Thursday, November 24, 2011
Yes, I've got big plans to do some shopping and decorating tomorrow like everyone else, but tonight I just want to hold on to Thanksgiving a bit longer. Today was such a sweet time with our extended families that I want to wrap up every memory and dine on the leftovers for the next few weeks.
Today I'm grateful for my precious family (most of these photos are from a visit a few weeks ago to a pumpkin patch, a couple are from today) . . .
For my amazing husband . . .
For my sweet boys . . .
And my sweet girls . . .
Especially the one celebrating her first Thanksgiving today.
Friday, November 11, 2011
And I'm grateful for some big things. For men and women who sacrifice their lives each day to serve our country, for the blessing of waking up each morning in the land of the free, and for a son who at only 9 years old truly understands what a gift it is to be an American.
For years I've celebrated National Adoption Month as a proud adoptive mother. Many more years I've celebrated Veterans Day as a grateful American. This year those celebrations are beautifully intertwined.
My kids attend a wonderful Christian school and every November they have an amazing Veterans Day assembly. Each year they have the students write essays and make posters thanking Veterans for their service. It's a great way to make the kids really ponder the sacrifice made for our freedom.
A couple weeks ago, I asked Daniel if he wanted to write an essay in preparation for the upcoming celebration. He responded with, "I don't have much to say. I've only been an American for two years." I reminded him that he has a perspective that many don't have. That starting out in another country will give him an appreciation that many Americans will never understand.
He grabbed a few sheets of notebook paper and a pencil, went to his room and closed the door. About an hour later he returned with the following words written in his best penmanship. As he read it aloud, the tears streamed down my face. He has given me permission to share it here. I corrected his spelling and grammar--but this was all his work . . . an outpouring from his heart.
Grateful for My Country
By Daniel Williams
I am 9 years old, but I have only been an American for almost 2 years. Back in Guatemala, I was so scared sometimes that I would put furniture up against the door so no one could break in. One night I heard guns shooting and often I couldn’t sleep because I was scared. I wished I lived in a country where I was safe.
I saw kids so poor that they would make shoes out of soft drink cans and make shelter with old boxes. I saw people taking guns when they would go to the bank because they were afraid of being robbed. I saw even small children begging for food. I have never seen these things in America.
December 24, 2009 is when I knew that my life had changed. I remember when I got off of the plane when I was adopted by my family and I saw the American flag. I knew then that I would be safe, I would have a home, I would not have to worry about putting things against the door, I would have plenty of food, and I would have a family.
Thank you, Veterans, for serving our country. Thank you for being away from your families and risking your lives for us. You make our country a safe and happy country. I think the difference between Guatemala and the United States is freedom.
(Photo of Daniel and siblings on his first 4th of July as an American.)
Here's a photo taken as we were in a hurry to get out the door this morning--of Ava with the poster she made, Daniel with his essay, and Brady barely awake. (He doesn't have school on Friday and is wondering why his crazy mom is taking his pic.) The school had their beautiful celebration yesterday--such a sweet time of honoring those who serve our country.
When Daniel got home yesterday he said, "I think some day I'd like to be an Army guy and fight to protect our country." Oh, that would make this mama so proud.
Happy Veterans Day to all the brave men and women who serve our country. I'm grateful for my grandfather, my dad, and my mother-in-law's husband Bob--who passed away last April--for their service to our country and sacrifice for our freedom. Thank you, Veterans, that a little boy named Daniel is grateful to be an American because he lives in a "safe and happy country."
God Bless America!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
My days have been reduced to survival mode moments in which I must decide between taking a shower or having lunch, getting an hour of sleep or folding a pile of laundry. I have learned to feed/diaper/soothe a newborn in the carpool line and at the grocery check-out, at a soccer/baseball/ballet practice or a parent/teacher conference, while making a phone call or preparing dinner.
Our first weeks with Victoria were hard. We were so worried about making sure she was eating enough and maintaining her body temp. She would have episodes of reflux followed by gasps for air that made this veteran mom feel like a newcomer to the job. Then she finally had an appetite but her little body just wasn't able to digest it well. She had several colicky weeks but she has finally turned the corner and is now even sleeping well at night. Praise God!
Honestly, now that Baby V is no longer crying through the afternoons/evenings, she's the easiest one of the bunch. She doesn't play a sport, doesn't need to be driven somewhere, and can't question my judgement (at least not verbally). She's too little to take ballet, be invited to a birthday party, need help with her homework, surprise me with a last-minute project, get her feelings hurt, or have friends come over. She eats everything I serve her like it's the best thing she's ever had and she never complains about her clothing. (I know those days are numbered.)
Here she is with her expression that says, "Really?!" We see this face a lot.
I've never been so tired, yet I honestly don't think I've ever been this happy. I feel like Lucy in the episode of "I Love Lucy" where she and her pal Ethel are working in a chocolate factory. At first the candies come down the conveyor belt at a manageable pace. They wrap each chocolate then put it back on the assembly line. They are doing so well that the boss increases the speed of the conveyor belt. They aren't able to keep up so they start tossing unwrapped chocolates in their tops and hiding them under their hats.
And that's what I've been doing the past 4 months--stuffing figurative chocolates in my blouse and laughing at the windfall of goodness that has been showered over this crazy lady who loves children.
It reminds me of a poem I came across many years ago called "Drinking from the Saucer." Here it is in case you've never read it.
Drinking From The Saucer
by John Paul Moore
I've never made a fortune,
And I'll never make one now
But it really doesn't matter
'Cause I'm happy anyhow
As I go along my journey
I'm reaping better than I've sowed
I'm drinking from the saucer
'Cause my cup has overflowed
I don't have a lot of riches,
And sometimes the going's tough
But with kin and friends to love me
I think I'm rich enough
I thank God for the blessings
That His mercy has bestowed
I'm drinking from the saucer
'Cause my cup has overflowed
He gives me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I'll not ask for other blessings for
I'm already blessed enough
May we never be too busy
To help bear another's load
Then we'll all be drinking from the saucer
When our cups have overflowed
The words made me smile then, but even more so now that I have moved beyond "goodness and mercy shall follow" and have entered a season of "my cup overflows."
I look at my 5 blessings--age 4 months to 14 years, all given to us by the grace of God--and my sleep-deprived eyes well up with happy tears. I'm just so very grateful for each one of them.
Grateful for Olivia--our daughter with big brown eyes and a big heart for others; the patient oldest sister to one crazy crew; our first gift from God after years of praying for a child; proof that children grow up too fast.
Grateful for Ava--our daughter who loves with her whole heart; the one who keeps us laughing and makes every day feel like a party; the one always there to offer encouragement and a hug; proof that children are just sunshine packaged in human form.
Grateful for Daniel--our son born of our hearts through the miracle of adoption; the one with a smile that can light up a room and melt your heart; a little boy made up of equal parts of humor and sensitivity; proof that God can heal what has been broken and that families are made with love.
Grateful for Brady--our son given to us after the pain of losing his brother; the one who is so gentle and caring that he as the youngest has become an example to the older ones; the sweetest snuggler in the bunch; and proof that God will not leave us in the valley of the shadow of death . . . that goodness and mercy always follow.
Grateful for Victoria--our daughter given to us by surprise and by God's grace; the one who is keeping us young and reminds us each day to cherish every sweet minute;
Our little princess who is remarkably tolerant of the crazy family she's been born into; proof that God's plan is always so much better than ours.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for all five blessings. All so special and so loved.
It's been a long time since I've posted a "Sunday Dinner" with a scripture and a song. The past four months can be summed up with these verses:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV
The song that is currently first on my playlist says what I'm feeling. It is "Your Love is Extravagant" by Casting Crowns. Yes, His love certainly is!