Bring on the rain…..

I have complained at least 10 times a day for the past few weeks about the constant rain.  The pool is overflowing, our road is flooded, the grass is growing too fast, baseball games cancelled, and my hair turns into a frizzy hot mess!  
Then this morning it hit me….

Water.  A necessity but a scarcity for so many.  Walking hours just to fetch water.
And then only having the amount that you can carry on your head.

Contaminated water.
Sometimes just a trickle of water coming out of the source.

Most not having a simple rain barrel.

Washing clothes and dishes conserving every drop of water.


In Haiti we have a school that has grown from 40 students 5 years ago to 300 children currently and there was not a way to catch the rain until recently.  We had a cistern built but no gutters.

Then we built a gutter system.

The cistern had been empty for months but we waited and prayed for rain.
The team was ecstatic about the new gutters but still no rain.  We waited and prayed for rain.

Then it came and it did not stop.  And we hoped it wouldn’t.  In that moment, we knew the importance of the rain.  That is sustains life.  That it is essential to living.  We were not thinking about the inconveniences of the rain or the slippery mountain mud that we would have to endure after the storm.  We were only grateful for the fresh drops of cool rain that poured from the sky.  We were content and not complaining.  
We knew the blessing of the rain.
And the next day the community had water in the cistern that saved them a 3 hour round trip hike to the water source.
So today I have a new attitude about the rain.  As I see it come down, I think about my friends in Haiti who count on it to survive. To boil their rice, to drink a few sips, and wash their few bowls and forks.
I pray one day every single person in our village in Haiti has a rain barrel.
I am hopeful that my inconveniences won’t consume my thoughts but that I would be radically changed because I have seen the need.  Once you have seen you can’t stay the same.  I slip into my little pity parties and God drags me out and reminds me that there is work to be done and there is no time for being consumed with what does not matter for eternity.
Bring on the rain.

Adoption through my eyes

This is my adoption story.  I am not a spokesperson for or against adoption and nothing I share should be taken as a generalization about adopting.  Every story is unique and has its own qualities that make it what it is.  It is time for me to share mine.  It is difficult, emotional, and some parts are hard to admit.  I know it is a piece of my own healing process no matter what else comes of it.

We adopted our son when he was almost 13 years old.  We had never talked about adopting and had not prepared ourselves for it but we felt strongly that God spoke to us to adopt this particular child. And we did. He became our oldest child by 2 1/2 years, which we never heard anyone recommend.  The “experts” say that you should take a child younger than your birth children, but we felt God was bigger than expert opinions no matter how hard it might be.  We did not have anyone really who thought it was a fantastic idea because it would clearly come with a cost to me, my husband, and our 3 children.  We also did not know a single person who had taken this on before. No one.  But we went forward because it was what we were called to do.

The next 5 1/2 years were very demanding- the adjustment, the sacrifices made by the 5 of us, and the mere exhaustion of 4 boys in our family. We only had those 5 years to train our son up for the world- we had missed his first 13 and there was so much for him to learn.  Lessons came at a cost, discipline was constant, and the push back from him was ever present. But we stuck it out.  No matter what. That is what we signed up for when we became his parents.

I have probably had a  hundred people say to me, “I bet he is so thankful he got you!” I would smile politely, without a response.  There is no response to that statement because he did not know how to be thankful. He came to us with so much hurt, disappointment, and anger that there was no way he would let down his guard and think about what he had. It would leave him vulnerable and he had been through too much to open himself up to that.

His therapist said to him, “When are you going to stop pushing your parents away?”  The answer- up until this point…..never. The pain of those first few years made  him into a survivor- a child who can make himself exist in any situation and not be bonded. Bonding is too much.  Too personal.  Too deep.

So we were left with knowing that we would not get from him what he had hoped for. A parent/child relationship. One that involves the give and take of love and acceptance. We were a means to an end for him and after he turned 18 he just left. Took off for somewhere he thought was better. No real explanation or reasoning. Leaving just because he could. Not really leaving much behind because he is a survivor and he can make life work wherever he is. It was the most crushing experience of my life. Watching my son walk out and not look back.

My son graduated from basic training in the U.S. Army and we were able to celebrate the graduation with him.  We were so proud and so excited for his future. We were overwhelmed with his courage and strength to work so hard for something so honorable. We got back from his graduation two days ago and I was beaming with pride. He had become a respectable, honest, young man with credibility and integrity. But I still did not have a son who wants me to be his mom. That crushes me deep to the core. It burns from the inside out.

But here is where my journey has led me.  The picture of this angel is called the “angel of freedom.” I found it today and it spoke volumes to me. In order to be free, I have to let him go and stop trying to find something in him that he does not have to give away. It is not fair to him and it only hurts me. I pry and almost beg for answers I want to hear from him. I wait for the gratitude, love, and acceptance. And then I am devastated when it is not there. 

I pray God will give me freedom from my expectations. Freedom from the constant disappointment that I don’t have with him what I have with my birth children.  We cannot give away what we do not have. 

I have prayed for 6 years now that it would be “well with my soul.”  It is not yet but I am hoping that as I grow I will find the peace that passes understanding. That will be a time of amazing freedom.

It is just hair…..to me.

I can look at pictures and know about how old I was by my hairstyle.  Here I am in the 80’s sporting the BIG hair.  All I can say is WOW.

Then college days….

Wedding…..

Babies…..
and NOW……
So much has changed!  It is with great hesitation that I post ANY of those pictures from the younger years and my children would die if they saw them but I do so with a greater purpose- loving people.
I have learned a lot since I turned 40…..and I have been set free by the realization that 
appearances really don’t matter.

The days of hair spray, Sun-in, and perms are OVER!  Now it is a good day if I get out the diffuser on my hair dryer.  I confess that I do color my hair slightly and get it trimmed……if I did not like my hairdresser so much I might not even do that.
So where am I going with this?  IT IS JUST HAIR- TO ME.  But what could it mean to someone else?  Millions of children suffer from hair loss because of cancer treatments or alopecia. Some of them feel like they can rock the bald look or a cute hat but others want to have hair- real hair.  
 That is where we come in.
See, my hairdresser decided I should grow my hair out because it would look better-  I am of the thought process that short hair is less to fool with so the shorter the better.  I told her I would grow it out under one condition….that I donate it when it grows to 12 inches.  There began the journey.
As you can see, I am at about 4 inches now- if it is straightened and pulled.  Ok maybe 3 inches.  I figure that in one year it will be 12 inches if I am nice to it.  But I don’t want to just donate my hair- I want to get enough people together to make at LEAST one wig, which is 12 ponytails and $1500 to subsidize all the costs that go along with providing a child with a wig.
I started doing my research and came across Children With Hair Loss. It is a small non profit organization that makes wigs for children for FREE.  Did you know a lot of other organizations charge for the wigs?  I called them on the phone and had the best chat ever with one of their volunteers.  
It is that simple- 12 ponytails and $1500 and a trip next summer to meet them in person in Michigan. 
Why did I pick this project?  Because long hair drives me crazy and it is one way I can die to self and give it away.  Those who know me understand I do not do this without whining- it is hot, it is frizzy, it is a pain, it is….blah, blah, blah.  This whole experience has been one of God changing how I see things…..thanksgiving that I can grow hair.  That I have a shower to wash it in.  That I have the utmost privilege to give it away.
Children With Hair Loss takes color treated, bleached and gray hair!  I need at least 12 people from anywhere in the world to join me in this cause.  You have a year to grow it out…..and God will take care of the rest of the details.
Will you join me?  Really- it is just hair.  It grows back.  It has noteternal value.  And someone needs it a whole lot more than you do.
Please leave a comment if you are IN and I will get in touch with you.  
12 people. 12 inches.

We are not all winners…..

Yesterday was a big day in the 5th grade- the EGG DROP.  Students, teachers, and faculty gathered in the school courtyard to witness the students’ contraptions made of popsicle sticks and small cups that would be dropped from 7 1/2 feet with a raw egg inside.  The goal- no broken eggs.  My son was about 5th in the line up and as his teacher climbed the ladder with his project I could tell my little guy was on the nervous, anxious side.  

We all watched as it came plummeting to the ground……as it hit the concrete the egg did not crack at first- it actually LAUNCHED out and into the air and splatted yolk and white everywhere.  Disappointment.  Project fail. With his head hung low, he went back to his seat and we went on with the rest of the class.  As he sat there I could see the dejection in his face.  As a mom, I wanted to go rescue him….tell him it was a great try and he was AWESOME even though his project did not work, etc. but I had this nudge inside of me that said…..no, let him be for now.  So I was preparing myself the whole time as to how I would approach him afterwards.  Give him the motivational speech about how he is good at SO many other things or the “you are the best glue gunner in the universe” pep talk- which would it be? He came up to me and started talking about the tape that came off and ruined the project, etc. and I simply interrupted him and said, “Maybe you just need to improve the design next time. That one did not work out but I bet you can make another one that will.”  He stopped, thought, shrugged, and that was it.

I was not sure I was the one who actually said what I did.  Maybe someone else inhabited my body at that moment when I talked to him?  I did not coddle, lie, or help him make up excuses. That is not the me I know! See, I am a rescuer. I want my kids to feel good about themselves and I want to rescue them from disappointment….but I am now a RECOVERING RESCUER. 
In the moment when our children fail, we must stop enabling them to blame everyone and everything for things not working out. This never has to be done where it is hurtful, but it can be done where it is very helpful. Instead of blaming the wind or the humidity or the angle of the ladder, I needed to encourage him that next time he could do it better. Now in that moment he knew I loved him, was for him, and supported him unconditionally but helping him be the victim would never shape his character.
We came home that night and what did we do?  Bought more popsicle sticks and made a better design. Lesson learned- take the failure and let it shape the new outcome. This space ship looking glue gun masterpiece was dropped by dear ol’ dad from the ladder with no broken eggs- TWICE.
We must let them fail and not protect them from how that feels.  I firmly believe we learn more from our failures than we do from our wins.  Failing builds character and perseverance when our kids know we are not disappointed in them.  It should motivate- maybe not at first but eventually.
I am so thankful for the failed egg drop and the lessons it taught me.  As a recovering rescuer, I challenge you to stop protecting your kids from the wisdom that comes from picking themselves up and trying again and again.