Monday, March 31, 2014

Free to Be

They are unhindered by what they are supposed to be.  They don't have cutesy, endearing names given to them by their owners.  They are not owned.  They aren't caged in by fences, gates, or barns.  They aren't forced to eat a particular diet, wear saddles, or be trained by professionals.

Instead, they are deemed wild.  They eat from the land.  They enjoy water and sand and grass.  They run. 



In essence, they are free.

They are beautiful.

They are who they are.

When we first saw the wild horses while vacationing in The Outer Banks, we were in awe.  There they were, right in front of us.  They gazed at us with confidence and grace.  

I am not an animal lover by any means.  But I was bathed in the utmost respect for these animals.  Seeing them is unforgettable.  

I want for my children what every parent seems to claim.  We tell our kids:  You can be anything.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  The world is full of endless possibilities.

We encourage them to dream by asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

My three-year-old says:  an alligator.

My five-year-old says:  a teacher, a police officer, and an artist. 

They are young enough, happy enough, and imaginative enough to feel that anything (and everything---perhaps having three careers or one career as an animal---huh?) is obtainable.

But stereotypes get in the way.  They make things messy.  They put up fences, roadblocks, and mountains.  Stereotypes are powerful teachers, and they are everywhere.   They come from those closest to us and our children:  family, friends, teachers, neighbors.  They come from the media who loves to perpetuate the most sensational stories (and make ordinary stories sensational).  They come from bloggers who are eager to voice their opinions and see how many likes and re-tweets they can get.  They come from kids' movies and television shows and books and toys.  (Don't get me started on "Black" dolls.)  

When my daughter was a little over two, she became obsessed with owning a pair of swim trunks.  Recent playdates with friends and cousins, all of whom were boys, piqued her interest.  The trunks the boys wore were graphic and colorful.  And they didn't dig into (or slip off) her shoulders like annoying girl swimsuits. 

So one afternoon, we're at Gymboree, and my daughter fixates on a pair of blue pirate swim trunks.  As she's rubbing the fabric between her fingers, a store employee approaches us.  All smiles, she dotes on Miss E, and then says, "I bet pink is your favorite color!"

I try not to roll my eyes.   I say, "Actually, she loves orange."

Employee to my daughter:  "Oh, you don't want those swim trunks!  There are some cute swimsuits over here..."

Me:  "She really wants a pair of swim trunks."

I recall when Miss E started dance class.  She LOVED to dance.  At home.  In stores.  While waiting in a line.   And people would remark, "Oh, she loves to dance!"  Sometimes followed by, "It's in her.  Black people are so good at dancing."  It's in her?

Some of my most eye-opening experiences with race and stereotypes came from my students.  Throughout my nine years of teaching, I had several students share with me, in person or in writing, their experiences.   One day after class, an African American student shared with me the story of a recent sorority party she was intending to attend.  The them of the party was BET or CMT.  My student was the only Black girl in her sorority, and she expressed her hurt to me when her sisters said, "Well, obviously you'll be going as BET."

Another student of mine, an eccentric Black girl who loved funky earrings, rock band t-shirts, and bright-red lipstick, shared in class that she was tired of feeling like she had to fit into a particular mold because of her race.  She said she's been made fun of for majoring in drama and for not being, in essence, Black enough. 

I'll never forget my first semester of teaching.  I read a paper written by a Black female who shared her lack of fitting in with others in her neighborhood.  She wrote that she was often referred to as "Oreo" (Black on the outside, White on the inside) for her love of reading, for attending college, and for "sounding White" when she spoke.

But the ostracizing often doesn't begin and end in the same place. Students would find themselves disliked by one group and also disliked for the same reasons in another group.  Some felt they weren't "enough" of one or the other, leaving them in constant limbo, uncertainty.  They had to prove themselves to different people at different times, as if they were always on trial.  

Now, I know some of you are thinking "sticks and stones." We need to just reject words, be ourselves, love ourselves, and not care about what other people think. 

It's a great idea. But even the most confident of people sometimes let the questions, the assumptions, and looks get to them.  And children, in particular, are so vulnerable, because they really are sponges, soaking up the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly, even when we parents work hard to protect them, instill confidence in them, and encourage them. 
 
My girls are yoga fans.  Their former nanny is a yoga teacher and got Miss E hooked.   Then Miss E got Baby E to do poses.  Then I bought them yoga cards which further inspired them to practice.  Then in January, some White chick with some sort of personal complex about herself and people of other races, decided to write a blog post that spoke volumes.  She infuriated many people (rightfully so) with her message.  Look girls.  Look to Misty Copeland.  Look to female African American golfers.  Venus and Serena.  Gabby Douglas. 

We listen to all types of music here.  The big band/swing station is fun when we're playing toys.  We listen to contemporary Christian because the music is clean and the kids know the music from church.  Nothing makes us move quite like Beyonc√©.  We love the authenticity and charm of Ella Fitzgerald.   And we are also country music fans.   I've introduced my kids to Darius Rucker and Rissi Palmer:  both brown-skinned country artists. 

My son loves baby dolls.  He kisses their faces, hugs them tight, stares into their eyes.  (IKEA and Corolle and Alexander Dolls make African American boy dolls.)  And his snowsuit, it's magenta.  Like BRIGHT magenta.  Because why would I go buy a brand new $30 snowsuit when he'll wear it like three times before outgrowing it and the season changes?

My girls are huge fans of all-things-transportation.  The louder, brighter, and more flashy, the better.  The trash truck, school buses, and police cars are so fascinating that when the girls see them, they shriek in excitement.  They also love construction sites, dinosaurs, and Superman.   Yet, the "girl aisles" of stores are cluttered with princesses, purple/pink/glitter, dolls, and toy shopping carts. 

The issue doesn't end with what is available.  There is so much lacking.  So much omitted.  Dark-skinned people in popular media. Positive representations of Black boys and men.  Clothing for young girls that depicts messages of intelligence and drive.

My main problem with stereotypes, whether they are based on gender, race, or something else, is that they send my children a powerful and very dangerous message:

That they should rely upon society's belief of who they should be instead of on God's plan for them.  Instead of loving their talents, exploring their worlds, making new friends, and relishing in new experiences, they should conform to a very small set of standards that secretly serve to hinder them, cage them in, and command them to submit.  

I have no idea yet what God has in store for my children, but I know one thing for certain:  there is something in store.  There is a plan.  There is a path.   And I pray as their mother that I am able to teach them discernment, guide them through rough patches, and encourage them to be the incredible person God has created them to be.

And above all, I want them to know that when they are in relationship with Jesus, there is freedom.




Romans 12:2:  
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."





Thursday, March 27, 2014

5-1, 5-O, Somebody Call the...

My girls LOVE the police.  They own a power-wheels-ish police car (complete with sirens).  They own dress-up police hats, badges, handcuffs, walkie-talkies.  They are totally obsessed with Dierks Bentley's song "5-1 5-0" ("somebody call the po-po")---because it references the police.  A year or so ago, we called our local police station and asked if we could come meet with a female police officer so the girls could ask her questions, to which the station sent an officer to our home where she spent an hour playing with the girls and talking to them about safety.    They were, of course, enamoured.  And then there were the other police visits to our home---when, once again, the 911 app on my cell was accidentally pushed, and the police are required to respond even when I assure the dispatcher that there is no emergency.  The girls wait by the front door, thrilled to see the person in the blue uniform approaching.   (Sigh.)

Two weeks ago, I attended a community meeting with one of my three littles in tow.  There was a police officer present whom my daughter kept sneaking glances at over my shoulder.  After the meeting, I asked my daughter if she would like to say hello to the officer, to which she said yes.  We spent a few minutes talking with him.  He knelt down to my daughter's level and asked her how old she was and talked about his own three-year-old.  My daughter was thrilled to be so close to an officer and to engage with him.

Later that night, I was thinking about how much my daughters enjoy the police.  To them, police catch "bad guys" and keep people safe.  They respond when there are emergencies.  And in our community, the police are usually seen at fun kid-booths at local festivals, handing out stickers and giving the little ones high-fives.   They encourage the kids and their parents to visit the station at any time to take a tour and greet officers. 

But my kids are Black.

And the media teaches all of us, police or not, that Black people are to be suspect by nature, to be feared, to be questioned, to be untrustworthy until proven otherwise.  And the more "gangsta" or "thug" the person looks, the more they should be suspect, especially if they are males, especially if they have darker skin, and especially if they are with one or more other Black males.

The police readily greet my children right now.  Part of it is that they are young children.  They are well-dressed, with their hair done and their sparkly shoes on.  They are smiling.  Part of it is that we, their parents, are White.  We are the privileged race who, contrary to brown-skinned people, are given the benefit of the doubt:  we are trustworthy, we are safe, we are boring and hardly noticeable, we are non-confrontational.

But what about ten years from now?  Fifteen years from now?  What about when my kids are driving or riding in a car with friends?  What about when they are at the mall?  What about when they stop at a gas station to load up on junk food that mama won't give them at home?  What about when they are simply walking down a sidewalk through a neighborhood where they look like they may not belong?  What about when they are trying to purchase a belt at a department store? What about when they are headed into a college classroom or into a job interview?  What about when they are simply sitting in a car in a parking lot listening to music? 

As I type this post, I recall the morning I spent lifting weights in front of the television, my three beautiful children occupying themselves with toys, while I watched Katie Couric conduct several interviews about the Jordan Davis case.  Tears streamed down my face.  I could hardly breathe at times.   The boy in the pictures could be my child one day: guilty of being black in America...and shot for it.

A few weeks ago, I dressed my one-year-old son for the day. I pulled an adorable red-striped thermal top over his head, gently guided his arms into the sleeves while he grinned at me.   I then sat him on the floor and went to wash my hands after changing his diaper, and I came back to see that my girls had taken the shirt's hood and pulled it up and over my son's head.  They giggled as he nodded his head back and forth while smiling, enjoying the sensation of the hood on his soft hair.

There he was.  A bright-eyed little boy, sitting on the floor of his bedroom with morning sunshine streaming through the windows and placing happy patterns on the floor.

And it hit me that he was a black boy wearing a hood.

And my mind flashed-forward to what that could mean when he's fifteen.  Or twenty.  Or twenty-five.  And what if he didn't live that long because someone found him suspect simply because of a hood and his skin color?  

I'm angry.

I'm disturbed.

And I don't know how in the world I'll be able to protect my children from real, raw, terrible dangers that lurk everywhere.  I don't know how to keep them safe when they are considered suspect for being brown.

Will the police who are so kind to my children now, be the same officers who pull my kids over in a few years?  Who question them at the mall?  Who arrest them out of fear and personal bias? 

Will the people who compliment my oldest's hairstyle, who smile at my three-year-old skipping through a store without a worry in the world, who can't help but gently touch the cheek of my bubbly, one-year-old...will these same people be so admiring, so kind, and so approving and encouraging when my children are ten, fifteen, twenty?   Think of the jurors who didn't convict Jordan Davis' murderer with first degree murder, because, gulp, some of those jurors somehow identified with the killer's reasoning and justified his actions----because, let's face it, no one is colorblind and race is always a factor in any situation.

I don't want anyone to be colorblind (Nor do I want people to continue to tell me they are---because they are liars).  We celebrate race.  We appreciate race.  We recognize race. 

I do want fairness. Justice.  Chances.

I want my children to have what I had growing up and what I have now:  equal opportunity.

I want their lives to be valued.

I want them to shine.  

I want them to flourish.

I want them be who they are, even if it makes other people uneasy.

I want them to be proud Black people who know their history, who feel confident in their skin, and who don't feel they have to code-switch, clothing-switch, music-switch just to appease others.

I want them to be free.

Adults who are parenting children of color carry heavy hearts, because we know that each time another child's face flashes on the news, another victim of injustice, that we aren't immune.  We aren't special.  That we can talk to our kids, that we can empower them, that we can take precautions...

but our kids aren't free.  

And we fear they never will be. 

So we hold our breath, we pray, and we beg God to keep our children safe, because we know the world cannot be trusted.





 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Diaversary: How the Worst Day of My Life Handed Me Hope

Today is my eight-year diabetes diagnosis anniversary.

D-Day, 3/24/06, was the day that brought me, simultaneously, the most relief and the most anger I've ever experienced.

I had been sick for 1.5 years.  Unquenchable thirst.  Dire hunger.  Extreme weight loss.  Chronic fatigue.  Continuous sinus infections.  Depression.  Tingling in my feet and hands.    I had every single classic symptom of type I diabetes.

I saw five medical professionals (some of them multiple times), all of whom failed to do a simple blood sugar test that would have given us the answer. 

On 3/24/06, I came home from my annual gynecologist appointment.  I was exhausted, as usual, and very, very thirsty.  I had just guzzled down some sort of orange shake-thing I purchased at a drive-thru window.  Then I took my shoes off, laid down for a nap and slept for hours.   I woke up to more thirst.  I gulped down two large glasses of juice.  And, as it always did, my stomach grew bloated in a matter of seconds from consuming so much liquid so quickly.

I was having an increasingly hard time breathing.  It felt like my lungs refused to fill with air.  

I called Steve (or did he call me?---I cannot remember many details and events from that 1.5 year time period)...and he wanted to call 911.  I refused.  I told him it was probably just my childhood asthma flaring up from the inconsistent weather conditions, winter giving way to spring.

He said he was coming home.  (I'm pretty sure God told him it was time.  Something was going down.)   We hung up, and I fell right back to sleep.  

Steve arrived home and insisted we head to the ER. I told him I would go after he got me more juice.  He did.  I gulped.  We left.

I was admitted to a private ER room very quickly.  Nurses took multiple, large blood samples from both of my arms.  I begged them for something to drink and a blanket, and another, and another, until they ran out of blankets.  I was pissed.  Where was my drink?  And why didn't I have an oxygen mask on to help me breathe?

Finally, a doctor burst into my room, papers on a clipboard in hand, and reported the words that would change my life.

Diabetes.

Insulin.

Ketoacidosis.

ICU.

In the following days, I was told by multiple hospital staff members that I should be comatose or most-likely dead. 

I was experiencing a miracle.

But I sure didn't feel very heavenly.

The following days involved a lot of horrible moments and interactions.

Blood draws every hour.

Heart monitor.

Fluids running through my veins that felt like ice mixed with glass.

Sympathetic looks.

Pathetic looks.

Bruises.

Horse pills. 

Injections.

Injections.

Injections.

Automatic blood pressure cuffs that squeezed my tiny arm.

Two roommates.  One who tried to sleep-walk and cried out to her dead husband.  Another, an obese woman, who puked non-stop and then left because her insurance wouldn't pay for another night.

People sending me "get well" cards (ha...as if you get well from a forever-disease) and flowers (I'm allergic).  People asking to visit.   I said no.  No. No.  Leave me the hell alone, in my hell. 

Oh, except a few family members and a friend who came and rubbed my feet.  Makes me tear up just thinking of that humble act.  My feet, they felt like they were asleep for two weeks straight...and that foot rub brought so much temporary relief.  Feeling a non-medically guided hand on my skin was one small victory. 

The lab nurse with the super-long, stringy hair---the hair the drifted across my tender, bruised arms at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., all while I listened to roommate #1 cry out to her dead husband while I paged the nurses to warn them that she was threatening to walk out and how bad that catheter was going to hurt when she managed to propel herself over the side of the bed.

There was day #3 (or #4?) when my first diabetes nurse educator came into my room.  A woman I instantly trusted because she wasn't too skinny, nor was she overweight.  She had a kind face, gentle eyes, hair just a little bit wild enough to make me like her.  She talked about insulin, and needles, and carbohydrates (and counting them---dammit, I hate math!)... And then she realized I wasn't listening.  I was curled up in the fetal position, covered in sticky plastic things that would alert the hospital if I tried to die on them, wearing a ugly, stiff hospital gown made for Goliath.  I was angry.

Stupid diabetes.

Stupid long-haired lab lady.

Stupid GP who failed to diagnose me despite seeing him 16x in 1.5 years.

Stupid faux diagnosis claims. 

Stupid needles.

Stupid roommates, torturing me with their sleeplessness and hauntings.

Stupid flowers that smelled like a funeral.

Stupid hospital d√©cor.  Salmon and mauve and sea-foam green:  What the hell kind of color palate is that?

Stupid food trays with fruit cocktail in syrup, and stiff, luke-warm ham (I hate ham!), and DIET soda and DIET Jello.  Sugar-free anything tastes like Windex.

Stupid insulin that smelled like nail polish remover.

Stupid nurses who talked to me like I was five years old and wrote their names in red marker (the color of blood) with bubbly letters on my room's dry erase board.

Stupid doctors placing glossy type 2 diabetes brochures on my bedside table.  Those brochures with their stupid smiling models who looked nothing like type 2 diabetics---slim, tan, mountain in the background.   (Hey, docs.  I have type I.  But thanks for noticing).

Stupid.

The CDNE smiles just enough that I don't want to punch her in the face.   Then she says, "Do you two plan on having children?"

And all the sudden, I'm listening. 

"Yes," Steve and I say simultaneously.  

I prop myself up in my bed.  All 97 pounds of bones and skin.   Talk to me. 

"You still can, you know."  She smiles encouragingly and proceeds, happy she finally said something that got my attention.

But I'm done listening.

Because a single word pops into my mind.  

And I know, immediately, without an ounce of doubt or fear.  

"Adoption."  
 


 





Thursday, March 20, 2014

Good Readin'

If you are finding yourself in a mid-week slump, here are a few articles to get you inspired and educated.

Here are some fab books for kids to celebrate their hair! 

Pros and Cons of Open Adoption

A listing of empowering books and dvds for black kids

Why This White Mom Loves MBB (MBB=My Brown Baby)

How to answer a young adoptee's questions


Happy reading! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Answers

These past few months have been difficult, adoption wise, for one of my kiddos.    She's asking HARD questions.  Demanding answers I don't want to give her.   Yet, I'm educated enough in adoption to know that it's time.  Hiding isn't ok. 

I want to protect her little heart.

I want her to be full of joy, confidence, possibility.

But adoption is, in the best way I can describe it, bittersweet.  

And in my adoptive mama heart, I fear that the brokenness that brought my children to me will turn their joy into pain, their confidence into doubt, their possibility into prisons. 

It was a winter day that was hinting at spring. 

She made statement that was more like a question.

I took a deep breath and mentally begged God to tell me how to respond.  Because I knew this moment was coming.  I had rehearsed what I would say, but it never sounded right.  It was never satisfying.  It was never transparent enough.  My rehearsed response was wordy, off-target, and jumbled.

I knew this was defining moment.  I knew I had to do this well.

I took her hands in mine, looked her in her large brown imploring eyes, and spoke calmly.  Honestly.  Simply.

Next, a five minute mom-and-child hug.  We were both silent, sitting on the edge my bathtub, her little legs wrapped around my waist.   Sunlight streaming in through the picture window.

I didn't rush her.  I didn't let go until she did.  I just sat.  Breathed.  Hoped.  

A few days later, I was putting my girls to bed.  As part of our routine, I turned on a CD I had created for them to help ease them to sleep.  After tucking the girls into their beds, I adjusted the volume of the CD player only to pause as I heard the familiar lyrics of Casting Crowns' "Love Them Like Jesus":  and God offered me a gentle reminder.

You're holding her hand, you're straining for words
You trying to make - sense of it all
She's desperate for hope, darkness clouding her view
She's looking to you

Just love her like Jesus, carry her to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus
Love her like Jesus

 
I have tried six times to write a conclusion to this blog post.  Nothing sounds right.  Nothing fits or flows.   So I'll simply say this:  I am just as broken as the next adoptive mom.   I'm just as strong as her, too.   And I will not ever have all the answers.    All I can do successfully is love.





Thursday, March 13, 2014

Choosing Sand

I'm continuously tempted to be a "better" mom.

Whatever that means.

To make improving my mission.  To check off boxes.  To say "been there, done that" and move on to "greener pastures."  To get my hands on as much info as possible and implement ASAP. 

Yet, the more I read on social media, even the more pictures I look at of friends' kids, or the more pretty or clever things I pin, the less happy I am.  And the less productive I am. 

I get trapped in self-doubt.  I get scared of what could happen (especially when I get the rare opportunity to watch the news).  I get too many voices going against the two voices I need to listen to the most:  God and myself. 

And I also rely less on those around me whom I can talk to face-to-face or call on the phone and say, "What should I do about...?" (x problem).  The village with whom I'm blessed to be surrounded by.  So instead, I go to strangers...those who don't know me or my family or the whole story.   And often, it's helpful.  But I forget and have to remind myself (like in the book I'm reading:  Carry On, Warrior) that we are all pretty jacked up in our own ways...and nothing outside of God is perfect.

I love to consume.  Stock-pile.  Organize.   I like to be prepared.  No, I thrive on being prepared.  (Thus, one of the reasons adoption and type I diabetes are such struggles for me.) 

So I read.  Think.  Doubt.  Read more.  "Like."  Tweet.   Share. 

Yet within 30 minutes of sharing something or reading something, I'm on to something else...so what was the point?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the idea of back to basics and guarding my heart.

First, the guarding my heart part. 

I have to choose what (and who) I let into my life.   I have a limited capacity of energy, time, and mind-space.  So much of me goes to my family, especially now that I'm a mostly stay-at-home-mom.   

Whatever fills that little bit of space that's left needs to be really, really good.  It needs to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally energizing and inspiring.  It needs to shed truth and light and hope and peace.  

And then the "back to basics" idea. 

You know the Bible story of the wise man who built his house on a rock vs. the foolish guy building on sand.  When the storm comes, the house on the rock withstands.  

Rock=God
 
Sand=Everything/Anything else

Period.

Seek ye first the....yeah, kingdom of God.  And then everything else will be added, will follow.

There's simply no substitute for seeking, listening, and obeying God.  

And in fact, when overly-listening to other voices, even those from fellow Christians, Satan begins to creep in (disguised, of course, as something prettily-packaged) to do his work.  To inject doubt, discomfort, fear, and chaos. 

I don't want to choose sand.

My prayer today is that I am able to choose to build on the rock with every decision I make and reject the sand with a decisive and loud NO.  I pray that I don't fall for the mirages of rocks.  I pray that I am able to rest in God's peace, which only comes from seeking Him first and silencing everyone and everything else that attempts to shush God's voice. 

And I can do this.  I can make this happen.  Because I am His.  



















Monday, March 10, 2014

The Answer is Simple: Simplify

I love learning something new.  I have no fewer than twenty library books checked out at one time.   I re-post/Tweet dozens of blog posts and articles every week.   My mind is forever generating or considering new article and book ideas, parenting practices, art projects, recipes, you name it.  It's hard for me to shut my mind off when I know there's so much out there yet to be written or yet to be learned.

But I have found that the most meaningful and long-lasting changes stem from simple proclamations that make (common) sense.

For example, this blog post on marriage.  We have three kids under age five.  We are always meeting a small child's needs.   Just the other day, my girls were flipping through photo albums of our wedding and early (pre-child) years. As I gazed over their shoulders onto the pages, I realized how young we were.  How free.  How spontaneous.  

And I felt a little sad.

I miss those days where we took road trips.  Where we stayed up too late and slept in every Saturday morning.  We took ocean vacations once a year.   I was leaner and tanner.  My clothes weren't so...yoga-pant-ish.  My biggest stressor was creating teaching plans for the following week.

We are no different than most couples our age.  Struggling to know our place, as individuals and as a couple.  Fitting in "quality time" in the midst of child chaos.  Scheduling dates that end by 7:00 p.m. so we can rush home and get our kids to bed (because I'd never ask a sitter to put our three littles to bed...which we refer to as "hell time."). 

This post told me:  stop waiting for things to be perfect.  Or like they used to be, because there were issues then too---being young marrieds, both selfish, both trying to figure out what to be when we grew up...it wasn't pure bliss.  

To self: Choose happy in your new normal.

Make it work. 

Just work.  Work it out.  Let it be messy.  It's ok. 

---

What about the day-to-day doubt?  The guilt, the uncertainty, the fear?  I loved this post over at Baby & Blog about affirmations.   Like the author, I was inspired by affirmation repeated in the film "The Help."  I think it's soothing and empowering to repeat the same affirmation over and over (as long as it doesn't become so routine that it loses meaning).   When I was growing up, my parents had a few things they repeated to us.  My mom taught us, "You are in charge of yourself."  And my father told me to always, "Be a rhino."   The ideas were similar:  we were personally responsible for our choices (not the choices of others), and we had everything we needed to make good decisions in life and to do so in full force.   (Or, to echo my pastor, the level of complexity in one's life is directly related to the amount of sin in one's life.  The more sin, the more complexity.)

I often tell my kids, "Make good choices."  We do talk about what that means:  that bad choices have bad consequences and good choices have good consequences.  I also affirm their character, their talents, and their looks.  I affirm my oldest daughter's long eye lashes and gorgeous hair styles, her creativity (she's quite the artist!), and her athletic ability (she's quite a gymnast!).  I affirm my middle child's energy, her dark skin, and her humor.  



---

We like to complicate things.  Inject too much experience, too much opinion, too much outside noise, too much inside noise.  We like to create unattainable goals (you know, Pinterest-it-up).   We choose failure over and over and over again, and then continue to trudge through disappointment, fear, pain.

The more children we have and the older they get, the more I'm convinced that simplifying is the way to go.   So much is being thrown at us:  what we should do, what we shouldn't do, what we should look like (and not), what we should feel (and not)...it's too much.   It's not only disabling, but it's also destructive.

No doubt, I'm as overwhelmed as the next mom.   I quit my teaching job (of 9 years!!!) where I wore grown up clothes and had a real office and a shiny key and an important title.  I quit to be at home with my three littles.  Only to then feel like that wasn't "enough," so I piled on projects and accepted speaking and writing opportunities...until, once again, I was drowning.  I was torn.  Constantly.    Whatever I was doing, I was then thinking about what else I should be doing, or doing better.  Vicious cycle.

So I'm right back to getting grounded.  Prioritizing.  And simplifying.  Because when my plate isn't full, there's room for freedom.  New ideas.  Breath.  Friendship.  Slow days.  Clarity.  God whispers. 

Friends, I pray you can choose simplicity, even in the midst of some really difficult circumstances.  I pray that where there are messes, you are able to commit to sorting those messes, dealing with the brokenness, and simplifying the future.  I pray that you choose joy today.  That you silence haters.  That you cling to God's peace.  

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy B-day, to My Book!



Happy 1st Birthday to Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children

Thank you to everyone who has purchased the book and shared it with family, friends, your social workers, your children's teachers and doctors, your support groups.   The book has done far better than I imagined or hoped for.   

This book has brought me incredible joy and opportunities to share my passion and education.  I have received countless e-mails from readers expressing their struggles, their victories, their questions.   I was invited to appear on MSNBC, NPR, in Essence, on The Daily Drum National Radio Show, and more.  I've been able to write for some fantastic blogs including Slow Mama, Rage Against the Minivan, I Am Not the BabysitterOpen Adoption Bloggers.  And I was offered a pretty fantastic job over at adoption.net, one of the hottest adoption websites, writing a series called Ask The Adoption Coach.    I guess quitting my teaching job was the right decision! 

Friends, I wrote the book that I wish I would have had when I started my adoption journey.   It was the book I was born to write, and I pray that it brings you inspiration and education.   Thank you for your readership and your encouragement. 

And stay tuned, because book #2 is in production!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Africa Sleeps winners!

If you see your comment below, please e-mail me your name and full address.  My e-mail is whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.

CONGRATS!

Sheila said...
I tweeted! www.twitter.com/poulinsj
 
 
I like you on Facebook (Erin Ellis)
Erin
 
Kait said...
liked africa sleeps