Our Family

Our Family
Our Family: Pops, Me, The Teenager, The Boy, The Freckle Faced Ninja, Miss Priss, Miss Sassy Pants, Madi-Lou-Who, & Dora the Explorer

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Joyful Moments

People often tell me that my Facebook status's make them laugh.  

And then they ask how we are doing.  

I've shared many of the hard, messy parts about parenting children from hard places and they are all true, authentic pieces of our life.  

But those funny moments, they are just as authentic and bring us such joy in the midst of the mess.  I wanted to intentionally share some of the more intimate moments that have brought us joy of late.  

Do NOT mess with
these Ninjas!  
HALLOWEEN:  The MEMORY of trick-or-treating.  Notice I didn't say going trick-or-treating!  This was at the end of month one and things were pretty much totally out of control with behavior and we NEVER went in public as a whole group.  The thought of a trip to the store at this point gave me nightmares!  
"What are you?"
"I'm a butterfly.  What are you?"
"I'm the Tooth Fairy  
but I look like a butterfly."
"What is she? A fairy princess 
who looks like a butterfly too."
"What about her?"
"Oh, that's Dorothy.  
She eats butterflies!"

Picture a box of puppies.  They want out of the box.  The box is just low enough that they can hop out.  But you want to only have one out at a time while you put meds in the ears of each wiggly puppy.  You keep losing count (and your temper) as they will not stay in the box.  That is what is it was like getting six kids dressed in Halloween costumes.  It took two adults and one very patient teenager to make this happen.  Then we left the, by this time very fed up, teenager at home to answer the door while we walked the neighborhood with six maniacs in cute disguise, joined by one pre-teen neighbor who decided to tag along and ask us 100 questions about why we had more kids all the sudden, what was foster care, and could we guess what his costume was, while we chased six kids who would not stay with us, would not stay together, screamed 
"TRICK OR TREAT, SMELL MY FEET!!  HA, HA, HA!!"  at every door they knocked on, chased cars, ran after friends from school, while their introverted, melancholy parents repeatedly said, "Stop doing that!  Don't jump on him! Let go of your sister's costume! Quit running into the street!...."  And yes, it felt to us like reading that giant run-on sentence felt to you!

The crowning blow was turning to see the secretary from the school sitting in her driveway drinking wine and giving out candy.  Our kids proceeded to tell her all about how "my daddy LOVES to drink but not wine and don't you work at my school?  Can we come in your house?  Is this (her hubby) your daddy?  He looks old!  Can I have more of your candy?"  Needless to say we lasted all of 20 minutes.  The next day, as they planned their costumes for NEXT year, I'm pretty sure one of said, "Halloween has been cancelled for next year."  

"Stayin' Alive" in our new Christmas Jammies!!
CHRISTMAS: I always have "intentions" involving Christmas Cards, gatherings I want to have, gifts I want to make, etc.  This year we intentionally chose to do nothing but celebrate Christ and try to hold it together as a family.  Things were calmer but still crazy most days. And nights for that matter!  Since we were hesitant to attend any big family gatherings we had celebrated Thanksgiving with just us and the grands, no cousins, aunts, or uncles.  For Christmas though, our families said, "We will come however you want us to, but we want to see you.  We can come in small groups so they aren't overwhelmed but we want to meet these new precious little ones."  It makes my heart smile to remember cousins meeting new cousins.  Great aunts teaching nieces and nephews to make an Advent chain.  Aunts and uncles giving gifts and hugs.  

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:34-35

"You know you're jealous!"
"You are under my powers
as a gypsy, princess,
cheerleader type person"
Playing Dress Up!

Dress up is a way of life at our house.  So are surprises.  You NEVER know what you are going to turn around and see.  Or have jump out at you.  

I went into my bedroom one day and heard giggling form the boys' room.  As I walked past my bed I saw a small plastic snake peaking out from under each of our pillows. 
"Hey, how YOU doin'?"  (channeling Joey from "Friends")

Dance to the Music!
Can you imagine being "assigned" siblings?  Leaving others behind and getting new ones?  All of our kids have experienced that.  Both times it has been a hard, heart revealing process.  But it has been so amazing to watch then truly BECOME brothers and sisters to each other.  

Watching girls look for anyway to drive each other crazy no matter how hurtful or unkind.  Girls who ALWAYS stuck up for their biological sibling even if it mean lying was the norm.  Slowly, gradually, they shared giggles.  They danced and sang songs from "Frozen" together.  

Their big sister taught them all the words to some "new" songs she discovered ("Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas and "Take Me On" by Aha!).  :)  We watched her make every effort to play and engage when she didn't want to.  To build relationships.  To log funny moments and remind me later to put them on Facebook!

Heard Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" being sung loudly one day.  I go into the playroom to The Teenager wearing a fedora, arms aroudn her 4 little sisters, swaying as a group as they belt out the words.  The Teenager is the only one who actually knows the words but they words but they were all singing their own version at the top of their lungs.  It sounded sorta like, "Don't shop, I"m leavin', oh oh oooooohhh!"

"But mom, we were just playing
and the mud 'got' on us!  We
don't know how!"
Watching a boy who was IT become part of a pair. Watch them almost kill each other over and over again.  Seriously.  Death was imminent.  Over bikes, pokemon cards, and legos.  Until one day when it wasn't.  At least not from anger and hate.  Maybe from the jumps they were teaching each other on their bikes or the sword fights they were getting into while defeating the bad guys!  
"I totally won!"
"Yup.  He won."

Walking in to pick up our boys from a play-date and having a child who was a stranger to me 7 months ago rush up in excitement.  To hug me.  Huge grin, excited jumping up and down.  Just to hug me.  To see me.  A child who 7 months ago did not want me to touch or speak to him.  


This is one of those experiences that you just grit your teeth and pray the photographer, who is your friend, is still speaking to you after your kids break her props, roll around on the ground when she says stand still, and face backwards when she says forwards!  But now when we go to that park, the kids run to different spots and say, "Hey, do you remember?  She had giant candy canes here, remember?"  or "This is where we all piled on together for a picture!"  We have the beginnings of a history together.  

"My name hasn't always been Lydia!"
Lita (grandma) "Oh yeah? What was it?"
Lydia (pauses to think), "Sparkle."


Our first snow together and for some of them, the first one in their memories and we got TWO!!  On the first snow days, I layer, zipped, insisted on 3 coats, 2 gloves, 4 socks, boots, and sent those joyful puppies outside.  Only to have them back inside minutes later crying that their hands hurt and they were cold.  I spent an hour getting them dressed, 3 hours doing the laundry, and they played outside for 20 minutes!  We went through that about 8 times a day for the duration of the snow.

So being the brilliant parent I am, on the second go round, I told them it wasn't snow.  It was just ice and was too icky to play in.  We drank hot chocolate, watched 14 movies a day, and stayed DRY!  Finally on the last day, I relented and we headed out about 10 am.  Due to immense pressure from the short ones and guilt that I had not take one single picture of them playing in the snow, I accompanied them outside.  

There I watched them attempt to make snow angels on a half in layer of frozen snow.  

I watched them give up thoughts of sledding as the snow began to melt about 5 minutes after we came out.

And I watched them play together, trying to figure out how to build a snowman because they swore the neighbor was the news guy and he'd taken a picture of someone's snowman so they might get on the news if he saw theirs!  They did eventually make a snowman.  It was all of 5" tall and melted by noon!

"You're just my favorite mommy.
I used to love it when 
said that, because it wasn't true 
for them really because they only 
had one mom; But I really could 
say it because I have 2!" 

I have discovered children "cleaning" the toilet.  With the peed in water in the toilet.  And remember that I forgot to clean it later as I was sitting on it.  Not posting a picture to go with that.
"I love you Daddy!"

I have discovered that
coffee tastes just fine
with glitter in it.  Adds fiber
I'm sure!

I have discovered that it's really hard to sing a lullaby to a child who tries to act out the song as you sing and keeps giving you a big stage smile with her fingers poking in her cheeks and saying, "Maaaaahmeeee, you're losing your smile!  Don't forget to smile!" 


Every morning, drop off gets more fun.  Typically one child argues over who gets to shut the door with the TEACHER who is trying to get them to go so I can get out of the way of the 245 cars sitting behind me.  

Some days one child runs next to the car as I try to drive off and runs into some unsuspecting kid walking along and they both go down in a flurry of bodies and backpacks.  

On one particular day, child 1 gets out of the car first and holds the door open for his sisters because he's being a gentleman.  
Child 2 exits the car calmly (a big first!) and picks up her little sister's backpack on the way out to "hold" it for her.  
Child 3 refuses to get out of her seat, claiming she is "stuck".  She has pulled her arms inside her jacket.  I can feel the eyes of the mom behind me boring into my head as I reach behind me, unbuckle her seat-belt, and tug her out of her out of her booster seat.  
Child 2 begins calling, "Here's your backpack lady!" to her sister.
Meanwhile, child 3 has begun playing "you can't get me mommy" in the front passenger seat.  
Child 1 is now hanging from the car door yelling, "Hey mom, look!"
Child 2 has escalated to yelling at her sister and swinging the backpack around in large circles, almost taking out a little boy.  
Meanwhile, I am waiting for horns to start honking.  
Child 3 finally exits the car, falling because she refused to remove her hands form her pockets, jumps up and roughly grabs her backpack, causing child 2 to fall off the curb almost under the car, which panics a nearby teacher who almost gets kicked by child 1 who is still hanging from the car door.  
All 3 finally walk toward the school and I drive away, watching the teachers shaking their heads and think, "I wonder if 8 am is too early for a nap?"

Hair style ala 5 daughters!


Watching Tony have a "discussion" with a couple of kids who have committed a common household infraction.  He has a sidekick in a 6 year old, with a bit of a speech challenge, who keeps giving input after each thing he says:
"Uh huh, it say so in da Bible!"
"Y'all need da be listen to dis!"
"And akshually love eash udder!"

"We already talk about dis you people!"


So the freckle-faced ninja said the blessing at dinner the other night.  "Oh dear God, Thanks for the food.  We like you and we bless you!  Please DETECT us from evil!  Amen."

Thanks for all for the prayer, love and support.  It takes a community to do anything well, especially the hard stuff!  

He adopted us as His own: 
But to all who believed him and accepted him, He gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12

Gave us a measure of HIMSELF - His Spirit
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as His own children.  Now we call him, "Abba, Father."  For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.
Romans 8:14-16  

So that we can turn around and be His hands and feet to a hurting world.
And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

Friday, May 2, 2014

270 Girls

I am sitting at my computer in my comfortable home weeping over children I will never see, smell, or touch.  

I am thinking how the decisions facing me in life are should I go to the grocery store now with kids in tow or wait until I can go alone later tonight.  And halfway around the world a mama is wishing she could do ANYTHING with her daughter, wondering if she will ever see her, hold her, again.  

Should I wash dishes and do laundry or be lazy while some of my kids take a trampoline break from homeschooling while my other kids are sitting in a classroom, protected and learning?  Meanwhile 270 girls taken, snatched, kidnapped.  All at once.  

53 back home trying to escape the memories of terror.  223 still missing.

Should spend $50 on that one text book for my daughter for next year?  While 223 girls are still missing, some sold for the price tag of $12.  Sold into slavery.  I cannot fathom the fear they are experiencing.

There are stories like this all over the world every day but for some reason, this day, my heart is crying out for these children and I cannot do anything but sob and type.  And pray.

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. "Selah" You kept my eyes from closing; I was too trouble to speak. 
Psalm 77:1-4

God will not let my spirit rest in thinking of the precious girls.  I imagine their fear, physical pain, confusion.  I wonder how young some of them are.  


I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.  My heart mused and my spirit inquired: "Will the Lord reject forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"  "Selah" 
Psalm 77:5-9

How do I go back to my normal suburban, PBJ makin' mom routine?  How do I not absolutely freeze in my tracks for these families?  These 270 precious girls. Despair threatens my heart for them. 

 Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."  I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, O God, are holy.  What god is so great as our God?  You are the God who performs. miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  "Selah" The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.  The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.  Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.  
Psalm 77:10-20

The soothing balm of these words has calmed me but not released me.  I am held captive today by the thoughts of these girls.  And I am praying that God will too hold you captive to cry out to Him on their behalf.  On behalf of their mothers and fathers.  To show the power and glory of God to the men who have taken them without a thought to their humanity.  

I wish this were an isolated event.  A one time deal. It may be larger in scale but it is far from rare.  Atlanta is #13 in the WORLD for human trafficking. Visit one of these links for more information on this story or to sign petitions to President Jonathan of Nigeria and to other officials.

Take action to #BringBackOurGirls

Nigerians have been holding mass protests this week calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to deploy every means possible to find the girls. You can join the international call to action to bring back the girls by supporting two petitions that have been building momentum:

- A Change.org petition to President Jonathan at http://chn.ge/1ioL496

- A TakePart petition to Nigerian officials and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry athttp://bit.ly/1rUgsPa

You can learn more about the kidnappings in these articles in the NY Times athttp://nyti.ms/1rSD7eZ or in the New Yorker at http://nyr.kr/1mZgi9F

To learn more about this problem and how communities are fighting against it, we highly recommend "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" at http://www.amightygirl.com/half-the-sky and the accompanying documentary, for ages 13 and up, at http://www.amightygirl.com/half-the-sky-documentary

The excellent film, "Girl Rising," also explores the challenges faced by many girls in developing countries at http://www.amightygirl.com/girl-rising

To learn about several organizations working to end sex trafficking, visit Half the Sky's resource page at http://bit.ly/1lEYjTS