Friday, June 25, 2010

Think on This . . .

"One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can."

- Buechner

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

This is the handsome man to whom I've had the privilege of being married for the past 15 years. I could tell you they've been 15 years full of bliss, but you'd know I was lying. I can say that we love each other more and better than we did 15 years ago and that we are solid. Life is good. I love this guy more than I ever thought possible. He's an amazing husband, father, and friend. It has been so sweet to grow up in Christ with him.

We have learned to balance one another out over the years. In the beginning we hit head on and there was a collision more than once. :-) We've mellowed . . . when I'm uptight he's calm, when he's stressed I'm calm (usually!) . . . We're getting better at marriage and parenting as the years go on. We like each other. (We don't usually look this serious . . . posing for the photographer and trying oh, so hard not to crack up!)

Of all the things I love about him, the one I love the most is his passion for being a good father. He LOVES our kids like there's no tomorrow. He takes time with them, he plays with them. Real, get-down-on-the-floor plays with them. He is serious when he needs to be, goofy when he can't help but be, and tender most of the time. In the beginning, we said we'd like to have four kids. We wanted a big family. That's one of the reasons I married him. Couldn't imagine not having a house full of babies.

Exactly one month into married life, we were thrilled to find out we were pregnant for baby #1. She stole his heart - and mine. Neither of us would have believed it was possible to feel so much love. She's the mother hen, helper, sometime sassy, mostly sweet, dream of a firstborn daughter.

When she was about two, baby #2 came along. A son. It was tense for a minute - he was born with the umbilical cord wrapped tight around his neck. You've never seen such a shade of blue. Not a moment I'd like to relive, but once the cord was cut and unwound, he was perfectly fine. Still hates to have anything around his neck. No turtlenecks for this boy! He is his dad's right hand man and such a help to his mama. He plays a mean guitar, a mean piano and a mean game of army guy with his brothers. They worship him.

When baby #2 was about two yrs. old, baby #3 came along. A daughter. We were on a roll. She was so sweet. Jumpy, but sweet. When hubby so much as sneezed, it frightened her into a frenzy of sobbing. She has grown into a such a neat girl. This one loves her siblings (spoils them!), loves kittens (is bucking for one right now) and keeps us laughing. She has a talent for drama - in a good way. :-) She is a such a blessing.

When #3 was 21 months, baby #4 came along. We were done. Really. She was a beauty. The biggest brown eyes you've ever seen. She was sweet, smiled all the time, learned quickly and LOVED to follow her big sisters and brother around. She was just plain EASY and still is. This girl is good for a giggle, a witty comment and puts together a mean bouquet. Sometimes when I catch her sitting with a serious look on her face, I stare at her and when she notices, she just rolls with laughter. Unless she's mad. Happens very rarely, but when it does . . .

We were so blessed. We had our four - all healthy, all beautiful (I admit it, I'm biased), all sweet. After a year or so, we started getting that baby longing again. Who came up with the number four? Why did we pick that number and who said we couldn't have one more?

Soon after, we were so excited to learn we were pregnant for #5. Five would be good. We could surely do five. Well, a few weeks into the pregnancy, we miscarried. It was a huge shock and disappointment. Sad beyond words. It was curious the reactions of people. I remember one friend saying, "You know, people won't be that sympathetic since you already have four other kids." Didn't really help at the time.

I remember being afraid that hubby would say, "That's enough. Let's just be happy with four." But he didn't. Something caught fire in both of us and we longed for another child more than ever. Something was stirring in our hearts. We were led by God to a few books and a few families and challenged by the notion that God is the Creator of life and who were we to thwart His hand? We started searching the Scriptures, praying about this idea of family "planning" and walking through a time of great searching.

Soon after, we were oh, so incredibly thrilled to find out we were again expecting. There was never a baby more longed for than this little guy. He was born on Labor Day a week and a half late. It was labor, baby, and I mean labor. He was born "sunny side up" after two hours of pushing (can anyone say epidural???) and weighed a whopping 9 lbs. 8 oz. Almost two pounds bigger than all of the others. He has a heart full of joy and just looking at him makes me smile. He grabs all the fun he can out of life and makes me stop lots of times to refocus. This kid gets joy.

We were pretty content with five. Not sure where God was leading us, but sure we had time to figure it out.

When said joyful son above was five months old, we got a little 'surprise'. :-) Baby #6 was on the way. I drove to hubby's office to let him in on the secret. He was more than slightly shocked. How did that happen??? We just looked at each other and cracked up. We were thrilled. Then, we were shocked that we were thrilled and laughed some more.

This little guy was born a warrior from day one. For every ounce of joy his big brother has, he has an equal amount of passion and 'fight'. He marches around the house commanding troops, shouting out orders and sword fighting with anyone who will take the challenge. He loves to laugh and play, but has the personality of a general. We move from exasperation to wonder with this one. Such a neat little guy. I can't stand the thought of him growing up, can't wait to see what he will become.

By now, we knew that we would welcome with joy as many blessings as God chose to send our way. Our hearts were open. Somewhere along the way, we learned that more children did not bring chaos. We got more organized, strangely. I think we were forced to. It was actually easier having six than it had been with three.

We grew to understand that love does not divide when you have a lot of children. Or a lot of friends. Love multiplies. Our cup was running over and we were thrilled.

When kiddo #6 was about two, we again miscarried. This time was more sad in ways (I saw his or her little heart beating a week before), less sad in others. We knew God was sovereign in ALL things. The fear was not there this time that hubby would say, "No more." He loved his little ones so much. We both realized what we would have missed if we would have stubbornly stuck to "our plan".

A year later, we were so happy to find out baby #7 was on the way. Her little heart was beating away, the danger time was past, and all looked good. We were ecstatic to welcome her into our hearts and family.

This one is just the love of our lives. Being 3 1/2 years younger than her brother has given her the special spot of being the true baby right now. I often think about God's timing with this one. Being number seven has been more than okay for her. What she may have missed in 'firsts' by being at the tail end, she has gained in attention from six siblings who think she hung the moon. The challenge for us all is not to spoil her rotten!

All this to say, I LOVE my husband. I love him for the ways mentioned, for the seven cuties you see above, for his willingness and desire to bring two new children into our hearts and into our family.

I thank God that He gave me THIS man to father our children; THIS man to share my dreams of being a mom of many and THIS man to share a passion for the orphans around the world.

The day he said, "Let's go for it," I fell in love with him all over again.

Psalm 127:3-5 - "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;"

Moving Along

Our homestudy report is done, approved and here in our hot little hands! Monday it goes off to U.S. Immigration and then we wait. We are praying for efficient employees and a quick return with the required paperwork to add to our dossier. THEN . . . its off to Ethiopia with our dossier. We will then wait (we're becoming very good at waiting!) until we hear from our agency that we have a referral of a sibling group or two unrelated children. It is so good to be almost done with our end of the process. We continue to be amazed at God's provision and His timing and how He increases our faith daily in so many areas. This whole process has stretched us as a couple, as parents and as individuals. Sometimes in hard and uncomfortable ways, sometimes in ways that are so sweet. Always in ways that are good.

One Year Later

This is the sweet little babe that was the final tipping point for our family to step out in faith. What God had placed on our hearts was given wings after seeing her "Gotcha Day" video. I am forever amazed at how God has used one little girl, her birth mother and her adoptive family to change the world for so many orphans.

You'll want to pause the Playlist at the bottom of this page.

Lucy Lane Gotcha Day - One Year Later from kristi on Vimeo.