Friday, December 19, 2014


bebo norman has this song, written many years ago now, and he sings, "the clock moves so slowly; time moves so fast." i don't think i'll ever get past the mysterious truth of that line. time is a strange thing.

i just reread my last post, the one about grandma. during those 2 1/2 short weeks in july, we wanted whatever time of suffering that lay ahead to happen swiftly, for her sake....and yet, we clung to every moment we had remaining with her, always reaching for more. five months later, my sadder days seem to drift by slowly, like a lazy river current...and this mornin, i can hardly believe it's been a whole five months since she left.

i'm beginnin to feel this way a little about adoption. well, this adoption anyway. we were cautious to find and apply to another agency. we had a lot of money to work for and save. i was in grad school and, ideally, wanted to be finished writing monster papers w/o an infant learning how to sleep and wake w/the rest of us. josh and i had simple differences of opinion regarding how many years we wanted b/w our kids. probably underneath it all was a question as to whether we could do it - could we save enough money? could we put ourselves on the line again? could. we. do. it. ?

needless to say, it took us a while to pull the trigger and begin the process again. it was on our minds every day for a long stretch of days...days that turned into weeks....and months. but we finally took the plunge. we made phone calls and went to meetings and completed the application and worked to save and cleaned the house before the home-study. those days seemed to last a lifetime. and days/shifts of extra work? josh would say his night shifts crawled by...sometimes i visited patients and was pretty sure i wasn't gonna make it out of their houses before nightfall. the clock moved so slowly.

when we had enough money to feel a little more comfortable, we turned in the application, and we had the home-study done. suddenly, we realized those laborious days had somehow turned into months and months. nine months, actually, b/w deciding on an agency and submitting our application. did we intend for it to take so long? time moves so fast.

neither of us believed adoption #2 would play out as quickly as riley's did. with riley, by the time we finally decided on adoption and submitted our application, it was may...we met her birthfamily in august....she was born in december. bam. i kinda thought baby #2 would come in the summer. so we tentatively made a fewish plans for last spring. after finishing school, i didn't even consider looking for a teaching position. just a few weeks out at a time, we'd put things on the calendar. never spending nonrefundable money or committing to responsibilities we couldn't slip out of. my aunt gave me a book series by madeleine l'engle for christmas, and i eagerly shelved it, saving it for the during-the-first-few-months-of-mothering-another-infant time sure to come. the closer to summer we drew, the less further out we made plans. the pictures of riley we'd taken in february i kept in the thick folder, waiting to send them out (however belated they might be) with the birth announcements we'd be sending out (i presumed) soon.

then the summer came, the summer our family will never forget. a whole lot of days that seemed to last years - the night daddy went to the er, the next few days when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, and we scrambled to make sense of it all. we braced for a long and unexpected journey, and every single day we spent attentively to switching gears to do whatever might need to be done. then a couple weeks later, grandma, and the couple weeks that we had left w/her. hour after hour on the road, caring for riley and grandma and each other...navigating the unwanted decisions of grandma slipping away. all the while, daddy began having appointments and procedures and began treatment. it wasn't until about the middle or end of august that i even remembered adoption.

oh yeah - we were still waiting. the summer had now come and gone, and not even a hint of baby on the horizon. but my stars - i was relieved. there was no way we could have cared for an infant the way we'd wanted and been present w/my family the way we were, all at the same time.

autumn arrived. daddy was doin well. we were grief-stricken over grandma, but we'd all had to return to at least a semblance of normal work and kids and bills had never gone away. nor had adoption. our routine 3-month follow up calls came and went. our profile was still bein shown; we simply had not been chosen. the agency had no suggestions - no changes to our profile picture might help, no tweaks in our letter should be made. just....wait.

so we return to our springtime mentality a little bit - plan for things a little at a time, though there was a newer mix of surrender and breath holding, as we began making decisions that weren't as easy to get out of - like my decision to take a 6 week position teaching nursing with midwestern starting in october.

day after day of decisions...small ones and big ones. flexible ones and ones that don't bend as readily. an hour here, a weekend there. a month over here, six weeks there. the clock moves so slowly; time moves so fast. now it's december. almost christmas. riley's almost four years old. we've actively waited for her brother or sister to come home now for a year. a year. how did that happen? 
still no prospects on the horizon, as best we know. so we look ahead into 2015 and pause, our eyes beginning to look a little heavier with the weariness that comes from long waiting... and we wonder. we can't help but wonder a little if we made the "right" decision, whatever that means, about the timing and the agency and what's good for our family.....and the list goes on.

the saturday after christmas, our social worker will be here. home-studies are good for a year. after that point, if no baby has been placed and no match has been made, the home-study must be revisited. the social worker is required to physically inspect our home. as we'll be away most of next week for christmas with josh's family, i'm tryin to skim away the most visible layers of untended-to chores. 

in the meantime, our waiting stretches on. our waiting and our wonderings aren't as tumultuous and volatile now as they were during the wait for riley layne. they're quieter, more settled. but they're here all the same. so we wait. we wait with whispering hearts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

grandma, who wouldn't have approved of me devoting a blog post to her

death is strange. it's equal parts hard to believe and permanently real.

today marks 2 weeks since grandma died. i can't quite wrap my heart's mind around that truth. it seems like yesterday. and it seems like weeks and months ago already. i haven't had a tear-free day since july 5th, the day we learned of the cancer that was ravaging her body. and yet, there's this part of me that feels the slightest bit disassociated with the if grandma's just out visiting my aunt's family and will return after what used to be her standard 2-week stint out west.

one week, we were talking about riley's singing, incessant chatter, and obsession with cats...immigration reform....rain. a few days later, she was in the hospital. a few days after that, we were taking care of her as she began slipping away. a few shorter days, and she was gone. i think we're all havin a difficult time adjusting. it was so sudden. well, she was 86 after all, so i don't suppose we can label it a shock. but the ferocity of her independence was such a normal and daily part of our lives, that her absence is deeply felt....nearly palpable at times.

grandma was the one i remember encouraging me to write - my most vocal writing advocate. so i suppose it's fitting that i'm scribbling with words as a way to grieve.

at grandma's funeral, daddy talked about one of grandma's character traits - an unusual but somewhat exceptional one. she had this ability and willingness to disagree with someone while maintaining a respectful position, and in the case of family and close friends, a loving one. daddy's example was tattoos. all six of grandma's grandchildren are adorned w/permanent ink. did grandma approve? no. did she ever "come around" on the issue and give any of us her blessing regarding future inking? nope. she maintained her opinion on the matter while not once ostracizing any of us.

i've thought a lot about what daddy said....thought a lot about my 33 years w/grandma...and thought about the stories and dimensions of grandma that we were not privy to until the days leading up to and immediately following her death.

there's this other part of her character that, in the last month, has been enlivened with fuller color. grandma had this very matter-of-fact way about her that easily led folks to assume she lived unafraid and unbothered. it was an easy assumption to make. after all, she was fiercely independent and lived alone for decades. but i don't believe she was unafraid, unbothered, and unscathed. i heard her talk about bein afraid of the water and afraid of snakes and mice. so it wasn't that she was unafraid, undaunted for 86 years. it was that she refused to be ruled by her fears. so her answer to the things that frightened and unnerved her? she simply faced them. she enrolled mama and aunt janice in swimming lessons when they were really young, and then donned her own swimming suit and took the lessons alongside them. she was afraid of the snakes in the hen house, but she gathered the eggs for her folks anyway. and when she was well into her 70s, her house was infested w/mice...but rather than calling an exterminator, she set mouse trap after mouse trap until the nasty varmints realized they'd met their match.

these are easy examples to describe. but there were other hurdles, other things she learned to do - not b/c she innately took pleasure in such things, or because she sought out difficult endeavors, but b/c she was determined to live, determined to not be ruled by fear. so she lived alone for decades and learned how to change her own oil and how to get out of debt and went back to school. she retired and then subbed for months on end at an alternative school for kids who'd had terrible hands dealt to them - she was in her 70s then. she decided goin to church was better than living with bitterness.

then there were the rivers more personal, more sensitive. every one of her grandkids (myself included) made lifestyle decisions that were not directly in line with her preferences. decisions more difficult to grapple with than tattoos and piercings. decisions about religion, spirituality, relationships, marriage, race. not one time did she smile and nod and accept our choices blindly. and not one time did she hold so tightly to her established viewpoint that her grandchild was tossed aside. i don't know that there are many octogenarians who were as determined to work through their prejudices and long-held beliefs for the sake of loving and accepting their family.

with a heart as sturdy as hers, i think it would have been easy to push folks around. independent, determined folks sometimes bully others. it's a means of survival. but somehow, grandma steered clear of that slippery slope. she somehow managed to not jump onto every religious, political, social bandwagon, while at the same time she refraining from forcefully pushin and pullin people into her corner.

time and age and life ultimately softened her. grandma was intelligent and thoughtful. she was never the "sweet old lady" type, to be sure. she never placated people or pulled back on who she was for the sake of complacent harmony. she wasn't without her flaws, either. she was determined to the point of stubborn, independent to the edge of closed self-sufficiency. but, at least in the last 20 or so years, she was never so set in her ways that she isolated herself.

at least in part, i believe this is why many have been moved to tears by her death. not only her family, but her friends, too. she lived, determined to engage in life thoughtfully. not all of us are that brave. we can't help but be sad.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

gratitude and grafting

it's mother's day again. officially my fourth to celebrate. i tend not to succeed in the "be really excited on holidays" category. the pressure of it all causes me to recoil. when given a gift on a particular holiday, i've never been the demonstrative recipient who makes the whole gift giving event fun. so four years ago, when i awoke on a sunday mornin with a 4 1/2 month old precious little girl in our house, i was taken aback by the delight swimmin in me. mother's day. my first mother's day. after years of this day bein soaked with ache, occasionally sprinkled with confusion and anger, my arms were now full. a squishy, dark haired little girl captivated me....and turned mother's day on its head. i remember tellin josh, "now this is a holiday i can enjoy!"

so here we are, four years later. my delight this mornin is less expectant and more....restful. mothering a 3 year old is a continuous mix of pleasure and pain. equal parts laugh out loud fun, melt your heart sweet, and infuriating. and i don't expect anything less or anything more than that today. maybe that's why it's a restful delight.

there's an ache here, too, though. a small part of it is, i think, tied into a broader world....the horrors mothers and fathers and children endure, like in nigeria. but admittedly, the ache i am more familiar with is my own... as we await another baby to be grafted into our family. 

the ache now is different than it was before riley came home... it's not as tumultuous, and i'm not angry about it. that's enough different to make it different....not to mention the tectonic changes that come with having just one baby-toddler-preschooler fill your home and your life. but it's an ache all the same. an ache to love and an ache to hold...and ache to stretch and ache to graft a friend and brother/sister into riley's world. 

so we wait. we wait for an agency staffed by diligent women to tend to an unborn child....we wait for a long-suffering social worker to match us...we wait for a brave birthmother to choose us. we wait to be grafted into a stranger's forever life. we wait to graft the stranger into ours.

and that's where we are right now. we're living life here while waitin for a call from there. 

for a year, we've waited and worked toward meeting the financial requirements of affording this next adoption. workin more (for me), workin extra (for josh), workin creatively (both of us)...and humbly receiving the generosity of family and friends. i don't think there's a single person who's given to us that wants to be named, but i have to mention at least one.

betsy reynolds. she contacted me several months ago about doin a fundraiser for us. she was starting up as a new consultant for usborne books. it's not like she'd been selling books and such for a long time and was reaping the rewards of success. she was brand new to it. she wasn't offering to help with a fundraiser out of the abundance of her success...she was offering to work on our behalf so that we could benefit. i wrote about this fundraiser several weeks ago here. well, the book sale and the card fundraiser were quite successful - thanks to betsy's hard work and the extended generosity of other friends and family (some of whom are reading this post as we speak). 

thanks to yall, we received $445 that's now in our adoption fund. what's more, this $445 directly helped us meet our goal. our adoption funds are now raised and taken care of!

happy mother's day.... to all the women who have taught, loved, and helped. and thank you to all who generously participating in betsy's fundraiser. we're so grateful.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


in a round-about, adoption related post...

one of the benefits in growin up in the texas panhandle when i did was the circle of people you knew. now, we call it networking. fifteen years ago, it was simply a part of bein a church kid. at the height of the youth group era, when youth group kids went to church and camps together, traveled in small mobs for mission trips, and ventured into the emmaus movement, we knew folks all over the panhandle. lots of our circles overlapped... maybe we went to school together. if not, maybe we played against each other in sporting events. there was a pretty good chance our parents knew each other, too - from their own days of growing up in the panhandle way of life.

so what does this have to do w/round two of adoption? well, i'm glad you asked.

an old panhandle friend of mine - yep, one of the very kind that developed through camps and chrysalis and maybe a little basketball - sent me an email the other day. as a wife and mother of two little ones, she's started selling some books and greeting cards on the side. as she read about our adoption process and the financial burden of it all, she wanted to help.

honestly, i was a little hesitant. josh and i are working in all sorts of ways to fund this deal, and we've believed it's no one else's responsibility to make this happen. but the more i prinked (like that word? it's kinda like thinkin and kinda like prayin...), the more i find myself thinkin - who am i say no to help? 

we ask for and hope for and want and need other kinds of help in adoption...from all sorts of people. from the adoption agency, to our friends and family prayin, to the birth family's support system. so i finally emailed my old friend back and said yes.

so here's the deal.... my friend betsy is selling great children's books and really fun, well-made greeting cards. for every book and every box of cards sold, a good portion of the proceeds will go toward our adoption. 

there are books for children of every age. there are cards for all sorts of occasions. if you're interested in buying a book or a box of cards, you have from today, february 2 to saturday, february 15th.

to peruse the book selection and place an order, follow this link: books for riley to have a companion

to order a box of cards, you need to contact me. to look at the options, follow this link and click on "products": cards for riley to become a big sister

thanks.... for following, for prayin, for believin, for helpin...

thanks, betsy, for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

grateful for the panhandle way of life today.