Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Princess Training 101

No, we are not going to Disney Land... it's nothing as exciting as that. ;0)

Ladies and gentlemen- we have a hitter.
I know, I was in horror too. But it’s true.
I cannot deny it.
Well actually,
I tried.
The first time we got the note home from the teacher I was just SURE it had to be the ‘other kids fault’.
Not my little girl.
Surely she wouldn’t hit anyone...?
But the second time the note came home, I knew it was time to face the music.
So… we came up with Princess training 101.
What is princess Training 101 you ask?
(Let me explain- even if you were not really going to ask)

Hitting seems to be second nature to preschool aged kids. Someone makes them mad- they just haul off and hit them (or kick or pinch or bite). So while I know this is common, and I know this is probably what she witnessed a lot of in the past-we also wanted her to learn a new way of handling stressful situations.

This is where Princess Training 101 came in.

We sat down with our little cherub, cuddled her and turned on Cinderella. While watching the show we constantly pointed out how sweet and kind Cinderella was to everyone. Even when people were unkind to her she always acted in a sweet, kind, loving princess way. Then we watched the mean step sisters. We watched how they made ugly faces, said unkind words to get their way, pointed out how the way they acted was rude, selfish and just plain mean. Then we asked her which character she wanted to be.
She of course said Cinderella!
"I want to be Cinderella mommy!"
So, I gentle asked her who she had been acting like when she was at school talking ugly to her friends and hit them.
You could have heard a pin drop in the room as the realization hit her.
She admitted that she had been acting like the mean step sisters when she treated her class mates that way.
I reminded her that while we all make mistakes, its very important that we realize our mistakes and then begin to work hard on correcting them and that was exactly what we expected of her now.

Since I like to reward hard work- hard changes- we came up with something that Lainey is extremely excited about. We made up a chart that is on our refrigerator door. Each day that Lainey comes home with a smiley face from her teacher indicating a good day- where she didn’t hit or talk ugly to someone- she gets to put a crown on that day. Once she has 30 crowns she will get to dress in any princess dress she chooses (we have about every single one thanks to garage sales!) and her daddy and I will take her, all by herself, dressed like a princess, out to dinner, to any restaurant she chooses.

I’m proud to admit we have had 8 consecutive days with no hitting and no talking ugly. (Actually her teacher even emailed me to tell me she is doing really well and that a little girl had hit her and Lainey just walked away!)
Yep- she is definitely my precious princess (in training). :0)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Now that we know...

I found this here (thanks Audrey!) and while it is hard to watch, hard to take, and hard to admit- we need to do just that. We need to admit we are failing and come up with a plan. Oh wait-God already did that... as Audrey put it WE ARE THE PLAN. Let us never forget that. Let us never forget we are responsible. We cannot call ourselves Christians and know what we know and do nothing about it.

Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God who weighs our hearts, and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. ~ Unknown

Learning to notice our blessings

“Our background and our circumstances may have influenced who we are… But we are responsible for who we become.” Unknown

Not many of us make it through this world without a few nicks or cuts along the way. I don’t think I can name a single person I have ever met who hasn’t faced some kind of trial. No matter how hard they tried to take the right steps or make the right choices- sometimes bad things just happen. Sometimes we are innocent and other times we are not. But none the less- this thing called life is often not fair and often so hard.

When we decided to adopt our sibling group we knew from their ‘records’ that life had indeed not been fair to them and actually had been down right rotten. To protect their privacy I will not go into detail, but I will tell you that if in your mind you could imagine yourself in one of the darkest, scariest, places in this world-you might be able to catch a glimpse of what my precious babies had to endure. But here is the thing- my job as their mother is to now help them escape from that place... I don’t want them to stay there any longer. I want them to run free and be everything that God had intended for them to be from the very beginning when He created them. To do that, to heal, I believe that they not only have to learn how to eventually ‘use’ those trials to help others, but they have to learn to see good in them as well.

One of the things we have begun to do with the kids to begin this healing is to teach them to see other people have trails as well.. I’m not saying we are pulling the old ‘you think you had it bad you should see what I went through’ kind of thing… but rather just letting them know that there are others out there who have hurt like they have hurt too. They are not alone and they have nothing to be ashamed. I have pointed out positive role models who have perhaps gone through something similar in their past and how God used them to make a difference.

The second thing we are working on is teaching them how to be appreciative. I really believe that this is something us humans need to be taught. I think that often times people are so locked into their pain, so bonded to their misery, that they do not have any energy to lift their eyes and see the good- the blessings that God has given to them. Ever been around someone like that? They are so self absorbed that their lives become useless, their pain so unbearable, that they are unable to move on. They let their past circumstance become who they are- and that is all they are ever able to be. That is what I do not want for my kids. Someone else’s choices- someone else’s past mistake are NOT who they are.

So lately we have been coaching the kids to notice all of the things we have to be thankful for. For instance- as we drive to school in the mornings we thank God for our vehicle because there are many who do not have one. This is truly something we take for granted. When we arrive at the school and the volunteers are waiting outside in the cold to open our car doors and help us into the building- I point out to the kids that they are doing just that- volunteering to stand out in the cold to open their door when they don’t have to. When someone sends them a gift- we talk about how hard that person had to work to earn the money, how they then took the time to drive to the store, choose the gift, spent their hard earned money on not only the gift but on the wrapping paper or postage, and how they didn’t have to do that for them. They didn’t have to acknowledge them, they didn’t have to celebrate them. But they did- and that is a true blessing. I don’t want them thinking that someone has to buy them a gift just because it’s their birthday. I want them to concentrate on all that went into that gift and how loved they must be to receive it. It has also been a good reminder for me too. How many times have I taken my family, my husband, my friends, for granted without really seeing their sacrifice and truly noticing how blessed I am. And I will say that when I allow myself to focus on my blessings- I view my life- my world, in a whole new light.

Try it, right now.

I dare you.

Do you have a job? Then you are blessed.

Did you eat today? Then you are blessed.

Are you and your family healthy? Then you are blessed?

What else?

Look around you…and start counting.

I guarantee you once you are done counting your blessings the hard parts in your life won’t look quite as impossible to overcome. God is right there waiting for you to see Him, to notice the ways He has blessed you and He's ready to help you move on and help you become the person He created you to be.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5, 6-10

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Please, please continue to pray for this precious child of God. We love you Abby!!!

Surrounding yourself with good company

As I have said before, one of the greatest blessings of adoption have been the other adoptive minded families I have met along the way. If you are walking this path I encourage you to surround yourself- seek them out, heck- even stalk them if you have to (kidding of course) but find yourself a big, support group of those who ‘get it’. Trust me, you will hear the negative comments from time to time… you know the kind that make you doubt yourself, your sanity and even God’s voice. So seek out those people who will be there when you need them. The road is not always easy- but so, so, so very worth it.
You know how motorcycle riders always wave to other motorcycle riders like they have known each other for years- even though they have never met? That is what we need to do as an adoption community. We have to stick together- you know, give each other a nudge when we need it.
While adoption is one of the greatest blessings in my life- it has also been one of the hardest things we have ever done. I don’t ever want to steer anyone who reads my blog wrong and let them think that it’s always easy. I try to blog my ‘real’ feelings-within reason of course because there are some weirdo’s out there (if you fall into the weirdo category please click on the X at the top right hand of your screen and exit promptly ;0) but I also want you to know that there are bad days, days like I post previously about where I question our choices, and our sanity. Days where I am tired and don’t feel like hearing the word ‘mommy’ again for the
3,961st time- times when I am human. Our emotions- our feelings- are so tricky sometimes aren’t they? They run from hot to cold in 3 seconds flat. One minute we feel like we could adopt a sibling group of 6 and the next minute we feel like there is ‘no way’. So I guess what I am trying to say here is- just listen. Listen to God’s voice and listen closely. He won’t steer you wrong. It can’t be about YOU at all. It has to be all about Him. If you find yourself bouncing around, indecisive- keep seeking Him. He may be telling you that you are not ready yet- or He may be leading you down a path… to somewhere, or someone you had no idea was out there waiting for you. Ask yourself and then be honest about what you are afraid of? Are the things that scare you things that God cannot handle? No I am not telling you to be careless- God gave you that brain. What I am saying is that often we are unwilling to acknowledge the difference between what WE want and what God wants. If God is calling He will provide- in EVERY area… but you HAVE to take that first step of obedience. I have shared before the ways God has taken care of us through this journey. Ways I could never have even imagined before I took that first step. Not just financially- but even sending ‘just the right person’ into our path when we needed them. I didn’t even know those blessings existed until I took that first step of faith. Yesterday I found myself blessed yet once again by spending a beautiful day at the park with 3 other adoption motivated moms. As I said earlier- surround yourself with them. You will need their friendship and they will need yours. Thanks Kellie, Rachel and Shannon! Your friendship, your advice, your understanding, your hearts- bless me.

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will bound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What if...

Ever have one of those days where you question your life, question who you are, question if you are ‘enough’ and question if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing?

Well, I had one of those days and it went like this…

I was walking down one of the endless isles of Walmart, tossing items into our cart (okay- well actually we had TWO carts) and while I was scanning for the best prices suddenly my cart about bumped into this woman in front of me. I looked up, smiled, and started to apologized for nearly running her down-when she turned around in such a huff I didn’t really get the chance to finish.

I felt about 2 inches tall.

Not only had I about run her over in my clumsiness… but here I was in my faded jeans with holes in the knee, tennis shoes, my hair thrown up in a pony tail and my shirt had snot on the shoulder (sad but true). And there she was in this beautiful white, name brand suit, with perfectly manicured red finger nails. Her hair was cut in a cute chic style and the color was perfect. She obviously worked out way more than I do because everything on her was ‘in place’ where it sags on me. She was tan, boasted of riches, diamonds on every finger, and her make-up was flawless.

And there I stood... 2 grocery carts full, old clothes, wrinkled, no make-up, and lets not forget the snot on my shirt. I watched as she leaned over the refrigerated section to select her fat free yogurt, and I couldn’t help but notice that every guy in the store ‘noticed’ too.

As I began to walk away I glanced into my cart and was embarrassed to see that while my cart was full of chips and sugary cereals- hers was full of organic veggies and fat free yogurt. (Okay so there was a bag of baby carrots somewhere in the bottom of my cart which of course I frantically searched for it just so I could toss it on top to prove that we did eat healthy occasionally).

Heading down the isle, hauling my over flowing carts, and slowly making my way towards the check out lane, I couldn’t help but to wonder what if I had taken a different path in life... What would it be like to live a life of leisure, a life where I had time for pedicures and daily work outs?A life where people envied me, where I had influence, where I mattered.

What would my life have been like it I had taken a different path?

As I paid our ridiculously large grocery bill, piled the groceries into my ridiculously large vehicle, and drove down the highway towards home, I found myself glancing in the mirror and noticing even more flaws. The wrinkles, the black circle under my eyes from being up with a sick child, and the need for a new hair style. I heard myself mumble under my breath “like I’ll ever have time for that” and continued down the road with a dark cloud over my head -as well as my heart.

But as I pulled that ridiculously large vehicle into our drive way I looked around and suddenly felt a smile started to form at the corners of my mouth. All of a sudden my heart felt 3,000 times lighter. There, before my very eyes, was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. 11 beautiful children of God, different in color and shape, different in personality and talents- but each and every one of them with a unique purpose in this world -waiting and waving at me. They came running towards me – so excited that I was home- that I suddenly felt like the queen of England. They grabbed my hand, hugged my neck (yes probably wiping more snot on my shoulder) and offered to help me carry the groceries in. They jumped for joy as I pulled the chips and sugary cereal out of the bag. :0) Suddenly, name brand suits, perfect red fingernails, a perfectly fit and trim body, and in style hair do’s began to seem a whole lot less important.

The Lord gave me something better and for that I will forever be thankful for. It was then that I knew for sure that yes I had indeed taken the right road home.

“Be very careful, then, how you life- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

The pineapple

Jalya (age 6) was helping me carry in the groceries as I returned home from Walmart.
Jayla- (carrying Walmart bag with a whole, fresh, pineapple in it) says excitedly "Look mama, I am so happy for you- you got yourself a plant!"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

When you have a teenage boy...

And one of these won't work...

Try this...
Works like a charm every time! ;0)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just a glimpse

Tonight at dinner I was walking around the table serving the kids. I was talking and explaining to our kids that tomorrow a couple from our church that is interested in adoption will be coming over to visit with us (they are using the same foster agency we used and part of their training is to 'observe' a foster or adoptive family). I continued on, serving up the mashed potatoes, and saying how I was so excited that they were wanting to adopt and how happy I was for them. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw Lainey look at Jayla and then they both sort of sank down into their chairs with a devastated look on their faces. So I stopped what I was doing, put down the bowl, went over to them and asked if they were okay. Tears started steaming down their little faces and they were both visibly shaken. With as much courage as she could gather Lainey said in this small voice "I thought we got to stay here forever." It took a second for me to understand... a second to realize that I was getting a glimpse inside their world. My beautiful, precious little girls thought I was telling them that yet another family was coming to take them away. As I held them both in my arms and hugged them, over and over I assured them that there was no way I would ever, EVER send them away. No way that I would ever, ever not be their mommy. Forever and ever and always.
How do I begin to prove that?

Delurk yourself

I found out here (thanks Rachel!) that it's National delurking month. I had no idea! But I kind of like the idea so here we go... Let me know who you are. Come on- "delurk" yourself! You can do it- be brave!! Just take a deep breath and click 'comment'. Tell me how you found me and something cool about yourself. ;0) Thanks for dropping by!

In His strength

I got this in my inbox today and it was exactly what I needed to hear. You see, I had been doing it again... trying to 'handle' everything in my own strength and quite honestly not doing such a great job. I hope this blesses you as much as it blessed me today. :0)

When Your Sails No Longer Have Wind
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2,
by Os Hillman01-09-2009
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven (Ps 107:29-30).

Imagine for a moment you began an exciting sailing adventure. You've been trained to navigate and sail on the ocean and be ready should trouble arise. You are confident you can handle the challenge. However, midway in the journey your resources have dried up. It almost seems God has intentionally destroyed all the skills you have to deal with the weather and the obstacles and your sails are now damaged. Even your engine has broken down. And to make matters even worse, your oars were lost overboard. You are stuck in the middle of the ocean and there is no wind to propel your boat. You are, as they say, "up the creek without a paddle."
All of this leads you to the end of yourself and you say, "Lord, I don't know why you brought me out here only to die." The silence is deafening.
Finally, the Lord speaks, "Yes, you are right. I did bring you out here. I did destroy your sails. I did break your engine. And yes, I do want you dead. Not in a physical sense, mind you, but in a spiritual sense. In order that you may LIVE."
"You see my child, you are nothing without Me. You cannot do anything without my grace and power in your life." The sailor quietly yields. Suddenly, a gentle wave lifts the front of the boat. An easterly wind blows through the broken sail moving the boat in the right direction. You realize God is moving your boat! Your role now is to steer it.
Do your sails no longer have wind to move you? Is your engine broken? Does it feel like God has propelled you into the open sea only to stop midway with no options? Perhaps He is saying it is time to die in order that He might live through you. Give the Lord total control today and you will see His wind moving through your tattered sails.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why time is truly our most precious gift

There have been times in my life where I have been guilty of wishing my time away... wishing that a day would just be over, or perhaps wishing I could jump ahead in time 6 months or so(especially when we were waiting to bring our adopted children home). But today- today I would have literally frozen time if I could have. Stayed in this exact moment and just sat back and soaked in every minute of it over and over. I did- the best I could- I soaked in every minute we had- but somehow I can't help but to feel that it will never be enough. I have a feeling that is probably exactly how the Riggs feel on a daily basis.
We had a very special little person visit our house today... Precious Abby Riggs. Only precious doesn't even begin to describe how amazing this little girl is. Not only is she beautiful, SWEET, strong, FUNNY, and unbelievably amazing- her laugh- her smile- can literally grab your heart in a moments time. It had been a while since we had gotten to spend time with Michelle and Abby so seeing them was such a gift. While my heart broke to see Abby so sick- especially seeing how her little hands shake and seeing how weak her little body was... what struck me most was how STRONG her spirit is regardless of what she faces. Those who read the Riggs Blog get to see a small glimpse into their lives and how huge their faith is... what they don't get to see is how real this family is. Their example, their hearts, their faith -touches you to the very core. Knowing the Riggs family-knowing Abby- has changed us. Watching them face each day with whatever comes their way, with such dignity, such love- makes me want to be more than I ever thought I could be. Please continue to pray for this beautiful family. Pray for Abby to be healed completely and pray for God to continue to change lives through them. I am so thankful for their friendship and thankful for the time we have with them all. We love you guys!!! Princess Abby

Addisyn and beautiful Sami
Thank you Leslie for coming over today and spending time with us! I know Michelle and Abby both loved spending time with you guys and we always do too!

Kallan and Abby

Abby and her mommy sharing a laugh

Abby and her new #67th boyfriend Travis (trust me she charms all the boys!)

Abby and Mya (Mya and Abby's brother Landis were in Eagles Nest orphanage together)

Mya, Aleigha, Abby and Eli~ our Guatemalan groupies

Abby, Aleigha, Lainey, Jace, Mya, and Jayla

Aleigha and Abby

Addisyn and Abby

Aleigha, Abby and Mya

Abby feeling the love. ;0)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Things that make me smile

Just to prove what an amazing mommy my sister Jenny is and what a cool family she has I had to share this today. Today they are having Mario's 10th birthday party- celebrating Mario's 1st birthday in their family, his first birthday party- and his first birthday cake EVER. So to make up for the birthday cakes he never had- they decided to have one for each year he (and they) missed! How sweet is that?? My sister Jenny and family adopted this precious little boy almost a year ago through a disrupted adoption. Mario is from Mexico and he is an ABSOLUTE TREASURE. He's sweet, obviously gorgeous, well mannered, funny and one of the coolest little boys I have ever met! I am so blessed to have this little boy in my extended family. Wish my big old family could be there to eat all those cakes with you Mario! WE LOVE YOU ALL!! (and Jen thanks for being the kind of mommy you are- I am so proud of you and learn so much from you every day!!)

Too cool

You can't help but to be 'cool' when you have big brothers!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Life experiences

For Christmas the kid’s aunt and uncle sent us a check to buy them Christmas gifts. They said they were not sure what they needed so they thought it would be easier for us to do the shopping. After some discussion Todd and I decided what the kids needed more than anything were ‘life experiences’. There are just so many things they have never gotten to do or experience- so many things we take for granted on a daily basis. So, we loaded up all 11 of them and headed to big city of Dallas. We took the kids to see the Cotton bowl parade in downtown Dallas -which they loved. After that we went to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Now going ‘out’ to dinner was a new experience for them all together. Going to a restaurant where elephants trumpet and the crack of lightening and thunder bolts surround you was something else. So after about 20 minutes of Todd and I convincing them that they were not going to get rained on and that the elephants were just pretend they finally believed us and settled in to enjoy. (Okay, so I admit maybe it was a rather ‘wild’ place to take them for their first big outing- but we had to show them there really were more exciting restaurants out there then McDonalds.) We did a lot of coaching on manners, reminded them how important it was to thank the people who were waiting on us and to sit like ladies and gentlemen in our chairs (and not climb under the tables) and then they even got to ordered themselves. They were so proud! After we finished up our wonderful meal - we checked into the Embassy Suites Hotel. They were so excited to be there that they were actually jumping up and down- that is, until they met the elevator face to face.

Not just any elevator-an all glass elevator.

An all glass elevator that went all the way up 10 floors.

An all glass elevator that you could not only feel moving- but see moving.

Yep. You guess it... the elephants were no longer their biggest fear…

So, after convincing them we could not go to the swimming pool until we got onto that all glass elevator that would take us up to our rooms where we could change into our bathing suits- they finally stepped on. (Yes by now pretty much every single person in the entire hotel was staring at us- and yes we did realize we had 'quite a crew'- just in case they thought they were the only ones who had ever said that to us. :0)

It took about 12 times up and down, up and down, up and down, but they finally discovered that this thing called an elevator was not going to hurt them in any way shape or form- and that it was actually kind of fun! We clapped and jumped when it went up- we squealed with delight and counted numbers as it went down. (And I am happy to say that by the time we checked out they were regulars to the elevator thing).
After our elevator experience we enjoyed the pool which thankfully wore them all out for a good nights sleep. The next morning we headed down to the all you can eat breakfast buffet- and let me tell you, these kids can EAT.

Like linebackers.

Took them about 2 hours- but they definitely got their full. Food is a HUGE deal to them. HUGE. As a matter of fact, when they first moved in that was one of their big fears- the girls actually asked us if we ate every day. I promised them we always had food- and plenty of it. But even now all meals have to be served on time and they ask me over and over through out the day what we will be having for dinner. They eat anything and everything and usually seconds and thirds.
We headed home in the afternoon and in the back seat I could hear them talking and giggling about what their favorite part of their ‘vacation’ had been. I couldn’t help but smile. Yes we were tired, yes it had been work packing for 13 and work comforting the little ones through their fears. But seeing their joy- seeing them grow in confidence and live like normal, healthy children- was one of the best gifts in this world.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. John 10:10
Father, thank you for giving your life so that we could have life and have it to the fullest. Through you we find joy and purpose- a quality of life that is impossible any other way.