more than we ever dreamed

We have some great Thanksgiving traditions in our house - big breakfast, hiking, movies, and then big dinner. What the best part is these days is that I am not so involved in the hiking or the movies so I have managed to have almost 5 hours to myself! Now that is something to be thankful for!

Of course, given the holiday, I have been thinking about what I am thankful for. And so much comes to mind. But I also asked the kids, and got a look into their personalities.

my family (awwww...)
lego star wars wii game
computer (do you see why "media" restriction is a first line of defense in our house?)
Jesus (working on the Trinity)
food (a boy after my own heart. food is at the bottom of the totem pole. happy to eat cheerios and oatmeal for his whole life)

anna claire -
God and Jesus
my family
Lydia!!! (said with GREAT enthusiasm)
babysitters (maybe we should go out more often!)
Grandma and Aunt Chrissy
Grammy and Pops
neighbors (so far, it's all about the people)
clothes (and she has some cute ones)
computer (media restriction doesn't work so well on her)
flowers (what a girlie thing to say!)

micah and lydia are upstairs playing and i dare not interrupt their happy time (it's either happiness or WWIII). so i'll have to wait to see what they say. but truly, there is so much to be thankful for in my life. i sort of wouldn't even know where to start if i made a list.

but this year in particular, i am thankful for the ways that God has worked so obviously in our family life. sometimes life feels stagnant. day in and day out it is the same. this introvert enjoys that on some level, but i find it challenging to see God in the stagnant. and so i am thankful that i can look at lydia and remember God's big, huge, sweeping, obvious working to bring her home. it reminds me that he is real and present. that he isn't asleep on the job.

there is a part of me that is excited about another adoption simply because i know we are going to see God in big, flashing lights. leah will be another reminder of a huge, big God. we will have a story to tell with her.

i am thankful for a nice house in this crazy-expensive city. i am thankful for nice clothes. i am thankful for a church that i love to go to. i am thankful for living 2 miles down the road from Grammy and Pops. i am thankful for close friends. i am thankful for 4 healthy children. i am thankful for a husband who believes in helping 100%. i am thankful that he is my best friend. i am thankful for a great school system for our kids. i am thankful for good health. i am thankful for those who are fighting for our country - many family members among them. i am thankful for reliable cars. i am thankful for a family that gets along. i am thankful for the God who have given us more than we could have ever dreamed of in this life.

thank you Jesus. for yourself, for your provisions, for your peace that passes all understanding. and thank you that you already know the precious little girl that will become ours.

happy thanksgiving.


the train is moving

I have been wrestling with God for the past couple of weeks. I had this sense in my soul that he was up to something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was. I thought it was regarding #5, but maybe I was totally off base. So I asked him for an obvious sign. Why not? He’s big, and I get confused easily. And if we are talking about more children, that is no small decision! So I need big, clear signs. Well, let’s just say we need to get the journal rolling. The big guy upstairs isn’t messing around.

But wait, I must catch you up on a few things. In our prayers for #5 we have been weighing two options – biological or adopted. Biological would require a costly surgery and no guarantees, but less costly than adoption. And of course the wonder of childbirth. Adoption is well, one of the greatest things we have ever done. So one morning I was imagining what I wanted (not that what I want is the supreme thing going on here but I was indulging myself) and here is what I came up with…1) adopted; 2) Chinese; 3) girl; 4) toddler. And yet I was still wrestling with which path God wanted for us? Strange, seemed pretty obvious to me at that point. So what was really going on I figured out (or God revealed I should probably say) is that it was all about the money. Sure, there is a certain euphoria to birthing children but truly everything else was amazingly unappealing. Fatness, pain, throwing up, sleepless nights, major age difference. Not what I wanted. What I REALLY wanted was another little Chinese girl! But I want to be clear, it is not the same as wanting a new pair of shoes. This is a deep, life-changing, mind-consuming, heart-stopping desire. God was clearly directing us to adoption. I had been pushing it aside because we were both scared about the money, but there was no doubt after those moments with the Holy Spirit, adoption it would be.

So that settled it. And Eric and I are thrilled. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do this time around. We think we are in store for another miracle, there is not a big fat chunk of change sitting in the BB&T coffers like there used to be. I thought it was going to take a while to see him in action but take this in…

**TODAY, I happened to read an article about plummeting interest rates (who says God isn’t in the liberal media!) Called the mortgage people. Refinanced the house. Saved $150/month just like that! EXACTLY the amount we had talked about wanting in our budget for another child so that we could keep our current savings/retirement plans as they are. Hmmm…you think that’s a coincidence?

**AND, our first big expenditure is the home study. We can’t officially start until July but nevertheless the $1800 is looming large given the not so large nest egg. So as I am talking to the mortgage lady, she offhandedly remarks, “Oh, and when you close on the new loan you will skip a house payment so you won’t have anything due in January.” Really??? Are you kidding me? No, our house payment is not $1800. But, rewind, remember a small detail I just learned, we get a $500 discount for using the same home study agency so really our bill will be $1300. Yep! That’s our house payment.

God is doing BIG things to bring this little girl home. We know it!!! We see it!!! We feel it!!! She is going to be another little miracle. Leah, we are coming for you. Hang on girlie, your mommy and daddy will be there soon. We will love you and will never leave you. We will give you a home and a family. And there are four little people who can't wait for little sister.


throw me a bone

life is weird. the twist and turns that we find ourselves on. and it continues to amaze me how we can wake up one day and suddenly the entire path of life changes. two have come our way this week...

#1 we are 99.9% sure we have finally found an 'answer' to our frustrations with josiah. if he isn't the textbook case of ADD i don't know who is. while i am excited that there is HOPE, and maybe some real answers other than pulling our hair out and submitting josiah to a life that has him eternally grounded, it is nevertheless life altering. now we have a kid with a 'need', a kid who requires special attention and maintenance. school isn't just school anymore, it's this mammoth thing in front of us that at this point is driving us all crazy and we are facing this giant of a thing that we have no idea how to handle. life is weird. just when i was rejoicing that josiah was a great reader and wasn't going to have difficulty in school...

#2 at the same time that we are experiencing this reality check on what life with 'older' kids entails - more time consuming, money consuming, emotion consuming, energy consuming - we are also feeling the push to pray about #5. for a variety of reasons if we are to go for #5, the decision needs to be made fairly soon. and so we find ourselves having one day this week suddenly burdened for #5 and investigating the options. what in the world?

i don't know what we are doing. we know nothing about ADD. we know nothing about a kid who struggles in school. we know nothing about what God wants our family to look like. but i WANT to know SOMETHING!


you never know

eric's out of town and so dinner was the kids and me, and a box of graham crackers, with a bowl of clementines, and some yogurt. all the important food groups i might point out. sometimes i get tired of talking kid talk (and by that i mean pretty much all the time). i am not well versed, nor particularly interested in star wars, pretend school, legos, kung-fu panda. i am most definitely not one of those moms that breaks out the scissors and glue and creates projects with their kids while wearing matching aprons and pulling hot chocolate chip cookies out of the oven all while listening to the latest fisher-price sing-along cd. it's not me. one might wonder why i have 4 children. sometimes i wonder too. but i love it. i love them. they just have to be crafty-crafty all by themselves!

okay, lest i digress. so, sometimes i just need a conversation about me, about something i care about (i know...selfish... but i NEED it, N.E.E.D it, NEED it). tonight's question.............."do you think we should have another baby?" responses included...

josiah - "NO! then i would be responsible for (counting...) FOUR children and i would probably have to change diapers. NO! although, we could adopt one from paris, france. that would be awesome!"

anna claire - "YES! ...but i want it to be a girl baby because i don't want anymore boys in this house. and mommy and daddy are SO not going to paris."

micah - "YES! i want a boy but can he be three years old so we can play together and he won't wear diapers just like me?"

lydia - focused solely on eating, as is her usual posture at the table.

so then i decided we should discuss names. i explained to them that all of their names went together because they were from the bible and they all ended in the "A" sound. josiAH, annA, micAH, lydiA. initial candidate included dalton (okay, we weren't quite getting the original explanation) but then they came up with some good ones. elijah, josiah suggested, which i happen to really like. sarah was nixed - josiah thinks that name is ugly(maybe unreturned affections in kindergarten). mariah was a go. like that one.

who knows. maybe there will be #5. and if so, we have the names elijah michael (after eric MICHAEL) or mariah leigh (after me, ashLEIGH). hey, we're halfway there! now all we have to do is figure out if God needs an elijah or mariah sanzone. or who knows, maybe both.


i don't know

one of my life's values is honesty. i never want to come across as that person who seems to have it all together. although, i think sometimes i do, for the mere fact that i am shy. silence equals put-togetherness. especially when you are the pastor's wife who is supposed to be perfect, right? okay, well, i'm not. let's get that out there. no perfection living in this body. not even close.

so i found myself thinking about my last blog post and i couldn't bear to go to bed without posting again. it sounds so fluffy, so nice, what a sweet adoption story. and it is in so many ways. certainly looking at our 'special needs' child one could only be amazed and filled with gratitude. we have many friends who are struggling with their children and their adjustments and in some ways i even feel guilty for how easy lydia has been. which makes me even more want to proclaim the other side of the story.

four kids has not been easy. the adoption part of lydia has been a breeze. the part of adding another family member has not been. the bottom line is i am in a situation in which i can't possibly do all the things i am supposed to be doing. i have been tasked with a job too big and i must constantly ask myself, 'what is the most important thing to do at this moment?' depending on the time available, how many kids are around, what the weather is, what's most pressing, how i am feeling...i make my decision. for the past two weeks, the answer was something other than going to the grocery store. so, one day at lunch, when i was really hungry, i looked in the refrigerator and realized we had NOTHING to eat. nothing. not even a bowl of cereal. so i ordered a pizza. (coming from the family who didn't order a pizza for the first 6 years they were married.) and i proceeded to eat on the pizza for the next week while eric was out of town. no time for grocery shopping. the weather was warm, the grass needed to be mowed. birthdays were coming, need a present. there is not enough time for me to put food on the table, run the kids to activities, monitor homework, exercise, pay the bills, discipline the kids, keep the yard looking good, do my bible study, play with the little ones, plan for christmas, volunteer at church, clean the house, and all the 100 other things a mother must do.

that's the fact of the matter. there is simply not enough time. the older ones are helpful, very helpful. but none of the four are independent. for now, we have four little people who constantly need mommy or daddy. so what gives? most of the time it is the food. cereal and hotdogs are regular meals at our house. but as of now, i am sick of that food. i want something GOOD to eat. well, got to pick something else then. maybe exercise. then i feel horrible about myself and am grumpy not to speak of the fact that my pants don't fit. that's not good for anyone. dirty house. that's okay for a while. but after a few weeks its gross. moldy toilets are not good. i'm not obsessive about cleanliness but seriously, dirty is gross. winter is coming so the yard won't be so much work. but christmas is coming too, and buying presents for four kids is no small task - already working on that - not to mention the decorating and celebrating that goes along with the season. so I DON'T KNOW!!! i don't know how to do this life.

i love it. i hate it. i am excited. i am exhausted. the kids bring me life. the kids suck the life out of me. i am navigating a new road and i by no means have figured out all of the curves along the way. sometimes i want it to all go away. sometimes i couldn't think of anything better. tonight, i am thankful that they are sleeping, that no one is pooping on the carpet, that grandma is here visiting, and daddy is finally home. and wondering who will be our next president?

scary, scary skeleton

people keep asking us how lydia has adjusted. and the answer to that question is pretty easy. miraculous. that word has a tendency to be overused. too often it is used to describe what would more accurately be surprising or amazing. not truly miraculous. not truly an only-God-could-do-it experience. but lydia, she's a miracle.

first and foremost, her language is unbelievable. she speaks fluent english, understanding everything and talking a mile a minute. of course, it's two year old talk so sometimes it requires a mommy translation, but most of time she is fairly clear. she was singing in the van tonight, "scary, scary skeleton, walking down the street..." some silly song the kids learned in music class. she often announces in frustration, "oh man!" and her favorite phrase is "mommy, what are you doing?" if i had a nickel for everytime she asked that i would be going on vacation to hawaii!

in other areas, she is equally amazing. she sleeps great. she has improved tremendously with her gross motor skills, trying to keep up with her brothers and sister no doubt. her fine motor skills are out of this world. she has bonded with her siblings, eric and me, her grammy and pops. she is certainly well loved by many. she is proving to be quite a gregarious little girl. at first it bothered me that she was so friendly to everyone - i felt like it was a sign of a lack of attachment. but in the recent months we have seen that her friendliness is more a part of her personality. she clearly prefers mommy and daddy and shows all the signs of a good attachment but the kid just loves people! (she is like her daddy!!!) once she gets the sign from me that i approve, she embraces new people with typical extroverted exuberance. i keep saying she is my only hope for a child who won't scream when i take them to kindergarten!

so, lydia is wonderful. she truly has been our miracle girl. but i would be remiss in painting such a heavenly picture without being honest with the realities of welcoming a new child into our family. it has been difficult. and continues to be challenging. day to day life is a lot. i feel maxed out. and sometimes i feel more than maxxed out. but more on that later. no need to spoil the miracle tonight!