Archive for March 2014 | Monthly archive page

I LOVE Pizza

Mar
2014
27

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I know that I’m an adult and should have much more refined taste in food than I did when I was a kid, but you know what? I love pizza. I cannot quit pizza. It is my very favorite food in the whole world. I mean, I have so many great recipes and know how to cook interesting, complex meals, but come Friday night I’m like a 19 year old freshman in college with a need for pizza. Oh gosh, I can practically taste Gumby’s right. now. Remember Gumby’s, my fellow Florida State alumni?? I can remember sitting in my dorm room with Allison #2 (I had 2 roommates my freshman year and they were both named Allison. So they will forever be known as Allison #1 and Allison #2 in my mind) and devouring an entire order of Pokey Sticks. And if you doubted my love for pizza, you don’t after reading this paragraph that has way too many italicized words in it.

These days I make the pizza we eat on Friday nights. I mean, I make the crust. I buy the sauce and the cheese. Come on, ain’t nobody got time for making homemade sauce. And because it’s important that I be able to make pizza at a moment’s notice, I stock my freezer with pizza size bags of shredded mozzarella and my pantry with jars of pizza sauce. Not kidding. Tonight Josh is gone working on a sermon and the kids are (finally) in bed and I thought, I know it’s Wednesday, but it is so a pizza night. And see? Aren’t I so glad I have all that sauce and cheese on hand?? No crust, but that’s ok, bagels will do in a pinch. I’m eating it right now. You don’t know how good it is.

And I guess maybe I just love pizza because it’s bad for you and delicious, but I think I also love it because it is a cherished part of my upbringing. Because you know who else loves pizza this much? My mom. And we ate the same homemade pizza that I serve to my family now every Friday night of my childhood. When she visits me or I visit her on the weekend we always revel in the fact that we get to eat the pizza without making the pizza. My dad and Josh shake their heads. Why are these crazy women so obsessed with pizza?? They’ve resigned themselves to it, though. Like it’s such torture to be served pizza once a week. Come on, guys.

But seriously, my best memories of my childhood, especially my teen years, come from the dinner table with my parents and my brothers. I loved dinner with my family. ‘Til the day I left for college. And then couldn’t wait to get back to it over Christmas and spring break. We talked. We laughed (a lot). We enjoyed each other. And it makes sense. Some of the best fellowship happens over a good meal, enjoying God’s provision and thanking him for it. Meals are how we celebrate and mourn and comfort and relax. It’s just an integral part of how we commune. And I learned all about that in the home.

So it’s something I definitely strive for. I so desire to make dinner every night like my mom did. To faithfully provide good food for my family to fellowship over. Truthfully? I’m not so great at it yet. At least half the time we feed our kids chicken nuggets and we eat after they go to bed. But we’re getting there. Honestly, I think one of the biggest struggles, and I think this is true for a lot of women today, is I just expect way too much of myself. My mom did not have the food network, the cooking channel, facebook, pinterest, instagram or anti-anything-that-wasn’t-grown-in-your-garden websites. She wasn’t constantly bombarded with famous chefs, thousands of pins and pictures of other people’s awesome gourmet food. She had a rotation of meals that were good and simple and that’s what we ate. And we loved it.

Oh, don’t get defensive. Of course you should try new recipes and take advantage of the millions of ideas you can get at the click of a mouse (or touch of a screen. It’s not 1999, Katie). I’m honestly a better cook because of Ina Garten and The Pioneer Woman. It’s helpful. But don’t heap unrealistic expectations on yourself, and don’t think that the most important thing is that you make awesome, super-healthy, gourmet food. (Unless you or your kids have food allergies. In which case it is totally important). Looking back on all those family dinners together, I honestly don’t remember a ton about the food. Well, except the pizza, obviously.  The important thing was that we were together at dinner. That is the thing that remains for me. Well, that and an slightly unhealthy obsession with pizza.

(I was going to take a picture of my bagel pizza for this post but I ate it already. Whoops.)

 

Eva Loves Mommy

Mar
2014
16

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A couple of nights ago we were all sitting around the table after dinner; Josh and I enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet before the crazed bedtime routine that would follow. OK, it was neither peaceful nor quiet but at least we were sitting. And the children were (sort of) sitting. Reagan said something about how God made everything and that started us on this conversation, common to Christian families with small children…

Dad: Who made _____?

Children: GOD DID!!!

But of course Josh is a wonderful, perceptive father, and he is always determined to go beyond that simple truth and get to the hearts of our children. He talked to them about what is said in the Gospel of John, that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (3:27). So he changed the conversation to…

Dad: What do you LOVE?

Children: juice/school/playing/friends/stuffed animals, etc.

Dad: And who made that thing you love?

Children: GOD DID!

Because knowing that God made all things is different from knowing that we are to love the creator rather than the created thing.

He had been making the rounds, asking this question, when he got to Eva, who had climbed in my lap at that point, and asked, “Eva, what do you love?”

She pondered this for a moment, putting her finger on her chin and going, “Hmmmm,” a gesture that makes me laugh because it’s so clearly an imitation of something she’s seen adults do.

Then she smiled and said, “I love my Mommy.”

Aaaand, Josh and I burst into tears. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. We were full on crying and you could tell the kids were like, ‘Uhhhh. Can we go take a bath now? This is really uncomfortable and weird.” And normally one of the kids saying they love us would not be the catalyst for such a dramatic outpouring of emotion. But this was Eva. And she didn’t say she loved Daddy. She said she loved Mommy.

See, Eva took to Josh immediately, but has only recently begun to allow me to enter in in the same way. There are many reasons for this. Primarily I think it was because she craved the authoritative and protective love of a father, but was threatened by the nurturing and instructive love of a mother. Josh brought the safety and affection she craved. I brought competition. She had been running the show with herself and with Titus for a long time and she didn’t know that she could trust me to take over.

This led to many frustrating moments for us. Seemingly simple moments, such as me asking her to eat the oatmeal squares I’d put in front of her, were met with tears and hiding. Not because she didn’t want the food (the girl is obsessed with oatmeal squares), but because she wanted to be in charge. And as much as I wish I were always sweet and patient I have often had to repent to Eva for how I’ve responded to such moments, with ill-masked irritation and sharp words.

By God’s grace – seriously, His unbelievable, transformational grace – the last few months have seen immense improvement for Eva and me. She’s beginning to loosen her hard grip  and let me take care of her. I’m learning to see the signs of a meltdown with her and to stop and breathe and ask God to be with me right then in the moment. Where there used to be a look of distrust and suspicion there’s now a look of pleasure and ease. She’s even learning to trust me with Titus, not jumping in to defend when she sees the discipline coming after he’s disobeyed. Giving me time to respond to his needs instead of always trying to attend to them herself. She is learning how to be a child. And not just that, she’s learning to be my child.

It is a weighty thing, knowing that I am re-defining her entire concept of what a mother is. But anytime I feel the weightiness of something it is an opportunity to put into practice those precious words of scripture, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” This not only takes the burden off of my shoulders, the burden of taking the 5 year old orphan and making her a daughter, but it also gives credit where credit is due when she does begin to understand that she is an orphan no longer. It is Jesus, whose yoke is upon me, who has orchestrated it.

So when those words come out of smiling lips, “I love my mommy,” there are many tears indeed. We see that God is doing what we could not do. He is able to begin to undo the damage of years of neglect, and give little Eva a heart full of love. And in that sweet moment, once the tears begin to subside, Josh is able to say to Eva, “Yes Eva, you love Mommy, and God made Mommy. He gave her to you to be your mommy. Isn’t he such a good God?”

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March Reading

Mar
2014
05

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I like this reading update thing I’m doing if only because it forces me to read things all the way through instead letting my inattentiveness do me in. I have read half of at least 50 books. It feels good to actually finish these last few I’ve read!

This month I finished up Mere Christianity and that led very nicely into Timothy Keller’s The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. In the chapter on pride (The Great Sin), Lewis says, that the truly humble person “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all” (128). In his book, Keller basically expounds on this idea. Only he does so by expounding 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, where Paul says “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” Paul has learned, because of the gospel, not to think less of himself or more of himself, but to forget himself.

Keller says that “the truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It just works. It does not draw attention to itself. The toes just work; the ego just works. Neither draws attention to itself.” He goes on to talk about how, for the christian, the verdict is in. We are declared righteous because of the work of Jesus. And to focus once again on our own actions, as though they will save or condemn us, is like “being sucked back into the courtroom…we should not be there. The court is adjourned.”

I commend this book to you. Everyone should not just read this, but own it. It’s like 50 pages, you can read it in an hour. But it’s something I know I will go back to again and again, a great reminder of the need for the gospel in every moment of every day.

I also read Nancy Wilson’s book, True Companion: Thoughts on being a Pastor’s Wife. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to everyone, because it is pretty specifically for the wife of a man in ministry. But it was a great encouragement to me. One of the challenges of this season in the Hughes house has been that I just have to be all-home all the time. When I need to decline other opportunities for the sake of my home I can feel restless and impotent. And if I’m not careful I can forget that the most important thing I do is care for my husband and my children. This book was a great reminder of the holiness inherent to loving and managing one’s household.

So now it’s March. Am I the only person who kind of freaks out about March? For some reason January and February feel like practice months, and then in March I think, wait, it really is 2014 isn’t it? Agh! Only 3 months left of school! How did 2 months of this year already slip away?! What am I doing with my life?!

Ah, but March is also Spring Break month. Hurrah! Spring Break doesn’t mean quite what it did before marriage and children, but it is a nice respite from the hectic every day routine. We can take things a little more slowly. And this year our family is so blessed to be able to go to the mountains for a week. We can. not. wait. This mom needs to chill. And her husband definitely needs to chill. So we’re pretty stoked. Also Charlie’s birthday falls that week and our kids are all still young enough to think that Charlie’s birthday concurring with our trip to the mountains is the most amazing thing that ever happened. Who needs friends and a party when you get to have your birthday in the mountains with your family?!!!

With that trip in mind, I have decided to tackle ONE book this month. Which might sound rather lacking in ambition except I’m planning on reading Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. And it’s huge. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. I’ve had it on my kindle for like 2 years. But every time I think to start it seems such an undertaking. I’ve been itching to read a biography, though, and this seems like a good time to start. I’m hoping that a week in the mountains will provide lots of reading time. We shall see.

It is a vacation so no judging if I just end up reading Better Homes and Gardens and Vanity Fair all week.

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Since Josh and I decided to adopt independently, meaning that we didn’t use an agency, we kind of bypassed the usual required classes and meetings of the adoptive process.  Now, obviously, since I didn’t experience the process through an agency, I don’t know much about it, but I do know that most offer, and some require, classes that will prepare parents for the process as well as for life with an adopted child. I imagine it being somewhat like teaching someone to swim before letting them get in the pool, or at least offering them a flotation device. Whereas we basically just fell into the deep end and it was sink or swim.

With regard to all of the legal steps required to bring a child home from another country, I think we could have used a flotation device. If only because completing all of those legal steps was basically like taking on a second job for Josh. And while we had a family who had gone before us guiding us, it was still a lot of work on our part that would have otherwise been delegated to an agency.

But with regard to all that preparation that’s offered…well, I just don’t know if I regret missing out on that. We didn’t attend any classes. I never went to any support group for moms with adopted children. Or for moms with children of a different ethnicity than their own. I didn’t attend any seminar on doing a black girls hair. We didn’t do a lot of research about helping kids adapt to a new culture. And while we may have missed out on some helpful information, we also didn’t develop unrealistic or narrow expectations. We just kind of dove in.

None of those things are wrong. And for some I think it can all be very helpful. And for some, especially those who may be adopting children with special needs or a history of abuse, they are necessary. But I think, if I may say so, that our culture is obsessed with having it all together. We are obsessed with our plans. We love to make sure we’ve got it all figured out ahead of time. It makes us comfortable. And that incessant need to have everything perfectly mapped out can sometimes hinder our willingness to step out in faith. And even if we are stepping out, we may be doing so with no faith at all, but simply a reliance on our own ability to anticipate, prepare, plan and execute.

Let me tell you, we spent a month in Uganda, never knowing what the next day would bring, completely immersed in a culture that doesn’t make plans (because it would be pointless to do so). At the time I hated it. It stressed us out. We would ask our Ugandan friends over and over, “So when are we going to get the judge’s order? So how long does it take to get a passport? So how long should we expect to be here?” We were like broken records. And they would just smile and tell us to relax and repeat that they have no idea because there is no certainty regarding these things. It was infuriating.

But it was perfect. It’s what we needed. We needed to be put in our place. We needed to see how deeply we had fallen into the American illusion of control without even realizing it. Because our entire lives are based on our plans. We have schedules and routines and planners and it all makes us feel like we’re in control. But only One can have control. And we’d better let Him have it.

And because every child is different, and no two adoptions are alike, I think it is probably wise to not prepare too much. It would be much better to pray. A lot. (Or maybe what I’m trying to say is that when and if you prepare for anything God is calling you to, you should do so praying hard). And ask God to make you ready for what you are about to do. Only He knew Eva and Titus, and how they would fit into our family. We couldn’t have prepared for that no matter how much we tried (and we didn’t try much!).

In this sense it is a lot like having a baby. Before we had Reagan, I read at least 3 books on pregnancy, birth, and the first year. I asked every single one of my friends with kids a million questions. I freaked out about everything that could go wrong. I grasped at control. And in the end, I had Reagan and felt like I’d been hit by a bus and said what every first time mom says. Nothing could have prepared me for this.

Of course we should plan and prepare. You know I’m not saying we shouldn’t. As much as I learned from our experience, I don’t live in Uganda. I live here. And if we just stopped planning altogether we wouldn’t function in our society. But let’s not rely too much on our plans. Let’s not be owned by them or driven by them. There is nothing sweeter than turning to our Savior, Jesus, and admitting our full dependence upon Him. He delights in this. This is what faith does. And it allows us to see His hand in all things, to thank Him when it does go according to plan, and to trust His goodness when it doesn’t.