Thanks to my Table Talk series, (which is STILL causing me to lay awake at night with more ideas and more people to interview who are great at being intentional without being awkward…so look for an eBook sometime before my children graduate college!) I missed the chance to do a “Favorite Things” post in October, so I thought I’d give you an extra long November list to enjoy!
Favorite Things: November
$2.88 Earrings: I firmly believe that every girl needs a little Faded Glory in her life. That’s right. Sometimes you can find the best stuff at WALMART. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself since having moved to a town without a Target.) Have you seen the accessories selection lately? I follow the fabulous Instagram account @whoawaitwalmart and I went on a HUNT when I saw these beauties. Now lots of the jewelry looks like it cost $2.88, but these look priceless in my opinion!
Milk Chocolate Covered Almonds: It’s embarrassing how fast the Hurdle family goes through these. They are the perfect carpool and homework snack. Boosting the blood sugar and providing a wee bit of protein to boot. Actually ANY snack of this brand is fabulous. I have an obsession with the yogurt covered pretzels. MMMmmmmm. Pumpkin Spice Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls: Need I say more?
Honeycrisp Apples: Duh. They are the absolute best…I can’t stop eating them. Smear peanut butter on top. Oh I can’t even. MMMmmm. What’s your fave apple of the season?
Melissa & Doug Paint With Water Pages: Remember these? I totally forgot they existed! (Sorta like I forgot small children lose their teeth. That was a crazy second-day-of-having-kids experience.) It’s all the fun of paining without the mess. They have been amazingly entertaining for my kids…and maybe me too!
Podcasts: This could be a “Favorite Things” list in and of itself. I’m fairly certain my daily life friends hate me for how many podcasts I recommend on a daily basis. But, y’all. It’s the key to my mental sanity amidst laundry, dishes, garage-cleaning-out and exercise these days. I feel like it’s feeding my mind and soul while I attempt to feed everyone else’s!
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your faves?
The Public Library and thus The Family Resource Center: Minus the fact that I literally spent all my fun money for the month paying the late fines for a Pippi Longstockings DVD… I am in love with the Public Library. Where else can you go to hear an archaeologist explain his impressive rock collection, or attend a readers’ theater, get your Amazon cart for FREE, have hours of entertainment for your kids or fantastic free DVDs for family movie nights, even tickets to shows around town?
On our recent trip to the library, the librarian asked if we’d been to the Family Resource Center. I’m still not sure if this is a Mississippi thing or an everywhere thing. Here in Oxford it’s a division of the Extension Services. I had never heard about it, but it’s like the library…with TOYS. It’s AMAZING.
Blocks, trucks, musical instruments, science kits, books, a few DVDs, a Cricket machine, laminator, even the giant parachute we all used to play with in PE class!?! It’s basically a homeschooling mom’s dream. And it’s free. And high quality. And we dominated it this Friday afternoon. And my kids have been playing pleasantly since then. And we don’t have to find space to any of it. The lottery. I feel like I won it. For the next 3 weeks.Big Hero 6 and Frozen 30 now showing in a living room near you…and I was just informed that on Sundays there are two shows…”the very scary show and the unmodest show.” Okay, great. Off to #disciplethat.
Disrespect, fussing, entitlement, delayed obedience. All the issues. And those were just mine.
Don’t even get me started on the two pieces of sand paper, also known as my darling children, who were doing a large part of the refining.
I had slaved in the kitchen, working hard to prepare a well-balanced and hopefully well-received meal. But of course, someone who had never even tasted the dish decided to dish out his strongly held beliefs about my provisions. Breadcrumbs. How dare I?
And then I said it.
“No one with an attitude THAT ugly is invited to MY table.”
The snarling words caught in my throat.
I meant them with every inch of my apron, yet I knew they stood in stark contrast to the words of a most Gracious Host.
A Gracious Host who created a perfect world complete with every stunning detail and delicacy one could imagine.
A Gracious Host who allowed the initial shedding of blood to cover the shame of His first guests, Adam & Eve.
A Gracious Host who gave daily bread to thankless wanderers.
A Gracious Host who relentlessly pursed unfaithful lovers who RSVP’ed but never showed.
A Gracious Host who left His kingly throne room to dwell among us.
A Gracious Host who laid down His life and became the new and perfect Adam to buy back those who are His.
A Gracious Host who, by His Spirit, resides, seals, authorizes, equips, and enables the souls of the church-His bride-to bear much fruit.
A Gracious Host who is coming again to once and for all welcome fornicators, haters, cheaters and liars from every tongue, tribe and nation, into His heavenly and holy home. Betrothing us to Himself forever.
And because HE welcomes MY ugly attitude(s) to His table again and again, I can, by His strength, echo His voice of love to the onion, barbecue sauce, and bread crumb haters sitting around my table.
Keeping in line with November being Adoption Awareness Month, I thought I’d share one of my favorite memories of being “in the process of adoption.” It’s a weird season honestly. It’s like having the big round belly, but with no due date in sight…thank the Lord for true friends who shower you and your future little one(s) with love even when there’s no guaranteed delivery.
Friends like our church family in Columbia. They wanted to honor Joel and our future posterity by throwing us a baby shower, but how does one throw a party when the quanitity, age, or gender of the to-be-celebrated child(ren) is unknown??
Well, you make sure your friends are geniuses. And then they host a “Happily Ever After Storybook Shower.”It was seriously the most thoughtful shower ever. Friends came and brought their favorite children’s books, new or gently used, along with gift cards to their favorite places to shop for kids OR their favorite “the parents must escape” date night locations. It was oh. so. great.
I still remember how special this day made me feel. Opening a Jesus Storybook Bible made me burst into tears and having my friends around me gave me courage to feel hope.
I don’t know if any of your friends, neighbors or church members are close to completing the adoption process, but maybe a Storybook Shower would be the perfect fit for someone could bless. I am still grateful and I love getting to tell my kiddos which of our friends gave us their favorite books. The kids loving reading the notes people wrote to them even before we knew them!
Plus, just as icing on the cake, our paperwork was finalized and another grueling a short 2 months later we got to meet two Pigtails and a Cowlick! Praise be to God who’s perfect timing is never a minute too late.
Guys, November is for soups. The hearty kind that even my “I need a cheeseburger” husband can’t resist considering a full meal.
Have you tried Mexican Crack Soup? It’s one of my favorite recipes from Gigi. (Tell me you read her 31 Day series??) I’ve renamed it so as not to have to explain crack to kids…may I introduce you to “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Soup”
In crock-pot (Bonus tip: always use a crock-pot liner, people!) combine chicken, corn, soup, undrained chili peppers, cilantro, taco seasoning. Stir in chicken broth. Cover cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
Stir about one cup of hot soup mixture into the sour cream. Stir sour cream mixture and cheese into the soup in the crock-pot, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until combined.
I’ve been freezer cooking for a little while now and let’s just say that I totally think it’s the way to go. Bulk cooking days are a huge time and money saver, plus you can adjust menus to any diet or palate preference. I’m a firm believer.
I’m an even firmer believer in cooking in the context of community! It’s sooo fun to gather a group of friends, blare Boys II Men, chop, slice, dice and dump for a few hours, and leave with 20 meals for each family to enjoy. These are the things that an ESFJ’s dreams are made of. Productivity and friendship at it’s finest.
Well, I recently attempted to do just that and it’s safe to say I bit off a wee bit more than I could chew…literally and figuratively.
Welcome to the first ever (and hopefully last ever) installment of “Freezer Meal Fails” also known as “Freezer Cooking: What NOT To Do” and but not limited to “That one time I had wild dogs circling my house for days.”
5 Ways to Fail at Freezer Cooking
Invite too many people and/or plan for too many recipes: I am high inclusion. I love to invite the masses to anything and everything. But when your home was built in the 1970′s your kitchen is only so large and you can only prepare food in so many rooms of the house. Stick to Less that 4 families if you’re a beginner. ALSO, don’t get overzealous on how many recipes you’re going to attempt. For one reason, your cost will increase the more ingredients you have to purchase. Better to double the same recipes than have lots of variety and lots of random leftover hoisin sauce. Prep space is the other issue as you’ll need to set up a station for each recipe. Plan the number of meals by considering the budget, time allotment and prep space available.
Forget to anticipate the amount of fridge and freezer space needed: Speaking of space. I don’t even want to tell you how much meat we bought for our most recent and most epic round of freezer meal cooking. Let’s just say it was more than any stand-up freezer was going to hold. We ended up spreading the ingredients across multiple homes (read counties) and it was a headache! It didn’t even occur to me that we would need this much refrigeration or I’d have purchased everything on the prep day!! Plan accordingly, people!Bonus tip: SHOP AT THE PIG!! It is now my fave grocery store because you can call ahead to the meat department to place your order and they were so helpful in gathering some of the groceries too!
Cut corners on labels: We all know I love to save money. Typically we just use a black permanent marker and write the name of the dish on the front of the Ziploc or pan, but with so many people and so many recipes, we thought it better to use labels. But labels are pricey, ya’ll. So, we thought it better to print the recipes with side dish pairing ideas out on printer paper an packaging tape them to the bags and pans. One minor detail. Packaging tape comes off in the freezer. So welcome to hundreds of unidentified frozen meals floating around the freezers of the Housewives of Lafeyette County.
Figure it out as you go: “I’ve done this so many times before! No worries!” said no smart freezer cooker ever. Always have an itemized “Day Of” plan. You need to know when to cook the potatoes and when to layer the enchiladas. Trust me. Make an order of operations plan and stick to it. Also, don’t burn GALLONS of the most amazing loaded baked potato soup you’ve ever eaten. Errr, actually NOT eaten because it tastes like cigarettes. You will hate yourself. And so will your friends. Womp. Womp.
Forget to account for trash receptacles and the days between cooking day and garbage: This was quite possibly my most epic fail. Aside from inviting all my friends over on the ONLY day of the year that Joel needed ALL their husbands to help with our massive landscaping project. That was bad. But aside from that, I completely underestimated how much trash we would amass from this Guinness Book of World Records cooking day. We have two giant trash bins that we roll to the street twice a week. But this was Saturday. And they were partially full. When I say that we had a small landfill out front of our house I am not kidding. So by the time the sunset we had all the neighborhood animals and then some coming out of the woods to devour the remains of our day. My day ended with a trip to Home Depot to purchase yet another trash can. This time a 96-gallon commercial size. And let’s just say that raw meat makes for a less than joyful neighborhood by sunny day #3
So those are the freezer meal failures to avoid. If you’d like to learn more about how TO SUCCESSFULLY freezer cook, read THIS post and THIS one too. And you’re more than welcome to email me with questions.
Here are my favorite freezer meal NO-FAIL recipes that will be sure to become staples for you.
Did you know that November is Adoption Awareness Month? I’m not sure who declared it such, but I am glad that they did! With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite foster/adoption resources, whether it’s just a wild dream or a stark reality.
There’s so much value in these resources and also in those who’ve gone before you! Take advantage of support groups, therapists who understand parenting children from hard places and/ older families in the community. Those are my faves.
Any resources you have found helpful that you would add to this list?
Our pastor prayed the most beautiful prayer for orphans this morning. It was so encouraging to have our church petition God on behalf of those without an earthly advocate, and together, ask God how we might be a part of loving the Fatherless.
I really appreciate this video. It’s a weighty and accurate picture of the American orphan experience. I hope it will bring awareness, compassion and fervent prayer to you the way it did to me.
We hung out with more college students. We dominated the birthday party circuit. We recited in chapel.
We cheered on the Rebs. We loved us some “non-scary” Halloween.
And we loved every minute of it all. And now it’s November!!
It’s the hush before winter. The month for all things warm, cozy and thankful. It’s the month that is older and wiser. The one that takes a little restraint not to rush right past. I’m anticipating what November promises to those who will pull back the reigns and resist the urge to run straight through to Christmas.
How are you feeling about November? Can you believe 2014 is nearing an end? Are you with me in milking this month for everything it’s worth? I’m ready!
Don’t forget to email me by Monday if you’re interested in this month’s virtual book club! And sign up to receive the newest monthly newsletter coming to an inbox near you soon and very soon!
Who would think that writing about the same topic for 31 days could be so completely refreshing and energizing? Joel has walked by my computer multiple times this month and said, “Pippi Blogstalkings, this thing would be my personal hell, but I am so glad that you love it.”
I’m actually sad to see this challenge come to an end. It’s been really good for my soul and I’m so grateful for the valuable feedback you gave this month. You’ve been so generous with your thoughts and your time and I am truly appreciative.
I am so grateful that I think I’ll give away some fabulous napkin ties. :) Congrats to….sweet Megan Carey!a Rafflecopter giveaway
And just in case you missed any of the action this month…
Somehow I still have Table Talk interviews and ideas swirling around in my mind, so you may see some more where that came from in the future. Who knows. What’s one actionable step you’re walking away from this series ready to take? I know one of mine will be continuing the priority of showing up to THIS table regularly!
If you’re new here this month and/or if you’d like to automatically receive posts in your email inbox just sign-up in the little “email love” box. There’s a monthly newsletter coming soon and there are plenty more adventures in ministry, motherhood, menu-planning and miscellaneous enjoyments of following Him and loving them to be had.
Ya’ll, let’s rock out the rest of 2014 together, shall we? I simply can not wait!
“Did you know we went camping for my birthday when I was with the parents who took care of me before you and Daddy?”
“I didn’t know that, Bud. Was it so fun?”
“It was great. We stayed 2 nights in a camper at the beach. They gave me new shoes and a CD with the chicken dance on it… Mom, how do you spell foster? F-O-S-T- then is it and I or an E before the R?”
A storm had prompted these memories. Storms always remind him of the first safe arms he knew. Arms that healed instead of hurt. Arms of a foster momma who fought for him. The foster momma, now a beloved “aunt”, who still fights for him on her knees 9 hours away.
Our kids have steel trap minds. D has never forgotten a thing (except his homework!) and even though it’s easy to assume because she was only 18 months when she taken into care that EG doesn’t remember anything, but you wash a baby’s brain with adrenaline on a daily basis and you’ll be surprised what they can easily recall.
He’s been scared of storms for as long as he can remember, but last night while his little heart pounded he said, “Momma, I know God is protecting me, but I don’t really know. This is my chance to learn. I know He loves me, but I don’t really know. I have to learn it.”
Before the conversation turned back to asteroids, meteorites and Legos, all I could say was “I know Bud, me too. I know God is keeping me safe and keeping me in His love, but it’s something He has to teach me again and again every day. Let’s pray and ask Him to make us never forget His protection and love.”
I love being an adoptive mom. It feels particularly scary and sacred all at once.
But isn’t that the case for anything God uses to bring us to the end of ourselves?
Based on the survey responses so far, it seems like a good number of forever families read this blog. Whomever you are, you or perhaps dear friends of yours have stepped out in faith to welcome an orphan into their family. Have you ever wondered how to sensitively and intentionally care for these mommas and daddies? These questions and thoughts might not be one-size-fits-all, but I love phrases like:
“Sometime I’d love to hear your adoption story.”
“How are you doing in this season of parenting?”
“How are the kids doing in this season?”
“What things are you trusting God for right now for your family?”
“What are specific ways I can pray for you and the kids?”
“What are ways I can pitch in?”
So, adoptive mommas, if we were curled up here on my couch drinking tea together, here’s what I’d share with you, it’s mostly just what I wish someone had shared with me. I hope the rest of you will eavesdrop for insight into “what it’s like” and how to be intentional in conversation.
1. Adoptive Parenting is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
For Heaven’s sake, I wish the minute we knew our kids were coming home that someone would have grabbed me by the shoulders, given me a hug, then a good hard shake, and then told me to gird my loins and take a big fat extended release chill pill. The first year is brutal.
Please, please, please give yourself an entire year of hibernating in the heavy fog of adoption. Please tell yourself and all those around you that you’ll return their calls in a year when you can think and see straight. And even then, you may need an extension.
People joyfully give grace to families with newborns and there is no reason you have to instantaneously and effortlessly try to pull off family life. Whether you’ve been matched with an itty bitty, a toddler or a teen, clear the dang calendar, and take the pressure off yourself (and that child) and be okay when they don’t know how to walk into a room alone, resist the temptation to eat food off the floor or out of the trash, sleep in there very own, yet very new bed, etc. etc.
The pressure is off. This is adoptive, restorative parenting. You’ve prayerfully got years ahead of you to teach table manners and self control. It’s gonna be okay. Ya’ll will make it. Find a comfortable cadence and pace yourself.
The first year will probably kick your butt. Take a load of pictures and write down the cute stuff. I promise you it’ll be year 2 and you’ll realized you were actually blacked out. You won’t remember a thing. Just keep everyone alive and celebrate the baby steps. It’s brutal but may God make it insanely beautiful.
2. Adoptive Parenting is a Grieving Process
“Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful” – The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE
Each adoptee will experience profound losses for the rest of their lives. These wounds cut to the core of their psyche and are unimaginably far-reaching. Nothing short of professional therapeutic guidance, fervent prayer and God’s healing can help. We read enough books and have experienced enough hysterical meltdowns to tell us that.
But the grief of the adoptive parent is what caught me by surprise. Even this morning I was tempted to believe that if God gave us a baby then we would get to experience the lost little years. God gently reminded me that those experiences would be with a new child and would only magnify the losses of D & EG’s little years. There are constantly losses for the adoptive parent to grieve.
Not knowing when (or how) she got her ears pierced. Not being there when he took his first step. Not knowing if anyone held them and loved them through their first fever and their first bad dream. Not having a clue about so much. I didn’t expect those missing details to hurt so deeply.
My grieving, when surrendered, has produced gratitude and hope. Gratitude because GOD knit them together in their mother’s womb and was there for each milestone. God saw the injustice and was the perfect advocate He was writing their story and fighting for them when I was not.
We adoptive parents are grief counselors and daily we get to paint the picture of forever, redemption and hope for our children. We can tell them that when they are 16 and can drive a car, we will still be their momma. We can tell them that Jesus too can sympathize with every one of their sorrows and weaknesses and that Jesus has given them a greater capacity to understand His adoptive love. We can pray all these fruits of the Spirit into them, and rest the parenting pressure on God, the producer of all harvests. May God lead us as we lead these little ones through grief and to the One who knows what it’s like to be rejected by His Father.
3. Adoptive Parenting Is Different But Not Depressing
Sure most people don’t regularly pick up and hold an almost 8-year-old or rock and snuggle him till he passes out every.single.night. Sure most elementary school parents can get babysitters as often as needed so they can be in a small group or take a date night. Sure the oils, probiotics, special diets, therapies and regimens may seem completely hocus pocus to many. But this is what we are gonna call “parenting with blinders.”
No one may ever understand why your child is wigging out over a ________ or why ________ parenting strategy won’t work for your family. But the sooner you embrace that adoptive parenting (and really just parenting any sinful human) is a unique challenge, the better.
Different doesn’t mean that you buy into the “Woe is me. No one understands my life” mentality long enough to become completely independent, isolated and depressed. It just means that by the power of the Holy Spirit and with the help of great resources and supportive groups you parent with blinders.
You try and see if you can joke and tease a bad attitude away instead of corporally punishing the fool out of it. You try and connect every time you correct. You give choices to share control. You let the child “try again” ALL.THE.LIVELONG.DAY. You jump up and down when slowly but surely you make progress in your parenting. You let set backs go. And you have a TON of fun in the process because you celebrate literally everything because they came from literally nothing.
Daily you realize that there is such a long way to go, but there is so much excitement and adventure along the way. They’ve never experienced the simple pleasures of family life and as they feel more safe and secure a whole new world unfolds before your very eyes. May we love them for free, expecting nothing in return and may we offer our lives in exchange for ours just as our Father does for us.
As we approach Orphan Sunday this weekend, I’d be remiss not to invite you to pray and ask God what part you might play in changing a child’s life. In the U.S. 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption. (Sidenote: Did I mention that there are also countless embryos awaiting the chance at life and there are two adorable twins that came from this post?)
Perhaps praying, giving to a family’s adoption fund or bringing meals to a newly formed family is what He will ask of you. Maybe applying to become a respite, foster or adoptive parent is a grace gift He would bestow. We are praying and asking God if our family is complete or if we are to pursue growing our family again. I don’t know how He will lead you (or us!), but if it’s still on your mind, it’s still in your heart!
Anything else you’d add to the Adoptive Table Talk discussion? Tomorrow is the grand finale of this 31 day series. Are there are any final things you think need to be included? Don’t forget to fill out the Reader’s Survey for extra entries in the Untie Your Story Giveaway!
Also, if you’re in South Carolina and need an incredible photographer, these beautiful memories were captured by my friend Erin Drago!! Couldn’t recommend her more highly.
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