Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three Weeks

It has been three weeks since we were first given the amazing gift of our three daughters. So much has happened in three weeks! I have posted far more detail on my adoption blog, which is private and password protected. If you would like an invite to that blog, let me know.

Let me just say how tremendously blessed we are! While our girls had a very rocky start to their lives, they come to us with few of the problems experienced by so many kids who have been bounced from home to home in the broken foster care system. We have not been without our bumps, but overall it is going very well. I took portraits of the girls yesterday and they are so beautiful! I wish I could share them here. But no, they come from a background that makes it far too risky. Honestly, I doubt I'll ever be able to post their photos on this blog. Just can't take the risk. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


In the midst of so many wonderful things that are happening in our family right now, there is a generous portion of grief as well.

Remember my friend Bev? The precious woman who battled leukemia for 5 years? Many of you faithfully prayed for her, and even sent cards and gifts. Bev was ushered into the presence of Jesus last week. I received the call as I was playing in the pool with my three new girls.

Grief and Joy in the same moment. How does a heart process them together? My eyes were the floodgate that released the flow.

Right now, someone who is very dear to me is waiting in the hospital to deliver a tiny baby girl. A very tiny baby girl, who died 20 weeks into the pregnancy. The induction was scheduled to begin at 9:00. It is 9:50 right now, and they have to sit and wait for nurses to become available for the induction. All the nurses are occupied assisting in other deliveries. Deliveries of healthy, full-term babies. Babies that my dear one is hearing as they cry their first cries. She will have to go through labor and delivery too, but the outcome will be silent.

Grief. My heart constricts and my eyes overflow again.

Just outside the window, my two littlest girls are joyfully playing on this warm, summer morning. I am so thankful for them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Smarty Pants Dance!

Those who live in Florida understand what a huge deal the FCAT is. For those who live outside of Florida, FCAT is the big standardized test that all students--from 3rd to 10th grade--take every year. Schools receive a grade based on how the students as a whole score on the FCAT. Teachers quake in their boots at the thought that their students might not do well. A teacher's job security can be threatened by a low scoring class. In 3rd, 8th, and 10th grades, students can be automatically retained by earning a low score on the FCAT reading test. Low performing schools teach to the test. Some schools even sacrifice spending time on non-tested subject areas in order to spend more time preparing for the FCAT. Even schools that typically score well pay special attention to prepping for the FCAT. Many kids are terrified by it. In my opinion, the whole thing is ridiculous! I fully understand why standardized testing is important. But Florida as a whole makes way too big of a deal of the FCAT.

All the same, all of my friends and I have been very curious to hear how our kids did on this test. High scores ensure placement in a higher performing block of students at school. High scores mean our kids are more likely to received extra academic challenge at school, which will help them meet their potential. The test was in April and I got Snapper's official scores today.

If you don't like a good mommy brag fest, stop reading now. However, I'll preface it with this. Snapper's intelligence is a gift from God, and that she works very hard and very faithfully for the grades she earns. I'm a proud mommy in the sense that I love to see my daughter accomplish her goals and make use of the smarts that God has given her. In no way is my identity based on her performance, and in no way does her performance increase or decrease my love for her. My pride is not the puffed up sort of pride. It is simply rejoicing in my child's big accomplishment. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her, because a mind like hers is not a common thing. I pray that she will use her intellect to bring Him glory!

That said...

Snapper earned a perfect score on this year's FCAT reading test! Can I emphasize what a HUGE DEAL this is?
And on the FCAT math test, she only missed one problem!!! Four days of testing and only one missed problem? YIKES!

Smarty Pants Dance for you!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


We are home from our trip and I am now the proud mother of four daughters and one son! Bubbles (7), Piper (6), and Sunny (4) joined our family last week! Snapper and Pepper are so excited!

Oh my goodness, how I wish I could post photos of my beautiful new girls! I want the whole world to see what a blessed mother I am!

We pulled into town last night at 11:30. The kids woke up enough to meet the kitties, get a quick tour of our home, and then they were sent back to dreamland. Today was chaos! All throughout our training, we heard stories of foster kids moving to a new home with nothing in the world but a trash bag of their few belongings. While that is the sad normal, we are so glad it isn't the case for our girls. Their only foster family was a particularly wonderful family who loved them and provided for them as if they were their own children. The girls came to us loaded down with clothing, toys, and keepsakes. Today I undertook the job of sorting and organizing it all, and trying to fit it into the room the four girls are sharing. When our lease is up next year, a larger house is going to be absolutely mandatory!

Because I'm running on fumes, I only got about halfway into the job today. I ran out of steam at around 1:15 and ordered naps for everyone. To my relief, they all fell asleep right away, except for 7-year-old Bubbles. Her feelings today were just too big for her body when she slowed down enough to be quiet and think, and some tears escaped. I pulled her out of bed and took her into the living room for some snuggle time with me in my big chair. She just kind of melted into me. I held her and let her cry for a while as I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. After the tears subsided, she wrapped her arms around my neck and held on tight. It only took about 3 minutes for her hold to loosen and her breathing to deepen and even out. I closed my eyes and felt the rhythm of her heart, smelled her hair, and memorized the way she felt all snuggled in with me. I wished I'd had the opportunity to hold her like this when she was baby. And then I opened my eyes. It was two hours later, and Sunny was fussing in my room where she had been napping. The spell was broken. I never did get myself together enough to finish unpacking and setting up the bedroom. I need a good sleep first.

If you are a praying person, I would greatly appreciate your prayers for our family over the next few months. Pray that Bubbles, Piper, and Sunny would figure out how they fit in our family, and that they would quickly feel at home with us. It is going really well already, and we would pray that it would continue this way. Pray for Snapper and Pepper as they get used to sharing their home, parents, and lives with three more sisters. And pray for Matt and me. The greatest challenge we face right now is finding the very fine balance between setting boundaries and extending grace to these kids who have been through so much in their short lives. They are precious and beautiful, and we already love them deeply. What a priceless gift they are! I want to do the very best for them. They deserve it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sweet Girls

We finally got the green light! We're heading to Arkansas on Wednesday to bring our new sweetie pie girls HOME!

I can hardly wait!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Eleven years ago yesterday, I married my best friend. We've been through a lot together.

  • Starting our new life living in a mountain cabin in Scotts Valley, CA
  • College diplomas for us both
  • Elementary school teaching careers
  • His parent's divorce
  • The birth of Snapper
  • The death of my mom
  • Having his youngest sister (age 13) live with us for a year
  • A move to a two-bedroom duplex in Campbell, CA
  • A miscarriage at 13 weeks
  • A move to a two-bedroom fourplex in San Jose, CA
  • Joining the staff of Campus Crusade and FamilyLife
  • Raising all the monthly support our family needs to live on
  • A move to a five-bedroom house in San Jose, CA
  • A miscarriage at 7 weeks
  • A move to a one-bedroom cottage in Aptos, CA
  • Buying our first house in Little Rock, AR
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family and moving to Little Rock
  • Starting a new job with FamilyLife
  • The birth of Pepper
  • 4 1/2 wonderful years in Little Rock
  • A miscarriage at 8 weeks
  • My birthmom's breast cancer diagnosis
  • A miscarriage at 7 weeks
  • Having Matt's youngest sister (age 18 and 19) live with us for two years
  • Reuniting with our friend Bev, and being involved with her as she fights leukemia
  • Accepting a job with Bright Media/Campus Crusade in Orlando, FL
  • Selling our house
  • A six-week, cross country road trip during the lapse between selling our house and the start of our new lease
  • A move to Orlando, FL
  • One very miserable year of adjustment to Florida
  • Starting our new job with Bright Media, which is not miserable!
  • A move to Oviedo, FL
  • Making the choice to adopt a child or two children from foster care
  • A big surprise pregnancy and miscarriage at six weeks
  • Being matched with three sisters
  • Preparing to adopt those three sisters
  • Countless miles of work-related travel
  • Many fun visits with friends and family 
  • Laughter by the ton
  • A few gallons of tears
  • Swim meets and track meets
  • Choir concerts and pre-k parties
  • ER visits
  • Diamond mining and wildlife photography
  • Disc golf and scrapbooking
  • Puppets and children's ministry
  • Three NASCAR races at the track and hundreds on the television
  • An amazing circle of friends all over the country
  • A loving family who we manage to stay pretty close to across the miles
  • A God who is completely faithful
It has been an amazing 11 years, and I am excited for the many more that are yet to come!

P.S. We celebrated our anniversary last night by going to Sea World with our besties (our adopted family in Florida), who also have season passes. Their kids are 2 and 4. We had so much fun! We went to our favorite shows, ate barbecue, ate ice cream, and watched their Reflections fireworks show. It was so much fun! Because Matt and I work from home, we have a lot of one-on-one time, so we didn't feel the need to go out alone. The weather was perfect as the sun started to set, the kids were all happy, and the conversation was wonderful. The highlight of my evening was holding my 2-year-old nephew while he watched fireworks for the first time ever! He was delighted and amazed, and his expressions were priceless.