Thursday, March 29, 2012

How We Plan to Manage with Only 2 Fingers

Call me an eternal optimist or maybe naive, but I am always a bit flabbergasted by the negative reactions people have to different situations.  I think I notice it most with adoption stuff maybe just because I am more prepared to hear negative comments in regards to that.  I don't know.  We've never really had an overt, negative comment.  But what we do get are questions, often with some implied negatives.  Things like "Who does their hair?  It must take hours."  (Nothing wrong with the question or assuming it must be a time consuming process but it does come from the slant that assumes I would not know how to do it.  And I realize most of the questions like this are more about people being curious than negative or mean.  But it does get a little old, answering the same questions over and over when they all have an underlying negative vibe.)

More recently, if someone knows Zeke has different hands than the recent of us, I have heard "Wow!  How will you manage?"  (Again, I'm not really offended.  I just think it's kind of an odd question.)  I think that one probably gets me more than others because it's not like he is the only child in the world who is missing a hand and has limited usage of his fingers.  I usually just say some quick response like "I'm sure we'll be just fine.  Kids are pretty adaptable and it's the only way he's ever known."  I'm guessing most people who ask that haven't really thought their question through because I seriously doubt that they think he will just sit around and be a bump on a log because he's missing a hand/fingers.

That said, for those who have wondered, there are plenty of people who have gone before us.  (And plenty who will go after.)  And some of those who have gone before us are willing to share just how they do things.  So here you go, two of my favorite blogs which are full of ideas and inspiration for people whose hands work differently than the rest of us:  Living One Handed and My Special Hand.  From shooting a basketball to using scissors to playing with legos, all sorts of creative and ingenious ways to problem solve.  (And can't I say how hopeful I am that Zeke will be an amazing problemsolver simply because his hands force him to be.  What an amazing thing, to have weaknesses become strengths because they force you to look at life differently.)  Anyway, the blogs are well worth a peek if you've ever wondered how that guy who has no hand does that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Overheard this week.

"I prayed to God about walking on water.  But He's not letting me do that."  (Kenson)

"Did you know Matt (the goalie for D's soccer team) wears mittens?"  (Kenson) Shall we burst his bubble and tell him that they are normally called gloves?

"Let's pretend this baby needs a family so we will pray to see if God will let us adopt it."  (Conleigh)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do I Look Suspicious to You?

I'm guessing most everyone has heard the Trayvon Martin story as it has been front and center in the news the last few days.  The basic jist is 17 year old Martin, who is black, was walking home from a convenience store when he was spotted by a man connected to a neighborhood watch group.  The man (who is 1/2 white and 1/2 Hispanic) called 911 because he thought the boy looked suspicious, was told not to follow him but did anyway, and ended up shooting the boy.

As the mom of a little boy who will grow up to be a young black man, I think this situation hits close to home.  Will my kid be assumed to be up to no good because he is a black teen?  I am fully aware that being a male teen also may create that situation but there is always the nagging question of race when it comes to things like this.  And unfortunately, I have heard several people share stories of times when their black child was viewed in this way.  It also saddens me that I will probably have to have conversations with my son like the ones featured in a recent Time post, ones that encourage him to be aware of his surroundings, to consider what to do if he is feeling threatened simply because he is black.

A viral campaign of sorts is being launched that encourages people to think beyond someone's appearance and I'm stepping up to the plate.  Here's my post:

I'm 5.  Actually 5 1/2.
Right now, I like football and soccer and dinosaurs.
When I grow up, I'm going to be a football player, soccer player, teacher or a person who helps kids without families find families.
But not a firefighter because that's too scary.
Right now, I'm little.
But someday I will be big.  (Probably really big because I'm very tall.)
And someday someone may see me as suspicious.
Do I look suspicious to you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Where is my Energy Invested?

Right now I am working at what feels like 500 bazillion projects at one time.

-Construction has started on our new house and we are kind of at the end of sorting out the specifics for it but I think I am realizing that once you get to this point, it's a lot of thinking and rethinking because you want to make sure you don't overlook anything.
-Our adoption dossier is pretty much done; we are just waiting for immigration to fingerprint us.
-D is the personal representative for his grandmother's estate and we have an offer on her house which we (the estate) have accepted but we now are waiting on inspections.
-My kids have been sick.  Not sick like laying around doing nothing sick but a couple cases of strep, some puking, and now a cough for Kenson.
-Soccer games have started so we now have 2-3 nights a week where D is gone all night.
-Our taxes from last year are still be examined by the IRS and we have now requested a tax advocate because the IRS keeps losing our documentation for the adoption tax credit.
-Taxes for 2011 will soon be due.
-It is time to start planning the MOPS ministry for next year.
-We are still waiting to have our new construction loan formally approved.  I will feel a lot better about thing if that is done.
-We need to be thinking about getting our current house back on the market and sold which means we need to do some repairs and to figure out how we are going to price this so it sells.

We just spent a wonderfully relaxing weekend at a local hotel with an indoor water park but now it's time to jump back into the fire.  Lots going on!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Conleigh and Nick

Conleigh is continuing to hold tightly to her future plans with Nick.  It is so hard not to chuckle when she says things like "I miss Nick today.   I even cried a little in the bathroom."  (Said with this incredibly dramatic sigh.  It should be noted that she has not seen him since Friday since we were out of town this weekend and she didn't get to see him at church on Sunday .)  She also informed me today that when she is big, she will sit in the yes driving seat in the car and Nick will sit in the no driving spot of the car because she really wants to drive.  And about a week ago, she was quizzed about her friendship with Nick and asked about where they will live.  She held fast to the plans to live in Africa but added "Nick and I decided Africa because he likes to fight alligators."  In the same conversation she also informed the group that when she and Nick have a baby, they will name it Pedro.  (No small coincidence that we were visiting friends who have a dog named Pedro.)  Of course this week, she also told me that they were going to have two kids:  a pink kid and a green kid which makes me really wonder what she thinks about racial identity and skin color but I'm sure that's a whole 'nother post.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Moved-More Thoughts on KONY 2012

So a few days a go, I wrote a post on KONY 2012.  The Kony discussion is still going round.  (Check out Rage Against the Minivan and Jen Hatmaker.)  I do have to wonder if all the Kony talk will soon start to fade into the background, to just become a video people once watched, a controversy once created.

I often am intrigued by the way we get fired up, angry or righteously indignant over injustice by then silently slip back into the world we live in where such inequalities are absent.  I know it's easy for me to do.  It is just so easy to harden your heart to the homeless guy or to ignore a friend's email about a family in need or to feel badly yet remain unmoved by the plight of Haitians who have spent 2 years living in tents since the earthquake.

I'm sure there are thousands of reason why people don't do more.  No time, no money, no ability to feel like you can really solve the problems.  The go with the flow factor, the it's just easier factor, the but I'm not sure if my money will be used correctly factor.

All of those are somewhat valid concerns.  We should strive to be good stewards of our time and talents and treasures.  That said, let me challenge you a bit with the concept of a good steward.

What if God's view of stewardship is not based on success or failure?

I fear we as Americans can let our desire to do things perfectly paralyze our ability to act.  We worry about if our time and money will be well invested and so we research and wonder and wait for the just right moment which may or may not ever come.  I'm not saying don't think through who you invest in.  I'm not saying be foolhardy.  I'm just saying maybe we need to quit nitpicking things to death.

Like the KONY campaign.

Do I believe Kony should be stopped?  Of course.  Am I sold on American military intervention as the way do do so?  No.  Do I think it is beneficial for people to act like those behind the Kony campaign should not do something because they are white and it might appear like they are the good guys riding in to rescue the brown people?  Um, no because that's about the most ridiculous thing I've every heard.  Do I think the people of Africa need to be the main impetus behind what happens?  Yes.  Am I completely convinced that the Invisible People group is using its money in the most efficient ways possible?  No.  Do I think the majority of large groups, especially those that are very public, have trouble ensuring that the money is used effectively?  Yes.

But mostly what I believe is that when it comes to being invested in the lives of the marginalized, we need to stop with the fault finding and get busy doing something.  Serving out of love is not something that will appear in a nice neat package with a perfectly tied bow.  It will involve mistakes and missteps and the misuse of money.

I can't help but think about the parable of the three servants who were given talents by their master.  Each one was entrusted with this wealth was the master was away.  Two servant invested it and were able to share the profit with their master.  But one servant buried it because he was afraid of losing it as his master was a hard man.

Did you hear those words?

He was so afraid of it being lost, of the possibility that it would be misused and not make any gains, that he buried it.

He buried it...  And was then called a wicked servant by the master.

For a long time, this story bugged me.  I mean, what is so wrong with wanting to make sure you don't lose the money?  Isn't it good to be cautious and careful?  And that is where God's economy differs from mine.  I want results.  I want to have a profitable investment.  But what if, in some situations, God is asking us to give not because of the end product but because of what the process of giving does for our heart?

I'll end with some words from Jen Hatmaker.

"When it is all said and done, when my grandchildren read about Joseph Kony and eleven-year-old sex slaves in Haiti and children sleeping on the streets in Ethiopia and foster kids in their fifteen home, and they say, “What did you do about all these tragedies?”

I am not going to say, “Well, I didn’t want to be labeled a white supremacist, so I wrote mean blogs about folks who threw their hat in the ring.”

I am not going to say, “It was complicated. So I didn’t do anything.”

I am not going to say, “People were extremely critical back then. It was PR suicide to engage difficult issues. I remained troubled but silent on the sidelines. I cared in my mind.”

I am not going to say, “I researched and debated and read a lot of books and articles. I was very, very informed. Believe me, I understood the issues. I waxed very poetic about it all.”

I hope to say, “I joined the fight, because justice denied anywhere means justice denied everywhere. I jumped in, imperfectly, even though I knew critics would come out of the woodwork, questioning my motives and methods and ignorance and intentions. I decided to use my voice and my resources, because that could be my daughter and my sister and my community. That mother is me. Those children are you. I didn’t get it perfectly right. I couldn't address it all. I couldn't even address the entire scope of one problem. I didn’t change the whole world. But I moved.”"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hair Care Ebook...Hot off the Presses!

Just in case you missed it...

I've been hard at work trying to come with ways to add some income to our budget, especially as we have fees looming for Zeke's adoption.  What I decided was to create a one of a kind ebook that would help people sift through the vast amount of hair care information that was available on the Internet.

And so I created Things a Little Birdie Told Me:  A Compilation of Practical Advice for Curly Hair.

It is a 23 page ebook that features links, tricks that make hair time easier, the basic steps for braiding/detangling/establishing a hair care routine, etc..  I tried to take the best information I knew and combine it with the best tutorials online so the information would be in one place, where all you had to do was click to access the information.  The book is downloadable and printable as well.

I am teaming the ebook up with samples of my favorite hair products and handmade hair accessories to create my Curly Girlies kits.  These Curly Girlies kits would be a great way to sample products and dip your toes into the world of ethnic hair care.  Or they would make a great adoption gift for someone welcoming home a curly haired brown or black baby.  I'm always happy to customize kits so the sky is really the limit in terms of adding more hair accessories like sleep caps or headbands, making a kit for a boy, or buying a kit for an infant with infant themed products.

Both the book and the kits are available for purchase via my etsy store:  Mustard Seed Creations.

Tags:  how to do black hair, how to do African American hair, how to do ethnic hair, caring for black baby hair, caring for black child's hair, tutorials for ethnic hair, tutorials for black hair, black children's hair, caring for biracial hair, how to do biracial hair

What I've Been Reading

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis-story of a girl who moved to Uganda at age 19 to work with the least of these and the unlikely path she took to motherhood, corresponds with her blog

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana:  Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon-great perspective on modern Afghanistan, a true story of women who banded together to run home based businesses after the Taliban took over

Seven:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker-still reading it, I really like her conversational format as well as the challenge to consider how our excess keeps us from fellowship with God, she used her experiment as a way to find out what would happen if she only ate 7 foods for a month, wore 7 piece of clothing for a month, etc.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

KONY 2012-A Response

If you are on Facebook (or if you are on any social media), you know there some buzz about KONY 2012.   Maybe you've taken the time to click on some links but you didn't really read the whole story.  Or maybe you just ignored it because you didn't have time and didn't really care what it was about.  I've actually kind of been ignoring it for the last few days.  I finally had a bit of time to sit down and listen.  

It's compelling in that the idea is simple:  use social media as a way to force change in places where justice is hard to come by.  It's saying that if we are assertive enough, aggressive enough, creative enough, we can create narratives that will cause people to demand social change specifically in the area of foreign affairs.  

The general jist is this:  Joseph Kony is a brutal guy, a guy who has turned Uganda's civil strife into an opportunity to grab power by raping, murdering, and kidnapping tens of thousands of people.  The video specifically focuses on the children in Uganda who are turned into soldiers to do Kony's bidding.   Kids exist in a crazy survival mode where killing is normal and where there seems to be little hope.  By documenting these "invisible children", the campaign hopes to raise awareness of Kony's atrocities and to demand that he be stopped.

Let me be clear when I say I am generally all for anything that gets people to live outside of their own little worlds.   I really can't say that the Kony campaign is right or wrong.   And I certainly can't speak to the concerns that have been raised about the financial transparency and accountability of the campaign.  

What I can speak to is this:  the filmmaker is right that where you live should not determine whether you live or die.  And Kony is just the tip of the iceberg.   From Liberia to the Sudan to the sex trade in Asia to the drug cartels in Central America from the religious zealots declaring a holy war on all things Western, people all over the world exploit others and are very good at exploiting children.  And we as Americans are very good at ignoring it. We are very good at making people invisible.  At pretending we don't see.  At pretending we can't possibly affect change so why try.  At pretending that if we don't read or look or pay attention, that then we are perhaps not culpable in the tragedies that happen to others.

I really liked the words from the Give Well blog.  "Joseph Kony has committed atrocities that make me furious. But malaria makes me angrier. Why? Because malaria deaths really do happen just because Americans don’t care enough."    Malaria is just one of many killers like this.  HIV.  Cholera.  TB.  All preventable, able to be essentially eradicated or managed, yet still here.

A few facts:

20% of all childhood deaths in Africa are from malaria.  

Every 30 seconds, a child dies from malaria.

1 million people die each year because of malaria.

4, 700 people die each day from TB.

The incidents of TB are essentially isolated with 80% of all TB cases worldwide occurring in just 22 countries.

1.8 million people die each year from HIV/AIDS.

HIV is very treatable but only 47% of people worldwide who are eligible for treatment are actually receiving treatment.

Over 100, 000 people die each year from cholera which is basically an issue of clean water and sanitation.

(All stats from the World Heath Organization -

And that does not even take into account the number of children each year who are abused or neglected, who were born into countries where no child welfare safety net exists and the vast majority of cases are never even investigated.  Just this week, a group we support in Haiti shared that they are treating a little boy who has cerebral palsy who was eaten by a pig.  The boy had been left alone in his home.  A pig came into the home, the boy is unable to move well (or at all), and the pig bit him.  And my heart will probably forever be sad when I think about Alyssa, a little girl from Conleigh's orphanage who was abandoned in the dirt by her mother and died.  A little girl who had come back from the brink of death  only to be left to die alone with the ants.

I guess I just have a heart that wishes people would care more.  That it would not take a viral video for people to choose to care.  We as Americans have to be careful not to think we can save the world or fix the world or to buy into the idea that we have all the answers.  And we have to be careful not to paint people so broadly that it leaves the perspective that all people in Africa (or whatever country/continent) are too dumb to solve their own problems, are too corrupt to be of any help, are too hopeless and paralyzed by this despair to make progress. In regards to the Kony project, there are Africans who have voiced their concerns over these very issues.  '“It simplifies the story of millions of people in northern Uganda and makes out a narrative that is often hard about Africa, about how hopeless people are in times of conflict,” Kagumire said of the Kony 2012 video. “If you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless, you have no space telling my story, you shouldn’t be telling my story.” '  (from

That said, I choose to end by believing that we can use our resources (time, talent, and treasures) to improve the lives of others...step out, take a risk, choose to see the invisible.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Killing two birds with one stone so to speak...

I've had two posts that were pretty unrelated rattling around in my brain:  one on how blessed we as a family have been by the people who cared for our kids in their infancies and toddlerhoods and one on some of the interesting things I've read lately.

Then I read this today (Cries in the Night from No Hands But Ours) and it combines both.

I especially liked these words "Lord, how blessed we are because of this woman. It is no small thing to receive a child who is so ready to be loved and comforted and touched and held. She gave us that gift."

I am the mom of two kids who were loved well before they knew me as a mom.  We've, of course, had grief and anger from our kids but that is a great testament to those who came before us.  My kids were borne into my arms knowing how to love and trust, knowing how to giggle and laugh, knowing how to hug and kiss, all while missing a life that was good but a life that was still not a family.  That is one of the biggest blessings I have received.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tagged by Kathy

My friend, Kathy, tagged me a few days ago.  The rules of the tag involved answering 11 questions that she posted and then tagging 11 people and asking them to answer your 11 questions.  

Here are my answers:

1. What did you plan to be when you grew up and how does that compare to your reality?
I spent most of my childhood being either a teacher or a librarian.  I am now a stay at home mom who has a bachelor's in elementary education and a master's in literacy.  I substitute at our local elementary and middle school.

2. How many children did you plan to have and how many do you have?
I don't know that I ever had a number in mind.  At one point, before we ere married, my husband and I said 4.  We currently have 2 with one on the way and I'm pretty sure we're not done.

3. How many times did you say "We're done" only to add another child?
None because we have yet to say 'we're done."

4. Adoptive parents: What prompts you to adopt? Do you fall in love with a picture first?
I am someone who thinks a picture can be a very powerful motivator.  With Kenson, I was unsure about selecting a child from a photo and was hoping to have the facilitator match us.  It just felt weird.  But D was very certain about him based on his picture and because Kenson shares a birthdate with me.  With Conleigh, someone was advocating for her on a yahoo discussion board.  We did see a picture before saying yes but I think we both felt like we were probably going to say yes before we got the picture.  With Zeke, we were thinking we would try to find a child off of a photolisting but we knew that we only had about 2 months to do so before we would have to choose an agency and be committed to that agency's photolisting or having that agency send us a referral.  We ended up finding Zeke based on his special need and an outdated photo.  D said to me later that the thought of having someone else choose our child just didn't seem like a good fit for us.  We have inquired about many more children than the ones we've adopted.  (Oh I wish I knew how many.  Thanujah, Pushpuraj, Shawnay, Pauline, Talia, Calvin, Baby E, Baby ?, Annelise, another Baby ?.  All of those were kids whose photos caught my eye.)

5. What Bible character do you relate to the most?
Eeek....not sure.  As a woman, I find it hard to choose from the smallish list of women in the Bible.  (As compared to the number of male characters.)  It's too hard for me to feel like on one of the male characters, I think.  At different times, I've related to different women not because I always embodied that but because you aspire to that:  Lydia because she comes off as strong, capable, and assertive; Lot's wife because it is easy for me to overthink and be distracted; Deborah because she was wise; Martha because she was task oriented; Martha's sister, Mary, because she loved to be where Jesus was...

6. If you could be one person in history, who would you be? Why?
I enjoy history a lot and love to read historical fiction so this is one of those questions that could have endless answers.   I also recognize that its very easy to romanticize life long ago and that I would probably not last too if I had to go back in time because I'm kind of a wimp.  Tops on my list as people who I'd like to be (or maybe just meet) would be Eleanor Roosevelt (such a forward thinking social justice inspired woman), Laura Ingalls Wilder (her stories of her childhood are just great), and Abraham Lincoln (kind of an enigma of a man in a lot of ways, great success but also a lot of what looks like failure).

7. What one book besides the Bible has impacted your life the most?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers was a powerful read to me as it taught me a lot about how God pursues me and how often I run away.  Other books I've learned a lot from include In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, What's so Amazing about Grace?, and Max Lucado's books.  As a kid, books probably were my bestest friends so in a lot of ways anything I read in elementary probably really encouraged me.

8. What have you always wanted to do that you haven't yet done? Do you plan to do it?
I would love to be involved on a regular basis with mission work in Haiti.  I do not know if that's something that will happen or not as that's up to God.  I also would love to take my kids somewhere on a big vacation like Disney; again, I don't know.  I actually started to plan a Disney vacation but then adoption interrupted so that's on the backburner.

9. If you were writing the story of you life, the title would be:
Crap!  Before I had kids, I actually had a title all worked out.  And now I can't remember it!  It was something catchy about whining, making mistakes, and complaining.  Update:  I wrote this on Saturday.  It's now Thursday and I remember!  Temper Tantrums, Pity Parties and Other Bad Behavior:  Being Transformed One Moment at a Time.

10. What's your best piece of advice for other parents?
Flexible structure...  And you are not a parenting genius and should not be discouraged by that.  It is God alone, at work in you, who does the good, the healing, the teaching, the loving.  He will give you what you need for each situation you are faced with.

11. If you could change one thing in your life/past, what would it be?
I really don't have anything I would change.  I'm kind of a believer in God using the mistakes you have made to shape you as well as a person who believes you only get one chance on this earth so you need to do all that you want to do and live without regret.   I suppose if I had to pick something, it would be something about loving D's grandma better.  As someone who married into a relationship with her, I found it a challenge to love her unconditionally.  I do think I loved her well but I often wonder if I did a good enough job of being Jesus to her.

Now I'm going to break the rules.  Many of my blogging buddies have stopped blogging so I can't say I have a large circle of friends who blog.  So instead of tagging individuals, I'm tagging everyone.  That means you're it.   Leave me a comment about one or more of the questions below and then feel free to continue the tag on your blog if you're so inclined.ite tv show or movie.  
What is the most interesting or unusual part of your life story?

If you could fix any situation by waving your magic wand, what situation would you fix?

What was your first car?

When you were a senior in high school, what big plans did you have for your life?  How does that compare to now?

What color is your living room?  Your bedroom?  Your kitchen?  Are you addicted to color or do you prefer neutrals?  (Can you tell I'm still thinking about paint colors?)

What talent do you not have that you really wish you did have?

What household task do you like most?  What household task to you like least?

What is the most unique thing you have ever eaten?

Ice cream, cake or something else?  What's the best part of a birthday treat?

If _____________________ were a crime, what thing would you probably be sentenced to prison for?

Favorite tv show or movie?