Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our family shares...EVERYTHING

There's nothing like a huge family get-together.  Every year for Thanksgiving, the "Texas Cousins" come up from, you guessed it, Texas and our already large extended family extends itself to 60+ people.  The holiday is a 3 day event starting the morning of Thanksgiving.  Here's the itinerary:

Thursday
10:00am Family Thanksgiving worship service: led each year by a different nuclear family and accompanied by some soulful, albeit painfully off-key, singing and emotionally charged share time.  Predictably punctuated by an hour-late start and Ngo minh, our adopted Vietnamese cousin with cerebral palsy, getting us all choked up as he sings Amazing Grace at the top of his voice.

1:00pm Family Football competition - the boys (and a few brave girls) take over a local elementary school's football field and proceed to compete to the truest sense of the word.  More often than not, there is a moderately serious injury (broken arms and such), and a bitter brotherly battle over who cheated or who was a little too rough with their two-hand-touch tackle.

4:00pm Family Dinner - For most families, this may be the main event - everyone gathered around one big table sharing grace and a meal.  But when you have 60 people ages 7 months to 87 you find an open spot at one of the 6 tables, shovel in the heavy Thanksgiving goodness and then offer to hold the baby of the mom who hasn't made it through the line yet.  This is no time for lingering over stuffing and mashed potatoes because before you have had your 3rd bite, the teenage boy cousins are already ravaging the dessert table and you just might miss a taste of that chocolate ganache tart you've been eyeballing.
Just to give you an idea of the number of people, my dad snapped a few photos with his phone of the pre-dinner prayer 
Who can spy a cute Baby Girl?
5:00pm Conversation, games, clean-up, naps.

Then this happened.  I think they were watching the Cowboys lose miserably.  Sad for the Texas cousins.
Friday
12:00pm Annual family trip to Chartroose Caboose - the family favorite.  The one by my uncle's house nearly closed a few years ago and he seriously considered buying it for fear we wouldn't have somewhere to overtake on Black Friday.  It's possible that our yearly visit is marked in their calendar as their boost in sales that makes up for a deficit the months before.  Personally if I'm gonna pay $7.00 for a chopped beef sandwich, I'd rather scoot on down Metcalf a mile or so and get me a Poor Russ from Jack Stack.  Now THAT's a sandwich.

2:00pm Family softball/kickball/basketball or some other competitive sport for the boys, Black Friday shopping for the girls.  Because the broken bones and bickering from Thursday have been forgotten and the boys need to release some more testosterone, and if there's anything the Snyder/Kahler girls love it's a good deal.  Upon his review of this post, the Husband informed me that I neglected to mention that he was awarded the title of Softball MVP.  A coveted award to be sure.

5:00pm Family pizza night- the traditional post-Thanksgiving meal.  Although this year we were celebrating the engagement of cousin Zack (hooray!) so pizza night was postponed until Saturday.

Saturday
11:00am Family baby shower - every year at Thanksgiving there is at least one pregnant mama.  Last year there were 4.  This year only 3.  At this rate, the next generation will outnumber us in just a few years.

The rest of the day Saturday is usually spent playing games, shopping, napping, talking, and eating leftovers.

Needless to say, our family really likes being together.  You would think we would get sick of each other by the end of the weekend, but we don't.  I think we just know how to share.  Share time and space and stuff and conversation and food.  Unfortunately we also shared something else this weekend.  The most contagious flu bug ever.  We're not sure where it started, but the first round it took out 16 of us.  At last count, there were only 12 of the 63 people who remained well.  None of those 12 were in our house.

Poor Baby Girl got sick, too.  It's so sad when she's sick!  It's even more sad when I don't feel good either and I can't comfort her the way I want to.  I thought there was some rule that mommies and babies aren't sick at the same time.  Or at least that mommies and babies AND daddies aren't sick at the same time.  Maybe we're just the exception to the rule.  Just so you're not so sad thinking of her all sicky, here's a picture of happy, pre-puking Lila:

There.  I already feel a little bit better.  Don't you?

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and lacking of puke!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

eeeeeeeeeeeee.

Awesome things happen to me. Perhaps not every day, but often enough to take note. Now don't get me wrong- this isn't some ego-driven plug for how great I am or how I make awesome happen around me. I've never been the make-things-happen type. It's a sincere observation of the blessings and joyous moments that I have been fortunate enough to experience in my nearly twenty-eight years. Some of them are awesome in way that I don't realize until much later the caliber of their awesome. Sometimes, however, it stares me right in the face and then catches me staring back and throws an awesome punch just for good measure.

There have actually been quite a few of these moments over the last eleven months (can you believe eleven months have gone by since
Lila joined our family?) The first night I held Lila, the first time she laughed, when she started crawling across the floor to harass the dog and Franny just sat there patiently and let her. All awesome. And I've seen a lot of awesome (again, not trying to make this about me, but I did once candidly receive an amiable wave from a soldier driving a tank down 95th Street. Awesome). But just a few days ago the best thing yet happened. In order to fully illustrate the point, however, we need to look back about three months.

I'm not going to suggest that dads can have a full appreciation for what moms go through in the first year of parenthood, nor can I pretend to completely sympathize with my extraordinary wife's exhausting daily routine of taking care of Lila. That said, we dads have our fair share of struggles, not least of which is reconciling baby's natural affinity for mom. For the first eight months or so of Lila's life I never won a parental preference contest. Not that I try to pit myself against Kelsey, but everyone likes to be picked once in a while. After spending a few days in Denver in August, during which I got to give Kelsey some down time while I took Lila to the pool or we walked to a coffee shop, I finally started getting a taste of what every proud parent loves. The tiny and longingly outstretched arms, the lean-ins for kisses, the grip tightening around my sleeve when other people reach out to hold her. And I'm not entirely proud of the fact that I enjoy it just a little bit when I leave for work in the morning and hear her crying at my absence. I can't help it. I spent eight months in a relationship of one-directional affection and now I'm getting some back. It makes me go eeeeeeeeeeeeee like I'm going too fast on a motorcycle.

So speaking of the unjust separation forced on me by having to go to work every day, last week the most awesome thing so far happened. As I opened the front door and walked past Franny, who was convulsing with elation at my return, Lila turned around from her toys, looked at me and said, smiling, "Da-da." And all at once my heart and lungs and brain collapsed and exploded and caught fire and were reborn from the ashes. I love coming home. But who wouldn't want to come home to this?


That's what I thought. Nobody. If I had to make a top five list of things I am loving right now, it would go like this (besides Kelsey who, I have been informed, holds the perennial #1 spot on any of my Awesome Things lists):

5. Winter weather.
4. The Matt Cassel/Dwayne Bowe connection.
3. Girl Talk's new album.
2. The anticipation of Thanksgiving.
1. Lila saying da-da when I come home.

There you have it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another hope for Waverley

Just a quick Waverley update for the Army!

Wavy's parents have filed a "motion to reconsider" asking the courts to review their decision and change their minds.  This does three things:


  1. Provides the very small hope that the ruling will be reversed (like mustard seed size hope!)
  2. Buys more time for Wavy to be with her family and for Matt and Molly to put in place the best "transition plan" to change custody over should they lose this motion (the decision on the motion to reconsider could be made as soon as tomorrow or as late as 3 months from now, meaning Waverley could be with Matt and Molly through the end of December or as long as March)
  3. Allows for the possibility to tweak the language in the ruling to support the cause of adoption for future cases


PLEASE PRAY!

Pray for a conviction amongst the justices to consider the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law - and an understanding that the life and well-being of a child is at stake and is just as important if not more important than an adult's rights.

Pray for a change of heart for the birthfather - the way I see it, the longer this takes, the more time he has to think about the reality of being a father and the more time to change his mind!

Pray for the longest possible time allowed for Wavy to remain with Matt and Molly.

Pray for the voice of the biological grandmother to be silenced.

Pray that the justice of the Lord rules in the hearts and minds of the judges - far supreme to the justice of the nation.

Pray for wisdom and comfort and peace and hope and protection and provision for Matt and Molly and Wavy and Harper.

Pray for a lamb!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grrrr

Pretend like you are a very patient, very compassionate, very kind mommy (okay, maybe "-ish" should be added to each of those adjectives to be fair).  Then pretend like you have an 11-month-old monkey child who spent 3 straight hours yelling at you.  Then imagine that child is ravenously hungry.  Are you imagining it?  There.  That's your own little window into my day.  Nice view, huh?

Lila must have woken up today and thought, "What do I want to do today?  Hmmm...probably just eat and yell.  That'll be fun."

Seriously, Lila took a page out of the hungry caterpillar book today.  This afternoon she ate:

1 stick of string cheese...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate 1/2 a slice of bread...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate 1/2 of a pear...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate carrots...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate chicken mixed with pear...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate another 1/2 a slice of bread...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate another 1/2 of a pear...but she was still hungry.
Then she ate some cheerios...but she was still hungry.

But then her mommy cut her off because she didn't want her to puke all over the place.  Which made monkey-child really mad and she yelled.


Disclaimer: I haven't taken a non-blurry picture of her with my iPhone for about two months.  She's just too wiggly.

She also yelled when I wouldn't let her play in the toilet.
She yelled when I wouldn't let her lick the trash can.
She yelled when I wouldn't let her crawl around in the closet with all of the christmas lights and ornaments and extension cords.
She yelled when I wouldn't let her pull all of the clothes out of her dresser which I had just put away from the last time she pulled them out.
She yelled when I wouldn't let her "kiss" the dog.
Again, sorry about the blur.  You gotta capture the moment, though.
So maybe you can understand why at exactly 5:01pm I texted Eric and said, "When are you coming home?!  I'm done with this baby!"

It's days like today that make me really glad I'm not a single mom.  And that I don't have twins.  And that I'm not pregnant.  And that it's Friday.

Today wasn't all bad, though; we had a few good moments in there.  For instance, Lila is really into kissing and she has started volunteering kisses rather than just offering them on demand.  She had me belly laughing today when she violently grabbed my whole head and slobbered all over my forehead because she had the sudden urge to kiss me.  She was also doing her best Fonzie impression this morning.  She has started this thing where she leans back against the couch with her arms propped up on the cushions - like a little chubby Fonzie.  Ayyyyyy!  And finally, I pulled up a few Sesame Street clips on Hulu and she was mesmerized.  She actually sat still and cuddled on my lap for 15 minutes (except for when she yelled and batted at the computer every time I had to load the next clip).

And really, when my alarm beeps at 10:08 twice a day and I stop what I'm doing to pray for Waverley and her family, I tend to snap out of my frustration and thank Jesus for my baby girl as I ask him to be gracious and let Matt and Molly keep theirs.  I'm sure they would do anything to add more days to their time with Wavy - even if they were all like today!  It helps to have a little perspective.

But even with perspective, days can just be nasty and by the end of the day all of those sweet bonding memories were fading away in the haze of the crabbiness that had invaded our house.  Which brings me back to the title of this post.  Grrrr.  That is how I feel about today.  I don't have the energy to lecture it or even lash out and bite it.  I'm like that elderly dog who is not so keen on the children tugging on it's ears but can only muster an apathetic warning growl.  Grrrr, nasty day.  Grrrr.  I'm done with you.  Leave me alone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sleeper, awake!

 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!"
     “Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
   “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
   “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
   “Here I am,” he replied.
  “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”


Genesis 22 tells the confusing and heart-wrenching story of a father asked to sacrifice his son.  It seems wrong that the Lord would even ask it of Abraham to begin with, but we have the benefit of knowing the whole story, just as God knew the whole story before it began.  I believe God knew that Isaac was safe even before he asked Abraham to sacrifice him.  I believe he knew Abraham's heart, knew he would be obedient, knew Abraham trusted God in all his wisdom and holiness and mystery.  And Abraham reveals to us his trust in his answer to Isaac's question in verse 8:  God himself will provide the lamb.

As it stands today, the longest Waverley will be in Matt and Molly's home is through December 18th, (although custody may change over before that, depending on what is worked out legally).  But, just as I believe God knew the whole story - beginning, middle and end - of Genesis 22, I believe he knows the whole story of Waverley's adoption - beginning, middle and end.  And it is not over.

I have been awed by the way that the Lord seems to be captivating our hearts on behalf of Waverley.  I am honestly taken off guard by how many people have told me that they haven't been able to stop thinking, praying, weeping for Matt and Molly.  I believe that this is significant.  And not just in revealing how kind and thoughtful people are, or how horrible this situation is.  I believe the fact that so many hearts have been moved by Wavy's story is significant because it is evidence that the Lord is moving.  I believe the Lord is raising up an army of prayer warriors.

Today I spoke with a woman I have met only once - a friend of a friend - who has never met Matt and Molly, but heard of their story through my friend.  She told me about a friend of hers who was dying of stage 4 cancer.  This friend had slipped into a coma and the doctors had called all family members to say their goodbyes.  As doctors said there was nothing more they could do, this woman and her friends decided to pray for their dying friend twice a day for 100 days until she was cancer-free.  I don't know how many days into their 100 days they were when their friend awoke from her coma.  I don't know how many more days until she stood up from her deathbed.  I don't know how many more days until she walked out of the hospital.  But today her friend is now back at work, cancer-free.  A miracle.  No doubt about it.

The woman told me that she wants to do the same for Wavy and as she told me of her desire to pray corporately for Wavy, I saw in my mind the scene from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King when the army of dead warriors arises and bursts out of the mountain to fight on behalf of the King.  And I thought of the verse in Ephesians: "Sleeper, awake; rise from the dead! And Christ on thee his light shall shed!"

Do you see what I see?  Do you see that army rising up?  Did you feel something awaken in you when you heard Waverley's story?  Was it a cry for justice?  A sense that the Lord should make wrong things right?

Well, fellow warriors, we are the army.  We are the Sleepers awakening, coming out of a deep slumber (perhaps of apathy? of faithlessness? of forgetfulness? of fear?) ready to fight on behalf of the King and his beloved daughter.

So here is what I am asking of you:  Set your alarms for 10:08am and 10:08pm and join me twice a day in prayer for Waverley every day for the next 36 days (today - December 18th).  Why 10:08?  Because 10:00pm in military time is 22:00 and Genesis 22:8 is our battle cry: God himself will provide a lamb.

My dad gets a daily scripture reading via email and he emailed me today's reading.  Scripture says the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.  So if you need more ammunition for this fight, draw this sword of Truth:

Friday, November 12 
Psalm 123 
1 Kings 7:1-33; John 13:31-38 
There is no perversion of justice with the Lord our God, or partiality, or taking of bribes. 2 Chronicles 19:7


Peter began to speak, 'I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.' Acts 10:34-35


Millions are crying out for justice, righteous God! You demand that we be bold and speak out against all forms of injustice and unjust rule that destroy body and soul. Strengthen the values of fairness, honesty, integrity, impartiality, and righteousness in our families and nations so that we can do that which is acceptable to God alone. Amen.


What a fitting call to battle!  These Words are our ammunition.  They are our swords.  Put them to use.  Fight.  Pray.  Cry out for justice and mercy.  Be bold and courageous, oh Warriors!  Please leave a comment and pledge to pray for Waverley twice a day for the next 36 days.  Let's have the faith of Abraham and say with confidence, "God himself will provide the lamb!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A call to prayer

Well, I was planning on a Halloween picture post, but that will have to be for another day.  There is something else I feel like I need to share even though I almost don't have the energy to share it.  I don't even really know where to begin.  But, I want to invite you all to pray with us on behalf of our friends.  The short version is this: 


Our friends Matt and Molly have adopted two little girls.  For the last two and a half years, they have been in a legal battle with their youngest daughter's birthfather.  He contested the adoption claiming he didn't know that the baby had been born.  As more details emerged, it became clear what Matt and Molly had always felt deep in their hearts: Waverley was their daughter.  She was meant to be a part of their family.  That was the best place for her.  They learned that it is actually the paternal grandmother who is pushing her son to contest the adoption.  The birthfather is young (20 years old at the time of Wavy's birth) and immersed in an unhealthy lifestyle involving drugs and alcohol.  In fact, the grandmother testified in court that she wants her son to be a parent because she thinks it will help him "grow up."  There's so much more that goes into this, but because of privacy issues, they have asked us not to link directly to their blog, so if you want to read the nitty gritty, leave a comment and I will send you a link to their blog privately.


Adoption law does not allow for the judges to consider the child's best interest in their decisions - they must solely consider the birthparents' rights.  So, even if the Justices thought that Wavy would be better off with Matt and Molly, by law they are obligated to rule in favor of the birthfather if they believe that his rights have been violated.  Matt and Molly won the initial court decision 2 years ago and have since won the first appeal.  All looked good and I think everyone began to be hopeful that this long journey would be over and we would be celebrating the fact that Waverley was officially their daughter.  However, the last step of the appeals process was the Kansas Supreme Court and last Friday we learned that the Supreme Court had reversed all of the previous rulings.   Unfortunately, the only option for appeals is to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is very unlikely that their case would even be heard on that level.  In other words, they are out of options and the bottom line is Waverley is going to be taken from Matt and Molly and her big sister, Harper. 


We are...heartbroken, enraged, confused, disappointed.  As a mommy with a daughter, I haven't been able to go long without bursting into tears thinking about Molly having to drop off her baby and drive away or Wavy starting a whole new life in an unknown, perhaps unsafe place without a mama.  I have had to resist the urge to go wake Lila up and snuggle her to remind myself that she can't be taken from me.  Being a mom makes you a little nutty when it comes to your kids!

I have prayed and prayed and have gone from despair and confusion to a real sense of peace that God is not done working in this situation.

I wanted to share something with you all with the hope that it might give you some direction for your prayers or at least some hope that the Lord is active in this situation. Last Saturday night I couldn't sleep and felt the Lord calling me to prayer. I wept and prayed for Matt and Molly, Wavy and Harper and asked all the questions that I'm sure everyone is asking: Why? How? What now?  After several minutes of praying, I believe the Lord began to remind me of stories from Scripture: the prostitutes who fought over the child in Solomon's court, the firstborn boys being spared during Passover, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus himself. All were stories of children whose lives and futures were in jeopardy but were saved at the last minute. And then I believe I heard the Lord say: "I always provide a lamb."

Now I would like to interpret that as God is planning on returning Wavy to Matt and Molly at the last second, but I just don't know if that is true.  What I do know is that all things are possible with God and that the prayers of the righteous have great power and wonderful results.  So please join us in praying for a lamb - that is, a substitute or another option - for Waverly so that she might be able to grow up in the only home she has ever known and with parents who love her and love Jesus.  It would be a miracle, I know, but thankfully we have a God who has a habit of performing miracles!  So, let's pray on behalf of this sweet face:
Waverley