A Surrendered Mom

I follow a lot of exercise accounts. I love to exercise. I love moving. Exercise isn’t about making myself a “happy mom” or a “fit mom”, it’s a way of surrendering myself because I know that I am human.

While I do thoroughly enjoy exercise, that’s not why I prioritize it. I prioritize it because I know my body has limitations. I know exercising has health benefits that I want as I grow older.

Many of us want to say we make time for things (like exercise) so our kids will see a “happy mom”. I would argue what our kids need to see most is a surrendered mom.

The thing is, happiness comes and goes. Do we give our kids less of a mom in the moments we don’t feel happy? Do the children of the single moms or moms with no family around deserve a “less than” mom because she hasn’t found her time to make herself happy?

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to take care of yourself, even as a mom, maybe especially. But we can’t look for those weekends or hours to fill us enough to be a good mom.

A surrendered mom knows life will change daily, some times hourly. A surrendered mom can still find joy in a day, even though she ends that day in tears. A surrendered mom can give her kid 10 more minutes (even when it’s the last thing she wants to do) because she knows her kids won’t keep. These are characteristics kids need to see. They need to see a mom who can be long suffering, selfless, and dependable in middle of the hard days. They’ll have hard days, probably seasons, too.

If we are to “fill our cup” in order to “mom well” we must draw from a source that never runs dry.

We can mourn and be comforted like the Psalmist in Psalm 42 who said “Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation”.

The Big Picture

I love fall. I love October, but I was awake until 2 a.m. this past week praying and crying. This was also the month that #3’s sister was born. The month we drove up to Wisconsin 2 times within a few days. The month we met that brown eyed beauty then said good bye. I realized this past week that I’ve held a lot of bitterness about this situation.

$55,000. That’s how much we spent within two years for 2 adoptions. (Don’t come telling me how crazy we are. I see y’all with your Razors and boats and that’s not our thing). It wouldn’t have been possible without allllll the people that donated and bought from our fundraisers.

During the month of October this all comes to surface and is often in the forefront of my mind. This past week, however; I had some clarity given to me.

  • We adopted #3 not wanting a 4th child after her.
    -We received a call when she was 6 months old that she had a full biological sibling on the way. We knew how rare it was for adopted children to have an opportunity to end up with full biological siblings. (We were secretly hoping it would be a boy).
    -Went up to bring baby girl home with us.
    -Left Wisconsin empty handed and heavy hearted.
    -Realized we did want to add a fourth to our family after going through that. (Once the heartbreak lessened).
    -Started foster care (I think $55,000 is our limit on adoption expenses).
    -Got to love on (and still do) the sweetest, little love who needed extra attention at the beginning of his life that we were able to give him
    -Added the 4th child.

All of these steps (and years) happened because there would be a boy (yay!) born on August 2nd, 2019 who would join our family forever. If we never pursued #3’s sister we wouldn’t have wanted a 4th.

Don’t forget that just because you can’t always see God’s plan doesn’t mean there isn’t one. He sees the entire picture whereas we see only what’s in front of us.

Thorn Bearers

I think I’m a person who is pretty real with herself. In high school, a girl who didn’t like me tried telling everyone I had kankles.

A friend came up and told me, utterly appalled at the sentiment. I looked at her and said “but I do”. (Thanks family genes).

But y’all, I’m not here for this adult acne. I can’t even tell you the amount of products I’ve tried or the amount of complaints my significant other has had to listen to. (Sorry hubs)

This morning while helping the kids get ready for school, one child said “I’m not pretty”. I responded “what’s not pretty?” The child responded “my face.” (Now I know we all have our moments of insecurities so I know this isn’t abnormal).

While I was talking to my kid, I found me preaching to myself.
“Beauty is so much more than what’s on the outside.”
“You’re beautiful because God saw you just as you are and decided it was perfect.”
“YES, you ARE beautiful!” (I know you parents hear me).

While I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about his thorn in the flesh. How he was grateful for it because it caused him to depend on God more. The conversation with my little one this morning came back to me. My conversations with Tyler came back to me. We are all “thorn bearers” in one way or another.

We aren’t perfect and never will be. Some days we don’t feel beautiful. But we can still give thanks for these insecurities if they cause us to look towards God.

If everything were perfect at all times in our lives, we wouldn’t be looking towards Heaven. We wouldn’t be looking for anything outside this world. And it’s the outside source (God) that can sustain us through the hardships and insecurities. Some day, we may even count them as blessings.

Home Relationships Matter Too

These are my people.

I love the days we’re all under the same roof. At this age, being under the same roof isn’t all sunshine and roses. They bicker. They aggravate. They yell. They cry. It’s tiring, but tiring doesn’t equal bad. They’re building relationships, even while disagreeing. They’re also at the age that I have to regroup us when it gets too far. (This generally includes reorienting my own heart).

So often we give our best to those outside our home, and give the ones in it our leftovers. Remember our children are people too. Our relationship with them (and them with each other) matters too.

Character and Intent

There are times that I care WHY things happen more than the fact that they happened.

There have been several times I’ve told my kids no to something if the only reason they wanted to do it was “because everyone else is doing it”.

Why do I do this? Because intent matters. Because character matters.

-When you use your beauty only to please others, it becomes theirs.
-When you use your brain only to show off to others, it becomes theirs.
-When you put on a persona when others are there, it becomes theirs.

Someone once told me I should support all women any where because I am a woman. Now believe me, I am all about strong women being out there in the world. I hope and pray every day that I’m raising strong girls/women. But I judge people on the content of their character and intentions. Regardless of who they are.

Intentions matter. Character (I’m talking the character that shows when you’re behind closed doors and no one else is around) matters. I think we easily forget this nowadays. In a time where everything is on show for everyone (want to see what I ate for dinner tonight?), we forget that intentions matter.

What’s the funny thing about intentions and character? No one really knows them but myself, and whomever I might share that information with. But when we stop learning to discern and reflect on these we easily give other people power over our lives.

When we begin living for others, our lives become theirs. We look for acceptance where we don’t really need acceptance. We look for support where we don’t really need support. We give people way too much power over us nowadays.

I’ve always said if I can lay my head and rest easily in the fact that I stayed true to what I believe God says and what my convictions are, then I’ve done alright. How others respond is on them. That doesn’t mean I always do it right, but I keep trying. That’s what matters.

The Kids With Two Families ❤️

I think one of the best TV show scenes I’ve seen is on SOA when Jax Teller was following around a couple who (under false pretenses) was adopting his son. You see the agony in his face as he struggles with knowing his son would have a “better” life with this family. Jax’s life is filled with crime, danger, and uncertainty. He realizes this adoptive family could give more stability than he ever could, but at the same time that is his child.

Of course, this probably hits home more for me because two of our kids are adopted. I experience heartbreak looking at Jax’s face (good acting) every time I watch this scene. It also hits close to a philosophy I’ve always had with adoption. Adoption always starts from a place of brokenness. Regardless of how great you and your family are, the adopted child’s life began somewhere else.

I don’t feel like a child should ever be made to feel like they owe you a “thank you” for adopting them. While you may be more stable, they did have another family before. It’s hard when we get into the business of judging, by our own standards, what is best for that child. Is the family with more money a better parent? Or does having more patience make you a better parent for that child? What about the ones that have bigger families? It’s hard to know the degree to judge that. (I don’t agree with what our state puts children through in order to try to reunify, but that’s a talk for another time).

I am so grateful for our two adopted kids. I have no doubt they were always a part of my life’s plan as much as my two biological. Somehow when looking at my family, it’s exactly how I pictured it would look, without even knowing it yet. But I hope they know I recognize their story started from a different place, and that I’m here for that too.

Love Thy Neighbor

I’ve been cleaning stuff out today and stumbled upon the only picture I kept of our daughter’s sister (whom we affectionately refer to as Magnolia). For months after meeting her, I kept everything as it was and didn’t touch anything. Then once that time had passed (much to my now regret), I got rid of every picture and item except for this picture.

I was up until about 2 in the morning a couple nights ago, listening to sermons and crying over the division in the world, and Christians alike, over the racial problems that still exist in the world today. My eyes (and heart) were opened when we spent those couple weeks in Wisconsin. Much of our time was spent in the black and brown neighborhoods up there. I saw differences like I have never seen in my small town Kansas.

I still sometimes question why we went through what we did with Magnolia. And when I was up late that night, it came to me that maybe it’s because that experience shaped something in me that’s irreversible. It makes me sad because I feel this situation is a great opportunity to love others and have conversations. I also feel that a good discerner of a Christian heart is how much they love. “God is love, and all who live in love live in God”, after all. (I didn’t make that up, it’s from the Bible).

Then this morning I was thinking about the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke. The priest walked by a person who had been beaten and left on the road. (If you didn’t know, if someone helped a person like that in those times they would be considered unclean by cultural standards). The priest lacked compassion for this neighbor of his, even though he had all the theological training to be a priest. Then a Levite walked by, and did the same. But a Samaritan (you could say Half breed), walked by and helped him. He didn’t question what he did to get himself in that position. He didn’t pepper him with questions about his life, he just helped.

It doesn’t help the person on the road (or in the sketchy parts of town) to love them at arms length. Or to yell some Bible verses as you pass by. It’s going to get messy. It’s going to be costly.

But, according to Jesus, this was the answer when asked “who is my neighbor”. So I’m going to do the messy work…gladly. Because there’s a girl I loved the moment I saw her and while she didn’t end up being my physical child, she’s my neighbor.

That’s Life and I Can’t Deny It

When we first moved to our house, the hubs wanted to cut down all the trees and bushes surrounding our creek and pond. I convinced him otherwise, because how would my bird friends come to visit me if they had no where to stay? (Yes, I’m 80).

This morning I was feeling overwhelmed so I went out to feel the sun peeking behind the clouds and watch the different birds flying between all the branches. Then I was struck by the dirt mound to my left.

Last week we had to bury our cat, Ashley. She was hit by a car in front of our house. (I’m going to have a rant about driving the speed limit and actually stopping when you hit an animal another time). We buried her before the kids got home from school, but our girls were hysterical nonetheless.

There are a few moments of the kids crying that are burned into my mind: them crying and saying goodbye to K’s little sister (when we attempted to adopt her), my oldest son crying on the first day of school (because it takes a lot to get him emotional), and how sad my girls were when we told them about Ashley.

I want to protect them from every pain possible. But I know that it is impossible. I also believe there is pain with purpose. I told the girls to mourn Ashley. I told T and C the same when we said goodbye to K’s sister. It is good that they learn to love things and people without conditions.

I think it’s realizing this chasm in life that you start to understand it, even just a little bit. There are and will be beautiful moments throughout your life, but there will also be pain. Let them change you and cause you to grow.

Occasionally sit in the remembrance of it. Knowing it’s all a part of your story, and it can all work for good.

We’re All A Little Different

“There’s not very many black people in the world”. I was sitting out in the back yard with my youngest daughter, who is black. I looked over at her, taken aback, and said “there may not be in this town, but there are a lot of black people in the world”. We live in a small town in the Midwest. It’s safe to say it’s not very diverse.

This is something I have always been conscious of. I knew when we adopted her it was going to take a lot of intentionality to make sure she felt well represented and not separate from other people around her. One of her brothers is adopted as well and is a different race from us also, which does help some.

We read every night before bed, and last night we read a book that was based in Africa. At the end of the book, it showed real pictures of African kids and families together. Guess what? One white person was in those pictures. I told my daughter that if we went and visited there I would be the one who stood out.

My husband and I also told her how we all more than likely came from some other country in our family history. That it just depends on which part of the world you’re in, as to what race the people will be.

I hate that she has moments of questioning her value. I can’t tell you the nights I’ve spent awake worrying about this. But I also know, her skin color isn’t her entire story. I will always do everything in my power to gain knowledge to help with the racial differences , I will show her unconditional love, and she will know in this family she always belongs.

But more than where she is now, I care where she’s going to be for eternity. This is the basis on which we live. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes in this world. While my daughter’s are more visual, which causes more direct conversation about it, every one deals with it some times.

Her struggles won’t look the same as my struggles throughout life, but she belongs in this family. Because the family we will end up in eternally will be filled to the brim with different races, yet we will all be one family. For eternity, we will see and celebrate the differences in each other. I can’t wait for the day.

Integrity in Sports

My daughter had her last 2nd grade basketball game today. We played the other team from our school. This week going into it, I felt myself wanting to win more than anything. It was our home turf and I wanted to show that I was a coach who brought our kids to a higher level of basketball.

I don’t like the feeling of wanting to do something to please people, or doing something with others opinions in mind. Because of that, I spent the last week evaluating and reflecting my feelings and my whys. The root of my problem was pride.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am a competitive person. Aside from watching our kids play sports, our family spends a lot of time watching other sporting events and playing games together when we can. I also don’t think it’s bad going into a game wanting to win. But I wanted to keep in perspective that this is 2nd grade basketball. Kids genuinely get worn out of sports more and more and I think it’s because we forget that.

I also didn’t want to make their game about me. The girls can show improvement without winning. I often think character is better learned in the losses and hard times than if you are always ahead and never experience some heartbreak. Guess what? We didn’t win. Guess what else? I couldn’t have been prouder.

I’ve always told the girls to give 100%, which they did. And they did show improvement because we played the same team at the beginning of the year and the point difference was smaller.

But more than anything that involves me, basketball isn’t all I want for my girl. No sport is. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but when I take a step back and look at the big picture, I have such bigger aspirations for my baby than having a winning 2nd grade season. I want her to be someone of integrity, love, determination, grit, and learning. Sports help teach her those things. Focusing on myself doesn’t. Craving a score more than improvement doesn’t.

Living a life all about yourself, or myself in this case, actually causes you to lose yourself. If you aren’t someone of integrity, even in secret, you have a hard time knowing what you stand for or why. I want to be someone who stands for the same principles regardless of the situation. And at the end of the game, my girl had her siblings still cheering for her more than any one else, she still has our unending love, she still has her friends, and she had a calm mother who wasn’t caught up in my own issues but able to be there for hers.