Christmas Thoughts

Christmas isn’t just a day, am I right? It’s a season. The other day a young guy at the meat counter asked me if it felt like Christmas to me because he had not heard many Christmas songs on the radio this year. I thought maybe he was referring to the Spring like weather we are experiencing here in Michigan. Rainy and cloudy. No snow this Christmas. Does it feel like Christmas because you are up to your ears in wrapping paper or you find yourself yelling, ‘Don’t get it’, when the UPS man is delivering packages daily? Lots of friends have been posting their spot that makes them happy. Their Christmas tree in the quiet of the night when everyone is in bed. The quiet is a good place to be to reflect, ponder, wish. Is this Christmas? 

I have enjoyed my 25 day Countdown this year. Not to be confused with my 12 day countdown of funny quips my 9 year old daughter has said this year.  Zoe says funny things almost every day. I write them down and have been sharing them for the past three Christmases. No, that’s not my favorite countdown. Ever since I was newly married I have surrounded myself with devotions to dig into over the month of December. Honestly, I’m not very successful.  Yes, its the craziest month of the year if you have little kids who have an elementary school event to attend twice a week or a teenager that needs a ride to a party or band practice or you have a party to bring a gift to. Did you sign up for room mom again and have to organize your kid’s Christmas party? IMG_3545.jpegYou get the picture. I remember a book called Redeeming the Season which helps you do little meaningful tasks to remind yourself of why December 25 is so special. Have you had those moments? Hopefully when you sit in peace around your tree you aren’t too stressed to think of the crazy day you just had but instead you choose to be thankful for what you have. Hopefully when you sit in peace you are filled with love and feel useful. Hopefully you have that one moment of peace. 

I’ve had that intentional moment of peace and thankfulness every morning around 6 am. Sometimes earlier. I came across a Christmas advent calendar I brought home from my visit to Hillsong Church while visiting my cousin in Sydney three years ago. I packed it away and didn’t use it until this year. Each morning I scratch off a circle that includes a Bible passage, a thought and an action for the day. The best thing about this is after I scratch off the circle I take a picture of it and text it to my cousin who is 16 hours ahead in the day because she wanted to share in the awe of Christmas too. 

I have loved this moment and only (honestly) have missed one day and had to rush that reading just to get it in. 

Someone complimented me the other day. He observed me hosting a dinner party for Zoe and 7 friends on Friday night to kick off their two week Christmas break. We had crafts, games and food planned and they were all hyped up on sugar. I’ve been through hosting this kind of thing before like, 7 years ago for Blaire and her friends. I have help and he asked me why I do it. He knows I’m also hosting a few family gatherings in the next five days that include sleepover guests. I said I have experience to say no to the less important things. I also have help from Blaire and Scott and I’m better at pacing myself. But now I know the answer. It isn’t because I’m an experienced mom and manage my time well. No, it’s all because I’ve started my day handing it over to Jesus. That should always be my answer because it’s true.

Some of the suggested actions this month have been;

Share an encouraging word with someone 

Meditate on Gods calling on your life 

Listen to someone’s dream today

Tell someone some good news today 

Pray to know Jesus and his grace and truth more 


How can we get through our long ‘to do’ list and complete these tasks? These are the things that count the most! That’s how. Everyday that I make God a priority is a good day.

So what if all your gifts are in bags because wrapping takes too long. Good for you. 

So your baking came from a cookie walk. Awesome!

Ask your kids if they care if you don’t have Christmas crackers this year. They don’t. 

So try not to run around today. Take it easy. Delegate and pray. Be still. It was a majestic  and peaceful night when Jesus was born. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

The expansion of a mother’s heart

Being a mother is great. Being a mother of an adopted daughter is so great. The difference? Nothing. I visited a 5 day old baby the other day and witnessed the awe and love in the brand new parent’s eyes. They were careful in everything they did. They didn’t want to take their eyes off their new little gift. If we had instagram when my firstborn was around, trust me there would be plenty of posts. I took Jacob everywhere. He was my little buddy because I was home all day with him. So we talked and played and you bet I had a camera in his face a lot. We have photo albums to prove it. Three years later I was ready to let another little child steal my heart. It seemed natural and this little girl was immediately accepted by big brother. So much so that he affectionately called her mashed potatoes because that was his favorite food. Blaire sharpened my parenting skills since she was a rule pusher. Since she challenged me every day we loved each other in a beautiful way. My two biological kids got along great. We had a rhythm and I selfishly didn’t want to be pregnant again. Quite frankly, I didn’t know why anyone had more than two children.  I had two hands, one for each of them. With car seats, who can fit more than two kids in the back seat? I was that kid stuffed in the middle. Being baby number 5 in my family was great and I wouldn’t change it but there was an age gap and my mom had my siblings to help take care of me. I didn’t want that for my two kids. Vacations were even easy and going out to eat was manageable. There, my mind was made up. Four Clodes was perfect. I love when I can help God make choices for my life. That decision was made. 

Then Scott and I found ourselves in a position of praying a new prayer. We looked ahead and thought what our life would be like in ten years. We had experienced life making our own decisions versus God being in control and we both knew that we were not asking God in this season of our lives. So we prayed a courteous prayer of ‘let me know if we need to make any changes in our life, Lord.’ That’s how I approach God sometimes. Like I’m saying I know the answer but want to let you in on this. Wow. Painful to admit. Quite honestly that prayer turned into pleading with God to show me what to do with our future and he brought to my attention adoption in three different ways in three consecutive days. It took Him that long to break me. My first response was No! I remember pounding the floor and crying because my mother heart didn’t know how to expand this late in the game. I was 39 and ready for two teenagers. My own mother was 38 when she had me. This was getting a little ridiculous. I thought I would finally share my angst with Scott. The voice of reason. He would hear my struggle and know what to do. Now, when you ask most women who have ever wanted to adopt and brought it to their husband’s attention their reaction is highly a big fat NO. Not Scott. Just like in the movie ‘It could happen to you’ he has a ‘heart of gold’. Immediately Scott said, ‘yes, let’s do it.’ I wasn’t fully convinced but soon after a series of events that took us down the road to applying to an agency and praying for direction on where our child actually was, I couldn’t stop it. 

You know Zoe was born the year 2009. By the time we were deciding on what country to apply to she was born. I’m not sure if she ever saw her birth father but he had passed by the time she was in the system. Her mother made a very brave decision to let Zoe go to a family who could provide for her. That is a huge responsibility. I’m forever grateful. Adoption explodes a mother’s heart. Following God’s leading is always the best choice. My whole family would agree. 

IMG_3172.jpegI think I may have gotten off track of where I wanted to take you on my adoption journey. This blog was birthed during that process and I wrote about all the steps as I was taking them on a different blog site. However, as we celebrate adoption month I have enjoyed sharing certain pictures of my daughter before we were able to hold her. She is remarkable and the original four Clodes, and our growing family, couldn’t imagine life without her. Don’t miss out on that nudge.  God is maybe trying to get your attention to a life you have never imagined.

Look and Live

Today is a perfect morning. I slept in until about 6:30 am. It’s Zoe’s last day of second grade and it’s Blaire’s 20th birthday! No more teens in the house (for a while anyway!) This week in June is always full of emotion in our household. I’m embarking on another birthday in two days and I’m still embracing them. One more year older but another year closer to God. My perfect morning also includes Scott napping on the couch after his morning run. Blaire is up and journaling and I’m sitting in my morning reading chair with my morning devotion and my new favorite book Look and Live. With the back screen door open I can hear the birds chirping and feel a wonderful cool summer breeze. Blue skies and sunny. Just like it was the day Blaire was born.

As I sit back and reflect on the day of her birth I also fast forward to where I had hoped she would be today. Blaire and I didn’t always see eye to eye when she was growing up, but that was her finding her independence. Sometimes, us moms try to get in the way of this and push back when we are afraid of where they might be headed. It’s easy for a mom to second guess her every move and decision when her kids are growing up. When do I let go? When do I step in? When do I tell her she’s wrong? When do I sit back and watch? I remember squeezing Blaire’s hand so tight while crossing a busy street because my little Miss Independent wanted to run everywhere. Blaire has stepped out, spoken out and stood out most of her life. She has exceded way more than our expectations.   Scott and I look in awe and thank God we could be apart of it. I hear parents worry about their kid’s futures all the time.  What will happen when they go to high school?  What will happen if we move?  How will they handle college?  We don’t know.  That’s the beauty of it.  Going through life’s milestones can be exhausting and I don’t just want to ‘go through’ life.  I want to take it in.  I want to enjoy it and I most definitely want to see God’s glory in everything.  I can’t say enough about the book I’m reading called, ‘Look and Live’. It excites me to move from mundane and lift my eyes.  Today I read, ‘ Father, your plans are better than my expectations.’  That’s my message to my kids.

When I think about my childhood it involves a lot of family. But I have been out of my parents house for 26 years now.  Blaire has been engaged for 26 days and I’m counting down the days I have with her and cherish it all. Days heading to the gym, after work movies, early morning runs and lunch dates. Blaire is beautiful inside and out and now I get to help plan a big day she has dreamed about her whole life.

So summer break officially begins today.  Birthdays, vacations, interacting with new and old friends. I don’t just want to entertain my kids or myself this summer. I want to encounter Jesus. Purposeful moments. Look and live.


When I am Weak

It’s a verse I overlook if everything is going great.  But on a day that I feel like a failure I take notice.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

But he (Jesus) said to me,’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  

Who wants to boast about their weaknesses?  I started this blog hesitantly over 5 years ago because I was entering a very helpless and unknown and downright scary journey.  Adoption was never on my radar.  I hate putting this in print but I didn’t want any more kids.  That’s just the point.  I.  Me. My plan.  That’s my weakness.  Selfishness.  Can you relate?  As a mom, you give so much.  When I gave birth to two kids when I basically wanted to, it was fine.  My timing, my agenda.  When you give your life to God you gain so much more and I grew up knowing it, saying it and memorizing it.  Now was the time to live it.

April 12, 2013 was the day Scott, Blaire and I sat in a small, stuffy court room that looked more like a classroom.  There were maybe 20 people in the room with agents and lawyers and the female judge sat at a desk at the front of the room.  We weren’t called first but when our name was announced we moved to the first row in front of the judge.  She wasn’t especially warm.  I tried to listen and concentrate on every word she said but I have to admit my mind wandered to all the time it took to get to this very moment.  I couldn’t let emotion take over.  I had to focus on her words and concentrate. She was concerned about how we would continue to teach our child about her heritage.  Again, feelings of weakness, or in this case, inadequacy rushed over me.    We told her other families in our church and community have adopted.  We jumped through so many hoops to get to this point.  We didn’t know how this whole life change would play out.  She said some more things and Scott spoke mostly.  She congratulated us and we were officially parents of a three year old.  The following two weeks played out with me staying in Ethiopia with my new daughter and staying in a very dear friend’s house with her family.  I had a cold and was homesick and all the while trying to basically get my new daughter to like me.  ‘My grace is sufficient for you.  My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Zoe remembers a lot.  She remembers eating certain things in Ethiopia.  She remembers games and we show her pictures to remember.  I sure hope she doesn’t remember how scared I was.  How weak and helpless I felt.  I hope she didn’t sense the uncertainty I felt bringing her home to our family and friends.

I recently read a great quote by Jess Connolly in her book called Dance Stand Run. ‘Abundance is on the opposite side of obedience’. Read that again.  Now who doesn’t want abundance?  In following the call to adopt my amazing daughter Zoe we received abundantly.  My biological kids will say the same thing.  My family will attest to knowing Zoe is seeing God in action.  Is she perfect?  No, not at all.  Today marks her 5th gotcha day and every year I remember a different aspect of God’s perfect story He had for us.

I’m always amazed at how God protected Zoe.  You know when your mom instincts kick in? Well, I would wake up in the middle of the night scared for her.  The sweating, shaking, waking up your husband, kind of scared.  The whole process was put on hold.  Our first court date, that came unusually quick, got postponed and we were back in the waiting game.  So, seeing updates and pictures of how our daughter was progressing on the computer every month from our agent wasn’t satisfying this mama bear.  I knew she was in God’s hands but I didn’t know how she was treated day to day.  I would pray when she cried that the nannies would take favor over the others and really care for her.  Is that wrong?  That was my heart.

The weakness reared it’s ugly head again when Zoe joined our every waking hour back in Michigan.    I figured I had been a mom before so I had skills.  I found myself in a bit of a depression the first summer with a little girl who was so sweet but defied my every command.  I coveted my free time.  I coveted my morning coffee and reading time.  I didn’t want to watch Mickey Mouse playhouse again and sing kid songs.  Ok, I lie.  I do like the kid cd’s but it was all a big adjustment for me.  My daughter is inquisitive, and cheery in the morning.  She likes to be in every conversation and always wants to join in family hugs.  She makes us laugh and has quite honestly, given me purpose in my life again.  Yes, I have weaknesses but I rejoice that I’m not struggling through my days but relying on the power of Jesus Christ.  That’s the strength we have to love others.  Even a child that was birthed by another wonderful human being.  I have to mention that in my daughter’s birth mom’s weakness, she found strength to allow her baby to have life to the full.  Thank God for adoption.  Thank God for Gotcha Day and Thank God for Zoe Ayame Clode.


Love won’t let me down

It’s a special thing when your kids grow up, move out and come back and hang out with you. My son has been married for 18 months and he and his wife live across the country.  We just had a week like that.  Having all my kids around the dinner table is a very fun moment. I find myself go quiet. I don’t talk much because I’m taking it all in and getting emotional. ‘Thank you Lord’, I whisper.
My blogs have taken me from the here and now to reflection. I like my age. I like being 47. In fact, just today I had to go to a local running store and claim my recent 5k third place age division prize. I owned it when I had to the tell the 20 something clerk that I was in the 45-49 age bracket.
It’s a snowy day today and the house is quiet. The internet is not working so no music, no tv, no computer. I’m sitting in my morning reading chair and decide to reach for the newly placed photo albums (still unpacking boxes after 6 months in the new house) and decide on opening my firstborn’s baby album. The one that poses my husband and I as kids having a kid. We were 25 and we knew nothing.
As I flipped through the pages I became painfully aware that I had no clue how my child would turn out. I didn’t know if my high school education would suffice to teach my son what he needed to know for a successful future. Who defines success? Wealth? Getting Married? A University degree? A parent wants what’s best for their kids but what determines the best?
I keep turning the pages and I’m laughing at my sick scrapbooking skills and at all the smiles. People who God surrounded us with in the early years. Wonderful godly grandparents and aunts and uncles. Cousins to play with and later confide in. Hand me downs, vacations, family pets and the many houses me lived in. But again something was very apparent in every picture. Love! Not just an obvious love a parent has for a child. That love scared me. I didn’t know I could love that much. I’m reminded of the Bible words, We love because He first loved us. Oh ya! The same love was bestowed on me since I was born. A love from God that since I was His creation he loved me unconditionally.
I’m at Jacob being 11 months old in the scrapbook now.   We went on a mission trip to Trinidad for two weeks with friends and he was fantastic. I wasn’t lucky to have a great kid. I was given books and God lead me to godly women who shared with me how I wanted to raise my kids.
I learned that giving my kids everything they needed was not showing them love.
I learned that putting Scott and our marriage first was better for my kids and therefore, showed more love when they witnessed us going out on dates and taking vacations without them.
I learned that sleep is so crucial for their well being, and mine, so we had boundaries and naps times and quiet times.
I learned (and have seen the huge benefits) of reading to my children.
I learned quickly that even though i didn’t know everything, I called the shots and didn’t let my kids walk all over me. I’m the parent. (They will thank you later)
I’m also amazed at how God gave Scott and I the strength to adopt at the age of 42. We weren’t lucky that we got a sweet, teachable girl that loves life. We did what we knew what we knew how to do.
We set boundaries and surrounded her with godly families who poured into her. Did you know that when you adopt your agent will tell you to stay home and allow your child to adapt to their new surroundings?  Don’t go on vacations right away and let them get used to who is in their immediate family.
Well our regular life is to have people over all the time. Needless to say we didn’t heed this advice.  Zoe got welcomed home to a crowd of people ready to hold her and love her and we had a different set of relatives come to visit every weekend! I know all kids are not the same but I think we sometimes make it all too difficult. Let others watch your kid. They won’t get sick if you expose them to the world right away. We did life with our kids and so glad Zoe is up to that lifestyle.
Love is definitely my word for 2018. Moving has brought new people into my life and it’s a challenge to find time for all of them.   I guess i just keep hearing God say, ‘Just love who is in front of you for that moment.’ Sometimes I make love too stressful. Jesus was surrounded by crowds and he loved the masses, yes! But He took the time to look into peoples eyes who needed Him most in the moment. If I’m honest with myself, I whisper all day long, ‘Who is it now, Lord?’


‘Love Won’t Let Me Down’ is a great song by Hillsong Young and Free

Bonding Hearts

Last night as I performed our bedtime rituals, Zoe got all serious on me.  I think I triggered it when I made mention of how different her room looks now.  We just recently took down all the pretty pink and yellow decor and replaced it with the color grey.  Yes, that new color that is gaining so much hype that will hopefully sell our house.  We have been planning for over a year to move.  We have tried before but this time it’s for real so new paint and carpet has left us with a shell of a house that no longer says that we live here.  Zoe has had to deal with a lot lately.  Her brother and sister moved out within a week of our biggest event; Jacob and Rachel’s wedding, and she has been left with two 46 year olds that love to go to bed around 8 o’clock  each night.  She has expressed how she doesn’t want to move but we tell her of all the new and exciting things that she can do in her new house and quickly move on to another topic.  This particular night was hard for me.  She didn’t cry but got a worried look on her face.  Zoe doesn’t cry much.  She cries over pain when I do her hair or when she falls down.  She doesn’t even cry when we leave her for over a week with loved ones to watch her.  She worries about school work when she doesn’t score an A but this was different.  On this night, this reaction pulled on my heart strings.

I have to tell you that when I first found out that we were matched with Zoe, then two years old,  over a conference call with Scott and our social worker I was overjoyed.  Truly I knew she was ours and couldn’t wait to lay eyes on her sweet little face.  Over the course of a few weeks we agonized over how long it was taking to get a court date in Ethiopia.  Then the disappointment of a postponed court date for over 14 months.  This was an emotion I had never experienced before and I’m sure all mom’s and dad’s who adopt have gone through this pain.  However, when we brought Zoe home it was difficult for me to bond with her.  She was a good little girl but fought me on just about everything I wanted her to do.  She didn’t want me to dress her or change her diaper.  She didn’t want to take her medicine or brush her teeth.  She didn’t want to go to bed or ever be alone so this was all very hard for me.  I was trying to love her unconditionally but her defiant behavior was not making it easy.  I was told early on in our decision to adopt that this was common.  Another mom shared with me how it was also difficult for her to bond with her adopted daughter.  I prayed every night and marveled at how quickly my older two children were accepting and loving and bonding with Zoe.  Even watching Scott with her put my feelings to shame and I just kept pushing them away.  Having Zoe home alone in this season of life is so good for me.  She is the only one I have to look after.  She has our attention but has grown to love her alone time and we give each other space.  Zoe loves her school and friends so naturally thoughts of all that changing is difficult.  I can only reach down through my own experience of moving when I was 12 years old and pull out stories of how I saw God get me through the scary and lonely feelings.  I hated the thought of leaving my school and friends and did not welcome the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new friends.  Funny that while having to walk through that experience it has made me thrive in situations where I have to meet new people.  Ironically enough this move it primarily for Zoe’s sake.  We are in a house that doesn’t have close neighbors around.  Yes the yard screams for a tree house and even though there is a tire swing, Zoe does not like playing out there alone.  We felt like a move to a neighborhood that is walking distance to her new school and with parks around where we can walk and bump into neighbors would be so good for our little social girl.  It’s hard to make decisions for our kids when they don’t see the benefits yet but I know God prefers it that way.  We don’t know for sure how this plan will end up but we have to cling to God and His promises.  He will never forsake us.  He is guiding us and that’s exactly where I have felt the most comfortable.  From the time we said yes to adoption up to now selling a wonderful home we will thrive wherever He leads us.

Being comfortable is often what we strive for yet I find that when I reach that comfortable pinnacle I begin to move on.  First, it begins in  my mind and then Scott and I pray about it.  I used to feel like I was quitting but it’s not that at all.  I believe, for me, its a time that causes me to ask God, “what’s next?”  Recently, studying John 5 I saw Jesus dealing with doubters.  When I’m not willing to say yes to God I’m doubting His power and my unbelief hinders me from experiencing His mind blowing plan for my life.

Moving might not seem like a mind blowing experience to some.  It’s just a house or neighborhood.  But every move we have made in 24 years has come with careful prayer and consideration on why? That way I can explain with complete honesty to Zoe that our actions are not our own.  He had a plan for her life before she was knitted in her mother’s womb.  She will grow up hearing stories about how her grandparents and great grandparents prayed for God to show up in big and little decisions.  That certainly helps me in knowing that I’m making the right move for my daughter.  I’m making the right move for her well being and I know that decision will help me bond with my daughter because just like God says to me, ‘I have your best intentions in mind when you follow me.’ With change comes new opportunities.  I can’t wait to see our reward.

Obsession is a strong word 

I hate it when I hear myself teach Zoe a lesson about envy and greed and my words echo in slow motion right back at me. Like a slow motion punch to the face while I yell ‘noooooo’, and try to move out of the way to avoid the blow. Ugh! Why must I be a mom that preaches but has to practice it as well?

I posted the other day on Facebook that I was obsessed with a new app Pinterest. Ok I know it’s not new to you but I like to see how things pan out for people before I jump on the bandwagon. Look I’m not so great at computer stuff. I know it’s far from attractive when I throw my phone or iPad down like a 5-year-old when I don’t know how to navigate an app or heck even just call a person. I never want to blog about the fights Scott and I have over me being upset with computer issues. As therapeutic as that sounds it’s not pretty so let’s skip it. But I’ve digressed. See I don’t even want to talk about the bible lesson and me having to change a bit.

I have a problem with the obsession part of anything social media or for a lack of a better word Hollywood. I’ve been known to go all ‘Tom Cruise’ while watching a riveting episode of Survivor in front of the whole family (true story). Jumping up and down on my living room couch for everyday people to win a million dollars? Why?

So Zoe wakes up this morning and is still admiring the works of a new hair dresser we invited to our home yesterday. Four hours of work and lots of tears (and I mean LOTS) she finally has straight hair. She remarks, ‘my friends won’t believe it because they have asked me when am I going to have straight hair’. Wait just a minute. You are 6 years old and I know we have agonized over doing your hair but it’s on your mind like a lot? Dare I ask, is she obsessed? The envy of having hair like her sister is real. She hates that her hair is curly yet so many people admire my work and the styles we come up with every two weeks. Amateur at best, we do alright and she thanks me after every hair episode. But all the while wanting hair like her white friends. I do it all the time too. At age 46, I still find a picture of some celebrity and bring it to my hair stylist and say, ‘work your magic’. I know it will take magic to transform me into Jennifer Gardner but hey, I dream. But seriously, am I on my new-found love, Pinterest, pinning all the dreams I hope to achieve, too much? And these are the words that came out of my mouth that circled back and smacked me in the face …..’Zoe, when we complain and envy and want what we don’t have we are saying to God that we are ungrateful for all He has provided!’ Ouch! When we are investing more time with a relationship on TV then we are with our own, our husbands will feel it. When we ‘pin’ all our worldly obsessions and not highlighting Gods word we will be unbalanced. I see a living room and have to have the couch, blanket draped over said couch, perfect fireplace and heck even the perfect family portrait over the fireplace. (You laugh but you have thought it.) I’m all for getting ideas for a remodel or new house. I’m in that market so I have to look. I seriously have to monitor how long I go on any social media and weigh in how much time I’m pouring into my kids and family.   I want to be the example of adoring what God has given me and strive for what He plans for my life. Hanging off of His words rather than Joanna Gaines is probably best (and we know she would agree). IMG_1682

So, happy pinning life moments you make today with your loved ones and all the while giving thanks to God. A good read is Psalm 103. …praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-…

middle child syndrome

She’s not the typical middle child.  First born girl or the baby of the family at best, my daughter Blaire has acted by the book.  I’m referring to the Birth Order book ,of course, by Kevin Lehman.  On a road trip many years ago, I read the characteristics of my first born boy, Jacob, and my first born girl, Blaire, and we laughed out loud.  It was spot on.  Blaire was my inquisitive girl.  She would rip the wallpaper off the bathroom wall while potty training, ‘just to see what was under it’.  She would test us before bedtime with the, ‘I’m thirsty’. Or ‘Can you turn over the lullaby cassette tape?’, or slipping her hand out of mine while crossing the street.  My favorite Blaire story is when we were standing in a Mexican souvenir shop and she picked up a small glass bottle with a paper ship in it.  Always touching stuff in fragile stores she was particularly facinated by how they got the ship in the tiny bottle. So naturally she decided to check how hard she could squeeze the bottle before it would break.  Well, she squeezed too hard and it broke. I made her fess up to the shop keeper and the lady made us pay for it.  I kept that tiny paper ship to remind me of Blaire and her boldness, tenacity and inquiring mind.  Yes, at the time I was pulling my hair out!  With a mind of her own, somewhere along the road this girl matured.   Following the crowd was not her.  She made her own decisions.   As much as we butted heads at the time we were growing to appreciate one another and I always had her back.  She was elated when we were going to adopt a little sister for her.  She has not grown tired of Zoe. She adores her every day.  Zoe has made Blaire the middle child now and although not in the typical Kevin Lehman way she claims it when she is forgotten in conversation.  Although not true, she feels like we talk about Zoe and Jacob more than her.  So this blog is for her.

My beautiful daughter who will turn 18 in 4 days.  She has a heart for kids.  She has a heart for Africa.  Ever since our trip to Ethiopia she has been wanting to return to Africa and is fulfilling that dream in 5 days from now;  A mission trip to Kenya to see a school being built that she has personally given her hard earned money towards.  While other teens were stressing over school grades Blaire’s efforts went into lifeguarding classes and the special needs community in her school.  This overflows a mother’s heart.  Her love for God has grown over time and she has committed to one year to study the Bible in Texas and take time to think about where God is leading her for the future.  A super proud moment since that is what I did 27 years ago.  Blaire isn’t swayed by popular demand and so today on Graduation Day she will go to work like usual.  A decision we back up completely.  With all the senior celebratory functions that occur in a span of 10 plus days I don’t know how these teens can handle it.  She is proud of her accomplishments and we are proud of her accomplishments so hanging out with thousands of people today doesn’t appeal to her.  Maybe it’s the American push but Scott and I didn’t go to our graduation in Canada.   I think some feel like graduation is the end of high school and I believe Blaire is saying it’s the beginning of her future.  She’s ready to move on and we support her 100%.  So a picture of her in my backyard with a cap and gown on works for me.  When a high school teacher tells me that she is sure to read about Blaire’s humanitarian efforts some day, my heart sings.

I was sharing with a young mom about raising our kindergarteners and how at the time you think you are making mistakes and motherhood is so difficult.  I get the privelege of seeing what worked with Blaire and getting to approach motherhood with Zoe through a new set of lenses.  Don’t freak out about the little things.  If your daughter is clumsy at the dinner table and spills at every meal it makes for some good laughs when they are older.  Be mindful that they are definitely watching you more than listening to you.  A wise friend told me to always pursue your kids.  So through the emotional ‘don’t talk to me stage’ keep them close.  Blaire didn’t verbally express her love for me much (I homeschooled her through the awesome elementary years of cool mother days gifts so I lost out) but one letter just a month ago made up for all of that.  A mother’s day letter that expressed her appreciation for all the little things I’ve done for that kid and she saw it all.  She is special and I hope you can see the special moments in all stages of parenthood.

Many tears will flow leading up to September but remember that God has our kids and praying for them daily will allow you to rest in that peace.

Change is good

For weeks now I’ve wanted to boast about how great I have been feeling. I guess I should have got the message out before I sprained my ankle. But really it was a blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong.  I have cried in self-pity and I’ve been angered by the ill-timed injury.  Why now, when my training was off to a good start for a postive new running season. I’ve laid in bed feeling sorry for myself and have been mad that the laundry has been piling up.  Also feeling guilt ridden because I still want to feed my family but standing in the kitchen is awkward and takes so long. No wife/mother has time for slowing down caused by a sore foot and definitely no time for crutches.
Now getting back to the part about feeling great before the unfortunate running incident (on vacation no less).

Hi I’m Bev and I’m a sugaraholic.  I was that person that was dependent on sugary coffee to start my day and jump-start my afternoon to get through every day of the week. I didn’t love coffee so much as I loved my Italian Sweet Cream and Stevia in the coffee. It’s a simple two cups of coffee so what’s the big deal?  I would tell myself that because I felt like I was being good in other areas of my life.   I run to keep slim and keep my addiction at bay. It has worked for many years but if I walk by candy I will buy it and keep a stash for the emotional crash I get around 2 pm. It was getting more frequent this past winter and I was in an emotional slump. Now I’m in my mid 40s, and realized that even though we are told the scale should not dictate how we view our bodies, it definitely bothered me.  That ugly number on the scale grabbed my attention when I was at an all time high since I gained 50 lbs when I was pregnant with Blaire. Back when we brought Zoe home from Ethiopia I was shortly thereafter  bedridden from locked up joints. I like to attribute that to a form of depression since the doctor didn’t have a medical explanation.  I read a book called It’s All About Food and basically the Whole 30 life was introduced to me. Scott joined me and the 30 days turned into 90 days.  We headed into the winter months and the holidays and found ourselves back to our bad eating habits. Our meals were good but snacking and overeating even the good stuff was hurting me. Scott had suggested a detox program at the gym but the packet was expensive and quite frankly I wasn’t ready. I stayed on track with a great exercise program and was doing awesome but still the pesky pounds were dragging me down – literally.
So I began a three-week detox program on April 11. It consisted of taking protein powder and fiber powder once a day and no caffeine or sugar. No gluten, meat was lean and organic and lots and lots of veggies and I was good to go. I decided to eliminate coffee altogether! A migraine hit the first day and I just had minor headaches the first week. I did it and felt very empowered. I believe I got through the three weeks successfully because;
1. My family was joining me in this endeavor.
2. I prayed a lot
3. The results that I was seeing and feeling very quickly was powering me to keep going.
I texted Scott after a couple of days in and said,’don’t let me go back to eating sugar with no control again’. Well I actually said don’t let me eat sugar EVER again but I knew I had to retrain my mind with good sugar and fueling my body rather than giving into cravings and bad habits. Now it’s a lifestyle and since I can’t exercise with a sprained ankle (going on three weeks) I know with more education and prayer and help from my family I can learn to be healthy and truly not care about the number on the scale but how I feel in clothes and in general. My whole life people have thought it’s easy for me to keep off the weight. I guess it was more like I really enjoyed keeping fit so I kept active. When I turned 30 I cried. I felt old and had two little kids. By the time I turned 40 I was happy with my accomplishments and life was good.   Turning 46 in 18 days is not going to rock my world. I’m closer to 50 than 40 and I want to embrace it. I still love food but I won’t let it control me and tea is a great alternative for my coffee addiction. I teach kids in a church program and last month’s word was perseverance and this month it was contentment. I want to practice what I preach.