Day 45: Step Up

A little more than a year ago, I was out to eat with some girlfriends when we ran into Debs Walker (my personal hero, and probably the hero of many others, truth be told). She laughingly asked us if we'd like a couple of 18 month old twins.

I remember so distinctly telling her "No way, girl. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!"

No way indeed.

But God had different plans for our lives. And these sweet little girls (pictured less than a week after their rescue) needed us to step in and intervene on their behalf.

And here they are now. One year later.

It's just incredible what the Lord has done in all of our hearts and lives, but especially in theirs. There's still so much healing to be done for sure. But just look how far they've come in a year!

Last weekend, while talking to Kim Dale, the Big Mama over at Loving Houston, (the organization that placed the girls in our home), I learned that she has more babies and children than she has licensed homes to put them in. She was thrilled for us that we are getting licensed, but truthfully, our getting licensed isn't a big help to her because we simply cannot take in more kids. (Right Lord? :) )

There are countless "Nitros and Shortstacks" out there who need you to step out of your comfort zone (I get how BIG that step is) and step in to rescue them. Mike and I are 50+. We have an empty nest. We work full-time. Our finances are beyond tight. We have a million reasons why fostering doesn't make sense for us. There are a million reasons why it doesn't make sense for you either.

All that to say, would you please pray and ask God how you can be used to rescue babies. There will never be a "right time", I promise you. Call me, message me, or comment on this blog, and I will get you connected.

Day 44: Boogers are Gross

For those of you who don't know me really well (and perhaps for some of you who do) you may not know that I have this . . .er . . . "thing" about certain body noises.

NO, I'm not talking about those kinds of body noises!

The ones I mean are the sound a loose tooth makes when you wiggle it back and forth with your tongue. Or the sound phlegm makes in the back of someone's throat, so they have to swallow in order not to drown on it.

I also do not like boogers. I cannot stand the sound someone makes when they blow their noses. I don't want to watch them look at their hanky or tissue after they blow their noses to inspect the "goods."

In short, I'm not a fan of what comes out of your nose.

And I'm also a pretty firm believer in not eating what comes out of your nose. Also gross.

So yesterday, when Nitro picked her nose and ate it, I just about threw up. Of course I explained to her that we are ladies and ladies don't eat their boogers.

Well, Shortstack, not to be outdown by her sister, reaches up into her own nose, but alas does not find a booger to eat, so . . . YEP . . . she reaches right up her sister's nose, pulled out a booger, and ate it so fast, I didn't even have time to react.

All that to say, some days you just need to be grossed out! It kind of SHOCKS you back to reality! :)

Day 43: Choose Your Fruit

I read a book called, "Axioms" by a man named Bill Hybels. Bill says in chapter one of his book, "Words Matter."

Words do matter. Even one word can change the emotional weight of a sentence.

For example, that this sentence.

"I dislike chocolate."

What if I changed it to, "I hate chocolate."

Feels different, right?

What if instead of saying something was unhealthy, I said it was "toxic"?

Again, feels different, right? And in each sentence, I only changed one word.

Words matter. They have weight. They have value. They can build up or tear down. They can motivate or discourage. That can soothe or inflame.

Imagine what each of our lives would be like if we recognized the power of our words . . . the power of our tongue. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat of its fruit. - Proverbs 18:21"

All that to say, choose your words, but better yet, choose the fruit of your words.

Day 42: I'm Quoting Yoda

A lot of years ago, I was a school teacher. Seems like a lifetime ago.

One year, our principal called me into his office. He said, "Are you interested in teaching 5th grade. We like you and think you would be great with this age group." In that moment, I was unsure. I had never taught 5th grade, but I liked the idea of 5th grade. So I said I would think about it.

As I walked out of his office, one of the 5th grade teachers who was waiting in the waiting area, got up and walked in, saying to the Principal, "You wanted to see me?"

As she walked in, I thought to myself, "Is he moving her too?" But he wasn't moving her. He was letting her go.

And the fact that she saw me come out of his office, combined with the fact that I did end up taking that 5th grade position, created a maelstrom of gossip like you would not imagine.

She surmised (as I probably would have if in her shoes) that she had been let go because I wanted her job.

The last part of that school year, and the summer, and the beginning of the next school year were torturous as countless parents and teachers blamed me for the situation. And try as I might, I could not convince them otherwise.

But a very wise co-worker said to me, "You generally cannot defend yourself against gossip. So the best thing to do is to leave it up to God to defend you. He knows the truth."

So I did. And He did.

That taught me a valuable lesson, and created in me a life axiom that I say all the time; "The truth always finds a way."

All that to say, the tongue is such a powerful tool. We must, in the words of Yoda, "Use our powers for good." (Wow . . . I'm quoting Star Wars!)

Day 41: He's Not Always Wrong

I'm not an Obama fan. I want to say that up front, because I'm certain to get hate mail over this post. I didn't vote for him, and I don't agree with many of the decisions he makes. Of course, I don't often agree with the decisions of the people I DID vote for, but that's a different post, and not the point of this one.

The point of this post is what President Obama had to say about Easter. You see, he did, in fact, have something to say about Easter. Maybe he didn't make a Presidential Proclamation that Jesus is Risen. News Flash. Jesus is Risen (with or without the proclamation). But here is what President Obama did have to say about Easter (at a prayer breakfast he hosted).

"I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason -- because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there's something about the resurrection -- something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.

"We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work... But then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we're reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world -- past, present and future -- and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.

"In the words of the book Isaiah: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

"This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this 'Amazing Grace' calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I've not shown grace to others, those times that I've fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son -- his Son and our Savior."

All that to say, so beautifully spoken . . . This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this 'Amazing Grace' should call us all to reflect. In the case of these words. He got it right.

Day 40: Book Deal in the Making?

So, someone suggested to me recently, that I should write a book. Oh seriously, who am I kidding? People have been telling me that for years. But honestly, I don't want to. I love to write, don't get me wrong, I just don't know that I have anything to write about that people would want to read . . . you know . . . in a book.

A blog is easy. Takes two minutes out of your day. I may or may not say anything of value. If you get nothing out of it, well, it was free. And it didn't suck too much of your life away. But if it's good, well, it was free. And you got something good, something of value, and it only took a few minutes of your time. So, bonus! Right?

But a book. I just don't know. Maybe the task seems too daunting. Maybe that's why I don't want to do it. I used to say it was because the moment something that you love doing becomes a "job" it takes the fun out of it.

But maybe all those excuses, "who would read it?" "what do I have to write about?" "what if it makes me hate writing . . ." maybe they are just that . . . excuses.

All that to say, IF I were to write a book, what would you want me to write about? (not saying I'm writing a book people, just asking the question. Just asking the question.) And no pressure, but I'm really gonna need you to respond, just in case I decide to take this seriously. And don't forget to answer the question.

Day 39: A Good Day

I love holidays. I love them. I love everything about them. Even the crazy, maddening stuff. (Why does just about every holiday come with crazy, maddening stuff?)

But the thing I love most about holidays is the family time. I have cherished the moments with my husband and sons over the years. And I love that we are getting to create new special traditions with our girls. And I am looking forward to the holidays that we will have with our new daughter-in-law someday soon.

Today was wonderful (minus the twenty minutes getting out of the church parking lot!)

Here are my top five from the day:

1. Watching Mike and Baby "S" snuggling on the couch this morning while the house was still quiet.

2. Taking communion with Jacob.

3. Watching the girls Easter Egg Hunt, and loving how much the boys loved it!

4. Zack playing with the girls all afternoon. He was so incredible with them.

5. Bedtime. (I think bedtime will always be a top 5!)

All that to say, I am loving that I am learning to live one day at a time. Because it sure makes days like today special. I am content. It was a good day.

Day 38: Rescue

We attended a dinner last night. A celebration of sorts. That's how it felt to me. Family and friends, all filling a room to celebrate. To celebrate life, and living, and love, and Jesus, and freedom.

A celebration of being rescued.

Our girls were rescued. From the street. From a life of instability. From peril.

But oh sweet friends. We were rescued all the more. From our own agenda that was focused on retirement, and retirement funds, and empty nests and old age.

I am so grateful to be rescued from that. It is so much more fun to think of the continuance of our lives rather than just surviving until the end of them.

All that to say, thank you my sweet babies for rescuing us. Your Mimi loves you.

Day 37: I'm Lovin' It

It's day one of "the Nanny." (Welcome to the blog, Amy!)

At 7:24, I was fully dressed. No stains on my clothes. Sipping a cup of coffee and thinking through my day.

Normally, at 7:24 a.m., I was battling someone to do their hair, or "encouraging" someone to shove their breakfast down their throats at breakneck speed, or drink their drink, or stop taking their shoes off, and on, and on, and on.

I hated that schedule for the girls. Everytime I awakened a sleeping baby, I could only think, "poor thing, you just shouldn't wake a sleeping baby!"

I hated that we were raising the girls from the earliest of age to go at life, full speed, from the moment their feet hit the floor in the morning.

So this morning, at 7:40, I went upstairs to say, "Good morning," before I left for work. And I was greeted by a sweet little girl sitting in her bed, singing to her sock monkey. That's how to start the day.

Shortstack was a little worried, a little apprehensive (I knew this because she was licking her sock monkey's ear . . . when she's worried, she licks).

But I know they are in good hands with "Miss Amy." And just to make sure their first day goes well together, Tina came over to hang out in the morning. And they love their Tina. So, I'm sure it will be a good day.

All that to say, I'm lovin' it already. I hope Amy feels the same way by the end of the day. As I was leaving, I heard Tina tell her the story of the time the girls wiped poop all over their crib when they were supposed to be napping. (I walked out really quickly, just in case she changed her mind about staying!)

Day 36: I Get to Live This Life

There are days that I am truly overwhelmed by my life. For any number of reasons. I could make a list in fact, but the list would just overwhelm me all over again.

And at the end of the day, should I be listing the things in my life that are overwhelming?

I have learned that counting the negative only puts you in the hole, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

And I have learned that dwelling on the what ifs tends to lead me down a path of tremendous worry.

Living in the moment is so much better. Because if this moment isn't great, there's another moment just around the corner and it might be incredible.

Case in point, last night, one of two tempermental two year olds who live in my house had a fit because she suddenly decided she wanted juice instead of water (though she had already consumed half of her drink). I guess maybe it just suddenly dawned on her that I had given her water and maybe she felt duped. Who knows? She's two.

So she melted down. I gave her a pep talk or two, tried to playfully encourage her out of her tantrum, tried offering time out as an option to pull herself together, but it wasn't happening.

My choice? I chose to go run bath water, fill it full of bubbles, strip down said screaming two year old and toss her (not literally, though I considered it!) into the water.

The result was this photo.

From the pit to the mountain. In a moment.

All that to say, I get to live this life. And I get to live it moment by moment.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:34 MSG

Day 35: Fact Freak

This morning, as I was updating my blog, I noticed a button that said, "STATS." Now for those of you that don't know me really well, and perhaps for some of you who DO know me really well, it might surprise you to know that I am a fact FREAK! I collect facts like some people collect dust on their ceiling fans (that's a lot, in case you're confused with my analogy!)

So, as I click over to the STATS page, heart racing, palms sweaty, I see a button that says, Views by Country. "Views by Country?" I am intrigued. So I look.

This is crazy y'all. But look at my views THIS MONTH from all over the world. That's a little creepy. I'm not gonna lie. How do these people even know I exist?

United States 9,058
Russia 83
Canada 77
Netherlands 76
Senegal 44
Germany 43
United Kingdom 39
South Korea 31
Ukraine 31
Philippines 27

And just for the record, I don't even know where SENEGAL is!

All that to say, I do love a good fact. But this one creeps me out! But hey all you peeps across the oceans, thanks for reading!

Day 34: Turns Out It IS About Me

This morning as I was sitting on my couch drinking a nice warm cup of coffee, I heard Little S say in the sweetest little voice, "Mimi, I awake. Mimi, you hear me?"

I smiled and felt a pretty deep glow of contentment in that moment. Happily I set down my coffee and went upstairs to pick her up out of bed.

Two mornings ago, I was sitting on the couch drinking a nice warm cup of coffee. It had been a long, sleepless night. The girls had taken turns most of the night being awake. So when I heard that squeaky little high-pitched voice say, "Mimi, I awake. Mimi, you hear me?", I felt a deep glow all right, but it wasn't contentment. It went a little more like, "Seriously, I can't even finish my cup of coffee!"

I was thinking about that this morning and it reminded me of a talk I gave at a MOPS group once. I was telling the ladies there that some mornings I wake up and I see my sweet husband drooling on his pillow and hear him gently snoring, and I look at him and think I am the luckiest woman in the world. At other times, I wake up and I see him drooling and snoring and think, "Who is this Cretan sleeping next to me?"

Two sets of circumstances, both identical, and yet in each circumstance I am content one moment and irritated the next.

All that to say, turns out is IS about me. I am the one choosing my attitude. Everytime. No matter what. I choose my attitude. I choose joy. I choose peace. I choose contentment. (I might need to say that to myself a few times!)

Day 33: Cling to What is True

There is a very fine line between believing your own press and believing what other's think about you and believing truth.

Rarely will your own press be a 100% representation of the true you. It's polished up. It's pretty. It leaves out the part about you yelling at your kids, or neglecting your marriage, or being a bad cook (not saying ANY of those things are true about me!)It's your press. It's designed to make you look good.

And rarely will what other's think about you be the total truth either. It's tainted. Tainted you ask? Sure. It's tainted with people perception of the you they see in the work place, or at church, or at school, or in social settings. Sometimes it's tainted with gossip. Sometimes it's tainted with past experiences. Rarely is it a 100% representation of the true you.

Most often, the true you is not someone anyone else gets to see. Only you know the true you, and even you can be blinded to your own faults and deceived by what you WANT to believe is true about yourself.

So how do you differentiate and really see yourself for who you are?

It's easy. But it's hard.

Look at yourself through God's eyes? How do you do that? Ask Him. "God, what do you see in me that has value? What do you see in me that needs to be stripped away? What have I believed about myself that isn't true."

He's not blind. And He's incapable of lies.

All that to say, cling to what is true. More importantly, cling to the Source of truth.

Day 32: This Surreal Life

Two days ago I was celebrating the engagement of my oldest child to the woman of his dreams.

Last night I was melting down along with my twin two year olds.

At one point, after we had all had a good fit, I said, "Ladies, we are all ladies. And ladies don't scream and ladies don't have fits." :) I needed to hear it too!

Oh, the highs of parenting, the lows of parenting.

Then there's just the funny stuff that makes you shake your head and laugh.

It was bath time. Shortstack was sitting happily in the tub, just playing and singing, but her stubborn sister refused to sit in the tub. She kept telling Mike (who was giving them their baths) "hiney, hiney." He kept saying, "The water isn't hot. Sit down and take a bath."

But there was no convincing her. He had her bend down and feel the water, but she just kept saying "hiney, hiney."

Finally, he said, "Either sit down or I am taking you out of the tub." But she continued to refuse. So, he did in fact, take her out of the tub. Only to discover a little turtling turd hanging from her . . . "hiney, hiney."

So he quickly grabbed her and whisked her to the potty where she successfully finished her business.

In the meantime, Shortstack continued to play in the tub. Now the thing about Shortstack and the bathtub is that she will find and grab and try to eat the tiniest ANYTHING floating in the bathtub. But over time I have trained her to understand that she can't eat these things. And instead, she is to find them and give them to me. (I KNOW you see where this is going . . . !)

So, she says to me, "Here Mimi." I hold out my hand, expecting it to be a hair, or a piece of grass, or some other tiny little thing, and instead she hands me a piece of poop. And not a little piece of poop. Oh no. It's like the size of an egg, and she has firmly compressed it in her little hand. So suddenly, I have a piece of poop in my hand! I scream and drop it (like it's acid or something!) I yank her out of the tub, drain the water, bleach out the bathtub, re-run the bath water, and finally finish bath time.

(I did have a little conversation with Nitro as well, telling her next time to say "poo poo" instead of "hiney." But seriously, I hope there isn't a "next time.")

All that to say, my life is so surreal. From engagement to poop. In one day. Just keeps me humble, you know?

Day 31: ENGAGED!!!

From the day my sons were born (or closely thereafter), I started praying for the men they would become. In the beginning, those prayers were focused on school and jobs and being good providers, because, well, I thought that's what a man should focus on.

But over time those prayers changed. I prayed for them to love Jesus more than money. I prayed for them to set themselves aside for the woman that God would someday give them. I prayed they would love their wife. I prayed that they would cherish her and treasure her.

And then I started praying for her, whoever "her" was going to be. (I mean, after all, she was going to be married to my son!) I prayed that she would be a woman who loved Jesus more than anything else. I prayed that she would set herself aside for my son, whom she would someday marry. And I prayed that she would love my son with the deepest love, a love even a mother could not fathom.

It's funny how it happens when you pray so long for something, and then over time you watch it transpire. God is good like that.

Last night, Zack got engaged. And he proposed to the most incredible young woman. She's the woman I have prayed for for him. For years. And I love that God, in His lovingkindness, has given Christina to Zack.

I wouldn't say that "happy" describes how I feel, because it's such a small word to describe the emotions in my heart and mind this morning. I think "contentment" comes closer to the word, but mixed in with a crap-ton of ELATED! (Sorry, I said crap-ton)

All that to say, welcome to our family, Christina Taylor. I can officially love you now.

Day 30: Practice Makes Perfect

It was Christmas, 1994, and we had very suddenly decided to drive from Corpus Christi to Louisiana to visit our families for Christmas. And when I say, "suddenly," I mean like it was Christmas Eve morning.

I remember the year because Zack was 10 years old and he so desperately wanted a skateboard for Christmas, and I being the safe parent that I was, had determined that he did not NEED a skateboard because I did not NEED a child with broken bones.

However, on the drive to Louisiana he convinced me that he could and should have one.

But . . . it was Christmas Eve . . . and we were driving to Louisiana.

So every single chance we got, we stopped somewhere along the way to search for a skateboard. (Trust me this was no small task since Zack was WITH US!)

Finally we arrived at our destination in Louisiana, dropped the kids off at Mike's mom's house and went in SERIOUS SEARCH of a skateboard.

When I think about that search, the frantic way we went from store to store, the way we dashed in, ran to the aisle where skateboards should be, found none and ran out of the store, jumped back in the car, drove to the next store . . . lather, rinse, repeat . . .

When I think about that search, I have a VERY CLEAR picture of what "seeking" looks like.

Seeking. It's looking with a purpose, with an urgency, with a sense of need, with a desperation.

In my quiet time this morning I read this, "For you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."

And I thought to myself, "Am I seeking you Lord? Is there an urgency, a need, a desperation in the depths of me as I seek you, as I seek your will?"

Sometimes, if I am honest, I treat God as though He is generally a "good idea" and not someone in whom I have placed my trust, my heart, my life. How different would my life look if I were really seeking Him?

All that to say, I'm learning to seek. And the pathway to any learning is filled with the opportunity to practice what you are being taught. God is giving me ample opportunities to practice seeking Him. Practice makes perfect. Or so I hear.

Day 29: Mommying

We don't know what tomorrow holds. For that matter, we don't know that there will BE a tomorrow. So learning to live one day at a time is a pretty good idea. One I have not yet fully learned to embrace.

There is such a balance in living for today, but being practical about tomorrow.

For example. We don't know if we will have the girls forever. We try to live like we will. But there are always these things that creep into my mind that make me think, "I should teach them "xyz" just in case they ever have to go back and live with their birth mom."

Maybe in thinking they will one day go back to her, I am not trusting or believing or having faith (as I have OFTEN been told). Or maybe, just maybe, I am standing before God saying, "You've got this one. So let me know my role."

As I plan for the future, whatever their future holds, I try to teach them things that I think will be necessary no matter where their future lands them.

Last night, the girls were playing "night night" with their new ponies, so I seized the teachable moment to help them be "good mommies." They read to their babies (just as we do). And then they each sang a song to their babies (Jesus Loves Me was the song of choice for both girls) and then they each rocked their babies and prayed over them (just as we do).

So precious. (I seriously wished I'd had my camera with me, I would have photographed it!)

It was funny that Baby S (our verbal one) prayed a mealtime prayer over her baby ("Dee-uh Gah, fank you for my food. Jesus name. Amen) and Baby N (our mostly non-verbal one) prayed a very long prayer (that no one understood but her and God) and ended with a whispered "Amen" into the ear of her pony.

I praised them both and told them what great mommies they were! Good mommying is a taught skill I think (at least in most cases) and bad mommying is a taught skill as well. I have seen this first hand in their lives.

All that to say, tomorrow may never come, but if it does, they'll be ready. No matter what.