lately.

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Hello friends!

I had a pretty wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday — David and the kids surprised me with a new laptop! You’ve gathered from my complaining/intermittent posting that mine was on the fritz for a looong time, but I definitely did not expect a new one any time soon!

My last laptop was a refurbished Macbook Pro, which we bought in 2010, before moving to India, and I loved that thing into the ground. Now this one is the very first brand-new computer I’ve owned; it’s a 13″ Macbook Air, and I’m smitten. It’s so crisp! And clean! I have a “delete” key! And best of all — when I tap the keys, things that are supposed to happen, actually happen!

Anyway, sorry to gush, but this should mean that I’ll be blogging a little more frequently!

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to lately …

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Can you believe that our church, CPC, is nearly three years old? This is Noah and his buddy PJ, who’s been with us since the very beginning. He reaches for her as soon as he sees her.

I get tearful whenever I think of how our church family loved us through our adoption process and first year. Not only did they contribute generously toward our expenses, post-placement they prayed, dropped off meals, respected boundaries when our family needed to hunker down at home for awhile, encouraged, cried, laughed, prayed some more, and best of all, enveloped Gabe and Noah in love from the first day they met them, no questions asked.

 

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We already love our zoo, but it just opened a huge splash park/outdoor play place for kids, and we checked it out one morning last week. It was great! I’d say it’s geared a little more toward toddlers/preschoolers, but Judah and Amie still thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I think would enjoy it even more if we came back with some of their friends.

If you haven’t been yet, my words of advice are: 1. Park at the Botanical Gardens entrance, 2. Go early, like right when the zoo opens at 9:00 am. After 11 it got so crowded — and summer break hasn’t even begun yet!, and 3. Wear bathingsuits and pack a change of clothes for afterwards (I didn’t wear a swimsuit, which was fine, but my flip-flops got soaked, so be warned!).

 

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We’re pressing on to finish our school year by the end of May. We worked hard this year, and so at the end have been spending lots more time reading aloud, and it feels very restful. Some friends invited Gabe and Noah over one morning, so I took the opportunity to take the big kids to a coffee shop for school. We sat and sipped our drinks and I finished a novel about a group of kids during World War 2, and we did a few worksheets. Any moments I get to connect with just one or two of the kids at a time feel like a gift.

 

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The same friends that had the boys come play, noticed how much they enjoyed their son’s water table, and dropped one off for Gabe and Noah later that day (again: the sweetness of our church family)! I’m not exaggerating when I say it has already brought our little guys hours of delight. Noah finishes breakfast, strips right down to his skivvies, then races outside to play with the water.

 

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Speaking of Noah, this has been our set-up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, when the big kids are in swim class. Usually there’s at least a couple of other moms and a toddler or two. As of last week, Noah now does 10 minutes in the pool one-on-one with a coach to start getting him ready to join the others. He’s not technically supposed to start until he’s four years told, but he has been dying to get in the water, as you can imagine. He loved it so much that he burst into loud wails, when we made him get out.

 

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A couple weeks ago, my friend Jessica and I took a little road trip to Greenville, to meet one of our literary heroes, Jacqueline Woodson. We both love her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, and I’ve since read a handful of her other children’s and young adult books, and enjoyed them too. We had a great evening stopping in at M. Judson book shop for the book signing, meeting Jessica’s sister for dinner at the Trappe Door (a favorite Greenville restaurant), and then heading to First Baptist Church to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak on her writing and on growing up in Greenville and New York.

 

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On Friday night, some friends got married in Charleston, and we drove with Kenny and Shari and stayed overnight! I’ve never been to a wedding in Charleston, and the reception for this one was at the Yacht Club — it was lovely to be right on the water. We haven’t taken any sort of trip with Kenny (my brother) and Shari, just the four of us, since before we all had kids, and so we had the best time talking nonstop, squeezing into a hotel room, walking downtown in search of good coffee, hitting Folly Beach on Saturday morning, and rounding out our trip with fresh seafood for lunch.

 

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And finally, we had an extended family gathering last night for Mother’s Day, and my other brother, Danny, came in from Florence to hang out!

Now that I read back over my last couple of posts, I see that May is more an entire Adoption Celebration month, and that’s a very sweet gift from the Lord. It was a long year, but He met us in it over and over again. I love spending this month traveling and celebrating His goodness together.

I’m working on a Summer Bookshelf post for you all, and am having fun doing it! This has been a great reading year thus far! Any interest in a children’s bookshelf post too? I thought of compiling a list of our favorites.

Happy Monday!



april 8.

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One year ago today, David came home from work, walked into the kitchen where I was cooking dinner, and told me that he’d just received an email from our adoption agency. It was about two brothers, ages 3 and 2, who needed a family. My heart stopped in its tracks, and then pounded on. Wait. What?

But David wasn’t asking me if we wanted to be considered for adopting the brothers; he was letting me know he already responded with a “Yes!”

I was terrified.

But I trusted him.

We knew almost nothing about the boys. We didn’t know what they looked like or their names or where exactly in South Carolina they lived. We knew a few vague details about their situation. We knew that their birth mom wanted an open adoption.

My mind began racing a-mile-a-minute. I couldn’t sleep at night. We’re supposed to get a baby. That’s the path we chose.

Adopting a baby would change our life. Adopting two toddlers would change it way more. I wore myself out weighing each pro and con over a decision that I felt would spell out our entire future — and yet there was too little information to properly make my list, too many variables. I felt the control slipping from my fingers, and I am a girl who likes control.

But also, somewhere in that tailspin, in my heart of hearts, I felt the tiniest sliver of hope.

When I lay in bed, wide-eyed at 2 a.m., I had pictures in my head. Fuzzy pictures, of two nameless, faceless boys, slightly damp and clean-smelling from the bath, piled onto our well-worn India sofa with Judah and Amelie and I for story time. Pounding across the hardwood floors, screeching and wrestling with David. Jumping on our trampoline. Sleeping in the baby’s room.

I was so terrified that first day. I’m a fairly intuitive person, but I had absolutely no sense of the outcome to this story — would these boys be ours, or would they not? Was this email The One, or would we get passed over like we had for the dozen other recruitment emails we’d responded “yes” to?

We generally kept recruitment emails to ourselves, and we didn’t mention it to our kids, but I frantically texted close friends and family, begging for prayer, and they hopped on the roller coaster right along with us. I changed my mind many, many times. I said, “No David, we can’t do this. It’s too much. Please write our adoption agency back and withdraw our names.” And he hugged me like he has so many times in our married life and said, “I know, babe. I love you. Let’s take the leap.”

I wanted my comfortable, semi-predictable life. I wanted the baby’s room that I’d filled with my grandma’s patchwork quilt and an IKEA futon for late-night feedings and carefully painted-and-distressed photo frames with prints. I wanted the the swing and Britax infant carseat and the tray of glass baby bottles our friends had passed along to us. I wanted gauzy swaddle blankets and pacifiers and all the first milestones.

But those boys.

They were lodged in my head and I couldn’t get them out. Where were they, right this minute? What were they doing? They were three and two, and our own biological children were seven and five. They could be folded seamlessly into our family in a moment . . . seven, five, three, two. They are perfect for us.

I ached for them as a mother aches, even as I was afraid of them, of the unknown. I ached for their birth mom, as a fellow mother aches. I cried all the time.

Father, I’m so scared, but I think I know what I want. Will You give it to me?

On Monday, April 13th, I walked through the dining room, carrying a mug of steaming tea to the back porch. It had been five long days since the email. I was Moving On. I happened to look down at my phone, and in that exact moment, it started buzzing, and I saw “David Gentino” on the screen. And I knew.

I’d waited for this call every single day, almost every hour, for six months. Like someone in a dream, I answered it.

And my life changed.

Eleven days later, we dropped our kids at their cousins’ house for the day, and drove the hour-and-a-half to sit in a small city office with our social worker and sign a whole stack of papers. And then, just like that, in what felt like the most anticlimactic moment of a lifetime, David and I had two more children.

By then we knew their hair color and eye color, we knew their names, and the tone of their voices. We’d read them board books in Barnes and Noble and scampered across playgrounds after them. But we didn’t know them. We’d never fed them or changed their diapers or sung them a lullaby. We’d never even heard them cry.

It was the most surreal experience of our lives, and the road ahead was harder than those agonizing 16 days between receiving the first email and adopting our boys. Well, in a way. In a way it was easier, because it was finished and also it was just beginning. We were embarking on the rest of our lives together.

This year has been filled with more joy and love and support than we could ever have imagined.

Right now, I’m sitting in a coffee shop at the end of a long, tiring week. There are tears in my eyes, because I feel very inadequate for this task of mothering four children. I’ve lost my temper this week. I’ve scolded my kids for things that just.don’t.matter. I’ve thrown up my hands at complaining and sibling quarrels and have laundered my duvet, duvet-cover and every part of our bedding, not once, but twice, due to nap-time potty accidents of the three-year-old (don’t ask). I’ve scrolled Instagram to avoid engaging with my family. I’ve thought, I cannot do this one more day. I can’t.

Even as I write these things, I’m fully aware that the above list contains only what went wrong this week, and not the good moments, and that makes me even more frustrated with myself.

And yet. Just now, I pause and think back to this day, one year ago, when it all began. When we took the leap.

We received an email and  we were scared and excited, and we knew that a whole mountain of obstacles stood between us and adopting those boys. Over 16 days, we watched, open-mouthed, as God moved that mountain. By the time the papers were signed we had not one doubt.

God brought those brothers into our home, our life, and some days I’m desperately weary and overwhelmed by noise and touch and little needs. But I know, even in the hard weeks, that God has given us something indescribably beautiful.

He answered our cries for a child, and He gave all six of us exactly what we need. He made us a family. I wouldn’t trade Gabriel and Noah for all the sweet-smelling, wrinkly newborns in the world.

I don’t feel good enough for this task, but that doesn’t matter because God chose me to be their mom. He has written us a beautiful story; can’t I trust Him to be faithful in my hard days and bad moods?

I can.

This is a day for celebrating.

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Photos by Ashley Nicole Photography



four on friday.

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Yesterday morning after swim practice, the kids and I stopped at the gas station on North Main for Dunkin’ Donuts, which they painstakingly picked out and then happily devoured in the parking lot. In the car I tried to prepare them for the errand we had to run as I drove us down to the Social Security Administration office on Assembly Street, finally found a metered parking three blocks away, and paraded us all to our destination.

Inside, we made our way through the wall of security and up to the 11th floor into the Social Security office, which was packed full of people. Every single person looked up and stared at us as we filed in. Of course, if you are someone with anxiety, one of your worst fears is a roomful of people staring at you. Add to that my very real fear of being judged for obviously being a homeschooling mom, and I kind of just wanted to disappear.

But don’t worry! I maintained my sense of humor and smiled at the people who stared at us and did just a little school with Judah and pulled up the Photobooth app on the iPad (which had us all giggling), and the five of us made it through our hour-and-a-half wait just fine. I also realized that most people were mainly staring at Noah, who is just so darn cute that he takes the focus off the rest of us.

I consider it a small victory. You have no idea how much work it’s taken to reach this point — sitting together in a waiting room without temper tantrums or sibling fighting, without anyone running off or touching things we shouldn’t or destroying anything.

It’s not that being well-behaved in public makes my children inherently more valuable as people — like that’s the goal in and of itself. It’s just that I want to prepare them to succeed in these less-than-fun life situations every now and then, to sit in waiting rooms or go to the crowded grocery store or be in a roomful of adults and not run around wild. It’s not something I ask of them often, and we took a lot of baby steps to make it to this point.

I believe with practice and a good sense of humor (that’s key and I’ll admit I don’t always accomplish that), my kids can hear the expectations I have of them, and then rise up and meet those expectations. It infuses them with such a dignity to realize, “I can do this!” I saw the pride in their eyes afterwards when I said, “You did such a good job! Thank you for helping me today by listening and obeying! I knew you could do it.” They are not perfect, of course, but are smart and polite and growing up so fast.

Still, as we filed out an hour and a half later, a nice lady whispered to me, “You deserve a medal.” Which is not true, but was a sweet thing to say.

And now we’ve properly filed for the boys’ new social security cards with our name — “Gentino” on them! Their new birth certificates are in our hands, and everything is paper-official. It’s a lovely feeling, going into Easter weekend.

Happy Easter!



my favorite podcasts.

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I’m having so much fun with podcasts these days!

I sort of dabbled in listening to them last year, then took a break for awhile, and now I’m back full-force. I think it just took me some time to find out what I do and don’t enjoy. Your tastes may be completely different from mine, but I thought I’d take a few minutes to share the podcasts I’m listening to these days in case you want to check them out. Or, better yet, in case just the idea of listening to podcasts inspires you to go out and find some that you love.

But a couple of things before I do that:

Firstly, when do I listen? I started by listening to podcast episodes only when I went running (which, realistically, is just 2-3 times a week). But lately I realized they are perfect for those nights at, oh, about 8:00, when the kids are all in bed, and I’m lying prone on the couch, too exhausted even to pick up a book. I just snuggle under a quilt, and turn on a podcast episode (or three). Sometimes I’ll listen to an episode during our quiet afternoon rest time too.

I also began turning them on when I’m by myself in the car, rather than reaching for the radio, and I’m so much more interested and energized by that than mindless pop music (although I freely admit that sometimes mindless pop music is fun too).

Another note: I recently downloaded the Overcast app for my phone, and for whatever reason, I much prefer to use that for podcast episodes than the app that came with the phone.

And finally, I’ve found that there’s a secret to successful podcast listening (at least for me): Do not play the comparison game!

Seriously, you guys: the great thing about podcasts is that I hear conversations with all kinds of very interesting people. People I admire! People I want to learn from!

But the flip side of that is that sometimes I start comparing myself to those people, seeing where I fall short, and entering a cycle of guilt and despair. Sometimes I even need to take a break from podcasts.

But seriously. This is ridiculous.

I’m discovering that learning to truly enjoy podcasts is an exercise in realizing that it isn’t always about me. Learning about someone else’s strengths and successes does not turn a highlight onto my weaknesses and failures. It’s just a way to enjoy all kinds of different people and celebrate their stories, and also to discern what ideas I can try for myself and which I can let go. Does that make sense? It’s actually a liberating habit to develop. I truly hope that in this way, podcast-enjoying will make me a more mature person.

Ok, here’s my current line-up. I never get all caught up with my subscriptions, but that’s fun for me — I like having different shows to choose from depending on my mood.

 

-Read Aloud Revival

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If you’re a parent or teacher or anyone who spends time with kids, may I highly recommend the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast with Sarah Mackenzie? Of this entire list, it’s the very last that I’d give up, because it has had such a wonderful influence on me as a parent. The tagline is “Helping you build your family culture around books,” and you’d think that for a big reader like me, that would be natural.

Well, I’m discovering through the podcast that anyone can use inspiration, even in areas they love. Sarah Mackenzie interviews so many fun and wise people, who encourage me to read great books and to read great books to my kids. Not at all in a high-pressure, hours-a-day way; in a simple, fun way. It’s also responsible for getting us hooked on audiobooks, which I’ll write about soon. I love it!

 

-The Sorta Awesome Show

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Ok, the Sorta Awesome Show is a new podcast for me — I’ve only listened to one episode. But it feels like just plain fun. Chatty and entertaining, with interesting hosts who talk about the entertainment industry, books, online relationships, and personality types.

 

-Homeschool Snapshots

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Homeschool Snapshots is a great podcast for homeschoolers. I’m always curious to know how other people homeschool — which philosophies they use, curriculum, daily routine, what caused them to decide to homeschool in the first place. And Pam Barnhill asks such great questions to spark conversation with these folks. Many of her interviews are with families who have been homeschooling much longer than us, and I love gleaning from their wisdom. My favorite episode so far is her interview with Susan Wise Bauer.

 

-Your Morning Basket

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Your Morning Basket is another Pam Barnhill podcast, specifically about a homeschool practice called “Morning Time.” I’ve wanted to implement Morning Time into our school day for over a year, but it wasn’t until I began listening to this podcast, that I got the practical ideas I need to make it work for our family. I think there’s great value in listening to the practices of lots of different people so that I can pick and choose what works for us. I’ll elaborate on our morning time (which we call our “Morning Meeting”) soon, but it has breathed so much life and joy into our day together. We love it!

I’d like to take a brief minute for a tangent here: if you’re a new homeschooling mom and feeling in need of a mentor, please consider listening to podcasts! It’s like suddenly finding yourself with a plethora of mentors of all different kinds and ages. And go at your own pace — if you find yourself on information-overload, take a break for a bit, implement some things, and come back later when you need more ideas.

I’m growing so much in areas ranging from homeschooling a large family to planning out our year to figuring out what philosophies I gravitate toward, just by listening to great conversations. Yesterday I stumbled upon a gold mine: this list of Sarah Mackenzie’s favorite home school talks/podcasts. I can’t wait to get started with it.

 

-The Simple Show

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The Simple Show with Tsh Oxenreider was the first podcast I ever listened to. I’ve long followed her blog, The Art of Simple, and have always been interested in her family because they’ve lived overseas at different times, and even spent last year traveling around the world. She interviews all kinds of people who are living intentionally in interesting ways — and often in interesting places!

 

-What Should I Read Next?

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Ahhh, I may have saved the best for last. This is such a fun new show, with my long-time book hero, Anne Bogel, of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Can I just say that she has a perfect radio voice and personality? And she’s just so clever! So here’s what the podcast is about: Anne invites a guest on the show and asks them questions about their reading habits: What are three books you love? What’s one book you hate? What are you currently reading? And, Is there anything you’d like to change about your reading life? And then she works her magic to come up with a list of book recommendations for the guest. But of course in the process they have an awesome and entertaining conversation.

It’s literary matchmaking! And her guests often describe their talk with Anne as “book therapy.” This is probably my very favorite podcast to listen to, and I often find myself grinning for an entire episode. Book people are just so fun!

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So there you have it, friends. One of my favorite new hobbies. And it’s free!

Happy Thursday!



spring semester.

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We’re ten days into our spring semester of school! I always try to take some time in between to sit and evaluate our previous semester, and then make a plan for the next one. The last month or so of school dragged, friends. It felt like pulling teeth to get our work finished. There are just so.many.distractions with four kids. Day after day of not feeling like I could finish a complete sentence, much less a reading lesson in one sitting, made me feel frazzled and very tired.

I’m so glad I planned to start school at the beginning of August expressly so that we could have a three-week break at Christmas. It was exactly what I needed, time to clear my head and just be Mom. It was exactly what the kids needed too.

And I was pleasantly surprised that we were all more than ready to start back January 4th. Before we began, I sat and made my list of “What worked and what didn’t work” for our home school, and tweaked a couple of things. But as with any school, it’s still taking us a couple weeks to find our rhythm.

The biggest change we made this semester is to put Amelie and Gabe into swim lessons with Judah. We also switched to the home school swim practice from 8-9:00 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

There are many reasons we love this new schedule. It’s amazing to have two free nights in our week again. It’s fun for the three oldest kids to do an activity together. Judah is swimming in the big pool now, but the smaller lap pool is right next to it, so they can see one another. Amie absolutely loves swim practice so far, and Gabe is warming up to it. On Tuesdays they are the only two kids in their class, and then on Thursdays there are six others, both of which they think is fun.

Initially I was terrified of taking a chunk out of our morning twice a week to do a sport. How on earth will we come home, regroup, and get our school work done? Thankfully the pool is just five minutes up the road at Columbia College. But even then I have to be on top of things to be sitting and starting Judah’s math lesson at 10:00.

But the benefits far outweigh the puzzle of trying to fit everything in. It’s wonderful for the big kids to have the exercise first thing in the morning. Judah’s like a different person already. When we’re home he’s relaxed and happy and complains about his work so much less. And honestly, I’m realizing that even though I’m an introvert, I enjoy that hour sitting with the other moms at the start of my day. Most of them have much older kids and I desperately need their wisdom and perspective. They chuckle as they tell me, “Oh honey, I remember those days, the madness of trying to homeschool with babies and toddlers in the house, the million different distractions.” Wait, they’re even laughing about it (is it funny? is the fact that they’re laughing a good thing?)!

We sip coffee out of our travel mugs and chat and there is a nice stretch of floor for Noah to push his little trucks around. Sometimes he cuddles in my lap with a baggie of Cheerios, sometimes he plays with the two other little boys who are there. In short, as an only child, he’s a breeze.

Even then, these last couple weeks were tricky. We just didn’t get through all of our subjects any of the four week days (We don’t do any work at home on Classical Conversations days). Gabe is so eager for me to do a little work with him daily, but that adds one more kid who needs my attention in the morning. Also, I tried to potty train Noah our first week back to school which was, as I’m sure you could’ve told me, a disaster.

Anyway.

By Friday afternoon my brain hurt from trying to work everything out. As I processed it all (i.e. vented) with David this weekend, I realized the biggest problem is that I’m working and working but the homeschool idea I have in my head just isn’t fitting reality. I’m rushing from kid to kid answering questions and disciplining somebody and pouring juice and getting out the iPad and making snacks and cleaning up the glass of water that was spilled over our history book.

I’m so thankful that David can bring some perspective to bear on my drama. He is in and out of the house during the week, he talks to the kids and sees what they’re doing. He encouraged me that progress is being made; all of our kids are learning and growing.

I began to take a deep breath, and then to sit down once again with my calculator and stack of textbooks to make sure we’re on track to finish our work in the 16 weeks of school we have ahead of us. And we’re in good shape! We really are, even with the craziness. That’s God’s grace, pure and simple, because this sure has been a year of adjustment.

And then as I was catching up on blogs this afternoon, a line from a post jumped out at me: “You probably know to ask yourself, ‘What do I want?’ Here’s a way better question: ‘What are you willing to struggle for?’” (the entire post is worth a read, in my opinion).

This stopped me in my tracks.

I’m approaching this whole home school year wrong. I’m trying to find a way to make it easier, less tiring.

There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But maybe I’m not actually going to solve the puzzle of how to make it feel smooth and idyllic and stream-lined. Maybe it’s just going to be hard for this season. Maybe it will be full of distractions and I will pray for grace to be faithful and keep turning back to the work over and over and over again. Maybe we will spend more time doing school in the afternoons.

And the question is, is it worth it? Do I want to homeschool my children bad enough to struggle for it?

I know the answer in a heartbeat: Yes. Yes, I do want this. Yes, I want to struggle for it.

It is hard but it’s good.

Why do I keep chasing the illusion that I can be happy without having to struggle?

I’m suddenly realizing how many areas of life I need to apply this principle to. When I’m willing to let go of “easy” and accept “struggle,” I feel inspired. I’m inspired to keep working at homeschooling. I’m inspired to make room in my week for exercise. I’m inspired to make better eating choices so that I feel better and have more energy. I’m inspired to repent to my husband when I snap at him so that we can be closer. I’m inspired to wake up morning after morning and read my Bible and pray so that I can know Jesus better. I’m inspired to keep working at relationships, because the people I love are worth it.

Accepting the struggle is so freeing.

The converse is true too. There are actually things I do not have to struggle for. I don’t have to struggle under the weight of the repeat recording of lies in my head, telling me I’m a bad mom, a bad wife, that I’m failing at bonding and schooling and friendship. I don’t have to give in to paralyzing fear of the future. I don’t have to struggle to be a perfect homeschool mom who takes nature walks and creates Instagram-worth moments of my kids at the table doing artwork with beeswax crayons and 100% recycled paper in the afternoon sunlight. I don’t have to struggle with worry about what people think of me.

I want to struggle for the right things this semester. I want to let the wrong things go.

And so, I’m ready to press on!



what worked and what didn’t in 2015.

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As I sat down last week to reflect on the last year, I used an idea from Modern Mrs. Darcy, and came up with a list of things that worked for me in 2015 and things that didn’t. It’s been such a helpful exercise that I thought I’d post my list for you.

Not only does it give me some direction for 2016, but it’s allowed me to realize that I’m actually on the right track in several areas of personal habits. Rather than feel the overwhelming need to switch everything up, I just need to grow in a couple areas and then keep on with what’s working. And that’s encouraging!

I’m always interested in learning about other people’s habits, and I’d love to hear what worked and didn’t work for you!

 

What worked for me in 2015:

1. Sandy

Eleven months ago a lovely person entered my life: Sandy Garcia. She comes one morning a month while we’re at Classical Conversations to give our house a deep clean. A house-cleaner is not something I would ever have thought to consider, but it was a birthday gift from David, who learned about Sandy through a friend. We rearranged our budget to make it work, and words cannot express how grateful I am!

Sandy is dependable, very thorough, takes initiative to clean things I’d never get to (hello, dusting all the spices and jars on my open kitchen shelves), and has such a sweet, cheerful spirit.  Because of her help, I’m more ready to invite people over and less stressed about fitting house cleaning into the cracks of my day.

If you look at me as a homeschooling mom of four kids and wonder, How does she do it all? The answer is: I don’t! I’m sure this season won’t last forever, but right now, other than a quick vacuum and wiping down my bathroom, I don’t clean my house at all. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

 

2. De-cluttering

I needed my habit of regular de-cluttering more than ever this year when we adopted Gabe and Noah, and it’s still working great. If the idea of tackling unruly closets and kitchen pantries makes you shudder, I’ve learned from experience that if I do one really thorough purge of a space, I can easily maintain it with just 20 minutes every few months.

Right before Christmas a few of our closets looked like they’d been hit by a tornado, so I did a quick sweep and tackled organizing a couple a day while the kids played outside (it is pretty much impossible for me to organize anything with my children around). I still regularly come up with a bag or two worth of stuff for His House, but I’m discovering that as we try to watch our purchases carefully, I need to get rid of less and less.

De-cluttering — and trying to keep from amassing lots of things in the first place — is my secret to keeping our house neat. People walk in the door and comment, “It doesn’t look like you have four kids!” Honestly, I don’t do it to impress anyone with my clean house; I do it for me. My brain feels foggy when our house is a mess, and forget trying to home school. We enjoy our home so much more with surfaces cleared and places to sit and play.

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3. My early-morning routine

I’ve learned that because I’m an introvert, I desperately need a few moments to myself before my kids wake up in the morning. Also: if I don’t read my Bible first thing in the morning, it’s just not going to get read. Here are two magic hints that make this habit work for me: 1. I go to bed by 10:00, and 2. I get the coffee ready to brew at night. Somehow the knowledge that all I have to do is stumble out of bed and hit the “Start” button on the coffee maker, motivates me to get up instead of sleeping in.

I make my coffee, plug in the string lights in our bedroom, and cuddle up in bed under our puffy white duvet. I read my Bible (usually a Psalm or a chapter from the New Testament), and often a devotional book (currently it’s I Come Quietly to Meet You, by Amy Carmichael, but last year I read Streams in the Desert). I sip my coffee and choose a few verses or a quote to write in my journal, and usually that turns into writing a prayer.

This routine helps me wake up and feel grounded in Christ before facing the day. I start my day intentionally — one step ahead of the kids — rather than in reactionary mode. Of course there are times I stay up too late and sleep in and I don’t beat myself up for it, but by and large I’m happier when waking up early (I want to insert here that I didn’t attempt to follow this routine when I had infants waking up throughout the night . . . back then I needed every minute of sleep I could get!).

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4. Afternoon rest time

I only have one regular napper left, but this year I stuck to our whole-house afternoon quiet rest time, which we call “play time.” I’m so glad I did. After a full morning of home school, I am exhausted and need a break, and all of the kids need some down time to hit the reset button. If you’re wondering how this worked adding Gabriel and Noah to the mix, it was a learning process, but now it works great.

When we first adopted the boys, Gabe napped on my bed, then transitioned to just a few naps a week, and now he rarely needs one. Currently, Noah naps in our room, and Gabe has play time in his bedroom; usually half with Amie and half by himself. He doesn’t always love it, but has adapted so well to the routine, and I love hearing his little voice in the other room. He’s grown leaps and bounds this year in his ability to self-entertain and play imaginatively.

The big kids usually do their own thing or play together quietly in their bedroom. I either take a nap, read a book, catch up on blogs, or as of last week, take 30 minutes to exercise. Everyone is revived after play time!

 

5. Goodbudget

David and I used the Goodbudget app on our phones this year. We set budget categories together, and used the app to track our monthly expenses. It syncs our phones so that when either of us checks it we can see how much money is left in each category.

The slightly time-consuming part is entering each expense, but as we’ve gotten ourselves into the habit of recording right after we make a purchase, we’ve found so much freedom in both knowing exactly where we stand for the month. It’s not perfect — we overspend sometimes and have to regroup; to sit and map out what went wrong and what expenses are coming up for the next month. But it’s the best way we’ve found to pursue financial freedom together. We argue about money less than we ever have, and it’s wonderful.

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6. Investing in attachment

I’ve mentioned this in my other adoption posts, but I feel like the single most valuable thing we did with our time last year was to invest in attachment. I know this isn’t as necessary with infant adoption; but it was much-needed with our toddler/preschool aged boys. I am so, so thankful for the wisdom of friends and blog posts that pointed us in this direction. The boys didn’t just need to attach to us as their family, they needed to feel safe, to heal, and to learn what this new life is all about. In retrospect, I really don’t think that could have been accomplished if we spent our days rushing from one activity to the next, doing lots of play dates, always out of the house.

You guys, it was hard. It was lonely. It was thankless. But entering our ninth month with the boys, I can already say it’s been worth every moment of wanting to bang my head against the wall. I realize that this kind of isolation wouldn’t be healthy long-term, but for that first season after our adoption it was good and right. All of us have changed so much by spending heaps of time together, sticking to our routine, working on behavior issues and manners, being consistent with discipline, cuddling and reading books and playing with toys.

And although sometimes each day (okay each hour) felt like an eternity, when I look back on that season, I see it was such a short amount of time. We still follow a simplified routine, but are slowly re-engaging with commitments, and those long hours are paying dividends in our life today.

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7. Waiting a week to set up our Christmas tree

We’ve always set up our Christmas tree Thanksgiving weekend, but this year, with four kids in the house, I didn’t think I could handle seven extra days of Christmas excitement. So we decided to wait until the first weekend of December. It was a lovely decision and I hope it becomes our new tradition!

We were able to recover from Thanksgiving weekend, and that extra week gave us time to actually get excited about Christmas decorations. We turned on Christmas music, pulled boxes down from the attic, and set up our (artificial) tree together, then later that night the big kids and I watched Elf. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll try to get a real tree!

 

What didn’t work in 2015:

1. Not exercising regularly

I went through spurts, I really did. But I didn’t sustain a good habit of exercise, and I felt the effects of that physically and emotionally. I told David if there is one thing I could change about myself in 2016, it would be to exercise for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week. And between running and our P90X DVD’s, I’ve started my plan to do just that!

 

2. Eating gluten

When we adopted Gabe and Noah, all of our good eating habits went out the window for quite awhile. I didn’t sweat it — we were maxed out just trying to keep our heads above water. And racing around after four kids made me so.very.hungry. A salad at lunch just didn’t cut it. After a month or so we reintroduced green smoothies and salads (now we make sure to add a protein to our salad to fill up our bellies), but I never eliminated gluten and dairy like I had before, and my body became more and more sick.

I think if anything I’m growing more sensitive to gluten, but I just loved all my comfort foods so much I couldn’t bear to part with them. However, now I’m ready for a change. It’s no longer worth it anymore to eat whatever I want and feel terrible. I’m committing to a gluten-free lifestyle in 2016 and eating minimal dairy, and it feels like a relief.

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3. Social media on my phone

I can’t explain why, but Facebook and Instagram just do not work for me (wait: have I mentioned that at least a dozen times on this blog?). They make me restless, anxious, and envious of my friends. They make me distracted around my kids. I’m trying to find a solution to this because there are friends and family I really want to stay connected with. But in the meantime, my Christmas gift to myself this year was to delete all social media from my phone.

 

4. Staying inside too much

This is a weakness for me. While David gets itchy if he has to spend more than two hours inside, I’m just not an outdoorsy person, and honestly think I wouldn’t notice if I didn’t set foot out-of-doors in a whole 24-hour period. But this isn’t really good for me.

It’s easy to just send the kids out to the fenced-in backyard — and sometimes that’s fine — but I want to be out with them, going for walks, sparking their imagination, puttering in the garden, weeding and watering. I’m realizing that if I want them to grow up being active and enjoying the outdoors, I need to do the same myself.

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5. Not involving my kids in chores

Speaking of weaknesses, this is a big one. There are several things the kids do to help out at home — pick up toys, take dishes to the sink after meals, put away their laundry (Judah and Amie), but they could do much more. Honestly, it’s just easier and quicker for me to do things like laundry and wiping the table and counters on my own. It feels exhausting to take the time to teach them skills and honestly I hate the battles when they have bad attitudes. I don’t mind daily housework really, and it’s messier to have little hands “helping” me. I crave the relaxing part of my day when I can cook dinner or bake cookies all by myself.

But all of that’s selfish, plain and simple.

My kids need to learn more responsibility — they need to learn that we’re all a team and when we work together, the whole house runs more smoothly. I don’t want them growing up thinking of Mom as their personal servant/chef. They don’t love chores, but they do all love to help me cook. Our kitchen is tiny, so more and more I’m trying to grab just one of them to come help make dinner with me, and help with clean-up too. If I’m lighthearted about the process and view it as a chance to spend some quality time together, it’s less burdensome for all of us.

6. One bathroom

I am so over having one bathroom for a family of six. There. I said it.

 

Happy 2016!!!

 

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the sort-of-getaway.

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I’m going to tell you up front; this is a story about being disappointed.

This weekend I was headed to the Wild & Free homeschool conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, and I was really, really excited. I choose this particular conference in order to hear two of my favorite homeschool voices, Susan Wise Bauer and Sarah Mackenzie, speak, and because I like the encouraging ethos of the Wild & Free community.

But there were so many other fun things about the trip, namely, a weekend away, all by myself. Two six-hour road trips alone! (you know you’re in a desperate place when you get excited about those car rides). A cozy room at the Woodlands Hotel in Colonial Williamsburg. The collected wisdom and humor of a big group of women who educate their children at home. The opportunity to learn new things, ask lots of questions, take notes furiously, be inspired in our journey.

But alas, all of this was not to be.

I hit the road mid-morning on Friday, drove three peaceful hours, and the car began making alarming noises and smoking. I smelled something burning and quickly pulled to the shoulder of I-95 North, and switched it off, trying not to panic. I called my husband, my father-in-law, and then the police department in the town I was nearest because I was so close to the white line of the interstate that my little Honda Civic shook with each passing semi-truck. I climbed over into the passenger seat. At first I kept the car doors and windows shut tight and locked, but began sweating so much I had to crack the passenger door. I tried to relax.

I waited an hour and a half (why did I wait that long? I can’t tell you, it’s kind of a blur, I called the police department to check on my request and they promised they would send someone). We haven’t had good experiences with our car insurance roadside assistance program, so I finally called the police department back and asked for the number of a reputable towing service. I made another call.

I spoke to a man named Wayne, Jr., told him my location as best I could from Google Maps, and waited some more. I felt okay, really, until my phone battery started to die. Then I started to panic. What if he didn’t come either? I imagined myself locking up my car and setting out on foot to the nearest exit to try and borrow a phone. I was very scared.

But Wayne showed up just in time, and was as nice as could be. He sent me to climb up into his truck cab (and like a typical mom, I couldn’t wait to tell my boys I got to ride in a tow truck), loaded up my poor little gray car. And we were off.

My body finally started to relax because I was with someone who could help me, but I ached all over from sitting tense at the side of the road for 2 and a half hours.

David offered to load the kids in the van and come pick me up, and I know he would’ve. I know. But it was such a long drive for them, and part of me wanted to do this by myself. I wanted to be the kind of person who can break down on the side of the Interstate, and figure out what to do. I wanted to be brave.

We arrived at a little family-owned towing garage in small-town, North Carolina, and I crowded into the tiny office with members of the family, all who work there. I plugged in my phone charger behind their cash register. Ravenously hungry at 4 p.m. after nothing more than a handful of nuts since breakfast, I nibbled from a basket of Halloween candy. They were friendly and sympathetic, especially when I received the bad news that I wouldn’t be driving my car any more that day or that weekend.

After a phone call to David, I decided to try and rent a car and make it to Virginia. I’d miss the evening conference sessions but would be there for Saturday. I called the car rental company, who assured me a car would be waiting for me at 4:30.

Wayne’s father, Wayne Sr., owner of the garage, then chauffeured me and my suitcase in his pearl-white Cadillac Escalade down the street to the car rental office, and insisted on waiting until I got my car. But inside I was told they actually didn’t have any more cars in the lot and there was a waiting list for the weekend.

This is when I almost started crying. But I didn’t!

Wayne, Sr. drove me to the nearest hotel, which was booked. He drove me to two more hotels until I found a decent-looking one with a room available.

As I stood in the lobby of a homogeneous chain hotel in a town in North Carolina I didn’t even know existed, I felt certain that I wouldn’t be traveling to Virginia this weekend. I was doubtful that a rental would be available Saturday morning (it wasn’t), and the conference ended at 3:00 on Saturday. I checked in and walked the silent hallway to my room and lay down on the bed and cried.

But I needed to pull myself together and jump up because I wanted to find dinner before it got dark, since I would be walking. So I made my way across two deserted parking lots and a frontage road to a dark-looking steakhouse, neon signs flashing in the windows, country music blaring.

Everyone there had compassion in their eyes (did I look that deflated?) and called me “darlin'” and said I looked hungry. The service was excellent. And, since I hadn’t eaten lunch, I devoured a pepper-jack smothered burger, fries, and basket of rolls in about ten minutes, and it was all delicious.

I made my way in the dusk back to my hotel and cancelled my reservation for two nights at a much nicer hotel in Williamsburg. I poured a plastic cup of the wine I brought and took a hot bath, which was very nice, and then huddled over my phone watching Call the Midwife on Netflix. And that was my evening.

Of course David felt awful. My family felt awful. I felt awful.

I stayed the night there, and David and the kids drove to pick me up by check-out the next morning, spending their Saturday making a six-hour road trip instead of morning cartoons and the hike they’d planned on. Wayne Jr. will drive our car to a garage on Monday and let us know the verdict, and we’ll go back to fetch it hopefully this week.

And that’s the story of my sort-of-getaway.

You know what?

It was just one of those things. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we plan. Sometimes we get disappointed.

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead, Marilynne Robinson wrote, “There are a thousand, thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.”

I would rearrange her words to fit my weekend by saying, “There are a thousand, thousand reasons to give thanks, even on disappointing days.”

I don’t say that to be trite. I’m sad and frustrated. But also. It’s not the end of the world. I have a home to come back to, a family who loves me, other road trips, other years to attend homeschool conferences. Everything’s going to be fine.

And so, I conclude with a few more of my thanks:

— Three hours of driving and listening to Andrew Peterson’s newest album (which may just be my favorite).

— An unhurried phone chat with my friend Carrie.

— The brilliant-blue day, leaves touched with orange and gold, and the way the sun streaked across the road ahead of me.

— I’m in good health, my family is in good health.

— We have two cars, so that David and the kids could drive to pick me up Saturday.

— A husband who mourns when I mourn, who encouraged me to go on this adventure in the first place.

— The startling kindness of complete strangers.

— A night away from the routine of my normal-life, the stillness of my hotel room, a good night’s sleep.

— Amelie, “We are going to rescue Mommy, and we won’t stop until we find her!”

— Four bright, loud little people racing through the doors into the hotel lobby, knocking me over with their hugs.

— Judah, “Mom, I’m really sorry your car broke and you had to miss your conference.”

— We have money to pay for things like a towing service and car repairs.

— A van with a DVD player.

— Home.

— A car for David to borrow while ours is in the shop.

— A Saturday afternoon of work — laundry and grocery-shopping and meal-planning — and now it’s Sunday and everything is ready for the week.

— My parents picked up the kids this morning and took them to their church and out to lunch.

— Showing up at my church as the service started, worshiping without the distractions of little whispers and wiggly kids.

–Three of my favorite hymns sung.

— Talking to all the people I wanted to during coffee hour. Sipping coffee. Finishing conversations.

— Returning to a quiet house.

— The conference sessions were recorded, so I’ll still be able to hear them.

— I am safe.

— God is good. He loves me very much.



five months.

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Our boys have now been with us five months, and we have wonderful moments and other moments that can only be described as desperate.

I took Gabriel and Noah to our pediatrician soon after they came home in April, and she told me, “Expect a good six months’ adjustment period for every member of your family.” I so appreciated her wisdom. I was worried about many things. But she said she didn’t want to consider any kind of next steps until we reached that six month mark. She said, “The very most healing thing for all of you is to be home together as a family. Just be patient.”

That has helped me a great deal. But this week I realized I’ve been hanging on for dear life to that six-month pronouncement as the moment when everything will magically click into place and become “normal” for our family.

And yet. Here we are at five months, and while we’ve come such a very long way in our bonding/healing process, I’m now realizing that we have a long way still to go.

In other words, I’m still burrowed deep in the tunnel, and I see that I will be here for quite awhile.

Suddenly I remember other wisdom, from friends who have adopted, from blog posts like this one by Jen Hatmaker, and books I’ve read, that let me know it takes a whole year for this kind of adjustment to happen.

We’re not even half way there yet.

There are so many layers and as we get through some challenges, I’m staring others full in the face, and some days I just cry because I want to fix my children right now. Not just the adopted ones — all of them, who struggle in various ways with brokenness.

My kids’ brokenness reveals my own brokenness and I’m just so impatient with the lot of us. I want us to be bonded and healed and happy. I want to be Fun, Laid-back mom — to be kind and gentle with all their struggles, and have a sense of humor on the days when things fall apart, and have wise words for their questions (okay, to actually answer their questions instead of brush right past with my arms overflowing with laundry), and to smile and shrug my shoulders when the house is a mess.

But I just can’t be that mom, and honestly, I’m so weary of trying. I’m weary of this journey, which is stretching me to my limits and exposing my deep inadequacy. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and I’ve never really had good stamina.

As I write this I’m sitting in a flood of tears, because like a light turning on, I see that that at the heart of it all, I do not want to surrender my kids to God. I worry over them all constantly and problem-solve and desperately want to protect each of them from pain. But I’m holding on too tight. I’m striving to do something God has not called me to.

I am not God.

I am not in control.

There are things He asks me to do as a parent, yes, and I need to be faithful. But the outcome of what I do is His. I can’t fix anyone. I can’t make anyone’s path clear and smooth. God has used pain and brokenness in my own story to change me and help me love other people better, and He probably wants to do the same thing for my children.

And yet I’m here, grasping their precious, fragile stories in my hands, trying to manipulate the sentences into something I think is tidy and pretty. In the process, I’m trying to write a chick-lit novel where the world is bubble-gum happy and bright.

But God is their Writer, and He’ll settle for nothing less than a classic. He has challenges and depth and beauty in store for them that I can’t even imagine. He has rich plot and conflict and character. His sentences sing.

So what is my job? I think it is probably just humble acceptance. It’s not straining ahead for some abstract six-month or one-year point when life will become easy. You know as well as I do that that won’t happen. One day we’ll probably emerge from this particular tunnel, yes, but then new challenges will replace old ones, because we are all sinners, and because we live in a beautiful-but-broken world.

And so now, here, at five months’ in, I see with a new kind of clarity that my job is to surrender and to sit with my children, just as they are here and now. I’m to love them the best I know how, even when I can’t fix them, even when I can’t be everything for them. I’m to celebrate their stories.

Instead of responding in sharp frustration because I desperately want to meet their every need and can’t, I can relax. I can repent when I need to, and other times I can smile kindly at them as I make my boundaries and say “No.” “No, I can’t be everything for you, and no, I won’t try.” I trust that my inability to meet all their needs and heal them is part of their process of needing and loving and being healed by Jesus.

This light-turned-on is also like a heavy weight slipping from my shoulders. I would never trade my life. But I want more than that, I want joy. If you’d pray for that, I’d be grateful.



2 months.

Our little boys have been home for two months now. Here are 20 ways that my life has changed since April:

1. One word: laundry.

2. Another word: dishes.

3. I forgot how physical life with small children is, with all the carrying and dressing and wrestling into carseats and putting to bed. Consequently, I feel wrinkled and dirty all the time. I now see why many moms look frumpy. And I’m too tired to care.

4. Our family can easily put away a 9X13 casserole in one sitting.

5. I’m hard-pressed to be able to finish a complete thought, much less a sentence.

6. I forget things. A lot. (see above)

7. I’m more refreshed by a much smaller amount of alone time.

8. I am hungry. Constantly.

9. I still read books, but not nearly as fast.

10. You probably already figured this out, but I have even less margin for clutter. For instance, I recently cleared out and dropped three big bags of books off at the thrift store (books, people! my most-prized possessions!), for no other reason than I felt claustrophobic in our living room.

11. I rarely listen to background music, either at home or in the car anymore. I canceled my Pandora One subscription. My introverted brain can only take so much noise at one time.

12. I love and appreciate my husband even more than I did three months ago. He was an amazing father of two but he’s an even better father of four. After 11 years, this is the sweetest season in our marriage.

13. I forsake my to-do list quicker and play with my children more.

14. I stay home more. I finally have time for things like making homemade kefir and a sourdough starter and puttering around in the garden each morning. Life with small children is both busier and also delightfully slower.

15. I feel so out of it with church relationships and ministry. I used to be the one who knew everyone and what was going on in their lives, and now I have to look to others to do it (and they’re doing wonderfully, I might add)!

16. Along the same lines, I’ve transitioned to a new role at CPC: that of receiving. Our church family has generously and joyfully served us in the past months and it’s been beautiful (and very humbling).

17.  I now drive a minivan. And I love it!

18. I treasure one-on-one time with any of my children so much. Having just two at a time feels like a vacation. I love the ability to have real conversations with my big kids. Also they suddenly seem so old.

19. I’m simultaneously more tired and have more energy.

20. I can hardly believe I was scared of adoption because of how hard it would be and how much I’d have to give up. Of course it’s hard. Of course we’ve had to give things up. But the joy of knowing these two precious human beings and the way they’ve changed our life makes everything else pale in comparison.

We’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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sunday.

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It’s Sunday. The re-set day. The day I look forward to all week.

Of all the challenges right now, God has preserved Sunday morning as a joyful time for me. Each of my four children loves church so much and I don’t take that for granted. Not one bit.

It’s nothing short of a blessing, because I need to be there so badly. My soul is hungry.

I’m neck-deep in my own sin these days, folks.

I can’t tell you about any one thing that’s so dreadful. Everyone is sleeping through the night. Friends and family are helpful. I’m getting time out by myself on Friday afternoons. None of our children is biting people or screaming nonstop or destroying the house.

It’s just still.so.hard.

It’s hard.

I hate being a complainer. This is the life I chose. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I’m still here, gasping for breath. Showing up at church on the verge of tears after a morning of sibling squabbles and discipline and just trying to get everyone dressed and out the door. It takes one well-meaning person to hug me and ask how I’m doing and I just break down and cry. And then we sit and sing our worship songs and I cry some more.

But it’s not a bad kind of crying, I don’t think. I just feel so very needy, and being with my church family is like a sigh of relief, a place to relax and be myself, tears and all. The service gives me a place to repent, with everyone else in the room, of my sins of anger and impatience and pride. It gives me space to receive forgiveness. It gives me the food I need to start another relentless week, a week which begins the moment the benediction ends and little people are clamoring around me.

I reach back three years in my memory and know I felt this same way when we lived overseas in South Asia. The struggles were different, but it was the same experience of knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be, but also being stretched to my absolute limits.

I’m so thankful to the Lord because I’m not struggling with depression. It’s more having a giant puzzle to solve, all the time, that makes my body tired and my brain ache. Sometimes it’s complaining too much to anyone who will listen, sometimes forgetting to recognize the progress that’s being made in my own heart and in my children, and choosing to dwell on what’s going wrong. And sometimes forgetting to keep my thankful list — and, let’s be honest, not really wanting to.

I don’t exactly know why I’m telling you all this except to say that this is what adoption (or just parenting?) looks like for me right now. I don’t have any horror stories to make you feel sorry for me. The kids are all doing well. God couldn’t have given us two sweeter little boys. They’re making progress, all four of them.

But every day I deal with an embarrassing amount of anger and frustration and selfishness for two reasons: 1. I feel like I can’t do everything well, and 2. I just want to be left alone.

I recognize that I am wholly, utterly inadequate for this calling, and that’s very humbling. I feel the enormous weight of raising and shepherding four precious, unique souls. I feel an undercurrent of fear about attachment and helping heal wounds and loving unconditionally.

And beyond those things, how on earth to teach them all what they need to know? Good manners and how to play with other kids and eat healthy food and take responsibility for their things and how to respect authority? How to teach them about Jesus and read lots of books to stretch their imagination and vocabulary and to be generous and serve other people? How to do all of this with kindness and consistency and not crush their spirits?

I don’t just want to do crowd control here. I want to empathize and listen and point to Jesus.

I have no simple answers for this overwhelming place I’m in, except that I need to keep walking through it, one day at a time. And there is just no way I will do it all well. I will let balls drop. I will get angry and need to say I’m sorry. There will be glaring holes in our child-rearing. There will be brokenness in our family.

And yet, God is big enough for that. If He’s called us to this, He will be faithful. He’s promised to use every trial to make me more like Jesus, and so I rest in Him.

When I stop and think about it I feel grateful for this overwhelming place because I open my Bible each morning needing to hear from God. Sure, I could probably go through the motions of this new life on my own. But I can’t deal with my selfish heart on my own. I’m thankful for Jesus, who puts my sin as far as the east is from the west, who gives me new mercies each morning.

I’m thankful to surrender to Him.

And so, I am ready for another week.

 

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