Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rather than Rebar

It was 1996 and we had one child. We wanted more children and the Lord was leading us to adopt a sibling group of three from foster care in Texas. My Hero worked at that time at Weld Wheel Industries in Kansas City and many of his coworkers were excited to hear of our adoption journey.

He walked into the purchasing office one day and the woman there asked him how the adoption was going. He told her about the three kids and she said, "That is so exciting! You are going to be like those people in Reader's Digest!"

He jokingly replied, "You mean the guy who gets a piece of rebar through his brain and has to walk through rough terrain for 10 miles to get help?"

She laughed and said, "No! The people who adopt 10 kids!"

A co-worker had overheard part of the conversation and asked, "Who's adopting 10 kids?"

"Mark is!" she answered.

The guy shook his head and said, "I'd rather have the rebar."

We adopted the three. In 2001, we adopted two more. This week we finalized the adoption on our youngest three children. That makes nine. We have decided that in order to avoid becoming "those people" in Reader's Digest, we are stopping at 9.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Then there was a goat in my bed

One afternoon, in the fall of my senior year of high school, I trudged in after a long day of chemistry and trigonometry. I flung my backpack on the couch and headed for my bedroom to mope like all 17-year-old girls do. In spite of years of experiences, I was stunned when I opened my bedroom door and was met with a “baaaa-aaaa.” 

There was a goat on my bed. It wasn’t a very big goat, but it was a goat looking at me with my nightshirt dangling from his mouth.
I closed the bedroom door and stood for a minute. Shaking my head, I walked back through the living room and picked up my backpack. As I grasped the front doorknob, I turned to my mother who had just walked into the room and said, “Should I try this again, or is there something you want to tell me?”
“Oh. You mean the goat?” she replied as if this were a perfectly sane conversation.
“So, there really is a goat on my bed? He’s eating my pajamas. … You put a goat in my bedroom to eat my pajamas?” I blinked.
“Well, it’s like this… “ she started and I knew it was going to be good. “I was vacuuming and there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door, the goat was standing there and he walked right in. So, I put him in your bedroom.” And she smiled and began dusting the coffee table.
When I regained my ability to speak, I asked, “What do I do with the goat, Mom?”
“Whatever you like, but he seemed pretty intent on staying.”

"I'm not sleeping with the goat, Mom."

In the following days, we tried to figure out who owned the goat. The neighbors had a small farm outside of town, so when we couldn't figure it out, they took the goat to their farm.

I think about these stories and I wonder why I am half as normal as I am.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I’ve been a people watcher all my life. I remember being a very small child and watching my relatives, or my parents’ friends at gatherings. Adults fascinated me. When I was 16, I went to Six Flags over Texas for the first time. Standing in lines for hours was made tolerable because I could watch people. The first mall opened in our town when I was 18 and my favorite thing was not the shopping but the opportunity to sit and watch.

The opportunity to watch people exploded with social media. With Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and discussion groups, I can watch thousands of people every day and I’m perplexed. I don’t understand people’s general definition of “blessings.”

I have many friends who are not self-described Christians and many more who are. It’s the Christians who really confuse me. It seems that only when things are going super-fantabulous, that they believe God is blessing. So many times, those things identified by Christians as “blessings” are temporal, earthly things.

“God blessed us with a new television!” (Hmmmm…. Maybe…)

“God blessed me with a great job making tons of money!” (I hope it doesn’t take you out of church on Sunday, or even Wednesday.)

“I got a new iPad! Isn’t God great?” (He is great whether you got an iPad or not.)

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t thank God for the things we have or the good circumstances that come our way. Blessings in the Bible are often equated with happiness and prosperity but I know that as a Christian, blessings should be much more.

I rarely see exclamations like these:

“God counted me worthy to fall into divers temptations! What a blessing!”

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)

“God blessed me with a terrible week and I endured!”

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:17)


“I am so thankful that God has chastened me this week!”

Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (Psalm 94:1)

Don’t misunderstand, I like the good STUFF, too. But I want God’s blessings, not mine.

New televisions are old as soon as the next one with a better picture and more functions comes out. The sheen of a new job fades when the daily drudge takes over. Even the great money isn’t so great when you realize what you have to endure to get it. I had my iPad for less than 3 months when the NEW iPad was introduced. (Oh, I still love mine, but you know what I mean.)

I want those blessings that will follow me to my deathbed and beyond. When I’m 100 years old and sitting in my rocker, I want to remember how God blessed me with eternal treasures. Some of the most fiery trials of my life and produced the sweetest fruit. My troubled childhood produced in me a love for the wounded. My many miscarriages led me to adoption and my beloved children. Since I almost died after surgery, my perspective on life has changed entirely. I don’t fret over the little stuff so much.

We should be thankful for everything that God sends our way. The next time I get ready to post a Facebook status or Tweet and it’s been a rough road, I want to thank God for the blessings of the rough road.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6, 1996

They tumbled off a plane and into our lives 16 years ago. Jessica, Jesse, and Marcy flew from San Antonio, TX to Kansas City and we welcomed them. They were then 12, 11, and 10.

Anyone who has ever adopted older children know what a "honeymoon" period is. We didn't get one. They appeared ready to scrap and claw and see if we meant what we said. We had met them 8 weeks earlier after reading volumes of their history and talking to social workers, counselors, teachers, and foster parents. 

Their foster mother asked us if we knew what we were getting into and my Hero wisely answered, "How can we?" But we were committed.

We told the kids: 1. We are committed to you. 2. We will always be there for you. & 3. If you get into trouble we will be right there waiting... with consequences. 

They tested that. With God's grace, we stayed committed.

We didn't tell them we loved them because that's not what they needed to hear. They had been in foster care for 6 years. They had been placed in one home for adoption and sent back after 5 weeks. They had been told they were loved only to be sent away time and time again. They needed to know we were committed.

We did love them. With time, they began to understand and accept that. Through all the testing, our love grew. I can't imagine life without them.

They are all grown now. We talk on the phone. We laugh about their antics. We pray for them. We miss them when we can't be together on holidays. We are family.

There was no way we could know what we were getting into but I'm sure glad we did it anyway.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am a writer

Why are those words scary? I've been published several times. I've actually been writing for as long as I can remember. I filled Big Chief Tablets with my happy tales. I went to school and earned a BA in English just to lend credibility to my writing.

And yet, when asked, I usually say, "I want to write." Why is it so hard to say, "I'm a writer"?

Maybe I'm hiding from expectations. If I only "want to write" and I post something good, its a surprise to everyone. If I say "I'm a writer" it better be good. There is an expectation.

Maybe it's time I lived up.

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's a Choice

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

For several years I have really struggled in my heart with how my children have chosen to live their lives. We tried to raise them to love Jesus. We tried to raise them to serve Him. One by one, they grew up and walked away from Him. And my heart was broken. I questioned myself. I questioned my Hero. I questioned my faith. I even questioned God sometimes.

Others questioned us. Some who I believed were friends we're harshly judgemental. One man said, "There's obviously a leadership problem in the home." I understand the questions, but the barbs thrown our way only increased the pain we were already feeling.

For almost 10 years I have prayed and prayed and begged God to show me where I failed. Repeatedly, He has given me the same answer. It all comes down to a choice. My children chose to walk away.

 I know that in my head. Adam and Eve walked with God himself every evening and yet, when the devil presented a choice that appealed to the flesh, they chose that over the fellowship with God. It was a choice. Moses saw God face to face and talked to Him. But when Moses got angry, he chose to disobey God and smite the rock. It was a choice.

I know we didn't do everything right in raising our children. But I also know that if we had, they still may have chosen to walk away.

Years have passed and some of my children have spoken to us of returning to church. Some of them have even begun to attend church again. I don't think any of them would tell you today that they hate God. That wasn't the case not so long ago.

For me, I realized I had a choice, also. I could embrace my grief and get lost in my questions and become of no use to God. Or I could choose to continue praying for my children and entrust the outcome to Jesus. Most of the time, I choose the latter. Every once in a while, I realize I'm choosing to wallow. I have to continue to choose to trust.

P.S. I love all of my children fiercely and I hope if they read this, they know my heart. Each and every one of them has had struggles that most people never face. It has been hard for them. I don't know if I gave them the tools they needed to face the storms. I hope even when things are the darkest they know they have parents who love them greatly and are praying for them daily. And I hope they choose to remember that Jesus loves them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

God Reminded Me

Even though the weather was mild, it was a long winter. My Hero and I have struggled with many things, some of them harder than others.

Alone in my car, I sat in detoured traffic. Frustrated. I was frustrated with the traffic. I was frustrated with the struggles. I was frustrated with myself. To be honest, I was frustrated with God.

With a huge sigh, I said out loud, "I don't even know if this is worth it any more."

Then God spoke. It wasn't an audible voice. (I'm thankful for that. If He ever speaks to me in an audible voice, I will wet myself.) But I heard Him just the same.

A ladybug landed on my windshield.

You may have read my ladybug story. God uses the the simple ladybug regularly to remind me that He loves me.

That makes everything worth it.