Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK, Jr. & Adoption

I shudder to think what the world of adoption {in the USA} would look like without Martin Luther King, Jr. and other brave men & women who came before & behind him.

I believe that my Baby Boy would probably not be my baby.

And that makes me incredibly sad.

But also very thankful!

Today I am thankful for the many men & women who have {and are} championing civil rights in our country.

Today I am thankful for other adoptive families that are also a beautiful blend of skin tones.

Today I am thankful for men & women, boys & girls who stand up for the rights "endowed on us by our Creator."

Why is your heart thankful today?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Keep Calm & Monogram it All.

After yesterday's tough-to-write, tough-to-share blog post, I think we all need a little fluff.

I must admit to not fully understanding this craze with the "Keep Calm and {fill in the blank}" sayings I see circulating all over Pinterest, blogs, and Facebook.

I also must admit to thinking that several of them are pretty cute.

However, this one may just be my life mantra.

I do love a good monogram...... block, script, diamond, circle...... it doesn't much matter on the font {on second thought, that's not really true}, but I do love monograms in all shapes & sizes!!!!!!

When I was born, my parents only gave me two names. My first & last name. No middle name.

My Daddy's reasoning {borrowed from my grandfather}, was that he didn't want me to have to choose which one of my names to drop at the time of marriage. And my Mommy, herself not being addicted to monograms, agreed to the preposterous idea.

For years, I lived my life repressed.

Unable to express myself through The Monogram.

But at the time of my marriage, I fully came into my own.

Everything that can be monogrammed, is!

Monograms in the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, baby's room, on our stationary, our clothes, and my Vera Bradley.

Fortunately for me, I have a dear friend from college who may be more monogram crazy than I am. Every Christmas we mail each other some new fangled monogrammable item. It may be my favorite gift to give all year long.

I didn't think there was anything too ridiculous to be monogrammed. I mean, one time, I saw a pair of monogrammed jeans & fell in love {although my husband forbade it.} However, I recently saw a pair of monogrammed running shorts......... um, I found it! That would be my limit!

Go forth & monogram......... but try to keep calm about it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Weakness. My Achilles Heel.

I hate weakness.

I despise struggle.

I loathe difficulty.

And there is one weakness in my life that I just can't overcome.

Just as soon as I think I've got it beat, it rears its ugly head.

Only to conquer me once again.

When we started the adoption process, the gnawing lessened significantly.

When we were in Uganda, during those horrendous first few weeks with Walker, it never even entered my mind.

When we blissfully floated through our first few months at home & it never surfaced, I thought maybe it was mastered for good.

But alas!

It is not!

The days still come when I am face-to-face with the stark, bare realization that I may never have biological children.

I may never feel that little body grow inside of me or have the pleasure of nursing my child.

I may be a Mommy who never knows the joys & pains of a having a tiny, little newborn..... that delicate, silky skin, those wrinkled feet, those perfect, puckered lips....... those sleepless nights!

There is nothing quite like being accosted with full-on Baby Fever, and knowing that a little extra lipstick & a wink at my husband won't matter one iota.

Or knowing that miles and miles and years and paperwork and tons of money separate me from my next baby.

It's tough. It's hard. And every once in awhile, it's downright awful.

My Achilles heel has been discovered.

Revealed.  Laid bare.

The thing that makes me cry & hurt & writhe.

For better or for worse, this great pain is part of my story.

It is forever woven into the fabric of my soul.

And although the road, ahead & behind, is scattered with pot holes of pain, this same road also is brimming with puddles of Hope and of Grace.

In that, and that alone, I find that I am able to continue limping along.

The limp caused by the Great Pain, but by His even Greater Love & Grace I'm still here.  I'm still going.  I'm still smiling.  I'm still singing.

I STILL HAVE HOPE..............

Not in a pregnancy.

Not in another adoption.

Not in my comforting rock of a husband.


My hope is in Christ alone.

And in that day when He undoes & redeems all that sin has wrecked & marred & left for dead.

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

7 Confessions of a Recovering New Mommy

Sunday marked 7 months of Baby Boy being home.

Some days it is still hard for me to believe that we traveled half-way across the world & brought home our son.

Some days I look at him & can't believe he's really here.

Some days I look at him with such joy & delight that I still tear up.

And some days I catch my reflection in the mirror & quickly take inventory of when I last showered & brushed my teeth.

{some days are down right humbling, y'all}

In honor of Walker's 7 Monthiversary, I thought I'd give you 7 Confessions of a Recovering New Mommy.

Confession #1: There for the first few weeks/months, I was so exhausted that I actually couldn't fathom how people EVER had more than one child............. I mean, practically, how did they stay awake long enough to "make" another one???

Confession #2: I never, ever would have guessed that there would be a day where I would actually question if I brushed my teeth. Those days, thankfully, have been few & far between, but they actually exist! Ugh!!!!

Confession #3: I am late EVERYWHERE I go! It doesn't seem to matter how early I try to get Walker out the door, it just doesn't happen until 5-10 minutes later than it should be. In my pre-Mommy days I arrived either early or on-time, but Walker has blown up my near perfect record. Even when I start getting us ready early, I find out that, instead of putting on his clothes, Walker has been running around the house naked, while I've been fixing my hair & make up. I can't win for losing, so please just give me grace!

Confession #4: Rapid machine gun questioning from my 5 year old literally causes me to LOSE my ever-living mind!

Confession #5: I want to run & hide when asked, "Mommy will you play with me?" I will happily color, craft, dance, Xbox Kinect, sing, draw, & read, but there is something about "playing" with him that strikes fear in my heart. I have no idea how to "play" GI-Joes for any length of time exceeding 5 minutes.

Confession #6: My toes are ALWAYS painted! I might not put make-up on everyday, but I religiously keep my little pigs pretty!  I need to at least "feel" pretty in my t-shirt & yoga pants.

Confession #7: I WEAR FLATS! Working-Bethany always wore heels, but Mommy-Bethany is more practical than I ever believed she would be! I wear my Cheetah or Zebra flats everywhere we go. Heels only come out on Sundays or date nights!

It's been a rude awakening to Mommy-hood, but Walker is totally worth it! I'd do it a million times over!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make 'em! Eat 'em! Love' em! {Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies}

I am a cook book snob!

I love cook books, but am very particular about the ones I let into my preppy little arsenal.

- be written by Southern Living or some other Southern god or goddess
- have pictures in full color & peppered throughout the book
- be altogether lovely to behold.

Simple enough!

{I'm so un-opinionated it's ridiculous}

Every once in awhile I like to go browsing back through some of my pre-approved cook books.

Getting all googely-eyed over the pictures.

Drooling over the recipes.

And scouring the pages for fantastic, previously un-tried recipes!

I just so happened to find myself in this exact situation one evening last week.

I had pulled down one of my Southern Living cookbooks & was beginning my scientific, recipe sniffing regime, when what to my snooty little nose did I find, but a White Chocolate Cherry Cookie recipe.

Oh, me! Oh, my!

Bless my chocolate-lovin' soul!

It was simply meant to be!

I mean, I pretty much detest white chocolate, but being the World Changing woman that I am, I wouldn't let a little something like that get in my way.

So, I channeled my recipe-altering friend, Elizabeth, and eliminated altogether the offensive white chocolate. Substituting it for a delicious dark chocolate.

The warm, gooey cookies were divine.

Angels sang! Church bells rang!

The cookie batter alone was worth a, "ShutTheFrontDoor!"

And here is the glorious end result!

Make 'em.  Eat 'em.  Love 'em.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
{adapted from White Chocolate Cherry Cookies from Southern Living Homestyle Cookbook}
10 oz. dark chocolate chunks
1 cup-ish dried  cherries
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to butter mixture, beating just until blended.  Stir in dark chocolate chunks & cherries.
3.  Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes or until golden.  Remove cookies to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is he your baby?

I like to do my grocery shopping at the DeKalb Farmer's Market.

It is the greatest, most fabulous 140,000 square feet of market you'll ever experience.

A truer world market you couldn't find.

The sites.  The sounds.  The food.  The smells.

It all transports you to another world.

My favorite parts of the market are the prices, HUGE selection of all things organic, bakery, & the employees!!!

I'm not sure that a caucasian-English-as-a-first-language person even works there.  Everyone I ever see is from another country & has a STRONG accent.  I love, love, love it!

Sometimes, while getting our deli meat or freshly ground peanut butter or mango cupcakes, we have the joy of having a little bit of a conversation with one of the employees.

I usually ask questions about the country of their birth, their family, & how long they've been in the U.S.  And somewhere in our chit-chat, they ALWAYS look at Walker, look at me, & say, "Is he your baby?"


I think I love this question for the following reasons:

- I LOVE that they always call Walker my "baby." Never son or kid or child. It's always "baby." ♥

- There is no judgment or disapproval.  It is always asked with a gentle voice, kind eyes, sweet smile.......... and an even bigger grin when I answer affirmatively.

- And if we have the time to talk about Walker being born in Uganda, there is always such joy to the person who asked, & they will often call one of their co-workers over & tell them too.  {big smiles}

I simply love, adore, & treasure these little moments!!!

The purity & sincerity of the question.

The joy & excitement when I confirm I'm the baby's Mommy.

It warms my heart every.single.time!

Thank you, Lord, for spontaneous moments of joy in the most mundane of errands.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

He's Bringing Down the House.

Over the past few months, I've tried to write down some of Walker's funny sayings.

They are some of my favorite memories so far. He's such a funny kiddo!

Here are a few of my favorites:

- Instead of saying "mine", he says "me-yours."

- He says Skippy cup instead of sippy cup.

- Walker said, "I like chicken nuggets, noodles, sand castles, church, & soda."

- Instead of saying "flush" the potty, he says "blush."

- While eating collard greens for the first time, he said, "In Uganda, I ate these. I "fink" these are leaves."

- Octo-bus instead of octopus.

- We were in the produce section of the grocery store when it made the thunder & lightening sounds before it misted the veggies. I said, "Look Walker. It is thundering & lightening & raining on the vegetables. He said, "Thundering & Lightning McQueen???"

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's a New Year..... WHO CARES!?!? {part deux}

If you didn't catch Part Un of this post, then please feel free to read it HERE.

I was introduced to the musical Les Mis about 15 years ago.

It aired on PBS.  I fell in love.  Went out & bought the CDs, & I've been performing it {as a one woman show} ever since.

It is, by a long shot, my favorite musical evah!

Phantom, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, High School Musical........... they just don't even come close.

It is a PoWeRfUl story of redemption.

When I knew that Les Mis, the musical, was coming to the big screen. I was ecstatic!!!  Knew that my life would be incomplete if I didn't see it.  A few days after Christmas, my best friend & I went to see the movie. 

It was her first experience with Les Mis, so everything was new to her.  She loved it!

I, in stark contrast, sang every word of every song --- in a British accent, no less!  The end result was still the same.  I loved it!

The richness of joy & pain, life & death, forgiveness & redemption playing out on that giant screen in vivid color & larger-than-life characters. The music pulsing through my veins.

Like the crazed-Mommy-hormone-woman I've morphed into, I fully expected to bawl out my eyes, throughout the entirety of the movie.

Surprisingly, I did not!!!

I maintained a respectable teary-eyed composure, only using my buttery, popcorn napkin to dab my baby blues once or twice.  Until..............

Until Wolverine started singing to tiny, little Cosette.

Oh.My.Lands!  Bless.My.Soul!  Suddenly, it was I, and not Jean Valjean, sitting in that carriage taking my baby boy away from the orphanage singing to him lyrics very similar to the ones I was hearing. Words of how suddenly he has taken my heart captive, shown me a love unlike any other, renewed my hope, made me braver than I am. It was an emotional, unexpected moment for me.

{for the non-Les Mis junkies, this was a brand new song.  written for the movie. words I had not sung & memorized & performed in my car & shower before.  you can view the lyrics here.}

After I recovered, I started thinking of how remarkably Jean Valjean lived his life. His unjust past hardened his heart, yet he was touched by grace & redeemed by love........ the love of a forgiving, merciful priest, the love of the Redeemer, and the love of a child.

He was, by no means, a remarkable man, but he lived his life in a remarkable way.

Forever the narcissist, I couldn't avoid thinking of my own life.

Do I live my life remarkably?

I'm not, what I would call, a remarkable person.

I'm FAR too marred by past decisions & plagued with doubts & fears to be a truly remarkable person.

However, I yet believe that I can live my life remarkably.

So I find myself thinking what this looks like for me in 2013???

I nevah-evah make New Year's Resolutions, but in this new year I want to focus on living my life remarkably. 

To remarkably influence & change & help & love & give grace to OTHERS.

To make known the remarkable glory of the Redeemer.

To enjoy the remarkable joys the Lord gives each day.

Maybe it looks like adopting a child with special needs.

Maybe it means planning a fun, memory-making road trip with my 2 favorite guys.

Maybe it means donating something from Sweet Georgia Sweet to a family trying to raise money for an adoption or a child with severe medical costs.

Maybe it means actually getting to know our neighbors.

Or making regular lunch dates for Walker & his grandparents.

Or surprising friends with a meal or baked goods or a free night of babysitting.

Hopefully, it means closer friendships, joy in life's tiny gifts, abounding thankfulness, stretching & prodding & changing, a new family member {or at least strides in that direction}, and a new nearness with my Redeemer.

Wanna join me?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's a New Year..... WHO CARES???!!! {part 1}

Well, as absolutely EvErYoNe keeps repeating, it's 2013.

Fa-La-La.  Whoop-Dee-Doo.

I'm totally under-whelmed.

Very un-thrilled.

And I don't know why all peoples EVERYWHERE (and by everywhere, I do mean Facebook & Pinterest) must continue to belabor the point.

I'm not really thrilled about it because I don't really want my life to continue to move at such a rapid pace.


It's lovely here!  And marvelous!  And precious!  And has hot chocolate!

Moving forward means facing things I just don't wanna face!

Like another birthday in my THIRTIES!

{Ugh!  I find solace, only, in knowing I'm the youngest one in almost every one of my circle of friends.  By far, one of the smartest decisions I've ever made.}

Or another wedding anniversary to my sweet & precious husband, because that means we're beginning to actually "grow old-er" together.

{I feel like a greedy, little goblin wanting more & more time with him.  He's just more precious & desirable with every passing moment, & I absolutely can't get enough.}

And I don't want to throw Walker's SIXTH birthday party in February.

{I vote he turns 1, 2, 3, or even 4, so that I can claim as mine, possess forever, and carve into my heart the years I never had with him}

So I stand here, clench my fists, square my soldiers, set my jaw, narrow my eyes, and begin to CRY............

Cry against all the un-fairness that is life!

This {sweet} life is just flying by too quickly.

I'm trying to drink life from a fire hydrant.

{and well ..... that's not a very thirst-quenching experience}

I feel like I'm grasping, enjoying, savoring these moments.

But they are just slipping through the pale, peachy flesh of my bony fingers.

However, even now a memory stirs deep inside my soul.

The humming of a familiar, yet distant refrain.

All these moments, these days full of joy & life & sweetness, they are GIFTS.

Gifts from a gracious Heavenly Father.

Gifts He has sent to show me Who He is.  To draw me to Himself.  To make me yearn for more of Him.

So Who is He?

What has He revealed of Himself in my life?

He is Sustainer!  From my growing # of years on this earth, I learn of God's sustaining power.  Of His faithfulness to His children.  How wonderfully un-changing He is!  He is remarkably the same yesterday, today, & forever!

He is Kindness!  From my years of being married to the kindest man alive, I can see God's great kindness & patience & an ever-so-quiet undercurrent of love for me in all His ways.

He is Ferocious!  From my short months as a Mommy, I have tasted of God's ferocious love for His children.  Just like we read in Walker's Jesus Storybook Bible, a "never-stopping, never-giving-up, always & forever kind of love."

And although I know most of these moments will NEVER, ever come again, I still rejoice.

Because I hear a much more beautiful melody playing............ a promise of wonder & joy & hope that will never fade away.

Oh, what a glorious day that will be!!!!

So, possibly 2013 isn't as daunting as I feared.

Maybe I can throw down my body, fling out my arms, & dig my little, navy-blue, painted fingernails into the sands of time & fully experience the moments of joy & pain & love & laughter that await me as GIFTS in the moments of the year ahead.

I know it's a little crazy.  A little too dramatic.  And gonna take more than a little effort.

But......... is there anyone who wants to join me?

{navy-blue fingernails optional}