Day 43: Family Matters

I totally know you guys are all just sitting around hoping, just hope upon hope, that you will pop open my blog and I will be telling you some incredible story about another family member.  So . . . today is your lucky day!  My next installment of Family Matters.

When I was a little girl, I was TOTALLY a daddy's girl.  My world revolved around him.  I can even remember being a little girl, standing on his feet, gazing up into his eyes, and dancing with him.  He was my world.  My knight in shining armor.

But my knight had a dark side.  He was an alcoholic.  And following his divorce from my mom, for a period of about 5 years, he really went off the deep end.  Very often he lived on the streets, homeless and drunk, and I almost never heard from him.

But a near death experience snapped him into the realization that he had a lot to live for, and three kids, almost grown-ups by then, who desperately needed him to get his act together, and so he did.

The love of a good woman and the love of Jesus rescued him from the man he was.

And now, well, maybe he's not a knight, but he's a sweet man; a man that loves Jesus, a man that loves his kids and grand kids, a man that loves his wife and a man who has been sober for over 35 years.

I heard him tell someone at my church recently (when they commented about how sweet he was) he said, "Well, I figure we all got some good in us and we all got some bad in us.  And I just used up all my bad early on."  (If you say that in a super country voice, you can imagine what he sounds like!)

Other notable facts about my dad.  My dad is brilliant.  He devours the newspaper every single day of his life, and he doesn't forget anything (which makes him pretty freaking awesome at Trivial Pursuit at Christmas!)  And he loves to have fun!

My dad is 72 years old (soon to be) and he still goes on mission trips.  He serves at VBS at his church, works in the sound booth, and teaches RA's (a group similar to scouts.)  He works with the homeless and at the food bank.  He helps fix  the homes of widows.  He is so incredibly active, constantly giving to others.

And he is a phenomenal "Pawpaw" as he is called by his grand kids.  Even when Nikki and Shannay met him for the first time (see below) they were immediately enamored.  He calls it "Pawpaw magic."

All that to say, I guess I'm still a daddy's girl.

Day 42: The Blame Game

So, last night I was talking to the police officers  who serve at our church, two different conversations at different times, but oddly about the same topic: marriage and blame.

In the first conversation, the officer was telling me about counseling a young married couple who were having problems.  His counsel to the husband was that he had to quit blaming his wife for the problems in their marriage (her being overweight, overspending, never keeping a job).  And his counsel to the wife was to quit blaming her husband for the problems in their marriage (porn addiction, an affair 13 years earlier) and for each of them to accept responsibility for their own issues, and for each of them to be grown ups and get help for the issues they needed help with.

Seemed like good advice.

The next conversation I had with the second officer was about Adam and Eve, and how since the dawn of man, pretty much, woman has been wreaking havoc in the world by manipulating her husband into doing things that he should not do.  His "version" of the garden was that Adam told Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit, but that she did it anyway, and when he saw that she didn't die, he thought, "Awww, why not?  She didn't die, so maybe I will just take one bite." And so Eve ruined the world.  Pretty much.

I said, "So not unlike the first man who said, "Lord, it was that woman you gave me," you too are blaming the woman?"

He laughed and said, "See, you're trying to twist what I said.  The husband didn't do anything wrong.  He was just following his wife.  The wife that God gave him."

I said, "So now it's God's fault?"

He threw up his hands and laughed!

I said, "What if the woman accepted blame for not obeying her husband, who was trying to cherish and protect her by telling her not to eat the fruit?  And what if the husband accepted blame for not obeying God and for not leading his wife, but instead just followed her blindly into sin?"

Weren't they really both to blame?  God made it pretty clear they both owned a part of it.

What I take from both of these conversations is this; in every relationship,  each person in the relationship has some responsibility for the condition of the relationship.  (Some relationships are incredibly abusive, physically, emotionally, and verbally, and the abuse within the relationship is only the fault of the person doing the abusing . . . in case you're thinking I'm saying something else.)

However, in a typical marriage, what would happen if both parties just owned their own "stuff?"  Seems like that would at least be a healthy start toward marital health.

All that to say, sometimes keeping score is a good idea, just not in a marriage.  The Blame Game is a game with no winner.

Day 41.5 Making Adoption Affordable - Call Today

So, anyone who knows me knows I am not particularly politically savvy or active (other than I vote, and try to do so in an educated way).  Today was the first day I have EVER called my Congressman's office.  I called because this is OBVIOUSLY incredibly close to home for me and many, many people I know.  If you would please make a phone call on my behalf and on behalf of the many families who will/want to adopt children in the future, I would greatly appreciate it. 

Just follow the instructions below.  It took me 3 total minutes to make the call to my Representative Kevin Brady.  A call is better than an email please.

All that to say, thank you for helping make adoption affordable.

                                                         ADVOCACY ALERT, CALL-IN DAY: ADOPTION TAX CREDIT



We are contacting you today to urge you to call your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. You can reach your Representative by calling the U.S. Capitol Operator at 202-225-3121 and asking for your Representative's office. If you don't know your Representative's name, go to and enter your zip code in the box provided.


  • I am a constituent in your district and the adoption tax credit is important to me. (It matters to me because…)
  • I urge the Representative to become a co-sponsor of The Making Adoption Affordable Act, H.R. 4373.
  • If Congress does not act – the credit as we now know it – will expire in December 2012.
  • H.R. 4373 is bipartisan and it supports all types of adoptions (domestic private, foster care, and international adoptions).
  • This tax credit has made adoption a more viable option for many parents who might not otherwise have been able to afford adoption, allowing them to provide children with loving, permanent families.
  • Thank you for your support of H.R. 4373.

If you want to learn more about the adoption tax credit go to

Also, “like” the Save the Adoption Tax Credit mission on Facebook at:

Thank you for taking a few minutes to make this important phone call!

Again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to act on this important request!
National Foster Parent Association

Day 41: Guilty

It's funny to me whenever I hear someone making fun of what other people post on facebook.  In truth, it makes me laugh a little.

Of course, I'm not laughing out loud, in their face.  I'm laughing in my head.  That crazy sounding laugh that no one else hears but you, but that makes you want to laugh out loud at yourself for being so amused.

I confess that sometimes the laugh in my head is a condescending laugh.  A laugh that says, 'Whatever, you totally know you do it too!"

But sometimes the laugh in my head is a nervous, oh-man-I'm-totally-guilty-of-that laugh.

In fact, I am VERY OFTEN guilty of the things I hear people ridiculing others about on facebook.

Some examples:

"Seriously, do people really think anyone else CARES what you are having for dinner?"
  • Guilty. I have recently posted that I was having Banana Pancakes, Maple Bacon and Scrambled Eggs for dinner. I guess I thought someone cared.

"If they post one more recipe about their organic gluten free dinner, I'm going to delete them as a friend."
  • Guilty.  Well, not about the organic gluten free part.  I'm dying a slow toxic death by shopping at the actual grocery store (and in the center aisles no less!)  But I have posted recipes of my meals.

"No matter how urgent the crisis, there's always time to update your status on facebook."

  • Guilty.  I have done this in the ER (complete with pics), on my way to the ER, on my way home from the ER, etc.

"You know, hashtags aren't for facebook? right?"
  •  Guilty.  #SueMe  #You'reNotTheBossOfMe

"I'm not dumb.  That  casual "update" that says something funny that happened with your new business is really just an ad for your new business."
  • Guilty.  No explanation needed.
"I really don't care how fast, far, long you ran or what you felt like afterward."
  • Guilty.  For the entire 10 months I trained for a marathon!

Oh but the list could go on.  I totally make fun of the things people post on facebook all the time, so I think hearing people making fun of things I do is sort of some kind of cosmic payback.  (if I believed in cosmic paybacks)

All that to say, I've enjoyed having a good laugh at my own expense.  And it has made me think a little bit more about WHAT I post on facebook.  Maybe.

Day 40: These Simple Truths

I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately.  Mostly because of my own marriage, which by anyone's standards isn't perfect, and by some standards might be considered dysfunctional, but by my standards is my marriage, mine to love, hate, appreciate, despise, fix, ignore, etc.  (Well, mine and Mike's, of course.)  And by my standards it's a really good marriage.  (Well, on most days!)

Michael Smalley, a friend of mine, said to me recently, "Carol, anyone who's been married for almost 31 years has figured something out about marriage.  Not to say your marriage couldn't use a "tune-up" because most people's can, but loving someone and being married to them for 31 years is noteworthy."

And Kim, another friend of mine, said this, "I've figured out that I need to focus a lot more on what I need to change about me and a lot less on what I want my husband to change about himself."

As I am thinking about marriage today, I could not help but think about the "wisdom" I so often share with young couples as they prepare to get married.   I often say, "If you can just remember two things about each other's needs, you'll never have to read a single book on marriage.  It's this:

Women, your husbands really want two things from you (not counting a ridiculous amount of sex on a regular basis) - they want you to respect them (deeply admire them) and honor them.  This looks different in every marriage.  Maybe they want you to respect their opinion more than anyone else's.  Maybe they want you to tell them what a great husband, father, lover, provider they are.  Maybe they want you to defer to their decision occasionally.  Like I said, it will look different in every marriage.  But just ask yourself this question every single time,

"Is what I am about to say, think, do going to tell my husband how deeply I respect and honor him?  Will my words, thoughts, deeds make him feel respected and honored?"

Men, your wives really want two things from you.  They want to feel cherished and protected.  And this looks different in every marriage.  They want to feel like they are more special to you than anything else and that there is no way you could live your life without them in it, nor would you want to.  They want to feel like you would not only die for them, but you would go out of your way to make sure they are safe in every big way, and in every small way.  This could range from taking care of their car to never saying or doing something that would intentionally hurt them.  Like I said, it will look different in every marriage, but just ask yourself this question every single time, "

"Is what I am about to say, think do, going to say to my wife that I cherish her and want to protect her?  Will my words, thoughts, deeds make her feel cherished and protected?"

I confess to you, I do not always remember to do this.  And after a while of not doing it, I find that my marriage becomes stressful, unpleasant, volatile, and rocky.  But when we mutually meet each other's most basic needs, our marriage is everything it should be. 

You want to revolutionize your marriage?   Practice these simple truths.  Respect and Honor.  Cherish and Protect.

All that to say, that's good advice.  I should take it myself . . . WAY MORE OFTEN.

Day 39: Turning the Magnifying Glass

I have been told that I am a good coach by the people that work for me (coach is the term we use for the people who are our direct reports).  I think what makes me good is that I see people's strengths and weaknesses and work to help them maximize what they are good at, while minimizing those areas where they are not strong.  In addition, I help them to understand why their strengths can cause them to be less tolerant of other's weaknesses and vice-versa)

I did not make up this method of coaching.  It's quite famous actually.  But it's one I find works incredibly well.

I was thinking about that last night in relation to two things in my own life, marriage and parenting.

Mike and I, like most married couples, argue about ridiculous things.  Shoes, dishes, dinner, laundry, money, checkbooks (yes, we still use one) bedtimes, playing with toddlers, tv selections, expectations, sex, and on and on and on.

I got seriously frustrated with him yesterday as the girls were playing in the pool outside and he was "supervising" them to death.  "Don't splash.  Don't go near the bushes.  Don't, don't, don't . . ."

When I asked him why he was upset with Shannay, he said, "She won't mind me."

Well, that part was true, and I totally agreed that she should obey him, I just was trying to "gently" (HA!) encourage him to adjust his expectations for HOW they should play.  (Seriously, we were arguing because he didn't want them to splash the water out onto the grass and I thought that was dumb.)

Anyway, later, as in 3 a.m. later, when he was getting up with Shannay who was having a bad dream and Nikki who was banging her head, I thought to myself, "He is so incredibly good with them in the middle of the night, and I seriously am not."

We have long known that I am not good in the middle of the night, and he is.  He was good in the middle of the night with the boys too.  It's a strength.  And then it hit me.  It's his strength!  Why can't I just be grateful that it is his strength and let him operate in it!  And why can't I be grateful that having reasonable expectations of how 3 year olds play is mine?  And then let's just both operate in our strengths, instead of focusing so damn much on our weaknesses all the time!

And then I thought about the million other things we argue about, and they are almost all centered around strengths and weaknesses. Imagine if I just turned my magnifying glass toward his strengths and quit magnifying his weaknesses?

All that to say, perspective is everything.

Day 38: Special

I have special needs children.  That is a reality that I long ago accepted.  Before the age of two they had suffered abuse and atrocities that no child adult should ever have to endure . . . in a lifetime.  Abuse and atrocities that caused a hard-wiring malfunction in their rapidly forming brains.

There is much written about the importance of early life experiences and the impact on the young human brain.  The simple version is that an INCREDIBLE amount of wiring is taking place in a human brain during its first year of life.  Lots of something called "assimilation and accommodation." And this wiring determines how a person will respond to life, for their entire life.

For them, short of God's divine miraculous intervention, they will respond to life differently than a baby who received nothing but loving, nurturing care.

Their needs were not met.  They did not experience unconditional love.  They were not fed when they were hungry.  They were not held when they were frightened or hurting.  They were not cleaned when they were dirty.  They did not receive the most basic of care.  They were not talked to.  They were not given a warm place to sleep.  They were not protected.  The list could go on and on and on.

So they have special needs.

On most days, you would not know that they have special needs.  They are happy, easy-going, carefree little toddlers.

But on some days, that is not so.  Some days are hard.  Some days are very, very hard.

And on those days, the reason for my calling to be their mommy is clear.

My calling is to love them.  To hold them.  To nurture them.  To look beyond their actions and see their hearts, to know their story and to fiercely love them beyond it.

All that to say, yes, they are special.  Special beyond words.  Special beyond wiring.

Day 37: A Big Fat Raspberry

I saw an article on facebook today that said, "Raspberry Pills Melt Fat." 

Seriously, if I believed for one second that I could take a pill either made out of raspberries or in the shape of raspberries or just raspberry colored and it would melt my fat, I would do it in a heartbeat, while wearing a raspberry beret just for good measure.

But really, who believes this stuff?

I am actually amazed by the crazy things people buy into out of desperation to lose weight. 

I mean, not that "I" would ever buy into anything crazy to lose weight.  I wouldn't.  I wouldn't buy into the notion that if I ate nothing but bacon and eggs for breakfast every day that the pounds would just melt off.  Because that's not "logical."  Right?

I would never drink grapefruit juice by the gallons before every meal.

I would never drink a concoction made of lemonade and weird spices, followed by a saltwater chaser, thereby cleansing my body of all unwanted toxins which were causing me to store pounds and pounds of fat.

I would never do crazy stuff like that.

I mean, why do people try a million stupid ways to lose their weight, their body fat, their cellulite, their muffin tops, etc. when all they have to do is eat a little better and move a little more?  All they have to do is live sensible, non-gluttonous lifestyles and slowly, over time, those pounds will just melt away (without Raspberry pills!)

Why?  I'll tell you why!  Because people don't want sensible.  People want instant gratification!  I mean, er . . . most people . . . other people. . . abnormal people.

Certainly not me. 

All that to say, I do kind of wonder though, do raspberry pills make your fat melt away? hmmmmmm