Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Joy of Boys

            It saddens me. I am told that statistically, far more girls are adopted than are boys, and that the majority of adoptive parents list a preference for girls with their agency. Girls, they say, are easier to raise, and some conjecture that mothers would like a girl child to relate to.

            Perhaps the statistics are confusing to me because my childhood was spent with a healthy dose of boys surrounding me. My dad was a wrestling coach; I had three brothers, and we spent winter evenings at wrestling matches, spring Saturdays at peewee wrestling tournaments with hundreds of sweaty boys, and summers playing together on the rope swing in the backyard and swimming in the neighborhood pool. I changed boy diapers, directed boy games, and enjoyed the easy-going attitudes of the boys and young men around me. So it is not surprising that I find myself the mother of 5 beautiful boys – three chosen through adoption - and one lovely daughter. What is surprising to me, though, is that so many boys wait, and that so many parents think “girl” when they consider adoption.
            When we began the adoption process, hoping to adopt a child with a medical special need, we learned that far more boys were waiting for families than girls. We also learned, sadly, that once a little boy is past babyhood and enters the toddler years, his chances of being adopted begin to drop dramatically. We were already parenting two sons and a daughter, and the idea of our sons going without a family because of their gender was heartbreaking to us. We fell in love with our third son’s sweet face on Rainbow Kids, and prayed our way through a homestudy before we were able to be matched with him. A year after this little guy came home, a fourth son joined our family through adoption.

These two kept us hopping, that's for sure, and brought us so much laughter as we watched our three-year-old "twins" play, make mischief, blossom and grow. A few years later, our fifth son came home and joined in the brother games.

Waiting due to prematurity, he had very little speech at homecoming, and his siblings became his biggest cheerleaders, teaching him to pretend and play, and coaxing him to speak in sentences for them.
            I don’t know if I can adequately describe the joy our boys have brought our family, but perhaps I can share some of the wonder of raising sons. Girls are wonderful – we love our daughter dearly – but boys have their own incredible brand of greatness that deserves celebrating, and they are no less loving or “fun” for a mother to hang out with than a daughter.

         It's true that boys love to play outdoors, rough and tumble,

and who wouldn't want to head outdoors with them? They do play differently, in wildly creative and active ways my daughter and her friends never did (sword fighting match on a picnic bench, anyone?).  If it can be flung, shot, thrown, ridden or climbed, boys are there.

       But we've found that boys also have a wonderful, gentle side. I have met much noisier girls (I believed I raised one!) and I argue the assertion that boys must be noisy. We have pretty firm rules about outside voices being reserved for outside, along with the outside activities like running and tag, and the outside toys, like balls and nerf guns. Outside they stay. Inside, we're a pretty mellow bunch. Our boys are fun kitchen helpers,

love to bake,

Chocolate frosting!
and love to craft.

      These boys love each other deeply with a beautiful bond, and we frequently look around our table and marvel at the family God has built. Our home is not perfect and there are sometimes squabbles, but laughter, love and God's grace hold us together.

       I'm sometimes humbled to realize that we're raising a house full of men, and to recognize the great responsibility inherent in that, and the blessing of being the ones to raise and train them. What a privilege to hear their questions, their thoughts and their dreams, and to receive their hugs each night as we tuck them in. We do love our boys.

       If you're considering adoption, please consider a boy. Thousands of precious little boys are waiting, for a family to call their own, someone to read them stories, throw a ball or bake a batch of cookies with them, and to tuck them in at night.

Trusting in Him,


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Morning Quiet

          I've searched for quiet time for years, fully aware, every single morning, of how unprepared I am to step into the day without God’s help. I’ve long awakened slowly, sometimes cranky, in varying degrees of unwillingness to give up cozy and lazy and self to the multitude of needs that will greet me on that day. Over time, I realized fuel is needed before attempting what comes so unnaturally – and I need it every single morning (leaky vessel, I am).

          Still, time to refuel is elusive in a family; business and activity and habit crowd in, along with many voices wanting attention and the laundry, oh the laundry! Quiet must be carved out of hours not used or those wasted on things that don’t edify, and I find mine in the still-dark hour I always slept through.

          For months, this habit has been building; rising with alarm, and after several weeks, beginning to wake alone and even gladly, anxious for this quiet meeting time with God. I move through dark house, and squirrel a cup of tea back up to my bedroom where dog, cat and I sit with Bible and devotionals. This lovely quiet hour, once dreamed through, has become my favorite time of day. This morning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke to me from the pages of Devotions for Lent, and before I jump into breakfast and school and laundry, I wanted to share with you.

Oh God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me….

Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before men.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
-         Dietrich Bonhoeffer Germany/ 1906-1945

Thankful for quiet, restoration and God’s ever present help, and

Trusting in Him,


Friday, March 9, 2012

How Stretching Muscles Changes Everything

It may be still snowy around here - with a surprising squall today - but spring is coming. We can feel it. The birds are coming back, and Miss Goldfinch is getting more brazen at the feeder by my kitchen window. We stood nearly eye to eye the other day, she and I, and I felt it a privilege to watch her dine; me in my apron on one side of the glass, and on the other,  she in soft yellow-gray feathers, sharp little beak, and tiny darting black eyes.

We enjoyed several long walks in the past week, and the same trails we usually enjoy in warmer weather are refreshingly different in the slushy snow - landmarks buried but still identifiable, fun to see in a different light. That different light is so good this time of year, when every homeschooling mom seems to speak of burnout and kids need a change as well.

We stretch our muscles as we walk and stretch our minds as we notice things – deer tracks in the woods, see that bark missing there? Do you suppose he ate it? Look at that – a wasp’s nest! What do you suppose it’s made of? And most fascinating of all, why are there pockets of warm, and then colder air as we walk along?

As we go, I breathe it all in and silently count blessings and this stretches muscles too.
Those thanksgiving muscles – they need their exercise. I realized long ago that some people are more naturally cheerful than others; some wake up smiling and look easily on the bright side, and others are more pensively broody. I would be the latter type by nature, but years ago, as a young mom, I became determined to try to change – with God’s help.

It was exercise that did it – the exercise of giving thanks. I began counting blessings - before sleep each night: at least ten blessings listed. Before feet hit floor upon waking: prayers for joy and the Fruits of the Spirit, and a prayer for eyes opened to blessings and a heart of thanksgiving.

Here’s the thing I found on my search for blessings: most of them were in the small, the overlooked, the moments that don’t pass this way again and that we so easily forget if we don’t take the time to notice and breathe thanks. Two small helpers in footie pajamas stirring pancake batter; nightly tea with husband; cats perched on porch railing; hummingbird visiting the clothesline. My list grew, and my heart began to change.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Then, through the years, came tough times – things you don’t plan for and that rock your world and what is there to give thanks for? Amazingly, I found not only that there was much to be thankful for, but that thanksgiving changed me most at those times. Sometimes it’s a sacrifice of praise through tears that pulls us closer to our maker and connects us to our purpose of giving Him glory.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

And so I’m remembering now, in this month of March, to stretch thanksgiving muscles along with legs, and I’m trying a new discipline – writing those blessings down and numbering them. Small black notebook, bedside, receives pencil scratches each night as I review the day’s treasures in my mind. This week, among my 50 recorded blessings and countless others, I am thankful for:

-         flashes of red and yellow at the feeder (cardinal and goldfinch couples)
-         long walk through God’s handiwork of trees and mud and rocky slopes
-         candlelight on Lenten spiral at dinner
-         Husband cooking dinner – and washing dishes
-         29 years of dating my best guy
-         laughter with boys and dog
-         purr of cat, contentedly curled upside down at my side
-         Wrestler baking brownies
-         lively narrations and great conversation with boys
-         laughter with Artist

Giving thanks and

Trusting in Him,


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Twenty Nine Years

Twenty nine years ago, my brother brought a friend home for dinner. I'd noticed that friend for months, and we'd struck up a friendship. He had a kind spirit, looked out for the underdog, and I thought he was awfully cute. That night, somehow, became a first date of sorts. It consisted mostly of me expressing my affection by heaping his plate with my mother's food, but it was clear, by the evening's end, that we were sweet for each other.

Who knew, all those years ago,

 that we'd still be together?

Happy special day anniversary to my wonderful Husband, one of the greatest blessings I've been given. He still has that kind spirit, still cares deeply about people, and I still think he's awfully cute.

Giving thanks for 29 years, and

Trusting in Him,