Archive for April 2014 | Monthly archive page



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Sunday night I went out for dinner with a few women from our Fellowship Group. A welcome break to relax and enjoy a meal with friends. A brief moment away from that exhausting 5-8 cycle of madness.

“Mommy’s going out to dinner with some friends,” I said as I grabbed my purse and headed toward the door. “Be good for daddy!” (I try to keep such information from my children until the last minute give as little time for histrionics as possible).

In spite of my efforts, Reagan and Titus both threw themselves at my legs and started kissing me dramatically, begging to come with. Charlotte was in her own world, totally oblivious to the conversation. And poor little Eva dropped her head in sadness and went and sat down at the table, looking as though life had come to an end. “Mommy, I don’t want you to leave.” She refused to say goodbye, even as the others recovered from their sadness at the prospect of the quesadillas that daddy was making. She just sat there staring into her lap with that forlorn little expression.

Eva has been VERY attached to me lately. Sometimes I think of Eva’s development in terms of how long she’s been with us rather than of how old she is. So even though she’s 5, she’s only been mine for 10 months. Separation anxiety at 10 months? That seems about right. A couple of days ago we went to a big birthday party at a park and she spent almost the entire time with an arm around my leg. I kept asking her to go play with the other kids and she looked at me like I was asking her to eat strawberries or something (she REALLY doesn’t like strawberries). She just wants to be with me as much as possible.

Shortly after I left I received this text from Josh.


Talk about heartbreaking (and yes, I have hearts around Josh’s name in my phone. No mocking. We lurve each other). I mean, not heartbreaking enough for me to bail on dinner. Call me heartless but I was getting my Burger Fi on.

Still, that prayer is evidence of all the tiny miracles that have brought us to where we are. That prayer itself is full of miracles. A little girl, not even a year out of being an orphan, pouring her heart out to Jesus, loving her new mommy completely, speaking English so clearly. So many miracles in this house all the time. Oh, that I would stop and see them more.

I got home a few hours later and was informed that the kids were waiting for a goodnight from me. Reagan, Charlotte and Titus were all wide awake, jumping around, acting crazy as usual. And Eva, also as usual, was sound asleep. The girl wakes up at 6:30, goes and goes and goes with unrelenting energy, and basically shuts off the second her head hits the pillow. After I’d distributed kisses and “be quiet”s, I stood there and stared at Eva for a few minutes. So peaceful, little hands tucked under her cheek, knees curled up to her side. So beautiful. My heart full of love for this little orphan girl now mine.

I think a burning question people are afraid to ask is how you learn to love adopted children as your own. I know I wondered myself before we did this. How do you bond with a child who is suddenly yours at 5 years old? All those crucial developing years already behind them.

The Bible says that every good and perfect gift is from above. The love I have for Eva (and Titus) was given when God called me to go and adopt. The gift of maternal bonding with her, the affection I feel for her while looking at her innocent, slumbering face, it’s just a gift. Gift after gift. Grace upon grace. I think it comes quickly for some adoptive moms, slowly for others, and for some it feels like it will never come. I think it’s a joyful experience for certain mothers, but an exhausting and painful one for certain others. For me it’s been somewhere in between. Eva and I have struggled to grow close at times, but I’m seeing prayers answered, deeper love every day. No matter what the bonding process is like, I know one thing for sure, and that is that God is a Father who completely understands the desire for the love of one’s adopted children. We can go to our Father with these prayers and trust in His faithfulness and goodness. He who calls you is faithful. He will surely do it.

Come Like a Child


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This week Reagan explained the gospel to me like this:

Mom, I know the greatest thing about God. He died on the cross for us.

Me: Why did He die for us?

Because, if he didn’t, then we would always have sin in our hearts (*places her hands over her heart in dramatic fashion*) and it would never go away!

Me: Well, how did he get rid of the sin in our hearts?

Because when he died, he took all of our sin and put it in HIS heart, so we wouldn’t have to have it in OUR hearts anymore.

All this week I’ve had that conversation in my mind as I’ve read through the Gospel of John, reminding myself of this message upon which I’ve staked my life, of this good news that I believe completely. That I have believed since I was my daughter’s age.

And when I try to think of this good news from an outsider’s perspective, I’ll admit it, it appears a little crazy. A bit farfetched. It seems unlikely. It offends sensibility and pride. It rings of foolishness and mysticism. That is why my daughter’s words struck me so when I heard them. Because they were simple and convinced. She’s not confused. She knows she sins. She knows she does wrong. And she thinks it’s simply wonderful that someone would love her enough to forgive her and cover the guilt. She couldn’t even word it as I just did, so simple is her understanding of it.

Repeatedly we see our Savior, Jesus, calling us to come to Him like little children. “Truly, I tell you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” When our own children express their belief in this Jesus, we should sit up and pay attention. This is how you want us to come to you, God? Like this? 

So as this Holy week moves toward it’s celebrated conclusion on Easter Sunday, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from Reagan about how to come to Jesus.

Don’t forget that it’s your sin that put Him there on that cross. I love that Reagan unabashedly admits that we have sin in our hearts. Period. There’s no way around it. We sang these lyrics last night during our Good Friday service, “It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.” Not just sin in general, but my sin. Sin is real and deadly and unavoidable, and it exists in all of us. And it is the reason Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross.

Don’t forget that Jesus took our sin on Himself. There are many people who would like to talk about the love of God without talking about the ugly truth of sin. This is impossible. Jesus didn’t die simply to display love. This makes no sense. He died in our place because otherwise, there was no way out of the sin.

Don’t forget that salvation through Jesus means a new identity. Jesus took our sin on himself, bore it’s weight, bore it’s punishment, and now it does not own us. It’s been dealt with. Today I was listening to the wonderful song “The Power of the Cross,” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and I love this:

Oh, to see my name written in the wounds

for through your suffering I am free

death is crushed to death

life is mine to live

won through your selfless love. 

This is what the cross does. It frees us. We are no longer slaves to sin. It no longer rules in our hearts. And though it tempts us as long as we live on this earth, it does not own us. Christ does.

Don’t forget that we do nothing and receive everything. As Reagan said, if Jesus didn’t die, we would always have sin in our hearts. If I’m like a child, I admit that I can do nothing, and everything I have is a gift. This is GRACE. If Jesus didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be done. I can’t earn it. I can’t add to it. It is all grace, and He gives freely to those who believe.

Don’t ever forget that this is the greatest thing about God. This is my favorite thing that Reagan said, as she opened this conversation. The longer one is a Christian, the easier it becomes to grow dull to the centrality of the gospel. It is central to our salvation, but we forget that it is central to our continuing sanctification. We are made holy through a constant, ever-deepening understanding of and dependence upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we lose this, we lose our way. Always, always, the greatest thing is the Cross.

One of the things that always strikes me about the book of John is the way it ends.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (21:25).

This Gospel, this unbelievable news, is inexhaustible. We cannot ever know enough about it. The world itself could not contain all there is to know about it. It is the greatest thing we can know about God, that He sent His son Jesus as a perfect man, fully God, fully human. That Jesus lived a life we could never live, paid a debt we could never pay, died in our place. That the earth shook and the veil was torn and darkness fell. That three days later He crushed death to death, and rose from His grave. Death could not hold Him then, it does not hold Him now. And it does not hold us if we have placed our faith in Him.

So this Easter, may those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ find renewed, child-like joy in the ageless truth of the gospel. May we go back to that truth not just this weekend, but daily, moment-by-moment, for every need, in every temptation, for the rest of our lives. And if you don’t know this Savior, know that there is a way, through Jesus, to be free. To experience life as it was meant to be lived. To have abundant life. Confess sin, receive grace, and be free.

“These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31






April Reading


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Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s April 11. I really should just not write this, wait until May and call it a day. But I was determined to update my reading list every month and gosh darn it, I’m gonna squeeze a book in this month.

I DID start Bonhoeffer, but have most definitely not finished it. You know what’s funny about vacation with 4 small children? They still need you to do everything for them. So even though I planned to get a lot of reading done on our spring break vacation I found myself preoccupied with other things a lot, and then when I did sit down to read I was distracted. We could be outside! We could be on a hike! I should do a puzzle with the kids!

Also I’m terrible at reading while the kids are running around. Josh astounds me. Almost every day we were in North Carolina Josh would light a fire, sit down, prop his feet up, and read. And read and read and read. And I’d sit next to him trying to read. But those kids are so loud! And Josh would say, “Hon. Ignore them. Just relax.” And I really did try. But mostly failed.

Then we got home and had a couple of seriously busy weeks. The kind where you fall into bed at 9 each night and think, wait, how old am I again? Why am I going to bed at NINE O’CLOCK.

All that to say, I didn’t make a ton of progress. But I am about halfway through the book at this point and I think it’s wonderful and I’ll definitely finish it. Metaxes is a very winsome writer and while some biographies can be dry, this one is definitely not. It is, however, FULL of details about WWII so if you read it be prepared to lament how much you’ve forgotten about everything you learned in High School. I’m horrified at how little I recall. But I feel like I’m getting a history lesson and a biography rolled into one.

There’s a unique kind of encouragement for Christians that comes from reading the stories of the saints who have gone before. We’re reminded that across countries and cultures and all of history there is a tie that binds us that is stronger than anything on this earth: our faith in Jesus Christ. As I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story I often get chills thinking, “Yes, this Christ whom he loved is MY Christ.” And I’m reminded that no matter what comes in this life, that Christ and His church will continue to move forward.

All that and I haven’t even finished it! So I’m going to continue with Bonhoeffer, but I think it’s safe to say that I totally recommend it.

I also just started to read Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequiest.


A friend recommended this to me after reading my mildly obsessive post about pizza. I’ve read a couple of chapters and oh man, this woman totally speaks my language. Here’s what she says in the introduction: “This is a collection of essays about family, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes us as we nourish the people around us, about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.” Sounds awesome, right? I’m excited to read it.

I just finished reading through all of the gospels in my daily Bible reading but I’m going to read through John again in the coming week in preparation for Easter. I know that for me, in the midst of the craziness leading up to Easter (it’s one of Josh’s busier weeks), I can become distracted, anxious, tired. I want to guard my heart – with God’s Word – against letting earthly distractions keep me from remembering that this, THIS, is what my life is all about. That Christ came to earth, loved the sinners (me), died for sinners (me), and rose again, giving sinners (me)  completely new, forever-changed lives.

That’s all for this month! We’ll see if I can finish anything before May :).


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Today is my baby boy’s birthday. Technically he’s turning 4, although in reality we don’t really know how old he is. Probably a year younger than that. Not that it matters.

It is his very first birthday here in his new life, his new home. He’s still getting used to the idea of a birthday and isn’t totally sure he understands it all (although he’s pretty clear on the whole cake thing). Every time he’s been wished a happy birthday today he’s said “Happy birthday!” in return. He’s ridiculously content so I think he’ll be pretty unaffected by the presents and fanfare.

And maybe it’s his birthday or the fact that he’s extra cute today but I can’t stop thinking about how amazing it is that Titus is my son, and about how far he’s come. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I go on and on about it.

I guess I always imagined having a son, in a vague, far off sort of way. It was a little hard to picture because all I’ve known so far is very girly little girls. But even when I did try to imagine it, I never would have expected to get a son the way I did.

I did not meet him in the normal way. He was not placed in my arms after endless hours of painful labor. Instead I met him in a small stone orphanage set on a hillside somewhere between Kampala and Entebbe. I did not know then that He would be my son. But, of course, God did. The God who loves the orphan.


We did not bond in the typical way, through long hours of nursing, changing, snuggling and singing. Instead our bond was fast and unexpected, so ready was he to love me as his own mother. No, it was not the typical way, but the result was essentially the same.

Sitting on those long flights to Uganda I had little else to think about but how little I knew what to expect. There were so many variables; it was impossible to imagine how things would actually go. He and his sister were a complete mystery to me.

But then I climbed into that car in the Entebbe airport where he waited for me and he scrambled up into my lap and that was that. He knew almost no English but “mommy” came easily. Every day of that month we spent there he surprised me with his unhesitant, unreserved love for me. Running across our room and hopping into our bed to lay on my chest every morning. Falling asleep in my arms on long car rides. Coming to me immediately for any want. He trusted me implicitly. It was, and is, a miracle to me.

This mystery of adoption is great indeed. Because he is as much a son to me as any child of my flesh and blood ever could or will be. And I can’t explain it except to say that where there is a willingness to let God do what He has promised, He can give us a love that is like His own, one we could never conjure up in our own strength.

Every day I learn more about him.

He is brave. He’s suffered more in his short existence than I have in my 30 years and yet he is affectionate and strong. I pray that he will always be so brave. This world needs brave men.

He is a servant. He willingly shares his favorite toys. He absolutely will not let me carry groceries in by myself. He loves to give help anywhere it is needed – he is currently moving the clothes to the dryer for me – and he never seeks praise for it. This, as much as bravery, is needed in this world.  May he always love to serve.

He is so very tender-hearted. I knew this from the first moment, but I see it more and more. He hates to see anyone cry, and runs at them with hugs and kisses. He is sensitive to correction, repenting quickly and forgiving easily.

He takes life in stride. I don’t even know what to make of this. Nothing fazes him. Except maybe a lizard. Or a bird. Or a squirrel. Or a dog.  OK, he doesn’t like animals. But other than that, he is unflappable. This house full of estrogen NEEDS him.

He’s a little bit serious. But that’s cool because we could use a little serious in this house, too. It balances things out.

He’s so handsome, scars of unknown origin and all. And I am prepared to scare the crap out of any girl who comes near him before he’s 20. Or 30.

And yes he has tempter tantrums and gets mad and occasionally talks back or defies me (I know, who could believe it of that angelic face??). But I’m grateful for that, too, because it means he feels safe enough to sin in this house. And he could have come into this whole thing feeling the need to be perfect, fearing the neglect or abandonment he had known before. So yes, in this I am thankful as well.

He is a delight to me. A delight to this family. I can’t believe he’s mine and that he’s the son God chose for us.

Happy birthday to my wonderful boy. I am more grateful for you than you know.



I am not helpful


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Well all I can say after spending the last 2 months in charge of getting social security numbers for our kids is it’s a good thing Josh Hughes was in charge of our adoption. Because if I had been in charge we never would have gotten to Uganda in the first place. I am an administrative disaster.

When Josh started working on our taxes 2 months ago (because he is NOT an administrative disaster and he starts working on taxes in January), he hit a standstill when he realized we don’t have SSNs for Eva and Titus and thus cannot claim them on our taxes.  Whoops! So he was like, “I guess I’ll just have to figure out how to get those,” and I, being such a helpful wife, was all, “No, you’ve got a ton on your plate right now. I can do it, honey!” Only I’m not helpful at all because I only just got the job done this morning. Only if everything goes perfectly and we get the cards when the very patient lady at the social security office said we will, will we be able to send our taxes in ON APRIL 15.

To Josh’s credit, he does not get at all irritated when I’m completely incompetent. I’m pretty sure when I told him I’d do it he already knew this is how it would go down. But he just gently asked me about it once a week and I’d go, “Oh right! Yes, I’m on it.” And then this past Sunday, he reminded me, still gently but perhaps a little more urgently, “Hey hon? You know it’s April this week right? We definitely need social security numbers for the kids.”

Now, lest you think I was just sitting on my butt doing nothing all this time, here is how it actually went down.

I filled out the applications for Social Security cards (so far so good) and began to go through our massive pile of adoption paperwork to try and deduce what I’d need to apply. And when I say massive, I mean massive.


And again I say, it’s a good thing Josh was in charge of all that.

Anyway, after about 10 minutes I thought, Yeah, I have no clue what I’m looking for. So I just decided the entire pile was going with me.

After stopping by the Social Security Administration office, though, and seeing about 70 people in the waiting room, I went online to try and make an appointment. But you can’t make appointments online. Because apparently it’s not 2014. Not that it would have made a difference because they don’t DO appointments for card applications. My conversation with the guy went something like this:

Me: I need to get social security cards for 2 of my kids.

Man: You mean they already have numbers and you just need to get the cards? We don’t make appointments for that.

Me: No, they don’t have numbers yet. They’re adopted…

Man: Well, they still probably have numbers, just not cards.

Me: …from Uganda.

Man: Oh. Well. Um. They need actual numbers, then. We don’t make appointments for that, either.


So then I just showed up with that crazy pile and waited. And then went over the whole thing with a super nice lady (seriously, every person at this place was the best, especially considering they have really hard jobs). In the end she said, “Ma’am, you need some sort of proof of residency. The computer won’t even let me move forward.” But they don’t have passports. And they need social security numbers to get passports. Riiiiight. So she told me to call USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, in case you were wondering). And I almost cried. I wasn’t really dying to talk to them again.

Look, unless you’ve got your head in the sand you know that we’ve got a few immigration problems in this country. So the average person you talk to when calling USCIS is just waiting for you to be a crazy person. Or an illegal alien. But when you adopt, you become VERY familiar with USCIS. So you kind of have to push through and convince them that you’re not crazy, which is kind of a pain. Also the wait time to talk to a representative is over 2 hours. ALSO the closest USCIS office is 3 hours away and I wasn’t driving 3 hours to be told something I could find out over the phone. I’ve been to that office already and no thank you.

Anyway, when I finally DID talk to someone there he asked me about the kids green cards. This is the part of the story, by the way, where you start to realize how DUMB I am. Because I responded, “Uhhh. I don’t think we have green cards for the kids. Are we supposed to?? Doesn’t their legal adoption make them U.S. Citizens??” I can seriously picture this guy hitting his head against his desk in response. Apparently I AM the crazy person he’s expecting me to be.

So, about this time, my friend Tricia, who is a CPA, informs me that I should just be able to get them Tax ID numbers since they’re our legal dependents and they don’t qualify for SSNs. Yay, Tricia! You’re the hero!

But then I got super busy and forgot all about it and didn’t get back to it until Josh, again, GENTLY reminded me to. I sat down to fill out the forms for Tax IDs and it asked for their immigrant visas. So I opened our “Important Documents” file where the passports live but did I mention that I’m an administrative disaster? WHERE ARE THE KIDS PASSPORTS? I searched for them for quite some time and eventually found them tucked into the aforementioned pile of adoption paperwork, much to my (and especially Josh’s) relief.

But as I was copying the info from their immigration visas onto the Tax ID application, I realized THEIR VISAS HAVE EXPIRED. Like 3 months ago. I panicked for about 2 hours that my kids would be deported until Josh got home from work and told me to calm the heck down. And he called our friend who has all the adoption answers. And expert friend said, “You know, you should have received their green cards in the mail after you got back.” Really?

And lo and behold, there in a file in our filing cabinet – NOT the important documents file and NOT the massive pile of adoption paperwork, but a completely separate file that I had started at some point. I am the worst – were the green cards that I had so idiotically claimed we don’t have. Which is exactly what I needed to get social security numbers.

Which leads us to today, when I finally showed up with all of the right paperwork and miraculously completed the process.

Hey, you should totally call me if you have questions about the legal aspects of adoption. By which, of course, I mean Josh, because I will clearly be of no help to you.