Saturday, December 31, 2011

Obligatory New Years Reflection

Yeah, along with every other blogger, Facebooker, and social media user, I’m gonna spend these last few hours of 2011 reflecting on the year that was and anticipating the year that will be.

As I scrolled through my news feed about, I don’t know… three minutes ago… I saw a plethora of people sharing what a big year 2011 has been. And yeah, it has been a year to remember.

As I type, I’m watching Yahoo’s Year in Review videos, highlighting 2011’s Biggest Moments…  from the rallies and uproars from fed-up people nationwide and worldwide using Twitter, Libya’s leader’s death, the occupy protests, Gabby Gifford’s amazing will to survive and the shooting in Tuscan, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami during which 15,00 people died (and the stories of people donating time and money and stories of hope that followed like the little 4 month old rescued from rubble), worldwide fascination with the Prince of England’s wedding, Osama Bin Ladin’s death in May, the official end of the Iraq war and the loss of 460 soldiers there this year, the public outrage at the results of the Casey Anthony trial, to the untimely deaths of Steve Jobs (56) and Amy Winehouse (27), and the loss of legends like Elizabeth Taylor (79) and Betty Ford (93). And there came amazing stories like the 44 year old who surfed a huge 90 foot wave, final flight of Atlantis, and that rare solar eclipse. Closer to home, the story about the man in Rock Hill named Steve Courtney who died protecting his daughter and granddaughter during a tornado, successfully completing my first full school year on the other side of the teacher’s desk, a friend who delivered a stillborn baby, my sister-in-law’s pregnancy, and my dad’s all-clear Cancer check up, my mom’s new car, more remodeling, a summer full of travels, the many growing families in our Sunday School class, and the bonds we’ve made at First Baptist (and finally joining back in February) all stick out in my mind as moments of 2011 I’ll remember.

Most obviously, this year has changed me drastically in that I have become a mother… twice. As I’ve said before, God has often whispered to me in a still, quiet voice that echoes through my heart that He has had been plans for me. And this year, 2011, I have seen the those plans begin to unfurl. I knew 2011 was gonna be big, and a pregnancy test this summer confirmed that. But when we discovered our Baby Zion’s time here came an end when I was 8 weeks pregnant, my faith was shaken and I felt like a line from a D.C. Talk’s song “What If I Stumble.” But, we pulled through it, only through the love poured out on us from family and friends and the grace and comfort God showered us with. Then, this fall, Mak entered our lives. One short conversation about a little girl in need of parents got my heart pounding. We did the soul-searching, uttered whole-hearted prayers, and I sought that voice reverberating in my heart. And God made it happen. And that’s how I became a mother the second time in 2011.

You know, at the end of every year, I say “wow, what a year it’s been.” I mean, we all do. We all look back with awe and shake our heads at what we’ve endured, overcame, and achieved, and then we all look forward with hopeful eyes for the things that we resolve to change, and grasp on to the brand-new fresh start that January 1st brings. But does it change? Nah. Big moments happen. In 2012, people will get pregnant, people will die. Tragedies will occur. Natural disasters will strike. People will make dumb decisions. Life will go on, and next December 31st, we will shake our heads again and our eyes will glow with hope once more for 2013. It’s life.

This year, though, has been a little more meaningful, for Jake and me. Our marriage has been solidified even stronger than I thought imaginable as we have held clung together to take on the challenge of being parents. Of giving up a child. Of taking a child. And even more importantly, of surrendering to Him.

2011 means the most to me because this year I have grown closer to my Savior. It’s the best resolution to make, and the most rewarding to keep. As 2011 ends, I am grateful for the blessings, and even the hardships that 2011 brought, and I look forward to 2012 with joy, not because it’s a fresh start. I’m not resolving to lose weight, get in shape, save more money. Heck, I’m not even resolving to be a better wife or mother or teacher. My only resolution is to work harder to die to myself each day so that I may serve Him more. I want 2012 to be all about Him so His glory and love are revealed through the actions and choices I make.

And through Him, all the rest will fall into place. Tragedies may strike and struggles may challenge us, but it will be a wonderful year because 2012 belongs to Him. Romans 11:36.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steps Forward

Yesterday... Legally Ours!
Yesterday was our day in court. We appeared in family court to petition the court to transfer full custody to us. The judge was practical and attentive and I respected him a lot. It was nerve-wracking setting through all those cases. I found residual pain from my miscarriage rumbling within me as I watched people come before the judge and explain their cases... It was hard not to wonder why they were allowed to bear children at all, and others could not, but I knew I had to stifle the thought. I was totally taken aback when the judge decided to bring out the biological mom out of the jail and let her make a statement. She appeared, smirking, with shackles on her feet and hands, asking the judge not to let those people she's never met take away her baby. The judge handled it well, and told her he would grant her visitation on our terms, provided that they were reasonable, and suggested she get her act together so she could be in her life. Essentially, that means we just have to make clear our terms, which are simply that before she can see her at all (even then, with supervision, of course), she needs to have successfully completed a drug treatment program, hold down a job, and get out her own. In other words, when she's a clean, responsible member of society, we'll talk about visitation. Besides, all of this will be a moot point if she ends up in jail again, and by giving her an opportunity to be a part of her daughter's life will be helpful when we do apply to adopt. Still, she didn't object to the change, even if she did smirk, which tells me that she knows we are what Mak needs, and that gives me hope. My ultimate goal? One day, she will get her life together and Mak will be able to lead her to Christ. Anyways, the custody hearing was successful and we are now her legal guardians with full custody! <3


Today... Day One without Meds!
When Mak first came to us, her grandfather shared with us all of her medical information and history.  According to him, some preschool teacher (at a local day care/head start program that doesn't come too highly recommended) suggested he take her to some psychiatrist to get a test for ADD/ADHD and she was apparently diagnosed. Several years, numerous evaluations, and a few more doctors later, she ended up on two focusing/hyperactivity meds plus a sleeping aid, which, all in all, made her a very medicated little girl. The pastor's family who took care of her before she became ours had her down to just one of the ADD/ADHD meds, rather than the two. Since she's been with us, we've been slowly but surely weaning her off the sleeping pill, and knocking the one ADD/ADHD drug in half on the weekends. In making her life very procedural and structured, we've seen huge improvements, even as the medications in her system have declined. Today, we offically went medication free. Not a single behavioral med, no sleep aid last night. So far, so good. I'm proud of her. We've had more issues with her not wanting to listen, but it's been rectifiable. Big steps in the right direction!


Anyways, good steps in the right direction are happening, but we need prayers. I'm super excited about Christmas (she's gonna have a duck when Santa comes, that's for sure) but I'm almost paralyzed by fear of what will come down the road... what issues we will have to overcome. I'm just having to really let go and ask myself what I already know:  if our God is for us, who could ever stop us?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree… Oh, Christmas Tree…

Makinzy’s first Christmas tree last was a real adventure. I know she has had Christmas trees in the past, but never a live one, nor has it ever been big. Based on her reaction to decoration, it’s safe to assume she’s never helped decorate one either. Whereas I as a child couldn’t wait, we had to insist she help us. It was clear she didn’t know what to do! Eventually, she got the hang of it, and with the help of a little Christmas music, she finally got a little spirit. And the tree turned out beautifully.

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I think the best part was her traipsing through the woods descrimitorally passing from tree to tree, before finally “picking” the one I had already chosen. She was too cute.

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She continues to transition well, and I’m anxious to get her into the same school as her daddy. Scheduling wise, it will be a huge improvement for us. The last week or so has been better, and with more and more rest, I am starting to have some resemblance of myself again, at least a little bit. This week will be TOTALLY hectic, between meetings at work, meeting with DSS, prepping for the innumerable Christmas festivities and parties, cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Once upon a time, this time a year meant a vacation. In fact, I don’t dare reread older posts from my college days lest I cringe in jealousy of my former schedule full of opportunities for crafting, relaxing… Not that this isn’t a good trade. Her smile definitely makes up for it.

This coming weekend will be filled with a half day on Friday for me, (FREEDOM… Praise the Lord!) her school Christmas party, a parent-teacher conference (and this time I will no be behind the teacher’s desk for the first time), the humongous family gathering I host for my mom’s side of the family each year, church musicals, plus getting more family pics made… this time with Olan Mills for the church directory, and a plethora of other traditions like going to see the lights and such…Not to mention that I’ve only bought Christmas for one little big-eyed, ribbon wearing elf, and yet to start on anyone else, so add shopping in there too.

Hoping I survive the holidays,

-B

Friday, December 09, 2011

Becoming Mommy and Daddy

A good friend of ours at church described parenting like math. As infants, you start off with basic addition and subtracting. Adding love and subtracting diapers. As they become toddlers, you throw in multiplication (tantrums) and division (back-talking). You don’t get to things like geometry or calculus until they are big kids, and statistics doesn’t hit until the teen years. Like math builds, parenting skills build. And we’ve jumped in a calculus. And you all know I suck when it comes to numbers. Anyways, that’s hit the nail on the head. You can say “welcome to parenthood” to us, meaning well, or course, but it’s no where near the same. Transitioning, training, learning, and loving one another is the name of the game in our house. Not to mention balancing blending in positive relationships with biological family and protecting her from the negative ones, all while working through the legalities with our lawyer, DSS, and her social worker. We recently had family pictures made for our Christmas card, and I thought I’d share some. The daughter of a former coworker of Jake’s did them, and she did a fantastic job.

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I feel like I have huge bags under my eyes most all the time, especially weekdays. Like, purple suitcases hanging there. Every where we go, it seems like we show up 2 minutes late on two wheels, hair flying, holes in pantyhose, frazzled, with me doing the mom thumb-lick thing to get whatever off her face. Work has been extraordinarily crappy lately. I am fed up with it. Not to mention, our school was broken into earlier this week. It even made local news, and reporters came in. We had to cancel class until 11 just to get all the glass up. My room was hit, but nothing taken. Talk about a complicated Monday! All in all, work has just been difficult for both Jake and me… and having so much more to deal with so suddenly has only made us more groggy-headed.

Stepping back, though, I can see how truly blessed and happy we are despite the stress and exhaustion. One month ago today, a little girl looked up at me and said, “Can I call you Mommy from now on?”
Now, she’s mine. Legally (custody), she will be mine on Dec. 20, and then fully (through adoption) in May. Regardless, she became mine when she asked that simple question… would I have her forever, unconditionally, and provide for her the guidance, stability, compassion, encouragement, and strength she needs to face life? And, of course, I said yes.  And we’ve made so many memories in the last month. Our first adventure was getting her room painted and decorated. We tackled the awkwardness of the holidays head on, embracing Thanksgiving as time to meet and grow to love many more extended family members. She’s been horseback riding, target practicing, cupcake baking, and exploring libraries and museums. She’s growing and changing and learning to control her behavior. And I’m overjoyed at God’s glory in it all.

This weekend, we will go get our Christmas tree (we wait and get a real one, fresh from the mountains each year). I am so excited! I’ll update when I find a chance to take a breath. :)