Tuesday, August 30, 2011

. . . and I'm not crazy either.

In my last post, I explained that I'm not amazing. I had intended to get to "Part 2" sooner, but life has been coo-coo crazy. While life has been that way a little, I would like to let y'all know that I am not! :o)

On one end of the spectrum, we get the "You're amazing!" comments, but then there's the other end...the folks that flat out say, "You're crazy!" Just recently at my son's football practice, I was introduced to someone, & when my friend told her that I have 8 children, without skipping a beat, she looked at me & said, "Why!?!" She was not at all mean-spirited about it, so I took the opportunity to tell her why I am NOT crazy, & how God is amazing!

Quite frankly, I am thankful. We are told all the time in church to be a light in this world. Me? I am only one, & not a real fancy one at that! What could I possibly do?

A couple of Sundays ago, my pastor had this to say:

"Your story means just as much as anyone's in the Bible."

How cool is that? But wait. How do our stories become important? This is where it gets tricky, because we have to give up trying to be the author.

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living." Hebrews 11:1

Pastor Dave asked the following question:

"Are you in your own story or God's story?"

He went on to say that we can be completely consumed by our own perspective & that other people or things can hijack our stories.

"Your identity should not come from outward sources. Rather, it should be that of your inner self." 1 Peter 3:3

Easy enough, right? Not really. What I've been learning along the way is that when God becomes the author of our stories, it doesn't look like what the world tries to define as being success or happiness. As a matter of fact, God's material tends to appear like pure craziness.

And I'm learning to be okay with that. Actually, I'm learning to be excited about it, continually amazed at His provision for me to live out this story as it's unfolding. I've begun looking at others & instead of raising an eyebrow at what they're doing, I want to raise my hands & clap as I see that they've surrendered their copyright, & God is doing amazing things through them!!

You know that I'm passionate about adoption...about children having hope. That's where God has me right now. But it's so exciting to look around & see His hand at work in so many ways. I have a friend that just moved her whole family to Guatemala to do missions full time; I have friends that are pediatricians that shine their light every day in the lives of families; I have friends & family that are educators, & they use their gifts to teach children; I have a friend that just spent the last year traveling around the world doing mission work; I know of a man that walks up & down the streets of this town letting people know that Jesus loves them. The list goes on, & each story has it's own unique twist.

To some, it may look a little crazy. But I think that most everyone wants to see that you're "all in". And "all in" typically does not follow the norm. Which is what God is all about.

So, why do I have 8 children, with a 9th on the way? Look at these pictures I took today.

K'Tyo & Kaya had their first days at kindergarten & preschool, respectively.
Only 15 months ago, K'Tyo was living in an orphanage.

When Kaya came into our lives, I didn't know if I would get to see her go to preschool.

When I see these pictures, I see hope, & I am on-my-knees-kind-of-thankful that I have gotten to witness redemption firsthand. And I'm not just talking about the redemption of my children's lives, but of my own.

And "beauty from ashes" takes on a whole new meaning, & it satisfies my soul like no "thing" in this world ever could.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm not amazing...

I think it's safe to say that we women are never real great at accepting flattering words. For instance, someone says we look beautiful, & our first response is to tell them just what flaw they are missing. I have definitely been guilty of this over the years, but I have tried to receive more graciously, especially from my husband so as not to send him to the funny farm.

However, there's still one statement from others that literally makes me squirm (it's usually said when people find out we've adopted & are about to adopt again)... "You're amazing!" While I know these words are usually meant with the best intent behind them (so please don't feel bad if you're reading this & you've said them to me before), my first inclination is to say, "No!!! You don't understand!!!! I'm really a mess. I've done some really dumb things, made bad decisions, I've failed motherhood on more than one occasion, I've been a crappy wife at times, I have a temper..." and on & on it goes.

Why such a sensitive reaction? I think it's because up until several years ago, I was actually seeking such a compliment. I was constantly striving for approval in the eyes of others, burning myself out doing "good things" to justify my existence. Yes, I had a bit of a complex about being "just a mom" with no higher education except from the school of hard knocks.

The things I was doing were all good, but they weren't necessarily things God had placed before me. So, basically, I was relying on myself to accomplish good things to gain the approval of others. People, I would seriously cram 101 complicated crafts (which meant endless hours of prep) into a week of vacation bible school for 3-yr-olds b/c I didn't want people to think I bombed as a teacher. Fact of the matter is, I don't even like to teach children. I like outreach geared towards adults. But I didn't want to ever say no. There came a point that I was completely burnt out.

Sadly, it took tragedy hitting very close to home to shake me up a bit. On a whim, we went to a different church one Sunday. I guess sometimes when the pain gets so bad, you can't sit still & need to change the scenery. We ended up going to an adult Sunday school class at the church we visited, & it was the beginning of the end of me. I will never forget the teacher talking about Christians being burnt out b/c they're so busy performing. And then he looked straight at me & said, "Have you ever felt like there's got to be more?' Yes, I lost it. Moving on....

Over the next couple of years, I began to discover that my life is not my own. God has a purpose for every life, but until I was willing to trust Him & learn to "hear" His voice, I was going to continue on the hamster wheel I had jumped on.

But God. He is ever so patient. I love the song, "Mighty to Save". Some of the lyrics say, "Take me as you find me, all my fears & failures, & fill my life again. I give my life to follow, everything I believe in, now I surrender." Gets me every time. He has done just that...Where I saw a mess, He saw hope. Where I saw a temper, He saw passion. Where I saw failures, He saw possibilities. And so the transformation began. And IT has been amazing.

I think sometimes people think adoption is what my testimony is about. Actually, it is a result of what God has done in my life. Maybe that's why when people tell me that I am amazing, I get all weirded out. I didn't do any of this myself. God began a work in me that gave me the courage to look upward & step outside the box I had created for myself. I can't do any of this in my own power. There are days I could almost freak myself out if I thought about it too much!!! But then I remind myself again that my life is not my own, & I trust the One in charge.

Interestingly enough, a few months ago, my oldest daughter was asked by the parent of one of her friends, "What are your parents trying to prove?" Once upon a time, I would have been all up in that lady's grill defending myself. But the funny thing was, I had this overwhelming peace because for the first time in my life,

I'm not trying to prove anything.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Princess is 4

Kaya Ashley Faith turned 4 years old on Saturday.

And today marks the day that she came into our lives 4 years ago.

We feel unbelievably blessed to be called Mommy & Daddy by this little girl.

She thought a pink candle was necessary in the top of her ice cream bar.

This birthday was full of princesses, barbies, & make-up.

Suddenly, she's not a baby anymore. She loves all things pink & that sparkle, & she can hula hoop like nobody's business.

Princess Kaya & Her Court

We love you, Kaya Ashley Faith!!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fun in Nashville

Recently, we got to travel with Daddy to Nashville since he was speaking at a conference. We got to stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, & it was beautiful.

The best part was just getting to spend some family time together once Daddy was done with his sessions for the day.

This last picture is not great, but it's the only one I have of all of us together. So thankful for a little break from doctoral studies, home study stuff, & the general distractions of everyday life. I'm so thankful for a husband that works hard for our family & loves to have us along when he travels!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Name


Picking Baby Girl's name has been quite a to-do.

But I think we finally have it. Funny, once we picked the middle name, then the first name was much easier. So, I'll begin with the middle name.

Just like with the moment God started working on me about the adoption of Kendi through a bible verse, so it was this time, too. With Kendi, the key word was "Hope", so it was really important for us to use that as her middle name. With Little K, the key word was "Joy". However, as much as I wanted to use it, Joy is also the middle name of one our nieces. We've shared names a few times in this family, so I know it would not have been a big deal to use Joy, but something didn't feel quite right.

Then the *DUH* moment...there have to be names that mean "joy". Yes, duh...

So, I began looking, but didn't have to look far. There it was, & it was perfect.


"The source of a father's joy"

Better yet...my mom's middle name is Gail, which is a form of Abigail.

We've honored our dads through our sons' middle names, so we are so excited to give our sweet little girl a very special middle name...one that God knew all along!

And once we figured that out, the rest just fell into place. So, here are a few of the pictures from my first introduction post. If you remember, those pictures didn't load so well, so I'm reposting thanks to an advocate/friend forwarding them to me. They are the first pictures we saw when we fell in love with our girl.

We'd like to introduce . . .

Kemeri Abigail

We already love you, sweet girl, & we're working hard to jump through all of the hoops to get to you & bring you home!