A Christmas Love Story

Once upon a time in October, a boy and a girl moved to a foreign country with their two small babies and a handful of earthly possessions.

They lived in a borrowed apartment while they were learning to speak the language and navigate daily life.

As Christmas approached, the girl was homesick and sad that she did not have her own Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree to put up.

The boy loved the girl, and it made him sad that she was sad. So he did the only thing he could think of. He got her a tree. (And she liked big trees.)

He left the superstore with the giant boxed up Christmas tree. He waited patiently for the correct city bus to arrive (they had learned which bus to take in their two months abroad, thank goodness). Then, he heaved his cumbersome load up the bus steps and waited nonchalantly with the other passengers.

The bus driver was curious about his foreign guest and motioned to the box and asked what the boy was doing.

The boy knew his bus routes but didn’t have such a solid grasp on the language yet, so he wasn’t sure exactly what the bus driver was asking, but figured it had to do with the awkward box he was transporting around town. So he shrugged and said, “My wife.”

And the bus driver nodded knowingly and pulled away from the stop.

The girl was so happy when the boy presented her the tree. She was still homesick and she still didn’t know how to order at Burger King, but she knew there was no one else she would rather celebrate Christmas far away from home with.

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What Great Dads Do

Great dads teach their boys how to pee outside. They drink tea from little cups alongside stuffed animals and dolls. They take their daughters on witholiviadates and strap on backpacks to camp with their sons. They tear up when handed a fresh bundle of newborn baby, understanding the great magnitude and responsibility of this title, Daddy.atzoo

They read books until their voices are gone and have tough conversations with their children when necessary. They sit and eat dinner with their families, even if the game’s on, even if there’s a ton of unfinished work at the office, even if they have a better offer to be out with friends.

They give piggy backs and horsey rides and shoulder rides and any other torturous form of ride that their kids create. They hold the back of the bike and run behind until confidence soars and they can let go.

They are firm, gentle, loving, disciplined, strong, compassionate, playful,  and hardworking.

superheroThey are superheroes.

Great dads are seen at recitals, competitions, ceremonies, games of all kinds. They will be smiling big and sporting a video camera in their dominant hand. They cheer the loudest and clap the hardest.

Great dads play games. Lots of games. And they never win. But cheer heartily when sparkling young eyes ask,


“Did I win daddy?” Great daddies change diapers and attempt pigtails. They accept hand-drawn scribbles as if they are worthy of a museum. Their desks are full of framed pictures of their families. They can fix anything with duct tape or super glue.

Great dads wrestle their boys and teach them how to strike out withbaseball honor. They help perfect techniques for jump shots and scoring goals and dribbling toward the end of the soccer field. They pitch, catch, pass, teach, coach, assist, and help with unmatched perseverance.

Great dads serve cupcakes at birthday parties, squirt ketchup on hot cupcakesdogs, and sometimes dress up to make the party more fun. They are  on ice cream cone duty, cleaning up the drips and finishing the soggy bites no one else will eat.

Great daddies carry the heaviest load, they drive in the darkest hours when everyone else is asleep. They keep the closets clean from monsters and the cars running with oil changes and steering fluids (and honestly I don’t know what else is involved with the upkeep of a vehicle…)

readingGreat dads read the Bible to their family. And lead them in worship songs and pray for them every day. They quote verses after scary dreams and they patiently teach and exhort their kids to love the Lord.

They hold hands and kiss boo boos and horse ridegive band aids and dry tears. They listen. They love. They pack diaper bags and push strollers and tell bedtime stories and build sand castles and wear babies.

They’re always there helping and serving and loving and enjoying their families in so many small and big ways.

Great dads do.going camping

Random Schmattering

  • Seminary: My husband has been taking some seminary classes this semester. Oh man, all his required reading and papers and book reviews remind me that I do not miss school at all. Most interesting thing he’s shared with me from his newly learned knowledge? Paul (author of most of the New Testament) probably had a uni-brow.

“A man small in size, balk-headed, crooked thighs [note: bow-legged], well-built, with eyebrows meeting, rather long-nosed, full of grace.” (The Acts of Paul and Thecla)

  • Fruit snacks: My kids ADORE them and we don’t have them in Turkey, so while we’ve been in the US, I maybe sorta kinda have let them eat fruit snacks to their hearts’ content even though they contain absolutely no nutritional value. Go ahead, slap my wrists. We have been eating boxed macaroni and cheese too– gasp!
  • Jillian Michaels: I have a love-hate relationship with my trainer, Jillian. I love how I feel when I am done with one of her workouts, but in the middle of the traumatizing pretty intense circuits of exercise she creates, I just want to curl into a ball and find my happy place. Currently I’m alternating between “No More Trouble Zones” and “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism”. Let’s hope they deliver those exact results to this flabby mommy body!
  • Valentine’s Day: Do you celebrate with your love? I kinda find the day overrated, since I want to be wooed all the time, not just 1 or 2 days out of the year. BUT the hopeless romantic trapped inside of me loves the excuse to go out to dinner sans kids, hold hands on the way to the restaurant like giddy teenagers, and I secretly hope my valentine remembers that I love chocolate, flowers and sparkly jewelry…


Take me away

Our sweet, precious friends shooed us out the door– we kissed and hugged and kissed the kids and finally got on our way. The open road was beckoning. 

Dinner was lovely. Two adults talking about this and that. I didn’t have to cut anyone’s food in smaller bites. No one spilled anything. No one made loud, fake bodily noises to get their siblings to laugh. No one fought. No one cried dramatically about what they were being asked to eat. It was quiet, it was enjoyable, it was refreshing.

The open sky and the crystal blue water called out to us and we meandered down the harbor on foot enjoying more uninterrupted conversation about everything and nothing in particular.

Ben & Jerry’s was overpriced, but it’s a special treat when you live overseas. We indulged. Happy Anniversary to us.

And when you add in the view and the company, that ice cream was worth a lot more than money.

We walked back along the harbor, and out onto the beach. There was no hurry. No baths to give. No pajamas to wrestle onto struggling bodies. No cups of water to deliver. No one to tuck in.

We slept. And slept. And slept until 9:30 this morning!!!!! No pitter-patter of feet at O dark thirty ready for the day. No rumpled spirits from bad dreams to soothe. No missing pacifier in the night. Just sleep. Blissful sleep!

We showered and ate and packed our few things back into the bag and headed home. Talking and singing and pointing out the sights the whole way. A break is so nice. But it’s also nice to come back to the hugging and rough-play and off-key singing and kitchen dance parties and spilled milk and Blue’s Clues and lost lovies and hand-drawn pictures and boys smelling like sweat. And even the loud, fake bodily noises.


Only a Day Away…

Doodlebug crawled into a full bathtub tonight in his pajamas. I had already bathed him, removed him, toweled him off, diapered and dressed him. I guess he thought he wasn’t done playing.

Some other bug of mine* has had three pee accidents in two days.

This mess was waiting for me when I got out of the shower this morning:

I am so glad God designed parenthood to be a tag-team effort.

Sometimes it’s easy to take our husbands for granted– laugh at their different methods, belittle their effort to “help”, and deem ourselves the most capable parent of the home.

I tell you what, take Hubby away and I feel pretty darn incapable. Sure, he does stuff differently (like leaving the house without brushing his daughter’s hair), but at least when he’s here someone can supervisor the monsters while I stand in a stream of hot water and wake up. I don’t have to give bath, clean the kitchen up, and get everyone jammied before 8pm all by myself. Someone can clean up the kid who peed his pants while the other can start the laundry and locate and mop up the pee-puddle.

What a blessing to have a partner in this awesome misadventure of parenthood! I’m so glad my love will return tomorrow afternoon! (Rumor has it he’s bringing presents too– help with the kids and fun gifts??? What’s not to love?)

*Name withheld to protect the guilty.

I Won Today

I won a blog giveaway today.

I won $100 cash to give away to someone else from Nancy Ray Photography. Isn’t that awesome and christmas-y and fun??????

It would be if I wasn’t such a wretched, sinful being.

You see, the original giveaway was for an iPad2 PLUS $100 cash to give away to someone in need. All you had to do to enter was leave a comment saying what you would do with the $100 if you won. Cool, huh?

Note: Honestly I would never pay for an iPad. I have an iPod touch (although the screen is busted) and an iPad just seems like a toy to me… a toy I could never justify paying that much money for. But to win one for free from a blog giveaway? Cool. I’m down. Hubby said that if I won (a long shot at best!) we could sell the iPad and put the money into our adoption fund. So I entered- hey everyone else online was doing it.

I mentioned here that Hubby was doing disaster relief work a couple weeks ago. He was helping to build shelters for families who have been displaced by a major earthquake in Van, Turkey. As he told me about how cold he was (wearing three layers of bottoms and four or more layers of tops… edit: Hubby just told me he was wearing SIX layers on top!), and sent me pictures like this…

…my heart was saddened. These kids don’t have any coats on! (And it had started snowing while Hubby was there! It’s cold y’all!) As a mama, my heart aches when I see children in need around the world. Children going without the things- like coats– that my children (AND ME!) take for granted every single day.

So on the iPad giveaway blog, that’s what popped into my head! I would take the $100, buy as many kid-sized coats as I could, and I would cargo them to one of the men Hubby met while working in Van. It sounded like so much fun as I thought about it… Of course it would be a family affair to take the kids out, bargain for the coats to be cheaper (I love living overseas!), talk to the Bugs about how wealthy we are compared to the rest of the world, and how awesome it is to be able to give to others… yada yada yada.

(I don’t mean yada yada yada like this isn’t important. This is very important.)

The problem is that I have a wicked heart and tonight I glimpsed again just how wicked.

My friend called me to tell me I had won a giveaway on Nancy Ray’s blog. NO WAY! I exclaimed and laughed as I pictured myself checking Facebook on my brand new iPad. Visions of the kids and me cuddled up watching Mickey Mouse episodes together on the shiny iPad screen danced in my head.

She went on to explain that it wasn’t the iPad I had won, but a generous anon had given an extra $100 to be given away and I had been chosen to give that $100 away.


Inside, my mini-me sinner started stomping her feet. No iPad? Her lips pursued into a pouty grimace. No new toy for me?  Her sense of entitlement screamed– only $100 to give away? But what about ME? What do I get?

I am ashamed to tell you about all this. It’s hard to realize (yet again) that I am a sinner, and to be transparent with others is even harder. But I can’t just let you read my comment on Nancy Ray’s blog and think– oh what a great little Christian girl! She’s so happy to buy coats for those poor children and bless them this Christmas! Her first thought is probably simply for others as she spends her life working overseas.

Because that ain’t how it went down y’all. But I’m happy to report that with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to recognize my thoughts and attitude as sin, and ask God to forgive me. I was being selfish, petty, self-centered, entitled, jealous, and I was coveting a stupid iPad. And tomorrow morning, we will bundle our three little Bugs up in their coats, we will head over to the local bazaar and I will bargain my heart out to get as many coats as I possibly can with that $100. And we will talk to them about needs and wants and how important it is to care for the poor and the helpless and the widow and the orphan. And I’m pretty sure as we walk home with all our coats in hand to box up and send, I’ll realize what a precious gift this experience has been to me.

So anonymous donor, whoever you are, thank you. Thank you of course, for making it possible for some kids in Van in the snow to have new warm coats.

But thank you from me too. If you hadn’t given that money for the extra giveaway, I would not have had the chance to see my sinfulness in this way, and be forgiven. I maybe would not have seen so clearly this Christmas how selfish and petty my heart (still) is. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to step outside of my self, my family, my Christmas, my life for a few minutes and experience the awesome joy of doing something generous for someone else. And I might not have had the chance to have those important conversations with my kids. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank You and Merry Christmas!

(I will hopefully have a chance to blog this week about buying the coats and mailing them off…)

Random Schmattering: Single Parent Edition

Caution: this post contains a lot of potty-talk. If poop and pee bother you, click away, quick!
  • Hubby is out for the week, helping with some disaster relief projects in another city. I am so proud of my husband, and I love his genuine desire to serve others, but y’all— this single parenting thing is not for the faint of heart! Seriously. I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the entire world for this job solo.
  • On a related note: my children are sinners. Amen. (Of course, they get it from they mama…)
  • Tonight (a mere five hours after purchasing a Congrats-you’re-really-potty-trained present for Stinkbug) he pooped in his underwear. And not a nice, clean poop either. Blame the single parenting gig, or my gag reflexes, or just plain laziness, but I threw the poopy underwear into a grocery bag, tied it off, and threw it away. (I’ve also been known to do the same for Tupperware I find in the fridge and just can’t stomach tackling.) Don’t judge.
  • Speaking of the potty… the other night I found Doodlebug playing in a toilet full of pee that his brother did not flush. I fished this toy out of the potty:
After I gagged and washed it thoroughly and then washed it again. I just had to laugh. Did you get it? “Piston”… and it was literally “pissed on”. Hahahahahahahahaha. I need coffee.
  • Also speaking of the potty, I found this in Doodlebug’s diaper the other day:
I’m not really sure how that happened. And I choose to believe that it somehow just got in his diaper without traveling the entire length of his digestive tract… it might take the cake for the weirdest item I’ve ever found in a diaper. 
  • I am tired and ready for my husband to come home. And I can’t wait to go out by myself once he’s home and drink a coffee (or seven) and just exist in silence alone for awhile… but really, I do love my kids. Sometimes I happen upon a moment of sibling endearment and I just stop and wonder at the gift that is these three precious little souls in my care…
Of course, ten minutes later they’re snatching and snitching and hanging on my legs crying while I cook dinner, and then refusing to eat the dinner I make because it’s “yucky”… But really, I do love them. Really. (And what would my blog be without their antics????)

Balloon Fail

This morning was Stinkbug’s birthday party. Before party time, I was sucking down coffee, setting up the table with favors, and dressing the kids. With only 45 minutes to shower and put up some decorations, Hubby told me to get in the shower and let him decorate. How nice of him, right?
This is what I got:
Looks fine at first glance, huh? Look again:
Ummmmm, what the heck kinda balloons are those?
And why in the world would Hubby choose those balloons to decorate for our three year old son and his friends?
So, as nice as it is when your husband offers to do something to help you (especially if the “something” is out of his usual forte: ie decorating for a birthday party), give him a kiss and tell him you appreciate him, and then check his work before all the impressionable young birthday guests arrive.
Lesson learned here.

Something New/Some News

It is with a heart full of joy and anticipation that we announce…
We are expecting a new addition!
The Lord has been working in our hearts for awhile now, and we feel called to begin the process to adopt a little girl into our family. I can’t wait to share this journey with you…


We don’t know many definite details now about where/when/with whom… we’ve been in a season of praying, seeking godly counsel, researching options, and waiting on the Lord. Stay turned for news and updates as we journey to bring our daughter, Lovebug, home!