FOREVER MOM giveaway!


Just wanted you all to know that Lisa Qualls of One Thankful Mom is doing a giveaway of Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting over on her blog this week. She’s also sharing her impressions of the book, so if you’d like a free copy, go sign up for the giveaway and read what Lisa has to say about it. And remember that if you buy a copy of FOREVER MOM anytime between now and November 4th,  and want the freebies described below, just send proof of purchase (ie- receipt, order confirmation, etc) to ForeverMomBook@gmail.com, and the package below will be emailed to you.
preorder-banner

 

Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting (and free wall art)

preorder-banner

My new book!

I wanted to tell those of you who are interested a little about my latest book Forever Mom: What to Expect When You’re Adopting.  It is coming out on October 28th, and I must confess to a crazy mix of excitement and tremulous nerves about this book.  My greatest longing is that it will encourage and equip moms along this adoptive parenting journey.

This book is very vulnerable, a true window into my heart as an adoptive mom.  There’s been so much joy– adoption is an incredible gift– but also much struggle, much lurking fear that I wasn’t doing this hard job well enough. But praise God, He’s been strengthening and growing me all the way. Even as I wrote about our journey, God was gifting me with more growth, more compassion for my precious ones, and a greater ability to more clearly see my own personal ‘stuck’ points. I’ve come to a much better place as a mom, better at releasing my desire to control outcomes and speed healing and growth, instead leaning on God’s providence in my kids’ lives as well as my own. But wow, it has been a long hard path. I hope that sharing my struggle will help other moms know they’re not alone, and that there is a way through difficult waters.

If adoption is a topic that interests you or you’d like to read more of our story, I hope you might consider pre-ordering Forever Mom?  If you know me, you know I feel really funny about doing the pushy sales-person thing. But in the publishing world, all pre-release sales on amazon are counted as first-day sales of a book. It really helps a book gain more attention (and more orders in stores and from libraries) if those first-day sales are strong.  I’d love for this book to be widely available to prepare moms before adoption and to come alongside mommas who may be struggling, letting them know they’re not alone.

And here’s some really fun news– everyone who buys Forever Mom before November 4th gets some neat freebies!

  • Freebie#1– A little e-book I’ve written called ’50 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know’
  • Freebie #2- 8 custom Forever Mom downloadable prints for framing  (see samples below)
  • Freebie#3- all 8 of those same custom prints as phone lock screens/screensavers!

To get those freebies, just send proof of purchase (ie- receipt, order confirmation, etc) to ForeverMomBook@gmail.com, and the free package will be emailed to you.

Here are some additional ways to support this book:

  • Mention FOREVER MOM on facebook or your blog
  • Pin this post on Pinterest, mentioning the freebie
  • Request FOREVER MOM from your local library
  • Give it as a gift to adoptive families that you know

Feel free also to share the video and graphics below, either on your blog, pinterest, or on facebook.  Thanks so much for your support!!

Remind them how precious they are

 

 

FM_Lock_growing

 

Back home again

OH my goodness. I am so very out of it, people.  I feel like I haven’t been here on the blog forever.  I have NO frugal things to tell you about, no recipes to share, no wise thoughts.  So I think I’ll just catch you up on what’s been keeping me so darned busy.

I mentioned that last weekend I went to a retreat in the Seattle area, a lovely precious time. It was so wonderful, in fact, that I felt intimidated, expectation-wise, about the retreat I’ve been planning for some other adoptive moms in McCall. The Seattle retreat was very low key.  No real agenda except fellowship, conversation, and a few times of Bible study.  It was just wonderful, so relaxing.

I had been planning my retreat in McCall to be more structured, since I’d been planning to share some DVD’s from the Created for Care conference that I attended in Atlanta last spring.  And, frankly, there was this tiny fear that I’d get all these lovely people gathered together, and then have no idea what to do with them. That they’d stand around bored, making stilted, polite conversation, the kind that happens in a room full of strangers.  Which they mostly were, before this weekend. So my subconscious thought was to keep them busy.

When I came back from the awesome retreat in Seattle, I decided McCall needed more empty space, more time just to BE.  I ended up sharing just three DVD’s.  The rest of the time was free for visiting and talking.  And, praise the Lord, my worrying about them not enjoying the time was totally unfounded.  The talking started instantly and never let up the whole weekend. Very little sleep was had, but, oh, the conversations we had. It was just a constant roar all over the house.  SO rich.  So good.

I felt almost apologetic interrupting those conversations to gather everyone together for the DVD’s.  But it turned out that those were appreciated as well; talking together on the last day many moms mentioned good tidbits they’d gleaned from the DVD presentations.  I really should not have worried.  They were a really, really neat group of ladies.  And God was obviously right there in the midst of us, personally meeting our needs in such encouraging ways.   I am so thankful to have gotten to know each of these ladies better.   And if you can believe it, this group of 21 ladies has a combined total of 102 children.  Neat, huh?

These mommas represent a combined total of 102 children!

As you can see in the photo, there were also three infants in attendance, who did a great job tolerating our noise and managed to sleep and nap OK in the midst of it all.  The house where we stayed turned out to be really neat too. Here’s a link if you’re interested– I’d highly recommend it for anyone planning a retreat for up to 30 or so people.

My wonderful husband John came along, and did a TON of work in the kitchen so that I could really just sit and visit and enjoy the retreat myself as well.  Due to the late nights, I suspect that nobody went home very well rested.  But we had a really great time getting to know each other.  Such a blessing.

I hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule this week.  I have some Stitch Fix clothes to tell you about, and a recipe to share.  I also really need to get back to my old frugal ways.  Being crazy-busy is just not very conducive to thoughtful spending, ya know?  Hope you had a good weekend and are doing well!

down from the mountain

Water

blessed space

blessed space

I had the great and delightful privilege of spending last weekend on Puget Sound with a handful of mommas whose hearts and greatest challenges and greatest loves in life are similar to mine.   We laughed and cried and prayed for each other and encouraged each other and took walks together and sat around a campfire hoping the next door neighbor boys wouldn’t go skinny-dipping again.  And talked some more, and did Bible studies together, and basically ended up feeling like we’d all be best friends for life.  It really couldn’t have been a more delightful weekend.

But the thing I brought away that is more valuable even than that awesome sense of community, is what I came away deeply knowing about God.  That in all the challenges and trials of my life, no matter how deeply humbling, no matter how hard, He truly is sovereign, and He’s good, and He loves me with an everlasting love.

So often I take it upon myself to be the problem-solver, the mover, the shaker, the do-er.  And then when things don’t go my way, it’s easy to flounder, to feel inadequate, to fear that if only I could do a better job of figuring out this thing called life, that I and my family would all be living in this perfect tranquil place that looks a lot like the picture at the top of the page.

Except really God has called us to rest, to abide in him right in the middle of the storm.  To keep our eyes fixed on Him. And then to point our loved ones to that perfect Place of rest that is Jesus.  The One who is constant whether I’m sitting on a sunny deck surrounded by quiet and sunshine and precious friends and miles and miles of water, or scurrying around in my kitchen cooking dinner while the dog whines and the kids argue and we need to be in the car in 10 minutes in order to get to that soccer game on time.

A peaceful weekend is a short-term gift, no matter how wonderful.  Being equipped to rest more fully in the true peace that  is in Jesus– that gift is priceless indeed.

on the water

Buy a sweet treat and support adoption

This post was sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Wendy's coupon books are here!

Wendy’s coupon books are here!

I have something really fun to tell you about this week. Every year, Wendy’s sells Halloween Frosty™ Coupon Books and gives $3 million of the profit to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Not only is this a great cause, but the coupon book is only $1 for 5 free Jr. Frosty coupons (at participating Wendy’s for a limited time). Talk about a sweet deal.

Wendys2The coupons are on sale during October  (get yours quick before they run out!)  and they’re good from November 1st to February 1st. This means they’d be awesome for all sorts of fall and winter giveaways.  Halloween is an obvious time where it’d be easy to give them away.  (Parents, don’t be surprised if they show up in some of your kids’ Halloween treat buckets!)   But I also think they’d be great to stick in a card as part of a birthday gift, or even in a Christmas stocking.  Who wouldn’t want a free Frosty?

The best thing is that this promotion benefits adoption from foster care, a cause that was very near and dear to the founder of Wendy’s since he was an adoptee himself.  My adopted kids came via international adoption, but this weekend I had the chance to visit with ladies whose kids were adopted out of foster care.  The need is absolutely tremendous, and the really wonderful thing is that adoption from foster care is a very affordable option. Click here to read more about the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.

If you have a heart for adoption, I hope you’ll consider buying some of these coupon books for your gift-giving needs.  I’d also love it if you’d share this post on facebook or twitter by clicking the social media buttons below this post.  Kids need families. Wendy’s is committed to helping this very important cause.  And thanks to Wendy’s Frosty coupons, you can help too.

Learn more about how Wendy’s supports foster care adoption.

 

Being Real

Gathering

I’m preparing for a couple of different get-aways during October. I already mentioned the adoptive momma retreat that I’m planning locally, which I hope is going to bless the mommas attending. I’ve also been invited to attend a different adoption retreat in Seattle soon, also quite small and intimate. At each retreat there are mommas I’ve known for awhile, and others I’ll be meeting for the first time. But we all have adoption as a common thread. I’m looking forward to curling up on couches with hot drinks, sharing stories and hearing stories, and being encouraged.

My prayer for both events is that God will move powerfully and personally in the lives of each attendee. That He will speak the words each woman needs to hear. That we will leave the event, each having encouraged someone else and each having been encouraged herself.

But about that encouragement thing.  How do we best give it?  Receive it?

When preparing for a gathering with other women, it can be easy and tempting to pack our bags with our cutest (thinnest? most flattering?) items of clothing.  To do our nails and get fresh haircuts.  To dust off our happiest stories and our proudest moments, prepared to smile and show the bits of our lives that look most pulled together.

There’s nothing at all wrong with sharing happy stories.  They’re tremendously powerful and we all need to hear them.  But I’ve found that equally powerful moments in relationship — moments when encouragement is just as rich and long-lasting– come when we are real about both the joy and the hard inherent in motherhood. When we’re brave enough to say that this part or that part of our life is a real struggle. When we admit how we don’t have it all figured out. Where we transparently share the real aches and the true sorrows that go hand in hand with the shining moments of joy.

When we share from the full range of our experience, we give each other a chance to say, ‘Me too.’  The stories of struggle reassure that quiet momma in the corner who wouldn’t bring up the topic on her own but fears she’s the only one struggling with that particular thing.  The stories of joy give hope that good moments are coming and remind us of joy we’ve maybe forgotten in our own lives.

So as I pull out my bags and prepare to head off for each of these weekends, along with my comfy yoga pants and my softest socks and my adoption-themed t-shirts– OK, and some cute clothes too–  I’m planning on bringing my real, honest, authentic struggling self.  Yes, there’s a bit of me that’s still tempted to only show the shiny side of my life.  That’s afraid being real will be too much for some.  But in my heart I believe that real community only happens in a spirit of honesty and truth.

Beth Guckenberger, at the Created for Care weekend I attended last spring, said, “May we be more real than impressive.”  To that I would add, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  (Col 3:14)  I think keeping those two things firmly in mind open us up to be encouraged by others and to be encouragers ourselves– to really grow in relationship and in community.  And that’s something I very much want.

~~~~~

And, remember, we encourage each other in tiny ways every single day:  Dear You…a letter for all of the hard days

My girl at 12

This girl of mine. I got a few pictures of her at her little niece Ali’s first birthday, and I just love how they capture her. She’s growing up on me lately– is only half an inch shorter than I am at barely 12. I think she’s going to be a tall lady. Two years of being an auntie have made her proficient at baby-handling. She just loves the little ones, and totes them around with assurance and joy.
Em and Ali

She’s also quick to clown around with her big brothers, will still play Barbies happily with her baby sis, and is overall just so much fun to have around. She’s one of those people who can converse graciously and happily with anyone, whether she knows them well or not at all. And she has the most humorous way of expressing astute observations about life and the people around her. She is a true natural people person.

Em and Daniel being silly

EmSpy
She’s becoming such a young lady.  She has definite opinions about fashion, and is beginning to experiment with her own hairstyles.  Lately she’s been wearing it down a lot, which I absolutely love, but didn’t do often in the past because it got so tangled.  But these days she can get the tangles out herself, so the style decisions are hers to make.  I adore the beautiful girl she’s always been, and am loving to see the wonderful woman she’s becoming.  What a blessing she is in all our lives!

Em with the kiddos

 

Why it (sometimes) doesn’t matter how you feel about your kids

The River

In the midst of the challenge of parenting many teens, inevitably there are moments where my kids see me as enemy number one, the  one thwarting their dearest-held wishes. Moments like these frustrate me as much as they frustrate them.  I want them to be happy and to grow in wisdom, and to never doubt my love for them.  I do my best to make decisions with those goals in mind.  (OK, sometimes I want to stay home for an afternoon instead of running kids everywhere.) But the vast majority of my decisions truly are motivated by love, so it can be incredibly frustrating to be seen as the enemy.

There’ve been moments where I’ve outright told them that they’re not going to find a bigger fan on this earth.  That I’m ALWAYS on their side. Yeah, sometimes being on their side looks like making them sit next to me and talk through a confusing assignment when they’d rather go to bed.  Sometimes it means them having to dig through the pit on their bedroom floor before they can use the phone.  Or finishing their math before they can hang out with friends.  Which to a teen doesn’t feel like love.

And there lies the problem. It’s not enough for me to be certain of my intentions and feelings for them, and to be making decisions in love.  If I’m not loving them in ways that feel like love to THEM, it honestly doesn’t matter how much I love them. 

Now, don’t get me wrong;  most well-bonded, reasonably mature kids understand that moms make kids do un-fun stuff for their own good, because they love them.  But (adoptive momma alert here) kids from hard places often have a terrible time interpreting a mom’s less-than-fun decisions and actions as loving.

In seeking to love my kids well,  I can’t be a complete and utter push-over.  It’s good and needful for me as a mom to make my kids do chores and memorize times tables and wear seat-belts.  But at least part of the time (hopefully even a few times a day?) I also need to be loving each child in ways that make that particular kid feel loved.

For one of mine, it’s gummy bears. For another, it’s a cup of coffee, set down right next to that textbook.  For another, it’s being allowed to chat on the phone, a lot longer than I strictly think is needed. Another happily snuggles in next to me on the couch for little chats. Another likes to paint fingernails with me. Yet another grins when I playfully punch him in the ribs as I’m walking past.

Especially during the teen years, it can be very easy for the negative interactions to start to outweigh the positive.  I’ve found I need to be very observant and very intentional in fitting in positive interactions too, or it all goes downhill fast.

1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  I think especially when kids are struggling, they really need to see our actions, and so I’m always trying to add ideas to my repertoire. What does love in action look like at your house? I’d love to hear what actions make your children feel especially loved.

~~~

Additional reading

Love and gummy bears

Love Languages and Your Teen

 

 

What we’re reading

Books this year

Today I finally got all my planning done for the school year, including who gets the computers at what time, when the teens will be taking their science tests, and which books all the kids will be reading this year.  Our three teens, all juniors, have just one book a month of assigned reading, which they’ll read during the first two weeks of the month, then write about during the second half of the month.  In conjunction with that, we’re working our way through a world view book called The Eternal Argument.  They’re kinda yawning through this one so far, but I at least think it’s interesting.

Our 7th grader has three books a month of assigned reading.  I was going to have her also do some essay writing like she did last year, but after going through the bookshelves upstairs, I realized there are great quantities of wonderful books there that she’s never read. Since she has really taken off with her interest in reading lately, I decided to make it a reading year for her.  Plenty of time to work on more essay-writing for next year. My 4th grader, who still reads best when reading to me, has a book or two a month that we will work through together.

To make the books easier to find, I set all their books for the year together on one shelf. The teens are reading some of the same books, and some fairly deep ones, including the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and few others that are no slouch. One interesting new addition to our library is Worthless: The Young Person’s Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major. It is an uber-practical and irreverent look at selecting a college major that I have really been enjoying reading, and that I thought might give some guidance to the teens who don’t yet have a game plan post high school.We’ll see how it goes.

Books

One other new addition this year for the teens is a College Prep Genius program that we started last week.  It is proving to be absolutely excellent, and while (again) it’s not riveting to the teens, it is exceedingly practical.  Over and over while watching the DVD’s with them, I’ve said, ‘I didn’t know that!’  And these are not the first kids I’ve helped prep for SAT’s.  I think it will offer them some major help on the PSAT in October, and the SAT next year.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

That’s enough for tonight!  I’ll check in with you on Friday and tell you how I’m doing on my grocery savings challenge.

Book giveaway: Waking Up White


Later this week I’m going to answer some parenting-logistics questions that I’ve been asked lately– things like what we do about allowance, how old our kids have to be to babysit siblings, etc. If you happen to have questions about how we do things at our house, will you shoot them to me in comments? I’ll add those questions/answers to Wednesday’s post.

Today, however, I am giving away an intriguing book called Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.  She grew up in a privileged white community in the 60’s and 70’s, and realized well into adulthood that, first of all, she was so uncomfortable with race issues that she was often nervous talking with black folks, and second, that she desperately wanted to be the type of person who works to break down barriers, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

I think a lot of white people would like to think that racism is a thing of the past, that everyone plays on an even playing field these days.  But the more she explored this, the more she came to realize that’s just not true. It’s a proven fact that black boys get pulled over by police more often than white boys. White women still cross the street when black men walk by.  And black men have to dress much more neatly than average to go shopping at the mall without being covertly watched and sometimes even questioned by security people.

Chapter by chapter, the author shares her own personal journey of racial awakening– of really understanding the privilege she gained simply from being born into a white family.  She also came to realize that the reserve and politeness she learned from her family of origin, were sometimes causing her to avoid the kinds of deep conversations that might lead to understanding another person’s point of view, to really imagine life in their shoes.

She talked about the different values in different families, and how some of those values might add layers of complication to how we perceive folks.  For example, a student  she’d labeled difficult and distractible because of her tendency to leave her seat and go chat with other students turned out to be from a culture that highly valued cooperation.  The child was honestly trying to help other students out.

Another time the author realized she was inadvertently offending black associates by being too quick to call them by their first names instead of honoring them by saying Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones.  From her cultural standpoint, she saw it as a sign of friendliness. But many people, especially those growing up in the South, do not.

Yet another time she learned that calling a black person ‘articulate’  can be seen as an insult — a stinging jab often heard as ‘he’s unusual for a black person’– and not a true compliment at all.  Of course relationships between any humans can be complicated, even at their best.  But the overarching message of this book to me was how important it is to be honest and humble in our dealings with each other, to not assume that everyone is coming from the same frame of reference, and to be willing to hear and believe people telling you that life is very different for them than it may be for you.

As a mom to children born in several different countries, I read this book with interest and found it to be very worthwhile.  It left me with greater understanding and a renewed determination to be the type of person who builds bridges and grows relationships wherever I go.  As the author states in this book, we’re all different, but we all belong here.  We should treat each other as such.

If you would like to enter the drawing to win a copy of this book, comment below. I’d love to hear how you talk about race with your kids.  Do you encourage your kids to help all kids feel welcome in their classroom? How do you respond when your child points out someone of a different ethnic heritage in the grocery store?  If you are adoptive parent, how do you talk about race with your kids without leading them to expect bad treatment around every corner?

 

Splash

Related story:  Raising Black Kids in a ‘White’ State