Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Overheard by the fly on the wall....

The Lord has been gracious enough to keep me in stitches and surrounded by the cuteness factor much of the time.  It helps me through the day…it’s biblical even.  A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22.  At least one notable thing happens every single day that I can reflect back on during the tough times.  It’s just good medicine.  The week is young, but I’ve already pulled a few funnies from the file that I'll share with you.  

[Disclaimer:  My “offensive” filter fell off right about the time Tate was born, so I’ve been without it awhile now.  What’s funny to me might not be funny to you.  It’s actually pretty likely.  Nobody get mad at me. K?]

If you could only be a fly on our wall...oh, the things you would hear!!!

From my Funny File:
“Papaw, I sure wish you were black ‘cause you’d be so beautiful.”  Around about the time we welcomed our third foster child into our family, Tate decided that black was his favorite color.  He had a black rabbit he named Black Jack, he had an imaginary tiny child he kept in the palm of his hand named Black Billy, and everyday he prayed that we could have a black baby the next time Mrs. Joan brought one to our door.  We let Black Jack slide, but when it came to Black Billy…well…we had to say something. We tried to explain to Tate that it just wasn’t right to call someone, even an imaginary someone, by their skin color.  That made no sense at all to little Tate. How ever was he going to tell his two Billys apart?  He finally settled on changing Black Billy’s name to Ricky, and all was good until the day Mrs. Joan showed up at the door with a precious African American baby boy one day.  Tate took one look at that baby and exclaimed, “That’s not a black baby.  That’s a brown baby.  I told you I wanted a black baby, Mrs. Joan.”  Tate was won over within minutes by that precious baby boy and never called anyone – rabbit, child, imaginary or not -   Black-anyone again.  

From the Cuteness Factor file:
Riley, put your tongue in your mouth.  “I can’t.  I’m speakin’ my Russian.  Okay?  I gotta speak-uh my Russian.”  I’m going to have to break the news soon to this precious baby boy that he is NOT Russian.  While he is adopted, he was born right here in the good ole USA.  Riley was only 2 when so much of the talk around here centered on Russia.  His new brother Reagan took up residence in his room, and they began to play together constantly.  Maybe that’s when his memory really kicked in or something.  I know we have to do something to clear it up.  Last week at the pediatrician’s office he kept patting his puffed out chest and telling the doctor, “I Russian.  I from Russia.”  You want to hear something else hysterical?  Riley was building his little 2-year-old vocabulary at the same time B and R were learning to speak English, so he says a lot of his words with Russian accent.  Priceless!

An oldie but goodie from my Funny File:
Only Tate would ask me the following question…and if f you know Tate, you know what I mean… “Mommy, who is God’s wife?”  God doesn’t have a wife, baby“Well, he better stop having all these heavenly children, then.  It’s just not right.”  Visitation between a foster family and a birth family once prompted a conversation in our home about the importance of having children within the confines of holy matrimony, a conversation he was paying very close attention to, it seems.   

Another Riley moment for the Cuteness Factor file:

“I got no jobs. Hmmph.”  Awwww, the cuteness factor!  It’s so hard to be 3. The bigger kids have such cool jobs and don't really want Riley to help.

(And yes, that is Christmas garland still hanging on the windows.  And yes, I do know that it is March.  I am waiting for Dean to take it down.  He said he would.)

Don’t worry, little buddy, I’ve got your jobs.  There are plenty enough to go around. How ‘bout you just try not to make a mess for….say, uh…..oh, I don’t know….maybe 5 minutes.  That can be your job!  

Tate is a regular contributor to the Funny File:
“Mommy, today I want you to hold your hands like this all day.”  Why on earth, Tate, do you want me to hold my hands like this?  “It’s simple, Mom, really.  I want you to know what it’s like to not have opposable thumbs.  Really….Opposable thumbs are SO cool.”  Thanks, Tate, but I'll have to pass. I need my opposable thumbs. Thank you, God, for this child.  He keeps me in stitches!  
Cross-filed in both the Funny File and the Cuteness Factor:
J:  “G makes us call him Uncle G.” D:  “Yeah.  We have to.  He’s our uncle.”  Olivia:  “He’s your brother.”  J:  “I know, but he’s my uncle, too.”  D:   “He’s my uncle.”  Olivia:  “Well, he might be my brother, but he’s not my uncle.”  J:  “Baby W doesn’t call him Uncle G.”  D:  “Baby W can’t talk yet.” Olivia:  “When he can he’ll have to call him Uncle G then, I guess.”  Me:  “Ya’ll are confusing me.  Aren’t you confused?”  All three:  “No. Why?”  One of the blessings of our open adoption is the beauty of our now very complicated – but wonderful – extended family.  Olivia’s grandmother has adopted her older brother, G and now has custody of her younger brothers (that lived with us for a few years).  Over the years we’ve all worked together to allow the kids to know each other and grow up close to each other, even if the relationships are a bit complicated.  The reality is that sometimes life is a little bit messy.  Goodness knows we’ve redefined normal a time or two.  Adoption can turn grandmothers into mothers and brothers into uncles and nephews into brothers and foster mothers into adoptive mothers, all while keeping the children at the center of so much uncomplicated love and affection.  God sure builds beautiful families, doesn’t he?

That’s all for today, folks.  I hope you have a blessed week.  Embrace the craziness and laugh a little….

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This is the Life!

You know your kids had a good time at the cookout on Saturday if they play “at the Hendricks” in your own backyard on Sunday. Our pitiful little go-cart with no motor is a far cry from functional…we call it kid powered…and our disgraceful dirt bowl is a crying shame…someone with a green thumb, please HELP US…but it was a perfect Sunday anyway.

Actually our whole weekend was perfect.  We kicked it off with dinner at the Higgins, some of our favorite people in the world.  2 dear friends, 14 children, a couple of pots of cheesy potato soup and a few pans of brownies with ice cream made for an exciting Friday evening indeed.  I’m always blessed and inspired by our time together.  It’s also fun to get together every now and then and take a mental snapshot…one of these days we need to remember to take a real one...because the next time we get together our families just might not look the same. 

We tried to take our weekend chores seriously on Saturday – FOR ABOUT AN HOUR.  Who out there would blame us for totally abandoning our responsibilities in light of it being the most beautiful last day of winter ever?  I have no idea when we’re going to get all the work done we skipped, but I COULD CARE LESS.  The Hendricks whispered the word COOKOUT, and we didn’t even bat an eye before we loaded up the paddy wagon and headed out the door.  The weather was perfect, the fellowship was uplifting and the setting was picturesque.  God even finished out the evening with the most beautiful moon!  It was a perfect little preview of summer:  great friends, tons of kids running every which way, a backyard baseball game, ATVs and go-carts, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.  I found myself saying “this is the life” more than once Saturday night.  

Those words…“this is the life”….well, they got me thinking.  Wouldn’t it just be HEAVEN if every single orphaned child had these kinds of memories tucked away in their little hearts…if every single orphaned child could experience the love of a family and the comforting arms of the Savior?  I know it just doesn’t seem possible to change the world for every child.  The enormity of the situation can be so overwhelming. 147 MILLION ORPHANS is a lot of children, but did you know there are OVER 2 BILLION CHRISTIANS in the world?  I just finished teaching equivalent fractions and my brain is mush , so I’m not even going to begin to try and figure out all the zeros in that ratio.  The picture is clear anyway, isn’t it?  There are WAY more Christians than there are orphans.  Too simplistic and idealistic, huh?  I know it is.  More than one person has told me so.  I don’t know about you, though, but I’m not looking for an answer that makes sense…Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways  submit to him, and he will make your paths straight – Proverbs 3:5-6.  THIS IS THE LIFE…trusting the Lord with all of our hearts even when it just plain doesn’t make sense.

God is moving powerfully enabling families to answer the call to care for orphans through adoption…children from Africa, Russia, Ukraine and Lativa….children from Brazil, China and right here in the United States… God is equipping families that often start the adoption process unable to see more than their very next step...Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path – Psalm 199:105 (Thank you, Stephanie, for exercising faithfulness this morning by reminding me of this verse.)…More and more families...families like the Dells, the Davis', the Higgins, the Longs, the Oatsvalls, and the Youngs...have stepped out in faith and ventured into the unknown to change forever change the lives of these children by making them their own – a BEAUTIFUL REFLECTION OF THE GOSPEL.   God is working miracles for even some of the most special children waiting –  like children with HIV/AIDS and Down's Syndrome.  These precious ones are being adopted as a result of ministries like Project Hopeful, founded by the Tweitmeyers, a family with 7 biological children and 6 children adopted from Ethiopia, and Reece's Rainbow, championing for children like Jonah.  THIS IS THE LIFE…living by faith and sharing the gospel in the most meaningful of ways. 

Not every orphaned child is able to be adopted, but God has that covered, folks.  He is moving powerfully, equipping families like Joy Portis’ to care for children in foster care right here in America, and sending families like the Blocks from their home in Texas all the way to Guatemala to care for orphans where they are…I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you – John 14:18Believers are joining together to form organizations like Wiphan and SixtyFeet, sharing the love of Jesus Christ to orphaned children in Zambia and Uganda.  God is doing amazing things through young people like Katie, who every day lives the gospel serving the people of Uganda.  If you are ever tempted to wonder “where is God?”…well...He’s right there with Katie and Amazima Ministries. Check out her blog and see for yourself.  The reality is this:  God never abandons any of us, and if He calls us to it, He will be right beside us through it.  (I’m sure that’s a quote that belongs to someone.  I wish I knew who.)  Katie in Uganda doesn’t have the corner on our Lord and Savior.  He is moving powerfully to the ends of the earth! THIS IS THE LIFE…living powerfully in His presence, moved by the things that move him, compelled to be his hands and feet by our love for him.  

The number of orphans might be BIG…147 million big, but our God is BIGGER!  I know I started off this whole post today with a snapshot of a perfect weekend and somehow managed to meander to the enormity of the orphan crisis, but to me a phrase like “this is the life” just points to the life we as Christians have been called to – caring for these children... Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world – James 1:27.  Pray and ask God to show you the next step and He will light your path.  THIS IS THE LIFE!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Can you say melt my heart?

In our family we spend a lot of time talking together – about silly things, serious things, school things and fun things – but my all time favorite things are heart things.  One of my favorite things about being a mommy is the sweet heart-to-heart times that happen - sometimes unexpectedly - catching me off guard with such sweetness. 

Long drives are perfect for sharing hearts; if you can get used to talking over the masses riding in the back of our big church bus, that is.  As we drove to Atlanta on Thursday, Blake and I got to talking about the millions of orphans that will be effected by this week’s change in Ethiopian adoption policy….Okay, seriously ya’ll.  Blake is 14 years old.  He didn’t bring this topic up; I did.  He would rather have discussed whether or not I’m going to allow him to use my Verizon upgrade to get an iPhone.  On this day, however, he was a good sport and participated in my little heart-to-heart anyway.

How’s this for a mommy-to-teen conversations starter?  “Blake, what do you think you would do if you were walking down the street and happened upon a group of orphaned children?  Do you think you could keep walking, knowing they were in desperate need, and leave them without a family or anyone to care for them?”  OF COURSE NOT!!!...I knew he would answer that way.  Our hearts are moved to love as Jesus loves, and we – he - would have been compelled to do something, anything, to help them. 

As our conversation deepened we talked about how orphaned children, with bare feet and distended bellies, battling HIV and starvation, are just not something you see everyday where we live.  Here, in our town, in most every place we’ve ever been in America, we could go days, weeks, months or maybe forever (if we chose to) without seeing the abject poverty of the orphaned children we’ve learned about living in places like Africa, Ukraine, India, and Brazil.  We talked about how orphans here in America might look a little different from those in other countries and about how they’re not as visible to us where we are and about how they’re still without a family.

This is where the beautiful heart – the heart like Jesus – comes in.  Blake, at 14 and still so young, revealed the truth as he knows it.  Just because we don’t see them doesn’t make us any less obligated to take care of them.  Oh, how my heart was thanking the Lord that my son gets it…that if we know, we must do something, anything.  We can’t just do nothing!  

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27

Love talks like these!!!  Those 2 hours just FLEW BY!  I’m so glad that what matters to the Lord matters to my child! Love it!!

My day got even sweeter when my precious Tater Bug snuggled up to me on the couch and brought me to tears with the sweetest, most unexpected words. “Mommy, one day, when I adopt a little boy from China…or maybe I’ll adopt him from Ukraine, I don’t know…I’m going to bring him right home and feed him a cheeseburger.”  I know it’s probably not the most profound something anyone has ever said…and I have no idea why it involves a cheeseburger….but did you notice my Tate said, “when” and not “if”?  His precious heart for orphans was revealed to me in just a few simple words, and I might have missed it if I hadn’t been listening closely.  I asked Tate how he knew he was going to adopt one day.  He looked puzzled for a minute and then said, “Why wouldn’t I? God told us to take care of the orphans.”  In his little heart, he is already willing to answer the call to care for orphans and he’s not even grown yet.  Exciting stuff, my son!  Rock on!

In you the orphan finds mercy….Hosea 14:3

I must have hit the heart-to-heart payload Thursday, because as I was tucking Reagan into bed, his sweet words brought unexpected tears to my eyes.  Lately he’s been talking a lot about what it was like in Russia.  Some memories are good, but some things hurt to talk about, like the “brothers” [his friends] that we didn’t bring home with us.  “They don’t have good mommies at all and they don’t know about Jesus”, he said...WHAT’S A MOMMY TO DO WITH THAT…And then as I kissed him goodnight, he said in his adorable Russian accented English, “Mommy, I am here for you to love me, yes?”  Yes, my son.  I am here to love you and for you to break my heart with your gorgeous blue eyes and sweet heart that already loves Jesus enough to pray everyday for your “brothers” in Russia.

God sets the lonely in families…Psalm 6:86

I’m sure any mommy would agree; some days can be really hard.  But on this particular night, as I lay my head down to sleep, my heart was so full of gratitude, love and wonder –  Oh, how He loves us!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Beautiful Thing

Not long ago God pressed upon my heart a vision that's pretty big, so big in fact that I haven't been able to figure out where to start.  I've been pretty restless, waiting on Him to show me the next step.  Truth be told, I’ve tried to take a few steps lunged ahead of the Lord just to see if I could get a peak at where we’re going. If you can picture my goofy bloodhound Jethro trying unsuccessfully to drag me down the path to the barn, his head bouncing every which way, while every now and then I yank back on the leash and say, “You’re going the wrong way!”…THAT’S ME rushing ahead of the Lord, losing sight of where he’s leading me and trying to forge my own path! As you can imagine, the happenings haven't been very pretty!

Ya’ll, I am such a MESS sometimes!  I know lots of you will think I have CLEARLY lost my mind when I tell you this… and some of you have already told me so…but here goes anyway.  During the past 3 months I have applied and interviewed at a few local agencies for full time adoption/foster care social worker positions.  I know, I know.  I have enough going on at home, what with 7 kids and a husband always out of town.  How in the world do I have time to work? Well….the answer is, I don’t…but that’s not important right now.  What’s important right now is I have learned my lesson, and I’m sharing it here so that if you see my resume come across your desk, you’ll stop what you’re doing immediately and PRAY for me ‘cause somethin’s up! 

From the first application to the phone interview where Riley picked up the living room extension just as Blake gave his best WWE holla while power-slamming wild man to the couch, this whole process has been one humiliation after another.  I am just beginning to get to the point where I almost do something other than sob hysterically when I think about the calamity of that phone call.  One day I know it will be just as funny as the Super Nanny humiliation [that I’ll have to tell you about later], but for now it ranks right up there with the most embarrassing moments of my life. 

In my defense, it was a snow day and the kids were stark raving mad. There was no way to get away from the madness that is the Robinson home.  I had NO idea we even had an extension in the family room.  Where did that come from anyway?

As you can probably guess I was not offered a job or even a follow up interview.  Actually, I didn’t receive a response from any of the agencies where I interviewed.  Right about now I’m rethinking that $45,000 Master’s Degree in Social Work I just had to have 3 years ago, but that’s a whole nother can of psychobabble that’s best left for another day. 

So....I handed up the tangled mess I made of the vision He gave me [again], and He began to transform it back [again] into His work and not mine.  While a career in social work is clearly not where God is taking me right now, his mighty hands have not been idle.  He has done a beautiful thing [for me]....well, it is probably not really about me at all, but for just a minute tonight I'm making it about me, enjoying how it feels to realize [yet again] that He is always faithful [to me, but not just to me]. I can’t wait to share more, but it’s not time quite yet.  In the meantime, I wait…

Psalm 130: 5, 6: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

And while I wait, I have the hope that comes from His word...and I read blogs. Tonight I clicked on over to Babe of My Heart...because lately Andrea has (unknowingly, since she doesn't know me) been writing personal messages just for ME on her blog.  I was planning to reread this post for the fifth time,  in part because it says this:     

One last word of encouragement - as you seek to do the will of God, the Lord will bring MANY to walk with you. ---Andrea Young.  

And that is so beautiful...and TRUE.  But before I could get to the post I saw she had posted this....(Scroll to the bottom and press pause on my playlist player before you play this video. That way you'll be able to hear it.)
Such a beautiful group of people...Beautiful music...Beautiful hearts....Beautiful families....Just makes me so happy to know how God has brought so many together through this journey, and he continues to add to the number.  Thank you, Jesus, for showing me how to love like you love.  We are all children of God!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Dean huddled up the players for a mini-pep rally this morning before he headed out the door to work.  I just love it when we pray together and share hearts before he leaves for work.  Today though, right after we finished praying, Coach said something that made me raise an eyebrow and go HUH?  “Okay guys, now that we have Jethro we’re going to have to be more diligent about wiping slobber off stuff.”   More, Coach? Seriously?...Is slobber really something we’re always wiping off stuff?  What exactly are you trying to say?

I’m a little stumped….and uh, grossed out…We aren’t always wiping slobber off stuff, Dean, maybe red clay or peanut butter, but not slobber.  Now before you’re as grossed out by the word slobber as I am, please know that our house is clean.  You can come here and NOT get grossed out.   No worries.  I’m cleaning this house ALL the time.  There might be toys and shoes and clean laundry scattered everywhere, but there is not slobber…or there wasn’t until Jethro joined our family last Friday. 
Leroy Jethro Gibbs, AKA Boss, is a bloodhound.  He is GI-NOR-MOUS…like his head can seriously rest on my kitchen counter [not that I let it].  And he slobbers.  A lot.

And he seems a bit confused about where he’s allowed to sit and where he’s not. 

When I ousted him from his comfy perch on the kitchen loveseat, Blake said, “He looks so sad.  It’s like he’s really sad.”  Blake, son, he’s a bloodhound!! They always look sad!  As you can see, it didn’t take him long to relocate to another comfy spot.  

The kids have become experts at taking care of the slobber, I’m sure in part because they’re afraid I’ll banish poor Jethro to the backyard if they’re not.  Judging from the amount of paper towels we’re going through, Bounty stockholders everywhere are likely shouting for joy this very minute!  Now before anyone panics and calls me wasteful, the paper towels are only a temporary solution.  I’m sure I’ll get something written up in the play book by the end of today that defines how players are to handle the slobber, for the slobber simply must be handled! Gross! 

It took Jethro all of 30 minutes with our family to figure out that Coach is the team favorite.  He’s the most fun to hang out with and the most fun to play with and he brings home the most treats.  Poor Jethro was beside himself when Dean left for work today.  When Dean’s truck pulled out of the driveway, he plastered his ginormous body to the door and…you guessed it….slobbered all over it.  I’ve given a shout out to the team to keep them in the know, but if you happen to be looking for me I’ll be the one scrubbing down the back door. 

I hope you all have a blessed….and slobber-free day!