Thursday, March 16, 2017

Redemption and Soccer

Soccer season has begun and Maddie is so excited to be playing on a tournament soccer team as well as her regular recreation team.  We traveled to Houma for the first tournament of the season.  I was not excited about making such a long drive for a kids soccer game and my friends and acquaintances look at me a little funny when I tell them where I am going - "That long drive for 9 year old soccer?"  And through my tiredness, in my head I say the same thing.  It wasn't until the first game that I am reminded why I go and what I am watching is so much bigger than 9 year old soccer. 

So let's discuss the game stats first.  The first game we played we won 5-0, Maddie scored 2 of the 5 points.  The second game we also won 3-1 and she scored 2 of the 3 points.  So out of the 8 total points we scored as a team - Maddie is responsible for half of them.  The final game for the championship was cancelled due to rain and boy was she disappointed.

So back to the purpose of the post, which is not to talk about points scored or games won - which for a sports fanatic like me is what I thrive on.  Since Maddie began playing soccer it was amazingly evident that she had a gift for the sport and if you read my blog on a regular you have probably seen a post or two about her accomplishments on the soccer field.  When talking to friends and people in the community that ask about Maddie, the topic of soccer and her athletic ability often come up and I find myself bragging and championing her abilities.  But what I realized this weekend watching her is that its not about the sport or the wins......  Its about Redemption.  That God took this FRAIL little girl (and I mean frail) and turned her in to a BEAST of an athlete - gave her talent beyond measure.  When I watch her score each goal - I cheer (LOUDLY) and I know I am witnessing the Redemptive Power of a Mighty GOD played out on a 9 year old soccer field.  Beauty from Ashes!

So when you hear me brag or holler like a crazy person or jump up and down on the soccer field watching her know that my story is much bigger than what appears to be happening on that field. Plucked from obscurity to be a champion - given a gift and talent to help her overcome insecurities.  A mechanism to propel her once again from unknown to known.  A true "underdog" story!

I cannot express how humbled I am to be witnessing her life and GOD's amazing plan for it.

#frailnomore
#wouldnotmissthisforanything
#beastmode
#consideradoptionitwillchangeyourlife



Friday, February 17, 2017

Good bye Teenagers

I hear many people saying ill things of their teenagers.  My mom use to tell my sister and I all the time "I can't wait for you girls to be gone" - and probably rightfully so.  We were both a handful in different ways.  I on the other hand have NEVER felt that way about my teenagers. I embraced everything that came with that phase in their lives.  They were both super involved in activities at school and had active social lives.  Now did I worry about them when they went "out" with friends - Absolutely!  Did they have missteps along the way - Absolutely again - no one goes through life without them.  But we embraced each mistake along the way and helped it be a learning lesson for each of them.

When I think back over their teenage years - these are some things that stick out in my mind:

Christopher was notorious for forgetting or losing things.  Forgetting his homework, books needed for class, fees or forms for various activities for school. I cannot count how many times my dad had to search for things at my house and drive to Lake Charles to bring Christopher whatever it was he needed.  Christopher even drove to school his senior year (yes I said SENIOR year) without his shoes on his feet.  He had to call me to bring him his shoes so he could go to class.  He has lost keys, uniforms, shoe (yes just one to the pair).  When Christopher was a freshman in high school I had bought him a uniform standard navy blue tie that he had to wear on Thursdays (mass day).  At this point, I had bought him 2 because he had lost one already.  Knowing that I would be upset with him for losing yet another and running out of time bc I'm certain he just realized he was without the tie on Wednesday night, he was creative.  He found a tie (purple paisley) and a navy blue jacket that obviously no one wore recently and made his own navy blue tie.  The sleeve of the jacket was cut off and apart for fabric that would be taped (yes hundreds of pieces of tape) to the existing purple paisley tie.  No one at school was the wiser.  I still have that tie with all the tape still holding that blue fabric.  Priceless piece of Christopher's handy work that we will laugh at forever.

Another memorable time is playoff basketball game in Baton Rouge.  Just a mere hours before game time he announces that he left his basketball shoes and will need another pair.  (Yes - losing and leaving shoes was a common theme in Christopher's life).  In the pouring rain, I set out to find a size 13 basketball shoe in the right color of white and blue - thankfully we found them in time for him to play the big game.  That boy was maddening sometimes but it was part of the abundance of life - the funny stuff that kept us in stitches.  His classmates and their parents even recognized that about him and parodied him in a skit at the Graduation Lock In.

Having a teenage girl is a different experience altogether.  The issues they deal with are completely opposite than what a teenage boy goes through.  With Lizzy there was definitely a little more drama (but not too much - lol) and Much Much more information that was shared with me.  Lizzy told me everything (or everything she wanted me to know).  I knew about friends, who likes who, who doesn't like who, who got on her nerves, what people were wearing -  I got a lesson in fashion, music and social correctness (aka how lame something was).  Lizzy was always very social and my house was full of her friends, hosted many picture sessions before dances, layout by the pool get togethers etc.  She included me in everything!  Junior year she asked if I would host the Junior Prom dinner for her group of friends - only 42 kids.  I was Super excited that she was allowing me to be part of that and I happily agreed - only to be given a stern look and told that I couldn't just HAVE dinner -  that it needed to be decorated according to the theme and look amazing.  No worries - I got this!  I jumped to work and borrowed, bought, ordered and had made all the things I needed to transform my house to an Arabian Night themed palace.

The dress shopping for the Homecoming Dresses, Prom Dresses, Twirp, etc. were an experience unto themselves.  We traveled far and wide (New York to Houston) to find the perfect dress, sometimes trying on so many I couldn't keep them all straight.  But when she knew it was THE dress, I could see it on her face and guaranteed my pocket book felt it.  Nothing with Lizzy ever came as a bargain but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Senior Prom I lucked out - 1st dress, 1st store was a winner!!!

Lizzy as compared to Christopher couldn't wait to get her license and a car.  And when she did I missed that time we spent together shuttling her from activity to activity.  I lost count of all of the whiskey dents that she had on her car from various mishaps on the road.  Thankfully that's all we had to deal with. It was the stories I got on how it happened that were more memorable than the actual dent was.  Oh Boy the recollection of a teenager when they have a fender bender. Christopher was not super excited to have his license - he was very non-chalant about it.  But once he got his license he had his share of whiskey dents too.  Backing up into his dads parked car in the driveway after walking right by it to get in his truck.  I can even admit that I backed straight into Lizzy in the driveway too - not looking back to see her pulling in.  Needless to say - car repairs were a bit of an expense at my house during those teenage years.

SPORTS!  Sports connects people for a common goal.  And me and my teenagers were no different.  Christopher played basketball throughout high school and in to college.  Game Days for me meant wearing the school colors - from head to toe! I never missed a game - I was front and center cheering him on - and screaming the loudest in the stands at the referees.  I was his biggest fan.  He was dedicated and worked hard throughout those 4 years to play at the level he wanted.  Lizzy cheered.  Going to see her cheer at football and basketball games was fun but the real fun was watching them prepare and preform for Cheer Camp and Competitions.  The cheer mom was cheering on her cheerleader and the team as we traveled near and far competing.  Lizzy too worked hard to perfect her tumbling skills so she could compete on the level she wanted.  Senior year paid off - her team won big at all camps and competitions we attended.  PRICELESS moments..... Seeing your teenagers work hard for something and getting the payoff they desire. 

The Graduation Lock In is an event that is tradition at St. Louis High School and was an amazing experience for both Me, as I volunteered to help with the event in 2012 and for Christopher and his friends. That night we spent locked in the McNeese athletic center playing silly games and relay races bonded the parents with each other and allowed parents and the kids to have closure to this chapter of their lives, ready to move on with the next step. One of my jobs was to create the end of the night slide show of all the kids favorite pictures throughout the last 4 years (and I nailed it if I say so myself)  It was funny, heartwarming and moving to see all the great memories they made together as a class.

I had so enjoyed Christopher's senior lock in I had started thinking about the planning for when it was Lizzy's turn.  The time went so quickly and there I was again, graduating another of my children.  When it was Lizzy's senior year the parent volunteers had decided not to do a lock in and my girl was devastated and so was I.  Lizzy asked me to help fix the situation and once again I said "No Worries - I got this". Me and some amazing moms pulled off the best Senior Lock In ever - with a theme of May Madness (spinoff of March Madness my favorite time of year).  It was a great night and at the end of the night I sat next to Lizzy and cried and cried that high school was ending.

Many conversations during their teen years centered around college and what they thought they wanted to be when they grew up - and that's a hard decision for an 18 year old to make.  Thankfully I have a job that opens my eyes to see beyond the top 5 career paths, i.e. Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse, Accountant or Engineer.  The time spent traveling to College Fairs and Campus Visits were priceless opportunities to connect with my kids and allow them to see the possibilities their futures hold.  They both were able to choose the college that was the best fit for them, offered the curriculum that would give them what they were looking for in their education and provide the "College" experience that they envisioned - and it was very different for both but perfect in the sense that they chose and I only guided.

I miss having teenagers in my house.  Yes folks I said that.  Let me say it again..... I miss having teenagers in my house. They brought laughter to my house with their quick witted humor and the way they argued with each other(and still do).  That part of my journey of being a mom was amazing and full of blessings beyond what I can describe in words.  It gets me teary eyed every time when I think about those years - I loved every moment of it and it wasn't always easy but so worth it.  I have some amazing young adults and having them now transition to their 20's isn't so bad - it is turning out to be just as rewarding a journey.








Monday, January 30, 2017

GOTCHA Day - #7

7 years ago in a tiny, overcrowded, cluttered and smelly office in Xian China, lives were changed forever.  After many months of waiting, I distinctly remember looking around at all the other families that were being brought together at that very moment wondering where is "the one", where is mine that I have waited for all these months...  And in that moment, she appears - asleep in the arms of the woman that cared for her for the first years of her life.  Many emotions ran through me that day but one look in her sweet scared face and I knew GOD had this. Gotcha Day's are special to me in a different way than Maddie and Mia's birthdays are.  I was there at that moment in time for their Gotcha Days - It marks the binding of what God so purposefully threaded together - the crescendo in the story that God is writing in my life.
When I think back at all the small details of that day I so vividly remember, this year I can't help but think about all the months I waited for her (and for Mia).  Waited.  But God uses "all things" we are told.  Even the wait, I ask myself?  Yes - He is IN the Waiting!!  Those 7 months I waited to travel to China and return with Maddie were teaching me something.  What I found was, during those painstaking months of waiting my reliance on GOD to get me through each second of the day was stronger than ever.  I fought back fear and insecurity through long prayer time and realized that HE was sufficient in my lacking.  That as we are inpatient and want instant gratification HE is working all the smallest of details out for HIS glory and our good.  I learned that wait is necessary - that the stillness that comes with waiting allows us to connect with our emotions.  To sit with them, feel them because they are telling us something.  Even in moments of joy or pain - our emotions speak to us and guide us to the Almighty.  The wait teaches us so many things.  My waiting taught me patience (which I am still not good at but getting better), perseverance, blind obedience, humility and many other things.  The Waiting is a necessary teacher in life.  Listen to it, learn from it - it is a worthy life lesson to learn.





Happy Gotcha Day Maddie! #changedforever #couldnotimaginelifewithouther



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankfulness

On this eve of Thanksgiving, with all my precious kiddos tucked away for the night, I felt the need to express what I am thankful for.

 - I am thankful for each child God has blessed me with - their uniqueness and the special relationship I have with each one of them. Being their mom is my life's passion - its the best thing I have ever done and I am honored to be part of their lives.
- I am thankful for my family, who always have my back and are always willing to help me.  Life with them in it is a good thing!!
 -I am thankful for my amazing friends, who have seen me through good and bad times and are always there to laugh and cry with me.
 - I am thankful for lessons learned, although some have been very difficult, its those that shape and mold me into who GOD needs me to be.
 - I am thankful for what I don't have anymore, although at one time I thought it was something that I couldn't live without, I am finding that life is better than ever before and I am glad I trusted GOD through the journey.
 - I am thankful for the opportunity I am given everyday to LOVE people.  People who have been in my life forever, people who just entered my life and those that haven't yet crossed my path but will in the future.
 - I am thankful for the gifts that only come from GOD, humbleness, grace, mercy, forgiveness and HOPE.
 - I am thankful for my life and the opportunities I have to enjoy it.  I love that GOD gave me a beautiful story as my testimony - one filled with hardships, heartaches, triumphs and redemptions.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LOVE in a text message


It all started with an everyday text message that my daughter shared with me that her sweet boyfriend sent to her.  The text message was probably like most texts they share between themselves.  Lizzy and her sorority had been practicing for many long hours and for weeks to prepare for their performance at what is known as Pigskin during Baylor’s Homecoming Weekend. He simply asked if it was still possible for him to get a ticket to the performance on Friday night as he was thinking of coming into town to watch her perform.  No big deal right?  Then he followed it up with “Its important to you and you’ve put in a lot of hard work”.  Wow!  I mean Wow!  That simple text message she shared with me opened a gulf of emotions for me that for the next couple of days I had to swim through.  What struck me so profoundly about his words to her is his capacity (with his limited years on this earth) to love her – through being thoughtful as well as care about things that are important to her.  AND That is how I feel about all of my children.  If its important to them, then its important to me.  That’s love my friends. 

 This small expression from Lizzy’s boyfriend made me think deeply about the love I have for my children and what I believe TRUE Love to be.  And there is a difference between love and true love – maybe the latter should be called something different but for the purpose of this post that’s what we will go with.  Most use the term Love very loosely – I love Cheetos or I love my job and even some say I love my children.  But do you REALLY love??  Is it surface love, where the words are there but its void of any action or deep feelings?  Or is it the unadulterated, raw, exposed, deep level of love?  The kind of love that sends you to a country half way around the world, to adopt a child that you have only seen in pictures, the kind of love that drives 4.5 hours one way to see a 3 minute performance only to make the same drive home the next morning, the kind of love that LONGS to see the faces of your children all together at a dinner table, because eating together is one of the most personal expressions of love and family, the kind of LOVE that makes your heart ache when you are not with your child because he has moved away to follow his dream, or the kind of love that prays for their future spouses, that they will love them as purely as you do, or that wants them to have what you had growing up (an amazing involved father and/or an intact family) even though they may not know what they are missing – You WANT it for them!.  You occasionally hear people state – I would die for my kids.  Maybe so but would you pick up the phone and call them, find out about their life, be an active part of it – would you do that?  Those are the things that LOVE drives you to do on a daily basis.  Not very many people are ever faced with the option of having to die to save their children, but it’s the small inconsequential things in life that we miss that matter the most and that prove our Love to people (not just specifically our children)

Sitting with the deep realization of someone’s limited capacity to LOVE can be sobering.  Seeing your own capacity to love and love deeply is humbling.  And I mean the raw, vulnerable, exposed love at a level that can only come from GOD himself.  When we know GOD, he allows us to see a glimpse of his capacity to love us, even to love those that turn from him and that is overwhelming.  The expression of LOVE that GOD provided us in his son Jesus is played out in the smallest details of our life.  His love carries us through the mundane’s of everyday life – folding the clothes to caring for the dog, his love always finds us and picks us up at our lowest point and holds our heads above water until we can get a proper footing.  His love finds us at our most vulnerable and stands in the gap for us.  His love sends angels in the form of best friends to walk alongside of you in life.  His love impacts your heart and brings you to your knees and on your face to pray for those that hurt you and are lost – because you know that GOD stands in the gap for you so you must stand in the gap for those that don’t know him.  It’s GOD’s love living through you that calls you to action.  But here’s the best part… truly experiencing GOD’s love is the way to JOY in your life.  Even in the midst of trials and tribulations  - GOD’s love lets you experience the JOY.  It is so hard to articulate the love of GOD in a way that people can truly feel it – to make words come together to relay to its reader the awesomeness and all encompassing LOVE of Christ.  This was my feeble attempt,  as GOD’s love is deep – it makes my soul hurt – so much so that my body reacts with tears, so words just sometimes are not enough.  And to think it all started with a simple text message. 

 

 
P.S.  Most of my revelations from GOD are always related to my children, as he knows they are the gateway to my heart – He uses that to teach me and relate his message so clearly. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Life Lessons

What a journey life is!  It is never quite what we expect or plan for. Over the past couple of years I have been learning so much about my life journey.  For many years in my life I wanted to forgo the hurt, pain and disappointment of life - I wanted to coast by with a smile on my face with everything being peaches and roses.  That, unfortunately (well fortunately - we will get to that in a minute) isn't how life is.  That philosophy kept me stuck in a very bad, unhealthy and dysfunctional marriage for way to long and frankly didn't hold water in theory or practice.  I refused to acknowledge that someone was repeatedly hurting me and did not want to deal with the ugliness of the situation - so I swallowed and stayed stuck.  BUT - there comes a time when every girl must put on her big girl panties and face the stark reality and deal with it.  So here is the fortunately part I mentioned - Life isn't peaches and roses.  In our failures, our broken relationships, our pain - there is learning, growth and healing - how amazing is that!  When we acknowledge that Bad is Bad or painful is painful then and only then can we fully experience the Good, the Happy, the Joyful and the Hopeful in life.

Through this journey my children have had to learn many life lessons.  Tough ones.  But the one thing I NEVER expected was that "the taught" has now become "the teacher."  Many months ago I distinctly remember telling my son that he was now the "constant" male figure in our lives.  That he would need to step in with the littles where his dad had stepped out.  That was really all to that conversation.  There was a head nod as I remember but no other fanfare or beating of his chest or telling me what he is going to do - just a simple head nod, acknowledging that he heard and that he's got this.  Christopher has now graduated college and moved home for what we know is a short time while he secures the next step in his life. (job or graduate school).  But he has not forgotten his commitment he gave me to step in where Keith had stepped out.  He has lovingly cared for his sisters.  He is generous with his time with them, swimming, playing video games and pokemon go, cooking for them and even teaching them to cook.  He has lovingly and patiently refereed many disagreements between Maddie and Mia, most times even better that I could.  Just recently I went to Christopher in a very low moment.  Tears were flowing and although he did not want to entertain the circumstances of what had transpired that brought me to tears - I asked him one simple question - What do I do?  He shrugged his shoulders and the short conversation was over.  Later that evening I received a text message from him, detailing his suggestions and strategies I could put in place to overcome my dilemma.  It read like a man with life experience beyond measure wrote those words.  In that moment our roles reversed and I was being taught and taught well, from a man who I taught well.   Over the past few days I have thought a lot about this particular situation of guidance Christopher gave me and took a step back and looked at his time with us at home as a whole and have a new perspective.  I think back to that simple nod, the no fanfare -  just him showing up the past 2 years (on vacations, at holidays and now at home) to do the job he knew he needed
to.  I think to myself - isn't that how Jesus came to this earth - quietly with no fanfare, to step in and do a job he knew we needed him to do for us.  Christopher has such an amazing spirit about him - one that models those things Jesus modeled for us and that makes me PROUD. 

Again, its through life's disappointments, hurt and pain that comes moments such as the one with my son, moments where I feel the love of my friends and family, moments where I see the hope in new friendships and relationships.  Do I like to experience those difficult times anymore than I use to - of course not - I am just learning that GOD uses ALL things to his Glory and that if we look hard we too can see the blessings, no matter how small, that come out of those circumstances.  They mold us and shape us into who GOD wants us to be and for that I am Grateful!




Sunday, January 24, 2016

A special day for a special girl!

Time….  It goes by so quickly…. Especially when you have something to measure against it.

6 years ago the most amazing, tenacious, determined, ball of energy entered our lives, although she entered meekly, mildly, scared and unsure.  I'll never forget her frail frame and her scared little face, unsure of who we were, where she was going and what was happening in her little world.

Time… it changes things… it heals and it allows for growth …..



And boy has Maddie grown!  She has grown into a beautiful 8 year old.  One who is sensitive and caring but rough and tough.  I can't imagine my life without her.  She makes me want to be a better person and a better mom!  I love her more than words could ever express.  And today we celebrate that moment in time where our lives changed forever….  Maddie's GOTCHA Day.  And before the festivities began, I read my blog entry to her that I wrote 6 years ago and looked into her sweet face and told her how special she was and that GOD has a special purpose for her on this earth.

I cannot thank GOD enough for allowing me the privilege of being her mother.  What a wonderful day to celebrate (its my favorite celebration throughout the year).

Friends and family gathered to celebrate this milestone with us.  Although the BIGS could not be with us, we did FaceTime during our celebration.  Chinese food, in beautiful chinese dishes with a beautiful cupcake display made special for Maddie.  Nothing could be better.