Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Heart

8 months old

I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling especially tender about Samantha lately. More often, I'm stop in the middle of what I'm doing, think about what an angel she is, and I just tear up. It lasts a brief moment but it's happening often. If I didn't intentionally stop myself, I would be in full out cry mode all the time. And I really don't have time for that. I pray that this constant reminder of what a blessing Sammy is in my life is merely a time when I'm spiritually growing, becoming more connected in my life, recognizing my blessings....and not that I'm being prepared for something...something I don't want to think about. I think back to some very difficult times in her life...


Just out of surgery
Finally able to hold her

and I count our blessings. The truth is, as extremely difficult as it all was in the beginning, she has gotten easier over time. Things have just kind of evened out and hit a happy and welcomed lull. Her seizures, for the most part, are stable. Overall, as she has grown and matured, she has mellowed out. She really only cries when she's hurt or upset. And when she does cry, it's so sad  you can't help but join in. We definitely still have our concerns, but she is so pleasant and such a true joy to be around.
Doing well. Still swollen and hair already slowly coming in.

Those eyes


Here's the thing...and it's very simple. I am so blessed. When it comes to my children, I feel like I am so incredibly blessed...and it all began with Sammy. Her entry into the world wasn't an ideal start. In fact, it was rather emotionally traumatizing. But her life, her little spirit, has filled our home with so much love. I want to be a better person because of her. I want to make sure I'm always worthy to be by her side...and quite frankly, I'm not. She's so much better than I am...just a far better person. She has this beautiful capacity to love and trust, so immediately. Often, I wonder if the biggest lesson that I need to learn from her isn't just that -- to love and trust immediately. To love and trust the Lord...immediately. I'm working on it. There are other lessons that I've learned from her, that's for sure. Patience. That's a big one. Acceptance. Tolerance. Hope. Faith. But those, I am finding, are secondary to that one big one...the need to put all my trust in the Lord...just as she puts all her trust in us. I haven't figured it all out yet, and I don't think I'm expected to either. So it's ok.

Father's Day 2008
Sammy and Callie both look just baby dolls
Samantha's life led us to adoption. I can't imagine our lives without Callie and Micah. In a very real way, I feel like Sammy directed us to them. I don't know how it all went down, but I know Callie and Sammy, in particular, have a sweet bond. Once Micah gets out of the Tackling Sammy phase...I'm sure the bond between them will get a little better. Like, oh, maybe she won't flinch when she sees him coming. Or when he approaches, maybe she'll stop just pushing him away. She's a sweet girl, but she's learning to hold her own against her big little brother! I think Sammy probably had a meeting of some sort before she and her siblings were born. I'm not sure how much she knew before...if she knew what she would face...but I don't think it was much. I think it goes back to trust. I think she maybe just trusted the Lord that it would be for her good and because she has a heart of gold and loves Him so much, just went with it. She knew that it would all work out as it should, even if it was difficult. And so, I think she probably shared that with her future siblings. And I think they hugged. I can't see all their faces, but there are more present at that little meeting than just Callie and Micah. There are others prepared to be by Sammy's side as her siblings. I feel it.


She brings sunshine into our home. My days are happier when I've spent time alone with Sammy. It only needs to be a little bit, but I feel my day is whole when I've had a little time with just her and me. (Well, that's kind of true for all my kids...but I'm talking about Sammy right now.) That's one reason that I look forward to putting her to bed. It's time when I can just hold her. She curls up in my arms and just rests there. She looks up at me usually once or twice, smiles, and then nestles in again and cozies on up. It's frequently one of the sweetest parts of my day.


My life isn't perfect. But I'm ok with that. There's a Colin Raye song that I've referenced before...She's With Me. In many ways, I feel like that's Sammy's song. I feel like her imperfect perfection is my ticket into heavenly splendor. As long as she's with me, I'm maybe good enough to slide in...because she's making me a better person. Maybe she can vouch for me and she'll let the angels and sentinels know, "Don't worry guys, she's with me." I truly believe Samantha is my personal angel -- slowly smoothing out my rough edges, encouraging me, lifting me, and at times pulling me along.



Sweet Samantha. I love my little girl so much there is no way to adequately express it. I can't possibly imagine my life without her...or what my life would have been without her. I will forever be grateful for all the trials we have ever endured if it means that I'll be a step closer to being with her for eternity. She is my heart.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Is Blood Thicker Than Water?

Recently I learned the true meaning behind what is often said...Blood Is Thicker Than Water...and I couldn't agree more. I wrote about it here.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe


I read this last year but there are a few books that I loved and wanted to still write about. This is one of those books. I had pre-ordered this book. Then one day, it appeared on my wee kindle and it was perfect timing. I had just finished a book and was ready to dive into another. Truthfully, all I knew about this book before buying it is that I really like the author. That was good enough for me. But the surprise I got when I began reading...I didn't expect. I immediately, immediately, fell in love with it. I was hooked and did not want to put it down. I read it while at the gym, and I got some great LONG workouts on the treadmill because I just didn't want to stop.

I kind of don't even know where to begin when it comes to sharing all I loved about the book. The story itself is captivating. In all my reading years, I have actually never read a book about the Vietnam War. I've read a lot of books around the Civil War and WWII, but never Vietnam. So that caught me. Crowe did such a great job of sharing insights of each of the characters...so perfectly. Somehow I felt totally connected to this teenage boy. The things he carried and tried to deal with I have never experienced, yet, I was there with him. It was so well-written. I felt love and so much compassion for all of them, even when I was upset. And let's talk about emotions...I think I felt them all! I laughed. I seriously cried (on the treadmill...at the gym). I was frustrated and angry and hurt. I was so into this book.

I do that. I connect when I read. But this was particularly different. I think because the author made a genius move, in my opinion. The entire book is written in haiku. What?! Who in their right mind takes the time to do that? I can't even wrap my mind around taking the time to make the entire book work so perfectly like that. But it really made the story magical. Every word, I would assume, was so carefully chosen and placed. It really was beautiful...a work of art.

I can't say enough about this book. I've loved his other books, but I think this is my favorite. If I was still teaching in the classroom, I'd definitely use this as a part of my curriculum for it's study of history, social pressures and social "rules" of the time, issues then vs. now -- how they are different and the same, diction, poetry, imagery....I could go on.

It's among my favorite books in 2014.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park


I loved this book. It was so beautiful. To begin with, it is based on a true story...an incredible true story. Many are aware of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Back in the '80's there was war and a terrible amount of unnecessary death...murder. Families were destroyed in a blink of an eye as men with guns wiped out villages within moments. Some were able to escape...many young children traveling alone, seeking refuge.

Part of the book takes place in 1985. Salva is at school when gunshots rip through the village. He runs home to find he is alone. This book shares Salva's story. However, it is interwoven with Nya's story, an 11 year old girl from Southern Sudan in 2009. Each day, for her family to survive, she must fulfill her job of gathering water. It takes a large portion of her time and day. It is difficult work but needs to be done in order for their survival.

Salva is a real boy...now a man. After his experiences, he decided to add some good to the world. Salva started a foundation that drills wells in South Sudan. Water for South Sudan  is clearly a work of love. You can hear Salva's story here.

It's such a great read...one I plan on reading with Callie.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim




Oh wow. I really enjoyed this book. It's a story of enduring love between two women, and how that love transcends social pressures, stigmas, and adversity. When Lisbeth is born, she is passed off to her wet nurse -- Mattie, a slave who has a 3 month old child, herself. Mattie cares for Lisbeth day and night, creating a bond much stronger than Lisbeth has with her own mother. As time goes on, their bond only strengthens. After time, they lose contact, but their stories are still woven together.

Though slavery is the basic story, themes of love, sisterhood, family, forced separation of slave families, social pressures, courage, personal power -- and the lack thereof -- are also scattered throughout the novel. It was a beautiful story. I loved it. 


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Best

Marcus had some meetings before church, so I got the kids ready and tried to capture a picture of them in their Easter outfits. Yes, Easter is next week. But, as next week is General Conference, at church we did our Easter program today with beautiful music, incredible talks, and inspired messages. I will filled today. 

But this morning...it was crazy!
 I tried. First take is never a keeper, right?

 And this...too cute. Callie is giving me a 1/2 fake smile, but it's making Sammy giggle as she looks up at her and Micah is checking Sammy out. It may be my favorite because it so much captures our life.
 Still can't get Sammy to look at anything but her siblings.

 So I go for an individual shot. And, she only looks a little crazy.

 Micah looks dapper. I love him in bow ties.

 And Callie's a princess. She was so excited to wear her new shoes and carry her empty purse.


And just for a little comic relief, one more try of Sammy...nah. Maybe next time.

Yes, we were late for church. 
Worth it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Greatness

I believe that our children need to know how great they are...how they are instilled with greatness. They need to know that from us, their parents, and they need to hear it every single day. They need to know they are incredible and that their potential is limitless. They'll need to work and put forth the effort, but their desires and dreams are within reach...because they are divine. Do I sit down and do a little speech everyday? No. But I try to at least tell each of them that I love them each and every day.

So today, I put Micah in the car...and for whatever reason I was struck by his divine potential. I turned around before driving off and said, "Micah, do you know you are such an amazing little boy? So many people love you and will always love you. You are great and will do great things." 

That's when he picked his nose.


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