Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Little Something for Your Wednesday Afternoon...

Got 20 minutes???  Grab your lunch and sit down with these gems....
(click over to the full site if you're in a reader or mobile device!)

A Christmas Adoption Story via Ordinary Hero (5 minutes)

Now click here to watch I Like Adoption (6 minutes)

And finally...

To Ethiopia and Back (9 minutes)

You're welcome!!  Hope you had kleenex nearby!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shop Amazon - Bring Our Girls Home!

Happy Tuesday everyone!!  It's been one week to the day that I've been carrying around pictures in my purse of two sweet, brown-faced girls and calling them my daughters....that seems like a perfectly good reason for a celebration!!

How 'bout celebrating my girls with me while you get ready to celebrate Jesus birth!  I have a suspicion that many of you just clicked over here from some shopping site you were on, trying to take advantage of the last few days that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to have the friendly UPS man deliver your purchases!  Since you're shopping anyways.....check out our Amazon link!  I've stocked it with some of my favorite reads from over the last year....books that will feed and challenge the souls of your loved ones.  

Using this link, or the one on the upper left hand corner of the blog, to enter the Amazon site will set the Amazon elves in motion on behalf of our girls!  There won't be any fireworks or banners that announce that your purchase is an extra special one...but don't worry....Amazon know that you came through our link and will credit a percentage of your purchase to our adoption account.  Simple as that!  Purchases you were going to make anyways can do double duty celebrating both our girls and Christmas, just with one extra click!  And we all know Amazon's got everything on your list....probably cheaper too!

You've got 8 days left to get that coveted SUPER SAVER SHIPPING...after that you'll find yourself in the unsavory dilemma of trying to weigh the benefits of not having to drive the busy roads with the Christmas crazies against expensive 2 day shipping....or *gasp* overnight shipping! 

Thank you for celebrating with us.  I really can't say it enough.  The outpouring of excitement from all of you in your comments, facebook posts, emails and in-person hugs has been overwhelming and powerful.  You have fanned our excitement into a roaring fire that's helping calm the tide of sudden "to-do" lists and adoption paperwork.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We've Seen Their Faces!!

Ready to have your mind blown?   Have we got a referral story for you!  It's a like a book with a plot that sucks you in right from the start, leaving you gritty-eyed from endless "just-one-more-chapter" nights.  You mean to put the book down and sleep like a normal person...but then the last paragraph of each chapter makes your eyes go wide and steals all willpower except for the "page turning" kind.  One twist in the plot after another that you COULDN'T SEE COMING....twists that are the best satisfaction a plot could offer.  It's better than what you hoped was coming and leaves you amazed at the writer's craft.  Ever read a book like that?? I have.  I LOOOVE them.  The past few weeks have shown me that I SUPER LOOOOVE living that kind of plot!

A good story has to start at the beginning.....Once upon a time, God stirred our hearts in an undeniable way and called us to respond to His orphaned children by making a few of them Floridas.  We gulped, signed on the dotted line and wrote the first big check.  We laid our resources and limitations out on the table for our social worker and waited to see what she would make of it.  Where would what we had to offer meet the greatest need?  The answer....ETHIOPIA....another gulp, and step forward.  We asked about the plight of orphans, especially the neediest.  She said....OLDER CHILDREN and SPECIAL NEEDS.  We gulped.....and pondered.  We prayed and wondered.  We asked God to make us fearless in the face of His clear call.

Our homestudy was completed last summer and gave us permission to welcome two children younger than Ginger into our family.  Clear responsibilities with the initials R, T, I, C, E, and G made those parameters seem like the smart starting point.  Our names were put on the waiting list......and we waited.  We waited, wondered, churned and boiled, God kept moving His plan forward in our hearts, gently and deliberately.  I started to sense His winds blowing, stirring things up in my heart.  Quite freaked me out.  I found myself crying at every song that came on the radio as I drove from errand to errand and coming to a decision in the darkness of my garage,  unwilling to get out of the car until I was sure.  I had stumble upon a half done radio program about a lady who had done a crazy, crazy thing.  She told of knowing for sure that God was calling her to, against all reason, adopt a pair of African teenage boys even though she had a house full of preschoolers.  God's very clear call to her and her husband, trumped conventional wisdom.  I prayed there in my car that God would give me two things in whatever He was undeniably clear call.....and boldness of faith to follow.  I knew I was at a turning point, for what I wasn't sure yet.  With gulping breath I went to find Scott and warn him that things might be happening and I had already given God a "yes!"  I knew if I didn't come clean to him quickly, my knees would buckle and I might pretend I hadn't been in the middle of that wind.

I read somewhere along the way that 98% of people who are willing to adopt are open to a healthy baby....and only 2% of the orphan need is represented by healthy babies.  That hurt.  I looooove babies.  Scott looooves babies.  Adopting a baby made sense to us, it wasn't scary.  But the more my heart turned toward orphans, the more scared I was about missing our true calling.  We're not adopting because the Floridas need more babies.  Quite frankly, we've got enough for any reasonable person and if we felt the need for more it's just not that hard for us to make our own.  We said "yes" to adoption because we thought we might have something to offer to a desperate need.  We had been praying that God would help us see the greatest need that we were equipped to meet.....especially in a place where there may not be many other people willing or able to respond.  We've been longing to be numbered among the 2%....but freaked out by what that might mean.

I began doing a lot of research about Ethiopia in particular and sibling groups and special needs too.  I found the story of a family online who inspired and educated me.  I ready everything I could and was looking forward to sharing it all with Scott.  Instead, he came home and I was brought to my knees.  Scott walked in the door one day holding out a magazine that our Pastor had sent home for me because it had a section about adoption in it that he thought I would be interested in....  Are you ready for some goosebumps??  The feature article wasn't just about adoption, it was about Ethiopian adoption.  And it wasn't just about Ethiopian adoption, it was about a family who already had 6 kids adopting a sibling set, crazy right?   Goosebumps coming yet??    Scott walked in with the magazine and uninterrupted the article I was beginning to read online with this article about the very same family!!  

It seemed like the pieces were clearly falling into place and we felt ready to move forward.
The waiting continued, the wondering and dreaming of sweet little chubby brown cheeks and hands.  As we waited, I felt the siren call of a particular page on Bethany's adoptive family's website....the page called "Waiting Children."  These are the children that nobody's waiting for, there's no line of hopeful families imagining the call they will someday get telling them they've been matched with a little person.  These children are suffering through their own wait.  They're mostly older children...the only babies you see here will have very significant special needs.  They're children old enough to understand that when the social worker comes to take more pictures, it's really a try-out of sorts.  Those pictures are the sliver of hope that somebody out there somewhere will see something in their eyes or tilt of the chin that suddenly makes them wanted, and ends their wait.  I peruse the list of African  waiters regularly, wondering if one of them needs us and praying for the ones that remain week after week.  Every one of them grabs my heart, but there have been a couple of faces and paragraph biographies that have brought a catch to  my throat thinking I may be spotting some matches between their needs and our resources.  My family has heard countless of their stories read aloud to the family room....I read them and leave the stories hanging with a prayer that God will make it obvious to all of us if we've read about a Florida.  We've seen Him shine a brilliant green light into all of our hearts to tell us to GO for I bit my tongue and listened as valid reasons that the risks outweighed all else held sway.  There have been some discussions, even some questions asked of social workers and phone calls made....but never a bright green light from God.....until 4 weeks ago...

You're not going to believe what happened next.  There was a girl.  A girl I had read about since the beginning of the summer.  She didn't fit what we thought matched us at all, so I began praying for her and for her family to find her.  Three weeks ago the program updates we get from Bethany began to highlight her.  They wanted people to take special note of her needs and help them seek a family for her quickly because time was running out.  She lost both of her parents and was cared for by an older married sister. This girl was not able to be cared for by her family anymore and made her way to an orphanage.   Her time is running out though....she's 15 and on the verge of aging out of the adoption system in Ethiopia.  Her hope for a family  a future and life itself hinge on paperwork being filed by her April 23rd birthday.  My prayers for her started including a little bit of jealousy for the family that would get to rise to her need and be hers.  Reading her story aloud to Scott is when the very coherent thought first occurred to me that maybe, just to explore the very outside chance, we should ask ourselves, maybe, I mean it couldn't possibly work, but just to be sure, I don't know....there can't be any way that it could work, could it.....?????  Scott's response?  "I think we need to request her file."  That made sense to me.  I mean, of course, as soon as we read detailed information about her it would be clear, we would know that it didn't fit or make sense.  So, we got the file....medical reports....and lists of her favorite foods (Tibs - fried beef), favorite activities (jumping rope) and the story of a little girl who had a Mommy & Daddy who loved her...but then they got sick and her whole world fell apart.  Through our tears and thumping heart we started to wonder if she might be ours.

If the story ended there....that would be enough.  We would all stand in awe of a God who does amazing things and sends the the wind of His Spirit to meet the needs of His precious ones.  But goodness gracious, there's more!!  It only took a couple hours of imagining her as ours for us to start to wonder how we could ease the lonesomeness of being adopted internationally as a 15 year old all alone.  "Too bad she doesn't have a sister." Scott said with a sigh.  Which made me think.....I remembered....there was another girl on the waiting list...a girl who's going to be in the same danger of running out of time in less than a year.  I've been praying for her too.  I mentioned her to Scott and we wondered aloud if they could possibly be in the same orphanage and know each other.  Then my optimistic husband said, "We've got to get her file too."  Never mind the fact that 2 teenage girls is doubly ridiculous, never mind the rule our agency has about not allowing simultaneous non-sibling adoptions....."We need to get the file!" he says!  By the next morning the file was in my inbox.  Ever have the feeling that the next move you make will irreversibly set your course and change life as you know it....that you either walk away now or buckle up?  I snapped the seat belt and clicked "open."  The second file contained pictures of both girls playing and walking to school together!!  Did you see that one coming??!!  Isn't that the best twist to a plot ever??!!!  This girl has a similar story.  Haunted by the death of both of her parents, she was cared for by an aunt who taught her about Jesus until the money ran out and she moved in with Grandma.  Trouble and pressure came though, because Grandma is Muslim   This young girl took off on her own rather than give up Jesus....and eventually made her way into an orphanage.  It's as if these two friends came to our door, looking for a family and our decision was whether to invite them in....or send them off to keep looking. We couldn't NOT invite them in to explore the

We convened our counsel of trusted advisers and asked them to find the red flags that we must be missing in order to entertain such a crazy notion as adopting 2 teenage girls who barely speak English.  We wrestled with the balance of how faith and responsibility coexist a lot…we don’t want to be risky in this and call it faith, but we also don’t want to be faithless and call it responsibility.  Neither would point a finger to heaven and be obvious that it's all His Work.  Each counselor came back to us sensing the same rightness, the same evidence of the hand of God moving.  And believe me, we've talked ourselves hoarse through the "worst case scenarios" the "pros" and "cons".....the conversation always ends with their need matching up with the richness of God and our willingness to sit in the front row and watch what He's going to do for them.  Our children are enthusiastic, our families are enthusiastic and our adoption agency (after asking multitudes of question and requiring reams of reading from us) is enthusiastic enough to make an exception to the rule to make this happen. 

So, without further ado, I would like to proudly announce that I am pregnant for 2 teenage girls!  If you see me in person, ask me to pull out the pictures or drop by my kitchen and check out the front of the fridge!  They are due early spring and we're oh so thrilled that they will be Floridas soon!

I know you all are bursting with questions at this point.....but my fingers are worn out!  Message me your questions or leave them as comments and I'll try to answer them in another post!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'll Take a Large Frosty and some Orphan go....

* Wendy's will donate $.50 per frosty purchase over the Father's Day weekend to the Dave Thomas Foundation and Wendy's Wonderful Kids!

FYI - This is a video from years past so the dates are's really June 16 &17, 2012, Father's Day Weekend!

*Wendy's will donate another $.50 per check in...

*Follow me @lori_florida and retweet #TreatItFwd and Wendy's will donate another $.50 for each RT!

*My local Wendy's is selling these cute Frosty Key Fobs for $1.  $1 supports the Dave Thomas Foundation to help kids in Foster Care and you get a FREE JR FROSTY with every purchase you make from now till Christmas!!  It's a win/win!  Check with your Wendy's to see if they're participating....or just drive to my Wendy's!

*Use the handy dandy little facebook icon at the bottom of this post to share this post with everyone you know!  Everyone loves Frosty's....who won't help an orphan this way if only they know!!!

Wendy's Wonderful Kids is doing great work to help kids out of foster care into loving forever families!

*Take 6 minutes of your time to educate yourself about global child mortality.  This weekend world leaders are coming together to renew their pledge to give every child a 5th birthday.  There are so many organizations you can join to help in this probably already have connections to one you know and trust that are feeding and providing medical care to children in poor countries.  If you don't, use the Ordinary Hero link in the right side bar to buy a goat or sheep to feed children in Ethiopia or Uganda.  They have teams going to deliver the animals to families this summer!  If you choose our name in the affiliate menu at checkout, a donation will be made to our adoption fund as well!

Why 5th B-Day?

World Pledges to End Childhood Preventable Deaths

*The average American's knowledge about HIV hasn't changed since the 80's even though medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds!  Many children looked over for adoption are purely victims of ignorance!  Don't be average....educate yourself and others so these children can find families! 

Visit for tons of great info.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase.”   Sometimes taking the first step is as easy (and as tasty) as buying a frosty and facing the facts through a youtube video!  If we all do something,  the top of the staircase won't seem so far away anymore.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Right Now is What Makes Waiting So Hard.....

Scott told me today that our adoption fund has $8,000 in it waiting for the next bill.  WHAT?!  How does this keep happening??  I know I've been slow to keep posting every gift that keeps raining down on our heads.....they've just keep coming...some little and some big....but I had NO IDEA the balance had risen to $8,000!!  
We MUST praise God when He brings Himself to our attention like that!  And I feel like I MUST renew my commitment to celebrate each evidence of His hand as He moves His people to gather up the ransom for our little people.  Watch the Floodgates will be updated soon to reflect the current graciousness of God!!  The money has stopped occupying my it's my babies that I can't stop thinking about.

Our status right now is the "dreadful wait."  I've read over and over again on adoption blogs about how the real hard work of adoption begins as the paperwork is done and you're waiting on a referral.  I'll admit, I scoffed at that deeming it silly since logically, nothing changes.....except EVERYTHING changes!  If you've been there you know... now I know.  When you're put on the waiting list, a big accomplishment has been realized.  All the work of collecting paperwork and obtaining elusive government seals is over and your precious file folders are empty.  You've watched God bring in scads of money that have enabled you to pay half of one of the biggest bills you've ever encountered....the one that scared you so bad you had to do some serious wrestling with your soul to say "yes" to the call.  You've read and researched and prayed and a new culture has become precious to you......all of it's struggles and hardships have become your struggles and hardships.

By the time our paperwork had winged it's way over to Ethiopia and put our names on the waiting list we were different people.  We trust God in a new, precious way.  We love, I can't explain to you how much, LOVE Ethiopia. Everything about our own life looks different....we come to decisions from a different place than we used to.

The biggest change....the thing that makes the WAITING the hardest what I know is happening right now.

Right now my babies are hungry more days than they aren't....while I'm counting calories because it's so easy to eat too much....

Right now my babies have a sick mom or dad or both.  Their parents are facing the most desperate times of their lives and having to make horrible decision.....while I'm up to date on all my preventative medical care, have insurance to pay for my care and have a cupboard full of medicine.....

Right now my babies are facing a future at an orphanage where no one know them or loves them yet....while my house is filled with family and friends.....

Right now my babies are facing diseases that are fatal only in a country like Ethiopia.  Any day they might contract malaria, TB or hepatitis and be on the verge of death before they find their way to me... while I don't spend a moment worrying about my American children being in danger from those illnesses....

Right now my babies are facing the effects of malnutrition, either in utero or as a child.  They're little brains are trying to grow and form synapses without the proper amount of fat....their little bodies are trying to work without enough iron, protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals in their systems.....while I've got supplements in my cupboard to make up for the things I may have missed in my diet because I eat too much junk food....

I really could go on and on.  As soon as we received the email that our dossier was accepted by the government of Ethiopia, my consciousness was divided in half.  All the things I knew were going to happen in the future, suddenly became things of right now.  Everything I do makes me think of the counterpart in Africa.  I cry while I make dinner because we have so much and I can't stand leftovers.  I worry about the weather getting to cold at night in Addis Ababa and check the forecast every day.  I'm sick to my stomach for that sweet Momma over there who's doing everything she can for her babies and it's not going to be's inevitable...and then they're going to become my babies.  This isn't how it's supposed to be.  As much as we anticipate the joy these little people are going to bring into our lives, it will be pain and the ugly effects of sin upon this world that will bring them to us.  Living with those right nows every day is what makes the WAITING the hardest part.

So while we wait, we pray....for strength and care from God's hand for our precious Ethiopian family to make it through unscathed in spirit.

While we wait we keep reading and getting ourselves deeper into the community of people who are seriously caring for orphans.  My girlfriends and I are saving money right now to join Project Hopeful in their  Hope+ Sisterhood.  We will be sponsoring a HIV+ woman in Ethiopia who is struggling to get healthy, support her children and keep her children from becoming orphans.  This is where orphan care needs to go to make a long-term, world-wide difference.  International adoption is the band-aid, caring for families in extreme poverty is the cure.

While we wait we're also celebrating what God has done and thanking Him for choosing us.  Check out the video Ordinary Hero just may see someone you know around the 2:30 minute mark!

This has by far, hands down, no comparison been the best thing the Florida family has ever done.  Any Florida you ask will tell you that without giving it a second's thought.

If you want to see Jesus like you've never seen him before, if you want to feel you're heart beating hard in your chest because you KNOW you're right in the thick of what God's doing, if you want to stretch and grow in ways you didn't think possible......then join us....

say YES to adoption!!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Once upon a time....20 years ago....

There was a girl...who met a boy.  He politely offered a handshake under his nicely feathered hair.  Later that year, in the middle school gym, the girl gulped as she got up her nerve to ask for one of his green polo school pictures.  He gave it with a wish for "good luck with the guys" inscribed upon the back.
A friendship began.  For the next couple years, the message on the back of the school pictures remained the same.  The girl cheered for his team, watched as he folded his warm-ups and politely placed them under his chair, and hoped....and she might admit, schemed a little, to get noticed as more than a friend.
His attention magically fell on her near the beginning of her 16th year...the angels sang and the sunbeams shone.  School pictures from that time on had a new of love and commitment.
School pictures gave way to formal pictures, engagement pictures and finally, 20 years ago, wedding pictures.

It's felt like a lifetime and a single day all at the same time.  The girl is happy, I am happy.  But not because only happy things have filled our 20 years...but because the things of us have added up to more messages of love and commitment.

Here's my list of 20 things I'm happy are us....the tip of the iceberg of the things that have been the water under our bridge.

  1. He brings me coffee just the way I like it.  It used to be tea...then it was coffee with sugar and it's coffee with just sugar.  He knows which mugs are my favorites.  He brews it and delivers it to help me (sorta) like mornings!!
  2. We have history.  We've been friends since we were 14 and dating since we were 16 - we have a lot of mirror memories.  It's cozy to me that he remembers what my high school gym smelled like and how crazy Saturday drama rehearsals were.  And he's the same guy who remembers my babies being born and growing up.
  3. He remembers who I was and celebrates who I'm becoming.  His knowledge of the breadth of me makes his understanding of the depth of me even sweeter.
  4. Inside jokes.  I really, really like it that there are things that he is the only other person in the world that would understand or think are funny!  He knows why turtle crossings are cool, what GHOH means, what I like about yellow and all about smutz.  That's cool. 
  5. I like his bald head.  I really do, I think he looks really good bald, and I'm not just saying that.  His hair was great, but his head is great bald too.
  6. I like his white eyelashes too, I really do.  He looks like a super-hero.
  7. He spins things.  The kangaroo pouch carrying twins around inside my body left on my 6-pack?  He calls it a trophy of one of the best things we ever did together.  I still shake my head about that....  He's kept it up all this time so I'm starting to think he really does think my post-baby body is prettier that the unscathed version of me.  Crazy, but I like it.
  8. He likes babies...shocker, I know!  If it were possible, we would be rivaling the Duggars in natural-born's right now and be adopting a whole orphanage full of Ethiopian sweeties.  
  9. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel shining super bright.  That's a good thing, but I don't always feel it as a good thing.  Sometimes it frustrates me that he always thinks we're on the verge of greatness....I want to get there right now!  But, how cool that he always, I and mean always, thinks better things are just around the corner??!  His optimism is good for me.
  10. We've gone lots of places together.  Ministry has brought us more fulfilling adventures that riches could have.  We've gotten to fall in love with some of the far corners of the world together....granted we usually were leading a team of teenagers and staying in separate rooms as we chaperoned....but we still got to do it together.  I'm so glad he's adventurous - we're planning to add one more continent to our list of places we have memories in real soon!!  Africa's going to be our 20th Anniversary celebration!
  11. We learn together.  It started as we "studied" for Trig in my kitchen and then moved to Theology studying in the Rotunda at BBC.  We like to think deep thoughts together.  He's smart and I learn a lot from him.
  12. He thinks I'm smart.  One of the weird things about me is that having him think I'm smart is way more satisfying than him thinking I'm pretty....although I want that one too!  He knows that and gives me flowers  that say "To my smart, pretty wife" (among other things that I can't share!) on the card.
  13. There are some things I just don't get, and that's ok.  I am really, really bad at spacial, mechanical things.  I think hard, the wheels turn and smoke, but I struggle here.  I like that he just shakes his head and smiles when I can't be coached through double bouncing a kid on the tramp......
  14. I don't like that life has been hard, but I do like what has come out of that.  For all the exhilarating things we've done together there have been as many devastating things that we have done together.  I have cried my most gut-wrenching tears with him, sometimes at him and sometimes with my face turned away from him.  Some of our pain has come from the outside, some we've inflicted on each other...but none of it has separated us.  Not bailing out on our pain has been some of the best moments of the past 20 years and it's been a lot of what were are now.
  15. We have fighting (I mean disagreement rules, and we've stuck to them.  Right from the start, we agreed to never use the words "never" or "always" when tensions are high.  Keeps us from blanket statements that are almost never true.  Threats have been absent too - divorce has never been on the table, not because life's been all rainbows and unicorns, but because we just decided that it wasn't ever going to be an option.  That sounds much more trite and easy than it really is, but we made the decision once, 20 years ago, and I'm glad.  Now, we have learned the hard way about pity parties and silent fuming....I don't want to talk about that!! :)
  16. We're still making adjustments.  He smiles a little quicker and says yes to a nap on the couch next to me while I watch a movie.  We find a spot for our beach chairs where one can be in the shade and one in the sun.  I try to go to bed earlier than I want to and wake up earlier than I want to....that's what the coffee's for!  He smiles and nod when I get on a talking jag after an excedrin headache remedy.  I stand back and let him pack the car without offering opinions....kinda.
  17. He is who he is and I am who I am and we're not looking for an amazing better version of each other.  It's just ok to be us, we're both much more comfortable in our own skin than we were at the beginning.  Maybe that's just age, maybe it's maturity, maybe it's fatalism...but I don't care.  It's ok to be just plain old us today and that's kinda great.
  18. He really loves the church....the big one all across the world....and the little one that feels like a family in Comstock Park.  I mean he really LOVES it.  God says the church is important to Him and Scott's taking that one to the bank.  He's committed....hook, line and sinker.  Good thing I'm not the jealous type!
  19. Our families like each other.  We've had some awesome holidays and family vacations as one big family.  Maybe that happens because our parents' friendship developed along with ours, but I think they'd be that way anyways.  I want to give that gift to my kids.
  20. This man that I married loves Jesus way more than he loves me.  It took me a while to figure out how good that is for me.  At first, I was jealous.  Stupid to be jealous of God, but I was...just ask Scott, he'll tell you.  I used to ask him if he would do this for me, or if he would do that for me....a bunch of hypotheticals to see how much he really loved me.  My darn husband wouldn't even hypothetically do something wrong out of love for me.  Made. Me. So. Mad.  I really wanted to be first.  It's been a slow process, but if you've been in our youth group in the last 10 or so years, you've heard me chant the mantra...."Only marry someone who loves God more than they love you!"  I finally drank the kool-aid and understood.  His love for God is precisely what makes his love for me so good.  A man who loves God supremely will love his wife to death, literally.  He'll do it when she doesn't deserve it and when he doesn't feel like it because God told him to....and he loves God more than he loves her.  Goodness gracious, what a gift.

I like making lists.  They make me feel like I accomplished something.  This list makes me feel like we've accomplished something.  Mostly it makes me see that God's accomplished something.  He's taken two kids who felt all twitter-pated and turned it into something real an worthy.  Sometimes I feel like we haven't given Him much to work with, but He can make a lot out of the little bits of determination and humility we've been able to offer up.  

Just as I've finished up this last paragraph I've thought of things I should have written that might have meant much more than "I like his bald head."  But I'm going to resist the urge to go back and fix it up all spiritual-like.  I really do like his bald head, and maybe that's meant as much to our 20 years of good memories as anything else, who knows....

The girl and the boy smile a lot, and it leaves lines.  They laugh and sometimes they cry.  They try to look in the eyes when they need to say the hard words of apology.  They keep making plans even though they feel sober about the time that's gone by.  They've become braver, much braver....they might even start to look silly to some people as they learn to lean into God more.  They dream about the generations to come and scheme ways to do lots of grandchildren gifts with just a little dough.  They keep feathering their nest for the new ones to come as they're building a steady launching pad for the ones getting ready to go.  They want to be better together, have stronger hearts and deeper love but still wonder at their ability to really do it.  Above all, they're gonna keep plodding out, watering their own grass and doing whatever it takes to make it the greenest they can see....because they promised 20 years ago....and that means something deep and happy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why I Haven't Been Writing

Because of everything....and because of nothing.

Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of my backpack of stories.  Seems like a proper time to break the silence in celebration.

It's been a year since we announced to the world that we heard God calling and we were ready to say "yes"....shout "YES!"

It's been a year that we've been grieving for our brothers and sisters and babies in Africa.  We've been grieving for our own hearts too.  Since our eyes have been opened, we've become appalled at the selfishness and indifference we found in our own hearts.  It had kept us blissfully ignorant for the first 40 years of our lives.  That has been the deepest grieving and is teaching us desperate repentance. We will not live the same, regardless of what that means to our comfort or "American-ness."  My heart can't stand it anymore.

It's been a year of cathartic writing.  This blog has been like a "plate of awesome with bodacious sauce all over it" for me.  (Kung Fu Panda is the babysitter of choice while Momma writes!)  Writing has transformed my thought life.  I think in blog posts, dream in blog posts, my house is littered with the beginnings joted on notecards by the bed, shower, kitchen sink.  There have been a lot more beginning thoughts, but the real story is how many more ending thoughts there have been this year.  And how many actions connected to thoughts there have been.  Isn't that really the proof that's in the thoughts that turn into new actions?  Thank you for letting me process out loud, for letting me finish thoughts and for letting me leave things hanging until God finishes them in me.

As 2011 came to an end and I was starting to realize how much my soul has been forming through the writing, I got eager and  list-making and goal-setting on it....the death knell of things real.  I have a great knack for choking the life out of something good and organic with rules, procedures and goals.  Ask my kids how many routines, plans, and chore charts we've started.  I should have known better......but I threw caution to the December winds and set a writing goal - 1 blog post a week for 2012.  I was going to become a serious writer - squeeze more goodness out of the honeycomb I'd been tasting.  Then, to keep me "accountable" or sprinkle "guilt dust" over each week, take your pick, I spoke the goal aloud to my hubby and the girlfriends.  January was great, 4 for 4, I got a little smug.  February I only managed 2, but remained confident of my ability to catch up....gotta leave room for the spirit to move you know.  March, 2.  And now here we are at the end of April.....nothing!  Let's just say it - 15 weeks of 2012, 8 blog posts...9 if you count this one.

I can't write another one so soon after the last one, no one wants to hear from me that often.  I'm too tired, the laundry's too far gone, the tv's too appealing, the computer bench's too uncomfortable.  I read my favorite sister bloggers out there, get encouraged, wish I had written what they wrote and then give in to the "why bother."  I make more rules about how I'm gonna do it...birthday posts for all my kids....and then get handcuffed by the fact that my littlest peanut's birthday came and went a month ago without her story hitting the paper, er, screen.

Which doesn't really matter, I know Mom. I can hear you dialing the phone to tell me that I'm obsessing about ridiculous things - and I know, I agree.  That's why I'm saying it out loud.  Putting actual words to those vague thoughts takes away their power over me - they look silly in the light!

But what is a big deal is the monster pride and it's ugly twin fear that I let have control.  Whether or not I write anything for the rest of my life, on this silly little blog or elsewhere, matters not.  What matters, my friends, is that we give pride and fear the reins of our lives so often, in the extras and in the essentials.  I'm feeling mad enough to fight back today... so I wrote.  I wrote to get some resolve rather than waiting for the resolve to write.  And it worked, felt good.  Get some yourself!

What do you need to do today to wrestle those reins back from the ugly monsters?  Don't wait for resolve, girlfriends, stand up and go get some!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mother May I...

Mother may I, please pretty please...take 5 large steps toward Africa?  The answer this week was YES!  2012 has been marked by loads of paperwork.  That stack of documents needing notary and state seals had me jumping up and down impatiently itchy for it to be my turn to stretch my legs toward the finish line.

Our state sealing was done a week ago Friday.  Scott and I used his day off for a big "Secretary of State" date.  State sealing is only done at some of the bigger branches so we headed out of suburbia to a large, diverse waiting room.  This seemed a likely opportunity to broaden my horizons and meet someone outside of my nice little bubble world.  I was ready to reach out to someone on the I prayed all the way there for eyes that would be open to the right empty seat for while I was waiting.  For more on that tension that I've been processing lately, read here.

Here's how it went...  When we arrived, clutching our precious papers, we got in line to get our number ticket.  We were directed to a sign-in sheet for document sealing.  All but two of the previously filled in lines were crossed out and finished.  Only one person was waiting before us.  I started filling in the, number of documents, country the documents will be going to, etc.  As I wrote "Ethiopia", my eyes were drawn to the glowing word in the line above mine..."Ethiopia" was written there too.  Along with my sharp intake of breath came the realization that there must be another person in the full waiting room doing exactly the same thing we were.  I turned around, scanning the crowd, and my eyes were instantly drawn to a wide-eyed couple CLUTCHING A FILE FOLDER!!  And one of the few sets of two empty seats in the room WAS RIGHT BESIDE THEM!  I didn't even have a flicker of my normal cautious, "wouldn't want to embarrass myself" self. I bee-lined straight into their business and asked them if they were her because they were adopting from Ethiopia too!  What an awkward moment it would have been if they had said, "No, what's wrong with you woman?"  But, of course, they are...and they are adopting through...wait for it.......BETHANY!  (Sorry about all the capitals....just don't know how else to convey my eyebrows raised in awe!)

We compared stats just like two pregnant women in the ultrasound waiting long have you been working on your dossier, what's your story, how many children do you already have, how'd you pick Ethiopia....?  And then we realized that God had orchestrated all the detours and delays of each of our days to plop us next to each other in this very space at this very time.  More awe.  Then, after all the papers bore the coveted gold seal, we parted ways with the thought that it sure would be nice to see each other again in the delivery room, er, I mean, airplane to Ethiopia!

I was looking for someone to reach out to, a person who might need a friend.  Instead God reached out to me and gave me a friend...icing on the cake of a good, good day.

We left the Secretary of State office with 22 documents bearing the seal of the great state of Michigan and the feeling that we had experienced a successful adoption ultrasound.

Over the weekend we burned through a ream of paper and 2 full cartridges of black ink.  The next item on the "dossier to-do" list was to make 3 copies of each of the precious pieces of our paper ransom.

If you saw a huge glowing check mark in the sky on Tuesday - that was us.  The checklist I've been living and breathing for the past two months, the 1 step forward 1/2 a step back "Mother May I" dance, got it's FINAL check.  Just to be safe, I double checked a few more thousand times before I packed it all up in a folder.  I imagine that normal people would stamp the package at this point and drop it in the mail.  Not me. There was too much of my own paper cut blood, sweat and tears (I'm for real, people) to not get a climactic moment out of the finish.  I felt compelled to make a event.

So, I gathered up everybody in my house - whether they were related to me or not, the camera, the precious file and money for post-event celebratory Shamrock shakes.  (We have a long history of celebrating every momentous occasion in the Florida family with ice cream.  We've also been known to make up events to go with our ice cream...)  We headed across town to Bethany.  On the way there I imagined the moment, how life would fade into slow motion as we all wiped a tear from our eyes and spoke a benediction send-off over our papers as I placed them in our social worker's hands.  I couldn't wait for the moment of blessing that would wing our dossier on it's noble way and cement the solemn occasion in our collective family psyche.

We got there, took the elevator up to the 2nd floor and waited for social worker, Kim to show up in the waiting room.  The slow motion didn't happen.  Instead of the organic words of wisdom I thought would flow from my mouth, we made a memory of a slightly awkward, decidedly dorky moment.  I handed the papers to Kim....and then had nothing to say.  She looked at me, I looked at her, my teenage sons averted their eyes and Kim finally said, "Okay...well, thanks for bringing it down."  I made weird, nervous small talk for a bit, trying to drag it out long enough for "the moment" to emerge and then I finally just blurted, "So, can we, like, take a picture?  Cuz, you know, we want to make this into a moment, something to remember, you know....and I'm just kinda dorky like that."  Yes, I really did say that to our social worker, the one who wrote the document recommending us to the country of Ethiopia as adoptive parents.  "I'm a dork."  Ah me, I need a script writer.

By now, one son couldn't stand the dork factor of his mom and had disappeared into the bathroom.  Instead of snapping a quick pic and high-tailing it out of there, we stood around, hemming and hawing until he moseyed back on out.  Then we did snap a quick picture, high-tailed it out of there straight to McDonald's for some awkward-free deliciousness.

Now it's done.  It's out of my hands.  The papers I have lost sleep over and protected from chocolate milk spills as ferociously as a Momma bear, aren't mine anymore.  If I wasn't so excited, I would feel nostalgic...I've come to love those papers, or at least their purpose.  They've sprouted wings and are carrying our cause to Ethiopia.  Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, our family life in paper form will be translated into Amharic.  Our papers will get in line.  When the powers that be across the ocean announce that they've a couple little brothers (or sisters) that need a home, a family and a name... our papers will raise their hands and jump up and down with itchy impatience as they ask, "Mother may I take 5 large steps toward those babies?  Pick us! Please pick us!"  They will explain that we are the Floridas.  We're often dorkey, but we have room, we have love and we have strength to offer.   Our papers will shed tears and the game will fade into slow motion as a moment happens and we ask, "Please pick us for this treasure and let us sprint toward the finish line."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Smell Smoke

I'm not totally sure what's burning yet, but something is.  I can smell it in the wind, it's making my throat scratchy.  Our house is surrounded by woods, tall trees that attract wild turkey, deer and opossums o'plenty.  Our back yard also attracts the neighbor's run away Eskimo dog.  I think he thinks our dog is cute.  I know when there's a presence in our woods.  I know, because she knows, Moxie our dog.  Her body language changes....ears perk up, tail stiffens, and she gets that far-away focused look in her eyes.  Well,  there's a rustling in the forest, friends.  I know something's out there, smokin'....just haven't been able to stare it straight in the face yet.

I spent Sunday nauseous, physically nauseous people.  I was sick to my stomach all day because of what I've been reading.  My heart's churning and my head's on overdrive.  I feel something coming, sense the winds of God moving, fanning this fire He's starting inside of me.  It could be coincidence that every book I'm reading is speaking the same words to me.  Could be coincidence..... it could also be true that I am related to the real Dr. Spock who was on the real Enterprise.

I've felt a vague tension for a while now.  It's because of the knowing.  It's so much easier to live in the nice little bubble of fake and think that life really does revolve around me.  Easier, until I'm not satisfied and life gets too hard, even in my nice little fake bubble.  Living life in the bubble, breathing air that's's great, it's like being on drugs.  Real life is so much harder, so much more real, has so many more sharp edges.  But real life is the only thing that's. ...real....really satisfying. If a drug addict wants true satisfaction that lasts, the only option is detox.  I'm a drug addict.  I think I'm ready to check myself into detox.  My drug of choice?  God's blessing.  Did I just hear all the good Christians across the Bible belt suck in their collective breath in shock and dismay?  I would have too, not too long ago.  Before my eyes were slowly pried open to the real world.

I'm uncomfortable in my own skin right now, snuggled up with the contents of my 4 walls....or actually my 52 walls, 3 car garage and storage room for the things that won't fit.  The blessings are starting to chafe.  I've been toying with solutions around the edges of my mind for a couple of years.  I perk up when I hear about someone having to limit their household to 4 barrels because of a military move or nod my head when reading about a radical housewife who reclaimed hours of her week in laundry time by reducing her family members to 7 outfits each.  "What a freeing idea!"  I marvel.  "Wish I could do that.....kinda.  Ok, not really."

Really, I've been pretending that the stuff spilling out of my cupboards and stacked on my shelves is evidence of God's favor.  I look at it, and admire it, and organize it, and clean it, and re-stack it, and collect more of it, especially when it's on sale!  The irony is, while I'm collecting and adoring, I'm also feeling smothered.

I've tried all the magic programs to clean my house better and cleaner.  I tried to emulate my MOPS mentor's calm and measured approach to housework....apparently I'm not as calm and measured as her.  I've still got sticky notes on the inside of my cupboard doors slathered with Sparkly FlyLady mantras and checklists.  I like checklists and mantras.....and sparkles.....but not enough to earn my wings.  There's a clipboard with Ann Voscamp's free printable daily housework planner collecting dust in my dining room where I dropped it about 3 weeks ago.  I had visions of a happy haze of gratitude accompany me as I cared for my stuff.....but I found out I'm no Farmer's wife.  I've jumped on and off bandwagons, each time thinking that my laziness and lack of willpower were the failing link to quick and efficient housework perfection.  I value a clean's important....but it takes so much darn time to take care of all this stuff!!

And that's the key, me thinks.  "All this stuff...."

We take a canoeing and hiking trip every couple of years with our high school group.  We head out into the wilderness and beauty of Algonquin with only what we can carry on our backs.  For a week.  This means a tent, sleeping back, cooking gear, food, bug spray, toilet paper, everything is on my back, which leaves very little room for clothes.  This is true roughing it where luxury is your one (that was not a typo...) one change of clothes that you dream about changing into each night after the day's sweaty adventure is done. This outfit... comfy sweatpants, dry socks and underwear and a fleece that I still feel permanent feelings for love for, are guarded from sweat and river water all day long and preserved for that divine end of the day moment.  And it is enough.  In fact, it's one of the best parts of the whole trip....the "there's only room in the pack for 2 sets of clothes" part.  The meaning of my possessions, on a trip like that, is reduced to how useful they are to me.  Bug spray, useful.  Toilet paper, definitely useful.  Mac & cheese out of a box, made group style over a fire we built ourselves, positively delightful....and useful. ("Food is fuel," they say out in the wilderness.)  Two set of clothes, a relief at the end of the day, a luxury of warmth and decent smells....use to the ful.  More sets of clothes... a burden that would sap my strength and distract my focus.


I've been searching for the perfect system because I'm mad and frustrated that I spend so much time cleaning, organizing, restacking the stuff, er, I mean, the blessings.  There's a little annoying bird singing a song in my ear that says I'm wasting my life doing laundry.  SCC helps me drown her out and I "do every little thing we do for the glory of the One who made you."   I play worship music while I fold and pray over the owner of the item while I organize.  I'm working HARD at being good people!!!  After all, I don't have any choice about doing laundry, right?  My family is very favorably disposed toward not smelling like old bacon and onions and I don't foresee a maid in my future.  So there's no way out.....unless..... I go Waaaaaay out.  Canada style.  Maybe, just maybe, I don't need to do so much laundry.

Truth is....if I catch up and we experience that golden moment when the only dirty clothes are being worn on bodies....we run out of hangers and drawer space before it can all find a home.  More hangers, new dressers, maybe under the bed storage.....that could be a solution.  Truth's not hard at all for my family to never crack the door of the laundry room for 2 weeks.  Even then, if people were happy turning their undies inside out and we didn't have any necessary jerseys to be washed, it feels like we could last indefinitely.  (Just to clarify....I've never forced the inside out underwear solution, never even suggested it,  I'm a good Momma.)

I know you saw this coming a long way off, my friends, but sometimes I'm a slow learner....especially when the lesson's connected to my comfort.  The thought's been there for a long time....but now, it's starting to smoke.  The sticks that God's been dropping on this fire have been coming from far and wide.  Many are Ethiopian, or African in variety or connected to the poor and needy somehow.  Having children who are right now living in poverty I can't fix, children who have gone to bed hungry....changes everything.  My eyes see the half eaten food in our garbage and my skin crawls.  I want to be mad and force someone to come back and eat it, but what good will that do?  We all knew when we were little that finishing our plates and eating our vegetables didn't logically lead to helping the starving boys and girls in China.  Us Moms say it, because we feel it.....and we just don't know what to do.  If boxing up my leftovers would feed my Ethiopian baby, you know I'd do it in a minute....I'd probably not even eat at all and box the whole plateful up.  If not having 6 pairs of jeans to chose know, in case your shoes require a slightly more flared or pegged leg.....would seriously meet a need on the other side of the world, I would be happy with less.  For goodness sakes, my jeans are mostly hand-me-downs and Goodwill treasures anyways - what good will giving up those do?

But it just doesn't feel like it matters, or can help.

Except, that it's starting to feel like it does matter....and that even though I don't really get how, that reducing and simplifying can help.

I'm feeling sick about how much I have, and how much it might be costing me.  I'm starting to think this stuff is costing me space and time.

I'm also getting the "deep thoughts but shallow action" hives.  That's costing me too.  I read about, hear about or see something that tugs at my heart....I well-up, cry a few tears, nod my head and feel that something really needs to be done about this.  But every time I think that and I feel that and I don't do something.......I'm starting to think that I've done some serious damage to my heart.

I usually wait until I've got a well-formulated plan, something with a checklist that's been responsibly researched and given the head-nod by mentors.

Today though, as part of my detox....I'm gonna say out loud that there's a fire burning inside me.  I don't know what I'm going to do about it yet.....but I'm going to do something.....and that something started by opening my mouth.  They say that the first step toward wholeness is to admit you have a problem....Well, I have a problem, a problem with too much stuff and a butt that stays seated on the couch when the Spirit prompts.

There, I said it.  That's the first step....I'm still working on what tomorrow's will be.  I cleaned out a show closet and have a bag of good stuff to give to the poor and needy.  Which is a great idea.....except that I don't know any poor and needy, not in my real (fake bubble) life.  That's another stick to add to the's flaming up!  Burn, baby, burn!

Need some sticks for your own fire??  Read some of these...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Update of the Adoption Sort

"How's the adoption going?  How much longer till you get those babies?"  It's a question I get a couple times every week.....because people remember and people care.  Answering the question is good for me.... it helps me remember that things are happening and wheels are turning, even when it feels painfully slow.

It's been a while since I've given you all a straight up update about how the paperwork's going.  In my last adoption post I explained my dossier log-jam.  The amount of paperwork and detailed instructions have a potential for error greater than if I tried to pass the bar exam without studying.  It froze me.  After I got over the overwhelming desire to just take a nap, I got started.  I've been gathering, signing, notarizing and scanning through the requirements.  It's almost done.

Our adoption agency is pretty high tech....they've got an online adoption portal to answer my questions and double-check my documents.  I scanned everything in to get the professional once over and found we needed to make two corrections.  In my mind that should take 24 hours or so and we'd be on our way.  In real life large family style, 2 field trips, 4 Awana Grand Prix cars, 90 spelling words, 12 loads of laundry, 1 college visit and general sleeplessness caused it to take a bit longer.  I keep having to tell the perfectionist in me that what I have to offer right now is worth offering because God called me right now and He knows how to multiply loaves and fishes.....or tiny shreds of energy and lucidness.

Now the checklist is finally complete and the next step is to take my life in notarized paper form to the Secretary of State office to be State Sealed.  "What's that?" you say?  "I didn't know there was such a thing?" you say?  Well, neither did I....but apparently there is a system set up for formally proving that you are who you say you are and the documents you're signing are actually real.....and it's called State Sealing.  This is another process rife with potential for error.  Every country has different preferences for how they like it to be's my job to be an expert on Ethiopia style and pull out the "pushy Momma" growl if necessary to get it done.

The State Sealing feels like Willy Wonka's golden ticket to me right now.  I think the clouds will part, sunshine will fall in golden rays upon me and the birds will flutter and sing when I have it in my hands!  Now I get why adoption blogs are teeming with pictures of dining room tables full of papers and envelopes going into the post office box.  Those are adoption ultrasound pictures.  What an exciting day that will be!

The magic envelope will leave us and make it's way to Bethany Christian Services where more important papers and lots of Air-Mail stamps will be added before it's dropped in another mail box. Then the paperwork process of our pregnancy will be complete and our precious papers will arrive in the birthplace of our babies and put us officially on the waiting list.  That's our goal right now, the thing I'm dreaming about.

I have a missionary friend who turned each of these days of waiting and paper-filing into  beautiful links in a chain for me.  She reminded me that God's call was not just a call to the goal - adding two sweet new babies to the Florida clan.  God's call was also to the process that will get us there.  Each day toward that goal is a link in the chain of what God wants to do, an important part of His big plan.  Because it's a link, it's worth savoring.  It's worth pausing to get a good look at it, to make a memory of it.  It's something to relish, not to rue.  That, my friends, is a spirit-calming thought.

So let me set that same challenge in your lap.  Today....whatever it may consist a precious link in a noble chain of God's good purpose in my life....and yours.  Today I'm planning to take the next right step toward God's call....looking neither too far ahead where "what if's" loom, or too far behind where I'm blinded by "shoulda been's."  I'm gonna set my sights on today, and savor exactly this place along the way.  Look around you my friends.  Breathe it in, taste it, soak it up, savor that  little sliver of dark chocolate that flaked off the Godiva bar when you broke apart the last two squares.  I don't know about you, but I would lick my finger, press it to that sweet little sliver of goodness and close my eyes as it melted on my tongue.  Do the same with this's a beautiful link in your chain.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Birth of a Momma

A firstborn's birthday is really two holidays in one.  There's the celebration of the birth of the baby....and the celebration of the birth of a mother.  Both... life-changing, earth-shattering, cosmos-shifting events...equal in magnitude.  But the spotlight of celebration centers on the child.  There's something in the birth of the Momma that's content to be the holder, the arms that cradle, the person who throws the parties and ponders the memories.

I became a Momma 17 years and 4 days ago.  But enough about me....let me tell you about the star of the show.  His name was Riley Kent Florida.  The day he was born was like a dream....because he was a dream.

From the day the knot was tied I was ready to be a Momma.  But, alas, waiting had to be endured until the student teaching and degrees were finished and responsibilities were met.  The plan was to wait until we were firmly settled into a job with a paycheck.  It wasn't more than a couple months after Scott moved into his shiny, new youth pastor office that we had two little lines on the stick....and excitement bubbling over!!  9 weeks of dreaming, and then a baby off to heaven.  That little baby's early exit doubled my burning desire to be a Momma and poured fuel in the form of worries onto the fire.  My soul did a lot of desperate growing toward trusting my good Father those days.

The positive pregnancy test comes's the 9 week mark that makes my knees shake.  My full-time job was prayer, folic acid supplements, parenting reading, more prayer and a cautious dreaming.  The early ultrasound showed the flickering heartbeat of life and my heart hung onto my Dr.'s comment that a healthy early heartbeat looks good for a healthy, full-term pregnancy.

She was right....this time pregnancy was trouble free and my dreams got free reign to run.  I remember sitting at a stop light on the way to work with cars stopped on the right and left of me.  I couldn't help but smile into the sunshine making everything glow, and feel bad for all the people in the world who didn't share my secret.  I prayed myself to work and back every day....always about the baby, my baby.  I'll admit, I prayed that he'd be handsome....more than once.  Praying for good looking children became kind-of an obsession after the pregnancy hormone induced dream I had of giving birth to my firstborn puppy.  I think God understands hormone induced prayers.....I sure hope He does, because I've prayed a lot of them!

Finding out my dreams were going to be of the blue variety was an exciting leap into the unknown for this girl who grew up in a family of only sisters.  Being the daughter of a great man and being married to another great man made the impending birth of a boy sound like a grand adventure.  I began shopping for tiny sneakers and ball caps.

Baby boy's Daddy's side of the family is known for birthing big, strong babies.  Baby boy's Momma's side of the family is known for being slight of frame.  Baby boy's doctor wisely suggested that baby boy shouldn't be given much opportunity for growth beyond his due date and baby boy's Momma quickly agreed.  "How about Monday?" she asked me at my Friday appointment.  The world stopped spinning for a moment as I realized there was a hard and fast clock ticking until the name Mom would apply to me!  What a drive home....sunshine, birds singing, every song on the radio just for me and my little one.  My first chance to share the excitement with Scott was at a funeral later that afternoon.  We tried to keep our excited whispers and giggles under control as we dreamed of a life beginning even as we acknowledged the ending of another.

Christmas Eve-like, we laid in bed waiting for the clock to allow us to get up and claim the day our baby was to be born.  We had an 8a.m. starry-eyed appointment with the Pitocin....and by 5:49p.m. a starry-eyed Momma holding her sweet firstborn son.

That whole next day in the hospital was dreamy.  No requirements but to hold this tiny, perfect little person I'd been sent from heaven like a gift-wrapped present.  No conversations to have but murmured assents agreeing with the adoring visitors who came to cuddle and congratulate.  No projects to complete other than basking in the amazement of having done something so spectacular with the person I love most.

Now, I have even more reasons to smile when I see him.  I smile because of 17 years and 3 days worth of things I've stored up to treasure when I'm old and gray about why I love being a Momma to my man-child.  Watching him on his birthday, as my mind replayed his first-day, made me realize I didn't really even know how to dream then.  I didn't know how to hope big enough for him to be who he is today.  I'm realizing that the dreams I harbor in my heart for him now still might not be big enough.

Michingan's Adventure fun!

Before he picks up his homecoming date....

He's really, really good at lots of things.  He drives cautiously, works hard, trains himself, sets might seem like he achieves effortlessly from the outside looking in.  I live with him, though, and I watch him make hard choices and think and pray and choose.  Parents get scout patches because of kids like him.

"See the monkey, Ging?"

Varsity Soccer

National Honor's Society Induction

But the real thing about him, the thing my Momma's heart celebrates isn't watching him do, but watching him be.  He reminds me of Lazarus in John chapter 12.  The Pharisees plotted to kill Lazarus because he had become such a threat to their schemes.  What had he done to cause them such alarm?  He reclined at the table with Jesus....ALIVE....he was what Jesus had made him.  I see that in Ry.  I see a beating heart who's only explanation is the work of Jesus Himself.  Every day I watch Riley be more than talents and abilities, opportunities, hard work or even good genes and parenting could have made him.  My son's life is proving to my heart, breath by breath, that the Holy Spirit is powerful and active.

My infantile Momma prayers have been answered....he's healthy and oh, so handsome!  My slightly more mature and thoughtful prayers are being answered too.  He loves his a way that's as apparent as sitting at the dinner table alive when you were in the tomb a few short days ago.  My dreams and prayers are expanding as I watch....because I know that that kind of proof of God's work is a threat to the enemy.

I love you so, Riley Kent....and I'm so happy to have been made a Momma the day you were born!