Thursday, December 30, 2010

The McManus Life 2010 in Pictures....

You knew it was coming. Here is our annual video recap of our year. All in pictures.....ENJOY!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's love when.....

on your anniversary you buy each other gifts that both drive you absolutely CRAZY.

Adam does not share my love for taking a picture of EVERY thing. But for our anniversary he bought me a awesome new camera.
And I do not understand Adam's love for video games. But I bought him Rock Band so he could play "rock" with his boys. (It was a big hit!) Adam might even tear up when Connor 100% his first song, he's gotten SO close.
More importantly, you know it's love when....You sit down to a romantic dinner on your anniversary in downtown Austin and receive a phone car. You hear words like; abandoned baby, can you take him tonight, sorry we know that you are out to dinner, and please. You take one look at each other and ask for the check. I love
* they found the little boy's family the next day and although we never got any details on his case, we know that he went home to "family". It was an emotional 24 hours, but it was exactly what we were supposed to do.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the McManus Family

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. 1st Peter 4:8a This almost perfectly sums up our year…

-oving others has lead us on quite a journey this year. We opened our home to a young-professional, non-profit photographer named Daniel who lived with us for almost 8 months. Since then, Brandon (a promising worship leader who is interning at our church) is now calling our house his home. It’s been wonderful helping these guys out and watching God use their gifts in extraordinary ways.

-h boy, another BOY! We became a foster certified home in June with the hope we could love on a little boy or girl who needed it. We dreamed that God would use us to not only love this child, but to also adopt. J-man came to us in July, and God had a very different plan for him. He soon (by the end of the year) will be unified with his Biological Mom and family. It will be a JOYOUS but sad day as we see God make a family whole again. Please pray for everyone involved and for the next child we welcome into our hearts and home.

-acation as a family! We went on our very first McManus family vacation. It was such a blessing to have a whole week to do just family stuff at Pine Cove Family Camp. Connor celebrated his 5th birthday at camp and became a “big kid” overnight. He is all about learning to read, practicing karate, playing video games, and becoming a rock star. Bryce captivated everyone at camp and in class (especially since he was the only boy). He also discovered a hidden self-confidence that we’ve enjoyed seeing. He is the thinker of the family and a little joker. He loves playing Legos, coloring, riding his big boy bike, and loving on his little sister and brother. Alexis is not a baby anymore. She’s walking and talking and wearing big girl ponytails. She and J-man enjoyed air-conditioned naptimes while the big kids and Mom and Dad enjoyed family free time at the lagoon, horseback riding, doing the ropes course, and swimming. Adam and I even got to enjoy a couple nights going on dates. We are counting down the days until we go again.

-veryday is a new adventure for us and you can read about them on our family blog at Adam continues to enjoy creating new things for the tech world while working at Gowalla. Jen is still rocking the stay at home mom thing and competed in her first Triathlon this year. Please pray for us as we continue to learn how to love others the way Jesus first loved us.

May you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Love, Adam, Jen, Connor, Bryce, and Alexis

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All I want for Christmas....

I'm not a sappy person. I don't like movies what make me cry (I used to like them now I hate them). I'm not a card person (usually). I'm not a cry- er, but when I do cry (watch out). AND I HATE sappy Christmas songs that try to make me cry.

With all that said.

I've received 6 (YES 6) emails this month about kids waiting for forever families here in the Austin area. They break my heart. Sweet smiling kids with NO family. Living right here. I also have the great pleasure of being friends with a couple of people who work oh so very hard for the orphan around the world. When I close my eyes at night, I see the faces of children who are in desperate need of love, water, food, a family living here and around the world.

And so this song is on my heart and in my head this Christmas: (yes this is a sappy song that will make you cry) ENJOY!

Sponsor a child with Help End Local Poverty

Buy a Fair Trade Gift for Christmas

Become a State Certified Foster Babysitter

Become a Foster Family


Friday, December 17, 2010

How did it go?

I know that is what everyone is thinking. So here's how the morning went. We kept the morning very simple and very "what we do every morning". We got dressed, ate breakfast, laughed, played with toys, and rushed to get everyone in the car on time.

We drove to meet Bio Mom and I was beginning to get a little sad when all of a sudden I heard a whimper and a sound no Mom wants to hear. Yup, Alexis puked EVERYWHERE!!! She puked milk which made it even worse. I had to pull over on the highway and cleaned her up.

Cleaning puke was HORRIBLE, but a little bit of a blessing. You see I don't have normal "flight or fight" response to stressful things. Nope I'm more of a "clean or fight" kind of person. When I stress out or am sad. There is only one thing I want to do; CLEAN! I know it's weird, huh? So it was good that right about the time I was starting to get pretty stressed and sad, I got distracted and just had to clean.

When I finally pulled into the parking lot, I felt pretty good. I hadn't even thought about it, cause well I was paranoid that Alexis was going to throw up again.

Anyway I pulled in and jumped out of the car. Bio Mom was already crying and so I teared up a bit too. We embraced and celebrated for a moment. I hadn't seen her since court a couple months ago. We had talked on the phone, but it wasn't the same. She thanked us and began crying again. She told me that she couldn't have picked a better family to love on J-man during this time. It was a perfect "goodbye".

The older boys did a great job saying "goodbye", because we had told the kids that J-man's Bio Mom was sick and couldn't take care of him. So to them even though they weren't going to see their brother again, it was exciting to them that he finally got his Mommy back. Connor told me on the way back home that J-man's Bio Mom must have really missed him and will be so happy to have him for Christmas. I love that kid's heart. He just "gets" stuff sometimes.

Bio Mom and I had one last hug and a cry. And we took off. The rest of the day was pretty normal (expect no gym for me because of pukey Alexis, luckily she never threw up again). I had some moments when I teared up, but overall felt good.

I need prayers from everyone that the Holy Spirit continues to do a work in my heart. It's the only way I've made it threw this crazyness this whole 6 months. I've had a weird peace this whole process and I can't explain why without talking about "a peace that passes all understand" (Philippians 4:7). Even when things got sad or frustrating or just plain annoying, I always felt a calming peace. I will continue to need that the next days and weeks.

The bigger question is "will we do this again?" I'll write about it later. But the short answer is "yes, of course".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye to a SON

Tomorrow morning I'll wake up. Go into his room. Scoop him up and get him dressed. I'll tickle him and get a morning hug. We'll walk downstairs. I'll walk, he'll go on his stomach. I'll get his milk and his cheerios. He'll be smiley and giggling as the kitchen becomes louder and louder with kid's voices, and squeals, and screams. He'll talk and giggle with his sister. Maybe even throw a Cheerio or two. I'll clean him up. Get his things and walk him to the car.

Then I'll say "goodbye".....

On Friday, I'll say goodbye to my son. He came to us 6 months ago; scared, sleepy, with no clothes, no toys, nothing. We knew nothing about him. But LOVED him. He quickly became part of our family. We had a couple of weeks where we thought he'd be our son forever. Then for months we knew that just simply wasn't the case. His Bio Mom was working hard to get him back and one day we would say goodbye.

My heart is aching and rejoicing. Rejoicing for a mother who has not been with her son for months. She has worked hard and is doing great. But he is MY son. He's been MY son for months. He calls me "Mama." He's a brother to my sons. A a twin to my daughter. He's my husband's "big man" and son. He loves us very much and we love him.

I'm frustrated that we have to say goodbye a week before Christmas. I hate that he won't be here with us. But I'm excited that his Bio Mom doesn't have to miss the first Christmas he gets to enjoy.

Join me friends. Pray for our little man.

Pray for his Bio Mom.

Pray for this transition.

Pray for Connor, Bryce, and Alexis. Pray for Adam and me.

Pray that the short time he was with us, the short time he was our son means something eternally.

Pray that one day I see my son again. This time we embrace knowing that we'll spend eternity together......Pray my friends!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Annual McManus Christmas Q & A Video

Last year we did a Christmas Q & A video and had so much fun doing it. So we decided to make it an annual thing.


Christmas Questions from Adam McManus on Vimeo.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How we do Santa

So, I grew up completely believing in Santa. My parents did a great job making it super fun and super easy to believe. At age 8 or so, my Mom told me the "truth" about Santa which didn't shock or hurt me. I remember being completely ok with it. I didn't question our belief in God or creation or Jesus. I was just "ok" with it.

When we started having kids, Adam and I just kind of did what our parents did. Recently though, we've found ourselves doing stuff "differently." Connor, our oldest, has become very concerned with what is "pretend" and what is "real." We watch lots of Star Wars, dragon movies, play video games, and do other "pretend" things. We read about "pretend" places. A question I get at least once a day is: "Mom, is ______ real or pretend?"

Adam and I have also spent a GREAT deal of time making sure our kids understand what Christmas is really about. So, we made a new decision about the whole SANTA-thing. We decided to tell all our kids (and when I say all the kids, I really mean Connor cause Bryce and the babies don't care).

I sat down with Connor and explained that St. Nick or Santa Clause was a VERY REAL person and he loved Jesus very much. He gave the children in his village presents every year. He grew old and went to heaven. People loved all the great things Santa did so much that they continued doing it. Soon, people everywhere were playing the "game" of Santa by remembering a great man who loved others and doing the same thing by loving others and serving them. So, that is why we have Santa. It a "pretend" game that everyone plays. But he is no longer "here," but in heaven. We're going to play the game too.

Connor looked at me, nodded his head and took off. Later, he asked if it was just a game and if the "real" Santa was in heaven and would he get a present. I said "of course", but that if he told others and ruined the game then he wouldn't. (Yes, I did bribe him. The idea of my child "ruining" someone else's Santa-thing made me sick to my stomach.) When someone asks Connor if he believes in Santa, I told him that he could say yes because we know he was real and so we do believe in that. He seems to be totally cool with it and still excited that he gets a stocking and a present from "Santa." Bryce did not care one bit and was probably a little bit relieved because he still doesn't really "like" the man.

So that's how we do the Santa thing. How about you? Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A sneak peek....

Here's a sneak peek of our family pictures Daniel Davis took of us. We had quite an adventure out in the woods. Carrying camera equipment, keeping track of kids, and hiking around the forest and rocks in high heeled boots. But he got some great shots. (Does anyone else HATE pictures of them self or is it just me?) You'll have to wait for our Christmas Card to see the pictures that were the BEST! (What you don't get our Christmas Card? email me NOW)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What is fair trade shopping?

It's a must watch!

Are you willing to buy just one thing? (BTW it's really hard to buy one thing, cause everything is wonderful) TRADE AS ONE

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The "dreaded" Family Pic

Once a year I ask....ok DEMAND...that my family takes a picture together. A good one. One where everyone is smiling and we look like we've showered, like we comb our hair, like we wear nice clean clothes, like we love each other, and like one where we have our eyes all open. It's once a year. It's a tradition. And it's an absolute BATTLE every year. If it's not my husband crying like a baby it's an actual baby....well crying. So today is the BIG DAY. Family Picture Day!!! Will we get one (yes I only need one)??? Or maybe I better question, how can I bribe my family to get me the picture I need?

Here's some previous "famous" family pictures......

You make your family do this, right? And you have some kind of fight each year, right?

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Ok I admit it. I love Christmas. I love the music. I love the decorations (although I suck at them). I LOVE THE MOVIES!!! So here's my list of all time favorites....

Favorite Classic Christmas Movies:

3)Meet Me in St Louis (First time "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is sung. This movie is a great laugh, a fantastic musical, stars Judy Garland, and has a little girl who is obsessed with death. Seriousily?? YES!)

2)White Christmas (Sorry it is just a classic and yes I'm in love with musicals. Thanks Mom for that)

1)It's a Wonderful life tied with Miracle on 34th Street (They just make you feel good.)

Favorite Kid Christmas Movies:

3) Charlie Brown Christmas tied with Home Alone (Charlie Brown throws down the "real" meaning of Christmas and I love that. And I grew up watching and loving every second of Home Alone. Hello it even has a John Candy cameo)

2)How the Grinch Stole Christmas (new and old) (LOVE LOVE LOVE!)

1)Muppet Christmas Carol (Another musical? Why yes it is. Michael Crain is magical in this movie and I love every minute of it)

Favorite Adult Christmas Movies

3)Christmas Story tied with Elf (I can recite every line from The Christmas Story and my Dad looked EXACTLY like Ralphie when he was a little boy. Elf is just too funny and I can't NOT watch it if it is on TV)

2)National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (I could watch this movie anytime any day, everyone loves this movie, right?)

1)Love Actually (I love this movie. I'm a sucker for a good romance and this one has like 5 different ones in it. Plus it's real life and I love that. Plus I have thighs the size of tree trunks and can't help but LOVE poor sweet foul-mouthed Natalie)

Best Horrible (but really funny) Christmas Movie

1) Bad Santa (Yes I laughed a lot and yes it is a horrible HORRIBLE movie)

Best Creepy Christmas Movies

3) Nightmare Before Christmas (I love this movie, but they make Christmas pretty stinkin CREEPY. This might be another musical)

2) Santa Clause the Movie (Look it up. It came out in the 80's and it freaked me out, A LOT)

1) Jingle All the Way tied with Jack Frost (Arnold as a Dad was just weird. And a movie about a Dady dying and coming back as a snowman double CREEPY)

Honorable Mentions (Forgotten Christmas Movies)

Rocky, Die Hard, Trapped in Paradise, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, You've Got Mail, The Holiday, The Preachers Wife

What are your thoughts? What would you change?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More than some stories....

Sometimes, I think the Bible gets a bad wrap. I've even been guilty of not understanding what it really is. It's not a storybook. It's not a book of rules. It's not irrelevant. It's not old-fashioned. It's not a history book. It's not a good book of philosophy. It's not just an interesting read.

It's a living book of truth. It's a beautiful love story of a Father longing for his children's love. It's God's Word. It's His story of grace and mercy. It's our lifeline. It's our hope. It's God's story of redemption.

This Sunday, I experienced something special. It was a sermon of just memorized scripture. It was mind blowing and wonderful and just plain COOL! To be honest, I wasn't too excited when I heard that it was a message of just scripture. I was actually a little concerned I wouldn't understand or follow it.

So, the pastor stood up on stage, grabbed a quick drink of water, and just took off. He went through Genesis to Revelation, simply reciting the Words of God. His story of Redemption. His great rescue plan. It was so inspiring. I would love to be able to memorize something like that, and I needed to be reminded of God's perfect plan. I needed to hear God's plan through the hard times in the Old Testament. I needed to see His grace during the minor and major prophets. I needed to be reminded of His love when He gave the world His Son. I needed to be reminded of His pain when He watched His Son die for me. I needed to be reminded that I'm part of His plan to love others and go tell them. I needed to experience the joy when I heard His words about defeating Satan and preparing a place for us. I needed to be reminded of the beauty of memorized scripture. I needed......The History of Redemption.

I bought the book. It is a wonderful read. And, it might be one of my goals next year to memorize it. As we gear up for Advent and celebrating our Savior's birth, please take a moment to remember the WHOLE history. The WHOLE story. The WHOLE truth.

Check it out

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I love to hate my hair! Always have..... It just might be a girl-thing. But I really do have a love/hate relationship with my hair. You see it's curly, but not cute curly. More 80's frizzy curly. So I straighten it EVERYDAY. Ok ok ok some....umm maybe most days I wear it in a ponytail. But if I'm going to see "real" people I straighten it (stay at home Moms know what I mean when I say "seeing real people).

So when I found out I was having a daughter I WAS SO EXCITED and SO SCARED at the same time. I was scared to death of little girl hair. I can deal with me having bad hair, but my little girl. Oh man the stress kills me. Alexis has hard little girl hair. She has a lot of it and it's thin and stringy and EVERYWHERE. I've cut the back of it once because it was getting VERY MULLET-LIKE. So help me out! Am I doing alright? Be honest and help me out because family pictures are around the corner.
The natural look?
The Cindy-lou who look?
The piggy-tails?
Vote now!

J-man Update

So J-man got to spend 4 days at home with Bio Mom over Thanksgiving. It was our first BIG step towards reunification. It went well.....I think. But to be honest we have no idea. CPS is not giving us much information as usual.
We do know that Bio Mom LOVED her time with her little man. We know that he did get sick and had an upset stomach the whole time. We know that someone is going to have to talk to her about nutrition and little babies (hopefully not me). We know that things will look different in the next weeks as we move closer to permanent reunification. We know that 4 days without J-man was weird and felt "off", but that the other 3 kiddos kept Adam and I very busy (which is very good). I know that I still feel a peace with our families journey being a foster family.
We DON'T know when or how the "reunification process" is going to look. We DON'T know how it's going to impact for our family. I DON'T know how I'm going to react or deal or process the day that our son leaves us forever. I DON'T know a lot.
Only that little J-man is back home. He is a little clingy to me (but we all expected that). He was VERY excited to see his brothers. And woke up from nap today giggling and laughing with his sister.
For now we continue to love him and pray for his Bio Mom. Thanks for the prayers, friends.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What we're thankful for....

Connor is thankful for...... his stuffed animals (especially Bambi), for the Thanksgiving tree, our backyard, his Mommy, playing with Alexis, our porch, playing at the gym, learning school, and Guitar Hero.

Bryce is thankful for..... his Mommy, his chair, his Daddy, Alexis and J-man (his 2 babies), his stuffed animals (especially Rhea his puppy), his food, his new clothes, Halloween candy, and his teachers at church and the gym.

Alexis is thankful for..... her binky, her blanket, sweet snuggles with Daddy before bed each night, giggling with Mommy, piggy tails, playing with her brothers, running outside, and naps.

J-man is thankful for..... good food, time with his Bio Mom, dancing, learning how to walk, car rides, playing outside, blocks, and bath time.

Hope it was a great day remembering what we all have and being thankful for.........

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Daddy Daughter Time

Daddy and Alexis' favorite game:



Aren't Daddys just the best?

Can you Give Thanks if?

Ah Thanksgiving, the time of the year when we all workout just a little bit harder hoping that all the cinnamon rolls, croissant rolls, and desserts won't go straight to our hips. Just me? Hmmmm curious.
Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and for some of us it's the first time in a long time that we sit down and give thanks. We think about all the great things God has blessed us with and say "Thank You".
I'll later post all the things the McManus kiddos are thankful for this year, since we are once again decorating a Thanksgiving Tree. But for now I challenge you with this.

Could you "Give Thanks" if.... Could you be thankful to your God if......Would you still take time to pray and praise God for the things He has given you if.....

What if you didn't have what you have now? What if there was no house? no food? no job? no healthy children? no children? lost love ones? Could you be thankful then?????

Hard questions for me. I've lost in the past, but I have a very BLESSED life right now. I'm trying to be thankful for my God, my Savior, my Heavenly Father alone.

Will you join me? Could you say a prayer like this for Thanksgiving this year?????

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Saturday, November 13, 2010

With Everything

I would like to share what God has been wrecking me over with lately. These are things that God has been gently (and sometimes not so gently) teaching me. I have absolutely not even begun to get close to "figuring" anything out. But, maybe a couple of the things I write will touch you.

God really speaks to my heart through worship, especially songs. I'm the girl who is frequently crying during a worship song because I feel like God and I are "working stuff out." Lately, the song that has been "getting" me is "With Everything" by Hillsong

Hillsong - With Everything from With Everything on Vimeo.

This song is tearing me up in many different ways. The first is about how small I make God. To be honest, I make him tiny. I deep down think I deserve His perfect and unconditional love. My friends, we don't deserve God's love. Does He love us? Oh yes, but do we deserve it, ABSOLUTELY not. I also don't find myself HATING my sin like I should. To be honest I "act" like I'm good enough without God and only rely on his forgiveness and grace for the "big" stuff. So when I find myself singing these words, I can't help feeling like "THAT'S ME!".

Break down our pride,
And all the walls
We've built up inside,
Our earthly crowns
And all our desires,
We lay at Your feet.

then this part

God of all days,
Glorious in all of Your ways.
Your majesty, the wonder and grace,
In the light of Your name.

Open your heart and ask yourself, do you really deep down understand that we don't deserve love from God? We are filthy rags. Even on our best day we absolutely REEK of filth. That all the "good" stuff we do is nothing. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:4

Then I start singing these words;

Open our hearts,
To see the things
That make Your heart cry,
To be the church
The You would desire.
Light to be seen.

I get completely destroyed here too. Asking God to open your eyes to the things that make HIS heart cry is not easy. And then asking God to help you do something about it isn't any easier. That has kind of been our main prayer this year. God has opened our eyes to the injustices that (to be quite frank) Adam and I have never really cared about. The helpless, the majority of the world that lives on less than $2 a day, the orphans, the sick, and the needy. Do I really care about them? And if the answer is yes, what do I do about it? God is a God of justice and although the world is burdened down by the sin of man, the church could and should be a light that can be seen. Church, we are often not a light that can be seen. I am often not a light that can be seen. I look and act like everyone else. Get why these lyrics kill me? What if I actually meant these lyrics? What if I actually asked God to help me "do something"?

Then we get to the "with everything" part of the song. Aw man it kills me (and of course I mean in a good way). I need to get punched in the gut sometimes (alright most times) and this does it everytime. I mean???? EVERYTHING? With everything? If I truly believe this "God thing and Savior thing and eternity thing", then am I giving EVERYTHING??? It's easy to look at my life and think yeah we're close enough to "everything". I mean have you seen our crazy life, God? We have strangers live in our home for free, give money monthly beyond tithing to overseas and orphans, we love on our friends who work overseas and partner with them whenever we can, we love on our neighbors, heck we even have a son whom we have taken into our family to love on even though he'll never be "our son." Enough, right? That's really close to "everything". But it's not "everything". A couple questions Adam and I keep asking each other are; "If God called us to give up "everything" and "GO", would we? On the day we hand over little J-man, will I gladly say "with everything". Tough, right?

About this time, I start feeling a little overwhelmed and my chest gets heavy. I think to myself, "God this is a lot!" Then we get to the WOAH! (start listening on the video at 5:30) part of the song. And I stand there in a room of thousands of worshipers and for those moments I feel like what I can only imagine heaven will be like. And all thoughts vanish and my my soul SINGS! I'm completely gone in a really, really good way.

That's what God has been breaking me up about.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Something about 5....

"Mom, I love being so old and responsible because it makes you so proud. And I'm proud of myself in my very own heart." -Connor McManus

It seems like every time my children get a year older there is a new "phase" we get to endure ummmm I mean enjoy.

2 year old: Saying "No", learning time-outs, sharing, coming when Mommy calls your name, staying in bed, and so much more

3 year old: Trouble finishing meals, lying begins, being a little too independent, obeying Mom and Dad, and so on

4 year old: DRAMA!

5 year old: OH MY WORD! I love it. We have a little man who has a fun sense of humor, a desire to learn more and more each day, someone who can be reasoned with, a human being who actually makes wise choices, a older sibling that takes care of his younger siblings, confident in his beliefs, a scholar, a talented athlete, and we're only a couple months into this WONDERFUL age!

Does any other Moms agree with me? Are 5 year olds just this wonderful or have I just been living in the toddler years WAY TOO LONG.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sitting on the pot

Sometimes it's just fun to hang out on the pot.

Alexis is not wearing any clothes because she decided to wear her dinner that evening. Of all my children she is the messiest!! That is some kind of cruel joke, right??? She absolutely loves getting dirty too. The other night she had the cutest little outfit on and managed to get food on every surface of it. Seriously it is driving me a little nuts.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How are you doing this?

Life as the "middle Mom" (what some call being a foster Mom) is hard! J-man will never be my forever son, but for now and for the last 4 months, he is my son. I love him and he loves me, sometimes too much. We've spent the last couple of weeks fighting extreme separation anxiety, but the next 2 weeks or next month and half is going to get harder. We have gotten the official word that we are moving into the "reunification process." That simply means J-man is going to go home to Bio Mom and "they" (the lawyers, cps, therapists, and Bio Mom) are all TRYING to find a schedule that will make that happen. J-man could be going home in the next 2 weeks or he could be going home in the next month and half. No one really knows. Everyone has their opinion, but there is no "real answer" about when as of yet.

Please pray for us while we go through this process. It is going to be crazy. It could mean just adding an hour to each visit each week until we start doing overnight visits. It could mean full-day visits for awhile, then overnight visits, and then weekend visits until everyone is ready for J-man to go home permanently. It could mean anything. We just don't know.

What I do know is this "process" will be very hard for everyone. It's going to be hard on little J-man as he begins to find his schedule unstable. He'll bounce back and forth. Bio Mom to us, back to Bio Mom, back to us. I can't imagine how he will process this. Bio Mom will experience the joy of having more time with her little boy and then the heartache as she gives him back again and again and again. My kids will have their brother here and then not and then here and then not. I will be Mom to J-man one day and the person who drops him off the next.

Sound like a nightmare? (It kind of does to me too.)

But, like most sufferings, we see a glimmer of God's perfect plan. J-man is going home. A family that God created is going to be reunified. What a day that will be! To see the face of a Mom getting her baby back. I cling to the hope of that moment and pray that it gets me through the time we have ahead of us. I cling to the image of the day we are blessed with a son or daughter who will forever be in our family. We fight for that day even though it means we have a couple really hard ones now. We fight because Christ fought for us. We love this little baby and his Mom because Christ loved us first. We forgive and forget the mistakes she made because Christ forgives and forgets ours.
Join me, my friends, and pray for us in this journey.....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

You know I don't hate Halloween...

Yup weird......maybe. It just doesn't really bother me. I don't love the scary crap and we don't go all at or anything. But I love seeing my kids excited when they get to dress up as something special. I love seeing all my neighbors out and loving on my kids. I love warm evenings seeing families doing something fun together. I love getting to play games with neighbors and I have a soft spot for the CANDY.
So this year we got all dressed up and enjoyed an evening at our neighborhood's block party. Families dressed up, neighbors set up games for the kids to play, we ate food, and just had fun. Then Adam took the babies home for bath and bedtime and I took the boys trick-or-treating. THEY LOVE to TRICK-OR-TREAT. It was especially fun because Bryce actually talked this year. Last year he more or less mumbled a "trick-or-treat" and a "thank you". This year, he loudly exclaimed "TRICK-OR-TREAT" and then said "Thank you" and then (my favorite part) a cute "Have a nice night, Happy Trick-or-treating". Poor little kid doesn't even know it's called Halloween.
Now if there is one thing I don't love about Halloween it's all the freakin candy. I mean my boys literally came home with 10 pounds of candy. I'm not a fan of that much sugar so we tried something new this year.
Each boy got to pick 2 pieces of candy out to have that night. And then 7 pieces of candy to have each day this week (if they obey, respect others, and eat healthy food first). Then we bagged up the rest and I "payed" them for it. Tonight we went to Target and the boys got to pick a $10 toy with their candy money. (I tried to do $5 but those all had small parts and we have little babies) The boys choose wisely (with my help) and got a fun little game to play.
At the neighborhood party, playing on the pirate ship. The boys and our little "kitty" Alexis

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall is in the air?

Ah fall in Texas, it just doesn't exist. You see the temperatures are still in the 90's and there are no leaves that change colors, but you get to go pumpkin hunting and trick-or-treating in the sunshine. I grew up trying to avoid rain, wind, and cold during most trips to the pumpkin patch. And trick-or-treating was always fun but many times we did it in the pouring rain. Does it make me sad, that my kids won't ever know the season FALL? Yes, I miss jumping in piles of leaves, apple cider, cold evenings inside watching movies. But man I love that we still get to spend evenings outside riding bikes, playing at the park, and feeding the ducks. And I love that I get the best sunny pumpkin pictures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Last Thursday night I had a good old fashion pity party. It was silly and dramatic. But it was what I was feeling (and probably what I needed).

We got more news about J-man's case, and again we have no idea what is going on. He could be reunifying with Bio Mom in a couple of weeks or maybe a couple more months. We just have NO IDEA! This is frustrating to me for so many reasons. One because we love this little boy and every day that he is in our family, he becomes more and more our son. Lately, he has been having a hard time with separation anxiety with me and cries every time I leave the room or his sight, stand up to leave, or think about moving away from him. It's hard on him and me. We're also sad for Bio Mom cause she is doing great but the system is just flawed and it might just take a little more time. And then there are the emails. I keep getting email after email of little babies our agency wants us to apply to adopt. We don't feel like we can do this until we know what is going to happen with J-man. So I get these emails with pictures of sweet little babies who need a Mommy and a Daddy and it just makes everything that much harder. Could you imagine getting emails like that EVERYDAY! It starts to just hurt your heart.

And on Thursday it just all hit me. HARD!

I got mad.

I got sad.

I felt ready to throw the towel in.

I said things I didn't mean.

I just sat in silence.

I threw myself a pity party.

But after some good healthy time talking with Adam, getting into the Word, and hearing an awesome message this morning I feel back on track.

So I start this week with two things in my head.

1) My God is bigger than any challenge or situation. He is in control and His plan for me and my family is absolutely perfect.

2) I'm putting my big girl panties on and trusting in Him.

Pray for me my friends....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Sister is T-rouble!

Oh my word! My daughter is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. (Yes I do have to say that cause she's all mine, but she really is) She is also the most stubborn McManus baby EVER! Connor was a dream baby and a true first born. He loved talking and obeying and just being good. Bryce was a little bit of a stinker, and didn't talk for FOREVER! But he did do sign language so that worked for us. Then came Alexis.

She does not speak much at all a couple words here and there. She instead speaks some kind of pixie or elvish which almost sounds like little cheeps and chirps. It's adorable but come on the girl has got to talk! So I began teaching her sign language. She is VERY SMART and knows all the signs. But will only use the signs when she wants to. The other night she walked up to Adam and really REALLY wanted one of his chips. So I told him to make her say please. Which he tried to do. But our cute little STUBBORN daughter was NOT going to sign it. Instead she looked down and to the side and furrowed her brow. She wouldn't make eye contact and just stood there. Adam and I busted out laughing which probably made it worse. So she didn't say please and so she didn't get a chip. I know that she can say please because she is very good at it when she wants to say please, but it has to be when SHE wants.

She is a little pistol. Who has learned that screaming when a brother does something she doesn't like means someone will come to her aid. She has learned that Daddy will always pick her up. And that at the gym if she finds the right teacher, she will let her go into the room she is not supposed to be able to be in yet. This little angel is going to be T-rouble!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A wife who submits?!? (You've got to be kidding)

So Adam and I are teaching a small group of newly weds (and one engaged couple). This is our second time doing this since we moved to Austin and WE LOVE IT. There is something so fun about talking marriage-stuff in a Godly way. This week we talked about one of the toughest subjects (I say one of the toughest cause we still have your past, finances, sex, and in-laws. Maybe I'll write about those too, whatcha think?). We talked about submission and headship.

It's a difficult subject for two reasons.

One because it's thought to be pretty old fashion and out of date. I mean come on after the women's suffrage movement and the recent equality of woman in the work place, is there room still for a submissive wife? And to be honest the woman I picture that comes to mind when I hear the word "submissive" is not the woman I want to be.

And two because deep down in every woman we REALLY don't want to be submissive. We (women) have a very deep desire to NOT be submissive (more on that later).

Let's start at the beginning. In Genesis 1:26-31 we see that God created man and woman differently but VERY equal. There was no man does this and woman do that. We were equally perfect. And then sin entered the world. We chose to live separately from God and so we had consequences to our sin.

Men had to toil and work for the first time in ETERNITY! And woman had to have painful childbirth AND (yup even I overlooked the next part). In Genesis 3:16b it says

Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you."

For the longest time I just saw this part of the verse and thought, yup we will desire to have a husband, makes sense to me. But if you read Genesis 4:7 ("If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.") you see that "desire" means more like wanting to control or dominate or rule over. So after the fall, woman will want to rule over, control, and dominate their husbands. INTERESTING huh??? Because of sin we will FIGHT being submissive. So it makes sense that when we (woman) read all this stuff about being the helpmeet of our husbands our first thought is: "Yeah no thanks!"

So now that we have this new knowledge hopefully the rest of this post won't be too hard to read.

Definition of Headship: The divine calling of the husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

Definition of Submission: The divine calling of the wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry through according to her gifts.

So, our husbands have to stand up and be the leader of our family, but then we have this job of being honoring and affirming. NO where does it say that we roll over and listen to everything our husband says. NO where does it say that we say "Yes sir" to every command our husband gives us. NO where does it say that our husbands should ever command us to do anything that leads to sin.

I've been wrestling with what it means then to be the Biblical wife for a week now. And here is what I've come up with. Being the wife God has called me to be does not mean that I'm a weak woman. Not at all. It just simply means that I NEED TO SHUT UP sometimes. You see, I'm a natural leader and since God made me that way it is not bad. But I have to be careful that it does not crush my husband's leadership role in our family. I have to WATCH OUT and not dominate or rule over Adam. I have to stand back and LET HIM LEAD. I don't have to blindly obey him or be some weird timid little woman, not at all. That is not the woman Adam fell in love with. Nope I just need to SHUT MY FACE. It really is a lot easier that I thought.

The second thing I do is pray. I'm a helper and cheerleader and a kind of inspirational speaker for my husband. And the best way I can do that is if I am praying for him daily. I can't be the one who changes my husband's heart when it needs to be changed, it has to be the Holy Spirit. I can't nag him when I want something done, I need to speak to him about my needs and what he can do to help me, step back and SHUT UP, and then pray for my husband.

SO what do you think??? Agree? Disagree? Did I at least make you think?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Amazing Race Dream

Alright I admit it I'm really quite competitive. (Trust me knowing this will help you understand this post and why it is really quite funny)

Adam and I are leading a small group of newly weds (and one engaged couple) for a second time this year. WE LOVE TEACHING NEWLY WEDS (I'll write more on it later). Every Sunday we have a lesson and then on Wednesday night everyone comes over to our place to go over the material a little deeper and have fun time in community.

On Sundays we've always played little get to know ya games or team building games. And I admit last semester Adam and I did not have a good attitude about these games. And most Sundays just sat around with our group and talked. BUT this semester!!!!! They made the 8 weeks a competition between small groups and the winning team will ACTUALLY win a "major award" at the end of our time together. Plus there's a super lame but oh so cool trophy that gets passed around to the group who is in the lead each week (that trophy has never left our table, but more on that later).

So Adam and I are super competitive with each other and others around us. So when someone created a game with points all of a sudden those kind of lame games BECAME FREAKIN' AWESOME. And our small group is UBER cool and love the competition as much (and sometimes more) than we do.

SOOOOOO this morning there was a scavenger hunt around Austin. We (Adam & I) weren't going to compete at first, but at the last moment we decided to play. We had been prepping our small group for a week about this scavenger hunt and felt like we could totally do it too. I mean come on just because we have 4 kids and EVERYONE else is a newly wed couple with no kids doesn't mean we won't have a chance, RIGHT???? We packed the kids up, loaded up a million snacks, talked to the boys about the "treasure hunt" we were going on, and headed to the first spot. We got our clues and it was game on. Unfortunately for us we don't know much about Austin and every clue was a location on the north side of the river and we live on the south (the COOL side) on town. So we began internet-ing, tweeting, and mapping out the spots. Once we had a plan we took off. Once in a while we saw one of our couples along the way, and we gave them a high five and a friendly threat that they better not let us (WITH OUR 4 KIDS) beat them. On our way to one of the hardest destinations we got the message from one of our couples that they had WON! Perfect timing for us because we were trying to figure out how we were going to get 4 kids up to the top of Mt Bonnell, a 105 stair walk straight up 785 feet above sea level. We knew that only the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams got points so we headed to the last check-in. When we arrived we learned that 2 other couples from our team had finished 3rd and 4th. (GO TEAM)

We had a blast, but learned why you DO NOT get to take kids on Amazing Race. 1) They have to go to the bathroom at inconvenient times. 2) They want lunch at 11:15am, NO matter what you are doing. 3) They don't like getting woken up from a little nap to run out and get a picture taken with a tree(we have a picture but I can't post it cause J-man is in it grrrrr). 4) It really does hurt your time when you have to unbuckle and buckle 4 kids into car seats at every destination.

My dream to compete in the Amazing Race is not dead and I feel like Adam and I only proved how totally AWESOME we would be on the show. Right?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's a good weekend when.....

You show up for a day at Sea World and realize that the park is practically empty!

You bring a grandparent along to watch the kiddos while you and your hubby walk onto every extreme roller coaster in the park! Thanks Dad.

And you end the day with this site.....(again I hate that I have to edit J-man out of every picture but he and Alexis are in the middle row completely passed out too)

Court Update

So Friday was our 1st permanency court day. The update is that J-man is still in our home and will be for another 3-4 weeks. Thursday night we got a call that CPS was trying to postpone court for another 30 days and this really confused us. We thought that maybe they had some more stuff on Bio Mom, but after Friday it all made sense. CPS pretty much dropped the ball and didn't do what the judge had wanted them to do. So we wait a couple of weeks while they get everything worked out. It was sad because I know Bio Mom and us too thought that J-man was ready to go home. So we wait just a bit longer. Meanwhile we start praying about being submitted for straight adoption babies or continue to foster with the intention to adopt when it's needed (knowing that there is a chance that we get another placement who doesn't stay with us forever)

Prayer Requests:

Please continue to pray for Bio Mom as she keeps up the great work

Pray for our kiddos as we start preparing them in a few weeks to say goodbye to their brother

Begin to pray for our next step in this journey

Monday, October 4, 2010

So what if I can't adopt?

"So Jen, super neat quotes and stats, but seriously we/I can't adopt right now or maybe ever. So what do you have to say to me?"

Dude I know what you are thinking! I've been there. So this post is all about what you can do to help the orphan, the widow, the needy right now. (And guess what some of the things you can do DON'T require money)

1) Sponsor an orphan. For a little more than $30 a month you can CHANGE a child's life. Your money will help this child get food, clean water, shelter, and many times SCHOOL. So, not only are you caring for their physical needs, but you're giving them a HOPE for the future. We love our sponsor daughter and pray for her each night, write her letters, and talk about her. I love seeing how my kids are learning to have a heart for those that don't have what they have.

I can wholeheartedly put my name behind each of these organizations:

HELP (Help End Local Proverty)


World Vision

2) Throw a garage sale party. I love this one, because it is SO easy. Just talk to a bunch of friends and get a bunch of your crap together. Hang out for a Saturday morning and SELL SELL SELL. Then donate the money to your favorite organization. Or, donate it to a family you know is trying to raise money to adopt. We did this with our community group and donated everything to HELP. They have a great website called Garage Sale for Orphans. You can even see where your money is going.

3) Buy Christmas presents this year that can help the world's poorest. Trade as One let's you buy jewelry, shirts, purses, scarves, chocolate, coffee, and even spices from around the world. You can be confident to know that the money goes directly to the people who made the product.

Whether it's a unique gift or an everyday product like fair trade coffee or chocolate, your spending can connect you to a story of hope and dignity for the poor.

That's what it means to trade as one.

4) Sacrifice one of your Christmas presents or ask your kids to and buy a present for someone in need. Participate in an angel tree and know that you are giving a gift to a child or family who wouldn't get one otherwise.

5) Donate gently used toys and clothes to your local fostercare agency for foster parents and children to use.

6) Contact your local fostercare agency and sign up to become a CERTIFIED babysitter. You see, foster parents cannot just call up a babysitter for a much needed night out. They have to have CERTIFIED babysitters and it can be really difficult to find one without a couple weeks notice! This could be a HUGE blessing to a family who is really needing to feel blessed. In most cases, all you need to do is fill out a background check and take a short class.

7) Get a group together and collect new teddy bears or other stuffed animals. Give them to your local fostercare agency. Imagine that the moment a child is taken from their family they are given a new stuffed animal to hold onto.

8) If you know a family who is in the process of adopting, organize and provide dinners when their little son/daughter comes home. We do this when our friends have a newborn, but sometimes forget to do it when families adopt.

9) GO! Go on a mission trip to love the poor, the widow, the needy, the orphan. Adam and I are going to take the money we have saved for our 10 year anniversary cruise and go on a mission trip together instead.

10) Talk! Spread the word. Talk about James 1:27 with others. Talk about what we (the church) are doing right and what we are doing wrong. Talk to your pastors about an orphan ministry. Talk to your friends. Find other blogs and twitter accounts. Spread the word. I know for me personally I was just NAIVE to the orphan crisis and really had no idea what an epidemic it had become.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Together for Adoption

This weekend, we attended the Together for Adoption conference here in Austin. I totally wish I was a good writer and could ACTUALLY do a good job sharing with you about this weekend. I can't, but I will try to share with you the things God did lay on my heart.

1) Adam and I are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. I've never really doubted this, but this last week was a hard one on me. Lots of talks about J-man's case and a few phone calls from Bio Mom. This next week is going to be even harder because this could be our last with our son. This weekend was like someone hitting the refresh button. I needed that, and I needed to be surrounded by 1,000 people who are living radically to love the orphan.

2) Again and again this weekend, I felt sick to my stomach. Sick because the orphan crisis could be DEMOLISHED quite easily by the Christian church. Sit on that for a second. We, my brothers and sisters in Christ, could make it so that NOT one child is ever waiting for a family.

In Texas there are 12,191 children waiting to be adopted. There 18,466 Christian churches in the state of Texas.

3) Just the chance to meet so many incredible families/couples was so very enouarging and challenging to me. Encouraging because I didn't feel alone, and I KNEW that every Mother in that room could understand some of the feelings I have sometimes. Challenging because these couples/families are FREAKIN' Rockstars.

4) The time I spent worshiping our perfect Savior was indescribable. To have time to praise our perfect Father, weep (yes there were many tears from me), confess, and pray was EXACTLY what I needed.

5) It was just fun spending time with my hubby and our friends (new and old). It was fun to laugh, go on a date, stay up WAY too late, drink coffee (still hate it), and sharpen each other.

Again, I wish I could do a better job sharing with you, but I will leave you with some of my tweets from this weekend.

You could have 15 biological children and would still have to start at square one w/ an adoptive child." Dr Purvis

"You can't care for the orphan if you let the world corrupt you." Dave Gibbons

"We'll vote for pro life politicians but we turn our back on the children when they are actually born." Dave Gibbons

Could Satan's strategy simply b 2 make the church think we're doing something when we're really doing nothing? Dave Gibbons

There is a kind of religion that makes God smile -James 1:27

Over 19,000 children age out of the fostercare system every year in the US. Brothers and Sisters who will love these kids?

If every church took in one child there would be a waiting list for parents not children. Doesn't that sound freaking awesome?

Worried about the cost of adoption? God is not a deadbeat Dad and he will take care of you.

Just talked to couple that has adopted 9 kids from California's fostercare. Freakin Rockstars. God is moving, wanna move with Him?

Listening to Dr Karyn Purvis bringing it (and she's rocking skinny jeans). This lady is my hero.

"We need to serve, mentor, teach, and love our foster bio moms." @sjfults is teaching on radical and missional fostercare.

How can an orphan ever understand the love of God the Father when they don't know the love of an earthly father? -Matt Carter

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Look at what I "learnded" this week!

I know...I know...I know

I haven't posted about what I'm learning for a while now. And here's my problem. I HAVE NO IDEA! It seems like the last couple of weeks I've just been plagued with random thoughts and good ideas and some maybe not-so-good thoughts. Then I get sad and mad at myself and then happy. I begin to feel like I haven't learned anything and many times just feel like I'll never figure this whole thing out. What whole thing?


How do I be a woman of God giving Him glory in all that I do?

Love people whenever I possibly can.

Raise 4 children who LOVE JESUS with all their heart.(And do a much better job at this whole thing)

Love the orphan, the widow, the needy.

Live a faith that is "real" and SHARE it with others

Keep my house clean, but not in a way that makes it more important than what is truly important

Find time to daily sit with my Savior. Worshiping him, studying the Word, listening, confessing, obeying

Do the dishes, laundry, feed kids, clean up and then feed them again

Love on my husband in a way that is Godly and keeps him always wanting more :D

Prepare my heart for a weekly time to pour into newly married couples

Find friendships that build me up and challenge me and be a better friend to the friends I already have that do that

Remind myself that there is a bigger reason to live my life than JUST ME!

Find time to watch all those STUPID shows I absolutely love

Cry because I feel like I could do so much more for my King and His kingdom

Begin to dream BIG DREAMS for myself, my husband, and our family

Cry again because I seriously find myself wondering if our family is called to do something radical, but am afraid of what that looks like

Rest in the arms of my merciful Jesus who knows EXACTLY what I'm feeling

Work out so I keep my body healthy and mind sane (the shower helps too)

Try to go to bed before the next days starts and then REPEAT!

Have you been there my friends? This is my life as of lately. I want to live a life that is different and gives people a reason to ask me why it's different. But I struggle with my selfish flesh and yearn for the typical American middle class life. It would be easy for me to just throw in the towel and tell myself not to be so hard on myself and that I "do" plenty. But that feels like an easy way out. At the same time God does not want me to feel the way I do feel sometimes, like I just suck. So this week and next week and the week after that times infinity I'm going to try and give myself a break and yet keep my heart open for God to work in and move me anyway or anywhere He wants to.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Don't we just LOVE hearing that little word? It melts our heart and brings tears to our eyes. Especially when you hear it for the first time. (And if you are lucky it's their first word) But just recently hearing the words "Mama" for the first time brought tears to my eyes for a totally different reason. J-man has started calling me Mama and it warms my heart and breaks it at the same time. Just tonight at our small group he started crying and I walk over to him. He reached his little hands up in the air and called out saying "Mama....Mama". I scooped him up and sat down with him. Our small group knows our journey and there was a awkward silence in the room. I know what everyone was thinking and I was thinking the same thing. I feel so blessed to be this little boy's Mommy for right now. But it won't be forever and he could be going back to Bio Mom in a little over 2 weeks. Ever day it seems like his case changes and everyday I have to deal with feelings that I can't quite explain just yet. I love this little boy, but the reality is that even though right now to him I'm his "Mama" that's just not the case. Please pray for me friends.....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just words.....

Lately we've (and when I say "we" I mostly mean my 2 oldest children, but to be honest I needed this reminder too) been talking about our words. How words can drag someone down and make them feel bad. How words that speak truth and build each other up make someone feel good and joyful. So during lunch everyday we go around the table a couple of times and say words that life each other up. It has really been a sweet time. Here are some of the compliments that have been said....

C- Bryce, I love the way you listen to me when I'm the teacher and you are my karate student. You are doing a very good job.

B- Mama you're the best Mama cause you make me lot's of good food. And you let me have candy sometimes. (Hint Hint Mom I want some candy today)

C- Mom I love you so much because you bought me a Iron Man costume for Halloween and now no one will know who I am. And then I can get lot's of candy. (Um there's that candy thing again)

B- Connor, you're really good at riding a bike and now I get to ride your bike.

C- Alexis you are the best sister cause you are the only girl. (She really appreciated that one)

B- J-man you are so cute and love to eat.

It really has been fun and I plan on making this a tradition. I look forward to the day that I have a table full of teenagers and make them do this same exercise and let's just hope that I'm still blogging then, cause that will be funny.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Looks like I'm not the only blogger in the family....

Words from Adam.....

Two months ago, we added a foster son to our family. I can't use his name online for various reasons, so he'll be "J" for the rest of this note. J was a scared little guy when he came to our family, and we barely knew anything about his situation. We were initially told it was bad, and that he would likely be with us for a long time, possibly even ending in adoption into our family. Without getting into details, it simply doesn't look like that's the case at all anymore. It's very possible he'll be reunited with his biological mother in a month or two.

As a father of three beautiful children, I know how deep my love for them goes. It may sound trite when parents say they would do anything for their children, but it's absolutely true. Children are a gift from God, and they each possess your heart in a way that can't be adequately described in words. With that knowledge in mind, I was honestly skeptical whether I could love someone else's child like my own. Two months ago, I would have said it wasn't possible. As time went on though, J convinced me otherwise. That realization caused me to consciously try to hold back a tiny piece of my heart from him. Perhaps out of fear of being hurt when he leaves our family. Perhaps so I could still show love toward his biological mom, even when I don't like some of the decisions she makes. Whatever the reasons, I was trying to not fully love him. I can say without a doubt, I have failed in that goal.

In my heart, J is one of my children. I love him as much as I love Connor, Bryce, and Alexis. He is part of our family. Every day, I watch him grow and flourish into a confident one year old boy. I watch him fall in love with Jennifer. I watch the bonds form between him and his siblings in our family. I watch myself fall in love with him more and more.

And now, I have to start preparing to give him up, and I don't like it.

This really struck me at First Tuesday when Matt Carter challenged us to consider what was holding us back from pouring out everything we had to God. I knew immediately what my current hang-up centered on. Giving up J. I don't want to do it, because I love J. It will hurt me. It will hurt Jennifer. It will make my children sad. As I wallowed in self-pity, the Holy Spirit pierced me with an understanding that was at once painful yet beautiful.

We will likely be sending J back to his mother soon. As much as I may not want him to leave our family, the fact is, his mother does love him. He'll be returning to a fairly good home situation, especially compared to most foster care cases. I may get angry or frustrated at some of the choices that will be made for him, or due to some of the situations he'll be placed into, but he's going back to his mom. A mom that loves him, even if she has made a few bad decisions. He's not going back to an abusive situation. He's not going back to a dangerous situation. That knowledge alone is a comfort, but that's when the bomb dropped.

God willingly gave up his "J" for me. God knowingly sent his son into a world where he would be mocked, ridiculed, hurt, tortured, and ultimately killed. His son that he had developed a relationship with for an eternity, not just two or three months. His son that he loved beyond anything I can imagine. It got worse.

God gave up his son to be Sin. He didn't just give up his son, he poured out the righteous wrath and judgement that I deserved onto his son. His only child was beaten. His only child was spit upon. His only child was tortured. His only child was nailed to a cross to suffer an extremely painful death. As if that wasn't enough, his only child experienced complete and utter separation from his father when he took on sin.

All of it was done for me. All of the sacrifice, all of the pain, all of the separation; for me. That's a depth of love that defies understanding. That kind of love is fanatical. That kind of love is intense. That kind of love restores my broken relationship with God the Father. That's a beautiful reminder of God's love for me.

I wish I could say this reminder will make giving J back hurt less, but I don't think I can say that yet. It's going to hurt. It's going to break my heart. But, I can rest in the understanding that any pain I might experience pales in comparison to what God did when he gave up Jesus to a broken world. I can rest in the knowledge that my God is perfect, and that J's time in our family brought glory and renown to His name. I can be confident that God's will is being worked in our family and in J. Even more comforting is the understanding that J has a Father that loves him more than I ever could.

I may have to give J up soon, but I know God has already given up everything for him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading is FUNdamental

I love to read (when I have time) and I want my kiddos to learn how to love to read too. So now that the boys are getting older I've tried to find some creative ways to get reading. Here's a couple of my ideas.....

1) I encourage my older kids to read to the younger ones. J-man and Alexis love the attention and love books so it works perfectly.

2) Everyday we have "silent reading time". The boys love this time for only ONE reason (at first) which is because they get to earn TV time. So they grab books and I set the timer. They always get WAY into it once they get started.

3) I read to the boys before their quiet time every afternoon. We are currently reading the magic tree house book series. They are great books for little boys and I love that each day we go over what had happen the day before and what they think is going to happen to the main characters today. I'm amazed already at how they are starting to understand plot, cause and effect, and logic.

What things do you do to help encourage reading with your kiddos?

Friday, September 3, 2010

No words....just watch

Every time I look at my son (J-man) I'm reminded of the injustice children live with in my OWN CITY. I want to do great things! I want to stand up against what is wrong! I want to be used by God! I want to help end hunger, pain, death, the need for the word "orphan"! When I close my eyes at night I see these faces, I see my very OWN son's face. When you close your eyes what do you see? What makes you hurt? What is God stirring in your heart RIGHT NOW? Join me.....No what if's, I can't, that's hard......GOD CAN and wants to use us. We just need to be willing to say "Here am I!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Look at what I "learnded" this week!

At the beginning of this week, I was helping my Dad unpack and was shoving a bunch of bubble paper into a box and felt a sharp stab. I lifted my hand and found a 6 inch piece of glass sticking out the top of it. I'm fine and felt pretty silly getting hurt "unpacking." But, I did hurt my hand. The "wound" is deep and it will take some time to heal. It got me thinking about the things I need God to heal. The wounds in my heart and flesh. This week I've been working on not getting angry with the boys. If there is one thing that has suffered with the addition to another kiddo in the McManus house, it's my loud voice. I wouldn't say I get "angry angry" I just get loud, because sometimes my life is loud and I feel the need to be the LOUDEST to get my way.
Today for example, I was trying to get on the phone with CPS because someone had messed up J-man's visit with his Bio Mom this week. I was frustrated and trying to make lunch while talking on the phone with CPS. The boys were fooling around at the table and making noise. I put the phone on mute looked at them with "that" Mom look and loudly exclaimed that the next one to make a peep will be in DEEP TROUBLE. After I got off the phone, I had to apologize to the boys for yelling AGAIN.
Later that day, I had some quiet time to just think, pray, and get in the Word. I felt ashamed that I had once again raised my voice. I hate doing it. And, I hate even more that some days it feels like I can't NOT do it. My sinful nature is a wound in my heart that runs deep. It will take a LONG time to heal. And, let's just be honest, some days it feels like that sin and screw ups I have will never heal.
But, I find mercy and grace in the arms of my Savior and so I try again tomorrow. And, I keep trying to learn that with Christ's help, He can heal me.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Party time

"You want to have a birthday party at where? McDonalds???? Ugh I'd rather stick a fork in my eye and call it a day"

That was my first thought when J-man's Bio Mom mentioned doing a birthday party for him (AT MCDONALDS). But, of course I said "yes", because well, I say "yes" to everything and everyone. More importantly, we are fostering not only to bless and love on hurting babies but also their families. This is also Bio Mom's first baby and first birthday and first birthday party. So, what Bio Mom wants, she gets. The CPS worker was listening to all the planning and looked at me and asked me if I was ok with this (one more time). This time, with a look in her eyes that said, "No, seriously, no one does this and so you don't have to do it." I later talked to our agency worker and found out that it is true; not many foster parents do the birthday party thing with Bio Moms. I can sort of understand why, but then again not really.

Fast forward to the day of the party. We're driving to the party, and I start to realize what we've gotten ourselves into. First, UGH MCDONALDS! I hate that place with a passion. I hate their food and the smell and the dirty playground, and I just HATE it, ok?! (By the way, my boys ABSOLUTELY LOVE MCDONALDS and think it's the coolest place in the world.) I start getting nervous because I have no idea what to expect. I know that Bio Mom is coming and she is inviting 20 people. I know that we are the responsible party in the eyes of the state and have to make sure everything stays cool. And, I know that it is at McDonalds (ok last time I talk about that I promise...maybe). I start thinking what if Bio Mom doesn't bring any plates or decorations or cake and panic a little, so I make Adam stop at Target and I run in and pick up a few essentials. (Adam reassures me that there will be a cake so I don't get one of those). We continue driving. We show up at that restaurant I told you I wouldn't mention again and no one is there. I'm kind of worried now. We go inside and find a place to sit in the kid area and put stuff on 2 other tables to save a spot for others and then we wait..... Finally, we text Bio Mom and she says she is on her way.

She arrives and I take a deep breath, cause now it's "go time". But, the first 5 minutes were so cute to watch, because I've been there before (setting up my first baby's 1st Birthday party). Bio Mom was nervous, I could tell and so were her friends. She had all kinds of decorations, party favor bags, a wonderful cake with J-man's picture our Daniel had taken, lots of presents, buttons for J-man to wear, etc. It was great. I begin to think that this is going to be great.

Unfortunately, J-man was having a hard time. Usually when we visit Bio Mom, I hand him over and they go back into the CPS office. Well, at the party Bio Mom held him while we sat 10 feet away. That was hard on him and he cried for 15 minutes straight. But, soon he had french fries and realized we weren't leaving and did better the rest of the party.

It was also awkward because no one wanted to talk to us, and we were pretty much shunned by the party attenders except for Bio Mom who thinks we are just about the coolest thing ever. I don't like feeling that people don't "like" me, and I felt that way the whole party. Not good for a girl who struggles with self esteem issues already. But, I understood why people weren't standing in line waiting to get a picture with the foster family.

At the end of the party, Bio Mom walked us out and I got a big hug with lots of tears and genuine "Thank you" and that made everything worth it. Again, fostering is HARD and sometimes I can't believe we are doing this craziness. But, we're doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing right now. One day, we'll stand in court and watch J-man (probably) be reunified back with his Bio Mom. That will be cool and difficult at the same time. I also know that one day we will stand in court again with another son or daughter in our arms hearing the words "adoption." Until then we keep loving and we keep spreading hope.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Look at what I "learnded" this week!

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

This last year; we moved To Austin when we sooo didn't want to, been blessed with a huge house that we can't fill so we choose to bless others by letting a random dude come live with us for free, and we've began fostering hurt babies (and will eventually adopt through the foster care system). I MEAN REALLY, who does that???

And to be honest if you had told me about this life I'm living a year ago I would have laughed in your face. BUT I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. And get this I'm actually looking forward to the next crazy adventure God calls us to next. And I guess that is what I'm learning this week. That every time you give something up to God whether it be you finances, career, house, family, freedom, dreams, passions whatever it is He uses them in a way you never thought He would and it leaves you ready and WILLING to give something else up to Him. I know it sounds crazy and you're thinking "yeah right", but that is how it's been with me. The more I give up or lose the more I'm blessed and the more I'm looking for more to give to Him.

The greatest part is that I'm not looking to give God things to please Him or so I get a better mansion in heaven (that's not how it works? No, Huh weird). I'm finding more things to give to God and losing them because I've actually begun to believe that that is how God wants us to live. (Remember that verse, Jesus actually SAID those words) You see it's so freeing not having to care about you finances, your house looking perfect, your kids acting better then other people's kids, your future, your whatever. It's freeing to just love people and find ways to talk about Jesus. It's freeing remembering that the time we live here on earth, will be seconds compared to eternity spent in heaven. It's freeing to get to a place when you feel like you're not just living life to just live it and are actually doing something that will help others and giving them hope that could eventually lead them to Christ.

That's it. Simple right? Yeah no not at all. It's hard to give up and lose things, cause well our flesh LOVES them. I battle with my selfish flesh everyday, and that is what I'm working on this week. Saying no to my selfish flesh and yes to Jesus. FREAKIN HARD I know!!

See ya all next week........
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