September 3, 2013 1

It’s Christian chicken on a Tuesday afternoon with a large sweet tea.

It’s a bio-mom and another mom with three kids – one red-head and two brown, all boys.

It’s a reluctant meeting in a public space and an anxious heart.

It’s extra dipping sauce, extra napkins, and extra sweet tea, please.

It’s cautious hello’s, obligatory hugs and very few smiles.

It’s jumping and running, despite my 75 “walk, please” requests.

It’s fine-lines and lots of grey in a world that I prefer to be black and white.

It’s stinky boys and sweaty foreheads and dirty hands, shoveling nuggets in between turns on the slide.

It’s tutoring and teaching math to a bio-mom, while sharing lunch and trying to learn life.

It’s bathroom breaks and hand sanitizer, because who has time for soap when there is playing to be done.

It’s discussions about how to write an essay, current living situations, future plans, hers and ours.

It’s hide-and-seek in the play area with “that girl” – you know the one that we see every couple of months…

It’s burning eyes, an aching heart, and fought back tears as one momma, this momma, struggles with the grey and grace.

It’s 3 little boys and 2 mommies, on a Tuesday afternoon, stumbling our way through a lunch and life…. together.

 

eli and dine 9:3:13

For us, today, this is it.  This is what adoption and grace and a heck of a lot of grey looks like.  Because when all the absolutes run out, when the rules are no longer applicable and fear abounds, there is only enough room for grace.

June 24, 2013 +

The words rolled off my lips.  Expected? No way.  True?  Absolutely.

“She has no one in this world, no one for her to claim, no one to claim her.”  I tell her story, guarded and distant, with caution and instinctive protection that arises from somewhere deep within…

 

We sit arm’s distance apart.  Nurse-patient relationship shifts to something much deeper, and before I hardly recognize what has happened, she leads me down her path, the journey that brought us to this moment, this room where we share personal, private details of her being and I offer treatment plans, medical education and therapy goals.

Her eyes blur and mine do too.  The felt pain, nothing when compared to the lived pain of this girl.  In her 17 years of life, more hurt, trauma, neglect, disconnect than I can even imagine.  Nearly more than I can fathom.

She talks.  The words spill from her mouth, and with little prodding, she tells a story that will never escape my mind.  Oh, that I never forget this moment in time.  Never forget her face, her pain and the need.  A shattered heart, life and dreams, turned complete despair, hopelessness, and dejection.

I am blank.  I try to be blank.  The slightest twitch confused as judgement.  So I am statue.  Barely breathing.  I am hanging on every word spoken and praying she can see my heart.

Words, spoken words, aren’t always my specialty.  Most especially when it comes to emotion.  I run, shut down, and plan my escape as soon as emotion gets too thick…. usually.

Not here though.  Not with these girls.  I can’t afford to stick to my normal.  These girls need me to let them talk.  I have to be okay with their emotion.  Raw and harsh, untamed and unwieldy.

And so she speaks of a life lived.  Seventeen years of rejection, disconnect.  A seemingly mismatch in a family that chose her before her first year of life had passed.  A family that originally said yes, but somehow chose to say no before her childhood was finished.

Transgressions passed.  Heartache caused.  A home no longer.  Family no more.

My simple mind and bleeding heart can’t help but wander….

 

photo-2

My boys were chosen, very young.  One of them knows no other mommy, our hearts sealed together since day 2 of his life…  but still I wonder.

Do they, will they, find themselves in a place of hurt and disconnect?

Will they, one day, think something is lacking?  Our family not quite like the rest.  Will that hurt weigh heavier than our love?  Or will they rest in the sufficiency of a Creator that CHOSE these boys for this family long before breath and time?

And in that room, with a precious child created for great things in my view, I pray, plead, with my Creator to seal the hearts of my boys.  So that despite my fallacies, that tend to outnumber the good, they will know a love that surpasses all.  That holds each of them in the palm of HIs hand.  When my love fails, they know His love, unfailing and always good.

And, dear Lord, may we NEVER find ourselves in a position where we could fathom saying no to these children God so graciously said yes to.

 

May 8, 2013 1

may she know 4

Her arms a constant reminder of the pain.  Heavy emotions displayed, scars and scratches on both arms.  Some old.  Some new.

Her story, one I don’t fully know, enough to break my heart.  The hurt that rushed in and ripped away every essence of innocence looms and is evident in every downward-gaze and whispered-word spoken.

She is scared.  Terrified.

Her eyes never meet mine.  Smile never emerges.

It’s her first time and mine.  Our first encounter.  A new place, new routine for both of us.  We’re both working through the uncomfortable and unnatural.

I’m fighting the urge to stop with the questioning and documenting, disregard her medical history and previous story, and smother her in a warm embrace and the simplest words – YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

The only definition she has ever known of this word came with great price:  her innocence, despite her own objection, lost in an instant.

Beautiful is not what she sees.  But it’s ALL I can see as we sit in the sterile exam room, processing through the medical interview that leaves us both feeling vulnerable and out of place.

I wonder how this precious child got here.  This place of complete despair and hopelessness.  What IS her story? Would she ever share? Could I be so honored to walk a path of healing beside this child?  Will medicine turn to relation, to hope, to love breathed in and hope breathed out?

Her story is the story of many.  Though all unique in their own, the plot similar.

Somewhere along the way she misunderstood.  Somewhere, somehow, someone did not tell this lovely child of The King how valued and BEAUTIFUL she actually is.  Somewhere the lesson on inner-beauty was skipped and the culture of external, surface values stuck.

And I wonder where the break occurred?  When did this lie set deep enough in her soul?  So deep she can’t seem to find her way out?  How did this girl, one of THOUSANDS, end up caught in unsolicited, undesirable, unforeseeable circumstances?

And so she tells me about the scars, and I document what I hear, see, feel.  I am a nurse, professional and poised, direct and deliberate, as we traverse intimate subjects.

But I feel it… the rush of warm behind my eyes.  The sudden lack of air, tight chest, lumpy throat.  My mind has only imagined these realities from afar, but this day, she sits in front of me.  WIthin arms reach.  As my heart shatters and the wave of emotion tries to surface, I hold back, I blink long and whisper these words:

“Lord, may she know true beauty that is only found in you.”

And it begins.  This journey of walking with teenage girls who have been rescued out of sex-trafficking.

And I wonder, what young girl in your life needs to be shown true beauty?  What teenage girl do you know that is looking for the answers to her own identity?  Speak.  PLEASE speak.  Tell her the truth.

Because the world that surrounds, engulfs, is SCREAMING all the wrong things.

 

May 3, 2013 1

why 

“You couldn’t have any more of your own?”

By far the number one assumption we have come across when people find out we are foster parents:  Infertility.  Oh the comments, questions, and prodding that complete strangers and others who by definition are essentially strangers have asked.  For some reason, people somehow find it acceptable to bust out some really bizarre lines of questioning.  Or maybe they just don’t even consider the kinds of things they are asking about when they casually inquire about my fertility.

Now, I’m not shy.  That may or may not shock you.  Depends on how many conversations you have had with me. I am the tell-it-like-it-is girl.  You ask, I’m very likely to give you a straight-up, honest answer.  That applies to most everything.  So don’t ask me what I think of your hair, clothes, the weather, etc. unless you’re ready for a very genuine, truthful response.  Occasionally I’ll sensor myself, depending on how well I know you/you know me and the circumstances, but generally speaking, you’re getting truth, harsh or not, from this girl.

So go ahead – ask about my fertility…. but only if you REALLY want to know.  (I’m assuming most of you do not).

 

What you really are trying to find out when you ask such personal questions, I think, is why in the world we would choose this fostering thing for our family if we could “just make our own babies” instead.

Well, here we go…. the WHY:

- In 2011, over 400,000 (that’s FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND) children were in the foster care system nation-wide.

Read that number again.  Did it take your breath away like it did mine?

- In Texas, 30 THOUSAND.

- In the county I live in, 4,700.

I’ll do that math for you…. In the state of Texas, Houston accounts for almost 16% of all foster care cases.  More than any other county, BY FAR.

 

So, there you go.  The why.  Those are the numbers that broke my heart in pieces and kept me up at night.  Those are the numbers that we are up against as the church.  That we should be up against anyway.  Those are the stats that we should be fighting like hell to change! 

A few long conversations with Randy, and I knew that we had to do this.  It was not ever an option for us.  God was making the need VERY CLEAR and doing anything besides fostering would have been wrong.  For us, that includes “making our own babies”.

When we realized the need, there was no more waiting.  We had to move our feet and DO SOMETHING!  Randy and I knew that there was no way around this one, no getting out.  So, in true Becca-style, we went for it.  All in.  Head first.  Like I said, I’m a straight-forward, all or nothing girl.  That is exactly how we responded to these numbers.  All or nothing, man.

Will we “make more babies” in the future – maybe.  Will we foster more kids in the future – maybe.  Will we adopt via other avenues in the future – maybe.  See, right now were working on raising a house of 3 toddler boys.  Thats hard work, y’all.  Note my FB post from last night as example #1:

Fact: 60 solid minutes of wailing, crying, whining, moaning, tantruming, coughing, and many other -ings
Fact: we are now singing hymns in bed and hugging it out. 
Mommy to 3 toddlers ain’t always pretty but it sure is worth it. 
Other fact: #1 requested song from my 3 year old- Because He Lives.
Google those lyrics and see if your spirit isn’t calmed by that truth.

See what I mean?  We are working on shepherding these 3 and hanging out in a holding pattern until we get the next all-clear.  Then we move.  We follow the next path where it may lead and trust that whatever that looks like (pregnancy, fostering, adoption) is not ours to decide, but HIS.

That’s the why.  That’s the plan.  No plan.  Just follow.

And, so, the other question we frequently get – how many kids will we have total?

What do YOU think the answer to that is?

WE HAVE NO IDEA.

but HE does.

*It’s National Foster Care Awareness Month and I just want to ask you something:  Have you considered these numbers?  Have you allowed them to rest on your heart and mind until you feel the weight they carry?  Each one a precious child who needs a safe place to sleep tonight.

Can I ask something else?

WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU STILL STANDING STILL?  Go. Do.  Move your feet and get in the game, y’all.  There are kids waiting.  There is a Savior, waiting for HIS children to obey and rescue THESE children.

And now, what?  Check out THIS page on the OCN site for ideas on ways you can get in the game and DO SOMETHING!

April 22, 2013 3

J3

 

They told her no.  Again and again, from every corner of support in her life, she heard the same thing:  NO.  Don’t do it.  You can’t do it.  We won’t help you do it.

The story of how my precious boy entered this world is one that I will treasure ’til the day I die.  This boy was a “no” as far as they could see.  Her family, mom and dad.  Her boyfriend, and the father of my son.  Her friends.  Every single person my son’s biological mother confided in gave her the same response.

While a part of me wants to hold his story and protect what we know, I can’t help but talk about this.  Y’all, my baby was not supposed to be, was not going to be.  In the few short conversations I had with Jordan’s biological mother, there is one thing I heard very clearly – everyone told her to abort the pregnancy.

She is a struggling, single mom to 2 beautiful little girls, helping to care for her elderly mom and dad and trying to keep her head above water in a small town.  The kind of place where everybody knows everybody, resources are slim, and poor is a way of life.

All too often I am asked things like, “Oh, was she young?” or “Was it drugs?”  And while I can understand these stereotypical reasons for why a mother would not be able to keep her child, I want to say that the choice my son’s mother was faced with is something I cannot even fathom, one mom to another.

 

J1

 

She is the hero in this story.  She is the reason I have chosen to write about this.  In our home, we hold her in the highest regard and with utmost respect.

In the wake of all the abortion talk and the mess surrounding the subject, there is something to be said about the choice she made.  A choice that I will forever be indebted to her for.

Despite the odds, despite the nay-sayers, despite her lack of support and resources, this woman chose life.  For her baby.  For my son.

J2

There are so many more details that intricately weave this story together.  There are so many parts that we won’t share publicly.  But this part – the part that screams of grace and a love that said ABSOLUTELY when the rest of her world said NO – this part we want to shout from the top of mountains.  We want you to hear this story and see a few things…

- Love ain’t quick to quit.  The love of a mother – that love doesn’t quit.  It fights.  Hard.  And the love of his mother is evident every morning that I wake to his smile and the sweetest giggle my ears have ever heard.  The love of his mother is seen in every tear, tantrum, and trying moment of toddler-hood.  This love is deep.  So deep that his every breath is a sigh of what could have been… but isn’t.

- The “absolutely” could have easily been “no.”  For so many, the choice doesn’t result in a squishy, joyous baby but in pain, anguish, and empty.  I am all too aware of what could have been.  I am also all too aware of what is for so many.  I think my point in this is to say that there is more to the choice than the choice itself.  See past the sin and see the heart, where the hurt and mess, guilt and pain smother.  Find and give grace because there is so much more that leads to the choice that results in a life taken.

- Open your fists and offer a hand, please.  Because there are hundreds of moms who just need someone to hold out an open hand, to offer hope and a solution in the seemingly impossible, to say “REGARDLESS, I’ll stand by you.”  Without judgement and pointed fingers, without clenched fists and misplaced anger, open your hands and use them to pick these girls up, love them well, and be a voice that whispers love and forgiveness.  Open your hands and hold these babies, offer a way out, be the option when all options seem lost.

 J

I don’t know where you stand on pro-life, pro-choice, pro-whatever.  I don’t know what your political opinion is or how you feel about the mess that is floating around the media and trending on twitter regarding abortion.  As a matter of fact – this has nothing to do with any of those things.  It simply has everything to do with LOVE.  A love that ain’t quick to quit.  A love that sees a heart, that sees a mother, that sees a child and CHOOSES, despite personal convictions, moral obligations, and even absolute truths, that ain’t nobody healing and moving to a place of hope and grace with clenched fists.

Open your hands, guys, there is work to be done!

 

April 21, 2013 2

Ambitions.  I have a lot of them.  The list of things I hope to accomplish is a tad lengthy.

Determined.  I am.  It’s just me.  I have goals, I make lists, and then I go for them.  I do what I need to do to accomplish what I need, want, desire to accomplish.

Sometimes these things happen exactly as I planned them out to.  I like to be in charge.  I like to anticipate outcomes and be prepared.  I like to know what is coming down the pipe.  I am constantly weighing options, negotiating variables, and considering the “what if’s”.  Constantly.

Most of the time, though, one of two things happens.  My planning gets totally wrecked because either things go far better than I could have planned OR things go far worse than I had hoped.  You’d think I’d learn to quit pretending like I am the conductor here and just play my part in the symphony without trying to also hold the baton.

See I’m not the one occupying the podium, setting the pace or even picking the music.  I’m the one in the chair, somewhere in the middle, kind of hidden by the cool instruments, just trying to keep up with the metronome of time.

When the opportunity to teach (one of my “life-list” things) at UT Health Science Center presented itself, I was shocked.  See I planned it to go something like this….

Finish grad school.  Find an NP job in a clinic somewhere.  Apply to teach at a junior college or maybe an online program.  Hope they would maybe give me a shot, but since I don’t have any direct teaching experience, understand if they don’t.  Why should they, right? So maybe in a few years I would find a spot to teach on a college level… maybe not.

Instead, it went a little something like this….

“Hey Becca, I know you haven’t even officially graduated yet, but I have a great opportunity for you to teach at UT.”

Y’all, I. Am. A. Longhorn.  Like I bleed orange, my son learned how to say “hook ‘em” as his first words, and we don’t give high-fives in our family, we put our horns up.  I am a Longhorn.  So this comment, coming from my current boss – total shocker, no way this is happening, kind of deal.

So I sent an email.  On a Friday afternoon.  Attached my CV and thought this was surely a long shot.

5 days.  That’s all.  In the span of FIVE DAYS, this went from just a “life goal” on a list to “we would love to have you as full-time faculty here at UT.”

Oh, hello.  That was fun and pretty cool.  And, um, not at all how I had planned it happening.

So, you can call me professor if you want.  ha.  I kid.  Do NOT call me that.  I mean that’s not a requirement right? My, um, students (whoa, that’s bizarre, I have students….yikes)… so my students – they can just call me Becca right?  I mean we do not need to be that official with this stuff and break out the “professor” part do we?  Oh, I sure hope not.

Every once in a while things go just as I had expected them to.  Mostly, my mind gets blown by His grace and goodness.  Time and time again my control idol gets shoved aside as undeserving grace shows up and rearranges every single plan I might have had.  And, hey, the fact that I get to still be a Longhorn is just the encore in all of this, cause my conductor knows how to orchestrate a symphony far beyond my best laid plans.

 

 

April 15, 2013 +

Discalimer:  this officially makes post #4 in the existence of our little blog, and no messin’ around about it – im jumpin’ right in and talkin’ bout DEATH, dying, and other related things… you have been forewarned.  so if you would label yourself as an “emotionally-sensitive” one, well….. read anyway :)  

body bag

It’s been about 4.5 years since me and my brand new stethoscope hit the halls of the Medical ICU where I have been working since I finished nursing school.  This place, full of some of the greatest people on earth, my friends and colleagues, is where I learned what being a nurse is all about.  This place also is known for one very key fact: we hold the honors of carrying the highest mortality rate out of all the units in the hospital.  Yall, I work in a REALLY big hospital.  Like 5 different towers, a bagillion floors with 766 patient beds; 73 operating rooms; 1,852 affiliated physicians.  The Methodist Hospital sits right in the middle of The Texas Medical Center, where every single day people travel from all over the world for health care.  And this well-known fact about mortality was just one cute little piece of information somebody must’ve forgotten to share with me prior to so generously offering me a job.  Or maybe I was just so giddy with the fact that there was actually a place willing to hire this 21 year old, newly-licensed, and incredibly naive nurse, that I subconsciously overlooked this key fact.

The other key fact in this deal is this:  out of all things in nursing school that I set as “off limits” – um… “taggin’ and baggin’ bodies” was absolutely at the top of the list.  I don’t (or didn’t) really do the whole dead body thing.  You neither?  Awesome.  Glad we have that in common.

Apparently that wasn’t going to go over so well with my new employer… So here I am, 4.5 year later, hashing out what is one of many foreseeable posts regarding my experiences in the MICU.  I have learned, am currently learning, and trying not to learn a few things along this journey in my nursing career.

 

In the health care world we spend a lot of time, energy, resources, and MONEY in order to keep death at bay, trying to stop the inevitable and prolong whatever version of “life” we can.  I have seen this epitomized over and over again.  I have toggled between the two extreme perspectives on this all too controversial death and dying issue.  Honestly, I still struggle with the harsh reality and unbelievable complexity of this topic.  Where do we draw the line?  Who draws that line? What makes the drawn line right?  What makes it wrong?  You see the gray here?  Oh, the gray.  I tend to only want to see black and white, this or that.  This matter is absolutely gray matter (yes, this is an intentional pun), it goes deep and includes so much more than meets the eye.

 

(Aside:  Randy mentioned how apparently I am “adamantly opposed to all things neutral” in my list of descriptors on the “Meet the Family” page of the blog…. this, I guess, is an excellent example of this.)

 

So I have tagged and bagged a lot of bodies along the way.  I have learned excellent, efficient techniques for taggin’ and baggin’.  I have learned what to expect, how to approach the situation with detached emotion and to simply force myself to be objectively focused when it’s time to do death care.

I have been the witness of some of the most devastating circumstances.  Ones where husband and 10 year old child weep at the bedside of the most precious woman in their lives as she breathes her last.  Ones where I have the privilege of reading from Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Today, simply hours before a sweet grandmother meets her Savior.  Ones where the young die all too soon and others, only after weeks, months even, of anguish and suffering, don’t go without a fight.  I watch people die.  It is one of the most bizarre things I do.

Death and I have made a little truce.  I can deal with him if he doesn’t get too crazy.  You know, like hit too close to home or cause too much emotional pain along the way.  I have mastered an excellent compartmentalization technique which is very effective so long as death sticks to our truce.  (This may or may not be a form of denial, yes, I am aware.  I also know that this little “truce” won’t last forever.  Sure is fun to pretend though, right?)

Truth is death is everywhere and it hurts all of us from time to time.  Truth is death is a sensible part of this life-cycle.  Truth is the majority of the world watches their children and closest loved-ones suffer and die from nonsensical causes that are completely preventable and avoidable.

In the safe bubbles we occupy here in America, often it is all too easy to forget about these deaths, to not worry your pretty little mind over these issues.  Here’s why we have to. Here is why we can’t turn blind eyes to these problems:

- 15 million CHILDREN die every year from starvation

- 33% of the world’s population is STARVING

- someone dies from hunger every 3.6 seconds

- almost 21,000 people will die from hunger TODAY 

 

I’m just wondering how much food you threw away yesterday, “leftovers” that didn’t get eaten.  Listen, I don’t really care for leftovers either, and this is not intended to create a sense of guilt.  This is to say, “hey, do you even think twice about these things in day-to-day life, or are you so encompassed in surplus that the idea of hunger never crosses your mind?”

Here is our VERY SMALL contribution to this problem:  Compassion International automatically drafts money every month from our account for 2 little guys – Jeyson in Honduras and Chelsea in Africa.  Honestly, I don’t always even notice that money gone.  Could we do more?  SURE.  Is what we are doing making a difference for Jeyson and Chelsea?  ABSOLUTELY!!! 

Y’all, not a single once of us can fix this problem single-handedly.  No matter how many kids we sponsor or how much money we give…. This is a world-wide crisis.  A problem that requires a group effort.

 

So, today, consider these things.  Consider what your contribution can be and then CONTRIBUTE.  Because there are babies who want to eat at least once this week….

April 11, 2013 4

Rascal is such a weird word.  I try to never use it because I’m just not sure it fits in the flow of any normal conversation.

little rascals

Nonetheless, the movie The Little Rascals - that is an awesome movie.  The ONLY movie that I can actually quote lines from.  I’m not a big movie kind of person.  We’ve already established I don’t watch the scary kinds.  And another random fact – I hate comedies.  Like sitcoms, stand-up, Will Ferrel (is that his name?), comedies just aren’t my thing.  They mostly just annoy me.  Sci-Fi – please.  I won’t even comment on how I feel about unrealistic, alien crap.  So, when it comes to movies, I’m really only interested in action and political dramas.  EXCEPT for The Little Rascals.  My sister and I watched that movie daily growing up, which is the reason I can quote the entire thing.  You can be impressed by that if you want to.

 

Ok – the point has nothing to do with my movie preferences.  The point:  I promise I am living out actual scenes from that movie in my own home, with our boys.

 

First of all, just look at these two:

porky and buckwheat

Porky and Buckwheat

and then look at these two:

059

Carson and Eli – Fall 2012

 

Y’all, I live with Porky and Buckwheat.  Just imagine Eli with dreads and you’ve got it.  Porky and Buckwheat, I swear.  And the two of them, together, can scheme some pretty elaborate things.  I’m worried.  Right now they are 2 and 3.  What does this mean for us when they are a little older and smarter.

 

We’re.  In.  Trouble.

 

So you can pray for me now, or later.  Either way, we’ll need it.

 

Currently some of their favorite past-times:

- Peeing.  In any and all inappropriate places.  Our poor neighbors have seen these boys with their pants down more times than I can count.  Our poor plants have been peed on more by our boys than any dog could even think of peeing.  Store parking lots:  another favorite spot for dropping their drawers, whipping out their “you know what” and just taking a leak.

- Discussing all things related to pee and/or poop.  This has to be the topic of conversation between the two of them at least 356 times a day.  What is wrong with these children?  I don’t know!

- Bullying the family cat and dog.  When the cutest little giggles can be heard coming from these two it almost always means they have either our cat or dog trapped somewhere and are pulling tails, poking eyeballs, or any combination of random torture.

- Riding their plasma cars.  In the house.  And taking down any one (human or animal) on the “race track”.  We conveniently have a perfect car path that makes a circle through the kitchen and down the hallway. Perfect for 2 little rascals to knock me out about 84 times while I try to cook dinner and they try to re-invent Nascar.

- Eating.  Like a lot.  The criteria:  anything that has a sugar content >25g/serving and absolutely no health value.  It’s like they have this 6th sense that notifies them when there is any candy in the house.  I am THAT mom that has to sneak candy, ice cream, etc., because my two little rascals will maul me if they catch me with any of these things.  Of course we limit this obnoxious obsession with sugar and try to counter-balance it with a lovely variety of very colorful fruits and veggies and wholesome sources of protein.  Don’t be misled, the key word there was TRY!

- Wrestle Mania.  It’s this bizarre combination of kick-boxing, growling, various other animals noises and a lot of pouncing – on each other, unexpected non-participants (like me) and Randy.  He encourages these activities.  That’s great.  I’m fragile (at least that’s what I tell them) and I don’t want to play.

- Watching FAR MORE than any 2 and 3 year old should of television.  As I am writing this list, I am realizing that it sounds like we are terrible parents.  Please know that we try to regulate, prohibit and oversee each of these awesome tendencies that our children have.  It ain’t easy.  Im just sayin’…  And these boys really love all things Nick Jr.  And sometimes Mommy just needs 22 minutes of quiet (or 222 minutes…)

- Music and legit dance parties.  The ONLY way these two like their music is cranked to max volume.  Eli seriously has rhythm and has started throwin’ down a few of his own beats from time to time.  I swear the child is in the process of learning how to beat-box.  This is clearly innate, as every other person in this family has a hard time keeping beat in a straight 4/4 count.  Clap on 1 & 3 or 2 & 4?  Oh, I don’t know.  Ask Eli.  So Eli beat-boxes and Carson does some spastic version of “dance moves”.

 

Y’all, Porky and Buckwheat are two of the cutest kids.  Ever.  Only outdone by our own version of Porky and Buckwheat.  Of course we’re partial to these two.  They are fantastic.  And by fantastic what I mean is a pair of smooth-talkin’, negotiating and scheming brothers that are bound for mischief greatness!

 

April 9, 2013 1

ghetto:  (n.) an impoverished, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city, usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime

 

Ya, that pretty much covers it.  Urban Dictionary somehow must of known where my son’s bio-mom lives and provided this description accordingly.

 

Wait, what?  You mean there is more than one “ghetto”?  This word doesn’t exist exclusively for that place my eyes have seen, about 30 minutes north of my super-safe, suburban home?  Really?  In America, THE United States of America, where resources and consumption are endless, people live like this?

 

Yall, here’s the deal – I have always been a scaredy-cat.  You know the ones.  That girl that doesn’t watch scary movies, or go outside alone at night, or even walk down the hall in my own home if all the lights are off…. I mean who is to say that the girl from under the bed in that 1999 film The Sixth Sense isn’t going to be right around the kitchen corner waiting to grab my foot?!?  I mean, not that I have seen the movie, cause that would require me to uncover my eyes during a “scary” movie, but so I’ve heard.  My fear of her is legit so I leave a lot of lights on in my house and pay for it once a month in the form of an electricity bill.  Cute, I know.

 

(An aside:  this is proof I am not cut out for this blogging thing….I get sidetracked VERY easily.  Try to stick with me, friends…all 2.4 of you.  I have intentions of telling a really beautiful story…eventually).

 

So when this self-proclaimed scaredy-cat first ventured into Houston’s 5th ward, my eyes, and most definitely my heart, were not prepared for the sights I would see:

 

- 3 ladies-of-the-night “waiting to catch the bus” in the middle of the day.  You know what I mean?

 

- The “mom” high on crack sitting on her porch-steps while her 2 toddlers wander aimlessly around the duplex.  Unsupervised and unkept.

 

- The drunk man falling down in the ditch on the road where my son’s bio-mom lives.

 

- The beggar at the corner.  Peeing.  Like pants-on-the-ground peeing.  Right there at the red light.  No second thoughts about it.

 

- 6 “churches” in less than a 1 mile stretch….

 

Do you see the irony in these things?  The irony that hit me like a ton of bricks and my heart has yet to recover from.

 

How is it that I can hop in my ever-stylish mini-van and drive 30 minutes up the freeway and seem to enter a whole other realm?  One where poverty, hopelessness, promiscuity, and depravity hover.  The thickest fog.  So thick that the occupants can’t seem to see any way out.  And this is “life,” some absurd version of normal for her and about 3 generations of family that all inhabit the same 600 square feet of government-subsidized housing.

 

You see, guys, when we said yes to the call that brought us a 16 month-old, precious boy, we said yes to a lifetime of messy.  A story unforeseen that would change our family, my heart, and his life forever.

 

And so we go.  We leave our sweet, suburban neighborhood and make the drive that leads to the ghetto.  With joy, extra doses of grace, and open hands that simply say “we are here to love and serve, not judge and condemn.”  Only God knows where this crazy path is leading, what is around the next curve, on the next street-corner.  Only God knows what the purpose is in all of this.  In this relationship that we seek with a bio-mom and bio-family, we have no preconceived notions, no self-serving intentions, no idealistic outcomes to reach.  We are simply going, loving, serving.  I am certain that I have no idea what we are doing, but, get this, I am more certain that HE does.

 

And, somehow, that is all that matters.

 

Just another day in the ghetto…. may grace lead us here again and again.  And may the love and grace that has first been given to us move our hearts to give the same, unconditionally.

March 21, 2013 1

It was my freshman year of college and the real world was hitting me hard about half-way through my first semester at UT.  I was fresh out of high school, fresh out of my momma’s reach, and fresh out of small town, Texas. Austin, my own version of Mecca, was my new home, and oh, the worlds that would be discovered in that lovely city.

A few (yes, only a “few”) years have passed since those glory days, but many things from those days have stuck.  The world of blogging became my BFF in 2006, and despite a few break-ups along the way, we have been going pretty steady ever since.  The stories I have lived through the words of others, the sorrows shared, the joys felt, have shaped and influenced my own paradigms and perspectives more than I could have ever known in my first days of this thing they call “real life”.  All of it experienced from the comfort of my dorm room turned apartment turned another apartment (times about 32 other apartments) turned house (…eventually).
Here’s the deal – I have always very contentedly been the consumer in this blogosphere phenomenon – taking more than my share, far more than what would be considered a “healthy portion” and never, ever offering any written word in return.  No comments, no “I agree,” and most definitely no consideration of joining in on the fad and writing a little something of my own.
Sooooo…..of course, you can guess where this is headed…. “WE’RE BLOGGING!
After much encouragement (read: nagging) from my husband, I have obliged his request to be a co-participator in this lovely blogging journey we are initiating.  There are a few reasons why, after so many years of consuming, I am agreeing to make some small contribution in this vast world of overly-saturated family blogs.
So, if I may, let me enlighten you to some of our motives as we kick start this thing….

 

SHARING IS CARING.
…Or I think thats what my mom used to say.  Nonetheless, we feel like our story and our stories, although nothing impressive or special, are just that – stories that can be shared.  And the cute thing about the blog world – if you dont want to “hear” our stories, then simply dont “listen”.  So for all 2.4 of you who would like to share in this crazy thing we call life….it is your lucky day. We want to share the silly, sad, and simply stupid situations of being a family of 5, with 3 toddler boys.  Ya’ll, semi-stupid and borderline insane things happen DAILY around our house, and if nothing else, you can laugh AT us without offending us when you read about our shenanigans from whatever corner of the world you may occupy.

 

LET’S BE HONEST.
The desire to be transparent, open books, as a family, as well as individuals, is a strong motivator in this endeavor.  Because who can deny the fun of reading about some other people’s journey through craziness as we do our best to raise 3 boys, advocate for orphans and love others well?  So let’s be clear – we want to be clear; a family of transparency, spotted with too many flaws to count, but willing to write about them if that means it helps another.

 

USE KIND WORDS.
I say this to my boys at least 257 times a day.  My hope is that the words that fill each post, that spill from my over-flowing, mostly insensible, thought processes, can somehow bring a laugh, a shot of hope, and a sense of “at least my life isnt as _______ as theirs”.  Maybe you’ll find encouragement somewhere along the way, maybe you won’t.

 

TAKE A PICTURE, IT’LL LAST LONGER
That was the saying of my time when someone was caught staring for longer than desirable.  So maybe now it should be “write a blog post…” We are also writing our stories to help us remember, to have as a reference when were old and gray and demented.  Maybe we won’t recall who Carson, Eli and Jordan are, but I bet we’ll enjoy laughing at the happenings recorded along the way.  And, who knows, maybe one of these 3 boys will care to read these words…that is if they ever learn to simply sing their ABC’s.  First things first, right?

 

So maybe after this initial post it’s clear to you that this blog is not worthy of another wasted second of your time.  Truth is – you may be right.  BUT, should you choose to forgo your separate rooms and join us in the fantasy suite…we’ll be here, rambling about poop and dirt and orphans and Jesus and such….