Monday, April 30, 2012

Show Ready

"Show Ready", the term in real estate used to describe a home "staged" and ready to be listed.  As a once eager listing agent, I have had the fun of sitting across the table from clients and walking them through the ins and outs of a "show ready" home.

As we put our own home on the market this past week, I found myself doing those things ... culling out clutter,  moving items from rooms to make them look larger, taking everything off the counters, fixing and repairing anything around the house that had been on the bottom of the "honey do" list for too long, touching up paint, dusting fan blades, changing air filters, and cleaning cleaning cleaning.  It's time to show the world just how perfect it is!

What's the point of a show ready house?  A staged house?  To sell it!  We want the buyer to fall in love with what they see and choose our home over the hundreds of other homes in the area.  We put away our clutter and anything that represents the real life lived inside the walls.  There is no way we'd want to show our filth, our dust and piles of laundry.   We fix everything that has broken or damaged, remove anything unwanted and then as we list the home ... we tell the whole world just how wonderful it is.  And P.S.  if you are reading this and looking for a wonderful house - ours is.  Send on that  buyer wink wink

Getting a home "Show ready" can be exhausting, but the reality is ... keeping that way is even more so.

As I put away kids shoes, toys and re-wiped the counters and checked every last room before leaving for church yesterday it made me think "hmmmm, this is sort of like my life on many levels.   I  work so hard for the world to not see my clutter, my broken pieces and my dirt.   I'm not the only one.  No --- I can spy it on many of the faces of the beautiful woman so perfectly dressed inside the walls of my church, my bible studies and small groups.  We put on a facade and let the world think we are simply *perfect*.  I mean, who would want us if we are full of clutter, unclean and are full of broken parts?   We want the world to think we are wonderful.  We want the world to "Buy into" all we have to offer.

But you know what ... being "Show ready" is exhausting!!  

Ya know, when that buyer buys this house - they're going to fill it with their clutter.  It won't look like the model home each day that it does right now.  It will get dusty.  The bathroom counters won't shine and the mirrors won't look perfect every day.  Things will break along the way that need fixing.  When the doors to that home close, life will be lived ... a life full of brokenness, ups and downs.   Why?  Because we aren't perfect.  We are sinners full of imperfections.   Their is no truth to a "Show ready" life.

Then why do we do this?

Condemnation and Judgment?  We want the world - our friends - to like us.  We think, if they really know who I am, they might not.   What if they knew all the clutter I had in my life?  Would the really want me?

But Jesus told us this,

"Do not judge or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plan in your own eye?  How do you say to your brother, "let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the plank from your brother's eye.  

Ironically, as I showed up to church on Sunday - guess what the message was.  Yep, you guessed it - There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!  HAHA.  I guess the Lord was preparing me for my lesson.  Scott, my amazing pastor talked of this very thing - judgment and condemnation.  He used that scripture above to remind us, it's not for us to judge.  There is no condemnation for those of us in Christ.

Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me FREE from the law of sin and death"

If I (yes, pointing out my own plank here) didn't judge others, then I also wouldn't worry about judgement.  I know and think that others are "judging" me, because often - gasp - I find myself doing the same.  Oh stop it!  I'm not alone.  You do it too!  You do it the minute you begin to compare yourself.  The minute you covet what another has.  The minute you grow envy because he/she has something you *think* you deserve.  So often our judgement grows from a place of envy.  So often, our judgement grows from a place where we think "our way" is the right way.
However, it comes ... there is no place for it.

Here's a wake up call!  We weren't made to be "show ready".

Show Ready is exhausting!  Let's just get back to life and living already!

Want to see my perfectly spotless home.  Hurry ... check it out.  I'm thinking by next week, my buyer's looking might find a note that says "Sorry, life happened in here today".

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Going Public

Two posts ago in my post truth be told, I briefly mentioned that many we know choose to homeschool their children on the basis of what their children may hear and learn in the Public School system.  I mentioned that for us, we actually welcome those things most run from (so we can teach and train on them while under our roof) and was one of the reasons we actually don't want to school our kids at home.  By doing so I received a few comments, e-mails etc. to the subject.  And P.S.  They weren't rude, condescending or judgmental - thank you, I so appreciate you!   But, over the past few weeks, we have encountered a few of those type scenarios and I thought I'd share a little more of what I meant and how we handle them.  Nothing big, but since I often get to glean from Homeschooling families on all the cool ideas they have, I thought I'd share a little on what life is like when your Going Public.

While I do,  I thought I'd also share a great book written by David and Kelli Pritchard called "Going Public".  The Pritchard's are parents of 8 kids whom all attended the public school system.  The book gives some great insight on how kids can not only "survive" but thrive in the public school system.   I love their ideas of how to teach solid biblical principles to encourage 3 things while your kids are swimming with the whales 1.)  Loving God with all his or her heart, 2.)  Obeying you unconditionally and 3.)  Practicing self-control.   It's a great book on how what to consider and how to be prepared for those teachable moments.

The debate of where and how to school one's children is a huge one!  Even in my own sphere of precious friends - we all do it different.  I like this!  I think we can each learn from this and from one another!  I don't think we are called to one way of education.  In fact, if I believe that if we are truly seeking the Lord's will for our lives and children then I would have to believe he is the one who places on our hearts where HE wants our children to be educated.  The question isn't where are they going, but rather ... are you listening?  But the reality is often that this decision (whatever it is)  can also lead to judgement from one another on what we think is "Right".   In all honesty, the Christian community is the worst at this and on many days I find myself thinking "if I wasn't a Christian - I don't think I'd want to be one".  We are often not inviting to our faith as we seek to point fingers at one another at "how it should be done".    This makes my stomach swirl in knots and is completely destructive to the gospel message and one of his greatest commandments "Love your neighbor as yourself".

This post isn't about any of that ... no judgement, no condemnation, no convincing you why you should do it "my way".   In fact, I read lots of blogs written from the perspective of  homeschooling families and to be honest ... I love them.  I gain lots of ideas, lots of insight and lots of tools for my own home.  Did you know - I send my kids to the public school for 7 hours a day and THEN when they arrive home, I school them as well.  I know -  crazy!   But in reality, many of the things I read from great ideas from homeschooling Mom's are things I do - every. single. day because you shared them and I thought "hey, I can do that too".  See - we can learn from one another.  In reality though, we do all home school our children - public, private or home school  ... but some just happen to be taught reading, writing and arithmetic somewhere else and by someone else than in our homes each day.  The rest is all up to us - the parents!  We are their training ground.   The problem comes when the parents aren't willing to teach and use those teachable moments wisely.  That's not the school systems fault and can happen with any education you decide to provide.

O.K. I did want to acknowledge that homeschooling Mom's are my heroes.  I just recently began working with our newest arrival home, Zebene, on "school" work each day.  Hear me now ... I have no CLUE how you do this all. the. time.  I am about to pull my hair out.  I find myself several times a day thinking "Oh dear Jesus, please don't make me ever have to homeschool all my kids".  Uh huh, that's the truth - I will run as fast as I can from the idea.  There, I said it out loud.  Even in my hesitation as I know it might garner hate e-mails or worse, the Lord saying "Oh, Cristie - never say never" and then him calling me right to it.  Oh well,  I said it anyways!  It is SO the truth!

So on to my scenarios.

First, the "blue" note arrived home yesterday.  It's that time.  My son is a 5th grader and it is time for him to see the "Growing Up For Boys" video.  Gasp!  If he's that old ... then I am REALLY OLD - I digress.  Anyways, upon reading the little blue note I noticed that I would be invited to preview this video by calling the school nurse.  Of course I would want to preview this ... you are teaching my son about male maturation.  Who wouldn't?  Well, one phone call told me different.  Upon contacting our awesome nurse, she conveyed to me that last year only one parent previewed the movie prior to sending their little cherubs off for this huge event.  She also informed me that so far ... I am the only one who has called yet.  Ugh!  No props to me ... but perhaps a little reality check that parents do need to be more involved.

Maturation videos and more.  Yes, it's a part of your school system.  Many gasp that their might be something taught that they don't agree with (ie ... abstinence vs. birth control in the upper grades).  For us, we view this as yet another opportunity to lay our foundation of how the Lord sees intimacy, our beautiful bodies, and his creations.  This video for Canyon won't be the first time he's heard these things ... No, for him, he's been having ongoing conversations with Daddy and even an awesome weekend away to discuss the all encompassing "passport to purity"  (yet another great resource to check out).
But even so, we'll be previewing that movie next week and we'll be ready and prepared to have good conversation and discussion about what he's learned.   I am so thankful that he will indeed see this video ... this week, it was our reminder that our little boy is growing up and these conversations are so important along the way!

Second scenario.

Dakota comes home from school telling me some boy has called her a "racist".  She looks at me funny and says "What is that anyways"?   One more thing we have always done in our home ... every question gets the truth and any time you hear a word at school or anywhere else, you have free reign to SAY the word to Mommy and Daddy and to ask us what it means (and we will tell you the truth!) and if it is appropriate to use.  Hmmm mmm ... we have had lots of them!   Someday remind me to tell you about a conversation we had when my son asked what a "dike" was.  P.S.  he didn't learn that at school, he read it on a bumper sticker.  It can happen - anywhere!  I also personally loved the time that Dakota informed me that someone she knew was using the "F" word.  Upon further investigation and asking, we realized that Dakota thought the "F" word was "freaking".  While used in the same context, it still sounds awful ... we were happy to let Dakota know that that wasn't the word she thought it was.

So, after some lengthy discussion of what a racist was and asking her in what context this little boy was using it, we realized he probably didn't know what it meant either.  Dakota also learned pretty quickly one thing ... she wasn't one and she was certain of that because well, after all (as she exclaimed) "my own brother is black".   This brought a great conversation about how the world sometimes sees the colors God made and how we see them through his eyes.   God created us all in his image.  Period.

Scenario three.

The kids come in from playing basketball outside with some neighborhood kids and Dakota shares that a bunch of them were using inappropriate language.  We ask what exactly they were saying only to find out that it was some pretty awful things.   This broke out into a great conversation about how we get to choose our choices and what direction in life we'll take - our integrity etc.  We talked about how you don't have to tell on your friends or even be ugly in correcting them, but by simply not joining in ... you stand apart and stand for something (someone!) they may have never known.  We also talked about how hard that might be ... swimming upstream in a current going downstream.  This conversation led into a deeper one of how they are getting to the ages that their will be harder and harder choices  to make - drugs, alcohol and peer pressure to do other things that we know are not only destructive but against God's word.   I love these moments ... I secretly pray they happen.

Scenario four.

This one happened a while ago, but I have always loved this one.  When Dakota was in Kindergarten their was a little boy who had his folder signed every single day.  It bothered Dakota to a great degree that this little guy just couldn't make good choices.  She began to pray for him every single night.

One day, Dakota arrived home telling me that this same little boy told her that "there was no God".   Dakota, at age 5 responded to this little guy with the straight up truth.  When I asked her what she said she told me this "I told him uh huh, there was a God ... it says so in Genesis 1:1.  He created heaven and earth and Adam and Even and he sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins.  If you don't believe that, you'll go to hell".  
GASP!  We still lacked some delivery on that one and some time to teach Dakota how to love others and how to share his message bathed in love and grace ... but, well, she was technically right and already willing to share her faith so perhaps we were on to something.   And to add ... she now decided she had one more way to pray for little Javon - his salvation and to know Jesus.

Going Public.  It isn't for everyone ... but it is for some.  For our family, we take each year as it comes.  We pray and seek what it is that the Lord wants for each of our children.  In the meantime, it seems we are "Going Public".  And since we are ... we're taking HIM with us!

Happy schooling ... wherever it is!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What do you think?

So one of the questions for our post placement report recently was if Z showed affection towards the family members.  Of course, in the world of adoption one of the biggest questions is "How is he transitioning"?  While we have a long way to go ... I think these are indicators that we're on the right track.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Truth be told ...

It happened.  The truth is out and now we are living with the consequences of the Great American Lie!

For almost 12 years we have enjoyed the fairy tale and fantasy of the Tooth Fairy and Santa Clause with our children.   11 years ago, I can remember having a lengthy conversation with family members about what we were going to do in our home - to Santa or not to Santa ... that is/was the question?  For me, I grew up with the fun of Christmas stockings and Santa cookies and couldn't wait to impart all that fun on my own children, and frankly, I was beyond furious when a family member brought over their child who was around two at the time (Canyon still a baby) and he was running around saying "Santa's a hoax, Santa's a hoax".  How dare they tell their child such a thing!  I so deeply feared that their decision would ruin our own family fun that it made me furious that they had taught their young child to say that.  It was definitely a source of hidden bitterness in my spirit ... little did they know.

However ...

3 kids later, our Christmas's were indeed a mix of the truth of Jesus's birthday and the created American story of the Great Santa Claus.  Our children knew the "reason for the season", we attended church to celebrate our Savior's birth, we read the bible, bought kids books and taught them all about Mary, Joseph, the Angel Gabriel and a beautiful King born in a manger who was brought to save the world.  It was beautiful.


We also filled stockings, set out cookies for Santa, enjoyed the yearly viewing of the Polar Express complete with the bells that jingle and enjoyed much of the great tradition that holds true for many children in America.  It was all good!

The same was true for the Tooth Fairy.  They lost teeth and she magically arrived in the night sometimes days later because our Tooth Fairy stinks to retrieve those pearly treasures in exchange for the going rate of $1 in the Martine home.

No Easter Bunny - that one was for sure lost on the celebration of the greatest gift of Easter - Jesus's death and resurrection.  And although Christmas brought in the mixture of our truth's and lies,  for whatever reason ... this was one fairy tale we just didn't subscribe to.  The kids did ask on occasion why the Easter Bunny didn't come to our house and the typical answer was "The Easter Bunny knows you believe in Jesus ... and knows that you know that that is what Easter is about".  Hmmmm???   A little hypocritical perhaps??

This past Christmas I read a blog post by a "Friend" in the adoption community.  I had followed Jen's adoption of her two children and although she'd never pick my face out of a crowd,  I considered her a "friend" because don't we really all want to be Jen's friend and therefore appreciated her wisdom and insight as much as I would any friend hanging out in my living room.  So, the day she posted this post, was another confirmation of us questioning just what we were really doing.    With the pending adoption of a four year old from Ethiopia, I already had found myself questioning the "American" traditions and culture that I would be soon be imparting on him and began realizing that perhaps, our emphasis on stuff, things and possibly, Santa, whom had never come to visit him (lest was he not a "good little boy"?) was something that didn't sit so well in my spirit.

But alas, Christmas was around the corner and what was done was done.  This year ... we'd do it all the same and I conceded that we'd re-visit this subject *next* year.

Well ... I guess that time has arrived.  With one little phrase, one little question, the truth has been told (to one little Martine at least).

Here's the short of how it played out ...

Dakota lost a tooth yesterday.  As she prepared for bedtime, she realized that she needed to put her tooth under her pillow.  To my surprise, however, she instead looked to me and asked "Is the tooth fairy real"?
Now, I have always told my children that they could ask me ANY question and that I would always answer them with the complete the truth.   And yes, I have had some doozy questions already to which I have proudly been brutally honest to answer.   My kids live in a fallen and broken world and attend the nearby public school ... so you can imagine with my two oldest, at almost 12 and 10 - their have been a few subjects broached.  I usually love these questions, actually.   Ironically, while most pull their children from the public school setting BECAUSE of what they might hear ... I am usually relieved to know they have heard those things under my careful watch and am quick to bring light and truth to those things through a biblical perspective.  It's one of my many reasons I don't want to home-school my children (not to mention,  my son would school me because he's so darned bright).    I want them to swim with the whales while I am the one still teaching them to swim and those are perfect opportunities to teach them a new stroke ... but that is a discussion for another place and time all together.  IE ... today isn't your day to throw daggers or judge me on that ... nor try to convince me of all the reasons you think I should be doing so.  
Anyhoo ... what that does mean, is that I am careful to always give my children a honest and forthright answer every.single.time so they keep coming to me with their questions.

So as I stood in the middle of the room, I began to hesitate.  Before I knew it, I sent Dakota to her Daddy to see what he wanted to say.  And like any good Daddy, he asked her "What did your Mommy say"?  By that point, it was obvious that we were stammering around this one and the truth needed to be revealed .... "Dakota, the tooth fairy isn't real and in fact, she is your Mommy and Daddy"

Her immediate response to her question and our answer was shared with giggles.  Dakota realizing that the few times that the tooth fairy didn't "make it to our house because she was so busy doling out money to so many other kids" was actually Mommy or Daddy just plain forgetting.  She giggled and off to bed she went.

As I approached a few minutes later, however, I found a very different reaction.   After some thought, Dakota had decided and realized the truth.  As she turned her back to me without a goodnight kiss, she said "You lied to me".

My heart sank.  She was right.

Morning came and my blue eyed beauty was still distraught.  Through her tears, she again told me that we had lied to her.  Sitting down in a conversation, she asked

"I just want to know what's real"?

It hit me in that moment, my girl was not just questioning our fantasy Santa and the Tooth Fairy ... our girl was questioning this man we called "Jesus".  I knew exactly what she was asking when she asked that questions.  She was questioning the very thing we had built the core of our family around - our faith and her relationship with Jesus and wanted to know if he too was a great big fat lie.   If Santa wasn't real ... then what else wasn't?  Am I praying to something make believe?  Have a placed my heart and given my heart to untruths?  Oh no ... she didn't say it.  But she didn't have to - I could read it all through her eyes.  My eyes filled with tears.  Living the "American way" had not only caused my child to question us, but it created space for the enemy to creep in and to leave a place for her to question HIM!

I began to weep. I can't even explain the sadness that came over Dakota.  Now hear me now, I am not condemning anyone who is choosing to enjoy the fun of Santa, the tooth fairy or anything else.  Hey - I did for 12 years.   I am definitely not one to pass judgement on another families choices ... But today, seeing my girl in tears, crushed me and was a wake up call for our family and the choices we had been making.

 Immediately I responded

"JESUS IS REAL!  Dakota, these are the truths you need to hold dear in your life ... Mommy and Daddy love and adore you AND JESUS IS REAL!  Jesus died on a cross for you.  And he did so, so that you could have eternal life with the father!  Without him, we are hopeless.  He's not only real ... but he's coming back!"  

A weight seemed to lift from my girls shoulders as we continued to discuss those things that are make believe to the the one truth she could hold forever - HIM!  And let me tell you, it felt so good to sit and share in an honest conversation ... no longer hiding behind the lies and schemes we had created so that we could keep her in a fantasy world.

We have decided that the truth that came out for one of our children today was indeed a hidden blessing.  And yes, while her imaginary world of fun being shattered might have caused some of her upset this morning, the the fact that she felt the Mommy and Daddy she trusted had lied to her and that she questioned JESUS's truth was enough for us to say no more!

So if you will, pray for us as we approach this subject with our other children.  Of course, Zebene isn't a factor in that equation and I am certain that at almost 12, Canyon knows that those things are a fantasy (though never spoken aloud).  But Maliah ... sweet Maliah at 6 will surely be devastated at the news that the big fat man in the red suit is nothing more than her Daddy, eating bites out of her peanut butter balls, drinking sips of the milk and always leaving behind a special note to tell her just how great he thought they were.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Notable firsts

For sure, the most endearing part of an older child adoption journey is seeing the world we live in through new eyes.  Every day is a blank canvas for our sweet boy.  Every day it is filled with new experiences - sometimes scary and sometimes exciting.  It has made me realize, however, all we take for granted.  The little things in our life that we often don't give a second glance.   The most priceless moments of these firsts could never all be caught through the lens, but each moment - each expression he has had is forever etched on my heart.  My sweet boy has added so much beauty and color to his blank canvas in just 9 weeks.  I am continually amazed at just how courageous he is!

The first time he met a stranger he'd call Mommy and Daddy.  The first drink of a water fountain, the first airplane ride, the first bath, the first time you hear that loud flush of a public restroom (still not a favorite ... "too woud" he says), the first time to put your hands underneath a blower in the restroom, the first time to see a swimming pool, the first time Mommy turned on a hair dryer (and he ran for his life), the first baseball game, the first time to try so many new foods, the first time fishing, the first time to see bubbles come on in a hot tub, the first bite of ice cream, the first time in a car seat, the first time to go to Sea World and see Shamu (this reaction still brings me to tears), the first time in your own bed, the first time being rocked to sleep, the first time that a Mommy kissed a boo boo ... my list could go on and on and on.   These are the moments that have led me through the hard ones.    The reality that, my sweet boy has the courage of lion to embark on all these new things with such bravery and joy!

So, this weekend ... we had two more notable firsts.

The first time our little boy went to the swimming pool - and he LOVED it!   "Zebene, ken I ... watar" he said as he pointed to the big pool as we got out.  "Wet" he told me with a big grin "Das, Zebene" (shaking his head yes - meaning he liked this a lot!).  I wish you could have heard him giggle in delight.  Doug and I just kept remarking to one another at how overwhelming that big "Bathtub" must feel to such a little boy from a world away.   What an experience for a little boy who was once terrified of the shower!

The other notable first was Z's first Easter.  While he obviously doesn't yet understand Salvation and our celebration of Jesus's resurrection, it is note worthy to think that he indeed heard the Good news this year ... and for the first time (to my knowledge), a real seed of his death/resurrection and life was presented.   It was also my reminder that no matter how hard this process has been ... it pales into comparison of my own adoption - and a savior who was beaten, bruised, despised and rejected and then hung on a cross so that I could make my way own way "home".

He also attended his first "Fergason Easter Bash".  To say there are a lot of people who attend (my SIL's house) is an understatement.  Next to your local church or neighborhood festival ... that is by far the largest egg hunt I have seen to date.  And, it seems it is becoming a growing (as in the amount) tradition for a cascarone egg fight to follow.  This year, Z was blessed with a big sister who allowed him the honor of crushing his first cascarone on her head.  Now, that is love!

It was super bright ... and poor Z was having a rough go looking into the sun.  

Some girl will sure be lucky one day ... And I'm not even biased!

Fergason Egg hunt

Lest you question if Maliah and Z get along ... this about sums them up each day

Negotiating eggs already

Got this down now!

The big kids had eggs throughout the back of the 6 acre property ... the real hunt was on!

Pretty proud of her accomplishment

First Cascarone smash!

It was also my nephew, Rood's first Easter home.  He arrived from Haiti this past summer - and turned 15 a few weeks ago.  Rood has quite a story and testimony that includes loosing his entire family in the earthquake.  He was trapped under his Mom for two days before being rescued.  All the while, he said he prayed!  He was known in the area as being a child with a "ferocious faith".  It was a great joy to know that Rood was home and able to celebrate the risen Lord this year!    

Monday, April 2, 2012

2 months forever!!!

It dawned on me today that yesterday we hit 2 months forever together.  WOW!

I should have something poetic and lovely to say ... but, I can't seem to muster anything up.   But, I  would like to re-cap a little of what my boy is doing for my own look back one day.

We are making headway and some strides in lots of areas.  For one, my sweet boy has officially figured out how to get his peddles to go on his big boy bike.  From 7 or so weeks ago when he'd look at the bike, maybe be helped/hoisted on to the seat and then just sit (because he had noooooo clue how to get the peddles to move) to today, when he could actually make movement down the street, turn while he was riding and would yell "Maya and Canyon" and try to keep up with their games.  He still needs a "poosh" to start, but we are seeing some major progress!  I also love seeing him JUMP off his bike and run as fast as he can to the curb when a car comes.  Nice job, Z.

He also will now go down a slide and has been trying to climb more on the park equipment.

His language is starting to just blossom.  Many times we can't make out what it actually is he's saying, but if you listen and give him another try ... we can usually get it.  He has a pretty thick (and precious, I will add) little Ethiopian twist to everything he says.
"Zebene ty" and "Mommy - can I - Zebene _______ (Fill in the blank with a finger point or something he may want - ie, candy, cheer - o's, color, side (outside), dink (drink), baf (bath) are frequent things I hear.  That and "Momma" ... ALL. DAY. LONG.  That prefaces anything he might want - "Momma, can I, Zebene - TB (tv)?  This would be his way of asking if he can watch TV.  When I give him a "No Tv" ... he immediately turns to "Momma, can I, Zebene musac"?

Food - yeah, we don't have any issues - the boy loves to eat and the finger swag and shrugging of the shoulders at what I am giving him has all but disappeared.  Sometimes, he'll get a little picky ... but all in all, eating too little is never a concern.  Have you seen his belly lately??  I mean - 2 pounds in 5 weeks is what my boy put on.

Sleep - Ah, this is a beautiful thing.  Thank you, Jesus.  Every night and before nap is my favorite.  He LOVES to rock in the rocking chair and sing.  These are the moments that melt away anything that might have been hard.  He usually sings right along with me until he gets good and tired.   Once I put him in bed, he's pretty good to go down and we don't ever hear a peep out of him until the next morning.  Naps are pretty good too ... except for the days I have found him playing with his stuffed animals and books instead of sleeping.  While my first gut instinct is to be frustrated that he isn't napping (because it means he's always mean later when he's tired), I am reminded that he is content and happy in his room and this is a great thing!  Indeed, we have "Felt safety" in their!  Such progress from the little boy who slept on a mattress, next to my bed - and wouldn't let me leave without crying unless he was sound asleep.

Z loves to ride his bike, play outside and read books.  He loves to zoom his car really "Fat" (fast) around the kitchen island while I'm cooking.  He loves cheerios in the morning while Mommy drinks my coffee - and please, for heavens sake - give him 2 helpings (yeah, and that goes for me too!).  He asks all day for Canyon, Dakota and Maliah and I tell him all day that they are at school.  I think his favorite moment of the day, next to Daddy's arrival is the moment they get in the car.  Maliah is his buddy and for sure, the melt my heart part of this adoption has been the relationship between the two of them.  Watching Canyon love, wrestle and dote on Z has been priceless as well.  Canyon has never been my "physical touch"kid so to see him give affection freely to him has been such a sweet spot.   Dakota is amazingly patient and sweet spirited at all times with him and I have seen such fun hints of her "mothering" side.  This too another sweet blessing along the way.

 Z loves ketchup, peanut butter and jelly, bread (dabo), fruit - namely - ee-taw-betty's (strawberries) and guacamole (like by the spoon full).  He recently added cottage cheese to his likes.  He will eat salad, green beans, and broccoli.  Ice keem is super yummy ... but please don't try and take a bite.  We don't yet like to share.  He loves "feesh" for snack (goldfish) and if you give him animal crackers - he likes to tell you what all the animals are - and bite off their legs or heads and giggle.   A few days, we have gotten "pop-pickles" - he loves those too!
Speaking of animals, he can name just about every animal in English in his book - and we're not talking just basics, we're talking Macaw, Iguana, Chinchilla, and more.  Pretty good.  The funniest animal is the "fock" (fox) - but whew - thank goodness we don't see too many of those out in public.   When Z arrived home, he was terrified of dogs.  He will now pet them - himself!  He also has gotten to go twice to see his sister ride horses.  He loves that ... and he even pet the horse and gave it a treat by hand the second time.

Two months!  It feels like a year ago that we were in Ethiopia.  I can't even put into words the past 2 months.  Full of hard, full of giggles, full of blessings, full of newness, and full of seeing the world through amazing brown eyes.  When I look back at his pictures from then, I can really see how much progress we have made - and how much he has grown.  I am beginning to see trust in those big brown eyes and a peace in his smile now that wasn't there then.   What a far cry from the little boy who was terrified to get into that van and ride away with us.  Zebene - you are the bravest little boy I know!

I know we have a long way to go still ... but as I look back, I can already see how far we have come.

Only you, Jesus!  Only you!!!

Holding my big bro's hand ... because, well, he's a super cool baseball player AND takes such great care of me

Maliah and Z - and his favorite yellow sunglasses.  Look at those little chubby cheeks - that might be one of the pounds he's put on.  ;-)

Angel baseball tournament - College Station, Texas.  Z got to come for the day - no sleepovers just yet, but we did survive TWO games on Saturday and he did great!  

Coloring with my sister - while my big sister rode a horse ... a horse, that I will now pet.  Huge progress!  

Give me a little grace, will ya?

Grace, Grace, Grace.  How many times have I heard that word in church, in my Sunday school class, or bible study?  "Give her a little Grace".  What a token Christian line.  We know our life is nothing without it - Grace.   But the question is, do I fully comprehend it?  What am I giving her anyways??

You make beautiful things out of the dust.  You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.


Each adoption journey has led me closer to understanding the heart of God.  With Maliah - I began to understand how I must make Him feel each day with my divided heart.  Through her, I learned what love abandon looks and doesn't look like.  I saw a heart divided and realized ... mine was too.  Ouch.

So, of course, he had more lessons for me to learn.  Another adoption - another doozie lesson.  Did I mention that my new motto is FOUR and no more?  The kids are great - it's the lessons that are getting to me!  Aren't we always being molded and crafted by the perfect creator?  I suppose he realized I needed a four year old to be his sculptor and show me what *grace* was.  It was time for me to understand what he's giving  - even when it isn't received well, earned, valued, or appreciated.  *Grace*

We swim each day in an ocean of it ourselves and yet, the reality is until recently,  besides my confession of the cross and my need for what he did for me on that day - I didn't really get what it looked like for me day in and day out.  I mean, what does "Give her grace" REALLY look like?

I've been figuring this one out the hard way.  People ... give HER grace, for heaven's sake!

Each day, I awake and honestly - while I don't want to seem to have a complaining spirit - I pull myself out of bed and pray that I can do this again.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  I love that precious brown boy of mine to pieces.  BUT - loving someone doesn't mean it's always easy, comfortable or convenient.

Some days, I awake and hope that Doug is sticking around long enough so I don't have to wake him too.  I hope that I can take my 3 older kids to school - without him in tow - and then I hope that when I return, he's still fast asleep.  I sneak in the door, grab my morning cup of coffee and sit - in the quiet.  And as I do, I pray.  Dear, Jesus ... more ... I need more.  More Grace, more peace, more joy, more of you.  And while I pray, I pray for my yucky heart that in it's flesh is saying "I can't do this one more day, I don't want to do this one more day.  I have no more nice in me, no more grace left in me".
Did I mention, that this is often all happening while that little brown boy is indeed awake?  I can usually hear him bouncing around in his bed.  I hear books drop to the floor and I hear his voice crying out "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy".  Never mind the fact that I am the one with him - solely - for more than 60 hours per week - caring for his every need - and yet "Daddy", he cries out.

Are you judging me yet?  "Give her grace for heaven's sake!"    

As I muster up the energy and motivation, I move towards his room and enter.  With the most cheerful and happy and loving voice I can find I say "Good morning sweet boy".  And usually, I receive one of two scenarios.

a simple stare - sometimes a smile and if it's a morning of blessings, maybe even a morning hug and kiss.

or - If I'm not so lucky -

"EMBY" he says in the most hateful voice while he cuts his eyes away from me (meaning - a firm NO) and then tells me "Daddy".
This is all his way of telling me that I was not what he hoped for.  Go away.

I just never know what I will get.

*grace* - Dear, Jesus - you better have an unlimited budget for me!  

The days that start with the latter are the days that I usually find that I need a double dose of grace.  It's those days that I am put to the real test.  Can I give as much grace as I expect in return?  

It's those days - the days that my sweet boy is acting like a royal toot (just to be honest), that I realize that if it weren't for his grace - he'd be hanging by his toenails from the door frames by now!!

I swim in an ocean of it.  Every. Single. Day.  It isn't earned.  Of course, as Easter approaches, I think about the cross - and my abundant value and appreciation of that eternal sacrifice and yet, I forget that the cross didn't end on that day.  His *grace* is extended to me Every. Single. Day when I awake with those nasty and yucky feelings.  When I am so less than perfect that in the reality ... it's only by his grace that I even GET to be this sweet boy's Mom and yet - how often do I have these feelings.

Grace - when I don't want to.  Grace - when I am frustrated.  Grace - when I want to give up.  Grace - when I just have to walk away.  Grace - when I wonder why me?  Grace - when I'm tired.  Grace - when I'm not patient.  Grace - when I have resentment.  Grace - when I just don't care.  Grace - when I don't feel like it.  Grace - when I am selfish.  Grace - when I have a pity party.  Grace - when I get angry.   Grace - when I feel ornery.  

On some days - Z wakes up and he wants nothing to do with me.  I'm sure he looks at me and thinks "Not you again".  And well to tell you the truth, on those days, I often think pretty much the same of him.  There goes that need for Grace again.  We'd be a mess together without it.
We are in full on transition, recovery and healing mode around here and well ... there is nothing pretty about that.  My sweet boy needs a ton of grace.  And I need even more to make sure we're both alive on the other end of this rainbow.

 The process of healing brokenness and an abundance of grace should go together like peanut butter and jelly.

It's a good thing then that his abundant grace overflows so much on me - that I do get through that day AND have enough for Z too!  

Aaaaaahhhh ... I get it "Give that girl some grace".  

The Lord's promises are full of his Grace.  I'm learning daily that it didn't end that day at Calvary.    We are not worthy of any of these things ... but by his grace they are given to us.  Believe me - you saw the laundry list above - I am not worthy.   I could never extend the grace that Zebene needs, if it didn't first come straight from him.

By his Grace; 

  • I am saved - John 6:47
  • I am justified - Romans 3:24
  • I am a new creation - 2 Cor. 5:17
  • I am Chosen - John 15:16
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit - (1 Cor. 6:19-20
  • God loves me (1 John 4:19
  • Nothing will separate me from the love of God.  - Rom. 8:38-39
  • His peace is available to me (Isa 26:3)
  • He will give me rest - (Heb 4:1
  • He will give me strength (Ps. 29-11)
  • I am never alone (Heb 13:5)
  • I will be safe (Prov 18:10
  • All my needs will be supplied (Phil 4:19)
  • He takes pleasure in me (Ps. 147:11)
  • I will flourish (Ps 92:12
  • All things are possible to me (Mark 9:23
  • My faith will be renewed (Isa. 40:31)
  • God cares (1 Peter 5:7)
  • He will help me (Isa 41:10
  • Everlasting joy will be my portion (Isa 51:11)
  • My patience will be rewarded (Heb 6:12)
  • Angels are watching over me (Ps. 91:11-12

© Lead us to Levi

Website Design by CoffeeShop Designs