Thursday, August 3, 2017

Home School is So Cool!

I have been wanting to sit down and write about homeschooling for a long time. It is 9 p.m. and all the kids are in bed and Eric is at a Men's Group and one of the first things I want to do is write. I miss writing and dream about being able to do it more.

Homeschooling has been on our radar for years.  There are so many families locally and nationally that we love and admire who homeschool.  We moved to our little town specifically for the top rated schools and the proximity to the city.  I homeschooled Simon with a friend his second year of preschool because although I see the value of preschool I do not enjoy the homeschool brigade.  Yes moms will tell you that they long for the "break" but for me having always had more children at home a break from the older/easier children does not feel like enough of a break to load/unlaod the littles four extra times. I am a (mostly) stay at home mom for many reasons, one being that I love to offer my kids freedom from schedules, freedom from rushing and freedom to explore and adventure.  I have found that once we invite school schedules into our lives it dictates our whole family schedule and so thus far each kid has done one official year of preschool.  I am super excited to get a break from the preschool brigade this coming school year.

Why We Homeschooled...
I regularly get asked why we decided to homeschool Simon.  The answer to that is not a simple one as you can imagine.  Simon started first grade at school and this was his first time being gone all day. This was for sure a big transition for Simon.  He liked school, enough. I never had to beg him to get on the bus.  But we quickly watched his personality change.  It was super sad b/c the whole family missed him and would be excited to see him at the end of the day and then we would frequently have difficult evenings.  I think Simon needed a few different things. He wanted to see friends and play outside after school and yet he needed to be alone and play legos and recharge.  I remember messaging a seasoned mom of 6 and saying "I feel like I've lost my son. I can't seem to connect with him."  She affirmed that this was a normal experience once kids went to school all day.  We continued to watch him struggle and we began to pray and seek counsel.

The Lord dropped a fellow Madiera Mom into my lap last fall.  I had heard of her as a Madeira homeschooling mom and then I ran into her several times in a few short days.  As the first semester continued on I asked her to coffee to pick her brain and her experiences with homeschooling.  The Lord was so kind in allowing me to meet her.  She was paramount to my homeschool journey.  She supported me, encouraged me, helped me with curriculum, and we became friends.  Having someone in my community to collaborate with was paramount to our success!

I lost so much sleep over this decision but Eric and I got to a place with Simon that we decided we were unwilling to continue to watch Simon struggle.  It's not that he was unhappy. It just seemed like he was not at peace.  And we began to gain confidence in doing something completely counter intuitive and we took Simon out of school after Christmas break.  I cannot describe the panic I felt at times.  I would worry that we would both hate it. I worried that I wouldn't be able to manage it all. You name it, I thought it.

So we took the leap and January came and within a few weeks Simon was back to himself completely!!! This was huge!!!  I pray that Eric and I continue to have the courage to help create circumstances where our children can thrive.  Around this time we ran into a homeschooling dad and were giving him an update on the family.  We began to share about taking Simon out of school and he responded saying "It's almost like Simon needs the family and the family needs Simon".  In that moment my heart soared with validation because both of these things were true and I was so grateful that someone could summarize it for me so succinctly.  What a freakish thing to say and claim in our society today.  I know it sounds weird and yet it perfectly summed up what was happening last fall in our family.  I can speculate about the dynamics of his classroom, about different social situations that might have contributed to his personality change.  I can guess a million things but at the end of the day our guts said that the one dynamic we could remove to attempt to reach our son's needs was school and it paid off in a huge way.

Reality of Homeschooling...
It is not easy!  It feels near impossible some days.  The younger girls are so busy and so distracting that it was hard to do any schoolwork when they were awake.  By the time naptime came around both Simon and I were tired.  There was opposition to reading, practicing piano, doing spelling, you name it!  Each day we had battles.  Something being right does not produce the absence of opposition and struggle.  But we worked through it together.  And I had my fellow homeschooling friend that I could text in the midst of a hard day to help talk me off the ledge.  Both Simon and I had to apologize to eachother for not handling things well but our relationship has grown through it.  There is just something about having significant time together that allows us to deeply engage into our kid's hearts.  And I am no doubt being refined through that as well.

God's Faithfulness...
I cannot recount all of the ways that God was faithful but I do want to highlight a few examples.

  • We found a perfect co-op for Simon.  Several friends were using this co-op and so I trusted it.  I randomly watched a video on Facebook that featured a family that adopts and fosters. It was an inspiring video but the thing that stood out was the oldest boy in the family.  He had a sparkle in his eye that struck me.  Would you believe that the first day of co-op I roll up to see this same boy opening the door to greet us?  This boy became Simon's favorite friend at co-op! Every week we pulled up and he opened the door with a huge grin and that same sparkle in his eye and Simon jumped out of the car excitedly and I thanked God! Sidenote: had I not opened my own counseling practice 5 minutes from our house I would not have been able to pick him up every Monday, another sign of faithfulness.  
  • Simon got invited to be a part of a homeschool field day.  He was put in a mixed aged group (K-12) with no one he knew in his group.  During the morning he competed against kids his own age and then in the afternoon his mixed age group competed together.  I mention this for two reasons.  People often express concern that homeschoolers don't get enough social interaction.  I put Simon in more unknown situations this past 6 months than he would have ever experienced staying in his classroom with the same 22 kids every day.  I watched him grow in confidence with each new experience.  Secondly, EVERYTIME we are around homeschool families I am amazed by their kindness and their acceptance of kids in different age groups. The middle school and high school kids in his group could not have been nicer and Simon's day was made because being with older kids is so awesome!  
  • We found that Simon was able to take piano and be in soccer so much more easily being homeschooled.   Our evenings were light. We didn't have to stress about homework and we didn't have to rush to piano because we were able to knock it out during the school day.  

We finished up the school year by the skin of our teeth.  May was HARD!  But we made it and our relationship is stronger than ever.  The Madeira principal was kind enough to administer Simon's testing to submit for our future homeschool application and his scores went up so I guess you could say we passed!  I took Simon to the school to test and every time I've asked him about it he says he does not miss "school" and he never wants to go back.  I can only commit to one year at a time.  So after more prayer and consideration we have decided to give it another year homeschooling Simon with a new co-op and new curriculum.  And I completely trust that the Lord will be faithful again.  Walker is going to Kindergarten and we are going to evaluate where we will go from there after we get through this school year.

I would not call myself a follower necessarily but I will say that I love for my people to do what I am doing.  My flesh wants to sell all of my closest friends on homeschooling. But I have felt convicted that this is my path and while it can be lonely to be in the minority this is my journey and I cannot put that on anyone else.  It is not easy for me to do something counter-cultural and different.  Life is so funny! I kicked and screamed my way into being a stay at home mom. God worked me through that journey to get me to a place of finding so much purpose and value in my role as a SAHM.  Just when I thought I'd be cashing in on that role and transferring my kids over to the school I felt called to start homeschooling.  I truly do not know what the future holds for our family. Some days I find myself hoping all four of  my kids end up in school all day and other days I see us all home schooling around our big kitchen table.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gwen's Birth

I have terrible morning sickness the first tri-mester of my pregnancies but once I get to 16-18 weeks my pregnancies have all gone very smoothly and have been uneventful. I am typically walking 2 miles several times a week up until birth.  Eden's birth was our least favorite birth experience by far.  Eric was pretty shaken by her birth and was nervous. I knew we had another good birth experience available to us and I wanted to go out on a positive experience.  Several friends were praying for Eric and I to be able to work as a team and for a peaceful and calm birth.

Following a move on October 31, I was more than ready to have baby #4 by December 3, my due date.  With Simon being 10 days late and Walker and Eden being 12 days late I tried not to get my hopes up.  But I was actually feeling that the baby was going to come pretty near the due date this time.  I text some friends on December 4 saying I was feeling laborious.  I tried something completely different this time. I relaxed and rested and let my body do the work.  I slept very briefly on and off that night after resting most of the afternoon and evening.  After a few hours of regular contractions we asked some dear friends to come over to be with the kids so we could head to the hospital around 6 a.m.  After triage and six failed attempts at getting an IV in my arm for the Hep Bloc my labor basically stopped COMPLETELY by 9 a.m. I was so discouraged.  We had already started my Group B strep meds and I was due for another dose at 12 noon. Dr. Bowen just happened to be at the hospital checking on other patients and stopped in.  I did something totally instinctual and so totally against my norm. I took a nap. I would have typically started walking briskly through the hallways trying to will my body to get back into labor.  But I was determined this time, my fifth and final birth to follow my body's instincts. And my body said it was tired and wanted to rest.  Dr. Bowen came back at noon and offered to break my water. That is a no-no to a natural birth plan and I was very torn about it because I did not want to introduce any interventions.  One intervention often leads to another and that is not how I wanted to deliver this time around.  After texting a couple of doula friends and reconsidering my trust in Dr. Bowen, Eric and I decided to let him.  He was fairly certain it would quickly jump start my labor again, especially with this being my fifth delivery.  Dr.. Bowen also mentioned a few times that he had his office Christmas Party at Ruth Chris at 5 p.m. No pressure!!!

He broke my water around 12:45 p.m. and I started tracking hard contractions at 2:29 and stopped tracking at 3:56 just before I hit transition.  My parents were able to come in to the room just in time to see me push our sweet baby into the world around 4:30 p.m. and Dr. Bowen finished things up and was off to his Christmas Party in hopes of only being a few minutes late :).  

And It's a Girl! Two boys and two girls! How completely blessed are we?!? 

I could not be happier with Gwen's birth!  All of our prayers were answered. Eric and I worked together beautifully, which if you have never had or witnessed a natural birth is absolutely essential. I had an amazing, very experienced nurse who even suggested a different position to me that was super helpful at one point which is nearly unheard of.  Natural birthing moms are often an annoyance to nurses and are highly uncommon but I have found the nurses at Bethesda North Hospital to be very supportive of natural deliveries.   This one in particular was encouraging, calm,  and very accommodating to my requests for a dark and quiet room.  

If you do the math, you can see that my hard labor was very short. It was probably around 2 hours of hard intensive labor.  I was more prepared for this mentally as I transitioned very quickly with both Walker and Eden.  If you've ever gone from 4 cm to pushing in less than an hour you know it is scary because the pain hits you so hard and fast, so fast that I went into shock when delivering Eden. My first natural birth with Simon was long and I experienced hard labor for 8 hours but it built up and was a totally different experience then these last three.  

Gwen's birth was quiet. I always say that anyone is welcome in my delivery rooms but I have learned that I need it to be just Eric and me until I am at the very end.  It was a very special birth and one that we will always cherish.

There is no one I would rather have as my OB than Dr. Daniel Bowen. I cannot recommend him enough! He is so calm! He is so knowledgeable! His statistics for natural and vaginal deliveries are unmatched. I feel very blessed to have had three babies with his practice. He is excellent!

It has taken me a year to write out Gwen's birth but it is something I treasure and want to keep forever.  Her first birthday is in just two days.  I always feel sad when my babies turn 1.  The first year is so special and maddening, exhilarating and exhausting, mundane and eventful.  Gwen is such a sweet baby. She has been so easy and such a joy. Her spirit is very calm and sweet.  She's been on the serious side but I sense she is paying attention.  Gwen has slept through the night a handful of nights in a year.  I'm pretty tired and have more grey hairs popping up but I have had little helpers this time. I have kids that love her and look after her. They entertain her.  It is my greatest joy! You have your first baby and wonder how you could ever love another child as much and then you have another and your hearts swells. My heart is so swollen with love right now it carries me right through the trying times.  Somehow, I have managed to become a very relaxed Mom. Somehow, after four kids I am referred to by others as "laid back".  This is good news folks! The Lord has done a beautiful, purposeful and kind work on my heart over the years. I have asked for more of Him and he gracefully enters. It is my only Hope as a Mother to be able to rely fully on the Lord's strength, wisdom and grace.  It is not perfect and I still lose my patience and get crazy.  I have limits but I have also learned to take care of myself better. I leave when I need to. I exercise regularly.  I rest more than I have ever allowed myself to rest. 

And I am now realizing that I never recorded Eden's birth. Shoot! She'll be three soon. Sounds like a good time to write it out :)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

House, House Baby!

It's been 10 months since I last wrote! Boo! I love to write and I definitely desire to dedicate more time to it. It allows me to record things that I want to remember years down the road, things I want to be reminded of.  I guess bringing another baby into our lives is a good enough excuse for the past year.  Being sick and pregnant, trying to sell a house and moving! Yeah, that was enough!

So the house! After years of dreaming of a brand new kitchen at the old 6537 house we kept running into roadblocks. We interviewed several contractors and finally found one we loved at the high recommendation of a trusted friend.  The project went from just a kitchen renovation to an extended dining room and a potential added master suite. The price tag continued to get higher and higher as we received round two architect plans and found out our contractor needed to push our project to 2016 due to rain.  Almost to the day of hearing that news, guess who contacted me to let me know she was ready to sell?  

This sweet woman who lived on our street had been at my house six months earlier at an oil class of all things and said she was planning to downsize. After she left my mind began working, as it often does.  I contacted her via facebook and asked her to let me know if she was ever serious about moving and that I thought we would be interested. During that 6 months I would often drive by and pray about this house.  "Lord, is this something?".  We looked at 6609 on a Sunday and made an offer on Monday that she accepted.  We really did not want to move. We had grown to LOVE our neighborhood and all of the wonderful people in it.  This was an absolute no brainer for us!  We could stay close to our neighbors and avoid a major renovation by moving about 10 houses down on the SAME STREET!

6609. I literally pinch myself. Open kitchen to the family room so I can see my kids while I cook and do dishes.  Large, finished basement with a full bath and a guest bedroom so we can easily host people, especially Eric's parents.  Plenty of bedroom space for all four kids from now until they move out on their own.  I literally cried when I saw the two kids' bedrooms because we like having our kids share and they are huge with room for more kids, if needed ;)  A dreamy backyard with a deck and patio (something our 6 figure reno would not have included).  A master suite big enough for the baby to be in a full size crib in my closet.  Some days I walk around and stand amazed! We were able to get everything we could ever need in a home!  

So now it was time to sell 6537.  So here's the thing. 6537 is in a desirable school district and an amazing neighborhood and I think people liked our home when they came because they felt warmth. We had such positive feedback on our home's vibes. But no offers. It's not fully updated.  It's a Quad level home. It was Fall, the real estate off season.  After 4 months and 50 showings an offer that we weren't prepared to take came in. Then another offer that we didn't want to take but agreed to. Then unforeseen, completely abnormal "issues" that came up at an additional inspection, an inspection my realtor had never seen done in 15 years of real estate.  This was not fun.  It became an issue that would need to now be disclosed but an issue that is not a current issue but could be enough to scare a future buyer. Fear of the unknown, fear of another low offer, fear of how long this could go on led to a sale and a close in February.

Here's the catch. We prayed relentlessly for 6537 to sell. We prayed fervently for blessings upon the buyers.  Maybe I got too Polyanna?  The purchase of  6609 was such a God thing. Literally, if the roadblocks had not happened we would not have been open to moving.  And look what He provided for us? Complete favor. Complete blessing. Why was the selling piece not going well?  We received prayer and cookies from some sweet neighbors one evening who had it on their heart to come encourage us. Eric and some guys came down and prayed over the house one night.  Eric and I were at a healing prayer event and we asked the lady to pray for us and about the sale of the house.  Well guess what? She passed right on over the sale and got to the heart of things. She blessed our new home and prayed for unity in our marriage.  She blessed Eric as the head of our house.  She prayed for our children, even our unborn baby.  She shook my toe (because I was laid out on the ground overcome by the Holy Spirit) and prayed against control and perfectionism.  She was nailing it!  I was trying with all that was in me to control everything.  It made me crazy!  And here I am, just a few months out from the closing and I'm already seeing more clearly.  If I wanted to trust God through the sale, I had to be surrendered and not so freaking crazy!  I mopped the floors and picked up every toy and cleaned each toilet for every showing while we lived there. I knew deep in my heart that there was nothing I could do to coerce the sale but I somehow clung to control.  Does God need to do something in my timing to feel like he's got my back?  Why was my faith so dependent on him following my prescriptive desires on how/when to sell "my" house?  Even more, if all that I have is His, what business do I have even caring or worrying?  The Lord has and will always provide for us and I just witnessed it and turned around to doubt it again.  There was so much noise during that time period. The dreaded feedbacks from selling agents telling us over and over that our house was not updated enough for their buyers.  Our price was too high.  The text message requests coming in 2-5 times a week and having to reorient our lives around these showings.  The decision to buy new appliances, granite and paint the cabinets half way through the process.  There was just so much noise.  So many opinions.  So many differing opinions.  It was all so distracting.  

So many amazing things have happened!  The sale didn't break my marriage. We are actually in a better place than ever.  The move didn't break our family.  And one of the sweetest things that happened was a few friends came into our home and anointed it with oil and prayed over every door and window. This home felt like home from day one and I still smile when I see a little oil on a door post.  I cannot recount how many neighbors and friends and family pitched in to help us.  Pack, unpack, carry boxes, watch kids, paint, feed us.  We moved when I was 35 weeks pregnant and it went smooth.  How does that happen without the help of community?  Eric and I bought this house not just for ourselves but also for others. We have already had opportunities to host his family for Christmas, had gatherings for 30, 40 and 50 people comfortably in our home. That is a dream come true for us!

I want to care less about the little details and be more about being faithful to a God that is worthy of my trust!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A New Team Member

I have always wanted a big family. Always.  Anytime I see a TV Show or a movie with four or more kids in the family my heart swells. I love the noise and the chaos. I love the idea of a full dinner table.  I dream of this. If you ever read Karen Kingsbury's Redemption series imagine me giddy behind the pages of the book dreaming of creating the Baxter's family.

Our family has been grown in freedom.  It has been one of the most freeing and uncharacteristic areas of my life. I like to be in control. I am a planner (at least in my head if not on paper). I think through things extensively.  When I had a surprise pregnancy in college I almost crumbled. That was never in my plan.  Everything seemed like it would be different. I  never dreamed of becoming a Mom for the first time with a man that I was not married to and did not see a future with. It was heartbreaking.  And yet, God redeemed that situation in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY!

When Eric and I got married we started birth control.  Very Western mentality about growing our family. We had a five year plan of sorts.  About a year into our marriage I was having complications with birth control so we went off and schooled ourselves on Natural Family Planning in a sweet Catholic nurse's home.  It was very enlightening and empowering.  A few months later, I started to feel a pull to let go of "the plan". I shared this with Eric and initially his response was not the best. Something to the effect of "if you want kids you should start volunteering in the nursery". You can imagine how well that went over.  Eric and I laugh at that now. We know each other better. I am impulsive and come to him with an idea. He is initially very grounded and needing to think through it which comes off as pessimistic to me. Then he jumps on board and I inevitably freak out and question it. Ah, Marriage!

But alas, we gave up our plan and conceived Simon shortly after.  From there, we joyfully got pregnant with another baby that we lost at 12 weeks.  That was heartbreaking and even though we were without a  plan, no one plans for a miscarriage.  Walker Joseph (Joseph means "God will increase") joined the family 2.5 years after Simon. Eden was another joyful addition 20 months after Walker.  To watch siblings love each other is one of life's greatest joys.  The boys fight on and off all day but then they have moments where they work together or love on each other and it melts everything in me.  The boys have been a protector and lover to Eden from day one. She asks for them first thing in the morning and is looking for them and waving to them when she comes down the stairs.

After we had Eden there were many months that I told Eric "I cannot get pregnant again!".  Having three kids 4 and under proved to be very challenging at times.  So we did practice birth control exactly three times before conceiving again.  And then there was another positive test and though we hadn't even talked through this thoroughly we were elated!

We are thrilled!  My dream of a big family is looking like a reality! We are overjoyed!

Plans work for a lot of people. Not only do some people make plans to help with maternity leave planning, some people have to go through stringent testing and planning to conceive. Planning is not a bad thing, if not necessary in so many cases.

Becoming a Mom for me was not born out of a plan back when I was a scared college senior and it has been a complete gift to carry that forward.  God has been faithful and good to us!  I never really imagined my body could birth 5 babies. I'm beyond humbled!

Baby #4 is due in early December!

And on a sidenote, Eric is looking for "Mr. Fix-It" referrals...wink, wink!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Essential Oils are Not My God!

I have talked about my love for essential oils before.  My knowledge of the oils has grown. My business has grown. My usage has grown. It's truly become an awesome hobby!  Several times a week I am giving samples of oils to friends and even strangers.  Simon and Walker have become accustomed to oil deliveries on the front porch.  We have had some incredible results. The oils are 100% natural with no synthetics which is right in alignment for where I want to be in becoming more green. We are using Young Living's Thieves Cleaner and have cut out 95% of all other cleaners including laundry detergent. I have cut out a lot of other OTC medicinal products and replaced them with oils. It's been awesome!

But...I recently became a little too obsessed with essential oils. I have had to repent many times to God asking him to forgive me for making them a god! I have chosen to use ONLY Young Living Essential Oils and they are a Multi-Level Marketing company. I am ok with that because I believe 100% in their products.  I actually do not believe you can find the quality of essential oils with any other company.  I know a lot of people have issues with MLM's and I understand that. MLM's rely on their worker bees to do the marketing for the company and in turn you get a pay off.  Young Living calls these worker bees, like myself, distributors. I have actually been decently successful distributing Young Living over the past 10 months. I built a website with a friend in August. We created a brand, The Everyday Oilers and have a facebook page.  It's nothing amazing but it has had purpose. It's given us credibility, like when we were featured on Cincy Chic.  And even though I hate saying this out loud (it's cringe worthy) I get super bored at home with the kids. I do work a day or two outside the home each week but my days at home with the kids are long and often mundane--the laundry, the food, the toys all over the house, the meal prep, the clean up, the wiping of butts, the fighting--oh the fighting!  I think this new hobby has tapped into a need for me to work on something productive outside of housework and parenting.  I also love teaching and have done a lot of teaching and coaching with the oil biz! So it all makes sense to me.

Here recently I have been getting close to jumping up in "rank"with Young Living. It's fun! It's rewarding! And it's addicting! If I jump rank, there are incentives to stay at that level and to grow to the next level within six months.  It's like a cycle that once it starts it just keeps going.  There's always another level and another goal to achieve.  And the financial pay off is good enough that it makes you want to keep growing and getting bigger and making more money! None of this is bad but I have had a clear conviction that this oil thing is not a "hill I can die on". It's almost laughable to say out loud (probably to most people) but it's true.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE talking about oils with fellow oilers.  But I do not want to be known as the oil person who is going to make other people run the other direction when they see me coming or have them become so important that that is all I can talk about. Anyone reading this can easily identify a crazed MLM person obsessing about their AMAZING product that they represent.

I promised myself early on that I would not manipulate anyone for my financial gain.  It's so not worth it!  Do I see myself still using oils in 10 years? I actually really do! They have become an integral part of our daily lives. Even Eric is on board, though he still occasionally tries to offer OTC drugs first. :)

So here I am.  I am trying to split the fence on this oil biz because I will still do the business.   I still plan to teach classes and to continue to study oils and learn all that I can about them.  If I happen upon the next rank level honestly without oils being a god then I will welcome it.  But I do wonder if that is even possible.  It seems that those who are highly successful in MLM companies become pretty consumed and rightly so.  People make full time salaries off of MLM companies. But, alas, it probably won't be me!  At the end of the day I am a Licensed Counselor and a Teacher for a reason. That is my heart! Sales is not my first love or my greatest success!

So, wish me luck on this splitting the fence thing and also stay tuned because I am currently learning about the ancient oils of the Bible and it is blowing my mind!! We are going to have our first Healing Oils of the Bible class in early March at our house and everyone will leave all oiled up, prayed up and covered in Scripture! I am so excited and that IS something I can get super excited about!  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The New Man

Along with so many others, I have been blown away by The New Man series at my church the past five weeks.  It has been inspiring, affirming, encouraging and challenging for me personally and for our community.  This series is relevant more than ever in our society.  This message is necessary as so many men did not have a good example of a real man in their home to model themselves after. This message is freeing in that it calls men to be who they were created to be; that is to be Men instead of Boys.  I highly encourage you to listen to the series. It will be relevant to you whether you are a man, woman, married, single, or divorced.  If you have a man in your life that has emulated any of the characteristics of the man God created him to be, thank God and find ways to continually affirm him. If you are a parent, listen in an attempt to teach your sons about manhood and for your daughters to instil a standard that she will not compromise on.  If you find yourself wanting to be married, listen with an open heart and allow the Lord to form a vision for your future.  If you are a man who has caused harm to others in your life because you have acted like a boy instead of a man allow the Lord to redeem those areas and relationships by humbling yourself fully before Him and those you have hurt along the way.

Would you be surprised to hear that the women of our church community have been reportedly thanking our leadership for these inspiring messages?  I am not surprised in the least.  Women can be so quick to nudge the man beside them pointing the finger and yet women might be the most difficult to address in a similar fashion. Can you even imagine what would happen if a church, even Crossroads preached a series on Womanhood? This would be so incredibly controversial, I cannot even fathom it.  I can see the revolt now, women rising up saying, "Who is HE to tell me who to be as a woman?"

Ok, but seriously, who are we supposed to be as women? Our culture has been telling women to become like men: be strong, be independent, be able to provide for ourselves. Even sexually women have taken their sexuality into their own hands claiming that they have a right to be pleasured too coming out of generations where women's sexual needs have been under valued.  Many women shudder when they hear the Biblical woman as described in Proverbs 31.  Where do we begin? This has got my heart and mind swirling. I'm asking the Lord to form the answers more in my life. I have some ideas and I hope to share them soon. My initial idea for a series title for womanhood might be something like: Women, Stand Down! Yes, I just said that.

Recently I had the privilege of witnessing a dear friend of mine lean into her husband's strength in unimaginable ways under heartbreaking, unjust circumstances. He fought for her and their family. He took responsibility for their loss, their hurts. He did all he could to protect them emotionally and physically. And you know what I will never forget? I saw her physically and emotionally lean into his strength, his protection, his loving arms. I have a visual of them sitting on the front pew that I will never forget. I literally saw her leaning on him and I saw a man with a strong back accepting her need for him. Oh my goodness. It still makes me tearful and gives me goose bumps.This exemplifies a man being who God has called him to be and allows his wife to benefit from his strength and courage. 

So thankful for the work that the Lord is doing in our church, in our community and in our family. I have had the joy of listening to this series with much delight because of the Man I have in my husband. I appreciate the reminder to appreciate and affirm Eric for his leadership in our family and in his work. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Day the Steve Harvey Show Had Me In Tears

Over the last three months it seems several days a week I'm feeding Eden and folding laundry around the 3 p.m. hour when The Steve Harvey show is on. He is always good for a laugh.  Today, my ears piped up as I heard him announce he had adult twins looking for their birth-mom and even though they did not know it, their birth-mom was there to meet them for the first time.

First Segment:
As soon as the twins, who are in their mid-20s started to share about their life I immediately started having a negative reaction. They were saying things like, "We just want to thank her because if she hadn't given us up we probably wouldn't be where we are today." And "We believe we are better off because of the decision she made." These are honest and probably very true statements. I try to stay unbiased, I really do. But my heart bleeds for birth-parents.  Both of the adoptees are very successful according to American standards: College grads, Christians, successful jobs, philanthropic involvements. They've obviously been given a solid foundation and are very blessed financially, physically and spiritually.  While I can definitely celebrate that, I was thinking about how will that birth-mom feels as she listens to this? Will it make her feel better or feel worse? It was really bothering me.  Certainly she wanted her twin babies to have a better life but that means she was not a part of it. 

As I was listening to this I began to weep. Sometimes I feel angry that birth-parents are always seem to be known as what's NOT best for their kids. I feel angry that birth-moms on welfare are perceived as less than parents who have money. I feel angry when I hear adoptees say thank you to their birth-parents for giving them a BETTER life.  BUT, what I realized more than my anger is that it just HURTS so bad that I was not what was best for my first born. That will never stop hurting! I know I'm not the stereotypical birth-parent. I wasn't on welfare. I was a recent college graduate. But, I decided that the most important thing for the my firstborn was a two parent, Christian home and THAT, I could not give her.  And it hurts and it always will. Today the band-aid that covers this wound got ripped off, again. And the band-aid of grief that some of us know all too well will continue to get ripped off, oftentimes, when we least expect it.

Second Segment:
During the second segment the adopted twins were surprised by their birth-mother being there and met her for the first time. The male twin hung his head and wept. The female twin was absolutely speechless.  She had no words.  Adoptions should not go this way, if at all possible.  No child should have to wonder where they came from, who they look like, and the BIGGEST question that almost every adoptee needs answered is WHY? Why did my birth-parent "give me up"? The female twin was clearly conflicted about the reunion and even said prior to the birth-mother coming out that she had a lot of questions. One question she wanted to ask is, "Did she ever think about us afterwards?" OH MY GOSH! That question breaks me!!! For any adopted person out there, trust me when I say that your birth-mother has not gone 1 day without thinking about you. Not one day! She wonders if she made the right decision. She hopes you are happy and healthy and that you will understand her decision and prays you never feel abandoned!

And then I cried again and I just had to pause and thank God that my firstborn will never have to search for me because she knows who I am. She knows my husband, my other children, my family. I am welcomed into her home and into her life.  She's heard me tell her, "I Love You!" And I am so thankful for that. I can't imagine all of her questions are answered at this point but I thank God she knows I am here when/if more questions come. 

Friends, Adoption involves LOSS. At some point in the process every member of the adoption triad is affected: adoptee, adopted parent, birth-parent.  Today I witnessed loss as all three parties cried.  I don't know what all of their tears meant but I pray some healing comes. God bless them all!