Monday, February 8, 2016

My Leap into the Parenting Fire Helped Me!

My first two babies were hard. Very, very hard. High maintenance is the PC term that I've seen online. They were just difficult. I lived my first two years of motherhood in a daze of tears. My own tears included. They never slept-though my son did from 6 months old. But our daughter didn't sleep until she was 18 months old. And they were both loud criers with reflux and colic. No matter what we and doctors tried, they both suffered tremendously.

I suffered too. I felt like the worst mother ever. I could not comfort my own babies. Day and night it was a round of crying babies. Our girl only slept for 40 minutes at a time, hardly enough time to unwind. Her brother, who was 13 months old when she was born, referred to her as, "Waah waaah." That's how he knew her, that little creature that always cried. Feeding them on my own was a nightmare. I'd put him in his feeding chair and she would be crying.

Those were the worst two years of my life, made even worse because I had been begging God for a child after our infertility diagnosis. I questioned, "Had you purposely kept me from falling pregnant because You knew I'd be useless? Why is this happening to me? I need rest. Please, make this stop. The first child I can understand, because I begged for him, but this second one was not our plan! We were going to wait till we could afford to adopt. Why are You punishing me? Make it stop!" But it didn't. Not till lil miss was about 18 months old. I'd even call my husband in tears at work, hoping he'd suddenly drop everything and come home.We tried to get an unemployed young lady who called herself a friend to come help, but she wanted to be paid. Money we did not have-being a single income family on a starter salary. Ok, who am I kidding, I still can't afford help ;-) But that didn't work out.

Those two years were the best two years ever. They were a field of preparation. I needed them in order to better appreciate today's difficulties.

We expected our new daughter-the adopted one-to be just as bad as our first two were. She wasn't.

I keep expecting that now with her being the 13 months old that our eldest was when he gained a younger sibling, I'll struggle. Yes, it's not easy. It's tiring. It's draining. We're not sleeping much. But it's not as bad. He's only waking up twice a night-though he sleeps late. It's not as bad. I have not yet lost my mind like I did the first time. I have not shed any tears of frustration, heart ache, regret and extreme fatigue.

Those first two years prepared us so well that this is almost a dream. If it wasn't for our hot Swartland nights, even the two night wakings wouldn't phase me as much, but I am unable to sleep once he has woken up. That's where the trouble comes in with those night feeds. That's the only trouble. A pleasant trouble compared to the nightly screaming we used to live through. Unlike with both first babies, no neighbours are coming over to commiserate over our misery!

Those years were too awful to describe. I believe I was deep in the thralls of postnatal depression. I even answered a screening questionnaire for postnatal depression that said I needed urgent help but psychological help was beyond our finances so I muddled through with prayer and tears. It was a LONG two years.

It was a long two years because I mainly parented alone, with my husband traveling up and down the country, in and out the country for weeks at a time. It was a lonely two years. Not this time. He's here every night 99% of the time.

Now I'm doing it again. Two babies in a short span of time. Because of those two years, I know it can be done. Because of those first two years, I know I can do it again, not only now but one last time.  I mentioned in an adoption group that the more children I bring into my arms, the more my heart expands and has even more love available for others. I love my ones that are already home even more than I thought possible and I am ready.

Who knows what the future will bring? Will it be infants? Toddlers? Pre-schoolers?  I will NOT be signing up with any agency or social worker. Somehow, those precious children/babies will come and find us.

Those first two years of motherhood were hard. I'm ready for the rest my years of motherhood. They'll be hard, but they'll be joyful. They'll be hard but there will be moments of unadulterated happiness as we navigate life together. Biological and adopted-all blessings from God. None deserved yet given to us. Blessings abound!

And this time, I have a secret weapon. Not so secret. My first two who gave me a shocking entrance into this world are my allies. If I'm stuck with both babies at once and have dishes or vacuuming to do, I can call a "BREAK TIME" and they'll take a break from their school work to come lend a very willing hand. This time, I have reinforcements. It can never be as bad again. All thanks to the first two.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

And What's YOUR Specific Part in God's Plan?

A few years ago, my husband was driving us back from speaking to students, and suddenly asked, "What's our mission? What are we meant to be doing? What's our calling as a couple?"

That was easy. Rebuilding the waste places that exist within the church, so that members could become honest missionaries. But also, the family.

I had a strong desire to do 'something' family related. It was also helped along by the Kenyan evangelist who saw the same calling in our-at the time-only one year old marriage.

But as for what exactly we would do, we did not know. Or how we would do it. We just knew we wanted people to have as happy a marriage as we have. And so began our couples counseling and Family Ministry.

And then we adopted children. And I realised that that was also part of what God called us to do. Our specific part in God's plan right now is to raise His children. Still dealing with Family. Still part of God's plan.

And so we plan to do so-with these ones and with the ones to come. Our twins or triplets.

It's a small cog in the wheel. We're not out there as televangelists or as pastors in Zambia baptising thousands a day. And you don't have to be 'big' either. All He wants is for His children to be faithful, so that we can enter into His joy. Whether you're a street missionary, a faithful, loving nurse, a foster mom, a carpenter working with Christ, He just wants us to aim to do HIS work in everything we take part in.

What's YOUR specific part in God's plan and what are you to doing to ensure you play your part in it?

The battle between good and evil rages on. What's YOUR part in the great controversy? Let's faithfully soldier on.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Imperfect Mom of Four...Sometimes!

So, what was the meeting and handover like?


We were so gung-ho about meeting our son's birth mom; you know I'd prepared myself for the emotions of it all, but we got a call that morning that it wouldn't happen. The foster parents? Yes, but his kanga mom and I had been in touch so much, she had sent some photos and videos, that I felt like I knew them already. They were like old friends! I mean only with a friend can you gently tease her husband's appearance the first time you communicate.

I saw his little body and cried. The wait had been so long. It was just like a huge feeling of relief washed over me, "At last!" But I was too scared to grab him out of their hands.

Lil man started crying as we were all hugging and greeting, and his new dad had no such compunctions. Hes' definitely not as "scared of offending" as I am. He took our son and soon had him fast asleep on him. It was too cute!

We had a very relaxed, laughter-filled conversation. Lots of gentle teasing. They tried to convince my husband that triplets was not the way to go unless we then got a fourth 'extra' one to even the numbers out. Alas, they failed! :-)

So yeah, it was like sitting with friends, including the social worker. It was fun. We even laughed at the kanga dad for NOT crying. He's famous for crying when he needs to hand the babies over.

Then we came home.

And we slept. Kinda. Eventually. In short bursts.

And in my sleepy state the next day I told my husband "I DO NOT WANT TRIPLET OR TWIN BABIES! I cannot do this!" He tried to convince me I could. He obviously has more faith in me than I do! But until further notice, I'm adopting from age 3 upwards...Till my mind changes when he's learnt to sleep. This is exactly how our daughter was and look how quickly I forgot.

How are we feeling?

I haven't asked my husband. But for me, yesterday and Wednesday he felt like a baby I was going to return to his parents. It was like I was taking care of someone else's child. Maybe it's because the foster parents kept referring to themselves as his mom, dad; their children as his brothers... He always felt like someone else's child when he was not with us, not like he was waiting for our family. So bringing him home felt like bringing home someone else's child a bit. I absolutely adored him but it was like someone was going to take him from me. When my eldest would come round from behind and say, "Here's your Mommy." and I'd turn to see him in her arms, my immediate thought would be, "Huh? That's not my child!"

Today. He feels more like my baby. So much so that I don't want to do housework. I just want to cuddle him. He's asleep right now and everyone else has gone to sort out my husband's tyres. I jsut want to go back into the bedroom to watch him sleep. He feels like he's my son.

I laughed at my daughter earlier on. Baby Sister wasn't napping and Baby Brother had been napping for a long time. I figured that seeing as we hadn't turned his monitor on yet, I should go see if he was awake or not. My eldest girl came out her room to go find her big brother. I told heras I was going to our room, "I'm just going to go check on your brother," and she says, "That's where I'm going." I looked her dad and laughed. When we each got back from our DIFFERENT errands, I asked her, "Eliora, how many brothers do you have?"

The look on her face was priceless as she put her hands over her mouth, eyes went big and she said, "Oops! I've got TWO!"

Yeah, we'll all eventually get there.

How's Big Baby Sister handling the new addition? She thinks he's absolutely hilarious. She looks at him a lot, laughs at him, pulls funny faces at him. She keeps poking at his belly button, pulling his toes-both gently but then tries to gouge out point at his eyes. She didn't nap yesterday afternoon and didn't nap this morning. And woke up at 1am this morning too. So...It's either she thinks of him and wants to play, or it's coincidence.

As for him. I think he looks like a little turtle. Husband thinks he's got a head like President Jacob Zuma. He's getting there. He feels so small and fragile compared to our Chubby Cheeks. Just want to keep him safe. He's more relaxed today. We got a few smiles. We're building a family. And I'm enjoying it. Even the "trying to balance the baby care thing." I put them each in a wrap yesterday, himin front, and her in the back. They were both cool with it. He slept after having grizzled for a long time, and she laughed and pulled my hair. We're enjoying this navigation, this dance.

Next step will be to go to Court and apparently have it finalised in one go. Not sure when.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Angels in Human Form

No, not real angels. But people that God is using to be his earthly angels. To do His work, to pass on messages from Him.

Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Those of you who aren't Facebook pals have no idea how hectic it has been. From worrying that we would not achieve placement of our son this week thanks to Storm Jonas keeping my husband away from us-he's still there and not here! To my one aunt suddenly dying this Sabbath and another one falling ill the next morning and my mom's anguished reaction.

It's been bad.

But angels in human form stepped in with prayers, messages of encouragement and peace, practical aid, a friendly gathering with gifts from those even absent, a friend in the USA...

I tell you now that to a thirsty traveler in a dry desert, your words of love, your gifts, your prayers, your donations are as welcome as a a cup of sweet, cold water. You are needed and you are appreciated.

I don't forget. I can't forget what has been done throughout my past. And I won't forget the hands that tried to lift us up this weekend.

M encouragement is for you too to be someone's angel. Not everyone can give tangible gifts, but that message of comfort and empathy means a lot more than you think it does.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Don't Know How I Feel but Thankful For Our Visitor

People are getting excited about our son coming home soon and asking how excited I am.. I really can't say.

I think it's a combination of factors. With our daughter we only knew she existed for 13 days. We kind of rushed to get ready. It was exciting. This time we knew we had over a month so I didn't get that nesting feeling. But I still don't have it even now. As I was telling one of the people who asked this morning, I feel kind of flat. Maybe when we buy his clothes and diapers I'll feel the excitement building. For now, it feels like we still have over a month.

I also know that it means that someone else will be saying good bye to him. Someone who loved him for over 4 months. That's a long time to give your heart to a helpless soul. It's a long time. Lots of kisses  night cuddles. And the tears will be flowing. Hard to imagine that and rejoice.

Meeting birth mom. I don't know what it's like for them, seeing a child they signed consent for long ago. Months before. What kind of emotions do they feel? I wish I knew. I know I did try to temper my excitement, but our girl's birth mom LOVED that we were so excited. Which makes sense! You want to know that your child is wanted! But man, I'd also assume a pang of some sort of sad emotion would also hit.

I'm nervous for our son himself. Developmentally he knows who's who. Well, he knows who's meant to be with him. And they won't be with him. He knows what's familiar, and we won't be it.

But this is where the hopefulness and contentment come in.

I want my son in my arms. I know he'll be confused. But I'm thankful for our  visitor that we had last year, the 5 month old. Because the Sunday I drove home with her, she took one look at me and cried. She cried all the way to Malmesbury then fell asleep. She woke up at home, looked at us, and cried again. But the next day, there were no more tears. And by Tuesday, she was smiling. And by the end of that next week, she wanted me.

I'm also thankful because I recall how AWFUL it was to take care of two babies when our Big Two were babies! It was tiring. And tough when all three of us got sick. And this was back when husband used to travel a lot and for long periods of time,

But I also recall how we fell into a rhythm with our visitor and our new daughter. Ok, part of the rhythm took place at night when husband and I went from one baby to the other, as if they were taunting us with their turn-taking; and nights were more wakeful than sleepy. But I got them into a nap routine and we enjoyed each others' company. Seeing the two babies interacting together was wonderful and strengthened our resolve to adopt. The day our visitor smiled and laughed was joyous. I know that's what it will be like with our son.

Just a few more days and he'll be home. I do know that I can't wait for the wait to be over. I want him in my arms. With his forever family.

ETA- I'm also thankful for his village. I've mentioned the young man before who sent our son's first gift for us. My sister-in-law is bringing bibs and baby grows, and there's someone I've NEVER met before who is in America and will be sending some stuff over with my husband. That's the best part about this. The people who love my son so much that they want to share their love gifts with him and us. That includes those who'd love to give but cannot. I know my sister from another mister hopes to share some sewing tips for him when I have time. Those are the things that increase my excitement. My village.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When She Asked if I "Still Sing"

I have always loved music. Hearing it and singing. Those are my pleasures. I love to sing, and sang in choirs from Junior School, Junior Church Choir and on. I remember my high school choir audition like it was yesterday. I waited while my friend went in, and then she came out and waited for me to be auditioned. While I waited I was praying. The disappointment would have been terrible if I wasn't deemed good enough to be part of the choir.

I went in. And the choir mistress played the notes she wanted me to sing. And I sang. She went higher and higher. And still I sang. As each note was reached, my friend would hear the teacher exclaiming, "Oh!" When we were done and she noted my name, the teacher says to me, "You know, you already had a place in the choir. Your junior school choir mistress told me how well you sing and that I should find you and get you in if you didn't come audition. All I wanted to do with you was to find out which part to put you in. First soprano. You're in."

Ahh, I was so excited! And so surprised. I had no clue my choir teacher thought that about me. My friend had also been in the choir with me, but she hadn't recommended her at all. It was the first time a teacher had ever said anything positive about me, and that little bit of joy stuck with me forever.

As we progressed through high school, the choir teacher even asked me to join the more exclusive "chamber choir." Man, though I couldn't make the practice sessions, I was so pleased. My love for singing was visible and appreciated. She saw the joy that singing brought me. I sang.

Meanwhile at church, I sang. Sang at City Hall.

Moved to university and joined the choir and various groups and still continued my solo's. My husband told me that all I needed to do was to sing to him every night once we got married, and he'd be a happy man. (He must be a sad man because I don't do that! Having a captive audience of one makes me really shy! Weird, I know! Just last week he asked me to sing a song to him and the children and I wanted to hide.)

I sang in South Africa, sang in the UK, sang in Tanzania and sang back in SA again.

I sang at our tenth anniversary. I sang a solo to my husband, many people not realising I had made up my own words.

I sang to the children I taught at church, my boys and girls telling me, "You sing so well. I wish I had a voice like yours."

(By the way, my voice is nothing to write home about. I just happen to enjoy the purity of the notes themselves; so I sing them as the composer wanted them. No affectation. Nothing fancy. Just the words passing on their message without any fancy stuff added in. I'm no expert or star.)

  I stopped singing.

Time to practice with the quartet we were in, diminished. Then we moved too far away from them anyway. I didn't like singing solo's because the hall we worship in is too large and they don't use mic's, which my non-loud voice needs.

 I started singing with my Big Two at churches. The last time we sang at a church my husband was preaching at, a mother came to me afterwards to say that she was very blessed and inspired. She had no clue that you can teach children to sing (One sang alto and the other child had sung tenor) and she was going to start singing with her children. That really, really pleased me! If one more person can be inspired to also sing, so be it!

One day,  I met a lady I sang in a quartet with over a decade ago, and she asked me, "Do you still sing?"

And the answer was complicated.

Do I still sing in public? No. That requires time I just don't have. Time I'd rather spend with my new, still-forming family.

Do I still sing? Yes.

I sing to my baby girl as I rock her in my arms. I sing with my family as we have family worship. I sing songs we'd one day love to present in church but never do. I sing when I'm alone. I sing when I'm sad. I sing when I'm happy. I make up tunes to memories scriptures and sing to my children. I still sing.

Just a few minutes ago I realised the children had brought the diaper bag in from the car but hadn't brought it to my bedroom, and Baby Girl had found it and started emptying it. As I sang, "The diaper bag! Oh, the diaper bag," my big Girl joined in with a lovely alto harmony.

I sang.

I sing and smile when my Baby Girl gets a big smile on her face when she hears me sing soprano or descant. She loves it. She joins in, making as high pitched a sound as possible. I sing. And enjoy having another precious soul who seems to have an affinity for first soprano.

One day you will hear my whole family singing together. Hopefully my son will be a bass ;-) I've always imagined my large family singing together...
 I will sing till the day I die. Because singing is my passion and it's another way I hear God speaking to me.

Life changes what you do. But never let life change who you are. Motherhood may change what you do and when, but don't let it steal your innocent joys from you. You are more than just that child's mother. You are the person you were before the little one was placed in your arms, and that's who you'll be when they leave the nest. Never forget your passions, even if you have to re-direct them for this season.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Are You Father Abraham?

(ETA- I don't know why it's not behaving. Why it insists on writing on that white background at the bottom. And frankly, I'm too sleepy to continue trying to fix it. I miss Windows Live Writer ;-) )

"And He said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

I was just reading the story of Abraham again. A few things jumped out at me as I ponder on the life of a man who God spoke to face to face multiple times. Abraham-the man of faith and father of many children.

1) Polygamy is NOT God's plan. Even though Ishmael was Abraham's first born son, he had to go, because He was the fruit of relationship unapproved by God. And with him, had to go his mother, who would spend her time in the desert, alone and feeling forsaken.  God hates polygamy and infidelity. He makes that very clear.

2) Just because you are the fruit of a sinful relationship does not make you less-than. Hagar was promised that her beloved son would also become a great nation and would be blessed. You do not necessarily have to pay forever for the sins of your father.

Then we come to the two main points I wanted to focus on today.

3) Abraham's faith. He took his only beloved son. His son of promise. And agreed to go and kill him. That makes no sense. Why would you go against God's plain commandment and end the life of your only son? Why would you?

Because Abraham recalled the promise the very same God made. Isaac would become the heir from whom would spring an entire nation. Obviously then God would bring Isaac back to life.
How else would He be true to His Word as He had been when He 'promised' him that Sodom and Gomorrah were about to meet their end? The same God Who had been faithful to Him before, was going to be faithful to Him today, even though he didn't know, nor know why the sacrifice was being called for.

Abraham knew that what he was doing was temporary. He knew it by faith, Hebrews 11:19 says so. The 'death' that Isaac would die was no permanent death. For that would make God a liar. And "God is not a man, that he should lie."

Are you Father Abraham? Are there not promises that God has made to you that you might be forgetting? Has He called you to walk a difficult path? Are the sacrifices you're being told to make too unimaginably difficult to make? Does what He want make absolutely no sense? Does it seem like he's asking you to be the cause of your own heart ache?

If, like Abraham, you have always obeyed God's word, then you know what His word says in Jer 29.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

God plans a peaceful ending, a place where strain, stress, worry, fear and dismay will not exist. He allows them today, but the same God Who allowed them for Father Abraham will keep His word. You may feel like He has forsaken you today, but He hasn't. He will be there, just as He always has been.
4) God does not permanently forsake you just because you temporarily forsake Him. Abraham made a serious error. More than once. He lied about Sarah and almost caused her to be unfaithul to Him. Then He was unfaithful to her-at her behest-and conceived a son. He disregarded God and found his own way round the problem he thought God could not handle.
Yet God did not cast Father Abraham away. He gave him time to return to Him, just as He has given time for you to return.
This leads me to a thought I hadn't had when I first started typing this.
5) God winks at your time of ignorance. Abraham is not held to as high a standard as we are. Why? Because he did not know as much we know. God gave him light and truth but He didn't overwhelm him with too much knowledge. He led him gently to the right path. And through him, the oracles and ALL the truths exist. God will take you where you are, use you and through you, "all nations shall be blessed," - the promise, just as it was for Abraham. The difference is that you know much more than Abraham knew, so God expects more from you too.
Abraham learnt to live by faith. He learnt to rely on God. Abraham was not cast off, but when he sinned, he also did not walk away from God and expect God to chase after him. He came to God and spoke to Him just as he was. And God transformed him.

If you are Father Abraham, God can do to you what He did to him. You can be a blessing if you will only learn from your trials. You can be be a blessing if you will hear God speak and do what He says. Abraham's faith led to obedience. Yours will too. Now God will know that you fear Him...When your faith leads to the greatest sacrifice possible-as His did with Christ, our Messiag. And who knows, at the last minute, you may be halted from making that sacrifice. His thoughts towards you are good thoughts.