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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a sweet little family of four. There was a Daddy and a stay-at-home-Mommy and a little girl and a baby boy. Life was happy and sweet and their plates were full.

The Daddy and Mommy always stayed very busy. The Daddy was climbing the career ladder at work and the Mommy stayed busy with the children and their many activities.

The little family had big dreams. They dreamed of building a big, beautiful home on the lot of their tiny 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house. They dreamed of taking their two childen on exotic, international trips every summer. They dreamed of country club memberships and educating their children at the very best private schools in Atlanta. The Mommy dreamed of upholstered furniture and custom window treatments for each room of their home. The Daddy dreamed of a lake house and early retirement and expanding his stock portfolio.

And then one night in the midst of all this dreaming the Lord gripped our hearts – both mine and Dan’s at the same time (what a blessing!). He gripped our hearts, gripped our faces in His beautiful hands and said to us… “My children, do you really think I went to the cross for THIS? For your abundance? For your comfort? For you to live in outrageous luxury in comparison to the rest of the world?

Do you think the point of your life is to make things as easy and comfortable and as fun as possible?

If so, you are missing it. You’re missing your calling and you will miss the blessings I have for you. Because this life you are dreaming of is not the Christian life – it’s just man’s invention and it’s called The American Dream.”

Dan and I were Christians then. We knew the Lord. I rose early every morning and sat on my porch to pray and read my Bible. We were active in our church and attended small group Bible studies. I even led my neighborhood Bible study. Dan and I both have read the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation. And yet I knew, even then, that something was not quite right. I had this constant feeling of tension that perhaps there was something I just wasn’t getting… I even confided the feeling to Dan one night. “Honey,” I said. “I feel like there is something I just don’t understand about living the Christian life. Somehow I think we’re off base.”

Dan felt it too, but we didn’t know what to do about these weird feelings, so we pressed on. We lived our lives like every other respectable Christian family we knew. Sure, we had a lot of stuff – but we were good people and God had obviously blessed us, right? We attended church regularly, we tithed 10% of our gross income, sometimes we even gave more. We volunteered in the community, we occasionally ventured downtown to feed the homeless, we hosted Backyard Bible Clubs at our home. And yet deep down, we knew there was more to the Christian life.

Well, 4 ½ years later from that picture taken on the beach, our family picture looks different.

We’re still in that tiny 3 bedroom, 2 bath house in Buckhead but other things have changed. Our goal is no longer how fun, how easy, how comfortable can we make our lives – but now we ask, what is God’s plan for our lives? How can we live each day for His glory, not ours?

These days our dreams are different too. We dream that one day each of the 163 million orphans in the world will have a family. We dream of restoration and redemption for each broken, hurting child in Uganda. We even dream, just a little bit, of selling everything we own -- you know, all those things that used to be so important to us, and moving to Africa one day. (At this point, we're not dreaming about that one too seriously, so don't mark my words).

If nothing else, what Dan and I have learned over the last year is this:  if you're clinging too tightly to your things, to your plans, to your comfort and convenience, to your idea of what your family should look like -- God cannot move in your life.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2, NLT
Friday, January 28, 2011

First Field Trip

Based on the title, you might think this one will (finally) be a nice, light & fluffy post. Sorry, no such luck. If you're not in the mood for a heavy one, go click on something fun like Cake Wrecks or Awkward Family Photos and have a great weekend.

For those of you who are still here, today I took the triplets (Davis, Hannah and Joseph) and Baby Cici on a little field trip. The weather has warmed up, the kids are playing so well together, we finally had a day with no doctor's appointments or other craziness and I decided it was high time for an adventure.

But where to go? With four children in tow, I needed someplace inexpensive and low key. I also needed a place that we could easily pull away from and make a quick escape, in case things went horribly awry. So we chose PetSmart. Yes, the store. It's right down the street, it's a quick outing and most importantly, it's free. They have birds and lizards and snakes and turtles and fish and bunnies and even a doggie day care. I mean, what more could you really ask for in a free field trip?

We spent at least an hour wandering around the store, laughing at the funny birds and following the fish in their tanks and marveling at the humongous great dane in the doggie day care. But eventually we made our way over to the adoption center.

At our PetSmart, this is a small, quiet room lined with cages of cats and kittens waiting to be adopted. The cages were very clean, the animals were all well fed -- but they all just seemed sad and bored. And very, very lonely. I looked down at Hannah and Joseph and the irony of this entire situation hit me like a ton of bricks. And I started to cry.

"Mommy, Mommy what's wrong?" Davis asks. "Oh, it's ok Buddy. This place just makes me sad. I feel sad for these lonely little kitties."

And I really did feel a little sad for the poor cats. But when I looked into that room what I really saw were the 163 million orphans around the world who are waiting to be adopted. Some of these children have enough food and water and a clean bed to sleep in, like the cats -- but many of them do not. That statement alone should sicken us. Orphaned animals in the United States live in better conditions than many orphaned children around the world.

But whether their physical needs are met or not, they're all hurting, they're all lonely and they are all in need of the love that can only come from a real Daddy, a real Mommy and real siblings.

Do you know the term "waiting child?" This term refers to a child who has been legally cleared for adoption. No one is on a list waiting for this child. Instead, they are waiting for you or for someone to come along. There are literally hundreds of thousands of children in the US and around the world who are classified as "waiting." Most of them are older children, special needs or sibling groups -- the ones that few people are willing to take. So like the cats at PetSmart, they're just waiting. Except they're not cats. They are CHILDREN.

God has done His part -- He's provided more than enough resources (even just to the people in the US) for every waiting child to have a home. The question is this -- how do we use those resources He's put at our disposal? Why are there so many children still waiting?
Monday, January 24, 2011

Do Try this At Home

What's that? You say you like what you've been reading on the Crazy Blog and you may want to try some of this craziness at home? No -- I'm not necessarily saying everyone should go out and adopt two children from Africa (although I'm not necessarily not saying that either).

We're all commanded to care for the widow and the orphan. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27, NLT.

The application of that verse may look different for all of us. But it's not optional. And it is serious.

There are many ways to care for the orphan. And just in case you're at a loss, below I've listed a couple of ideas to get you started.

The Cupcake Kids
If you're looking for a way to raise money and awareness for orphan causes and want to involve your children, look no further. Check out http://www.TheCupcakeKids.org/.

Support a Family in the Process of Adoption
Domestic adoption is expensive. International adoption is crazy expensive. If you're not adopting yourself, you should be supporting a family that is. If you don't know one personally, let me introduce you to my friend Chasity -- adopting not one but two precious children from Uganda. Purchasing her super cute adoption t-shirts will not only help bring home her babies but they are also offering an amazing give away that will help additional adoptive families and orphan causes. Wow!

Blog Project
My friend Lovelyn is on the brink of announcing an amazing project that will serve a serious orphan need in Africa. This opportunity will be open to anyone who follows or regularly reads her blog. Pop on over to http://www.momentswithlove.blogspot.com/, sign up as a follower and then stay tuned. You will be blessed, I promise... don't miss this one.

These are just some ideas from my own little world. There are many, many opportunties out there. If God has somehow used this little blog to stir your heart and inspire you for orphan causes, I would urge you not to wait another day to get started. There's no time like the present.
Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Owens Show!

"A couple took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells... Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: 'Look, Lord. See my shells.' That is a tragedy."
-- John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life

So it turns out that prior to our adoption, I didn't think about at all underestimated the fact that my family would look like a bit of a freak show while we're out and about town in the ATL. I honestly had no idea that my children and I would walk into stores or doctor's office waiting rooms or lunch at Chick-fil-a and that people would openly gape at us.

If you've been around for a while, you know I've done some posts on my desire to look different from the rest of the world, to stand out for Christ. One post is here. I'm too tired to go find the rest but there are more.

I guess I knew we'd look different from the average American family. We are now a bi-racial family with five children, ages 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1. Two of my children speak a fairly obscure African language. The five of them together can be a little loud and sometimes the baby is crying and I am usually not the most put-together gal in Atlanta. So, I get it. I know we're a little weird. I was prepared to be a little weird. I was not prepared to become a full-on freak show for everyone who happens to be grocery shopping at the same time as me.

Earlier this week I had no choice but to venture out to good ol' Trader Joes with all 5 kiddos. We're just minding our own business and loading up our cart. Baby is sitting happily in the cart and I have two children on either side of me. What's the big deal??

Well, practically everyone in the store was looking at us. There were people literally staring at us with their mouths hanging open and I am not kidding. When I got to the check out line, someone finally spoke. The lady in front of me had two little girls. She looked right at me and said "wow, how many children do you have??" And of course I'm irritated and I feel like saying " what's wrong with you, can you not count to 5??" But I'm a chicken so instead I smile sweetly and say "I have 5. I'm very blessed." And she says. "Wow. How old are they?" And I feel like saying "are you blind? They are obviously 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1." But I'm a chicken so I say "they are 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1. I know that sounds like a lot but we are doing really well." And she says "Wow, that's crazy. I thought I was brave by having two children." And she turns her back and that ends our conversation.

Seriously. I guess this is my new normal. Turns out that looking different for the sake of Christ is not quite as glamorous as I had imagined. And yet I wouldn't have it any other way.

So for those of you who have not yet seen the Owens Crew out on the town let me prepare you... When you see me I will not be dressed in a cute tennis outfit, my cheeks will not be flushed from my recent workout at the gym, I will probably not be showered and I will almost definitely not have make-up on. Our large family can be loud. We take up way too much space on a grocery aisle and my children will probably not be wearing beautiful smocked clothes.

But I refuse to waste my life. This is the Lord's plan for our family and we'd rather be "weird" and in His will than "normal" and not. Plus, just look at this face. Have you ever in your life seen someone so excited to visit the dentist?

I bet you've never been this excited to be in a dentist chair

This is Joseph today at his very first dental appointment ever. And no cavities! "Weird" is really growing on me. Frankly, I think more people should try it.
Monday, January 17, 2011

Livin' the Dream!

"I have a dream... that one day, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

I am so thankful for Dr. King and his willingness to step out in "radical" faith and obedience. Those acts of obedience changed the entire landscape of this country forever. Here's what "the dream" looks like today in my house:

Yes, we got into the dress up clothes today.

Speaking of "radical obedience," and on a completely different note... This is our crazy small group.

Seriously, these people are crazy in a really good way. And Dan and I love them for it. This year our group is all committing to some form of David Platt's "Radical Experiment" as outlined in his best selling book, "Radical."

There are five components to Platt's experiment:

1. Pray for the entire world
2. Read through the entire Word
3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
4. Spend your time in another context
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community

Now honestly, the second one struck me as a little out of place. I don't know... sitting down for a one-year "power-read" through the New and Old Testaments just didn't seem all that radical to me. And anyways I've already done that... the last time was about 8 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. But I love me some David Platt so I decided just to go with it and attempt the assignment anyways.

Dan and I are up to chapter 46 in Genesis and chapter 13 in Matthew and over the last few weeks, the reality of what Platt was asking his readers to do... the "radical" part of reading the entire Bible in one year, hit me right between the eyes. Platt says Christians need to read the Bible and KNOW the Bible... because "we desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical." Yikes.

Pushing through the Bible in one year may not leave much time to meditate on individual verses or to contemplate everything you've read every day... but this "power read" will give you an overall picture of God and His character. It will help you to see Him and know Him better. And boy, oh boy, it will help you discern which parts of our faith are purely American and which parts are truly biblical.

Here's a truth that REALLY struck me this week... the whole idea of being "called" to do something is not really biblical. It's American. The idea of needing to feel great peace and ease before we're willing to act for God... well, that's nice. But that's not biblical.

Because here's what I've learned this week... The Bible is CHOCK FULL of people who did things they didn't want to do, did not desire to do, things they didn't feel peaceful about -- but they did them anyways, out of pure obedience.

When Abraham walked up the mountain to sacrifice his only son Isaac, the son for whom he'd waited 100 years, he did not have a warm fuzzy feeling. He did not feel happy and "called" to do this thing. He was acting on obedience. In the New Testament, when Joseph agreed to take a pregnant woman for his wife and to be a father to a child (to adopt a child!) who was not his biological son, he was probaby not joyful or excited about this. It was an act of obedience.

MLK's story may not be one in the Bible, but he was certainly inspired by it. Dr. King was willing to stand for freedom and justice in the face of persecution, imprisonment and police brutality. Taking that stand was not easy or comfortable. I doubt MLK was joyful about going to prison for protesting -- but he acted on obedience.

May our warm, fuzzy, peaceful, happy, comfortable feelings NOT dicate the way we live our lives and be the baramometer for what God is or is not calling us to do. Sorry friends, but that's just not biblical.

But don't take my word for it. If you want to read along with our small group, we're following Ligonier's Tabletalk reading plan for 2010. I'm going to try and do a post every other week or so with some thoughts on what I've read. Dan and I would love to hear your thoughts too so please send them our way. You're also welcome to read along with us on Radical. This week we're doing chapter 3 and we will cover approximately one chapter per week over the next 6 weeks. Come on, just look at these faces... yes, we may have a few issues but don't we look like a fun group to hang out with? Read with us and email me or send us your comments!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fun, Fun, Fun... All The Time?


It's been two weeks and this precious girl has melded beautifully into our family. She's a big sister to Baby Charlotte, a little sister to Madeline, a faithful friend and great playmate to Davis and Joseph and a daughter -- a real daughter!! to Dan and me.

But here's the thing -- our Hannah seems a little confused by the American way of life. While it may be perfectly normal for young American children to wake up in the morning, hang out in their jammies, eat some breakfast, eventually get dressed and then play the day away, that pattern is sort of weird to the rest of the world, even children. Hannah enjoys playing with her brothers and sisters but she's just not comfortable with the idea of simply "hanging around" all day. She's used to working and serving and spending her day in purposeful, necessary ways with perhaps a little time for play. Here in America it's the exact opposite scenario; our children play and relax and watch cartoons and entertain themselves (or have someone entertain them) with perhaps a few light "chores" here and there. There is no water to fetch, no fields or cattle to tend to, no pan of dishes to clean, no washboard for scrubbing clothes. It's just fun, fun, fun all the time.

Hannah doesn't really want fun, fun, fun all the time. When I get out the broom, she is begging to help. After dinner, she sticks by my side until the very last crumb is wiped from the table. She loves helping with laundry and dishes and jumps at any opportunity to simply be useful. She just seems to think all the free, idle time is kind of weird.

This is just an observation, I don't really know what I'm trying to say about all this -- except that I think I am inclined to agree with little Hannah. When you think about it, this is kind of a weird way to spend so much time, and I confess that it makes me wonder what I'm really teaching my children with this typical American way of life.

One of my goals for this year is to be more intentional about the way my children spend their time. I'm all for playing and laughter and kids being kids. But I'm also for having children who understand that free time and playtime is a luxury and not a God-given right for every minute of every day.
Monday, January 10, 2011

Umm, I Don't Think We Are In Uganda Anymore

 No fist shaking or soap boxes, no heart-felt monologue about adoption or orphan advocacy in this post. It speaks for itself. We woke up this morning with nearly 7 inches of snow on the ground and the kids couldn't wait to get outside. I think the kids ate breakfast with their boots and hats on. Yes, we live in Atlanta. Yes, the one in Georgia. No, I don't know what happened to Global Warming, go ask Al Gore.

If you have a slow connection and opt to watch only one of these videos, watch the third one. It sums up the entire day. Otherwise, enjoy them all.

We warmed up by the fire, everyone had a hot bath and are now snuggled in bed - no doubt dreaming of speeding down the front yard heading toward the front porch at breakneck speed and laughing the whole way. With school out again tomorrow and none of the snow gone (and a fresh layer of ice on top of it thanks to the freezing rain) we will be back out tomorrow doing it all again.
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

Anyone who steps out in faith in a way the world views as "radical" is going to be subject to criticism. The Bible tells us we should not be surprised by such criticism -- indeed we should expect it. "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake..." Matt 10:22, ESV

Throughout this adoption journey, Dan and I faced much criticism and discouragement from Believers and non-Believers alike. By this point we've heard all of the "perfectly good reasons" not pursue adoption. We've actually even been pointed to scriptures that, when slightly twisted and taken out of context, argue against adoption. Yikes! But for Dan and me both the criticism that probably hurt the most, the one that stung us the worst was this... "what about your real children? Is it fair for you to disrupt Madeline, Davis and Charlotte's lives in this way? How could you do this to them?

You don't have to adopt to hear this kind criticism from other Believers... just take any giant step of faith and it will come...pick up your family to become an overseas missionary, move to the inner city, become a foster parent, leave your well-paying job for full-time ministry, help plant a new church. Mark my words -- people will ask you "what about your children?? Is this fair to them?"

So, what about Madeline, Davis and Charlotte? Life has gotten busy and crazy around here and there's certainly less of Mommy to go around. I mean one day this week I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and I started feeling a little weird and dizzy and I suddenly realized I'd not eaten a thing all day -- it was 4:30 in the afternoon. We busy.

My Madeline is loving the big sister role. She is built for this, she's perfect for it. She's right there with me handing out snacks, wiping noses, tying shoelaces. Yesterday I overheard her in the den with Davis, Joseph and Hannah. There was some dispute over a toy and Madeline was directing the younger ones to share, take turns, etc. I started to walk in and take over but honestly, I had nothing to add to her words because she'd handled it exactly as I would have. She's doing great and loving it.

Baby Charlotte is fine. She is refeshingly indifferent and unchanged by the events of the last few weeks. What's that? Two new people with completely different physical features and a strange language now live in our home? OK, sounds good. I'll be playing with the stacking blocks if you need me.

But my Davis. He's struggling. He's the one with the most to gain -- a brother and a sister almost exactly his age. But he's also the one with the most to lose -- a brother and a sister almost exactly his age who love all his toys, his books, his bike, his leapfrog pad... not to mention his Daddy and his Mommy. I'm homeschooling Davis this year so prior to this week, he and Baby Charlotte were at home alone with me everyday. With the small interruption of our morning lessons and some very minimal chores, Davis is basically used to spending his time however he'd like. Occasionally Baby C might crawl into his room and mess up his latest legos creation or push around his cars but for the most part, no one messes with his stuff. During the day I am available to Davis pretty much anytime he "needs" anything. And he never has to wait in line for anything.

And in the blink of an eye his whole little world changed. Sure he has a new brother and sister and when playtime rolls around, that's fun. Otherwise, that's a lot of compromise. It's a lot of sharing and waiting and an incredible exercise in self-control and patience.

So you ask me -- is this fair to Davis?

Well... is it fair NOT to give him an opportunity to learn to share his toys? To teach him to wait in line at the kitchen sink to wash his hands? To ask him to help Joseph put on his coat and buckle his seatbelt everytime we leave the house? To help him understand that everything can't always be about him and that sometimes our days are just plain hard? Frankly, I think it would be terribly UNfair for Dan and me not to teach Davis these lessons.

Plus, I don't think it'll take long for him to see that having a brother far outweighs having a bunch of stuff. I mean come on...

We can talk to our children about the gospel until we're blue in the face -- or we can give them opportunities to live the gospel. Take one of those giant steps of faith and don't mind the criticism -- actually, embrace it! For that means you're on the right track. "Not everyone who calls out to me 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in Heaven will enter. Matt 7:21, NLT (emphasis mine).
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Naked Truth

"After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers." -- Genesis 9:20-22 NLT

When I first became a Christian, I was fascinated by this passage. I mean let's break this down... God has decided that the entire human race is wicked "and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all of the time." In response, He is going to wipe out every living thing on the Earth except for Noah (and as a bonus, Noah's family). And I'm thinking "wow!! Imagine being the most favored person on the planet. Imagine being the ONLY person on Earth that God will spare from this catastrophic event. This Noah dude must be a seriously righteous guy."

And just as God said it would, the flood comes. And with the exception of Noah and the fam every living thing is destroyed. And after the flood Noah comes out of the ark and makes a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord and everyone is happy and moves on, right? Nope. The next thing that happens in Genesis 9 is crazy... in this very next account Noah, the most favored man on Earth, is drunk and running around naked in front of his children. WHAT??? This is the most righteous guy on Earth? This is the only dude worth saving?

It took me some growing up in my faith but I finally came to realize that God did not save Noah because he was good -- he saved Noah because he was faithful. Because Noah, flawed and sinful as he was, loved the Lord with all his heart and trusted that one day he would send the promised Messiah. That's it. Saved by faith alone.

WAY, way too often lately I've heard comments along these lines... "Shelly, we are so in awe of you and your family and your adoption. You are such an amazing/incredible/inspiring [insert other adjective of your choice] family." And I can promise y'all that we are not. We are just like any other family. I am often impatient and selfish. I'm sometimes lazy. When I'm tired and cranky and stressed I can even be downright mean. I may not get drunk and run around naked in front of my children but I'm every bit as imperfect as Noah. And yet, in His mercy and grace the Lord is able to use me anyways. He can use you too if you'll allow Him.

Y'all have probably heard it before... God is not looking for ability. He's looking for availability.

I promise that you could spend 15 minutes in my home and easily discern that I am not some kind of super-mom, ultra-Christian, Mother Teresa with an extra large heart. I'm just a regular old gal. Adoption is not for super-heroes, it's not reseved for those who are specifically "called"... it's just for anyone who's willing.

So for those who think I might be this super-mom, Mother Teresa lady, let me let y'all in on a little secret...

That's not me in the middle of this pic. I am the taker of the picture. That's Maggie. Or as my new ones call her... "MahGHEE!!!" Oh, Maggie. She is the baby/child whisperer. She typically sits for me once or twice a week and my children ADORE her. This month.. she's sitting every day. Yep. Every, single, day.

For now I have someone coming to clean my house every other week (yes I know I advocate against this service on my very own "tips" page on the corner of our blog... but desperate times call for desperate measures), I have a friend grocery shopping for me tomorrow and I think I have someone bringing me a meal every night this week. We're busy. We're crazy around here. But we're ok because we have so many friends willing to hold up our arms. Not because we're awesome. Bless y'all! 
Monday, January 3, 2011

First Full Day Was Full

Whoa Nelly. It was some day. Today our "new reality" kicked in. Dan had to go back to work. Madeline's Christmas break was over and she had to go to school. Hannah and Joseph had to the hit the pediatrician's office to start their full medical work-up at 8am (thank you Doc Roe for rearranging yoru schedule and fitting us in!)

These past few days have been filled with joy and sweetness and craziness and frustration galore. I don't think I've ever experienced such a range of emotion in all my life. And I've been pregnant three times.

We have been delighted to watch Hannah and Joseph begin to ease their way into our lives and become part of our family. Hannah adores Baby Charlotte and would rather spend time with her than do anything else -- although she is also fascinated by the vacuum cleaner and is constantly running to the broom closet and asking if we can get out the "vakoom cleena." I expected that Madeline and Hannah would be closer but so far Madeline has taken more of the big sister, protector role and Baby C is her big buddy.

Joseph and Davis have become fast friends. They are almost the same age and nearly the same size. They both have an adventurous spirit and a great love for cars, trains, trucks, swords and batman underwear. Despite the freezing temperatures, Joseph is determined to play outside with Davis as much as possible. I mean, bless this boy's heart... until this week he spent his entire life living on equator! The child didn't even know coats and scarves existed. But he is undeterred. I bundle him up and he's off. And so far I've had to drag the boys back inside when it's time.

We've had some very sweet family time, we played at the park with friends, we attended a birthday party. Yesterday we attended church for the first time as a family of 7. Tonight we taught H & J how to twirl spaghetti onto their forks and it ended up being way more fun that it should have been. And trust me when I say you have never seen two children who love bathtime more than these crazies. Overall, everyone is adjusting well and our hearts are full. Hannah and Joseph are eager to please and they're getting settled in and used to our house and our routines. But things are not perfect and it definitely has not been a walk in the park.

Today I started to feel a teensy bit sorry for myself. I'd spent the early morning at the pediatrician's office (where it took three of us to hold Hannah down for the many immunizations she received). In my life I have never seen a child so afraid and hysterical -- and because I don't speak her language, I had no words to explain what was happening or why. It was pretty awful. We have many, many doctor appointments and lab work and immunizations and medications ahead of us. We are just getting started.

My mid-morning was spent trying (and trying and trying and trying) to work through a simple homeschool lesson with Davis while I held Baby Charlotte on my lap and stopped to help Hannah or Joseph with something every minute or two. I spent a crazy amount of time refereeing Davis and Joseph while they "shared" the Buzz Lightyear bike (yes, Dan and I thought about just going out and buying another one but we decided that solution didn't really get to the heart of the issue). And Hannah, sweet Hannah...is afraid to let me out of her sight. She follows me everywhere, every room I enter she is never more than a step or two behind and is constantly saying "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy... you see?? You see?? Mommy!"

So when I sat down this afternoon to fold three more baskets of laundry, I started feeling a little sad and sorry for myself. This really only lasted a few minutes when a little thought popped into my head... prompted I'm sure by the Holy Spirt. Here's the thought: you know Shelly, if you hadn't spent your day serving Hannah and Joseph, if they weren't here for you to love and pour into and enjoy, how would you have spent your day? And I thought about this and I had to answer -- I probably would have gone to Target because I have a few things to return. I would have taken a longer shower and spent a reasonable amount of time fixing my hair and applying make-up. Davis could have played uninterrupted with his bike and all of his toys without having to share a thing with anyone else. And our entire day, sadly, would have been all about us. Instead, we are blessed to be learning something much better. Slowly, but we're learning.

Hannah helping the baby with her snack

Davis orchestrating Train Time

Who's ready for bed, raise your hand?

"4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 and because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" -- Galatians 4:4-6
Saturday, January 1, 2011

Just had to share

Oh I have so much to tell you all about. So much to share about the last few days at our home. I have many, many words of encouragement and hope for those planning to adopt or who have recently adopted. And I have a few words of caution to go along with them :-)

But ya'll will have to wait on all that. For now, I just had to share a quick story...

If you've been following our blog for a while, you've read this post. We wrote this back in July when Dan was preparing for his second trip of the year to Uganda with Sixty Feet. At that time, the Lord was just beginning to prick our hearts for adoption. Wow, we had no idea what this year would hold for us!

In the spirit of sacrificial giving, our little 4 1/2 son, Davis, had decided to give his most prized possession to Dan to take to a child in Uganda. For those of you with little boys, you know how big this is... he gave Dan his "fabulous" silver and blue Lightning McQueen outfit. This outfit was truly Davis's treasure -- he would have worn it everyday if we he had been allowed. And yet he decided, completely on his own, to give Daddy this outfit to take to a little boy in Uganda named Museveni. Davis had seen many, many pictures of little Museveni -- I suppose he felt a kindred spirit with him or something. But whatever the reason, Davis wanted little Museveni to have his outfit. And so Dan took it to Uganda and delivered this precious, sacrificial gift.

Today that little boy, Museveni, is my son. And we call him Joseph.

This morning I was finally catching up on the mountain of laundry around this place. I was just sitting in the den folding clothes, minding my own business when what should suddenly appear on the top of the pile... but the Lightning McQueen outfit. I haven't thought about that thing in so long -- and little Davis has never mentioned it once. And now the treasured outfit had made its way back to us!

May we never fear to give sacrificially and without restraint to God's kingdom. Your return may not come in the way or in the timing you expect, but it will come. Davis's gift came right back to him but with a double blessing -- this time he has a brother and sister to go along with it.

"Give and you will recieve. Your gift will return to you in full -- pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. -- Luke 6:38 NLT