Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For Maria...

This story has been rolling around in my head for a couple of years since Maria found a lady bug and had to let her go. God brought this incident to mind when Maria asked me if the reason her birthmom didn't keep her was because she wasn't good enough. It seemed to help Maria understand a little better.

“What a wonderful surprise,” Maria delighted to herself. She could hardly contain her excitement as she leaned down to get a closer look at the tiny creature that had gingerly landed on her sleeve. The insect’s shiny wings, tucked closely to its body, formed a near perfect circle. It looked as if a single red polka dot had been meticulously painted to complement the bright pink of Maria’s favorite sweatshirt. Undoubtedly, this was the most beautiful ladybug that Maria had ever seen.

Maria gently nudged the ladybug with the tip of her polish-chipped fingernail. Quietly she cooed soothing words to the ladybug, encouraging her to begin a slow and timid ascent onto Maria’s hand. Thoughtfully, Maria brought the ladybug level with her own sparkling, dark eyes. Maria’s love for the ladybug was at once instantaneous and boundless. She vowed to herself and to her ladybug that she would do everything possible to keep her safe and happy. Maria was overwhelmed that the blessing of caring for one of God’s exquisite creations had been unexpectedly granted to her.

“First,” Maria thought to herself, “I need to make her a comfortable place to live.” With the ladybug tucked snuggly in the palm of her loosely closed hand, Maria worked quickly to fashion a home for her ladybug. She decided that a discarded purple and green striped, paper cup would make an ideal home. With great care, Maria painstakingly filled the recycled cup with an array of grass, leaves, and one smooth stick. “Perfect!” Maria exclaimed.

Satisfied with the ladybugs new home, Maria placed the tiny bug delicately inside of the paper cup. As one final precaution, Maria placed a thin piece of plastic wrap, pierced with tiny air holes, over the cup to make sure that precious contents would not escape from the safe confines of the newly crafted home. Maria hoped with all of her heart that her ladybug would be happy and content with her accommodations.

Maria watched with anticipation as her ladybug moved deftly about the leaves and blades of grass, exploring her new surroundings. The ladybug made quick work of climbing the stick to the very top of the paper cup. “She wants to get a better look at me!” Maria thought to herself. Grinning from ear to ear with a deep sense of accomplishment, Maria carried the ladybug in the cup to her own bedroom for extra safe keeping.

Next, Maria realized that she would need to find food for her ladybug. But what did a ladybug eat? She surely didn’t know. Maria decided to ask her Momma. After all, mommas know everything. “Momma” she inquired, “what does a ladybug eat?” Just as Maria had expected, Momma did know the answer. Her response, however, left Maria startled and feeling a little queasy inside. Aphids. They eat other bugs! How was a little girl such as herself going to find aphids to feed to her ladybug? The thought concerned her at first, but she quickly dismissed her worry, convinced that she could figure out how to give her ladybug what she needed.

From that very first meeting, Maria and her ladybug were inseparable. Maria carried her ladybug wherever she went, proudly showing her off to anyone who would stop to look. Maria delighted at each “oh” and “ah” as friends and family congratulated her on having a ladybug of her very own. The joy Maria felt inside was like none she had ever experienced before. She thought her heart might just burst with pride.

Maria did her best to fulfill her vow of taking care of her ladybug. Daily she provided her ladybug with a fresh supply of carefully chosen, green leaves and newly clipped grass. Maria desperately hoped that each new crop of vegetation might provide the aphids that her ladybug could eat. When none appeared, Maria thought that perhaps her ladybug might enjoy eating some of her own culinary favorites. From mangos and fried chicken, to strawberries and Momma’s spicy enchiladas, Maria persevered in offering her ladybug the very best she had. But nothing Maria could provide was what her ladybug needed.

Despite her concerns over what to feed her ladybug, Maria delighted in the joy of spending time with her. She never grew tired of watching her ladybug through the plastic wrap ceiling of the paper cup. For the first few days, Maria would often find her ladybug perched on the twig, waiting expectantly near the cup’s tattered rim.

Maria couldn’t, however, quiet the small voice inside of her, whispering unwanted doubts. Would she really be able to provide all that a ladybug needed? Adding to her doubts was the realization that with each day that she kept her ladybug in the paper cup, the less and less the tiny creature moved about. Her ladybug no longer seemed to have enough energy to climb the stick to its tippy-top.

Confused and concerned about what to do for her ladybug, Maria once again sought advice from Momma. “Loving something with all your heart doesn’t always mean that you are able to take care of it.” Momma counseled. The words were hard to hear and stung with a truth that Maria did not want to accept.

Although Maria loved her ladybug with all of her heart and had given her best to care for her, perhaps that just wasn’t enough. Maybe the only way to ensure that her ladybug would survive and flourish, was for Maria to let her go. Tears began forming shallow pools in Maria’s eyes which quickly over flowed, rolling down her mocha colored cheeks. She knew what she had to do. The small voice inside of her confirming the difficult choice she was about to make.

Energized by a selfless resolve, Maria carried her ladybug outside. Determined not to give in to her sadness, Maria stripped away the plastic wrap from the top of the paper cup. Reminiscent of the day when they first found each other, Maria placed her finger in front of her ladybug, nudging her to climb on. Maria surprised herself by giggling when her ladybug’s six tiny legs tickled her finger. Quickly, as not to change her mind, Maria blew a parting kiss to her ladybug.
As if lifted by the breath from Maria’s final kiss, her ladybug opened its crimson wings and took flight for the first time. Maria watched through tears of grief as the ladybug flew farther away from her, but towards a future destined by God. As her ladybug vanished into the distance, Maria offered one final encouragement to her beloved. Her parting words came from a heart forever changed by loving completely and sacrificing much.

“Fly away home,” she whispered. Then slowly turned and walked away.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Week of Weird

My findings while doing laundry on Sunday should have been an indication of just how bizarre some of this week's events would be.

After washing several pens, packs of bubble gum and flash drives (among other things that ruin clothing), I've learned to check pockets before throwing clothes into the washing machine. While searching through a pair of pants that Zak wore on his weekend camping trip I found two bullets. A cause for concern? Possibly. Weird? Not until Zak told me what they were for. They're apparently used as ear plugs when firing rifles. I kicked into mom mode and was preparing the standard "never, ever stick anything in your ears" lecture but then thought better of it. It sounded like a guy thing that I wouldn't understand.

With the bullets properly disposed of I then went to put the clean clothes in Zak's room. I was stopped short by the bag of Poise bladder control pads on his bedroom floor. This was just downright disturbing. I couldn't help but ask for an explanation on this one. Apparently they were used for some kind of prank. Whatever.

Sunday was followed by a memorable day at work. I should explain that I work in an outpatient mental health clinic and I try to maintain a high level of compassion for our patients suffering from mental illnesses and personality disorders. Abnormal behavior is often the norm in our office. There's abnormal and then there's just plain bizarre. Like Monday morning when an incoming patient informed us that another patient was pulling up the azaleas in our gardens and putting them in the trunk of her car. Our doctor went out to confront the patient who thought this was perfectly acceptable. Apparently she needed some plants for her garden.

Then later that day another patient became so enraged and distraught over having missed her appointment she began hitting herself in the head with a clipboard and spewing profanities left and right. The end of the day could not come quickly enough.

Finally today. Caroline called to inform me that something dead was in Zak's car and it smelled awful. Upon further investigation Zak, his friend, and Alex found and removed a rather large cat from behind the engine block of the jeep. They disposed of the cat the only way my boys know how. I don't want to be graphic so I'll just type the words gasoline and fire pit. You get the picture. And I've spent the better part of the evening trying to explain to Maria where the body of this cat went.

To top off the evening we think Caroline's guinea pig may have lost one of her front teeth and is having trouble eating. I do not want to find out what the cost is for guinea pig dentistry.

Simply stated: Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Monday, March 9, 2009

And the survey says...

Is saw this post on a few of the blogs that I follow and decided to try it for myself. Seeing yourself through the eyes of your child can sometimes be dangerous but I think I came out fairly unscathed.

This is mommy according to her words.

1. What is something mom always says to you? I love you

2. What makes mom happy? That I don't lie to you.

3. What makes mom sad? When I say bad things to her.

4. How does your mom make you laugh? By tickling me.

5. What was your mom like as a child? A little girl.

6. How old is your mom? Umm, Umm, 25.

7. How tall is your mom? Big

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Hug me.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Watch TV.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Making lunches.

11. What is your mom really good at? Giving money.

12. What is your mom not very good at? Doing cartwheels.

13. What does your mom do for her job? Help people.

14. What is your mom's favorite food? Peas

15. What makes you proud of your mom? She helps us get some food.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Sleeping Beauty.

17. What do you and your mom do together? Cuddle

18. How are you and your mom the same? Hmm. That our hands look the same.

19. How are you and your mom different? That she has brown eyes and I have black eyes.

20. How do you know your mom loves you? She hugs me and kisses me.

Simply stated: Kinda makes me go "hmmm."

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I like to think that my home is clean. I dust and vacuum, windex and scrub freqeuntly. Now that I'm working full-time I even have someone helping me keep the house as clean as possible. It's not that I WANT to clean. It's really more of a compulsion.

Maybe I've watched one too many of those 20/20 specials where they go through a room with a blacklight and expose all the nastiness. Don't even get me started on hotel rooms. I'll save my germaphobia for another post. Suffice to say, it's rather remarkable that I leave my house at all.

Anyway. If I catch sight of a wayward dustball or offending smudge it is hard for me to concentrate on anything else until I get rid of it. Sometimes it's even hard to sleep. It's not unusual to find me vacuumming at midnight or 6:00 a.m. I know. It's an illness.

If I see it, I need to clean it. If I don't see it, I'm ok. This is one of the main reason I don't often venture into the "man cave" downstairs or Zak's bedroom.

Inevitably, when I'm beginning to feel assured regarding the condition of my home, the brilliant morning sun shines through the wall of windows in the back of our house. And my smugness bites me in the butt. What's revealed are the places that I've forgotten. Even worse are the areas that I thought I'd cleaned thoroughly that remain smudged and soiled. Dust particles permeate the sun-streaked air taunting me as they land on floors and furniture.

I can work myself into a frenzy trying to clean what the intense sunlight reveals. The task is overwhelming. Mercifully, the sun will soon disappear above the rooftop and with it the light of its harsh scrunity.

And so it is with my life. I can keep myself and my character well-groomed and coiffured. At a glance, my life could at times appear squeaky clean. But in those moments when I get real with myself and allow for introspection under the light of the Son, my life is not nearly as antiseptic. Attitudes and motives, selfishness and laziness, all manifest themselves in the Sonlight. Areas that I've neglected are exposed. Weaknesses that I thought I'd taken care of become apparent.

On my own, I can't clean the mess. My heart finds comfort in claiming God's promise to me that it's not by works but by faith that I am saved. That I'm washed clean. From this gratitude arises a new commitment and resolve to do better. To be better. To live a life that brings honor to the One who saved me.

Simply stated: Jesus -- Mr. Clean for the soul.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My recent addiction to interest in Facebook has caused me to reflect quite a bit on high school and the years immediately following. I graduated in 1983. I'll save you from doing the math. I'm 43.

I've found several classmates on facebook it's been fun to reconnect with my past.

Tonight I pulled out my yearbook to assist me in my stroll down memory lane. I showed it to Zak who is one of the yearbook editors for his school. I told him this was the way they did yearbooks back in the "day". He wasn't impressed.

Sadly, as I flipped through the pages of my past, I was reminded anew that I hated high school.

For those of you who know me now as the outgoing women who can carry on a conversation with a tree and has never met a stranger, you might be surprised to know that I had very few friends in high school. And by very few...I mean none.

There were a few people who signed my yearbook with generic sentiments such as "stay sweet" and "best of luck" but nothing more. Most of my lunch hours during high school were spent walking between the library and my locker "looking" like I had places to go and people to see. I didn't attend a single party. Only a handful of football games. I wanted friends. I guess I was too insecure to reach out.

I couldn't wait to graduate and have never looked back.

I think this is why I try to encourage Caroline to get involved at school. I'm trying to help her realize that to have friends you have to be a friend. It's taken a long time to learn these lessons.

On a positive note, I read my goals that were listed by my senior picture. "Go to college, graduate, and be happy"

Simply stated: I did and I am.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Journey

In 1999 Don and I attended a one day FamilyLife marriage conference called I Still Do. As much as the conference impacted us that day, only God knew how it would begin a chain of events that would impact one little life for eternity.

From attending the event we moved on to leading HomeBuilders Bible studies and volunteering at the conference the following year. This led to us hearing and, in an uncharacteristic moment of obedience, following God's call on our lives to leave Maryland, raise our own financial support and move to Little Rock, Arkansas and work with the ministry of FamilyLife for 5 years.

During our time with FamilyLife I felt led to participated in a FamilyLife sponsored mission trip to Guatemala where I visited orphanages and my heart was quite literally broken for the 100 million orphans in our world.

This led to the beginning of our adoption journey. A journey that would stretch our faith and finances and take us to the very limits of ourselves. As we waited the 3 1/2 years to bring our precious Maria home, watching her grow up in pictures without her family, we often questioned God's purposes. I don't think we will ever know the why for our wait.

During one of the lowest points of our wait, plagued by concerns of whether or not her adoption could be completed, someone asked what would be the worst outcome from this experience. Without hesitation I answered that Maria would never come home. I pondered and prayed over my answer and realized the worst that could happen would be if Maria never met her Savior and spent eternity separated from him. From then on my attitude changed and I began praying first for Maria's salvation and secondly that we would be blessed to be the family that would lead her to Him.

It's been 17 months since Maria joined our family and today our prayers were answered with Maria's baptism. Not only will we have the blessing of sharing this life with her, but eternity as well.

9 years of putting plans into motion, a move halfway across the United States, thousands of dollars, 4 trips to Guatemala, a family changed forever. The list goes.

I'm in awe of a God who loves so deeply that He would go to such great lengths for one life. That before Maria's life even began God knew that this would be her story. That we would be her family. That she would be His child.

I'm blessed that He would use someone as flawed as me as His tool.

I'm sobered by the thought that we could have disobeyed.

Simply Stated: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Ice" Day

A bit of freezing rain and ice arrived in Little Rock yesterday afternoon just in time for my Christmas party at work. About half of the folks headed for home early while the rest of us enjoyed a quick meal and then joined the masses in traffic. Living close to work definitely has its advantages.

Today we were blessed with an unexpected day off of school and work! Nothing makes you feel more like a kid again than a day off of work because of weather.

We've been staying busy decorating cards and cookies. I'm so enjoying the day that I didn't even freak when I dropped the bowl of egg yolk and food coloring that we were using to paint on cookies. My favorite pajama pants and demin shirt however did not survive quite as well.

While taking pictures of the days activities I also took a few pictures of our decorations to share.

This is our tree. At last count we had over 200 bear ornaments.
This is the shelf in the living room. The stereo components and video games add a particularly festive touch!

This is our mantel. I'm sure the boys love having teddy bear stockings. Santa still fills them though.

Finally, the mistletoe. Needs no explanation :)
Simply Stated: Merry Christmas!