Monday, September 30, 2013

I Survivied September...

September is not my favorite month.  In fact, each year I dread it more and more.

The baby we lost after Julianne would have turned 6 this year.  It seems like it has been eternity and yesterday all at the same time.

And we lost our match to Annalise in September too.  This September marks two years since I felt like my world was crashing down.

But we made it through yet another September. 

'til next year,  


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NOT All for Nothing, Sweet Child....

(I have a few posts planned to catch you fine folks up on our homeschooling year and I am planning on doing some re-launching here at The Simplebees, but I have the words for this post bouncing around in my head and need to let them out.. so I can sleep!) 

Pay attention, because this story has a few parts.

*slow deep breath*  

Sunday, I was running my usual evening errands and it was Julianne's turn to go with me.. ALONE.  She's my most tenderhearted child.  She cries the easiest and she has never been able to hide any emotions or even lies from me.  She is not my poker face child.  She isn't a "fake it til you make it" girlie.  What she feels is what you get.  This trait sometimes annoys me.  I'm just being honest here.  I know that sounds bad.  But really.. about the third time she bursts into tears about something... anything and everything... I'm a bit drained and fried for that day. True story: She once cried because the spaghetti sauce was burned and we had to change what we were having for dinner.

She has also prayed for a little sister since the beginning of 2009 when we announced that we were going to start the process to adopt.  She has waited.. and faithfully prayed for this little sister that she just feels like she needs.  She held it together when we found out that Xander was coming (and was a boy.)  She melted down when she heard Solomon was a boy.  And I greatly feared her reaction to the news that our newest baby would be Isaiah and not the girl's name we picked out.  And yet she prays.. every night for this sister.  Some nights I can barely get the words "I love you" out of my mouth when I leave her bedroom after hearing her earnest prayer.  She leaves me speechless.

If I would have known, I would have videotaped her reaction to the news that Annalise was going to join our family.  I've never seen her eyes sparkle so bright.  Both of her dimples could be easily seen and she had a smile that couldn't have been scrubbed off with a Brillo pad. 

The way she touched the pink and purple baby girl clothes we gathered... the way she squealed with delight when we named her soon to be baby sister "Annalise."  The way she declared it the "Most beautifulest name on earth, EVER."  These are all memories that come rushing back and can cause my eyes to leak waterfalls in the middle of wherever I am when they hit.

My girl was on Cloud 9.

And her reaction when we told the children that Annalise was not ours and would not be coming home is etched just as deeply on my heart.  She sobbed.  She collapsed on the floor.  And she declared, "But I love her and I want her to be with us!  And I want a baby sister! I prayed that!!!!"

I had to walk out of the room and let her Daddy pick up the pieces and right her world because I too wanted all that and I felt it too.  Over the now years (can you believe it has been 2 years this month?)  she has still prayed for "her Annalise."  Some days Annalise comes up, sometimes Annalise is just under the surface as my Julianne trudges through her day and some days the heartache of Annalise is tucked deep in her soul.

It's not been an easy road to walk.  One day I stood at the stove and Julianne asked me if we could pray that God would put a baby girl in my tummy and then we could name her Annalise and we would, indeed, have an Annalise.  Our eggs nearly burned because I couldn't see through the tears.

Then Isaiah was born and came home.  And the time between each Annalise mention started to stretch out longer and longer.

Still though, when she does come up, it takes my breath.  I've accidentally opened the box with her things a few times in the moving process.  I still can't go through them.  They are all still boxed exactly the way Brandon packaged them for me. 

So fast foward to this past Sunday.  We were in the van and my girl was looking out the window with her curls blowing all around from the strength of the van's air conditioning.  I could see the wheels turning in the backseat, but didn't want to pry.

We ran a few errands and then from the very, very back of my van, I heard a little voice.   She asked me to change the CD out.  She asked for a certain CD to be played. It's our Children of the World CD and I bought it when they came to our church.  The CD table was right next to the sponsorship displays. 

I happily put the CD in for her.

And she sang a few songs and then stopped in the middle of a song.  Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, "MOMMY!  I miss Annalise!  I mean, I know that I never got to meet her, but I miss her.  I want a little sister soooooooooooooo bad!"

I blinked away tears at that intersection.  And then put on my sunglasses and drove on.  I told her I was so sorry.. but that adopting Annalise didn't work out and that I knew God had a plan.

And then I sat at the next intersection having a silent conversation with God. 

It went a little like this:

"God, I know You called us to step out in faith with that adoption.  I KNOW it.  And we answered the call and it didn't happen. It didn't work out.  We were hurt so badly.. and we still are hurting.  The Word says that YOU have a plan for all of this.  My brain KNOWS that is what it says.  So that is what I told her.  But could You do SOMETHING? Please?  She so desperately wants to see You in this. Could You do something, anything?  Help me build her faith.  To be honest, I've been walking a road repeating the truth to myself too, but I just want to see You in this!  Help me! Show me this wasn't all for nothing!" 

And oh boy did the tears flow.  I hadn't prayed a flowery, poetic prayer.  It was a desperate prayer from a confused mama that wanted to make everything better for Julianne.  I needed a little closure.

We finished our shopping and came home.  I never said anything about our conversation or my prayer to anyone.. not even Brandon.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon, I'm getting ready to go to a plastic surgery appointment and my phone indicated I had a Facebook message.  I was running late, but felt I had to read it right then.  

Here is the message from a dear friend and Christian sister:  

We went to church last night to hear about our pastor's trip to Colombia with Compassion a few weeks ago. After, we had the opportunity to be the first to sponsor kids from a new project. The rest will be opened up to WMHK listeners tomorrow. So, Kevin and I talked a little about it, that we wanted to sponsor a little girl, probably around Ruth's age. (later we decided on another boy too) So, I went over to the table with all the packets out, and just started scanning. It was so hard to decide! There was one little girl, not anything special jumped out, except her name. Close to my Anna, but not. I kept thinking that it was a silly way to choose, but The Lord wouldn't take her out of my mind. I thought maybe because her name was so similar, but I realized this morning what it was! Her name is Annelise- and it was YOUR little one that touched my heart so much. So, know that a little girl in Colombia, South America was sponsored last night, because of your willingness to adopt a special little girl here, in the US.


Meet Annelise: 

Tears instantly poured down my face.   And once again, I put my sunglasses on and drove down the road.  

I've been unable to tell Julianne about THIS Annelise and how God used our heartbreak.  Maybe I should  buy more tissues first.  Or maybe stock in a tissue company.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy NOT Back to School Day

Years ago now, I had a sweet 1st grader that was so sad that she wouldn't be taking part in the Back to School traditions.  She wanted something else. And thus, HappyNOT Back to School Day was born.  We try to do something that is harder to do in the summer or weekends because it is overrun by children.  One year we went to the Science Museum.

This year was a little harder, because Isaiah had an afternoon appointment.  I had some free movie tickets good for Disney or Pixar movies burning a hole in my pocket.  And so we decided to go see Planes.

We planned to buy the remaining tickets we needed at the child's price and use the free vouchers for ourselves and a couple children.  Turns out we had an even greater blessing in store.

The cashier at the ticketbooth gave us full credit for each ticket voucher we had.  So she took $12 off for each voucher instead of the actual cost of the tickets.  We tried to point out the difference but she insisted.  We paid $2 for the remaining tickets we needed. 

Then since it was Tuesday, they had a special on popcorn.  Instead of taking the discount on the smallest bag of popcorn, the concession worker took it off the largest one that qualified for free refills.

And thus "Happy NOT Back to School Day" was much nicer on our budget.

Funny story:  So many people assume that our family spends the majority of our time together because Brandon and I force the children to do so.  Actually, it is quite opposite.  YES, we strive to spend time together.  Brandon and I strive to be the main "input" for our children.  But they all have opportunities to fly a bit further than the nest.

And yet, often times they choose not to.  Because we do spend so much time together, my children are each other's best friends.  They make friends easily, but really prefer to play with each other.

So here is an example:  We gave the girls free run of the theater, afterall we had a private showing.  "You can sit anywhere you'd like.  "Here is your tray of popcorn, go choose a seat," I said.

And yet.. this is where they chose to sit:

The empty seat on the left side of the picture is mine.  Followed by Xander, Brandon and Isaiah and then Solomon.

If you are a parent reading, I encourage you to allow your children to be friends and not just siblings.  We have our share of fights and disagreements among the children, but don't believe the lie that siblings have to hate each other.  The other lie I encourage you not to believe is that no matter what your children will always want to be far, far away from you unless you are a pushover parent or overly controlling.  Brandon and I are by no means "pushover parents." In fact, some consider us to be very "strict" parents and yet we are not overly controlling either.  And yet.. my birdies still love their nest.