Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does anybody hear her?

I missed the mark, today, and it has me troubled.

I was sitting behind a woman, this morning, in church that was broken. I've been called out on my use of the word before, so let me clarify. It was not her look that spoke to me; it was her heart. She was heavy on my mind and I couldn't make out why. I didn't know her - hadn't met her before - but her face was all I could see. I tried pushing it aside so I could worship [real noble, right?], but the Holy Spirit kept bringing it back. I finally opened my eyes and saw tears streaming down her face. I instantly heard the quiet words of Casting Crowns', Does Anybody Hear Her.

I took her in, while the loop ran through my head. She is running...A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction...Her face showed years of hardship. She is trying...But the canyon's ever widening...In the depths of her cold heart...I could tell she hadn't slept in weeks. So she sets out on another misadventure just to find...She's another two years older...And she's three more steps behind. The same pain that wracked her mind was written in the faces of her nearby husband and young girls. Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? Or does anybody even knows she's going down today? That line punched me in the gut. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

We were settling into our seats getting ready to hear the message, when I heard the Lord say, "Ask her if there's anything you can do for her." Okay. Sure. No big deal, right?

Service ends, her family gathers their things and I throw my God-given word to Ben like any totally confident, God-fearing, woman would do...."Honey, grab those people and say, 'hello'."

Yes I really did this!


I was answered with a quizzical stare and in the time it took me to halfway explain why, they were gone. My heart was pounding, hands sweating. I raced after them and threw another half answer to Ben, before I was off. While I zigzagged my way through the lobby I thought of all the things I could say. Here's where a little slap in the back of the head would have been helpful. I didn't need to think about all the things I could say. I needed to think about the one thing the Holy Spirit had asked me to say.

She was just reaching out for the lobby doors, when I breathlessly pulled myself together and mustered a weak, "Hi."

Good start, poor finish.

I don't know why...but I couldn't bring myself to ask her if there was anything I could do for her. It seemed too lame (just being honest). Too broad.

I mean, what if she thought I was creepy? Or what if she asked me to do something I couldn't do? Or what if she asked for money? I thought about playing the odds and just throwing a handful of gift cards I knew I had in my purse, at her - can't everyone's problems be solved with Starbucks, Chili's, and Barnes and Noble? I know. LAME. It all sounded a lot more helpful in my head. My bright idea stopped short as soon as I realized said purse was in the car. Darn.

Instead, I rolled with [and this was sincere], "The Lord put you on my heart and I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. We are so glad you came to church, this morning." I knew she was a visitor because she raised her hand for a visitor's card. As soon as the words left my mouth, she started to cry. She went into how her little boy had just died before Christmas and this was the first time she had left the house...Somebody knew somebody that knew the pastor (who did the funeral) which brought her to us that morning.

I hugged her. Told her how sorry I was to hear that...and how thankful I was that God had led her to Grace [the church]. We talked a bit more. I complimented her girls' long hair and watched her walk out the door.

I blew it.

The interaction wasn't cold or abrupt or awkward, but it also wasn't Spirit led.

Why did I have the better idea? Why couldn't I just ask the question I had been given?

God has asked me to say and do some pretty funky stuff that never made me flinch....I once told a suite-mate in college, after only a few weeks of knowing her, that the Lord had woken me in the middle of the night to tell her that her health concern was valid; she had an STD. I told her the next morning. [We also prayed for complete healing, which came later in the semester]. Talk about creepy! That should have made my knees shake...but I was strong. In the Lord.

Today, I failed.

The part that digs the deepest has nothing to do with the woman. Thank God, he doesn't depend on me to make his plans work. Someone else will reach out; someone else will ask the question. It's not her, I'm worried about it. It's me.

What has taken over my life that the voice of God is faint and his tasks far between? Where did my God-given confidence to walk out love disappear to?

Apart from him, I know that today's little mishap could have gone unnoticed. But I'm choosing to share it because I want the exposure. I want to be found out. I want my heavenly Father to reveal unrighteousness in me. I want to be better. I want to be more.

I love that Casting Crowns' song. Under the shadow of our steeple...With all the lost and lonely people...Searching for the hope that's tucked away in you and me...Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?

I don't ever want to be accused of not seeing. What a waste to have the hope in me stay tucked away!


I am praying for my friend, by name, tonight. Praying that whatever it is she needed from me she received from another Believer.
Praying that God will continue to use me and whisper opportunities to my heart...

I'm also praying that everyone reading this would be reminded that there is a world of lost and lonely people that need the hope of Jesus. Don't make my blunder. Listen for the voice of the Lord and see his people.

Really see them.



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I am always looking for ways to simplify and save money.

Being a full-time mom, student, and employee keeps me from living a complete Dugger-style life, but I do what I can.

Several months ago my sister and I were talking and she happened to mention a homemade laundry detergent that she had made. In complete Rebekah fashion I jumped on board (the next day) and never looked back. Detergent is one of those wildly expensive items that makes me cringe when it makes its way to the grocery list.

I have had so many real-life friends ask me for the recipe and thought maybe my bloggy friends would like it, too! It's super easy to make and the cost savings will have you asking, why didn't I do this before?

I'll give you the recipe first, before offering some final thoughts:

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups grated Bar Soap

Mix ingredients well
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load

I had to go to two different grocery stores to pick up all the ingredients. Here's a helpful hint so you're not wandering the store for hours - Borax and Washing Soda are in the same aisle as the detergent. I just bought regular white (unscented) bar soap, but you can use whatever bar soap you like best.

The only labor-intensive part to the recipe is the grating of soap. You'll need a cheese grater with large holes to accomplish that. Another helpful hint: It may seem like a good idea to use the small holes on the cheese grater - which by the way are not meant for cheese...but zesting...resist this urge. Your arm will fall off after 10 minutes and you'll immediately want to abandon the project. Stick to the big holes.

This recipe makes a lot of detergent. I have only made it about half way through mine and I've been using it for several months, plus I gave cute little glass jars of it away at Christmas. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. Formula scoopers are exactly an 1/8 cup and make the perfect detergent dispenser.

I have not experienced any mishaps or fading with the homemade detergent. Our clothes come out fresh and clean, every time. My only complaint is the lack of fabricated fresh scent. I was a strict Tide user and miss its fragrance. I continue to use fabric softener, which helps a little. The trade is more than fair, however, when you see the cost savings:

Tide = $26 = 96 loads
Which means every 3.7 loads cost $1.00

Homemade = $16
Which means every 18 loads cost $1.00

Crazy, huh?

If you can say goodbye to the yummy Tide scent, I promise, you won't be disappointed! Let me know if you end up using it and how you like it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ty's 8th Month

Our boy is growing fast. Every day I find myself asking, "Did he just fill-in-the-blank?"

I am in complete awe of how his little brain works and manipulates and investigates. It's wild. I love teaching Ty new things and to see him start to imitate and respond back makes my heart flow over. He is clicking his mouth, blowing/vibrating his tongue (not sure how else to describe that!), does the "Indian" with anything available (Ben about died when he did it with his foot), clapping, and loosely signing "more."



Ty squeals [and I mean SQUEALS] with delight when our kitty, Mr. Moo, waltzes into the room and, believe it or not, we're pretty sure he's saying "kitty." He started making a very distinct "Kh" sound this month and, twice, he's looked right at Mr. Moo and said what sounded like "kitty." It's crazy! The da-da-da and ba-ba-ba sounds have continued as well. When I try to encourage "ma-ma-mama" I'm answered with peels of laughter. Not quite sure why that's so funny.

Two definite personality traits emerged this month. Independence and sensitivity.


The boy wants to be on the move most of the time. He's no where near crawling, but does a lot of quick-rolling, lunging, and climbing. We got him a Jeep walker, this month, and he loves to walk all over the basement and is a master at maneuvering forwards and backwards. Some of my favorite Ben words, matched with precarious Ty positions, include: "Buddy, what were you hoping to accomplish by doing that?"

I love the adventurous, active spirit, but wonder about the independent streak that is emerging. Ty already wants to do things himself, particularly when it comes to food. He doesn't want Ben and I to feed him anymore. He has better ideas that involve him holding the spoon. He continues to growl and smack the table when food doesn't come fast enough (I have no idea how he remains such a little peanut).

Ty has also been displaying a deep nurturing, sensitive side. Good old nurture vs. nature. Rebekah attributes his tenderness to our loving, but I think it's a beautiful blend of both our efforts. Ty is a lover. No doubt. He loves to snuggle and cuddle. Just this month, he started leaning in for hugs. I'll talk and sing to him, while he's standing or sitting on my lap (facing me) and after a few seconds he'll dive in for hugs and then return to his playing.

Tyrus absolutely made my knees buckle, last week, when I picked him up and completely unwarranted he kissed me right on the lips. Open-mouthed, of course. I never thought I could love the boy more, until he started offering up kisses of affection. His disposition is so loving and sweet, I can't wait to see how God uses it. There is, however, another side to sensitivity that is also starting to play out. Hurt feelings. Words like, "Oh, honey, mommy didn't mean to hurt your feelings," and "Sweetheart, it's okay," are becoming parts of everyday conversation, in our home. Ty get's his feelings hurt very easily and the lip-quivering cry is noticeable. The unpredictability, however, is funny, to me. He never cries when we drop him off in the church nursery or when we leave for work in the mornings, but then I'll take his bib off after dinner and he'll randomly start crying as if I had hurt his oldest, longest friend.

The why-are-you-doing-this-to-me-mommy cry is creeping in more and more. I hope that our matter-of-fact tendency to address such situations will prevent further drama in the future, but I don't know...

We finally reached the 18 pound mark and Ty is able to wear most of his 6-9 month clothing. He's a maniac with his eating and is able to use his pincher fingers to pick up food. He is drawn to tags, buttons, zippers, and hoodie strings and finally wakes up playing and happy.

Every night, Ben and I take turns sneaking in Ty's room, for nighttime stares. My favorite moments happen when one of us catches the other "in the act." Often times we sit and hold each other, while watching our miracle boy rest.



We live in a constant state of remembering. God is good.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The New Look

Ty's finalization trumped the new blog design and I wanted to take a minute to first thank everyone who responded to my begging. I need a t-shirt that says, "It's a blogging thing." There's no other way to describe the friendships I have, with people I've never met! I get so much from this community, it's an honor to be able to give back.

That being said, Kelsey did an AMAZING job with my new blog. I'm a simple and clean kind of girl and the new digs are exactly what I was looking for.

If you are tired of the same old templates and would like a new look, please hop on over to Kreated by Kelsey. She offers affordable makeovers, starting at just $25.00! She can do simple to sophisticated, including photo and scrapbook-style headers. If you'd like to get a quote or have questions, please email: kreatedbykelsey@hotmail.com. Not only is Kelsey sweet as pie, she's quick! She whipped up my new blog in two days - incredible!

Thanks Kelsey, for giving me a blog to be proud of!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Chapter Closed

I started this process broken; defeated. My hope was but slivers of a single strand. I was ready to give up. I was ready to walk away. I would have never accepted a motherless life, but I thought I was made to try.

Yesterday, I sat back and watched a play-by-play of my own life-reel, in my head. Yesterday, Tyrus, legally, became a member of our family. Although the day, itself, changed nothing in my heart, it was an important conclusion to a very rocky, emotional, joyous love story. It was an ending that I needed to read.



I wish we could have been at court, in person, but the decision to handle our hearing via phone was made months ago in a small Colorado cabin with a newborn baby in arms. We were only thinking of going home, not when and if we'd return for the hearing, months later. Now, knowing that we are flying back to reunite with Rebekah in a few weeks, we'd have chosen differently. But it is what it is.

The director of our Colorado agency and our attorney were present, while we communicated over Ben's speaker phone. After receiveing a phone call last week about our "expired" home study (Michigan and Colorado adoption laws are very different) we freaked out that something might change - more work and money needed. We were holding our breath as Ben dialed.


video

As we waited on hold for several minutes, these were some of the images that passed through my mind...


When I think about how we started and where we've come it moves me tears. Every time.


That lifeless girl with hallow emotions is gone. I feel whole. We feel whole. This is our family.

video

The hearing itself was pretty no-nonsense, right-to-the-point. There were a couple surprises along the way, one being that Colorado does not recognize open adoption and our relationship with Rebekah is between us and left outside of the courthouse. I understand the state's reasons, it probably makes for a cleaner adoption, but it did make me feel sad for birth mothers who choose adoptive parents that don't hold to their word when it comes to openness. I'm curious to know if all states hold to the same law.

Second, the attorney motioned to change "Baby ______'s" name to Titus. We quickly stepped in with that correction. I found it comical because I happen to love the name Titus and had it on my list of baby names, but Ben wasn't a fan.

It was bizarre to hear Tyrus referred to as a baby available for adoption. In our minds he was adopted the day we left the hospital. It made us realize that our finalization was really us petitioning the court to let us keep calling him "son." When the judge declared it in Tyrus' best interest to be with us, a victory errupted in our hearts.


video

I replayed our attorney's decree of adoption, "...it will be as if you had this child in your marriage...", over and over again in my heart. I will never take away Rebekah's part of this story. Ever. But there is something healing in those words. Ben and I couldn't have our own child, but now, it's as if we did. God certainly makes all things new. [Romans 4:17] He gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

My womb may be empty, but the word mother was alive in my heart and God called it into existence.

I'm not sure I've ever felt so whole.

My heart has many cries and our heavenly Father hears them all. Yesterday, he signed his name to my greatest cry and we know our life has only just begun.


God is still moving.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick Thanks

Thank you all for being so willing to help with my site. I have several options and plan to look through everything more, this weekend. Off to finish some final details for tomorrow's big day. It's our finalization court hearing. Ty, legally becomes our son!

I'll post pictures and video, tomorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pillow Talk

The house was still; the neighborhood dark. It was that intimate calm before rhythmic breathing. Ben whispered, "Do you ever wish we could make our own baby?"

I quietly replied, "No."

"Really?"

"It honestly doesn't bother me that I can't get pregnant."

"I don't necessarily mean the pregnant part...it's more the planning. When I look at Ty I don't wish he had my genes...it's not about that...but in a few months, wouldn't it be nice if we could talk about trying for another and it could happen...just like that."

"Yes..."

It's been awhile since I've thought about infertility and how much it blows. Ben and I love being parents. I mean LOVE it. I don't know what parenthood is like on the other side, but on the adoption side, nothing is taken for granted. Ty brings us immeasurable amounts of joy and has brought so much life to our home and family. I love how his presence has changed me.

I would never have labeled myself a patient person before, but when it comes to being a mom, I have an unending supply. I love the teacher I've become and the softness I hear in my voice. Life is no longer about me and Ben and living for us. It's completely family-focused.

We were out to lunch the other day, just the three of us, and I had one of those moments. A moment where your life is so full you feel you might burst. I looked at Ben and said, "I love this." With knowing eyes, he answered, "me too."

During one of our home study interviews our case worker asked us why we wanted to be parents and she later told us our response was not typical. I'm sure the usual includes, "we're ready to start a family" or "it's time to take the next step." Our answer? We've learned to love each other more than we love ourselves and what we share is too good not to pour into someone else. It would be a waste. A waste of passion...for God, life, and each other.

We find ourselves in the same situation again. The family we've become is too great to stop here. We want to expand our tent pegs and open our hearts to all that God has for us. We want more. And I hope you hear the cry of my heart. We don't simply want more kids. We want more life. God is changing us. Stretching us. Growing us. And we want more.

That's all great to feel...but then reality sets in. We don't have another 20+ grand to spend on adoption. We also lack the energy needed to throw into this complicated process, again. And the crazy part of all my mush-mashed feelings is that I feel guilty. I feel guilty for wanting another baby, because it makes me feel greedy. How screwed up is that? What woman outside of these infertility shoes feels guilty about wanting a larger family?

It makes me mad.

Ben and I talked about how many of our friends planned (or didn't plan) for their families. And whether or not life went according to their plan, they still had babies...one right after another. No big thing. It's natural. It's what people do.

Well, except for our kind of people.

We desperately want to give Ty a brother. But, to do that it will take a whole different kind of planning.

I know I'm whining, but sometimes I just want that easy button. I want a friend to call us who knows of someone that knows of someone that is looking for adoptive parents. No agency. No chaos. Less money. We know those chances our slim and do plan to move forward in the future (once we've caught our breath), most likely in the foster care realm.

I am passionate about adoption and want to continue down this path, but in moments of weakness it's easy to cry out, Lord, I just want to experience the glory. I'm done with all the guts.