Friday, May 25, 2012

What I Learned About Love

I was sitting across a table at Chick-Fil-A from one of my dearest friends on a Friday. The place was packed and noisy with children and toddlers as they were eating their fill of chicken and turning the play area into a zoo. My friend and I were sharing our hearts and most recent life stories while keeping a watchful eye on the kiddos. Our friendship is precious and skips the surface talk, jumping right into what really matters. That day we were talking about love and family.

You see, I have experienced love in a new way in the last eighteen months and have received various responses from by-standers, some standing closer by than others. While the words from most people have been overall encouraging of us and Karlie, with them realizing the uniqueness and specialness of our relationship and respecting it, there have been a few that have been either not encouraging, silent, or worse. And I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. Outsiders had me questioning my feelings and my role in her life. That since I didn’t birth her or raise her that these maternal feelings couldn’t be real, right? Some people seemed to think I was just young and naive. And I admitted to my friend that I had felt somewhat hurt and disrespected by some and that at times I felt a need to hold back because of what others thought.

My friend and I talked about it a little and as our conversation started to change and I focused on my pack of nuggets, she interrupted me and said, “Wait - before we change subjects I want to tell you something.” Of course, she had my full attention, and I listened as she told a beautiful story of two children for whom she used to be a full-time nanny. She told me how she loved those children deeply - and that during the years she was their nanny, she prayed for them regularly, read parenting material to be a better nanny for them, and she felt like she was a second mother to them. She said people in her life told her she needed to be careful because she loved them too much, but that she felt it would have been foolish to withhold love, so she went all in. She then said that the children’s mother recognized my friend’s love for her children, and gave a card to her from the children on Mother’s Day and in it, she wrote, Thank you for loving my children as much as I do. Now, years later, my friend has a biological child of her own, and she looked me in the eyes and said said, “It’s different, yes, but I love them as much as my own child. While I did deliver my son and he has my mannerisms and gene pool and looks exactly like my husband, I love those other two children just as deeply. So I don’t know how it will be when you have a baby, but for me, I have equal love.”

And I felt a wave of relief sweep over me. It was like I had permission to not suppress my feelings. It didn’t matter what others thought - I have the freedom and the privilege to love someone fully and completely who is willing to receive it, and not everyone gets that kind of honor. What God clearly orchestrated in our family is not the traditional family make-up, but it is just a real, just as beautiful, and immensely treasured.

My friend also sweetly reminded me that the people who weren’t supportive do not understand. They don’t have the precious moments we have. They don’t see the hours spent in conversation making big decisions. They don‘t get the midnight phone calls. They don’t see the shoulder that has been cried on. They don’t hear about the cute boy from math class, what happened at volleyball practice, or listen to the speech being recited ten times for speech class. They haven’t been there during the eighteen months that she transformed into a confident, secure, compassionate and wise young woman. They weren’t there during the moments that she became a family member and not just “the girl that lives with us.” They don’t feel that tug on their hearts.

But I do. And I realize that not every teenager that lives with a person becomes a family member. But I truly believe God’s hand was so evident in all of this that he knew Karlie was exactly what we needed, and we were what she needed. And God began to stir in our hearts an affection that only he can bring. And we became a family. And Karlie became our daughter. And like my friend, I choose to not withhold love.

And so in asking the question, “What does it mean to be a family?” I have a new, simple answer: Love.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Used to Take Art Lessons

Me and my girlfriends did something super awesome this weekend, and no, we didn't get a tattoo. Although, speaking of tattoo, I did decide if I ever get one, that I now know what it would be. (-:

One of my college roomies is getting married, and my BFF Leah and I threw her a bachelorette party/personal shower. Leah came up with the idea to go to a place called "Pinot's Palette" where you learn to paint a picture, and you can also do some wine tasting while you are there. They provide all the supplies and the canvas, and a teacher to teach a class full of people how to paint the same painting.

So, we loaded up and heading to Pinot's. We arrived and they had all of our names already near our assigned canvases - it was so fun!! Here's my place:

You are allowed to bring your own snacks, so we brought fruit, cheese and crackers, and chocolate peanut butter covered almonds. We basically won the award for most awesome snacks. Once we had our snacks settled, it was time to get our smocks on and get ready to paint! Here I am with the other hostess, Leah, with a little moscato from Castello de Poggio - it's my favorite - they serve it at Olive Garden. 

We didn't have any control over what we were painting - we just knew what day we had to do the party on, so we weren't super crazy about the painting they offered that day, but we were good sports about it. (-: Here I am getting my paint on.

A little something you may of may not know about me is that I can be, um, overly kind of competitive and somewhat of a perfectionist. (-: So I set to work on my painting and channeled everything I could remember from art lessons when I was a kid. hehe. I quickly remembered why I "gave up" art - it was because I could never get it to look exactly how I wanted it and always ended up frustrated with whatever project I was working on. Kids - this is not a good reason to give up something you love and are good at, so learn from me. Don't quit! (Side note: I also had a complete meltdown in kindergarten one day because I couldn't draw a diamond - hey that's a complex shape! They pinned a note to my shirt so my mom would know what kind of emotionally unstable kid she had.) Anyway, I guess my art lessons paid off, because random people in the class were coming up to me and asking if I was an artist. I was kind of a celebrity. I told them I used to take art lessons. HA. I'll just let my painting speak for itself. 

I know, call me Monet. And here is Leah, with her finished masterpiece. We are going to quit our day jobs and sell our paintings. (-;

I think Emily (the bride-to-be) had a lot of fun, as is evidenced in this candid shot:

And here she is with another one of our college friends:

The atmosphere was super fun and laid back, and we definitely want to go back. Oh, here's a great shot of me checking Leah's teeth. (-: What are friends for?

Here's a group picture of us with our paintings:

 My coworkers are soon getting the privilege of being able admire my artwork on a daily basis, because that bad boy is totally going up on the wall at my office. Because heck to the no am I putting that up in my house. haha. (-:

So that's my story from Pinot's Palette! (-:

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Jam-Packed Weekend

Well, everyone, I hope you had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend. (-:

Ours started off bright and early Saturday as we went to my sister's graduation. She received a BS degree in dental hygiene and was the president of her class. She even got to give a speech. It was great to go and celebrate her and get to see her new house. She is getting married in July. Wow - college degree, new house, new job, new husband! How's that for a busy year! (-:

I went completely paparazzi at the graduation. That pic was from the big screen - as she got her diploma. (-:

Here I am with the graduate:

Some people think we look alike. (-: In fact, at her graduation, her friend's mom saw me in the crowd, without knowing me previously, and said, "That must be Bekah's sister." How's that for similarity? ha. 

Here she is with the whole fam:

Her college also had bag-pipes process in and out ahead of the graduates. It was slightly creepy, but super awesome. They were legit. No one is really sure why they were there, but I'll take it. (-:

After the day of graduation, Sunday was Mother's Day! We spent a leisurely day with Mark's parents and celebrated his sweet mom. Mark's dad cooks the best burgers on the planet, so we ate some yummy burgers and took naps! Karlie got me some beautiful flowers and some perfume with a sweet card. She is such a thoughtful gift giver. What a lovie.

You may or may not know that Karlie is very passionate about missions. She has been to multiple countries, and today she left for India for three weeks to work with an organization called Rahab's Rope. Last night we cooked her favorite meal before she left, as she calls it: "Hot Pockets." Now, it's not what you think. When she and her friends from college were talking about their favorite meals from home, they were all talking about whatever food their moms made. Well, then it was Karlie's turn, and she said she couldn't wait to have "hot pockets," and the girls were like "What?!" And they started saying, yeah, we're excited for cereal, etc etc, teasing her. (-: Karlie didn't realize that Hot Pockets are actually a food item you microwave and NOT what most people would get super excited about. haha. "Hot Pockets" are actually crescent rolls that are flattened and filled with a chicken/cream cheese mixture and then made into a pocket of sorts. She still gets razzed about that one. See picture:

Yes, as you heard from the previous paragraph, Karlie left for India today. I did pretty good until we got to the airport and we prayed for her. Pretty much as soon as we held hands and Mark started praying I started crying. I tried to keep it together so I wouldn't be a big sobfest in front of her other mission friend, but it just kind of got worse and worse. By the time she was in the security terminal I was kind of in the middle of a total meltdown. It was like a piece of my heart was getting on an airplane to India. I've pulled it together now, although it took a few hours. After I came back to work I was riding on the elevator and felt a wave of peace - like the Lord said, "I'm going to take care of her." and I felt much better. I still cried after that, but I think I've gotten most of the tears out - for today. ha. Now to get over this trying-not-to-cry induced headache I've had all day... Thankfully, there are a couple people on her team that have phones and she thinks she will be able to Skype us. She returns on June 5th. Please come soon. (-:

So, those are all of the updates from our neck of the woods! I hope you are enjoying the beginnings of summer and had a great mother's day!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Weekend in Branson

We just got back from an AWESOME family vacation in Branson. I admit I am super bummed and kind of in denial that we are back. Like, I am still wearing my swimsuit and haven't unpacked anything. Except I did get out my new clothes to look at. Hehe. (-:

We went on Friday to an awesome resort in Branson, and we did all kinds of fun things. They had three pools on the resort, and so we got our tan on. For albino people like me, that actually means, we got our SPH 30 sunscreen on. (-:

Me and Karlie jammed out to some Glee as we laid by the pool. 

This resort also had these sweet old school Huffy bikes that we rode around. They were one short on adult bikes, so Karlie and Bekah took turns riding the kid bike. That was pretty funny. Also, I would like to admit that I am a big fraidy cat. I am not surprised, but there were some big hills, and I got off my bike and walked down them instead of riding because I was scared. 

I know, we look super legit. PS, I love Instagram, in case you can't tell.

In addition to biking, we of course had nail salon time, and lots of family bonding. (-:

I was the nail tech. Oh, and I really do have five fingers....

Like and 2012 family, we spent some quality time browsing the world wide web on our respective MacBooks.

The resort also had some canoes and kayaks and paddle boats. After check-out this morning, we went down to the dock and showed all those people our made boating skillz.

I will admit that we later realized adults didn't have to wear life jackets. Then I felt like a big dork and took mine off. hehe.

We also went to the Titanic museum, which was pretty awesome, and of course, we hit of the Tanger outlet. I will also confess that my new favorite clothing brand is the Lola brand by BCBG. Oh my word. I almost died. LOVE.

We had lots of good food, played games, and overall had a wonderfully relaxing time. It ended too quickly, but I think we really soaked up every minute that we could and had a great time. I want to go back!!!!

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