Monday, April 22, 2013

"I'll Never Give up on Them"

This weekend we went to the grand opening of the Michigan Heart Gallery. As we listened to the welcome, the speaker asked for any kids in the audience, waiting for a family, to raise their hand. LJ's shot up in the air. I tickled his tummy and said, "LJ! Put your hand down - you have a family!"

He pointed and said, "But, mom, I want to go up there - "

The kids were lining up to tell their stories.

God is going to use our little man in big ways. LJ loves people.

I cried through the entire event.

Tristan got up and shared his story. 16 years old. 8 homes in 3 years. He graduates next year and holds out hope for a family. He talked about how he wasn't on stage to advocate for himself...but for all of his friends in the system. I nearly sobbed when he finished with, "I want to make a change in my legacy. I'm going to be a good dad. I want my kids to know...I will never give up on them."

Rachel read a poem she wrote. 17 years old. Beautiful girl. I stood to my feet when she fought her experience with these powerful words, "You can't bring me down - You can't control my destiny."

One by one, each child shared his dream. I want to be an astronaut. I want to go to Disney World. I want to go to college. I want to be hugged every night before I go to bed.

Seriously. I could barely move from my seat, I was so racked with emotion. I have to do more. We walked through the gallery as a family and took our picture next to our picture - LJ is a story of success...he found his family. Ben was mesmerized with a picture of three boys. I couldn't stop staring at a teenage girl with hair like mine.

I knew they were real. I knew their stories existed...but seeing their sweet faces and listening to their dreams, in person, lit a fire in my heart. I have to do something.

We, of course, will adopt as many kids as we can (first we have to move out of our teeny condo), but I need to do more. Start a support group? Volunteer for MARE? Advocate with Dave Thomas? I don't know what the answer is, yet, but I trust God will bring it.

At the conclusion of the presentation, the president of the Judson Center, Cameron Hosner, said, "You each have someone who is irrationally crazy about you. Help us help these kids."

 "These children are not someone else's responsibility. They are our responsibility." - DAVE THOMAS

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boo Boo Frog & Redemption

We have not completely loved the orphan spirit out of LJ, yet, but he has come such a long way in a year. Ben and I had some one-on-one time with our buddy, yesterday, that brought me to a point of teary awe. This picture was taken last March, during one of our first family outings (breakfast at IHOP).
It is such a sobering picture for me, because it depicts the inner sadness that LJ brought with him when he moved to a new home for the last time.

Ben, LJ, and I snuggled on the couch together. Tickling and giggling. I thought over the last few weeks and the amount of personality that has surfaced. For as much inward battle that he faces, LJ is an extrovert. He is so much like his daddy. He loves people and would give the shirt off his back if someone asked for it. We were at dinner the other night and as we wove through the crowd toward the bathroom, he stopped several times along the way - "Hi, my name is L_____ Jeremiah Pinchback, what is your name?", "Are you a real waiter?" and, my personal favorite, "Hi! I really like your baby."

LJ has always been quite outgoing when he's on the playground, but in the last few weeks we've noticed that his passion for people extends past his height.

Lately, every store cashier and waitress gets introduced to Ty by his brother. LJ always uses his full name and introduces Ty as "Tyrus." He gets big fan fair from his subjects and Ben always follows up with, "He's planning to run for mayor."

Tonight, my aunt and uncle stopped by to say hello and the boys were eating some crackers at the table. My uncle, jokingly, said, "Will you share one with me?" without a flinch of consideration, LJ got up from the table and took his second to last cracker and gave it to my unlce. He went back to his bowl for the last one and gave it to my aunt (she hadn't asked for one).

That's my boy's heart.

He's such a lover...such a giver.

While the three of us sat on the couch, I thought through his character traits and how much they've developed. LJ is so much like Ben, it's striking. They both speak the same love languages (touch and words of affirmation), they share the same humor, and their faithful, friendly demeanor invites others to come a little closer.

Apart from the same squishy nose, mine and LJ's sameness comes in worship. LJ is deeply affected  by music and has an acute sensitivity to the Spirit of God. Whether the music is on or not, he sings his heart out in the backseat of the car. It's one of my favorite things about him.

Our moment got a little crazy as the boys (Ben and LJ) started rough-housing on the couch and LJ got a nail to the forehead. The scratch was non-existent, but LJ asked if he could run to the freezer for our boo-boo frog. The request was silly and unneeded, but it brought tears to my eyes because it's exactly what Ty would have done. Ty is crazy particular about everything. Any sort of bump or brush sends him to the freezer for the frog. I couldn't recall a time where LJ ever needed or asked for it.

He, delicately, placed the frog on his forehead and laid, quietly, on the rug while his "injury" healed.

I thanked God for beautiful redemption. I've been taught it my whole life and hear stories of the role it plays in others' lives, but, in that moment, I experienced the knowing for myself.

God redeemed the life of my beautiful boy.

His eyes are bright, his smile genuine, and his hope for the future secure.

What a difference one year makes.

How, on earth, could we not want to do this again?

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Something you may not know about me is that I love making a home. When I can save money and/or  increase my family's health while doing it, it makes me giddy! I thought I would share some of my recent discoveries with you.

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a few years, but I made a change in my recipe that made a world of difference. I used to use whatever bar soap I could get on sale, but a friend told me to switch to Fels-Naptha. It disintegrates in the wash, completely, unlike some of the other brands I've tried. You can get everything from the same shelf, in the detergent aisle at Wal-Mart.

Laundry Detergent
12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 bars of finely grated Fels-Naptha Bar Soap (I use my food processor)

Mix ingredients well
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load
When I realized I was paying $1.50 for taco seasoning packets, with two tablespoons of seasoning that contained acid and sugar, I set on a path to find a mix that had a similar taste without the additives. We've been using it for several weeks, now, and Ben says he likes it better!!

Taco Seasoning
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp sea salt
While I was on the seasoning kick, I made our second most used mix - beef seasoning. I rub this into our beef before making a roast, shredded beef barbeque, and stew.
Beef Seasoning
1/4 cup Salt
1/4 cup Paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons Garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons Onion powder
1 1/4 tablespoons Red pepper
1 tablespoon White pepper
1 tablespoon Finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dry mustard
1 teaspoon Sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon File powder
1/4 teaspoon Ground bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon Thyme

Cleaning our bathroom showers and tub are, by far, my least favorite. Someone told me the other about this magic recipe and I couldn't believe how well it worked! You can spray your shower down and come back 30-60 minutes later to wipe it clean. It worked so well, I have been using it on everything - counters, floors, sinks, tubs, and toilets. I love it!
Magic Bathroom Cleaner
Equal parts dish soap and white vinegar (use cleaning version - it's cheaper)

Let me know if you end up using any of the recipes and what you think of them!