.
And while I was always hot, often sweaty, and forever covered in sand those two days, I took a few mental snapshots that shifted my perspective a little.
I saw Isabel and Noah have a blast the way only children can. Covered in sand and sticky with sea water they soaked up the sun and the fun and their joy was contagious.
I saw my husband and his brother, who came along with his two teenagers, reconnect and talk about their shared hobby of photography and their connection and love was heartwarming.
I saw families, moms and dads, grandparents and pets, getting back to playing board games, riding bicycles, talking together and the future of the family looked hope-full.
And I saw me, away from rugs to vacuum, laundry to fold, papers to grade, e-mail to check, worries to think about and I relaxed.
And as I relaxed I looked around. And as I looked around I was what I was there to see: what God created for us to enjoy.
The ocean, the sunsets and sunrises, the deer, and the raccoons. And in the middle of this gift He made for us I felt closer to Jesus than I had in a while. It was quiet enough to hear the birds, dark enough to see the stars, still enough to let the Holy Spirit’s gentle whisper speaks to my heart.
And I came home renewed.
Who knew? In the middle of a busy campground, on a hot June weekend, in less-than-comfortable accommodations.
Matt grew up camping and has wonderful memories o f those vacations and, while I would still take a nice hotel with soft beds and a pool over camping any day, I may be a little less reluctant to go back next year. I guess we’ll just have to see…

June 25, 2011

Adoptive Family Circle

So I started blogging for Adoptive Families Circle, the online community of Adoptive Families Magazine, and I am very excited about it.

I am SO excited about it that I wanted to announce it BIG here by placing the AFC logo right here and doing all this fancy linking to the posts, etc. But... being as computer illiterate as I can be, I never did figure out how to put the logo right here and my friend Heather, who is my unofficial IT person, is out of the country on a mission trip to Costa Rica. So...since my second post came out this week and I STILL have not announced my new venture in my own blog, I decided to just do it, even if it is in a boring, non-spectacular and non-flashy way.

I am blogging for Adoptive Families Circle! Yeah!

There. Announced.

Why? you ask.

Well, they have lots of bloggers that have adopted transracially, but none that have a bilingual family so they liked that side of our story (and of course they thought I was adorable. No, they didn't say that but a girl just knows, right?).

Anyway, I will be submitting once a month or so and I guess I will have to let you know in this non-fancy way each time, unless Heather takes pity on me and comes to help me in between saving the world.

The cool part has been being part of a new community and stepping out of my bloggy comfort zone to a wider audience (which is also scary since I have yet to have a nasty comment, but when you blog bigger I guess it will come and then I'll cry). The part that I have not liked at. all. has been the editing process.

Do you remember in school when the teacher gave you a paper back and there was more red than black left in the page? Just.like.that. These editors are ruthless. They don't even like incomplete sentences, which are some of my favorites. But, what can you do? If I want to see my little story posted, I have to submit to the man (or the two women in this case).

Anyway, please click over and read this. Oh, and leave a comment, if you have a minute. This post has been up for two days and all I hear are crickets and I'm starting to get a complex and I'm thinking maybe I should stop and I'm beginning to identify with Sally Fields and that is just worrisome.

So, without further ado...this is the link to my second post (if you really want to read the first one, it will be easier to find it from there).


If you have followed my blog for a while you may recognize this one because it is an edited (ugh!) version of one I posted here very early.

June 22, 2011

All because of a fly

There was a fly in the van.
It was the last survivor of a three-fly army that stormed our car when we opened the doors of the van to leave on our road trip. We conquered the first two driving out of town with a couple of strategies. One succumbed to a well-placed whack of my husband’s cap. The second one promptly understood that an open window meant freedom and took the first chance it could. This last one fought a good battle, dodging the hat and stubbornly, or stupidly, refusing to take the window exit we kept offering.
So we quit. But the fly would not.
It would terrify my three-year-old germ phobic who, strapped to his car seat, could only shriek and flail. It would buzz past my husband who was driving and fly around his head. It would land on my daughter’s leg causing her to scream and kick the back of my seat.
I was trying to read a sweet book on adoption stories that a friend had loaned me the previous night to enjoy while sitting at the beach on our trip. I was in the middle of a tender story about a young orphan who had just met her adoptive mother when I saw it. It landed right by the closed window and it sat there, rubbing its tiny legs, gearing up for the next round of terrorizing my family.
I decided to open the window to force the fly to leave. I would use the book to create a barrier between the fly and the rest of the car so the insect could not do what it had been doing every time it was confronted by a wide open exit: retrieve to the back of the car. I figured a fly that, against all logic, flew away from the freedom of an open window could not be very bright. So I, being of the smarter species, would help usher it out and liberate us all from the pest.
I carefully opened the window. The fly did not move. I posed the book open as a backdrop. The fly still didn’t budge. Then I gently and slowly moved the book towards the bug to force it to fly, while holding the book open and lifting it to create a wall. It was going well until the pages of the book caught the wind coming from the open window of the van going over seventy miles per hour. In less time than it took for me to say “shoo, fly” the book was out of my hands and flying towards the semi several feet behind us, as the reflection in the rearview mirror told me. The book managed to miss the truck and landed on the side of the busy highway, thankfully not causing a multiple car pile-up.
I quickly closed the window and sat there speechless and wide-eyed. I looked at Matt and he looked at me, both of us trying to figure out what the heck had just happened and why I was now bookless, when the blessed fly flew from the back of car and landed in the console right before me.

I swear it was smiling.

June 9, 2011

A House for S.

The other night Isabel, Noah and I were taking turns praying before I put them to bed. When it was Isabel’s turn she surprised me with this prayer:
“- Lord, be with S. and take care of her, because she could not take care of Noah and me.”
This came out of the blue, for we had not talked about her birthmother in a while. Wondering what was going through her mind I echoed her prayer in mine and lifted S.’s well being to the Lord.
When we said “amen” I braced for what I knew was coming.
“-Mami, why could S. not take care of us?”
“-Well, baby, because S. did not have a job or a house or any money and babies need a lot of things.”
“-Do you know where she lives?”
“-No, I don’t know where she is now.”
A few seconds of thoughtful quietness while I waited to see if there was more.
“-I am sad that S. does not have a house.”
“-I know, baby, so am I. Maybe we can pray that God gives S. a place to live.”
Something in the look on her face made me continue,
“-Now, you know that even if S. ever gets a house and a job you will not go live with her, right? I am your mommy and you are my baby, and we are a family so we will always live together.”
“-Why can I not go live with her?”
Gulp, swallow, illogical terror gripping me.
“-Well, do you want to go live with her?”
Shaking of the head no, eyes wide open. Terror gripping her?
“-That’s why. Because this is your home. And we are your family. But I’ll tell you what: when you are bigger, way bigger, big like mami, if you want to, maybe we can try to find her.”
No answer. Maybe too much just yet. But I did pray once more, out loud, for her sake.
“-Lord, please help S. know that the babies she had in her belly and loved but could not care for are doing well. That they have a mommy and a daddy that love them and that they are happy in their families.”
She seemed satisfied with this and went to sleep.  I think she is beginning to understand her birthmother is an unseen part of our family and a strong part of her life. There is no pain yet, no understanding of loss or broken connection. That day will come and we will deal with it when it does. In the meantime, her presence among us is that of a far-away friend that we love and remember fondly, that we pray for and hope to see one day. Like a long-lost relative of sorts.
I carry her name in my heart like a treasure and I cherish what little I know of the woman whose greatest loss became my biggest gain. One day I hope to tell her so face-to-face.
I have been asked before: “Aren’t you afraid that their birthmother will come back and try to take them?” and I have heard some say to me: “You are so lucky that the birthmother does not know where you live!” and “Aren’t you worried that the kids will not see you as their mom if they ever met her?” All comments and questions born of ignorance of the adoption process, the legal standing of adoptive parents in our state, and plenty of misconceptions.
Our adoption is closed by S’ choice. I don’t know why and I don’t even try to guess. Maybe there will come a day when I can ask her. Maybe not. But we’ll talk, we’ll pray, and we’ll grieve on her behalf for as long as it takes.

June 3, 2011

Every day...

Every day I get to be there when my kids wake up and I get to feed them breakfast. Every day I get to “walk” them to school and I get to be their teacher!
Every day I get to watch my daughter decipher symbols that once meant nothing and turn them into letters, and words, and stories that make her giggle.
Every day I get to see my son become more dexterous with the pencil, tracing circles where there used to be doodles and drawing pictures where there use to be only abstract squiggles.
Every day I get to hear them pray out loud, recite Scripture, sing to Jesus together. Every day I get to teach them math, science, history, and geography all wrapped in His creation and His love for us.
Every day I get to teach my children about life. Every day I get to see their light bulbs come on, ideas form, thoughts become questions. And every day I get to be the one to answer those questions.
Every day I get to see their mind expand and their world get bigger. This is not a calling or a possibility for every parent, but for me it is a blessing I get to experience every day.
PS: This is post #50 for me! Just thought I would give a little shout-out to my milestone post :)