Saturday, December 7, 2013


Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed
protection from his brothers:
"God keep him safe, 
he is so young
so different from 
the others."
Mercifully she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison too.

Has I been Moses' mother
I'd have wept
to keep my little son;
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile,
had I not kept 
him for her
nursing him the while?
Was he not mine
and she
but Pharaoh's daughter?

Had I been Mary
Oh, had I been she
I would have cried 
as never a mother cried,
"....Anything, O God,
but crucified!"

With such prayers
my finite wisdom
would assail
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail!

-Ruth Bell Graham

Every night I pray over my tiny boy, much the same way I imagine these mother's prayed for their sons. As I hold his chubby little feet in my hands, smell his sweaty little baby head nestled under my chin, and see his eye lashes resting softly on his cheeks, I am overwhelmed with love for him. So when I think about the heart ache they must have felt when they saw there babies suffering, I can only imagine they must have questioned their God. Had their pain and the suffering of their precious boys been God's best for them?  Why didn't He intervene on their behalf? Why didn't He rescue them?

Had Joseph been rescued from his brothers, thousands would have perished in famine, perhaps even Joseph. Had Moses not been raised in Pharaoh's house, he would have perished and his people would not have been set free from slavery. And had Jesus been saved by God, we would all perish in our sin. God's wisdom is beyond what we can see or understand. While that does not make the pain hurt less or the suffering more tolerable, it does make God trustworthy. 

If your heart is breaking, Beloved hold on! You are not alone. There is no promise from God that we will be rescued, but He does not leave us. Jesus knows first hand how you are feeling, if you are crying out and feeling scared and alone. Jesus has been there. Mark 14:36 "Abba, Father," he cried out, "Everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." He asked if it is possible that God take his suffering from Him. He also cried out on the cross in Matthew 27:46 "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Christmas is a time to celebrate hope. The hope of heaven (Jesus) and promise of wholeness which was born in pain (Labor) and brought forth in suffering (The Crucifixion).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Am Raising A Lion!

It has been a long two weeks and many nights I have sobbed myself to sleep in prayer, pleading with God to bring wholeness, in lives of those I love, where there has been only destruction. Thank God, as Shelia Walsh would say, "My God lives close to the floor."  

As I write this post, I have three close friends who are severely broken, due to domestic violence in their "Christian" marriages. I have seen them lain low and humiliated by the ones meant to love them as Christ loved the church. I have held them until they were limp, while their weeping shook me to the core.  And now as they seek safety and healing, I have seen them judged and condemned by their different church bodies. When did the "Church" become an intolerant, disinterested, abuse condoning, non-compassionate, mob of pharisee stone throwers? Oh wait, I forgot, this is what the "Church" has been known for throughout history. 

Mark 2: 17- Jesus said to the pharisees, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but the broken."

There is never a time when abuse of any kind is acceptable or should be condoned for any reason. There is nothing acceptable about crushing another's body or spirit. To all of those who would tell a woman being abused by her husband that God commands her to stay in that marriage and that she just needs to pray harder or be a better wife, I would argue that you and I do not know the same God. 

Isaiah 61 is my life verse, but I believe with all of my heart that it is not just my calling, but God's calling for all those that are called by His Name.

1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,a
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

For as long as I can remember, people have referred to me as a lioness, because of my deep desire for justice. However instead of that being a compliment it was most frequently spoken in a way that was meant to hurt me or knock me down a peg, and some how teach me to be a lamb or a rabbit. It is only now as I raise my son to be a lion, one who fights for the rights of others and loves fiercely, that I realize that what the enemy meant to harm me, God intended for my good. After all, lambs do not raise lions.

Yup, that is my rough and tumble son "baby wearing" his female baby doll dressed in pink at the park (his choice). And although the older boys and some of the fathers looked at him a little funny, when he pulled his pink baby out and rode down the slide with her on his lap, he smiled the biggest grin and simply ran over to push her in the swing.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Caterpillars, Toads, and Ducks

The end of Summer is typically really hard for me, as I know we here in upstate NY are headed for the cold dark days of Winter. I think I actually mourn the lack of sun. However, with the preparation I have been doing to begin homeschooling the Tiny Human, I have been filled with enthusiasm and have almost failed to see the days growing shorter. Not to mention we have been using every hour of day light, since I have a very busy toddler.

 Even though, Samuel will only be two in October, I have decided to embrace a Montessori type approach to education, so we are beginning a very relaxed but purposeful exploration of the world around us to develop a love for learning and early reading and writing skills. For Sammy at this age, all of his learning takes place through hands on experience, so we will be getting dirty a lot during the Autumn. Deuteronomy 6:7 "Teach your children diligently. Talk to them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when your rise up."

My love of learning began with my mother saying, "It is not how much you know that is important, but whether or not you know how to find out the answers to what you do not know." This is one of my great desires for my son, that he will love to learn and study, especially the Bible, to find answers to his questions. This is why I am digging into the book of Exodus and digesting it bit by bit for what seems like the millionth time. Matthew 7:7 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."

Summer came to a close with a splash, literally. Sammy jumped off a diving board the last Sunday on August, following a baptism service.

He has been able to hold his breath under water for a while now and has recently started to try and swim under water on his own. But his lack of swimming skills could not deter him from the temptation of springing off of the diving board, like the big kids, into my arms. And the thrill of that brief moment when you feel like you are flying was enough to keep him splashing until my arms were heavy and I was too tired to tread water beneath the diving board anymore.

Our garden, I believe, has also given us our final harvest before the snow flies. Gardening has been a good lesson in perseverance for me. Between flooding and the snail plague we encountered, I was tempted more than once to give up, but in the end, all of the healthy produce has been well worth the frustration.

In the same way, Galatians 6:9 reminds us, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." 

I work in a high burn out position, with mentally ill patients who are in Crisis. It can become exhausting. However, I try to remember that my labor is not in vain, and that showing my patients love and dignity is showing them Jesus and I pray that some day they will produce fruit.

This week with the start of school, we are studying the letter A and apples, as well as the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. What this means more simply is that my dining room table is covered in bug jars that my son watches at breakfast lunch and dinner and lays hands on when we hold hand and pray for meals...which I find hilarious.

It also means we have a conversation about gentleness several time each day, so that my son does not squash the poor critters with his chubby little fingers. We have been collecting different caterpillars all week, one we know will turn into a Monarch, and the rest we will have to wait and see.

Hunting for caterpillars on nature walks, while feed giant fish, and picking up every bird feather we see has been a real joy.  Not to mention crawling under low pine trees and running through wide open fields.

Studying the letter A and apples has been a lot of fun too. In addition to picking apples off our back yard trees and eating them on the spot, we have taken them to riding lessons to feed the horses, and we spent a day at the Cider Mill, which included apple fun, duck feeding, and miniature tractor riding.

 Oh and the close of our week, perhaps my son's greatest joy was finding and holding a toad in our friend's yard. Little boys are a wonderful blessing. And God continues to show me more of himself through my son every day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Camping with a toddler should be recognized as an Olympic sport!!!

We just got back from the Rhode Island Shore. However, instead of the relaxing beach holiday I had imagined, I found myself frequently overwhelmed and exhausted by my over energized toddler, who now shouts “No” at the top of his lungs when he finds any situation even mildly disagreeable. Additionally, I chose to camp in RI the weekend a hurricane was coming down the coast. Camping in the rain with adults is hard enough, but with a toddler, it is a form of torture.

My tiny human is under the impression that running is the only way to get anywhere and that holding my hand is an unnecessary restraint that only slows him down. Additionally, he believes that wrestling and pouncing on Mommy is a must when sleeping in a tent on an air mattress. And pausing any longer than five minutes to eat is a waste of precious day light, which should be spent chasing after some unsuspecting dog on a leash or hopping to catch a bird before it takes flight.

Were it not for the fact that I had already paid for 5 days of accommodation and it was non-refundable, I might have wimped out and come home, but I was determined to find some redeemable memorable experience to be gleaned and add to my son’s baby book.

Despite the fact that I was severely disappointed by a filthy city and an unusable rain drenched beach, and a shower which required quarters, like some sort of supermarket toddler ride, I was desperately trying to convince every molecule of my body to be make the most of every moment. I knew my Tiny Human had nothing to compare it to and would think it a great adventure, if I made it one.

On our way into Providence our first night (which I had hoped would be a less expensive Boston or what I had dubbed a “Poor man’s Boston”), we passed numerous churches all with signs giving their service times. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is find a local body of believers and worship with them. I look forward to and even crave it, so my friend Maria was curious as to which church I had picked for us. 

As we passed by perhaps our fifth church there was a large white sign next to it, which read, “Septic Service.” My friend looked at me with a confused look and said, “I wonder what kind of a service a “septic service” is?” Of course, being the granddaughter of a well driller I immediately busted out laughing and explained to her that the sign she just read did not go with the church, but the business next to it. However, I could not help thinking to myself how effective church services would be if we saw them as a “Septic Service,”…an opportunity to rid our self of our filth, be made clean, and fellowship with our Savior (The Well Driller), the one who promises that all who come to him shall never thirst again.

Finally around 10 PM, after travelling all day, we located a place to have dinner. A small casual Italian old world oven baked pizza shop. Maria, Samuel, and I happily engorged our self on the most delicious pizza made with goat cheese, pureed zucchini and some kind of edible flower. It was delicious and I was pleased that there was no cow’s milk used to make the pizza, since we have learned that my son is very allergic to the protein in cow’s milk. 

We left the shop and strolled along the city’s waterway.  When we were nearly to our car, Sammy grabbed his tummy and made a little whimper. Too late I realized that he had had diarrhea and it was leaking out his diaper, down his leg, and all over my blouse.  Could this day get any worse I wondered? Knowing we would have no laundry facilities for the next 5 days, I stripped my son of his clothing and changed his diaper on a park bench. Then, I tossed the clothing into a near bye garbage can. 

It is the part that came next that nearly had my friend in tears laughing as she ran for the car. Becoming completely grossed out by the diarrhea on my shirt, right there on Main Street, I tossed it also into the can. I figured my bra, ugly though it was, was not revealing any more to the poor unsuspecting passer byes, than a bikini would. However, as my friend pointed out, I have never worn a bikini.

On day two, we headed to the Zoo, despite the clouds looming over head and the clear threat of rain. The Zoo was in the middle of the worst part of the city, hidden behind huge trees, tall grass, and an enormous rusting black metal fence. If you did not know it was there, you would not have found it. Despite its initial appearance I hoped it would be like some sort of a secret garden. I hopped that hidden behind the over growth and a creaky gate we would discover a magical world like the secret garden.

One of my son’s first encounters was with the Crown Crane, more specifically known to Maria and I, from previous African safaris, as “The National Bird of Uganda.” The Crane was extremely interactive and curious. It would follow Sammy’s chubby little hand back and forth across the enclosure and cock its head from side to side inquisitively making my tiny human giggle.

 Our next great find was the Giraffe enclosure, where one giraffe proceeded to eat his breakfast over my son’s head, causing leafs and grains to fall like rain over us. Samuel thought this was great and tried to sign to the giraffe more, so he would keep doing it. Though I am pretty sure the giraffe did not understand sign language, he was happy to oblige my little squealer.

The animal enclosure that I enjoyed the most was the giant tank that contained three seals from Maine. They were very playful and happy to entertain their wide eyed on lookers. My son as well as other people's small children watched with there noses pressed tight to the glass. Every time they would dance and spin, Sammy would clap wildly. I wonder if the seals were under the impression that they were actually at the Zoo to see us, instead of the other way around.

However, the Zoo was not our only great adventure. Despite the looming clouds and wind, we headed to the beach on day three. It did not matter to Sammy that the water was freezing and the air barely warmer, he dashed into the water, pulling me behind. His sweat pants and diaper instantly full of salt water, making him several pounds heavier. We would run into the waves and then turn around and try to race them back to the sandy beach.  Swinging him through the air and into the dashing waves, he would shout, “Again Mama, again!”  

The fourth and best day, we went whale watching. A funny choice, I now realize, for a girl that gets severe motion sickness and an extremely active toddler.  We started the day with a seaside breakfast, pancakes, which Sammy ate with his dump truck.

Then we boarded Arthur, our whale watching boat. Samuel stood on his seat, way too excited to sit, between my friend Maria and I on the way out and would nestle into my chest every time we hit a big wave. He watched with wide eyes as a pod of 20 or so dolphins played alongside the boat and would periodically clap wildly.

Then just as three, 62 foot fin whales began to emerge from the deep, he conked out in the front pack, so Maria and I watched and waited for each new whale citing with all the other excited tourists from numerous countries, while Sammy snored on my chest covered by Maria’s fishing hat.

On the way back Sammy woke himself up with his congested snoring and was ready to leave the front pack behind and toddle around the boat deck with my friend. As motion sickness had finally gotten the better of me and I was starting to look a little green, I stayed put with my head on the cabin table. We disembarked feeling really blessed to have seen God’s amazing creation…and I was also happy that my little head was no longer swimming and my tummy was staying put.

We three drove back to NY, my son sleeping most of the way and Maria reading me short stories written by travelers with a sense of humor like none other. We laughed most of the way home, Maria to the point of tears.

Experiencing life through the eyes of my Tiny Human is perhaps one of God’s greatest gifts to me, it helps me find joy in every moment just as he does. And holding his exhausted little body at the end of the day, helps me forget the trials of the day and remember his fat little feet will only fit in my hand for a short time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

You are Beautiful, you are Sacred, you are His!

Dreams now dimmed by a lapse in judgement
The baby growing inside her a gift meant for a later season
Her paintings set aside with her childhood
Paintbrushes laid down to take up adult responsibilities
And the heavens weep

The streets where I live are being walked by young girls pushing strollers even into the night. Their own childhoods cut short to raise children of their own. No education, no money, no hope, just brokenness. They have surrendered their dreams too willingly without understanding the cost. Their parents, the church, and the community have failed to teach them that they are made for so much more.

Mercy Me- You are beautiful, you are sacred, you are His!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"No hitting!"

Pretty much at some point everyday, I have to tell my son, "No hitting" and "No throwing toys." Some people have told me, "Don't worry, it is a stage." Other people have told me, "It is just a boy thing, don't be so hard on him." While I know both of these things are said with the best intentions, I refuse to except either of them. While I expect to have to tell my son the same thing over and over at this stage in his life, I will not stop discouraging his harmful behavior on account of he is a "boy".

I love the fact that I am raising a little boy and that he is wild and loves to get dirty and would rather run than walk. I love that he wants to wrestle like a bear cub all of the time and that toys have no value in his mind unless they are a drum, a ball, or a car. However, I also love that he is learning to have compassion and show gentleness. I love that he pets ducklings with his little pointer finger and uses underwear to carry his doll on his back.

Even at 19 months my son understands that hitting is wrong. He would just sometimes prefer to use it as a way to express himself, because it is a quicker easier way of getting his point across. Using the few words he has at this age to express sadness and anger takes a lot of effort.  However, communicating even for adults can be difficult, and takes effort.

Being a boy is not a reason to be aggressive. Perhaps if more boys were taught to be lovers rather than aggressors, then 1 in 4 women would not be victims of abuse during the course of their life. These statistics make me really angry, especially as some of these statistics have names and faces for me.

Even as I write this post, I know of two women in physically abusive relationships and a third woman who just left her abuser. All of these women's abusers are supposedly Christians. How can this be? As with divorce, domestic violence is not any less common in the church. This a very sad and unfortunate truth, but what is worse is that some church members and leaders excuse and even condone it by their silence or try re-label abuse by calling it an anger management issue or a hard time the couple is working through.

Can I just say out loud, "No Hitting!" Real love cannot exist in the presence of abuse any more than darkness can exist in the presence of light.

Philippians 4:5- Let your gentleness be evident to all. Note: This statement was not preceded by the word women. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit and is intended for both men and women.

The fruits of the Spirit should be evident in all believers. Galatians 5:22-23-But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I pray that the gentle correction/parenting of my toddler will help him maintain a tender heart into adulthood and yield a man that does not see gentleness and self control as traits only for women, but as characteristics of his Lord that should be mimicked.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Trouble With Company

Tonight Samuel and I had dinner with some good friends. People we are close to, people we love and who love us. So imagine my shock, when my friend’s 15 year old son began telling a “black joke” at my table. I felt like someone was holding me underwater, and before I could take a breath and say stop, the assault was over. It went like this: “What do apples and black men have in common? They both look good hanging from trees.” Even as I write this, I feel the same ball in my stomach that I had at dinner and I want to vomit, I want to scream, I want to punch something.

My friend’s son loves my son and is caring and brotherly toward him. The fact that my son is black and her son is white has never been an issue for her family; yet, her son still chose to re-tell the joke that he had heard on his way home from school. Why?

Firstly, because I do not think he understands the full meaning of the “joke.” Even calling this grotesque statement a “joke” makes me cringe. Secondly, he has grown in a home where telling distasteful jokes is acceptable and a community where racial intolerance and prejudice is accepted. And thirdly, he has no filter.

However, despite my ability to look at his ignorance as a teachable moment and express its cruelty, I felt offended, and angry, that this level of hatred had found its way to my table. I am thankful that my 19 month old is too little at this point to understand what was said, but the fact that it was said at all, said in my home, and said in front of my son makes me want to scream.

This very personal example has come after a week of me being inundated with hate crimes in the news, seeing the damage that racial intolerance has caused people I love, as well as, the patients I care for at work, and some nasty comments I have been on the receiving end of, over the past several months, because I am a white woman raising a black child. Perhaps my patience for “stupid” is especially low, but I am fed up with people being monsters.

Roughly 110 years ago, my son would have been considered somebody’s property. He would have been beaten, sometimes even maimed, because of the color of his skin. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which declared, “that all persons held as slaves' within the rebellious states 'are, and hence forward shall be free;” and even though the practice of slavery in the United States was outlawed by the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1865, the last known slaves were not set free until 1902.

Less than 50 years ago he would not have been able to ride next to me on a bus or attend school with my friends’ children. He would have still been considered less than. It was not until the end of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968 that these issues were finally ratified. Noted achievements of the civil rights movement in this area include the judicial victory in the Brown v. Board of Education case that nullified the legal article of "separate but equal" and made segregation legally impermissible, passage of the the Act of 1964[10] that banned discrimination in employment practices and public accommodations, and the Act of 1965 that restored voting rights, and passage of the Act of 1968 that banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

However, even though on paper the battle has been won, darkness still persists in the hearts of many, in 2013. Racial injustices are still being fought and prejudice is rampant, even in the church in America. This breaks my heart, I hope it breaks your heart, and I know it breaks the heart of God.

Martin Luther King stated the following in a portion of his “I Have A Dream Speech,” which was given August 28, 1963. I too have this dream.

“In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Time to Remember

It has been one year since I first brought my precious boy home. Looking back, I can hardly believe how quickly time has passed and how far God has carried us. It has been a year of deep emotion and so much answered prayer. 

My son was born addicted to methadone, to an incarcerated mother, who abused heroin and other hard drugs throughout her entire pregnancy. 

Infants born addicted to heroin and methadone experience what is known as neonatal opiate abstinence syndrome (NOAS). This syndrome is "characterized by dysfunction of the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory system" (Kandall, 1999). The specific symptoms of NOAS include: irritability, tremulousness, hypertonia, excessive crying, voracious appetite, exaggerated sucking drive, abnormal coordination between sucking and swallowing, regurgitation, pulmonary aspiration, and abstinence associated seizures typically seen only in infancy. (Kandall, 1999). Additional problems approaching the toddler into adolescents include language and motor delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems. 

As a nurse, I had no confusion about the difficulties my son could face, or how hard raising him might be. However, I also was choosing to believe that with a loving mother, who would fight for him and by the power of a mighty God, he could have a hope and a future.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11.  After all, God was with Samuel from the beginning.

Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

At seven months old, when I brought Samuel home, he could not hold his head up on his own or roll over, skills typically achieved by 3 months. We began physical and occupational therapy and I prayed for healing every day.
7 months old
Slowly but surely his neck muscles and core strengthened. At 8 months he began rolling over and holding his head up. At 9 months, three months later than the norm, he finally was sitting alone. And the day before he turned 10 months old he began to crawl. The pediatrician was pleased with his progress, but told me not to be disappointed if he did not begin walking until 18-24 months. So, when he began walking three days prior to his 1st birthday, I felt like I had seen a miracle.
12 months old


My second answer to prayer came with the completion of Samuel's adoption in March, when he was 17 months old. I had such a sense of relief and peace, knowing that he was mine forever. Samuel was God's perfect gift  to me, three days after I turned 28. From my birthday until the adoption hearing, felt like the days following good Friday, waiting for Jesus to rise from the dead.  I was waiting for the promise to become a reality. 
18 months old
After having two previous foster children returned to a less than ideal environment back with their birth parents, I knew all to well the heart ache, bitterness, and sheer agony, of watching the ones you love be ripped from your arms. Until the completion of Samuel's adoption, this fear loomed over my head and was prevalent in my dreams, despite my faith in the promise I had already received from God.

Now at 19 months, we embrace yet another hurtle.  Samuel has a questionable sensory processing disorder and will be evaluated by a specialist next week.  Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or "sensory integration." 

I know whatever the diagnosis my God is able! God is so faithful.

Even though Samuel is growing and changing rapidly, I am grateful that glimpses of the baby I brought home (at 7 months old) can still be seen as we venture into toddler-hood (now 19 months old). The baby fat seems to be melting, but the beautiful smile and huge eyes remain. What an amazing, beautiful journey these last 12 months have been for me. Thank you so much to all of you who have traveled this road beside me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Green Living With A Toddler

When I say "Green Living" with a toddler, I am not talking about the nasty color you occasionally get in a diaper or the junk coming out of their nose when they are teething or have a cold.

In my attempt to provide a higher quality food to my child, without breaking the bank, I decided I would embark on the composting, planting, growing journey; which is part of "Green Living."I was not raised on a farm, so can I just say this has been a major learning curve for this city girl.

In the fall, in preparation for the Spring, I started a compost, but not just any compost, I started a worm hotel. The idea is that these massive red worms, the size of small snakes, break down compostable materials quicker than just leaving a pile of stinky fruit and vegetable skins rotting in your back yard as they bake in the sun, meanwhile drawing all of the cities stray cats, skunks, mice, etc... into your back yard. This is not a good way to make friends with your neighbors.

I built the thing according to the directions so that the worms would crawl up to level one of the hotel eat their food and fill the first room with worm poop, which is suppose to be great for your plants. Then, they are suppose to continue upwards into each suite until they reach the roof, so that it is easy to separate them from the soil. What a joke! The lazy suckers refused to move, they apparently missed the memo.

 After reading on Pinterest about a woman with a similar problem, I just dumped the several hundred worms and all of the rotten produce into a garbage can where they are all living together happily in my garage....and no I have no idea how I will separate the little beasts from the beautiful rich soil they are creating for my plants.

Then, realizing that I had more compostable material than these little suckers could process, I purchased a rolling composter (A large black garbage can that lays on its side on wheels, so that all of the compost tea (liquid produced as compost breaks down) can drain into the platform it sits on. Now this contraption is brilliant and works exactly as it should.

So after settling how I would enrich my soil, I went to work growing organic seeds, under a light hung with chains, on a table in my kitchen. I nursed these babies for 8 weeks and was ready to plant the beautiful things, when the weather of upstate NY decided to bring a frost the second week of May, followed by temperatures in the 80's. No biggy I thought, I will just let them keep growing on my table. Sadly, their roots had a different opinion and my plants started to die.

This week after all fear of frost had passed, I planted the strong few that remained, only to have them all practically drown in a weeks worth of torrential downpours. After watching helplessly while my plants tried to stand firm in water up to their little necks, Samuel, myself, and our faithful side kick, Auntie Ria, set out this morning to dig a trench and drain the water from our garden.

Now it seems, I just have a river leading to a lake in a different part of my yard. And it continues to rain. Could I please just catch a little break... and I don't mean I want to fall down the stairs.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is my first Mother's Day, since the completion of Samuel's adoption. I am a single mom, and my son is just a toddler, so their will be no Mother's Day cards, flowers, gifts, or breakfast in bed, as many of my friends will experience.

Instead, I will wake up to the sound of my son knocking on his wall telling me he is awake and waiting for me to get him out of his crib. He will have all 5 of his favorite blankets in his arms, his stuffy (a stuffed Zebra), and 1, 2, or 3 pacifiers (depending on how many he found stashed in his bed from previous nights), all of which must be scooped out of the crib and carried into the living room with him.

Once in the living room, he will point to the couch where we will climb under a giant weighted blanket surrounded by all of my couch pillows, thereby looking like two eggs in a nest.  I will cuddle him for as long as possible, breathing him in (he normally smells like sweaty toddler, peanut butter, which he rubs in his hair, and Shea Butter). I will kiss his chubby cheeks and tiny toes, and thank God for him, just as I have done every day for the past year. It does not matter to me that I will not experience all of the commercialization of Mother's Day. The best part of this Mother's Day for me is that my son knows that I am his "Mama" and he can say it!

However, while I will be rejoicing over my very busy, ever dancing toddler tomorrow, I know that other mothers will be weeping over theirs. As they sit in the dirt holding their children's frail little bodies, my heart breaks for their quiet suffering and the helplessness that they must feel.  Many of these mothers will not have another week, let alone a next year with their child, due to starvation and illness.

Mother in Mogadishu, Somalia
Picture taken by Nick Owens
Samuel in our backyard

Picture taken by Nick Owen
While I watch my child's eyes sparkle, other Mothers will be watching as the life drains from their child's eyes. These women will not have any more of a place to lay their child to rest in death than they have had in life. Please pray for these women. Being from a third world country where pain seems to abound does not make it any less painful. Pray that they will have hope amid their present suffering.
Romans 8: 18- 28 

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.

"Come Quickly Lord Jesus!"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Turtle Saga

Today on the way home from Samuel’s riding lesson (yes, the tiny human really does take riding lessons on a tiny horse),  we saw an animal in the road, which I presumed was road kill. On further examination, we realized it was an injured turtle and still alive.

Since we had Samuel’s Auntie Ria in the car (a lover of turtles and all little beasties), I knew there was no way we were leaving the turtle there to die. So I did what all good Mommy’s and friends of animal lovers do… I dumped the emergency stuff out of the bin in my trunk, put on the medical gloves from the first aid kit, wrapped the turtle in a surgical gown, and put him in the bin on Maria’s lap.

The turtle was approx. a 1 foot long snapping turtle and quite unique. However, his shell was broke right in half and his internal organs were visible.  We called the vet and were told it would need to be euthanized. However, the vets in this area don’t provide care to turtles, so we should find someone to shoot it.

While I am not an amphibian lover, there was no way I was going to ask someone to shoot the turtle. We tenderly named him Road kill and I went to work attempting to save his life on the kiddy picnic table in my kitchen. Though I figured he was not long for this world, I secretly hoped that he might miraculously recover.

I washed all the dirt off him to prevent infection and surgically removed the crushed part of his shell that was cutting into his organs. Then, I made a bandage using a sterile maxi pad and duct taped the two sides of his shell together. Though this seemed slightly ridiculous I hoped that perhaps his shell would fuse in a few days and perhaps regrow…like a fingernail.

Sadly, Roadkill started bleeding out of his mouth, so I knew his internal injuries were probably too great for him to survive. We made a sling and head rest for him out of a pillow case and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. Roadkill passed away 7 hours after our little intervention…but at least he was not bleeding to death on the side of the road in the hot son, or staring down the barrel of a gun at the end of his little turtle life.

In light of my job as a psychiatric/emergency room nurse, and my role as a foster parent as well as an adoptive parent this broken turtle really got to me.  There are so many broken people that I see and take care of daily. Some people and foster children are even broke beyond repair… though few doctors, nurses, or social workers want to admit it. The toll that physical and emotional abuse takes on a child is devastating and many children, even with great foster /adoptive parents, lots of love, and the love of Christ, have great difficulty recovering from the trauma they have endured. Though they may not die physically, like our turtle, they also find it near impossible to live.

This is a reality that is shaping my life, my parenting style, my job, my ministry, and my walk with Christ. Though my son was not abused in the typical sense, he was born addicted to Methadone, because his biological mother was an incarcerated pregnant heroin addict. And drug addicted babies come with their own special set of problems. The most recent of these we are working on conquering is a sensory deficit/integration problem.

Additionally, two days ago I was asked, by social services, if I would be interested in adopting a 10 year old girl, who came out of a very abusive home 6 years ago, was bumped from foster home to foster home, now resides in a group home, and has been impossible to place in an adoptive home.
I am not sure yet of God’s will for this little girl and whether or not his will for her includes me as her mother. However, I do know that my heart breaks for her, for the foster children I had before my son Samuel, and for the thousands of other children like them.

 Just like I could not save this turtle, I know that many of these children will not be saved, and that kills me. It is with issues like this that I am left to wrestle with God and my faith. However, I am so grateful for the one I do get to hold and love, and the ones whose lives I will be a part of in the future. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Park Day

Today was one of those days. You know the one I mean. The warm, sunny day that comes after a long winter. The day that beckons you, “Come out and play.” Well my son woke up ready to answer that call in his pajamas, so we headed to the park as soon as possible.
For those of you with sons, you know what I mean when I say, “The park can be a little scary.” Oh yes, there is a toddler size play area, where he could climb gently and his feet could reach the ground when coming down the slide. The toddler play area is less than a foot above the ground and is nicely enclosed, so there is no way to fall off. 
However, my son resists this area by throwing himself in the wood chips to loosen my grip on his hand and dashes to the school age climbing area where he has to use all of his strength just to crawl on to the first step. Then he runs across the elevated platform like a bull coming out of its pen and heads for the tallest slide( which he insists on going down head first on his tummy), all the while weaving back and forth between the openings that would lead to a bone crushing 9 foot drop for my 23.5 lb peanut.
Needless to say, I was so focused on my babe that I had tuned out another crying child. My son, however, did not miss a beat. He slammed on the breaks half way across the platform, and made a b-line down the curvy slide to the kid sitting in the dirt with tears rolling down his face.
Though it was obvious to me that this child was overreacting to a small bump, I asked his frazzled older sister if I could help. She said, “He has special needs and is going to become hysterical any moment and I cannot reach my mom.” I bent down and asked him, “What hurts honey?” He replied, “My foot is broken and… and… and… I am going to need surgery.” I slipped off his shoe and gently flexed it and evaluated it for any redness or swelling. As I expected all was well. Before I could give him the prognosis though, Sammy flung his arms around him, hugging him tight enough around the neck to make his head pop off.  The kid instantly smiled, put his sock and shoe on, and got up.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
-- Mark Twain

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tiny Human Dedicated

Last Sunday, following the completion of my son's adoption, I dedicated him to God in my church. Though I was glad the adoption was finally complete, dedicating him in the presence of my friends and family held greater significance to me. 

I chose to name my son Samuel Moses, because Samuel is the first known biblical account of a mother dedicating her son to God and Moses was the first recorded adoption. 

Samuel 1:27 - For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. The Hebrew translation for the name Samuel means, "God has heard." 

Exodus 2:10- When the child grew up she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I drew him up out of the water." The Hebrew translation of the name Moses means, "To draw out of the water." 

God allowed me to draw Samuel Moses out of a broken home and give him a life where he could come into a knowledge of his Savior. Being entrusted with the life of a tiny human is the most amazing gift and the greatest responsibility. I pray daily for the wisdom to know how to teach my son that Jesus is the lover of his soul. 

Psalm 18: 16-19 -

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.