Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Promise

It was sometime in 2007. I was plugging away at adoption paperwork feeling like it would never get to where it needed to be in the insane timelines they were requesting it to be there. This was an international adoption of a child in Ukraine and their system isn't exactly known to be smooth-sailing. It seemed like the rules changed every time I turned around and it was pushing my limits of sanity for sure. I thought the struggles of infertility were an emotional roller coaster but at this point, I'd deemed this to be worse.

On one particularly draining day, I opened my bible to seek out some comfort with this. Now, I'm not typically the type to close my eyes and pick a verse and call it divine inspiration but on this day, it seemed warranted. I didn't have the energy or hope for much else so I went for this method anyway. I was a bit shocked at how specific God was with me that day when I opened my bible and my finger was resting on Isaiah 60:4b (NASB)...

"Your sons will come from afar and your daughters will be carried in the arms."

Huh?! Did I just read that right? I was expecting a "trust in the Lord..." or "he meets your every need" kind of statement. Not something 1) specifically about a son or 2) about that son coming from "afar"!! And then the kicker with the daughters part. I was so engrossed with the sons part of the verse that I didn't talk as much about the daughters part. But I knew it in my gut at that minute that it was God saying I'd somehow, someway have a baby girl that I'd carry in my arms. And even though I knew there were a host of ways that I could come to parent a baby girl, I really felt that I would carry this baby myself.

This week was the ultrasound for the baby where we could find out what gender it is. I have been so sure since the minute that the little stick said "pregnant" that this baby would be a girl. Talking with my fiance about it even that night, I kept referencing it as a girl knowing that there's no way I should know that. Especially since it took weeks before I really believed that I was actually pregnant. When the doctor said with 99% certainty that it's a girl, I was not shocked one bit.

I love how God communicates with us in so many different ways. This time is was incredibly specific and while it took about 4 years to come to be, it did. It was what was in the back of my mind every time I thought that I should just give up and let go of this whole dream of carrying a child. This little girl, who is healthy in every way they could check her, is beyond a miracle to me. She is the fulfillment of a promise. A promise that I am and will be forever grateful for.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Espresso Yourself

At the beginning of the month I took part in a tribute show at Espresso Yourself Music Cafe in Powell, Ohio to honor The King of Rock & Roll - Elvis. I didn't tell many people about it going into it because it took me a while to figure out what I was going to sing and quite frankly, I was concerned I'd just bomb so I didn't want an audience for it. Turns out, I had an amazing time and felt pretty ridiculous for not saying more about it (didn't hurt that I felt pretty good about my performance as well!).

Well, on Wednesday night I'll be performing again and this time I'm getting the word out! This show will honor Joan Baez, Janis Joplin & Sarah McLachlan. Only $5 at the door, it's from 7-10pm and here's the website if you want info about the cafe: (The cover is a donation to help bring in some $$ for the cafe to keep it's doors open and get the word out about this awesome place!) I'll be doing a couple Sarah McLachlan tunes and one Janis Joplin. I think it'll be a great time!

It's good to have this musical outlet. In my quest for a life of simplicity, I've been more and more drawn to ways that I can be creative. Blogging is one outlet. I've been honing my songwriting skills. But performing is where I really get a surge of energy so hopping up on that stage in a few nights will be just what I need. ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

TEEN-agers - UGH!!

I usually shoot to be uplifting or at least say something challenging in my posts but with an ever-rising blood pressure, I've chosen this as the best path today to just vent! I have a 14 year old son. Not just any 14 year old. No. He's one that was born in Ukraine to a horrible home situation for his first 6 years, then lived in an orphanage for the next 5 and then came to live in the US. I met him when he was 9 and had a small influence on him then but he's been with me since he was 11. So as of March, it's been a full 3 years since he's been under my care to mold, shape and be responsible for. As you can imagine, we've had our share of ups and downs.

And today, we're having a down.

My fiance and I are getting married in February. Less than a month away in fact and we have a baby on the way. He also has two kids ages 5 and almost 2. They're with us every weekend which means than between the weekends that Roma is with his dad and gone for boy scouts, he spends about 1, maybe 2 weekends a months with the kids. They have their typical sibling rivalries. I can certainly understand how those work. My brother and I could be brutal to one another growing up. I get when a child gets caught up in the moment of their emotions and take it out on each other. It doesn't go without reprimand but I get it. Kids need to learn how to process that stuff and they usually learn it on the ones they live with first and foremost.

Today though my son did something that was pre-meditated and just plain mean to the 5 year old. Fortunately, I caught what happened before the 5 year old ever knew what was going on. All of a sudden, I realized that all the progress that it seemed he had made in so many ways could easily be taken over by the orphanage mentality. He saw where he could be the bully and took advantage of it. We've had our suspicions about this before but nothing that was so blatant and 100% obvious as what happened today. It confirmed that he's lost what little trust he had started to gain and again we're back at square one in many ways. It's a tense house right now...he's cleaning his room in silence and I'm blogging to keep from doing or saying something I may later regret. Eric's calmly taking out his frustrations by putting the electronics on lock-down.

I never assumed that taking on parenting would be easy. Please no "did you think it'd be a walk in the park?!" comments - side note: why do parents no matter how novice or seasoned say these things to each other? Has it ever brought about some sort of benefit besides feeding the one's ego who said it? Side rant over. Anyway, like I said, I knew walking into being his parent that I would be in for some trying days. There are just some days where the frustration hits me more than others; when I can see that not only does this mentality apply to the current situation but it probably has also been in play during x, y, & z. And the kicker is when he tries to throw in an excuse - some way that it's not his fault or that he didn't mean it "that way" when it's very clear that he did. Nothing pushes my buttons more.

Some people think I'm too hard on him. That I don't give him enough leeway. That I don't give him enough room to just be the kid he wasn't able to be in his home situation or the orphanage. You know what I have to say to those folks? YOU take him for a week and we'll see what you have to say then. I'm not in the business of making up for lost time. I'm in the business of raising a contributing member of society that turns to God and family when troubles come rather than excuses, shitty "friends", or worse things like alcohol, drugs or other things that I'd rather not think about. Yes, he's got a lot of excuses that are valid - horrible upbringing, abuse, name it, I bet it fits in there somewhere in his past. But when you've been an asshole because you relied on those excuses all day, at the end of the day, you're still an asshole. I'm in the business of teaching him to take some responsibility for those actions when they're things aimed at a 5 year old that never even knew it happened rather than dealing with the consequences of it when it happens on a much larger scale and no one was there to intervene.

So all I know is that today I'm aggravated with him. Earlier this week I was proud. I'm sure later this week I'll feel something else. I guess it's all par for the course and it's good that I found this outlet to deal with the emotions of today. My blood pressure is down. Maybe now I can be in the same room without wanting to go into an instant tirade. ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pregnancy Update

I have been so blessed with this pregnancy. I've had all kinds of symptoms but none incredibly severe.

I had my bouts with nausea, several times that I succumbed to it, meals that I prepared or ordered only to take one bite and have to push it away.

I had that super-sleepy phase where I couldn't pry myself out of bed until 5 minutes before my 14-year-old was headed out the door so I could just say good-bye and then was falling asleep by 7:30 or 8pm at night.

I've had on-and-off struggles with insomnia starting with the night the little stick told us the news. I never went to sleep that night b/c my brain was racing. Then there was a phase when my arms were getting tingly but pillows seemed to alleviate that. Then there was that awful head cold - again, pillows came to the rescue. Now if I can't sleep it's because my left hip goes numb if I lay a certain way on either side of my know, the ways they tell you that you should sleep.

I've had days where I swear if all was silent and you listen closely that you could actually hear my hip bones creaking from all the expanding their doing! It's been such a drastic change that I can feel them sticking out in different ways when I'm trying to get comfy to go to sleep and even just sitting here now, I'm aware of their unusual protrusion.

I'm so excited though b/c now I'm starting to show. I've never been a skinny girl and I tend to carry my weight in my midsection anyway so in some ways, I feel like more than the average girl I just look like I've put on some extra weight. So to be to the point that it's starting to look like the result of a pregnancy rather than a box of donuts, I'm quite thrilled. I know some people hate them but I've fully embraced my maternity wear. So blessed by a friend's hand-me-downs, I love being to the point that I can wear the cute little shirts that scream - "I've got a baby in here!!"

I have loved being pregnant. I mean really LOVED it. Even in the midst of hovering over the toilet, I felt an honest gratefulness for what it meant. At a work party for my fiance last weekend after standing for almost an hour my back was killing me and I started feeling light-headed; while I needed to find a chair ASAP, I loved that it was because of the ever-growing little one inside of me. I'm so excited for this little one to arrive but at the same time, I am savoring every minute of finally having the honor to carry it.

For so many years I'd curse my cycle. One: it was most months miserable, painful and I now realize well beyond what is considered in the realm of "normal". But two: I felt like, "oh sure, you can bring me all the pain but you can't do the other part you're supposed to in giving me a baby! If you're not going to work at all, just DON'T come!!!" Obviously, I'm grateful that didn't happen. And I've been keenly aware of God's timing through all of this. I believe He knew EXACTLY who I needed to be sharing this experience with and where I needed to be in my mental/emotional/spiritual health before taking this on. People would always tell me that "someday" I would understand God's timing with this and it "may not be on this side of heaven" but someday I would. I wanted to punch people when they told me that but in hindsight, it actually happened. I still will do my very best to never say it to anyone who is really struggling b/c essentially saying "at least you'll find out when you die" is never reassuring. But, I am grateful that in this case God did reveal a host of reasons why He was waiting...even though we're not <gasp!> married...Oh, so much I could dive into here but's just not worth the argument. Besides, I know how God has made it clear to me and to Eric that this baby is of His doing, His timing - that's all I need.

So that's where we are and what's been happening with this pregnancy. This Saturday marks the beginning of week 21 for me which means I have officially hit the halfway point!! Woohoo!! Aaaand, we find out one week from today if the little one is a boy or a girl! Double woohoo!!!! I feel very much like it's a girl but I'm doing all I can to prep my brain that it has just as much of a chance to be a boy. No matter what, it's the first little baby that's given me the joy of pregnancy so it will be loved, loved, loved just as much as all the kids are in my life!! My 14-year-old and I have a bet going b/c he thinks it's a boy. Whoever is wrong has to play chef for an evening and cook whatever the "winner" demands. If I'm right and with the potential for pregnancy cravings, he may have no clue what he's getting himself into!! :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Life of Simplicity

I have learned so much in the last few years. I think one of my favorite lessons though is the joy of living simply. The more my life is bent this direction, the more I want it to be there. So much of my life before was so cluttered...and I'm not talking about the stuff that sits around the house. I'm talking about the calendar, the stress level, the go-go-go mindset, the caring too much of what impression I was making on others.

In doing so much I felt important but in stepping away from it, it seems that the feeling of being important and the feeling of treading water aren't all that different from one another. I was living to be pulled whatever direction everyone else was going to take me. In the quiet places I often questioned, is this really it? Is this really what life was meant to be?! Treading water wasn't exactly a lifelong dream of mine and my stress level was there on a nearly constant basis.

In the last few years I've really retreated from the world. Any limelight I previously held, I've done all that I can to minimize. Not so easy for this once hard-core Leo. I don't put much stock into the astrological stuff but I do find that I have definitely fit the Leo profile in my life - creative, extroverted, dominant. Leos LOVE the spotlight and I've never been one to shy away so this retreat of sorts has been quite a journey. It's been amazing though. I enjoy having time to really devote to my family & to my inner circle of friends. I enjoy the time that my fiance & my kids have together. Even in retreating from the world of mass-media some, I have really enjoyed not having cable TV; all I watch is Netflix and the lack of commercials has made quite an impact. The "I need it"s are minimized more than I would've imagined & my wallet is grateful.

I love taking the emphasis away from doing what will make everyone else happy and no longer throwing my own mental health to the curb in the process. I love finding the simplicity in my relationship with God as well. He doesn't complicate things as much as we do; learning that has probably been the greatest reward.

This is just the beginning of this journey but I like the direction I'm headed. I'm excited to find more ways to simplify. I want this because I think it's how God intended us to live. This race of having a million things on our plate at once seems to show up no where in scripture. Jesus took time to enjoy, get to know, and love the people around him. Living a life of complexity doesn't typically lend oneself to being available for this on a sustainable basis. But living a life of simplicity does. I think it is key to a live that is beautifully lived. And that's right where I want to be.


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