I’m a planner by nature. If I could I would order my world so that I have the perfect amount of busyness and free time, the most delightful blend of scheduled expectations and margin for spontaneity and fun. But that isn’t how life works, is it? We aren’t machines that can be programmed. We don’t know what unexpected twists and turns life will take and frankly, people are messy. If you are a people-person then you know well that you cannot put people in boxes to control them like objects. So then plans have to be a bit fluid. We have to learn to go with the flow from time to time. The best laid plans of mice and men…
I had ordered my world for Fall 2014 pretty well, I thought. I could give so much to ministry at Redeemer. And so much to Livia’s school. And there’d be time for photography, too, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what form that would take. But then there’s foster care. You want to talk about messy plans and messy people, then let’s talk foster care! This summer we were very close to fostering a toddler and there was great potential for us to parent him long term. Like adoption long term. We were within 24 hours of picking up this little boy—I was literally on the way to buy whole milk from the store—when all plans were called off. It was hard. I am very slow to set up a room for a foster child, but this one was ready to go with new gray chevron sheets in the pack n’ play and a specially purchased stuffed animal waiting for a little person to love. I was disappointed. It felt crushing at the time, and then slowly life returned to normal and we all carried on.
Three weeks ago we fielded two calls for babies. We said yes, as we almost always do, and lo and behold one child ended up in our home. The baby that I’ve deeply hoped for and wanted is now in our house! He is amazing and chubby and wonderful. He is ours for the meantime, yet he belongs wholly to another family who loves him to the moon and back. We are standing in the gap for this little one, claiming him as part of our family by cuddling him, teaching him, feeding him, clothing him and doing all the things parents do for a baby. But we do it for God’s glory. We do it because this little one is worthy of such attention. And we do it because it’s good for this other family who needs a helping hand right now. He both is and isn’t ours to claim, yet we will love him because he exists. If you could see what I see and know what I know, then you’d love him, too, knowing full well your heart will feel empty when you hand him back to his mama someday. You can’t love this little guy halfway.
So life is indeed messy. My carefully planned margins have been written in and stomped on and woken up in the middle of the night at 2 and again at 4:00 am. My time has been less about fall plans for women’s ministry at Redeemer and more about how to get enough sleep to be something of a competent person during daylight hours. Instead of editing photos and booking shoots I am trying to figure out how to give my 10 year old some semblance of normality while figuring out team meetings and court dates and a feeding schedule that makes sense for a baby. Why share all this with the world? I suppose I am asking for grace. My world has gone topsy-turvy for a time and I’m treading water. Every single meal brought to our house, every encouraging email or text, every small gift given to my family gives me just the boost I need to keep walking forward in the mess. Knowing that our friends and family are flexible and that they support us allows me to take on the bumps and bruises of the unknown twists and turns with their love and grace as the buffer I need. Thanks to each of you who understand this journey we’re on. We are so grateful for you! Scratch that, it’s more than gratitude. We could not do this without you. Period.
So proud of my tall, beautiful, sweet 4th grader! She still lets me hold her hand a little. We prayed on the walk to school for blessings on all the students and staff, and then she let go and walked down the hallway to a new classroom. May the Lord bless you and keep you, my Livia Raine! We love you so much.
(I’m drippy with tears this morning after a night waking up with both kids. But some things, like kids growing up and dear friends cheering us on with sidewalk chalk—year after year after year—are worth crying over with happiness. We are blessed.)
Says my girl, age ten going on 21.
I then request that Jeremy join her, and this is what I get. Nice.
School starts in two weeks. I confess I’m not ready to give up the late nights of playing outdoors, the easy mornings of waking up late, the freedom of summer play and summer messes and summer joys. I’m excited for the start of a new school year with new teachers and new classes and new school supplies. The structure will surely be good for us all and I can’t wait to see what Livia learns this year. But summer has a magic all its own, too, and I think I’m a summer girl at heart.
One thing I love about photography is how it can reveal so much about a specific moment in time. You’ll notice that photographers often resort to what seems like cheesy cliches to describe photography and time, but honestly, there’s great truth to what we’re trying to express!
This image charms me for many reason. I’m finding that age ten, for my child, is truly an in-between age. She’s not a babe any longer but she’s not a teenager yet either. She’s ten. She’s looking to the future and growing up (note the incredible growth from this past year and, yes, the eye makeup in this shot) and yet still a kid at heart (self-imposed bunny ears, anyone?). Look closely and you’ll find something that gives away 2014 as well; Livia’s got a rainbow loom necklace stretched across her forehead as a headband of sorts. If you’ve got an older girl in 2014 then you’ve experienced the insane popularity of the rainbow loom.
Age ten is so much fun. It has Jeremy and I feeling kind of in-between as well. We remember well the baby cheeks and toddler babbles of the past and we look forward to seeing who Livia will become as she grows up. We’re not in a hurry these days, rather we’re loving our girl, in all her bunny-eared glory, at age ten.
This little one, placed in his adoptive parents’ arms as a newborn discharged from the hospital, was adopted today! He turns two in a few days and, my goodness, this is an amazing birthday present. Happy adoption day to our boy Joe! We love you and your family so much and praise God for the joy you’ve brought to all of our lives. [Photos taken Fall 2013.]
There once were two girls who moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. They started junior high and quickly became best friends. They grew up and met wonderful boys and married them and had the most adorable children on the planet. And then in May 2014 one friend took photos of the other friend’s adorable family. The end. Or rather, the beginning. Or really truly, the awesome story continues. Who knows what grand adventures are right around the corner?
I came around the corner and had to laugh out loud at the sight. My recently-made bed had a big bump in it. A throw pillow was knocked into a different position, but it was the crazy bedhead sticking out from the duvet that revealed the culprit. My ten year old, in my cozy bed, happy as a clam.
Later in the morning while bemoaning the way items were thrown all about the house as normal household items often are—dishes on the counter and dining room table, socks left on the living room couch and hair accessories on my office desk—I felt mounting frustration at the way playing pick-up is never truly completed. I recalled being so diligent this morning at getting up and making my bed because, really, I love a well-made bed. Everything else can be in chaos but if my bed is made I feel like I have a shot at finding some measure of control in my day. That is, until Liv climbed right in there and made herself at home. I later returned to the room and found, interestingly enough, an Adobe Photoshop manual open and face down (as though it was halfway read that morning), a magazine rack pulled out, my bedside drawer wide open (and rifled through) and a flashlight twisted into two pieces, sans batteries, right under the covers. Well, at least she had a good time in there. I hope she also enjoyed putting it all back because that’s what I insisted she do a bit later.
I remember loving my parents’ bed. It was so big. And so clean and neat. And nothing felt out of place in their room. And Mom was in there. I loved it. It was pretty much the polar opposite to my own room, which explains why us kids would throw ourselves on that bed at every opportunity. At least once I remember Mom telling us that we’d like our own rooms much more if we’d make the beds, too. Such wisdom, my mom. And I’ll never forget it. Years and years later I’ve made it a habit to figure out what makes a bed look so inviting. Cozy, thick covers. The right amount of pillows. A sheet turned back to welcome you in after a long hard day. A clean, comfortable place to lay down your head that night and rest in peace.
I don’t make up my bed everyday. But when I do I can feel the way it contrasts the dirty dishes in my kitchen sink and the blot of hardened toothpaste in the bathroom sink and the gerbil cage that always invites cleaning in my office. It’s a small stand against evidence of the Fall in my house, a smidgen of redemption in the ever-present work of life with a family in this space we call home.
This kid’s got me. For almost ten years solid, she’s had my heart and now our stories are woven together forever.