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Sunday, March 16, 2014

About 12ish years ago, we started "skipping church" on Sunday nights in favor of spending the afternoon/evening with two of our favorite families.  The "Baptist" part of us felt maybe a tiny bit guilty for doing so, but since none of us are particularly motivated by guilt, we were fine with it ;-)
Little did we know that we had formed what we now call "the original small group".  We have lived, loved, laughed, and cried our Sunday afternoons away together.  Yesterday afternoon, the first of our children got married.  Y'all, this is a big deal.  We have 12 children between the 3 families...this was our first wedding!
I am not sure where I would be if God had not put these families in our life.  I remember lots of nights after we spent time at "the Mangum" riding 4 wheelers, or boating on the river, or just hanging outside in the shade or sun while the children played...





Dads in charge of 4wheelers
Moms

and daughters

Dads and Sons and Jeeps and guns

Moms during the "summer of painting"

when one of us said "YES, we CAN paint every available surface of this house, no problem!"
We would load up and head to one of our houses to cook up something for supper and sit around the table talking about how good or bad life was at the moment,  how rich or poor we were at the moment, how happy or sad we were at the moment, how fulfilled or unfulfilled we felt at the moment, how nice or mean we felt at the moment, how much we loved or hated our current jobs, how much we loved or didn't love so much the current President, Pitcher, Preacher, or Pediatrician.  We listened to and gave opinions on disciplining our children, loving our siblings, and honoring our parents.  We talked about the difference between "being a good Christian", which in the South sometimes just means showing up at church regularly, and having a real relationship with God and how that looks different (from the outside) in each of us.  We agreed, we disagreed, we agreed to disagree, and we grew together through all of it.  We lived beside each other through heartaches and tragedies, family estrangements, financial disasters, and real marriage troubles.  We talked and prayed each other through it with statements like "There will be no divorce!" and "This is no surprise to God, He knows what He's doing." ,"How can we help?", and "This is when we keep turning TO God and not AWAY from Him".

I am honored and humbled to have friends like these.  Friends who know all about me and still choose to love me.  How do people live without these kinds of friends?  I am glad I don't know the answer to that question.




Monday, November 11, 2013

Family

Today I have been thinking about families.  It is getting close to Thanksgiving, so all the memories of prior years are starting to creep in.

I remember early Thanksgiving mornings hearing my Mom get up to baste the turkey.  I guess people used to do that?!?
I remember setting the table with all the dishes from the china cabinet and using the pretty serving dishes.  I remember my Mom's pumpkin pie (which I have never been able to duplicate, btw.)
I have always loved the preparation for the party.  I just told my friend, Thea, the other day how I love party prep and then when everyone gets there I am just tired and want to go sit down and watch, hehehe.  Actually, that is my party philosophy...I LOVE planning the party, shopping, thinking about what dishes and platters to use, setting them out, setting all the vignettes and thinking about the "flow" of guests as they get food and socialize.  But, I don't think I am really a hostess, because when everyone gets there I want to sit/stand and talk to everyone and I completely forget about restocking the food/drink and making sure everyone is comfortable.  I want to plan the party, but I also want to be part of the party!  So, once everyone gets to my house, they are pretty much on their own, I guess...like family.   (wow, that was a very round-a-bout way to get back to the family theme.)

But really, aren't families funny when you REALLY think about them?  We are all so different.  We all think we are the normal ones and everyone else is weird.  But, we are all just our own thing.  Two individuals get together and each bring their histories and memories and start something completely new.  We create our families, sometimes the traditional way, sometimes non-traditionally.  Sometimes we mix it up and try both ways.  We get to choose which traditions to keep and which new ones to create!  Personally, I like to decide the week before a traditional holiday how I am going to do it that year.  I don't feel pressure (anymore) to do it traditionally if I don't particularly feel like it that year.  One Christmas I was just tired of spending two days in the kitchen cooking holiday meals that (seemingly) only I enjoyed, so I went on holiday strike.  I made tacos for Christmas dinner.  It took 20 minutes.  To this day, we have tacos for Christmas dinner (are you kidding me?!?).
My family loves it!  It became our OWN family tradition!  This is how I learned about traditions...there is really nothing magic about them.  The best ones just happen naturally (and evidently sometimes out of frustration).

Today I texted my (3) sisters to tell them how much I was going to miss them this Thanksgiving.  One of them responded by saying "...sometimes the holidays are just not the same crazy madness and I miss the utter chaos."  I couldn't have said it better.  I love and miss the weirdness of the chaos of our "traditional" holidays... not that we are not creating our own chaos and madness :-P



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gotcha Day 1 year anniversary

Oct 8, 2012 was "Gotcha Day" for our boys.  So we made it...1 year, whew! and Whooohoooo!

When we had our 1 year post-adoption visit with our social worker she asked us a question...something like, how would we describe our past year.  That is a hard one.  It's been tough, I won't lie.  I quit reading other adoptees' blogs a long time ago.  I just couldn't read all the gushy "we are so blessed" happy blogs.  I felt NONE of that.  It was hard, plain and simple.  We have made ENORMOUS strides, but it has not FELT good for the most part.

I realize most of the difficulty is our own fault.  Mine mostly...and Waverly's (well, it's true).  WE talked DW into getting both boys when he was determined to adopt only one.  I look back on that discussion and for the life of me I can't explain it.  I remember it, our impassioned speech right here in this kitchen.  And part of me realizes that even then, it felt like something (or someONE) other than me speaking.

For those of you who know me well, you have probably been confused with my life over the past 8 years or so.  I am not what you would call a "touchy-feely" Mom.  I can be tough, abrasive, opinionated, inflexible.  (I mean, I am nice too but once the toughness is established.)  I love my kids FIERCELY and would do anything for them, which does explain my toughness a little.  Sometimes that is what they need.  Touchy-feely does not train them to LIVE, it just trains them to feel.  If there is anything I have learned over the past year, it is that feelings have nothing to do with anything.  I mean it.  They mean nothing.  They are fleeting and fickle.  And yet, God created us to have them...weird.  I think they are not supposed to guide us but they are just little bonuses to make life bearable.  Because life is hard.

If I knew a couple years ago how hard this year would be, would I have still chosen to do this?  Absolutely not...what idiot makes choices knowing that they are choosing the hardest, most painful route?!?  But that is the beauty in all of this.  God only revealed to us what we needed to know to make the right choices at the time.  HE knew these two boys were ours.  All we had to do was make the choice to do what He asked.  So, am I GLAD I chose to do it...Absolutely!  It was hard, maybe the second hardest year of my life to date.  Was it worth it?...YES!  Is there more to come?  Definitely!  Are we becoming a family?  A weird, quirky, family?  yes.  Do I love that?   A thousand times, YES.

I think it is funny that I am the combination of a Mom who is practical, responsible, down-to-earth, grounded, "not very adventuresome"(her own words), and fiercely devoted to her kids and family, and a Dad who was lovable, fun, happy-go-lucky (emphasis on the lucky), irresponsible, care-free, "throw caution to the wind", and overextended in almost every way.  My family unit growing up was unconventional to say the least.  In a society that put so much emphasis (in the 60's & 70's) on a traditional functional family unit (and rightly so), we stood out as "what not to do".  God's grace is so amazing in that I get to have a "do-over".  And guess what?  I get to be quirky and unconventional while I do it (perfect!).  It's like God really knows me ;-) and what makes me tick...like He is saying, "All of what you thought was crap while you were going through it growing up was training for what I have for you later...you're gonna laugh when you see it!"  I couldn't have planned it, I wouldn't have chosen it.  He chose me for it.  I am just going with it.

So, when I think about my family...sisters, parents, husband, kids...I think about only one thing...LOVE.  That's really all there is.  Do we make each other mad, yell, betray, lie, cheat, fight, lash out?  Yep.  Do we confess, hold hands, hug, kiss, cry, pray, try again, relax, play?  Of course.  It is not about the feeling...it is about the DOing.
            
This is how I feel about it all..."I Can't Change the World", Brad Paisley

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