Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d dish up a little post and throw it back to October when I last posted– in the middle of the 30 Days blogging challenge I didn’t finish. Oops.

I attended a homeschool conference (BY. MYSELF. GLORY.) in mid-October and it was exactly the encouragement and push I needed. I had been schooling Ladybug and Stinkbug for a few months at that point and it still felt like a crazy juggling game to jump from Kindergarten reading to Second Grade math and back and forth and leap frog all over the curriculum map. I was exhausted and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. (So much for that $26,000 degree in Elementary Ed, I guess!)

I really needed to hear those speakers tell me to major on the majors and minor in the minors. Get the reading and the math done and it’s OK if that’s all we get to in a day. Relax and enjoy these moments with my little ones. I am thankful for that week, I came back with fresh perspective in my heart and Jenga in my bag for the kids. 🙂

Every year I feel like I’m on a roller coaster in October– click, click, clicking to the top and then WOOOOOOOOSH it’s holidays and busy times and visitors and cold weather and before I know it, I’m packing Christmas ornaments between layers of paper towels to be stacked in our tiny little apartment closet.

Even now, I think I forgot to get off the ride because HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT APRIL 9TH?!

Our attentions have been pretty adoption focused so far in 2015, as we glimpsed a new sweet face on our agency’s waiting child list in December and we were unofficially matched with a sweet little girl in eastern Europe! We’ve updated our homestudy and our USCIS clearance and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear that we are finally able to go and meet her! On February 4 we hit four years since we said yes in our hearts to this journey, so it feels amazing (and also agonizing!) to feel like the end is coming.

Well, that’s about it for life from October until now– home school, holidays, adoption, cooking food for my kids to complain about, and always… mountains of laundry.

Summa

We haven’t officially hit that day of Summer Solstice, but can we all agree, it’s summer?

School is out, the temps have soared and I remember, yet again, that I just don’t like summer. You can keep your Pinterest-pinned summer bucket lists, and your pool memberships, and your tanned legs. I’ll even give up my iced coffee. I just want some moderate fall or spring weather. Please.

We live in the land of no central a/c which means that you get hot and stay hot during June, July and August. Body odor reigns supreme on stifling buses and metros as you go about your daily business (I try to keep my business inside during the daylight hours for this reason!). You just have to go ahead and remind yourself that you’re gonna sweat. And sweat. And sweat. It’s two (sometimes three) shower a day kinda weather.

I had this romantic notion that if we could find an accessible outdoor pool to spend some time enjoying, summer would feel better. I grew up in a club pool each summer– days spent chasing and swimming and snacking and falling into bed exhausted each night. I heard of one that was supposedly close by and we took off Tuesday to try and locate it. We should probably have gotten the hint when the GPS had no clue where we were trying to send it, but we pressed on. Off the highway, through some villages, over the bumpy faux roads, and past the groves of olive trees. And then we found it!

And the pool/water park is closed for renovations until further notice. Hmmmm. Why didn’t they renovate during the winter, you ask?

What a logical thought. (One I entertained myself even).

And then I remember that we live overseas. And it’s not always logical.

So, we inflated the balcony kiddie pool left over from last summer that has a gimpy side, and threw some popsicles at the kids, and called it a fun summer day.

What have you been up to this summer?

Dearest Lovebug

I wrote this post a year ago in April 2013. The words– and the heart behind them– are as true today as they were then. 

It is starting to drive us absolutely crazy that you aren’t here with us, baby girl! We had a few weeks recently of thinking we had found you, and our hearts quickly tumbled ahead of us with dreams and plans and excitement and joy and preparations… but alas, it wasn’t you. And so we came back to earth and we continue to wait.

Your brother (Stinkbug) and your sister (Ladybug) are tremendously anxious to meet you. Stinkbug points out the empty chair at our table and says that it’s where you’ll sit when you get here. He asks when you’re coming. Your sister prayed such sweet words at bedtime tonight, pleading with Jesus to bring you home quickly because she “doesn’t know what it’s like to have a sister and already has you in her heart”.

(Your smallest brother, Doodlebug, is two and a half and calls you “baby sister”, but has many other things to worry about right now like how to smear as much red mud on his jeans as possible before I make him come inside, and how to avoid big boy underwear at all costs. He’s kind of a handful. You’ll love him, I promise.)

I also find myself wondering about you. Each morning I wake up wondering if this will be the day your picture pops up on my screen and my heart shouts YES! THAT’S HER! ???? As full and messy and joyful as my life is now with three kids, I feel your absence constantly.

I wanted you to be with us last week when we went on vacation and were swimming indoors and stayed in a hotel all smooshed into two beds (It soundsmore picturesque than it was, thank goodness it was only two nights!) And we ate donuts for dinner one night (I know, baby girl! We are crazy sometimes, you’d better get used to it!) and I wondered– would you have picked the jelly-filled donut like your sister? Would you like chocolate milk or white milk to wash that donut down? Or maybe you don’t like milk at all?

When we hunted for Easter eggs a couple weeks ago, I wanted to see you chasing after your brothers and laughing with glee when you spotted a colorful treasure hidden in the grass. I wanted to see you in an Easter dress, spinning and twirling like all princesses should. I wanted to have a picture of us all dressed up and ready for church. I wanted you with us.

At dinner each night I wish I was setting another plate. Another cup. Another fork. Instead one chair stands empty.

I don’t know where you are now, and that’s almost too much for my heart to bear. I need you here beside me. In my arms. In your sister’s room. In our bathtub. At our table. In your Daddy’s lap during family worship each evening.

We love you, Ladybug. We pray for you every day– that God would protect you and provide all your needs and that He would bring you home quickly.

Because your family is waiting.

Today at the Park

The boys fell asleep during rest time today for the first time in weeks, and I rushed them awake at 4:30 knowing we were running out of sunlight and they needed to stretch their legs at the park.

I was slightly annoyed already. Husband is gone for the week, so I’m playing the single parent gig. And PMSing.

Doodlebug got out of bed at the mention of the park, pottied, and got shoes on like it was no big deal. (This is totally a big deal as parenting him lately has been total torture difficult.)

Stinkbug whined, complained, cried, and protested. He didn’t want the shirt I picked. He didn’t want to change out of his shorts. He didn’t want socks. He wanted his new shoes. He didn’t have to go potty right then. FOR. THE. LOVE.

I kept it together (for the most part), and warned him he was going to miss out on playtime. Then I ticked off the minutes he would sit out each time he complained or argued. Six minutes of time-out promised. More crying and complaining.

Finally. Out the door. To the park. I started a timer for Stink’s timeout and at first he watched the seconds tick down. Then he settled back on the bench. By the time the buzzer sounded, he crawled in my lap and announced he didn’t want to play. I tried to convince him to run, slide, chase, swing but he stuck to his guns. No playing today. Whatever, dude.

A few moments later an older lady was walking through the park and staring at Stinkbug. Like a little awkwardly. I worried that I knew her, but I could not for the life of me remember where I would know her from. When she was standing directly in front of me (still staring straight at Stink) she said, “I can’t stop looking at him. He looks just like my son did. My son had blond hair like this. He looked just like this.” She reached out and stroked Stinkbug’s hair and I swear she was somewhere else behind her clear eyes.

“He’s thirty eight now.” She shook her head as if to shake herself from the dream she was re-living. “The time passes so fast.” She said it more to herself than to me and gave Stinkbug one last pat before heading off into the fading daylight.

I felt my eyes filling with tears as I imagined my son as a thirty eight year old man with his own life, his own problems, his own family. I squeezed Stinkbug a little closer and breathed in little boy scent radiating off his sweet blond head.

The days can be hard (especially when my husband is out of town!), but I don’t ever want to wish this away. I don’t want to hold regrets in my heart when I see children playing on the playground near my house thirty years from now. I want to smile at the beautiful memories, laugh with fondness over the messiness of this find-your-shoes, i-need-to-go-potty, we-forgot-the-book-bag, can-i-have-a-snack season of life.

I’m thankful for a little perspective today. These kids? A gift without comparison. These days? Messy, but precious beyond description. These few years? Fleeting. Flying. Never waiting. Never slowing.

Birth Stories in Haiku

Ladybug ~ June 29, 2007

Nervous first time mom

Labor induced feeling scared

Nine pound baby girl 

Doodlebug ~ November 14, 2008

Very cold O.R.

Tugging– baby boy is born!

Yellow fuzzy hair

Stinkbug ~ October 7, 2012

Water breaks early

The nearness of God feels good

Precious dark-haired boy

Lovebug ~ Coming Soon!

Waiting is so hard

Wondering who, where you are

Praying you come soon

I saw this idea today– birth stories in Haiku (via Making Home via Conversion Diary) and I love writing Haiku poetry, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Can you Haiku?

I AM your servant

Sometimes I feel worn down by the monotony of motherhood. Of the requests, the needs of my children. Some days it feels like the demands will never end and I’m too tired to tie the shoes, make the beds, wipe the counters, play the games, clear the dishes, sweep the floors, kiss the heads, read the books, give the snacks, admire the artworks, teach the subjects, fix the broken toys, wash the clothes…

Sometimes that ugliness of sin that is ever-lurking just beneath the surface in the soul creeps up and I feel like I might choke on the loveliness of all the blessings around me. They don’t look like blessings anymore. And the narcissistic voice inside screams what about me? what I want and what I need? 

With shame I admit that I have uttered to my children, “Why are you asking me to do that for you? I am not your servant!”

Sometimes it’s their tone– demanding and demeaning. Sometimes it’s just the 856th request and I feel so spent on this whole thing. Reasons aside, I have justified this response to them feeling proud and unwilling to bend to their wishes if they have asked wrongly or if I just don’t want to give anymore.

Two mornings ago I heard one of my children ask their sibling to do something. Something easy and simple– a task of less than a minute. And the response?

I am NOT your servant!

And it broke inside me. The words echoed all around in a hauntingly familiar voice reminding me where they learned this mantra. Where they have seen the example– not of self-sacrificing service in love, but of demanding one’s own way/rights/time/wish/desire/convenience.

And then the Word came flooding in, washing over me with its truth…

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, [love] is not self-seeking…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

“…serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

How will my children ever learn that true loves serves and gives continually, sacrificing its own wants and needs for the good of another if I am setting this awful example of only serving them begrudgingly and at my own convenience?

How can I tell my children to love and serve one another and then turn around and tell them I can’t serve them because mommy’s busy/mommy has work to do/mommy has better things to do with her time/mommy is too tired/their request is beneath me/their request inconveniences me?

How can I give empty words to teach something that I don’t live out daily?

This is the motherhood I am called to– to lay down my life. Not just once, but over and over and over again. With each new day, with each new breath. With God’s help, I am teaching my children to love and serve others by loving and serving others myself.

By the Lord’s grace, I am changing my response to the requests of my children from I am not your servant.

I am your servant. I love you and I want to serve you.