A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it.
Frank A. Clark
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Our family

Our family
October 2011

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

mom-a'versary

My how time flies when you have a little one to measure it by. Be still my heart...


June 11, 2010.
It was a day that couldn't have been a coincidence.
It didn't happen by chance. And we were not just in the right place at the right time.
It wasn't fortune, luck or karma.
It was a day orchestrated beautifully by one awesome God.

One God who knew the prayer of my heart. Who knew what we longed for and dreamed of.
One God who had this day planned down to the minute and had been preparing us for this moment all along.

Knowing we felt ill-equipped and unprepared...
But knowing that it was all apart of His plan...for all 3 of us.

This sweet little face arrived at our house at 4:45pm on Friday, June 11th, 2010. We were CLUELESS. Seriously people...I mean, we didn't know how to make a bottle or what size diapers he wore kind of clueless. The poor baby didn't get a bath for almost 3 days until Kris' mom came to show me how...that kind of clueless.

But as ill-equipped as we felt there was one thing that came automatically...

Love.

It came as naturally as breathing. No one had to teach us how to love this boy.  We knew from the moment he was brought to our home that God had been preparing us to love this baby.

I think about it all the time...What if I hadn't answered my phone? What if I had told them I couldn't b/c Kris was leaving town the next day? What if, what if, what if??

The 'what if's' take my breath away.
The 'what if's' take away God's power & glory in our story.

The amazing part of our story is that we were not supposed to get to keep him, but the miracle is he became officially ours when he was 17 months old.
The amazing part of our story is that most foster children go between their birth home and their foster home a few times before they are permanently settled in one place. The miracle of our story is that he did not spend one night away from us until he was 18 months old.
The amazing part of our story is that we had been told that "without going to great lengths, you will most likely not have a child on your own." The miracle is that we have been parents now for 2 years.

Hank, you are a miracle. And I am grateful that God planned for me to be your momma.
You are loved, chosen, cherished & worth fighting for.


Thank you Lord for first loving me, chosing me, cherishing me and proving that I'm worth fighting & dying for.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Big lessons


I had a big talk with my toddler today. He was marching around the house grabbing at everything he saw and proclaiming "mine".  And it was not a sweet, calm..."mine?" As in...'can I have this?' It was a declaration. "Mine!" He might as well have been planting little Hank flags on everything he touched because he was claiming it as his property. "Mine! Mine cup, mine brush, mine shoe, etc..." (We have not practiced conjugating verbs yet, so he does not have the me-my-mine down yet...but give him time, he's very bright.)


So after about 5 minutes of this I finally had had enough. I turned to him and said...
"Ok buddy, we have to come to an understanding about something. Nothing in this house is actually yours. It is all Mommy's. This cup is mommy's and this shoe is mommy's. None of it is Hank's. Mommy gives things to you for you to use and enjoy because I love you...but you do not own anything. You may hold that cup, but it is not yours and if Mommy needs to use it then you will give it to me with a happy face. Do you understand?"
"Otay Mommy." And he runs out of the room.
As I turn to follow him this little voice pops into my head and says "the silver is mine and the gold is mine says the Lord." My first reaction is...perfect this will be a good application of that verse for Hank(I know, he's just 2, but memory verses aren't far off, ha!) but then I realize that the the voice is probably the Holy Spirit and the verse was probably not meant for my child.

Dang! I hate it when I end up learning a lesson that I thought I had already learned and was trying to teach someone else. Can't I just lay down the law and walk away feeling the satisfaction of my parenting abilities with out having to actually apply it to my life?

The little speech that I just gave my almost 2 yr old has been turned on me.

Nothing in this house is mine. It's all the Lord's. The Lord gives me things so that I can use them and enjoy them because He loves me, but I do not own anything. I may hold that __________, but it is not mine and if He needs to use it then I will give it to Him with a happy face.

Ok Lord, I get it. I understand.

Haggai 2:8
'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

oh my toddler...part 2


Being the mother of a toddler, there are some days when you feel like you are doing everything wrong. Nothing seems to work. Between the fits, screaming and the "mine's", you seriously start doubting your parenting abilities...or lack there of. No amount of time-outs, no reasoning, no swats, no rewards seem to be working. And when you when you put your child down for the nite you pray with them that "when he wakes up in the morning he will be a happy boy, he will have his listening ears on and that Jesus will help him to obey."

But then there are days like today...when it seems that a new light is shining upon your house. No time-outs are needed. Your child is listening and obeying ON THE FIRST REQUEST. There are no screaming fits. You take him to the grocery store without incident. In fact when you pass another mother who has a screaming toddler in her basket you smile sweetly and THANK THE LORD that for some reason that is not your child today. Other people even comment on what sweet boy you have, and you just smile and say thank you...knowing that one thing could upset this apple cart at anytime. Just keep moving and pretend like this is how it always is...like a no hitter in baseball, you just don't talk about it.

You are able to make it thru 3 stores, a visit with friends at their office and thru lunch...and your child is being practically angelic. Naptime comes and he says, "tank you mommy" as you lay him down...be still my heart.

And even now, as I hear him jumping up and down in his bed instead of napping I can't help but think how somehow he's starting to get it...or I'm starting to get the hang of this new stage we're in...or we're just starting to navigate better together.

I've been reading Bringing up Boys by James Dobson...excuse me Dr. James Dobson. And when I say I've been reading it, I mean it's going on month 4 and this book is less than 300 pages. But this is a soak it in read...not a get thru it quick so I can watch the movie read.
Seriously though, it's a must read for anyone with boys...of any age. And if you are one of my friends who is currently pregnant with a boy you will be getting this book from me as a baby gift.
You're Welcome!

This is the excerpt that has hit home with me the most so far, it's like he was spying on our house and he knew my frustrations...the phrases in (parenthesis) are my side notes, not Dr. Dobson's...
"...little boys begin to pull away from their moms during the period between fifteen and thirty-six months. Boys, even more than girls, become negative at that time and resist any efforts to corral or manage them(phew, I thought it was just me!). They say no to everything, even to things they like(ha! so true!). They run when called and scream bloody murder at bedtime. They usually respond better to fathers - but not very much."
This was music to my ears. To hear that we are not ill-equipped parents, but that this is completely normal for a little boy was exactly what I needed to read. But yet, he goes on...
"...this is a moment of opportunity for Mom. She must take charge during these delightful but challenging days of toddlerhood. Respect for her authority and leadership are rooted in this period, and opportunities that are lost will be difficult to recover later on. Just remember that boys desperately need to be supervised...and civilized, quite literally."
Dang, and I was hoping to leave all the hard stuff for Kris to do.

I remember my parents reading a lot of parenting books and marriage books growing up. I thought they were just nerdy. Come to find out they were trying to learn how to survive raising me.

I get it now.

...so blessed to have parents who were willing to survive me.
...so blessed to be able to parent this sweet boy on the good days and the hard days.
...so blessed to know that God has equipped me, even when I feel inadequate.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oh my toddler...

Sometimes as I watch the toddler tornado run through the house, I try to remember that cherub-faced baby who was so calm and so laid back...because surely this is not the same kid.

Two came early to our house...
not literally.
But you get it.

Two came at about 19 months old...he will be Two in May.

Two came with it's own opinions.
Two came with attitude.
Two came with crazy curiosity.
Two came with the need to run...EVERYWHERE.
Two says "i do it" and "NO"...alot.
Two wakes up happy most every morning.
Two wants to do everything Dada does.
Two has learned to climb (Heaven help us)
Two thinks whatever we have must have been his at one time and demands it's return immediately.
Two thinks if he has ever touched it that it then belongs to him and must never be touched by you.
Two is in time-out...often.
Two has learned how to say "I sorry".
Two gives great hugs.
Two demands and craves attention and affection from his parents.

For all the new-ness Two is bringing to our lives, we couldn't be happier. We have the priviledge of teaching him how to act in our family and in our community. That is OUR job, and we take it pretty seriously.

He is a sponge soaking up every little word, action and affection we give him.
He repeats everything!
He models everything!
He has changed the way we think, speak, drive and what we watch on TV.

When Kris and I were in youth ministry I read an article that said,(karis paraphrase)

"for all the time, energy and attention you spend on your young children and toddlers teaching them basic living skills like; the stove is hot, don't talk to strangers, hold my hand when you cross the street, etc... We should be spending double that amount of time teaching our teenagers how to become adults. Teenagers crave and want attention as much if not more than they did when they were toddlers."


That quote has stayed with me.
Kris and I saw that first-hand over our 7 yrs working with teenagers. They craved attention. And they would try to get it with good things or with bad.

Toddlers and teenagers have a lot in common.

As much as I think that having a toddler is hard, I know it will be twice as hard when he becomes a teenager. I can only imagine...the actions of a toddler with the vocabulary of a teenager.(Lord, help me!)

I guess I'm writing this blog more for future me than anything...and my promise to my future teenager. I feel like God gave us those years in youth ministry for many reasons. But one I feel was to make us better parents, and I just don't want to forget what those kids taught us.

Of the many conversations I remember with our youth, these topics came up the most:

I will not give up because I love you too much.

We will spend time with you because we love you.

We will spend time with you beacuse we want to be a big influence on your life.

We will not leave you at home alone while we go somewhere over nite or out of town...ever.

Yes, there will be consequences.

You can always tell us anything. No, we might not like it and no, it might not save you from being punished but it will be a whole lot better than when we find out from somewhere else.

Your friends are always welcome to stay for dinner.

We will be your biggest(and loudest)cheerleaders.

We will monitor your time online, your texts and any other new tech thing they have in 13 yrs. We will have all passwords and logins. You're too important to us to let you wander that world unsupervised.

You will spend a lot of time with your Dad.

There are very few things in your life that can not be taken away as a result of stupidity. Most of the things you "own" were given to you because we love you. Things I will never deprive you of: food, shelter, clothing, a mattress...oh and LOVE!

I will listen. Tell me about your day, your friends, your problems. I will not offer advise unless you ask. I will just listen.

Ask us questions. We will answer honestly. No matter what.

We may or may not embarress you...alot.


So...to future Karis, mother of Hank...and other children...
Don't give up.
Stay in the game.
Take the time.
Fight the good fight.
Finish strong.
Pray him thru it.

He's a good boy, he's just learning how to be an adult. He's learning from watching his parents.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas in rewind

We finally got all our Christmas stuff out of the attic. We've been debating what to do with the tree now that we have a full-blown toddler on our hands...especially a toddler that sees anything round-ish as a ball and proceeds to throw it. We had the thought that maybe if he helped put things on the tree and we praised him for leaving them there that maybe that would help...we'll see how this goes. I'll keep you posted.

When we took Christmas down last year it was...heavy for me. That's the only word I can use to describe it. As I packed away his 'Baby's first Christmas' ornament, his picture with Santa and other things I couldn't help but feel that finding these things again the next year would either be fun and joyful, or emotional and hard.

It was the not knowing that weighed me down...the complete and utter vacant future...atleast what I thought looked vacant.

Even though I knew Who held my tomorrows, and I knew that same Being had led us to foster care for the good of the children not necessarily for the good of Kris & Karis...it's the trusting that HIS plan is greater than mine that I hadn't quite grasped yet. What if's consumed my thoughts and paralyzed my actions. I remember living moment to moment...breathing in every second with him...knowing that next Christmas would be completely different, with or without him.

So this year there was one thing that I had to find in those boxes of stuff. The one thing that was my favorite thing from last year, the thing I had thought about all of this year. The one thing that we had made last year that I had the hardest time packing away and the one thing that I knew would be the hardest to unpack if he wasn't with us this year.

his little hand print.

It's still emotional for me to think about. But that little chubby hand print, frozen in time in that white plaster stuff was the first thing I had to find this year. We had all made it together. It took both of us to hold him still and press that little hand into the goo. The first time he giggled and curled his hand into a fist, so we had to smooth it out and start over. I carved his name and the date on the side. And when it dried we tied a festive ribbon thru it and added a bell and hung in on the mantle.

My favorite thing.

More than my nativity.
More than my super cool star tree topper.
More than my Waterford Crystal ornament.

I took it out and showed it to Hank. He sat in my lap and put his hand over the mold and I told him how we made it. I'm not sure he really grasped the concept, but I think he knew it was special.

Every Christmas this will be a sweet and simple reminder of how small my plans are and how BIG my God is.

Thank you Lord for this baby and for Your baby who came to save the world. Your plans are so much better than mine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

court room play by play


A month over due...but better late than never is kind of a theme for my life. ha! For those of you who couldn't be in the courtroom here is your play-by-play. Enjoy!


It was like a wedding.

The amount of preparation. The nerves. The family and friends. The new clothes. The photographer. The planning.


I was jittery. Past anxious, past excited...just jittery.


We missed our exit due to construction and had to u-turn and find it coming from the other direction. (I think Kris was jittery too) When I get nervous/anxious I tend to fidgit, tap on things, ask questions and apply lip gloss over and over again. When Kris gets nervous he gets quiet and speaks in quick short answers. Yeah, we're a great pair.




I remember wanting to sprint up the steps of the courthouse, burst thru the doors and announce to all the people waiting in line at security "Today is our adoption day!". (very monica-esque for you Friends devotees, except without the whole tripping and falling bit.)
I didn't do it, but I sure wanted to.


Our case was put at the beginning of the docket for the day. And since our group was so big they asked us to wait outside until the judge was ready. After we walked in, they allowed our whole group to stand behind us in front of the judge.


I started crying right as we got up to the table. Of course. (Thank you Maybelline for your waterproof mascara.)



The judge looked at everyone and said, "are you all adopting this child?" and because they are awesome, our group all said "Yes!" I love you guys!

He then followed that up with "this is a good way to start off the day. Adoptions are the only good thing that happens in a courthouse."

Hank was wiggly. He wanted mama, wanted dada, wanted crackers, wanted milk. But overall he did really well for a toddler.

This judge took his time. Looked through the file, asked questions and asked for paperwork. I was just praying that it was all there.


He asked our lawyer questions and asked Hank's workers questions. They all stated that they felt this was the best placement for this child. I finally breathed, for I think the first time in 15 months.




The judge approved the name change and the adoption and said "if this child turns out half as well as another man, Steve Jobs, who was also adopted. Then we will all be in good shape."



And there it was. Done. He's ours. Everyone cheered and cried. And we all hugged.



Perfect moment.

Everyone asks the same question now. "So are you so relieved it's done?" And at first I didn't know how to explain what I was feeling, so I just said yes. But I realize that relief isn't the right word for it.


It's validation.

We have finally been validated, stamped and approved.

What we have been feeling for this child since day one has finally been recognized and counted as real.


Up to this point we have been a holding place for this child until a more suitable placement was found. All the while we were jumping up and down, waving our arms wildly yelling, "look at us, look at us. I think we could be suitable. My mom thinks I'm suitable. We already love him, could you consider us."


Through this whole process it has just really brought home for me the picture of God's relationship to us. I don't have to be validated before he'll accept me. I don't have to be suitable first.


He accepts me just as I am.
everyday.
in the middle of my mess.


And I am so grateful.
so humbled.

My prayer is that I will always be that way for my children. I know they will not always be perfect...and neither will I. But I hope that they will always know that even in the middle of their mess, even when I might not love their actions or their words; that they are always my child, they can always come to me with anything, my door will always be open and that I will always love them for the person they are and for the person I know they can be.







Sunday, October 2, 2011

Count down!

Dear Hank-
Happy adoption week. It feels so overwhelming to finally be saying those words. I seem to have trouble coming to grips with the fact that we are actually at this place. It all seems so surreal, I have to pinch myself a lot.

I had a hard time coming up with something to write in the month of September. I hated to miss a month(New Years resolutions and all), but I just had no more words to write other than joyful. That was and still is the best word to describe us right now. When your cup is overflowing, sometimes words just don't do it justice.

On Friday we will change your name. You will be a Jones. I'm hoping that I don't turn into a blubbering mess in the court room, but be prepared that I probably will. We'll have video.

I hope you know that this blog is my love letter to you.
The good, bad and ugly.
It's my fight, my struggle, my tears, my heart and my love.

But I've come to terms with the fact that Love isn't always beautiful. Sometimes Love is hard and sometimes you have to fight for it. But Love is always worth it.

Someday I'll give you these pages. This thing that I started as something to keep friends and family updated on you and the status of your case turned into something very personal and theraputic. I hope you will read it and discover how beautifully God orchestrated your life. I also want you to know our heart and know how much you are loved.

I made these 'Wishes for Hank' cards for your adoption party. I'm hoping to make a book of them for you after everyone has filled them out.
Something else for you to read someday...

So here is mine:

I hope you learn... to be adventerous. There is a big world outside, and it's just waiting for you to rock it.

I hope you aren't afraid... to be different. Be a Joshua, be a Caleb, be a Daniel. Be someone that's different not to rebel, but b/c it's right.

I hope you love... Jesus, your momma!, to laugh, to be silly, to go to ballgames. I hope you love life.

I hope you get... your daddy's math skills b/c he's soo much better at it than me!

I hope you laugh... all the time b/c your laugh can light up a room.

I hope you never forget... that God has such HUGE plans for your life, and that we love you more today than yesterday.

I hope you become... the kid who includes the guy who sits alone at lunch. The kind of person who stands up for people who are being mis-treated, hurt or abused.

I hope you ignore... people who say "you can't." (except if you're grounded don't ignore that.)

I hope you respect... authority.

I hope you grow... into a man with a calm mind, a sweet spirit, and a heart that loves the Lord.

Those are my wishes for you my sweet boy. Someday you might look at me and roll your eyes at this b/c it's soo cheesy. But you'll never have to wonder how we feel about you.

You are a dream come true.
An answered prayer.
A living miracle.

I found this little verse, it seems fitting for this week:
This is the start of your sweet little story, the part where your page meets mine.
No matter where your tale takes you tomorrow our story will always read LOVE.