Monday, April 6, 2015

Photos or the lack there of...

I've been asked several times in recent months why we don't put our kids names and photos on the internet...

I, forever mom, am particularly sensitive.
I will post pictures of the back of the kids or of their feet, but not their faces. I'm also careful to post stories about them.

After reading this blog entry, Forever Dad said it sounded a little preachy. He is right. It is. I also believe that someone could write a blog entry on the exact same topic. I understand why people post pictures of their kids online... their kids are adorable. In addition to having adorable kids, most of the time, parents are telling their own story, and their kids are part of it. Sometimes, they post for out of town family and friends to keep updated on their life. Believe me... I get it. Several times, I've thought about just ditching the whole thing and posting their pictures... especially when I have a particular cute one.

Part of the reason I don't post is because our kids have hard stuff in their past. We are unpacking that. For us, our kids need to be able to trust us and not constantly worried about what mom or dad is putting on the internet.

1.On the rare occurrence that I post a picture or a story on Facebook or Instagram, there is a 100% chance that someone my kids do not know will try to strike up a conversation with them about the random thing I posted. It is the most natural and easy thing to do. I do the exact same things with my friends kids. "Hey, I saw you won the soccer tournament! Way to go!", "Hey, I saw a picture of you and your dad snuggling yesterday...", or "Hey, how was your trip to the beach!". All of these are harmless conversations but it goes to show that if I post every time my kids to something kid-like, the conversations could be really bad and potentially traumatizing for my kids... "Hey, I saw you haven't done your homework...", "Hey, I saw a picture of that super embarrassing thing your mom posted" or "Hey, sorry you peed everywhere last night, your mom sure had a lot of laundry to do". It feels so "Big Brother" to them. Also, those aren't conversations that are appropriate to have with small kids, so I don't put the story on social media. It really isn't fair to them. Also, I have a pre-teen. He is super sensitive about what people know about him, so I am protective for him.

2. I don't want any pictures of me from 9-14 posted online for anyone to see. EVER! If I do post pictures, I almost always ask their permission.

3. The internet is permanent. As cute as our little kids are, their future employer will be able to see what I've posted for the last 15 years of their lives. I don't want my kid to have to explain every nugget of their online presence.

4. With ever-changing privacy settings, I will never be able to tell who is posting pictures of my children online or where that image may get used.


5. My almost 13 year old is currently obsessed with fame and being famous. Putting photos of him online and having people like it would only add to an ego problem he doesn't need right now. He got such a trip and was so obsessed with the number of likes he got from the 14 hours he had an instagram account, it had to go. It was unhealthy and he was allowing the value of his self worth to be determined by other peoples clicks. I want his value to come from the Lord. I want him to find his self worth in helping others, in doing good and following God... not from likes.


Now, if you are still curious... My kids are TOTALLY adorable. I'm happy to email photos or even send some prints to your local Walgreens for pick up if you want to see photos of their faces.
My kids are really amazing and I'd love to tell stories they will just have to happen in a more old fashioned way.

If you are a picture poster... keep posting pictures. I like seeing you. As for me, I'll keep perfecting the back of the head shot,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Transition - one year

Today, Forever Dad and I closed on a new home here in North Alabama. It was also the big boys last day at their school.
(Ask us about how God provided this house for us and how we closed in 2 weeks) 

Tomorrow will mark one year of the day we flew to Poland. 

Sunday, Forever Dad flies to Germany for a work trip, and the rest of us are going to the beach (for 3 days).

Monday begins a week long fall break from school.

Tuesday will mark one year of the day we met our children and the beginning of our two week stay with our foster family. 

Friday, Forever Dad will take a train from Berlin to Gorzow to visit our kids' foster family exactly one year later. 

Monday, the big boys start at their new school. I will drive everyone the 25 minutes to their new school, drive back to drop the littles off at their school, go to our old home to pack and clean and repeat in the afternoon in reverse order.

Tuesday night, Forever Dad gets home. Praise God.

Saturday, we move into our new home.

The following weeks, we will be preparing our old home to be rented. P.S. If you know anyone wanting to rent a 4 bedroom home, we will have one to rent in November/December. :-)


Goodbye adorable home with a great yard!
Hello adorable home with lots of space!
Is anyone else overwhelmed? haha





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Friend Pam

I have been sitting on this blog post for several weeks. 

Shortly after my preacher retired, my pastor retired.

Pam has been ministering to people and families at our church for over 20 years. She was the first person I met at our church. By the time I joined 6 and a half years ago, she had moved into the position of Minister to Young and Median Adults. 

She poured her heart and soul into this passion.

Now she is moving on. Specifically, to the beach for a few months. 

I could write for weeks on the memories I have with her, what she means to me, or the life I want for her from now on. 

I think these photos might do just that... Oh Pam.






Most of these memories are happy and lovely, but some of them are hard. 

That is the beauty of our friendship. We do hard things. 

I remember times I said hurtful things.

I remember how we were important enough to each other to forgive.

She loved me enough to forgive me.

She loves me enough to call me a friend.

She is lovely.

She is honest.

She is kind.

She laughs.

She is my friend.

She has been Christ to me. 

Happy Dolphin Watching, Pam. 

I love you.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To Papa John

Today was a hard day for me... 

Today was the retirement celebration of my friend and pastor, Pam.
Tomorrow, I will post about my my lovely friend and what she has meant to me over the last 7 years. Tomorrow is her last official day of work.

Today was also hard for us because, today would have been my father-in-law's 66th birthday. 

This was his first birthday since he died back in October. 


Here he is with Aunt B!

Papa John was a loving and passionate man. He would set his mind to something and work at it until he met his goal, or had thoroughly fleshed out all possibilities of meeting that goal.


He was always so proud of his kids.

I don't know much about his early life, but he had several fun jobs. He worked in the studio recording business. He was in the U.S. Navy. In my opinion, the most fun job he held, was that of pilot. He learned to fly in the Navy, then became a private pilot. 

Here he is as a little chap in boy scouts. Second from the left.

It makes me sad to think that he never got to meet our kids face to face. Luckily, we got to Skype with him a few times while we were in Poland and he got to see the kids. He loved our kids.

The greatest gift he gave me was my husband. CC (Forever Dad's Mom) and Papa John raised the best man. He is my better half and a man of dignity. He has kept me sane throughout our transition home. He is a wise and patient man. A very patient man. Even though I have not been the easiest person to live with, he still loves me. I have to believe that is a testament to his upbringing. 
  


We miss you Papa John. Thank you for your love.
Happy Birthday.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Benediction

Just over a year ago, Forever Dad and I sat in our Senior Pastor's office to discuss how one makes life changing decisions. It was just after Mother's Day of 2013 and we had seen a photo of what are now our four children. We were in much prayer about the path to take. We were unsure if we were to pursue these children, or remain on the path to adopt two from Hungary. 

The decision became solely a spiritual one. We were certain that we could handle having four children, we just weren't sure if these were our children. We could not decide if the bigger journey was adopting these children, or remaining faithful to our unknown children in Hungary. We all know the answer to that question now, but during those few weeks of soul searching, Forever Dad and I were really questioning. 

We were really secretive and private about our decision and only shared our heart with a handful of people. A few we shared with because we knew they would pray with us. We talked with a couple at our church that had to make the same decision, continue to pursue an international adoption, or adopt a precious domestic toddler. How do you choose? How do you know God's plan? How can you be sure?

These wise friends advised us to pray and fast, and to talk to our Pastor. As we sat in Dr. Hull's office, we did so coming off a time of fasting and prayer. I'll never forget the look on his sweet face when we told him that we were asking for wisdom on adopting FOUR children. It was a look of genuine excitement, joy and shock. What a tender moment for me. 

Dr. Hull shared his final words with our congregation today. He is retiring and following his sweet wife, Jane, into ministry in Georgia. Perhaps, I should say, he has retired.

As this year has become the year of transition for our family, we are still not quite settled, as our preacher leaves. He has been the only preacher our children have known. When we came here, Jane was the Interim Children's Minister and was the first to minister to our sweet children. She has loved my children well. What an amazing call she has followed with us.

She has waited so patiently for God to complete the calling and inspiration He put in her heart years ago. We have walked a similar waiting as he put the desire for our children in our hearts but had to wait for a completeness in bringing them home. Today, both of our callings have officially come to fruition and we begin to walk into areas that are brand new to both of us. Blessings and peace on you Mrs. Jane. Thanking God for you today.

Today we celebrated their ministry and his retirement.


Today, during the children's time, I had the opportunity to sit next to him with my precious daughter in my lap. I had a weepy moment as I realized that this is the last time I will sit next to him during worship. 
The children gave Dr. Hull a benediction too.  "Go in peace. God will be the bond between you and us."


Today we shared communion also. Here is God's man breaking bread for us one last time. It has been our joy to have you as our pastor. Thank you for giving us the spiritual bread that has sustained our church for the last 12 years and for our family for the last 7 years.


Unfortunately/Fortunately I will be weeping over a new transition in our church. Whereas, our Senior Pastor is retiring this week, in just 3 weeks, MY pastor will also be retiring. The minister to young and median adults is moving into a new season of life. On that day, I will say congratulations and good-bye to my friend, Pam. What a bittersweet time in our church. There will be a blubbery blog that day too...

It fits with the theme of the year... transition and change.

Dr. Hull and Mrs. Jane, go in peace. God will be the bond between you and us.





Friday, May 16, 2014

You can help!

The adoption world is bigger than I can ever know, but we all feel like part of the same family. With that said, let me introduce you to the story of the Edmunds family... 


They have 2 sons stuck in Ghana, Joseph and Askia. Over a year ago, they paid an attorney in Ghana $6,000 to submit paperwork to the courts to get a court date. This lawyer was paid in full. They have been waiting for a year for their court date.

This week they learned that he NEVER submitted the paperwork.

Joseph will be 16 on July 2nd. At 16, he will age out. Time is of the essence.

They have found a new attorney who has promised to submit the needed paperwork A.S.A.P.; however, they need an additional $6000 this week in order to have enough time to get everything completed. They have raised $2,778 as of right now.

Could you imagine only being $3,222 away from bringing your TWO TEENAGE sons home and having time run out. Her son, Askia wrote this note to her recently:

"mum some times i think i should cry because i dont know my light and right i dont when i am going to be with u forvere and i cry everyday de one i think about, its a long to see him and i think some times i lose hope God because mission inposible if i will never be to (usa)and i see u and de family my mind tells me that i have found what i want in my life may lord be with u. be with family, take u to highiet level love u mum"

"I don't know when I'm going to be with you forever..."

Could you help make Andrea's Mother's day week complete by helping fund their paperwork?

Here is their blog:
http://afamilyfaiththatworks.blogspot.com/

Here is the family's funding page:
http://www.gofundme.com/93nnwg

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

To work... or not to work

In September, my school system was gracious enough to grant me the rest of the school year off work to transition our children into our family In the last month, I have had to decide if I am going back to work or not in the fall.

This decision has proven to be more difficult than I imagined from the beginning. First of all, I love teaching. I love educating and I love working with the Deaf community. On the other hand, my family is my top priority now. 

Returning to work would mean a return to normalcy, a break from parenting and reuniting with my amazing co-workers. It would also mean putting little bit in daycare less than 1 year after joining our family and hiring an after school nanny to watch the kids until I could get home.

Staying home would mean giving up my dream job and tenure. It would also mean being able to be a volunteer at my sons' school and be there to get them everyday after school. I can also keep little bit home another year before school starts. 

As an educated woman in today's society, I feel the need to work to prove my worth. I take a great amount of pride in being a Teacher of the Deaf. I take pride in working. 

We knew that one day, we wanted children and we also shared the desire for me to stay home with them. That was when we thought we would have biological children and that would be a 6-8 year time frame before the youngest would start school. Because we knew that there might be a time when we would live on one income, we have always lived on one income. Little did we know that our path would take us to these amazing children and that time frame for the littlest to start school would be more like 18 months.

When asking my counsel of wise friends, I heard two main themes... "you can always go back and try it, and if it doesn't work out, you can quit", or "you will never get these years back, you can always go back and teach later... stay home". 

If I count the years, I've missed 11, 9, 5 and 3 years of my kids lives... even though it doesn't work like this, if I add them up, that is 28 years of life that I missed out on! Why would I choose to work and miss any more of it? One point for stay home.

I've worked really hard to earn a Vanderbilt degree and even harder to be a good educator and earn tenure. I don't want to just give that up for one year at home. Little bit starts school in the fall of '15. To have to reapply for a job that may or may not be available doesn't seem right. One point for go-back-to-work.

My kids have already had lots of instability in their lives... to have a different person waiting on them when they get home doesn't seem fair. Why should I let someone else have those precious hours fresh home from school? One point for stay home.

If I'm completely honest, even though I secretly want to be a stay at home mom, I don't think I am a very good one. The ingrained belief system I function from is "If I'm not awesome at it, I don't do it.". That system doesn't work very well when you vow to love and raise 4 children. and you think you stink at it.  All this added one point to the go-back-to-work side of the pro-con list.



What to do?  What did you decide when the time came? 

The decision is different for every family. Some families have to be dual-income families. Some families want to be dual-income families. Some single parents don't have the luxury of getting to choose. 

After weeks of praying and counsel, we have decided for me to stay home. I submitted my letter of resignation to be effective May 28th.

The decision was hard and not taken lightly. I do not feel as though I'm taking an easier road, nor do I feel as though I'm taking a harder road. I understand the working mom/dad. I understand the work from home dad/mom. I understand the stay at home mom/dad. I also understand the working woman, desiring nothing more than to have a precious child/children to call her mom. 

I'm praying the next year will be glorifying to God and that I will be a good steward of my family time. I'm grateful for a supportive husband, family and friends.