Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mercy At Bedtime

She snuggles her little afro into my neck and squeezes those chubby legs around my hips. Tucking her arms under her belly as she leans into me, signifies that this small bundle of energy has finally run out of whatever it is that fuels her to move without ceasing for most of the day. The warmth of her in fleece sleepers and the scent of baby oil on her skin calm me like nothing else does. I lay her limp figure in the tiny, white, toddler bed and with eyes still closed, she gropes for my hand and whispers, "Pray". The prayer spills easily from me and tears even come. It's been a long day full of  disciplining the limbs-flailing tantrums and cleaning up potty messes. I ask for mercy and patience for me and an obedient heart for her. She opens her eyes for a moment and whispers again, "I love you, Mommy" and pulls on my neck for a hug.
You know those snippets in time? The ones where all the difficult is swallowed up with sweetness that only comes from the mercy of God? I'd experienced many with my own children and now, I was grateful once again that all my efforts, productive or not, are redeemed by His grace.

Six months have passed since we've shared Ashanti with her momma. There is still no word from Immigration in order for Valerie to rest easy that she will remain in Canada. And so, we continue to be a loving, extended family to both.   
above three photos taken by my sister: 
following photos from my phone...
she thought it was hysterical that Barbie can sit on the edge of the bathtub :)
snuggle with Mrs. Vos, who is teaching me afro hair techniques
Crying after I told her no more cookies. I played music to distract her and she fell asleep with tears streaming down. However, she danced as she faded off. Nothing can stop the groove of this girl :)
Ashanti, you are our entertainment. You keep us on our toes. You show us what love is all about. xo

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Clock Will Strike Midnight...

I will dance with Cinderella while she is here in my arms,
 Cuz I know something the prince never knew. 
I will dance with Cinderella;
 I don't wanna miss even one song, 
Cuz all too soon the clock will strike midnight... 
and she'll be gone.

Steven Curtis Chapman 

Cinderella jewelry box from Mama

She turned sixteen and I became hyper-aware that my time with her is slipping through my fingers. Moments of tension or simply busy days cause me to wince a little more because life as I know it with my big girl is fleeting. As God redeems the time and I focus carefully on intentionally loving this kiddo just as she needs me to, her memories of home will be sweet. He'll use the questionable parenting moments for her good as she gives herself to Him and understands He has a purpose for her. His protection and provision for her will come to light in her mind. All of our mistakes will fade as she recognizes the brightness of God's perfect parenting like a screen in front of it all. I don't have to fear that in my humanness I've "spoiled" her, even though I lay my head down sometimes and regret that conversation, that allowance I shouldn't have given in to. I don't have to regret when I was too harsh. He forgives, she forgives, I am free to begin again and she will use it all to become an even more fabulous person.

The faces she makes me do!

Our prayers for her will and are coming to fruition and this girl, this young woman, is teaching me what it's like to love and let go. Man, can she really be an extension of me and yet be so very different? Her own person? I've denied it for so long. She's all God's and I'm thankful to have the privilege of watching Him raise her along the way, grateful He forgives my errors and celebrates when I'm in line with His will. 

Now a recipient of Blessing Day, instead of one of my givers :)
She's got her own style.
Finally reading the letter she's waited for since she was a tiny girl.
"Aunt" Linette wrote it for her about when I was 16 and she couldn't open it until that very birthday! Linette was my best friend in highschool and she knew a lot about me. She felt Meg needed to know that me :)  A very precious keepsake!
Family tradition on birthday nights: ice cream at Yogurty's
A few of my kiddo's friends, who happened to be standing around after our morning service. 
They call her "the Albino" ;)

God bless you this year, my ever-loved oldest girl. You make me so thankful to be your momma. Truly, you teach me how to stay on my toes and how to relax and let things go. I love you and pray this is your best year yet!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Warmth and Healing

Just a little warmth and healing and some good perspective on a few items was all I needed. With great humility I am thankful for this luxury that is not always tangible for some of my dearest loved ones who could also use the time away. I returned home to set myself once again to the task of caring for a child who is not my own flesh and blood but to whose heart I am deeply attached. Among other responsibilities that require much prayer and planning, I am ready to begin anew.
A few bits of joy and gratitude:
 1757. for other posing options when the nicely standing family one doesn't turn out
1758. large shadows cast on my path from huge birds soaring overhead
1759. how this guy is still at the pond at our spot where we stay
1760. how this lovely bald eagle hung out on this Norfolk Pine by the pool the entire week!
1761. spotting salamanders and other lizards
1762. how everything that moves catches his attention
1763. the way he surprised us all and picked up the binoculars and even tried to memorize a few bird species. (We'll make a bird-nerd of him yet!)
1764. the boy who really got everyone interested in bird watching to the degree we are now
1765. how he made "beaver dams" out of all the pool noodles each day
1766. the way the anhinga dries his wings all spread out for a long time and how his big body perches on tiny branches
1767. his basketball tricks
1768. how he went (when the girls were too shy) to get us a couple of pink lemonades
1769. how a bird can look so different when you see him straight on :)
1770. volleyball at sunset
1771. how this scene is never ever the same
1772. how one minute they look so tall and the next, they're scrunched down low
1773. how she will still get up early with me (after all these years) and go shell seeking
1774. the annual scorpion tilt on the beach 
1775. for this tower that took us waaaay above the tallest trees (and swayed in the wind!)
1776. how she became more serious about birding this trip and asked for a book like her siblings had
1777. how she not only kept track of what she saw but drew diagrams
1778. for the Celery Fields
1779. how younger eyes are a blessing during some serious hunting
1780. this relationship
1781. how she has no fear of heights (praise God!)
1782. how a man laughed nervously when Oliver, at 76 feet said, "Mommy, is this really only made of some wood and some bolts?"
1783. how you'll walk across moving, jiggling suspended bridges when your kids have crossed them first :)
1784. when going down is fun too

 1785. how God's creativity actually overwhelms me at times and leads me to worship Him
(black-necked stilt)
 1786. when we were afraid he was no longer around, the "bugle man" began playing
"Taps" once again at the sunset on the beach-everyone cheered
 1787. how they race each other in the pool (house rules, of course)
 1788. how Molly wins and always surprises herself
 1789. how he asked me to score his dives over and over again
1790. the ocean