Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love IS

I told a friend that adoption has taught me more about real love than anything else in my life. After some thought, I think the better way to say it would be, Adoption has given me another lesson in real love.

It started with my parents. They showed me what love looked like and introduced me to the Author. My siblings and friends gave me opportunities to practice. The first big test came with marriage, after the honeymoon fever wore off. Then came the babies, although it was the toddlers that made the lesson come alive (I've often said motherhood has made me realize my need for a Savior like nothing else!).

Each step in the process has been an experience in letting go of what I want for the good of someone else; pushing my selfishness into a new or different light, to be surrendered and changed into something better by a power greater than my own.

Many times I have taken one step forward followed by five steps back, choosing instead to hold on to the selfishness and allow it to fester. In spite of this, when I look back over the years I do see growth (thankfully!!).

The last nine months have been another time of growth. Adopting a toddler has been harder than I thought it would be. Bonding (on my side) has not happened automatically like it seems to for others. It has been a process. One that we are still working through.

Over the last few months I have been learning, once again, a lesson in love.

The Bible says Love is Patient and Kind. It does not say Love feels this way, but that it is.

When I feel impatient, I can still show love by choosing to be patient, no matter what I feel.

I wish it were as easy to carry out as it is to write, but true love does not come naturally. It is given to us by our Savior and through His Spirit we are empowered to act.

I am learning how much I need His power in my life and I am learning to ask for that power more frequently. It has not been an easy process. I have not liked the way I've acted along the way. But I am so thankful for the lesson.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Monday, March 28, 2011

Advice for New Moms

A new mom recently asked me for advice on living with a newborn.

Here's what I shared:

1. Nap when the baby naps. It is part of your job description at this stage in life. It will make you a better mom and a better wife.

2. Make time for yourself. Whether that is in the form of a bubble bath, a trip to target, or a run. Do something that fills you up so you can continue to give to your family.

Now its your turn. What is one piece of advice you would share with a new mom?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Go Team Go!

I never wanted to be a cheerleader in high school. I was never good at acrobatics. I didn't like being in the lime-light. I had a quiet voice. My cheer-leading skill set was most definitely lacking.

As I've evolved over the years my cheer-leading skill-set has maintained status-quo. I'm still terrible at acrobatics, prefer to stay out of the lime-light and have a voice-volume on the lower end of the spectrum. And yet, somehow, I find myself cheering with increasing frequency. It is one of the many requirements of my job as mom, no matter how unqualified I appear to be.

As the boys learn to ride their bikes, I cheer them on.

When the kids says they can't, I encourage that they can.

I cheer when Mya plays piano at her school talent show, when Sean goes pee on the potty, and when Suhn takes steps on her own.

"Whoo Hoo!" "You did it!" "Great job!" "What a big boy!" "Go Team Go!"

Sometimes the cheering gets tired and redundant. Sometimes those I'm cheering desire me to stop. Or I want to stop. Sometimes its not appropriate (a time to cheer and a time to lament) or a dose of reality is needed instead.

But overall, it is a role I relish. Cheering my kids to do more, be more, try more is exciting. As mom, I get to be a tool that helps uncover their God-given gifts and encourage them to practice and use them. What fun! Cheer-leading may have had no appeal in high-school, but I'm loving it now!

Thankfully no acrobatics are required.

"Worry weighs us down, a cheerful word picks us up!"
Proverbs 12:25

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shoes and Beans

Raising kids in a country where you can almost unknowingly collect way more stuff than you'll ever need can be challenging. Heck, it's challenging to lessen the hold stuff has on any person little or big especially when the stuff surrounds you, bombarding you like a yippy dog when the doorbell rings.

We've been cleaning out closets this week. I have garbage bags ready to sell or give away after going through only two closets, not to mention the tubs of clothes I plan to keep. Meanwhile, I'm making a list of clothes to buy. It's crazy really. Especially when you look at how the rest of the world lives.

Telling my kids how great they have it doesn't go very far. Even telling them some kids get only one meal a day, have only one pair of shoes, etc. can go in one ear and out the other. It's not that they don't care, its just hard to grasp when you can't see it up close and personal.

Even when you've seen it up close and personal it drifts away when you are surrounded once again with "more than enough." I hate how that happens.

That's why I'm excited about a couple "days" Lifesong for Orphans is encouraging in the upcoming week.

Shoe Saturday and Tortilla Tuesday.

The Lifesong blog is focusing on Honduras this week. They have a great program (go here to read more!) making a huge difference in the lives of kids in Honduras. Kids who have one pair of shoes and eat rice, beans and tortillas every single day.

On Shoe Saturday, Lifesong invites you to count the pairs of shoes in your kids closet (with them of course) and remember the child in Honduras with only one pair.

On Tortilla Tuesday, Lifesong invites you to have a meal of rice, beans and tortillas and remember the child in Honduras who is eating the same thing.

It's a great chance to help our children, and us, remember those who have less and experience what that feels like on a small level. It's also a great chance to get involved, donate money and share your "more than enough" with the kids in Honduras.

Head on over to the Lifesong blog today to learn more!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Keep Riding

They learned to ride their bikes without training wheels the other night. As with most things in life, they learned together.

Not surprisingly, one learned a little faster than the other. It was noticed.

"He can do it better than me."

Yet he didn't let it get him down. He kept plugging away. Kept trying. Before long, he was riding like he had always known how. He was ready to head off on new, exciting bike-riding adventures.

I was proud of the way he handled it.

I want to be more like that.

There is always someone better and when I compare and find myself lacking I want to give up, or not even try.

"She's better than me" I whine to myself. "I'm not really needed."

Sneaky pride trying to pass itself off as humility.

I want to learn from my son and keep plugging along; Keep trying.
Who knows what adventures might be waiting if I do?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Celebration at the Easter Seals Telethon... my man knows how to party!!!

Donations are still being accepted if you are interested in partnering with families who parent kids with special needs in central Illinois. Contact me for more information!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Listening In

A Car Conversation:

S: Can we take a rocket to the sun?

Me: No, you would burn up before you arrived because the sun is so hot.

J: Can we take a rocket to the moon?

Me: Yes, in fact people have taken a rocket to the moon and even walked on the moon.

S: Do you know the name of the person who first walked on the moon?

Me: Yes, I think his name was Neil Armstrong.

S: No mom, (spoken with emphasis) it was Buzz Lightyear.

We may need to watch a little less Toy Story at our house me thinks...

Friday, March 04, 2011

Expecting Hamburgers

They looked like hamburgers.

We ate them like hamburgers with buns and ketchup and mustard.

We told the kids they were like hamburgers because, well, they looked so much like the real thing.

The problem was, they weren't hamburgers.

They were black bean burgers and while they tasted good... they had no meat and tasted nothing like a hamburger.

Our expectations made a good meal seem less than stellar.

It's not the first time my expectations have gotten in the way.

Not that having expectations are bad (I don't think they are). But, if we give our expectations free rein, nothing in life will ever seem good enough. Living under that umbrella is a great way to make life a whole lot greyer. Expectations that become the standard can poison relationships, smother us in discontentment and steal our joy.

In my experience, its pretty much impossible to delete the art of expecting completely (and I really don't think we need to try), but it is possible to keep them in their proper place. Recognize them for what they are, but not let them become the standard by which life is measured.

Next time we have black bean burgers, we will not be dressing them up as hamburgers. Instead we will enjoy them for what they are and not what we are expecting them to be.

Have your expectations ever gotten in the way? Are all expectations bad? How do you keep your expecations in check?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!