Saturday, November 12, 2011

You Are A River

My friend, you are like a river
Following the bends at the base of the mountains
A heart conceived and birthed at the feral peaks
Now the beginnings of a life-giving fountain

You are the rain that fell in a violent storm
Like the weeping of heartbroken clouds
You are the snow that fell in the darkest night
Alone, but not unseen
And as a water remembers where it has been
Friend, you are a river that grieves

You are the peaceful chaos of a waterfall
The beauty and mystery of a diving cascade
Yielding to the current that can never go back
Abandoning your yesterdays

You are the winding path that reaches ahead
Carving into the face of the earth
Streams bearing Hope and streams bearing Vision
These are the veins that bleed
A water that now knows where it is going

Friend, you are a river that sees

You are the rocky shoreline, the warming sand
The moss-covered cliffs that loom
You are the floating flecks of gold in the sunlight
The dancing glitter in the light of the moon

You are the scent of the soil, the feel of the breeze
The journey to an unknown land
And now drinking these waters and ushering them past
Merely trees on the riverbank, are we

Out of the storm on the mountain into the promise of the canyon

Now, you are a river that feeds

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adoption Update - Time is Torture

So we thought we'd be in "child search" in June... NOPE!

We are currently in week 15 of our wait for our child abuse clearance from Texas which was supposed to take 4-8 weeks. This one sheet of paper has had our adoption on hold for more than three months. It is frustrating to say the least.

Time is starting to be torturous. I have been trying to distract myself and stay busy but there is a nagging worry in the back of my mind. Where is she? What has she been experiencing these past months? God please let her be in a loving foster home. We pray for her at breakfast as a family every day. Ethan asks a few times a week if we can finally go get her. The thoughts are endless and continuously lead on to more. It is a really strange feeling, because we feel like someone is missing. It's not just an anticipation. It almost feels like someone was here and is gone now. Hard to describe.

Up side: we are pretty much done. Once this stupid paper gets back from it's extended vacation to Texas, our social worker will come to our house and approve it and write our home study. She will then send it to get certified which will take a couple of weeks. If the clearance came back today, we could be in "child search" in a few weeks.

What is "child search"? This is the part of the process where you are completely cleared as an adoptive family to be matched with a child. Once we are in this stage, we can go to our agency and look at the "child availables" which are profiles of adoptable children. We can "submit" on any children we want to be considered for. However, most likely we will receive a call from our social worker about a child that we've never seen in the child availables. If we want to be considered for any child, our social worker submits our info to that child's social worker. That social worker responds to ours and lets her know if she thinks we are a good match. If we are, we get to meet the child and make a final decision. If not, we keep looking. The tricky thing is that every child's social worker receives multiple interested families. So we have to appear as the best match to be picked.

We have been praying all along that we'd have her by Christmas. That is looking more and more impossible. The chances of getting placed within the first couple of months of child search are not in our favor. But it does happen. I'm trying to let that hope go. Putting baby shower invitations together for a friend yesterday almost wiped me!

So, here we sit, waiting impatiently, annoying our agency and trying not to look at the calendar. Asking for peace and faith and trust and hope.

Can't wait to have her in my arms!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ultimate Mommy Workout

I am a lover of yoga. However, doing yoga at home doesn't quite cut it for me. I love the studio environment where you have an instructor to help you fine tune your form and peers to practice with. Being a homemaker, mother and part time from home employee, I don't have a lot of time to actually get to the studio. Lately, I've been trying to go twice a week, but for my body's and my sanity's sake, I need to work out more than that. And it's not just about making it to the studio. I have two human beings to manage and care for, errands to run, food to make and cleaning to do. I don't have a lot of extra time to work out and at this point in the summer, walking in the heat with a stroller is not that appealing.

I found this workout in a real simple magazine six, maybe nine months ago and I love it. It literally takes fifteen minutes and it is a full body work out. The only equipment you need is an exercise ball. If you want a little more muscle work than it provides, you can do the entire sequence twice, which is what I do. I have never stuck with a work out this long. It is a perfect fit for me and my fall back anytime I don't have time to go for a run or get to a class.

You can find the work out here.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

House Cleaning... I Will Conquer You!

I can't even pretend... I happen to absolutely adore my husband. I could write a few hundred posts to explain why. Never in a million years did I think I'd end up THIS lucky in love. Everyone hopes for the best, but God's grace has been poured out onto my marriage.

Although I have no problem being grateful for Joel in general, I have a very hard time trying to really honor and serve him. He is not a hard man to please. But I have found that some of the things that mean the most to him and speak the most love to him are areas of weakness for me. First and foremost - house cleaning. This is a constant struggle for me. I feel like I was born with a house cleaning handicap. I mean, my house is not filthy, but there is a difference between picked up and clean. It is so hard to be disciplined about it. One of Joel's love languages is food. I can cook for the man all day, but ask me to clean up the mess and all I want to do is go to bed. Why in the world is this so hard for me???

I am currently on a little personal quest rid myself of all things lazy in the home cleaning department. I am realizing that no one else is actually going to do these things. Ha! Joel is super helpful and will pretty much do whatever I ask but the reality is that he doesn't have the time. He is working all day and as soon as he walks in the door, my children attack him and beg him for daddy time. That pretty much trumps me asking him to clean the toilet. But beyond the practicals, I have a genuine desire to take care of this home and provide an environment for my family that they are healthy, safe and comfortable in. Who doesn't like coming into a house that smells and feels clean?

My first move was to get some cleaning supplies that I can actually feel good about. I never use toxic chemicals for cleaning and usually opt for vinegar, but recently I bought a mainstream "all-natural" surface cleaner for some reason. Half a bottle later, I'm back to my old routine with the vinegar. (Recipes below)

Another thing that I got was a mop. Apparently mops are a big deal to me. I started out with a traditional sponge type mop. I found out really quick that it was going to last me a maximum of four uses. Into the garbage it went. Then I got one of those twister mops. So annoying to use and the twist handle thing broke on the third use! Then a couple of friends talked me into the swiffer mop for it's convenience even though I argued that the concept is actually anti-clean. In short, I was right. Goodbye swiffer. So this week I stood in the mop isle at target for a LONG time. I took each mop down and inspected it carefully and eventually settled on an O'Cedar brand Roll-O-Matic mop. (You can bask in its glory here) Ding ding ding! We have a winner! This baby cleans quickly and thoroughly.

The third step in my little journey was to make a solemn pact with myself. I'm talking angels singing, clouds parting moment where I promised myself that I would actually hang up the clean laundry. I can fold and put away until the cows come home but I cannot hang up clothes for the life of me! I feel pretty good about this moment.

Time management is also a big issue for me. I've had to be honest with myself about a few things. After dinner, I am busy getting the kids ready for bed. By the time their lights are out and their doors are shut, the one and only thing I want to do is be with Joel. I'm sorry. I'm not going to do the dishes. I can tell myself I will. But I won't. What I can do is make sure that the table, stove and counters are cleaned off. So the next best thing for me is this: In the morning, I wake up before my kids get up. I get their breakfast ready and when they come into the kitchen and sit down to eat, I start unloading and loading the dishwasher. By the time they are done, all the dishes are done and I get to eat breakfast while they prance off to play with their full tummies. Secondly, I have for the most part made Mondays an off limits day when it comes to planning things. I have set it aside to clean and do laundry. If I can get my house squeaky clean on Monday, I am good for the week as long as I actually put away all of the laundry and do a quick pick up in the evenings.

Here are some 100% all natural and CHEAP cleaners:

Surface Cleaner
1 part water
1 part vinegar
*I use a cleaner spray bottle and use it as a spray

Floor Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon hot water

Bathroom Scrub
Fill the bathtub with an inch of hot water and add two cups of vinegar. Then sprinkle baking soda over the water. Use a scrub brush to scrub out the tub.

So there you have it! My master plan to become disciplined in house cleaning. Let's see how this goes...

Monday, August 8, 2011

it takes a village. i like my village.

A couple of weeks ago we went on family vacation to the coast to go camping. Using the word "family" is a little grey with this group. Let's see if I can explain...

Joel, my husband has a brother named Eli who is married to Amy.

Amy has a sister Angela who is married to Vincent.

She also has a fraternal twin sister Andrea who is married to Chris.

Some of the cousins.

People get really confused about who is actually related and who isn't. Who are sisters and who aren't, who are brothers and who aren't. I often get confused with Andrea. People often think Angela is Amy's twin. We have all had babies at the same time too (seven between all of us, and counting) which makes things even more interesting. Did I mention that one of these lovely ladies used to date my husband? It's a tangled web. The truth is, we are not all related, technically. I think what trips people up is that all of our kids call the adults aunts and uncles and call each other cousins. I like our little hodgepodge family.

Ethan and Uncle Vincent exploring the rocky beach and escaping a wave.

People say that it takes a village to raise a child and it is so true. The cool thing is that you can build your own village! Joel and I are blessed to have family and friends that we want around our kids. The village stretches out beyond this mix matched little group. My point is that when you can find like minded people who love your children, you have struck gold. Seek them out. There is so much peace in knowing that Ethan is being poured into and built up in who he is even when I'm not around. Often I've walked in on friends teaching him about life or correcting him in love because they want to see his character grow. Parenting is hard. Sharing the load is an incredible gift.

Uncle eli playing ball with Ethan

In His grace, God has blessed us with an incredible village to raise our children in. Yet, we never know what the future may hold. I'm going to savor it for now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

friendship is not a razor blade. friendship is a life raft.

I don't know where this notion that friendships exist to filet you open to provide an opportunity to get healing came from. I've heard this perspective so many times and I have to say it is ridiculous. When I look at the Word of God, friendship is love. It is support. It is encouragement. It is life. Saying that real friendship is "messy" is like saying real friendship is volatile. Not true. Of course, every relationship whether it is familial, romantic or purely social is going to have it's ups and downs. When different personalities and backgrounds mix, you are sure to get some sensitive patches.
But I have seen so many situations in the lives around me and in my own when a friend is untrustworthy, manipulative or controlling and after the bombs go off and everyone is recovering, it is brushed off as "God is just doing something in me" or "God is just doing something in them" or "the enemy is after me". Then you hug and re-enter the destructive cycle you just hopped out of. Sure, God can use anything. But just because God uses something sinful or tragic to teach His people about holiness does not mean that He planned the murder or orchestrated a fatal car wreck.

I think I definitely subscribed to to this line of thinking for a long time. Mostly because I have spent most of my life in very unhealthy, self-seeking friendships. Because of their un-wholeness and mine. What I am realizing, coming out of an incredible season of healing, is that it just isn't true. For the first time, I am engaged in deep relationships with other women that are lifting me up and teaching me to serve. Do I sometimes get annoyed? Absolutely. Do I sometimes get offended? Absolutely. Do I still choose to believe the best about them? ABSOLUTELY. Do I still choose to try to be selfless? ABSOLUTELY. Do I feel safe? ABSOLUTELY. Am I perfect? No. Are they? No. Then when people on the outside look in on relationships like this, the only thing they know to do is to evaluate what it says about them. Even though nothing is being said.

I hope that if you find yourself in a relationship that is
- constantly producing drama
- inflicting emotional injury
- feeding insecurity
- surviving on manipulation
- encouraging negative behavior
that you can start to believe that although it is common, it is not acceptable or spiritually enriching. The easiest way to believe this lie - please hear this - is when it is the one dead flower amidst a colorful bouquet of sweetly smelling flowers like fun, humor, adventure and common ground. The important thing to understand is that this one rotting quality will eventually infect the rest and you will be left bleeding at the end.

Can people change? YES! I DID! When it all boils down, the simple solution is deciding you want to love someone vulnerably and selflessly and that you want not just to live life together, but that you want to live a fruitful life together.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adoption Update - Winding Road & Extras

Oops, it has been two months since my last entry! Forgive! Forgive!

Much has happened in the last two months. My husband Joel went to Cambodia for a couple of weeks in March to shoot for a documentary and the boys and I held down the fort. He has been busy every since, plugging away at the project which will hopefully be completed in its entirety by June. You can find out more about it at It has been a privilege to work on something so amazing together.

Yesterday we said goodbye to one of our dearest friends, Stephanie VanTassell. She flew away to Africa to start a coffee farm, contract syphilis and have a love affair with Robert Redford. Wait! That was Meryl Streep. Nevermind. She went to work in Ethiopia with an organization called Drawn From Water ( and although it was all I could do not to tranquilize and kidnap her before her flight, I am beyond excited for the adventures that await her on my favorite continent. Goodbye my love!

Adoption! After much political controversy and many adoptions gone South, Ethiopia made the decision to cut back their international adoptions by 95%. They have gone from processing approximately 50 adoptions per day to a maximum of 5. This would put us at about 5 or 6 years in waiting for a child match. We were disappointed and definitely let down and began to look at other options for our little family. After many phone calls, meetings and a stack of research on my desk, we have found an incredible adoption agency in Sacramento that specializes in low risk foster adoption. We have begun the process with them and hope to finish all of our paperwork by the end of May so that we can begin “child search” which is basically the waiting period where every time the phone rings, we hope and pray it is our agency telling us they’ve found our daughter. We are beyond thrilled to be able to adopt from the foster care system. It is something we looked into before and seemed as if there were not suitable options for our family. But Family Connections Christian Adoptions deals with families just like us and we can’t wait to bring our little girl home!!! It is hard to say how long we will wait before being matched with a child, so we will just have to wait and see. All we know is that she will be 0-2 in age. In the mean time, I am trying very hard not to begin making a wish list of wardrobe components from Gap and Jcrew Kids.

This week is Holy Week at our house and we are talking about the life of Jesus Christ, what He stood for and eagerly anticipating Sunday. Ethan loves Easter and can’t wait to decorate eggs, open his Easter basket, etc. This is one of those holidays that can really get lost in the mix of mainstream “holiday” stuff so we try to incorporate a focus for each day of this special week along with some fun things.

That basically touches on the major points of life as of late, but there is more to come!