and the answer is….

42

Yes that’s right.  I am forty two this year and I am perfectly fine with it.  To celebrate, here are 42 good things about my life.

  1. I don’t really have the answer to the question of life the universe and everything, but am more aware of where to find the answers
  2. I’ve actually really been enjoying my 40’s so far.  Lots of pieces of my life have changed quite drastically in the transition from my 30s to my 40s. and yes, that counts as a “good thing in my life”
  3. The most obvious is Ginny.  Nothing can shake up your routine quite like a child. 
  4. I am grateful to my heavenly father for granting us financial stability even with two layoffs in two years.  Martin’s came first, and mine was just a year later.  But God took care of us even when we had no idea what to do next.
  5. There has been peace even amidst surgeries and my dad’s cancer diagnosis.
  6. I love my grey hairs.  Yes, you read that right.  I see the silvers as free highlights, courtesy of God.  Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do about the change in texture…..
  7. Ice Skating.  After a 25+ year break,  I have gone back to the rink and I am loving it.  I’ve found something that will keep me active and healthy and vibrant for a long time. And yes, I see even this as a blessing from God.
  8. There has been a sense of renewal  in my marriage (in part due to the shakeup of the aforementioned layoffs and Ginny)
  9. I’ve found that I have a real friend next door.  Not just the mom of Ginny’s best friend.  But a real live girl friend. 
  10. You almost have to have been in the skating world to know how unusual this next one is –   I have a Christian woman as my coach.  Previously my coaches were almost all men and across the board they were all completely anti-church.  They all expected their skaters to practice on Sundays.  Not a one of them understood that God was important to me.  But my current coach not only gets it, we can actually talk about God and church topics over lunch.  What a blessing!
  11. Being an adult skater brings up a completely different coach/student dynamic.  And yes, that too is a “good thing”
  12. This year, so far, I have been able to lose 40 pounds
  13. Martin has lost at least 30 pounds (he’s catching up to me…I’m gonna have to work harder!) 
  14. I love my job.  Through the course of my layoff I had a chance to really explore what my real working style is and to look for a work environement that meshes with my style.  I was unable to find that blessing on my own.  God hit me over the head with my current job and I love it.  I have impact on peoples’ lives and across campus in a way that I never could have foreseen. 
  15. I was blessed to be able to return to a campus I love and whose mission I believe in- Emory University
  16. This is a Siesta Scripture Memory Team year.  I love learning my verses. (though I am a bit behind in memorization…)
  17. My job allows me to post my memory cards as artwork in my cubicle.  Thus providing me with an artistic outlet, spiritual assist, open devotional and memory aid all in one!
  18. My home Bible study group has chosen “to Live is Christ” as our study this fall.
  19. My husband is amazing.  He is Mr. Mom during the week and cool technical director for our church on the weekends. He does it all.
  20. My brother is back in college.
  21. My boss understands what makes me tick and we communicate well.  Don’t knock it, usually that takes years to figure out. 
  22. I enjoy my co-workers….
  23. …More importantly, I enjoy the job itself.
  24. I am learning new skills through volunteer work at church.  Maybe I’ll learn how to run the sound board next year….
  25. I am young enough to still be active…..
  26. ….And old enough to know when not to push
  27. I’m not in such a hurry anymore
  28. The highlight of Ginny’s day is when I come home and play horsey with her
  29. …..Which makes playing with Ginny one of the highlights of my day too.
  30. I have actual fans of my blog who push me to write more often.
  31. Life is fun – I accidentally volunteered at the face painting booth last night at ginny’s school Fall festival and rediscovered how much I love painting!
  32. Sitting on the back porch with the neighbors, watching our children run and play together.
  33. Discovering fantastic local restaurants.
  34. Café d’Alsace’s currant and port chicken liver pate.
  35. Three blind mice’s entire menu…
  36. …Especially the sticky toffee pudding
  37. My parents live close enough to sometimes have impromptu evenings together at local cheap Mexican restaurant.  Or just hang out and watch football on a Sunday.
  38. Reconnecting with a friend from grade school (!!!!) through facebook and getting to hug her in person was a real treat.
  39. I met Beth Moore.
  40. My Ginny and Martin have also met Beth Moore.  And she told them that she knows who I am!  How cool is that?  And kinda intimidating to be honest….
  41. I got to stay in the home of a dear friend in Houston that I met through blogging.  And our husbands enjoyed each other and the kids all got along!   And they are foodies!  Missy found an amazing Cajun restaurant out in the boonies that we are going to go back to when we see them again in January.
  42. I really enjoy my neighbors’ kids.  They are active, happy kids that play well with Ginny.  It is such a huge blessing to be right next door to Ginny’s favorite playmates.  And most of the essentials of child rearing…we agree on! 

I think Douglas Adams got it right.  42 turns out to be a very good number.

pump up the volume

Thoughts.  Thoughts scurry in my mind.

Like fifteen toddlers who all are trying to get out the door all at once.  What you really need is for them all to be quiet, and pay attention so you can instruct them to get in line and hold hands.

No one will get left out.  Just calm down.

When you are dealing with just one toddler at a time, you can afford to use a quiet voice.  It won’t work all the time, but some toddlers will quiet themselves down just to be able to catch the sound of a quiet, calm, authority.

But when you are dealing with a room full of noise, distractions and chaos……

Sometimes you just have to raise your voice. Just a smidge.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now.  And Be Quiet.”

I think,  sometimes, God needs to shout at me.  To “Pump up the Volume” as it were.  Just a smidge.

Don’t know about you, but I get swarmed under by myriad fears, anxieties, worries, things I’m planning, posts to write, schedules to arrange….and when I was waiting for our adoption to come through it was even worse.  The thoughts that crowded my head all the time…oi!  Each thought was a mere whisper, but the cumulative effect was an overwhelming din.

Are we in God’s will? Will the paperwork ever go through?Will we ever be matched? Are we matched with the right birth family? Is this couple going to run off with our money? Am I sinful for worrying about the money? Is the baby healthy? Am I sinful for worrying about whether the baby is healthy? Am I ready to parent? Is anyone ever ready to parent? Will I be a good parent? Have I worked through my grief yet? Is adoption a moral option? Or am ripping a child away from her family forever? Is this baby going to be permanently emotionally damaged by just the mere fact of being adopted? Will I be able to explain the concepts of adoption to a child without giving him, or her, a complex?

At some point God had to shout to be heard above the babble of fears swarming around in my mind and heart.

“Everyone needs to sit down. Now. And Be Quiet.”

In other words,

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

When that verse is read out loud it is commonly read in a quiet, respectful, calm voice.  But I have this vision of God occasionally having to shout it at me in order to be heard over all the scurry and noise of my mind.  All those fears running in circles, and the things I spend my mental energies worrying at.  Each one, individually doesn’t make that much noise, but collectively? They can be deafening.

How did God “shout” at me?  I am convinced of this – He let our adoption proceedings get to a point where there was, quite literally

Nothing I Could Do.

Not one thing I did was going to make the process happen faster, or better, or proceed in a more understandable direction.  Once we got to the point where nothing I did would have any effect…..

It finally dawned on me that God was in charge.  He had been in charge all along of course, no matter how much I thought I was contributing.

Why am I writing this?  Well Missy asked me to share “what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption”

Hmmmm.

Okay.

First off, my reaction when she asked me to write this was something on the order of “are you kidding me?  I am hardly the poster child of someone enduring a long wait for an adoption!” (ours went from the very first phone call with the agency all the way to the delivery room in an INSANELY short 6 months) but then I stopped and thought about it and remembered all the sleepless nights, the heart-rending questions I had, the grief of being convinced that each moment that we waited was some kind of judgment for my past sins and I realized afresh a very simple truth….

When you are in the throes of waiting for something, every single moment feels like the middle of forever.

When you are waiting, you can’t see the end.

When you are waiting for a phone call, you have no way of knowing when it will come.

When you are waiting on the good offices of some clerk in some office somewhere in a county, city, or country far-far-away, or even one next door, there is nothing you can do to make them work faster or look on you with favor.  You just have to wait.

And when you are waiting, you become like a child eager for Christmas.  Or a dog waiting for his master to return home from work.  The only thing your brain registers is

Each

Tick

Of

The

Clock

Seems

Like

An

Eternity.

So what to say to a friend who is waiting for an adoption?  Well unless you can be right there next to your friend every moment, every second of her torment, to whisper to her that God is good and that He knows what he is doing, there is really no way that you personally can adequately comfort your friend.

Lots of people said lots of things to me.  Some of them were helpful.  Some, not so much.  But I have to be honest with you, nothing really sank in until I was forced by God to sit still and listen.  So my best advice is this –

If you have a friend who is waiting, (whether they are waiting for IVF results, or waiting for a clerk to forward their paperwork, or waiting for a match, or waiting for a baby to be born) Give them God.  Give them Scripture.  Encourage them to fill their every waking minute with the love and comfort of our Lord. Scripture songs on CD are especially good.  Any human advice you give them is just going to get lost in the noise of their fretting, scurrying, endlessly circling brains.  BUT scripture will echo in their hearts because it is by nature divine, and when they slow down enough to listen (or God brings them up short, like he did with me) they will finally hear, process and be blessed.

Which scriptures?

Well, that is between you and the Holy Spirit, but here are some ones that helped me

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (this one was a great one to shout at God when my heart was crying one great big long WHY LORD, WHY?????!!!!!!!!)

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Genesis 18:14
Is anything too hard for the LORD?  (nothing is too difficult for God.  nothing. Simple and true)

Psalm 62: 1 & 2
My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 10:12
Arise LORD! Lift up your hand oh God. Do not forget the helpless.  (we prayed this for our as yet unknown child and her parents. Over and over and over)

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD. Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Galatians 3:3
are you so foolish? After beginning with the spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  (this one stung me.  I am a do-er by nature. Nuff said)

I John 1:5
God is light, in him there is no darkness AT ALL  ( this one helped me immeasurably.  Yes, I know.  As a Christian this sounds like such a simple concept, but it really helped drive me to the point of acknowledging that God IS good.)

Any time you have a friend who is hurting ( and trust me, waiting for an adoption can be a long series of one hurt after another) you should pray, fervently for God to give you wisdom.  For the Holy Spirit to speak through you and provide comfort.  This is something that God has already promised to do for all of us, so you don’t have to worry about if this is in his will or not.  You already know that it is.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Isaiah 61:1&2
The spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion.

My family has not yet come to the end of our adoption journey.  We adopted an infant girl from a wonderful family that we love and pray for daily.

But the journey doesn’t end there.  Every day we get up and continue the process of adoption.  As Ginny grows and understands more and more we will have new challenges.  Every day there are new obstacles to confront, and new events to wait for and the scriptures that calmed me during our adoption process still apply.

And so do my instructions from the God that whispers in my heart (and sometimes has to shout at me to get me to listen)…..

Be still, and know that I am God.

still grinning from ear to ear

I know I should be posting a recap of this past weekend.  Which was the culmination of a years worth of Scripture Memory Team work with encouragement from the Living Proof Ministries staff.

So here’s the short version –

I met Beth Moore.  I always thought that I would hug her, but she hugged me instead.  Does that make any sense?  It was as if she has always wanted to meet me instead of  the other way around.  Wow what a gift of hospitality God has granted her.

I stayed with a wonderful friend that (till last week) I had only known through blogging.  And our husbands are now best friends too.  Which is kinda freaking us both out.  As in “have we started the end of the world as we know it?”

The event was fantastic.  I got to meet Travis again.  I think it is going to be a once a year “date” for us.  I met him for the first time last year in January.

Last year

this year. (wow, my hair grew a lot in one year!)

We had an eventful time getting home to Atlanta.  Nothing like getting your child all set up and timed right to fall asleep on a 5 p.m. flight and then having the gate agents tell you “the flight has been delayed, please come back in two hours to check and see IF we are going to re-schedule”  IF ???? IF????

I met Beth Moore.  She knew me by my blog name.  She KNEW my blog name!  Give me a couple of years to get over that one okay?  I am STILL reeling from that.  Grinning from ear to ear actually.

Missy found the most amazing Cajun food any of us have ever eaten.  And that is saying quite a lot, ’cause my hubby loves cajun food.

But best of all, God granted me a temporary boost in memory.  Instead of saying the 14 verses that I was sure I would be able to. I recited ALL TWENTY FOUR.  Okay Missy did say I got one word wrong, but ya’ll that was not Me.  I didn’t cram, or try hard or anything.  I just let it go and God came rushing in.

And it was a rush.  It was even better than meeting Beth.  and Amanda.  and Travis.  In a way.

The reason you aren’t getting a real, insightful, spirit-filled re-cap is that I am just too tired.  All three of us came home with colds and/or ear infections.  So I am just plain pooped.

but hey, I got to meet Beth Moore.  Or have I mentioned that already?

Have a great week.

have my baby..please?

Can you possibly imagine that line as the start of a deep, meaningful friendship?

Well, I can.

Cause I once asked that very question of someone.  They turned me down and then proceeded to become a major part of my life.

What on earth am I talking about you ask? (or maybe you’ve already stopped reading ’cause I’ve offended you…)

Well back a few years ago when I was still reeling from our failed IVF tries one of the options the doctor mentioned was to have a surrogate mother carry a baby for us.  We could either use our own …um….material, or just my husband and the surrogate.  That last option completely turned me off, but the idea of having someone carry our child for us was not completely repugnant, so we agreed to think about it.  But then the doctors  started telling me all the stuff we would need to look into to find a surrogate.  DNA testing for the surrogate and descriptions and interviews…it was all so cold and clinical.  We were turned off by the whole process, so we put the notion on the shelf and got on with the process of healing our sore hearts.

Another friend who had been going through infertility issues herself pointed me to a wonderful blog post by a person named Missy.  It was all about how God never puts us in a place or situation without there being a reason, a meaning in it.

After reading that first post I kept reading.  and reading.  and reading.  I really liked this lady.  I liked her style and I envied her the ability to have four kids.  Her fertility and my infertility were in stark contrast to each other, and the thought crossed my mind…I wonder if she would be willing to be a surrogate for us?

I took my courage in both hands, and emailed her.

She very compassionately said, no.  And for a very good reason – Missy had had a rough delivery with her last baby and she was scared to try again.  Which is perfectly understandable.

Now this COULD have been a humiliating moment for me, but Missy made it into the beginning of a sweet relationship.  And no matter how depressed I got, or how frustrated with God’s timing, she kept pointing me back to God and reminding me that He is GOOD and He had not forgotten me.

Eventually, after a lot of healing and soul searching, we chose to adopt domestically and we could not possibly have been more blessed than we are to have Ginny.  Her birth parents are a wonderful part of our family life and they know how much we love them.  I honestly would not trade Ginny for any child of my own body.

But beyond helping me with my emotional healing, Missy did something far greater for me – she pointed out a prejudice that I was holding on to unjustly and opened my eyes to the amazing ministry of a lovely lady in Houston named Beth Moore.

Since then it’s been three years of non-stop blessing. Accountability,  Bible studies,  discussions, scripture memory teams, and now I’m EIGHT DAYS away from FINALLY meeting MISSY.

so Missy, thank you for NOT having my babies.

ginny update, 15 months

I’ve got to keep writing this stuff down or I will lose track of what happened when.

Ginny is 15 months old now.

She is toddling everywhere and is very sure footed.  She does take some tumbles, but not nearly as many as I was expecting.  And the poor child always hits the same spot above her right eyebrow.  She is fascinated with thresholds.  She loves going in and out of doors.  Any door will do. And if she can open and close it….. all the better, that makes it a toy!

Walking backwards and turning in place are her new skills this month.  She loves to “dance” to her Praise Baby DVD while mommy does full body stretches.  Mommy needs to do this more often, as she is pretty sure that one is not supposed to get winded by doing 30 minutes of stretches….ahem.

Ginny eats everything we eat now (except for the normal restrictions – peanuts, chocolate etc..).  Loves cream of wheat, cheese toast, clam chowder (!!!!), salmon patties, green peas, carrots (this child will eat carrots any time and place), bananas, yogurt, ice cream, and Yes Missy  she likes tortilla chips dipped in queso. When we took her to Chick-fil-A the other day she ate a little bit of the chicken, nibbled on a fry before rejecting it, and then  DUG IN to the Carrot Raisin Salad!  She also loves lentils.  Wanna read that again? yes, my.  child.  enjoys .  lentils.

Spoon feeding herself has just started. She’s got the basic mechanics of it, but a lot of the time she holds the spoon so that the bowl of the spoon is upside down.   It doesn’t seem to matter much to her though.  She just licks the spoon clean and keeps trying.

She has transitioned beautifully from the bottle to the cup.  Not even a sippy cup, just an open cup.  She drinks water with great enthusiasm and milk with reluctance.  Ginny still hasn’t had any fruit juices, candy or chocolate.

Light switches, doors, drawers anything she can open and close or switch on and off are serious fun for Ginny right now.  She loves to shut the door with an adult on the other side.  Then it turns into a game of peek-a-boo.

Her happiest moment of the day is when we hold hands to pray.  We sing the meal blessing at our house and it just sets her off.  She smiles, giggles and bounces up and down in her chair.  I think she thinks we are singing to her.  Eventually she will figure out that it is about God, but for now she is certain that mealtimes involve all adults serenading her.

Ginny’s newest trick is blowing kisses. Oh my word it is sweet.  If she is in your arms and you ask for a kiss she will let you kiss her on the mouth while she says “mmmmwah!”

She is “talking” a lot more. Most of it doesn’t make sense yet, but some phrases that she uses you can almost make out what she is saying just by the rhythm of the phrase. If you know what I mean.

Glossary of Ginny’s Real English Words so far:

  • Mama – seems to mean comfort object.  Uses it mostly for myself and Martin
  • Papa – seems to be Martin, but also sometimes uses it for Deirdre
  • iss? – seems to mean “what is this?” she points to an object and says iss?
  • eyes – points to your eyes, sometimes lands her finger IN your eye
  • nose – points to your nose
  • kitty – we’ve only heard this word once or twice. But Ginny was pointing right at the cat at the time
  • uh-oh – this gets used when either she falls or she drops something.
  • ess peese – means “yes please” this has shown up once at the table.  Someone asked her if she wanted more sweet potato and she said
    “ess peese”

the most wonderful post of the year

This post is important.

It is the post that lead to a friendship.

But it is more than just simply important to me.  At this time of year there are loads of people going through depression for many reasons.  This post helps those who know God to get through it in a better frame of spirit.

There are loads of reasons people get depressed during the holidays.  I can’t speak to all of them.  But I can talk about this.  December of 2007 I was in a very bad place emotionally.  Martin and had been through lots of treatment for infertility issues, including two rounds of IVF.  All our efforts  had failed.  We had come to the end of our rope.  I was basically okay with it…at first.

then came  Christmas.

and oh boy.  all the symbolism, all the services, all the kids programs, all the holiday photos and posters, and commercials.

I felt like I was in a flood.  Being overwhelmed by the Virgin Mary and her Baby Boy.

It was so hard to take.  I sat in the balcony and cried through the children’s service.  I ended up staying home that night and not even doing the Christmas play at church that I was supposed to be in.  I knew I should have gone and fulfilled my commitment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be around kids at that point.  I saw them not as little people, but as walking symbols of my pain.  It was a very unhealthy outlook, but I was caught up in the middle of it and couldn’t see that right then.

It hurt too much.  I was so sad and jealous and angry.  I wanted to scream out my anguish to God.  WHY was I not a mommy yet?

Then Trish pointed me to this post. Everything changed.  Something about this post just turned over my apple cart.  Put the focus back where it was supposed to be in the first place.

Read it.  No matter what your reason for depression, or if you are simply disgruntled this season, it will change how you look at your current circumstances.  I re-read it every year. And find new reasons to revel in the message.

Enjoy.

Ginny’s First Birthday

Story and Photos will come soon.  But for now I wanted to let you know that there are two videos up of Ginny demolishing her cake.

Here’s the short one

and the longer one is at

enjoy.

oh, and my apologies to Missy.  I didn’t put a bow in Ginny’s hair for the cake scene.  She has a bow on later, after the cake has been washed off and she is opening presents.