Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Thoughts on Mommyhood

Studying 1 Corinthians 13 this morning, applying it to mommyhood. Here's a few paragraphs off my page that I want to keep in mind today.

(this is excerpted from the KBNIV)

If I have obedient, well-behaved children and everyone tells us what good parents we are, but we have not love, it is emptiness and means nothing.

If I get everywhere on time and no children bother me while I'm checking my email, and if I have a clean house and serve great meals and get lots and lots done in a day, but I do not love my kids, then none of it matters, and I am nothing.

If I have a vast ministry that impacts many and I accomplish great things in my lifetime, but I did not love my children, then I missed my first importance and I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not wish its kids were like someone else's when they are embarrassing or take credit for how wonderful they are when they are charming and sweet. It is not condescending and it is courteous, even to small children who won't call you out on it. It does not hold the schedule or the to do list above the people they were meant to serve. It does not walk around like a grumpy martyr for all the things it has to give up for these people. It does not discipline in anger or feel a sense of retribution for itself, but rejoices when the truth is expounded to its children and God is honored and revered. Love holds up under the constant pestering, it gives its children the benefit of the doubt, it hopes great things for them and works to that end, and it withstands every offense. In every moment choose to love, and it will never let you down.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick Update

Well, we finished our PS MAPPS classes! We are officially deemed worthy to raise children by the state of Arizona. Now, we just wait for a call!

We are currently camping out in the basement of a wonderful couple from our church until our house in completed, so probably a month or two.

The kids are loving preschool and pre-K so far and just keep growing up so fast! Bethany turns 5 on Saturday, so we are preparing for the Big Barbie Birthday Bash. Working on this year's piƱata... it's turning out really neat! I'll have to post pictures of it before Saturday. Sigh... born for destruction.

No time for much creative writing here on the ol' blog. I'm trying to channel any time and energy that I have for that sort if thing into songwriting. Besides, does anyone even read blogs anymore? Seems to me like they're on their way out. But I just saw "Julie and Julia" which was really fun and reminded me that "Oh, right! I have a blog!"

Have you ever been playing hide and seek with your kids and you're hiding and they're just not finding you? And you stay there, hardly breathing, legs cramping up, thinking what a great hiding place you've found only to eventually discover that they've long since moved on to another activity and forgotten all about you?

Fun times.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stayin' Alive

Alright, I admit it. I'm just posting to keep a pulse, however faint, in this blog. Not a whole lot going on in the adoption realm, just working our way through the last classes we need to be totally certified. We're still very excited but it seems like the more we learn, the scarier the outlook. It's good though- kind of tests your calling.

I was reading in Philippians one this morning and came away with a cool new perspective on my family. Paul is talking to the church and he says(paraphrase) "I thank my God for you because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now... for you are all partakers with me in grace." I asked several questions as I studied the passage, one of which was "How can I apply this passage to my family?"

The Spirit totally applied it to remind me that I am not only raising my children, I am raising my future partners in the gospel. What a huge and awesome responsibility! How I raise them, treat them, talk to them, and train them should reflect that. It's so easy to settle for raising happy, healthy, safe, smart, polite children. But we've been given so much a greater a task than that. What kind of people would I want my future partners in ministry to be? What would I want them to know? What kind of example would I have wanted for them to have?

Also, everyone in my home is a fellow partaker of grace. We are all needy, weak, and messed up people who live each moment on the grace of God. I need to live with them in light of that, as one who is given copious amounts of grace each day.

The thunder is rolling outside. I love that sound when I'm snug indoors. The kids and I are off to Flagstaff tomorrow with some friends to escape the triple digits. And that's all she wrote.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Starting Our Classes and Benjamin Turning 45

We started our PSMAPPS foster care and adoption certification classes a couple of weeks ago! It feels good to finally be doing something toward the goal again. So every Thursday night a beloved friend comes over at 5:45pm and watches the kids until we return sometime around 10:00. I think the classes will be really good, and I'm looking forward to learning more about how to deal with some of the issues that our kids will be dealing with. It's funny- the point of the class is to equip you for what you will face, but from what I've heard, by the end of it you feel much less confident in your ability to handle what it coming your way. I suppose that's a good thing, though, to realize that on your own you are unable. Makes you run to Jesus all the more.

One of the things that I have found most helpful in the first couple of classes is talking about different children and different cases. The names are changed, but the situations and issues are real. It's been good to kind of put some flesh on who these kids are, what they've been through, and what they will need when they come into our home. It's crazy- kids who were physically abused, sexually abused and neglected, kids who start fires or run away, kids who were encouraged to use drugs by their parents, kids who were abandoned by their parents at supermarkets, girls who come in with children of their own- and to think: There's 10,000 of them. In Arizona alone. The need is so overwhelming. But it is encouraging to know that God fights for and loves the orphan, and there are way more then 10,000 families in his Church.

Days like yesterday, celebrating Benjamin's 2nd birthday, make us want to do this all the more. To provide a loving, functional, gospel-centered family to kids who may have never seen one. Matthew took Benjamin shopping for "boy toys" yesterday morning(since we still have an overwhelmingly pink-and-princess play room at this point) and as he was walking out of Wal-Mart with his little boy he was struck with emotion over how blessed he is and how blessed Benji is to be able to experience little things like that.

In the afternoon we had a great little birthday party for Benjamin at Peter Piper Pizza where he got everything he needs to literally become his hero- Bob the Builder. And for some reason, every time you ask him how old he is, he says "45". We have no idea why, but we think it's hilarious. I posted a video of his day here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Secrets of Songwriting Revealed! (not really)

It's been over a week since I returned from my trip to a Songwriting Retreat in Indiana, but I am just now getting around to blogging about it. It was my 3rd year there and I would say my best year. It was non-stop writing as usual, but this year I had just an extra measure of energy to make it through some late nights, some unexpected co-writes, and literally running up and down the halls to meet up with people on time. Counting songs that I finished up from last year, I came home with 6 new ones, and was apparently dubbed “The Little Writing Giant”. I wonder if I'll get my own infommerical. Anyway, it was such a good time and I wrote some really good songs and hung out with some really good people. The food was great as usual, and this year's t-shirts were great: “More ballads in a weekend then a whole season of Idol”. Yes, t-shirts. As my friend Allie puts it, it's basically songwriter nerd camp.

Nerdy as it is, a lot of people ask me about this mysterious process of writing a song. The most common question I get is “Do you write the melody first or the lyric?” I tell people it happens all different ways, but when you throw another writer or two into the mix, things get even more interesting.

The basic process, at least as I have experienced it, is you sit down in the writer's room with the other person or people and spend some time just shooting the breeze or getting to know each other if you don't already. Then you start throwing out ideas of what to write about. Both writers are ideally prepared with a few good ideas, some even partially developed, and after a little while both people can generally settle on one idea that strikes them each with enough passion and vision for the song to go ahead and “chase it”, as we say.

Every song is built around what is called the hook. The hook is usually that one line, often times the title, that just gets you when you hear it or sticks with you when the song is over. Ideally you would start with the hook and build a chorus around it, then come up with a couple of verses to explain and set up the chorus. If the song needs a bridge it's typically added after the rest has been written, and inevitably there will be some tweaking along the way. Depending on who you're writing with, the melody could be written right along with the lyric or you could end up with a completed lyric to hand over to a melody writer. Regardless of how it happens, the goal of that 3 hours or so is to birth a new song into the world.

Mysterious is a good way to describe it. It is never cut and dry. What I described was a sort of normal, standard, baseline for the process. But really, anything can happen. Sometimes it's miserable. Sometimes you laugh until your sides ache. Sometimes the Spirit is so present in the room you feel you could reach out and touch Him. I write solo most of the time, so I'm still relatively new to co-writing. But I'm so thankful that once a year for four days, I get to indulge in that mysterious melding of minds and muse.

PS- A note on those pictures... Each night we performed the songs that we'd written that day for the rest of the group, and that's what those pictures are from. So just to clarify, we do not write with microphones.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Scrapbooking and Pseudo Death

It's hard to blog after you've begun to get sparser and sparser with posts. You feel like you need to have something significant to say before you're eligible to write again. Kind of like when you haven't prayed in a while and you feel like you'd better have something good to say to God before coming before Him. But both notions are quite silly so I will post with or without significant thought.

We made the announcement last Sunday that we are going to join Luke at Second Mile Church, a plant of East Valley. Matthew will be coming on as the Associate Pastor and will also lead the music there. We are so excited! A part of our hearts have been there since the church began, so it feels really good to finally get to be a real part of it. I will continue with my single mom's group and with Women's Ministries at East Valley, but other then that I plan to fight my propensity to jump into much else with adoption on the horizon. I am guessing I will need everything I have here at home, at least for a while. Or perhaps for the next 18 years.

I just finished up a little scrapbook for our adoption. It tells the story of our family to help the state make a good match. I had so much fun doing it. I also committed not to spend much money on it, and I was able to use a lot of my leftover stuff from my previous 2 books. I love what little scrapbooking I've done, but was so difficult to try to capture our family (and our extended family) in ten 6" by 6" pages and to decide which pictures to use. I'm very happy with how it turned out, though. I hope I get it back!

So it has been an odd, at times surreal couple of months with the switch to Second Mile. We have been joking since Sunday's announcement that you'd think Matthew had died or something. Everyone has been coming up to him and saying all of the nice things that people think but don't usually say until your funeral. He's been extra careful to keep the valve on his head open lest it fill and get too big. It has been cool, though, to hear some of the fruit of your work and ministry in the lives of the people you shepherd and care about. In case I don't, I should take pictures of it. Maybe I will post them!

Tonight we are off to see "Star Trek", which Matthew consistently calls "Star Wars" which drives me crazy. Right now he's sleeping off a morning at the zoo, but in an hour and a half I will get him all to myself for the rest of the day. :)

Here's the book:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nashville in a Nutshell. (A Really Long Nutshell)

Okay, so Matthew says I have to post about my trip to Nashville even though I think it will be Dullsville to everyone except songwriters. So, as my writer-friend Allie says on her blog: Warning- Songwriter nerd talk ahead! Anyone not interested feel free to check out now.

I flew into Nashville Thursday afternoon. It was only my second trip, so I still got a kick out of the stages set up with live music throughout the airport. Nothing like a little Willie Nelson cover tune while you wait for your baggage. The Avis people informed me that the coupon I had booked the reservation with required that I also rent a GPS unit. This is exactly the kind of thing that I would end up throwing out the window on the freeway but I took it anyway so that I could use my coupon. The woman said I could choose between a 4 door sedan or a PT Cruiser. Obvious choice for someone who normally drives a minivan.

I called my first co-writer Kevin and told him I was on my way. I punched in the address on the GPS and followed the prompts. Once I was sure I was in the wrong place I called Kevin back. "You're where?!?" he asked incredulously. Strike one on the GPS. He talked me through as I backtracked 20 minutes of freeway miles and finally arrived at my publisher Randy's studio. Kevin, Randy and I worked on a song that we had already started, so work was quick and successful. We finished up a Christmas invitational song to fill the slot at the end of a musical. It turned out very nice and I'm looking forward to hearing the finished product.

I grabbed some good southern grub and headed to my friend Ericka's house where I was staying. Her neighborhood was so beautiful- rolling green hills, brick and stone houses, and dogwoods blooming everywhere. I found her house just fine without the GPS, using my preprinted mapqwest directions. I met her family and her 7 year old daughter that I had displaced from her room for 3 nights, who showed me no animosity in spite of it. We hung out in the living room and watched Nanny 911 until we felt really good about ourselves as parents and I retired to my room.

Friday morning I headed to a co-write that had been set up by a friend with Caleb, a writer I'd never met. He was a very talented piano player and melody writer and we wrote well together while his cat, called Mouse, sat indifferently on the window sill. Two and a half hours later we had a song that we both really liked about trusting the sovereignty of God and not always needing to understand what He is doing in times of trial in our lives. Yet another song about suffering from someone who has yet to know it firsthand. But it is coming, I'm sure.

Straight from there I went to my friend Dennis' studio and gave him a country lyric that he put a melody to. We had a good time and came away with a completed work tape which is always a wonderful thing. Then it was off to Randy's studio again for a Writer's Night which is basically where we eat dinner together and then go around and each play a song. I love those things. I had some great food and heard some great songs and came away feeling creatively energized. Stayed up way too late that night forgetting that I was two hours later then Arizona, but once I did go to bed I slept great.

This is getting sooooo long, but I don't want to have two posts on this so I'll just push on through for whoever is still awake. Saturday was a writers workshop at Randy's studio where we had breakfast and several very talented and insightful men imparted creative wisdom to us. Then we ate lunch, then some more wisdom, then on to one more co-write before the end of the day. I met up with my friend Phil and we chased a Mary song forever but really didn't end up getting anywhere. But I had a great time talking with him and it was good to stretch the creative muscles for a while. I tried the GPS again to find my way home. I was on Commerce between 7th ave and 9th ave. It told me to turn on 8th ave. So I turned on 9th. "Re-cal-cu-la-ting...." I cruise past Church Street waiting for my next instructions and it pipes up. "Turn left on Church street". Needless to say, the unit spent the remainder of the trip in the glove box.

Sunday morning I woke up to rain tapping on the window pane and tried chasing Mary again. This time I think I caught her. At 11:00am I met my publisher and his wife at their church which is the oldest church in Franklin. It is a super old-school Episcopal church that was used during the civil war as a hospital and a horse stable. You could see the marks on the walls where the horse troughs were hammered in. It was a beautiful church and, as I expected, the service was quite different from what I'm accustomed to at home. All the clergy wore robes and people carried stuff on golden poles down the aisle and we sang from a hymnal and read from a liturgy and there was a secret code that I never figured out when at random times everyone but me would cross themselves simultaneously. I felt rather out of place, but it was cool to see a church that worships differently, especially seeing all that they do to reach out to their surrounding world.

After church they took me out as promised for my authentic southern fried chicken. It was great. Even the corn was battered and fried. We finished up with plenty of time for me to get to the airport. I said goodbye to them and went back to Ericka's house to send a few more emails and stuff everything into my backpack. At the airport I grabbed a sandwich for the flight (no onions out of consideration for my fellow passengers) and a stuffed screaming monkey wearing a Nashville t-shirt for the kids. I spent the majority of the flight working on a song based off of a series a pastor friend of mine is preaching and made quite a bit of progress. We landed 10 minutes early and my dad drove me back to home sweet home.

Trip Totals
Days in Nashville: 3 1/2
Co-writes: 4
Songs Completed: 4 1/2
Pounds Gained: Yet to be Determined

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Inside Out

This morning I went to get the diaper bag ready to go when I realized that it smelled funny, so I emptied out the contents and threw it in the washing machine before heading to church. When I got home I began to transfer the wet load into the dryer and I checked out the bag. I was disappointed to find that it still smelled, and now it had some kind of mush flecked on the outside. I followed the trail to a forgotten compartment deep inside the bag and found what I have pretty confidently identified as the remains of a Nutrgrain bar.

Before I re-washed the entire load, I knew I had to get the stuff out of the diaper bag. At first I tried to just dump it out into the trash can without actually having to look at or touch the substance, but I found wet Nutragrain bar to be quite tenacious. Next I got a paper towel, reached inside with crinkled nose, and gingerly tried to extract it, much like I remove chicken giblets. This method was successful in getting much of the mush, but there were still colonies of it clinging to crevices and hiding in folds of fabric. Finally I sucked it up and did what I should have done in the beginning. I opened up the bag and turned it inside out, totally exposing the liquefied cereal bar and enabling me to see and reach it every disgusting particle.

The last week has been crazy around here. It has been a whirlwind of self-examination and evaluation for Matthew and me and in the midst of it we have definitely found some mush. The thing is, no matter how disgusting it is and how unpleasant to look at, you can't deal with sin by just peering in and poking at it with a paper towel. You have to take your heart, often with the help of others, and turn it completely inside out so that nothing is hidden and nothing is justified. I don't like coming face to face with sin. I don't think anyone really does. But thankfully we will never find anything in the deep recesses of our hearts that isn't covered by the blood of Christ.

So here's to the freedom that comes from the Gospel, the practice of self-examination, and a thorough check of all compartments before washing a diaper bag.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Get This Potty Started

Every now and then I catch a hint of a little joke that husbands have about what their wives do all day. The little comment here or there that alludes to us spending our days watching soap operas or going out to chatty lunches with our girlfriends. Matthew never jokes about this because he, unlike many fathers, has been on Daddy Duty for days at a time and is thus one of the enlightened. My friend Danielle's husband does not joke about it either, because he works from home. Recently he has relocated to working out of the RV in their backyard. He too is enlightened.


Yesterday, Danielle and I decide to pack a lunch and meet at the library for Story Time, then go to the park. I grab stuff for lunch, have the girls go potty before we leave, and load everyone in the minivan. We sit down for storytime at the library at 11:00am. We are listening to stories about ducks. Danielle arrives around 11:10 with her two daughters, Camryn and baby Kate, and her neighbor's son, Tyler, in tow. Before Danielle can even sit down, Tyler needs to go to the bathroom. She leaves her girls with me and hurries Tyler to the restroom. When she returns, we are singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. Camryn tells Danielle that now she needs to go potty. Danielle takes both girls and Tyler back to the restrooms. In the middle of another duck story, they return. Storytime ends with a rousing chorus of “If You're Happy and You Know It”, and we all walk over to the park and sit down to eat our picnic lunch. As we're setting out our food, Harper needs to go to the bathroom. I leave my other two with Danielle and carry her down the sidewalk to the park restrooms and take her to go potty. She says the park potty smells funny. When we return, we are ready to eat. Five minutes into lunch, Bethany announces she needs to go potty too. Why didn't you tell me when I took Harper 5 minutes ago? Because I didn't know I had to go then. Danielle says she can take Bethany because she has to go herself anyway. As they get ready to go Bethany says never mind, she doesn't have to go after all. Are you sure? Yes, it just came for a second but now it's gone. So Danielle walks down to the restrooms and Camryn goes along too. As soon as they get back, Bethany realizes that yes, she indeed does need to go to the bathroom. Sigh. I take her by the hand and begin walking to the bathrooms. Benjamin is finished eating and decides he would like to come too, so he is running after us. We let him catch up and the three of us go down to the bathrooms. Bethany uses the potty while I hold Benjamin up so he can drink out of the drinking fountain. When we get back to our picnic, we are all finished with lunch and we play for a little while. The kids climb up and down large concrete structures and miraculously no one gets hurt. As we are starting to pack up, after innumerable trips to the bathroom, Camryn pees her pants. We make the necessary adjustments, make our way to our minivans, and return to our houses just in time to kick back with some Bon-Bons and catch Days of Our Lives.

After reading this, you probably have to pee now too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dear Mr. President

I love frozen yogurt. I looooooove frozen yogurt. And whenever I go to pick some up, it's apparent to me that pretty much everybody loves frozen yogurt. If you want to see cultural diversity, just go get some fro yo. If you roll up to the local Golden Spoon there will be a group of black-clad Gothic high school kids pounding down some German Chocolate with hot fudge topping. Climbing out of their Buick will be an elderly couple ready to sink their dentures into a dish of vanilla with fresh berries. Inside the place will be full of soccer moms, business men, hippies, and divas, all gathered together over one common bond: The joy of a frozen, frosty, fat-free treat.

Dear Mr. President,

I realize that as you work to fulfill the office to which you have been elected, your views and strategies on foreign policy have been at times both praised and criticized. Admittedly, I don't know very much about the ins and outs of international warfare, and while I'm sure you are not currently looking for more advice on the subject, I thought I would submit my idea to you anyway.

My proposed strategy for achieving peace in the Middle East is to tap into the diplomatic power of frozen yogurt. What better way to bring cultures together than with a bowlful of just that: live and active cultures? I will leave it up to you as to exactly how you would implement this strategy, but my suggestion would be to begin by building Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt stores all along the Gaza strip, and to follow up by pitching franchising opportunities to Al Quaeda and other terrorist cell groups. A redemptive micro-enterprising program could then be put into place through which weapons of mass destruction could be traded in for soft-serve machines, sneeze guards, and various tasty toppings.

It is my sincere opinion that this is a bullet proof strategy (no pun intended) for the United States to create peaceful relationships between nations while simultaniously improving our global image. Should you wish to explore the idea further I would be happy to come to the White House and discuss details with you over a bowl of white chocolate mousse with Oreo topping.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and may God Bless America.


Kristie Braselton

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scenic Route

About this time last year Matthew and I attended a Foster Care/Adoption orientation meeting and left with the certainty that we were ready to pursue adoption. We had been deeply moved by what we learned in that two hour session and we began the process to adopt through the state. I've already shared the whole story of how and why we leap-frogged from state to infant to international in earlier posts, so I won't go into it again. I'll just say that we finally have landed. Right back where we started a year ago.

We've halted the process toward Uganda and have taken a hard right toward adopting through the State of Arizona, which just announced that there are now over 10,000 children in our foster care system, the highest it has ever been. Budget cuts are anticipated to put an even greater strain on the system, and I'm going to a meeting tonight to learn about exactly what those cuts are and how they will effect the kids and families involved. We're signed up for the 10 week certification class this summer, and after a few minor hoops to jump through, we should be good to go!

It can be either frustrating or breathtaking to end up on the scenic route. I guess if just depends on if you're in a hurry, running on your own schedule and pushing your own agenda, or if your agenda is simply to be carried along and follow the winding path where it goes, content to know that you are headed in the right direction.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blessed Yet Again

Our friends the O'Briens handed us an envelope at church this morning. Inside were the proceeds from a garage sale they held on Saturday to raise funding for our adoption! We are continually amazed at God's provision and the generosity of the people through which He provides. Thank you, O'Briens, and everyone who donated items for the sale!

The O'Briens are a wonderful family of 11 (plus whoever else happens to be living with them at the time) that we have gotten to know through the adoption organization Project 6:8. It is not an adoption agency, but more of a network of people with a heart for adoption and foster care started by a couple of gals from our church. Check them out on the web or this Thursday night for the monthly meeting at the Commons at East Valley Bible Church.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Patience, Wisdom, & Courage

Apparently there is a proverbial pendulum in state adoption, swinging between birth parent's interests and children's interests. At one point the state will be very determined to keep children with their parents, thus giving birth parents fourth and fifth and seventeenth chances to get their lives in order before severing their parental rights. Then after a few years of fallout from unstable home situations, the pendulum will swing over to the other side, which has strict requirements for birth parents to meet (ie- get off substances, get a job, etc) and if they are not met in a timely manner, the children are made available for adoption so they don't end up floating around foster care during the formative first few years of their life.

We started this process on the domestic infant adoption route, mainly because there weren't really any children in the state foster care program who were younger than 4 years old (we decided at the beginning that Bethany should remain the oldest child in the family) because by the time the state was done giving the parents chances to turn over a new leaf, the children were school-aged. The few young children in the system were most often adopted by family members or their foster family. So the next logical path was to take in an infant who might be more difficult to find a home for because of its race or substance exposure. Then we heard about the pilot program in Uganda and thought that perhaps there was a greater need there for families to adopt little ones. And that's where we've been heading for the past 6 months, though we have yet to financially commit to one path which leaves the door open to any opportunity.

All that said, we have heard that the pendulum is swinging back toward the child's best interests, which translates to more young children from the state needing a family. Our caseworker has also mentioned not to rule out an infant coming along that would match our family. While we've been filling out paperwork for a Ugandan adoption, we've been keeping an eye on the pilot program and have come upon a few concerns so far. Nothing that would cause us to just drop the idea entirely, but enough to make us very cautious as we move forward.

What a boring, vague, and hapless post this has been. I suppose its purpose has simply been to communicate that we have no idea what God has in store for us or where our children will come from. All we know is we are here and ready and available to kids who need a home. And that's a pretty cool place to be. So pray for us, if you will, for patience, wisdom and courage.

And for reading this boring blog, I reward you with a link to a very un-boring video of Harper from our snow day last weekend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nothing Else But Him

Benjamin was just miserable yesterday. I took him in and turns out he has a double ear infection on top of the cough and cold. He's been pretty needy all week, but yesterday in particular he wouldn't let me put him down. And in a way, it was kind of nice. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty awful when the kids get sick, but whenever they are it is almost inevitable that I will have some sweet, quiet moment with them that I would not have had otherwise.

When Bethany was in the worst of it last week, she came into our room around 1:00am unable to sleep and insisting through whimpers that a bath would make her sore throat feel better. Half asleep, I tried my best to talk her out of it, but, as often comes of attempts to reason with a 4-year-old, I gave up. We ended up sitting together in the bathtub in the middle of the night, whispering and laughing while everyone else was asleep, until she felt well enough to crawl back up into her bed. It was one of those moments when you can feel your mind taking a picture and filing it away, to be pulled out on the day you hand over the car keys or watch her walk down the aisle. I'm not sure if she will remember that night, but I will never forget.

Yesterday Benjamin wasn't interested in his books or his toys or even movies. He didn't want to play and he didn't want to eat. The only thing he wanted was me. He would say “upease” and I would pick him up, and then he would say “wock”. So we would go over to the rocking chair and I would lay him against my chest as he wrapped his little arms around me as far as they could go. And there I would sit with him, feeling his chest rise and fall, stroking his hair and his face, both of us perfectly content to stay just as we were forever and ever.

In the midst of their suffering, I cherish those sweet times. And in the midst of their suffering, they are learning. They are learning that I am there, and that I will care for them. They are learning to come to me when they are hurting or when they are scared. And, through these beautiful little moments that spring up like flowers from the cracks in my stoneish heart, I am learning a little something too. A little something more about my Father and His unshakable love for me, and why, perhaps, He allows for difficulty in our lives. That we would come to Him with outstretched arms, that we would rest our head upon His chest, and that we would find ourselves wanting nothing else but Him.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Braselton Rx

There are currently seven bottles of medicine on my kitchen counter. I'm not intentionally displaying them, I guess they just kind of accumulated there with three sick kids and one sick parent. This is one of those times when everybody is sick. People at church are sick. People at school are sick. Everyone is sick. Except Matthew. Except Matthew and his superfood-antioxidant-laden-green-sludge juices. I finally broke down and drank some the other day, in hopes of sharing in his super powers. I decided I would rather be sick then finish the glass.

The worst part about being sick is the sleep deprivation. Last night I was going on two nights back-to-back of sub-four hours of sleep. All I wanted more than anything was a good night's rest. After I put the kids down, I made a Walgreens run to find something to help me sleep. I found the cold medicine aisle and there I stood, sick and afflicted and sleep-deprived, staring at row after row of little colorful boxes, for a good 15 minutes. I read the drug facts, the touted benefits, the dosages and warnings. I found one that stated expressly right on the package not to use it to sedate children. Seeing nothing restricting me from using it to sedate an adult, I thought I'd give it a try.

I brought it home, choked it down, and tried to go to sleep. But to no avail. The coughing would not allow it, nor was it deterred by the medication. So, at 11:30, I had nothing else to do but go back to Walgreens and try again. This time I selected Robitussin DM, which is the one advertised in the commercial with little animated globs of mucous wearing suspenders. I hate those commercials, but I figured it was worth a shot. I took it to the register and the cashier scanned the box.

“Oh, Robitussin DM,” he observed. “You've got those little green guys going on, huh?”

I looked at him bleary-eyed, wondering if he was really asking me this question and if he regularly strikes up conversations with customers regarding their purchases. I paid and left, thankful that I hadn't come in for something like tampons or Preparation H.

Once at home I realized that the dosage chart on the first medication required me to wait one more hour before taking a dose of the new stuff. I contemplated staying up until 12:30 in order to follow the directions but exhaustion won over and I tossed back two teaspoons of the new stuff, wondering what might become of me. Perhaps I would start twitching or hallucinating, or maybe my heart would just stop beating altogether. I thought about writing a note for Matthew. Something like, “Good morning Babe. If you find me dead on the couch, this is what I took and when” just to simplify the autopsy process. Yes, things get a little foggy in the middle of a sleepless night. But after a bowl of Raman noodles and a little Conan O'Brien, I finally drifted off to sleep.

I'm hopeful for tonight. Feeling a little better, and I certainly have enough medications to choose from. If you're one of the everyone who is sick, skip Walgreens and come on over to my house. I'm sure I've got what you need.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Could It Be the Stairs?

Friday I went out on the mountain after being sick all week and ended up riding a personal best time.

Then last night I got carded for a ticket to "Slumdog Millionaire".

So I've got to wonder.

In any event, it's been a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And the Winner Is....

Christina and Brent! You guys must have made a similar discovery in your own pantry at some point in time. Yes, the object in our mystery photo in yesterday's post is none other than a petrified, sprouted potato. I have no idea how long that had been in there, but it was prety close to fossilization. Nice job on all the guesses! So Christina, next time I see you I will give you your oh-so-coveted prize. :)

Here are some pictures of the kids and the move as promised.

Little Helpers

Fun with Styrofoam. Mmmmm... styrofoam.

Yuck... styrofoam

Post-Move Exhaustion

Take a Guess

Day four in the new house. Internet connection finally reinstated. The great majority of the boxes have been unpacked and hauled off and the house is slowly becoming home.

The move went marvelously, so thank you to all who schlepped boxes or couches or lent us trucks and trailers! I will post some more photos of the kids and the move another day.

Our little contest for today is to identify the object found in the packing process shown in the picture above. I'm giving away a free cd to the first commenter who correctly identifies what it is. Good Luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Packing Up and Moving Out

Three boxes Mommy packed, and the three boxes Bethany packed.

We found the house! It is uh-mazing. Given our price range, we'd been looking at foreclosures for weeks. We'd seen houses with cracks in the walls and foundations, a couple with randomly inserted walls, several with no flooring whatsoever, and even one with a full-blown beehive in the garage. (I was the one who made that discovery. Pretty exciting stuff). We'd calculated costs of repairs, considered sweat equity, and tried to discern cosmetic issues from structural. Then two weeks ago our realtors sent us this house that just popped up.

Brand new model home. $80,000 in upgrades. Never been lived in. Beautiful little cluster community centered around a park. Two miles away. Just knocked $100,000 off the price.

We went and saw it first thing the next day and put in an offer and got it. We're still pinching ourselves on this one, and so is Bethany who got her stairs and her community pool. God's provision through it all has been incredible. Each step He has given us more than what we were even hoping for. We're praying that God would fill this house with grace and love and ministry and kids and that it would be used as a great tool for the gospel. So we're packing and cleaning and moving next weekend! Praise God! Oh, and seeing as we're moving it's a great time to do another garage sale, so if anyone has any more stuff to unload let me know!

Priority number one in the new house: Get the TV working by Sunday at 4:oo pm.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yard Sale Stats

Yard Sale Start Time: 7:00am
First Lull ("Lull" being defined as less than 10 people in the driveway): 10:30am
Weirdest thing donated: 50 Sombreros
Biggest Ticket Item Sold: Couch and Loveseat Set $120
Surprise Hit: "Hot Wheels" Cars
Most Disturbing Moment: Racially-charged shouting match between two customers
Most Disturbing Customer: The older man who looked like he'd just been attacked by a pack of angry cats and acted as if everything was normal
Sale End Time: 12:00pm
Grand Total Raised: $1,550.00

Two Words: Woo. Hoo.

We will definitely be doing this again. THANK YOU to all the helpers and to everyone who donated items and watched our kids and most of all to my amazing Mom who pretty much did all the hard work. You guys rock.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yard Sale, New Houses, and Waiting for the King

Only 6 days into the New Year, and there is so much going on at our house! Saturday is the big garage sale, and I mean BIG. We have recieved so many donations from so many different people and we have SO MUCH stuff! It's wonderful! We're having the sale at my parents' house in Ahwatukee because they have a huge driveway that will hold it all. So this week I am running around picking stuff up and making drop offs at my mom's and writing out a bunch of signs. Nothing like a Sharpie buzz to keep you going strong.

On top of that, a few weeks ago Matthew woke up with the crazy idea of taking advantage of the current housing market by buying a new house and renting out this one. We talked and thought and prayed about it and we're moving forward! Thankfully we've had quite a bit of interest in renting our house, and our fantastic realtors Matt and Danielle Long have shown us lots of great houses, so now we're just waiting for the right one. The kids love going out looking, especially since pretty much everything we're looking at is bank-owned and vacant. They get into these big empty greatrooms and just spin around until they fall on the floor laughing. It's hilarious.

We go to the mailbox every day to see "if the King in America says we can adopt our kids", as Bethany explains it. What we're actually waiting for is a letter from the Maricopa County court Judge to give us approval and certification to adopt. Once we have that, we can seek approval from the Ugandan governemnt. But the King in America is taking his sweet time, so it seems. And so we wait, knowing everything will happen in God's time.

If you want to come by and see us at the sale, the address is 3543 E Modoc Ct, Phoenix, 85044. I'll post a total raised after this weekend!