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........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday J-Man

I'll never forget the first time I saw you, J-man. You were scared and wide eyed and took to me quickly. You were quiet and shy, but when you smiled your whole face lite up. The next 2 months have flown by and that little boy who was dropped off at our door is no where to be found. You're a smiley little boy with a contagious laugh. You love your brothers and sister very much. When the boys are up stairs you sit at the bottom of them laughing and screaming at them to come back down. You and Alexis wake up giggling and laughing at each other and it's so cute that sometimes I have a hard time going to get you two. You're crawling like a mad man, pulling up, and starting to cruise. But my favorite change is the way you react when you see me. When I used to drop you off at church or the gym you seemed apprehensive only because I was the only constant, but now I drop you off with ease, because you always know that I come back to get you. And that is my favorite moment with you, when I come pick you up or heck sometimes when I just leave the room and walk back in. Your whole face lights up and you start clapping with excitement, then you power crawl to me. You love your Mama very much and it melts my heart every time. You have come such a long way since that first day and I feel so blessed that God picked us to be your parents during this time. I pray that you continue to learn and grow and become more and more confident. I pray that you keep smiling and capturing every person's heart who sees it. I pray that the days, weeks, months (and if things drastically change maybe years or forever) you spend in our family God will capture your heart. You're a light in our lives and in your Bio Mom's life. She is having a hard time missing you, but that smile and sweet embrace help give her the strength she needs to get better. You don't know it right now, but you are the reason is she fighting. I pray that you continue to be that for her and eventually others. I pray that God captures your heart for Him and uses you to bring His glory. I pray that your story is one of grace, renewal, love, redemption, and strength. I love you and am blessed to be your Mom. Keep shining my son.....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A visit from Granny and Grandaddy

Adam's parents came in for the weekend to love on us and celebrate everyone's birthdays. We had a blast relaxing, playing cards, eating good food, and shopping for b-day presents. We love having grandparents that love our kiddos so very much.

Giggling with Grandaddy

Alexis sitting on her new couch (her b-day present)

Connor on his new skateboard (his b-day present)

Learning how to play Uno

Friday, August 20, 2010

Photo Shoot

So I admit it, in the past I've spent WAY TOO much money on professional portraits of my kiddos sitting there looking into the camera, smiling sweetly, wearing a clean cute outfit. (I've never bought any of the ones with the weirdo background of a farm, island, or Christmas cottage, not that there is anything wrong with that.) BUT I've changed my ways ever since we had Daniel in our lives. He is a great photographer and has a gift at capturing more than just a sweet smile and a clean face. He gets my kid's personality in each picture. So I'd love to share with you some of his work recently and pat myself on the back for not freaking out about the dirty clothes, uncombed hair, the cheesy smiles, and that we never got one picture of any of the kids sitting neatly, hands folded, smiling beautifully into the camera.




A Little Fun

Look at what I "learnded" this week!

So I've decided to post once a week a couple things that I'm learning. I'll write primarily about things God is teaching me, but fun things too, cause well....I'm funny! (DUH?!) Now if no one comments on these posts it WILL hurt my feelings. Sometimes I think it's important to speak about what is on your heart and that's exactly what I plan to do, so enjoy!

1) I want my life and my family to look radically different. (In a good way I hope) I refuse to except the American dream as the goal in this life. I don't want a huge house beautifully decorated, a new car, a huge diamond ring on my left finger, a smoking hot body, and new BOOBS. I want instead a house full of kids who love Jesus and love others. I want my kids to know that Mom and Dad love Jesus so much that we were willing to open our hearts and home (and finances) to adopt children in need of love. I want to lead people to Christ and always find a way to give glory to God. Sounds good right? Well let me just be honest I struggle with the "I don't want" list cause my flesh really wants those things. So right now, I pray daily that God reminds me to keep my mind's attention and heart's affection on the things I do "want". Are you there?

2) "Where does all this junk come from?" I'm constantly fighting the battle of JUNK in my house. You? I mean where does it all come from, seriously?? Last night I went through our kitchen pantry, every kitchen cabinet, and every kitchen draw. I'm ashamed to admit how much crap, trash, and recycling I threw out. I hate having "stuff" we don't use and especially DON'T NEED, but it likes me a lot. It might be time for another "HELP Haiti Garage Sale" We only need 1 cup, 1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 plate, 1 knife, etc for each member of our family, right???

3) Foster care is still hard, but I can't imagine doing anything else right now. We are still in the hole financially (not sure how the "bad foster parents" out there make money in foster care), hate going to court, not okay with this case that changes everyday. BUT I love the conversations that I've had to random people who are fascinated with our family. Love the times I get to let Bio Mom know that someone does love her, pray for her, and generally cares for her. And I have to believe that the time J-man gets to spend in our family is intentional and that perfect seeds are being planted in his life. Please join me in prayer for this little boy.

4) If you can, have a photographer come to your house to take pictures of your kiddos. Thanks Daniel for bringing your whole backdrop, it was a lot easier on me. I know it might have not seemed easier but trust me IT WAS!!

5) Having a two story house is really good and really bad at the same time. It's really good when 2 little boys want to play some obnoxiously loud game. It's really not good when you have to carry two babies up and down stairs all day long. It's really good when you realize that no one will ever see your master bed, so the bed doesn't have to look perfect. It's really not good when you and your husband are laying on the couch relaxing and a baby starts crying. (You see you have to run up there before that said baby wakes the other baby and things go from bad to worse)

That's was I'm learning this week....see ya next week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Told ya she could walk...

So the other day I posted about Alexis' crazy knee walking. Well I had said that we all knew that she could walk, but she wouldn't do it. SO I guess all I had to do was make a cute video about her and call her out. Cause 2 days later she's walking!!!

Great Job Lexi!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yup still reading those things called books!

I really wish I was able to read more than I can right now, but well life is just too much. BUT I have stayed true to reading the Word and a book or two that I feel will teach me something about my faith. I'm currently reading COUNT 'EM....two books.

Radical by David Platt

Wow I can't really say more positive things about this book. It is rockin my world and in a really good way. I really could go on and on about what I'm learning from this book and am actually thinking about posting about just that (What God is teaching me? Would you like to read that?). Here's a little preview for you to enjoy!

What is Jesus worth to you?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, Jesus said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

The Reason For God by Tim Keller

This book is great also, but I must admit is a harder read. Tim Keller is a smart dude and I have to NOT BE half asleep when I pick up this book. This book is simply about what the title says, the reason for God or why we believe. It's a great book for anyone. I love it because I grew up in the church and sometimes forget to "know" why I believe the things I believe. Here's a little something from the book:

‘Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.’

"A faith without some doubts is like a human body without antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic."

What are you reading right now? Would you recommend it? Have you ever read these two?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alexis is walking?? (yeah....no)

So my little petite girl is still not walking. I'm a little concerned about it, cause well she is almost 15 months old. But then I look at her and how small she still is and I calm down. She is still wearing 6-9mth clothes and because she was premature I shouldn't compare her to others her age, but STILL! WALK GIRL! I guess that other reason it is annoying me is because she could do it. She has great balance and can easily stand and sit back down with ease. If you hold one of her hands and have her walk she does great, and if you can trick her and let go she'll keep walking by herself UNTIL she realizes she is not holding on. Luckily she's my 3rd kiddo and I'm not really freaking out too bad. PLUS we do get awesome video of her. This is how she gets around the house......ENJOY!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pine Cove 2010

Days after receiving news that our J-man might not being staying with us forever we got a call from Pine Cove Family Camp. You see we were on the wait list since the beginning of summer and to be honest really thought that we weren't going to be able to go to camp this year. We had a little over a week to get everything ready to go and were SO EXCITED.

We have never taken a vacation as just the McManus Family and were so looking forward to it. We pulled up to the gates of Pine Cove and immediately realized that this week was going to be no ordinary family camp. Counselors lined the road jumping, singing, and waving us in (it was over 100 degrees that day). As we pulled in, the director welcomed us and introduced us to a counselor who would escort us into camp. Meanwhile another counselor took our van and little did we know went and park it at our cabin and GET THIS unloaded the car and unpacked everything. When I first learned about this it freaked me out, but I got over it when I realized that I didn't have to do it! Wow it was such a blessing and YES at the end of camp they packed the van back up for us.

We were overwhelmed at first because every family at camp knew each other and was busy catching up and signing up for weekly activities. We later learned that we were the only "new" family at camp. We got our picture taken and had to introduce our family on video. The rest of the night was kind of a blur, but we knew that we were in for a fun week. Here's a rundown of the highlights.

CAMP FOOD: Every meal was absolutely delicious. I know camp food?? YES CAMP FOOD. I'm not a big meat person(Adam was lovin the meat; chicken, fish, steak, brisket, bacon, sausage, pork-something), but every meal a counselor made me an AWESOME salad and the bread!!! I still dream about camp bread. Every meal there was a different type; muffins, french toast, rolls, corn bread, homemade slice bread, bread sticks, scones, the list goes on! Oh yeah did I mention the HOMEMADE, ooey-gooey, melty, straight out of the oven cookies we got every night. They were to die for!! Camp was carb heaven!

FAMILY DEVOTION TIME: Every morning after breakfast we dropped the babies off at their class. And went to "our" hammock. We went through our devotion of the day together. It was a special time to talk to just the big kids.

COVE KIDS: The kids had scheduled "class time" most days from 10:00am-lunch and then 1:00-3:00pm. They got to play toys in an AC building, play outside, listen to bible stories, sing, do crafts, go swimming, ride horses, and had special days like meeting the bubble princess and going on a real pirate treasure hunt. Bryce even took a nap everyday, I'm telling you camp was magical. The boys LOVED their class and especially their counselors. You'll get sick of me bragging about the counselors, but they made the camp. The babies had a blast too. They got morning and afternoon naps, cuddles, playtime, special walks to the swing merry go round, and lots of attention.

ADULT FREE TIME: Ummm hello who doesn't think that that sounds ABSOLUTELY PERFECT? Adam and I got to go horse back riding, swim ALONE at the pool, swing in a hammock and take a nap, do the ropes course, and went on a real FREAKIN cattle drive.

ENTERTAINMENT: We were constantly being sung too, enjoyed skits, experienced great adult and family worship, and overall laughed a lot. My kids loved it and Adam and I genuinely thought that it was clever. That says a lot cause Adam and I have a "weird" sense of humor.

BIBLICAL TEACHING: Adam and I got to enjoy some teaching time every day while the kids were in the morning session of Cove Kids. Our speaker was great and imagine how thrilled we were when we learned that his wife and him had adopted twice. We also learned that 5 families at camp had adopted, it felt wonderful not being the "weird" family all week.

FAMILY FREE TIME: Ah everyone looked forward to this time everyday. Babies were usually still taking a nap during this time so we were free to go play with the older boys. We spent almost every family free time in the lagoon. It was a huge man-made lake that housed all the CRAZY stuff. They had a huge water slide called the "water rocket", a water trampoline, the iceberg (a 2-story floating inflatable rock wall), the blob, a zip line that sent you straight into the water, and a 3 story deck to leap off. Our boys were little extreme sport crazies and loved trying everything. Clarification Bryce did the trampoline and slide, but Connor literally did EVERY SINGLE THING. When babies woke up we went straight to the pool to play some more.

CAMPER CALL: Ok seriously I wish I had these in my every day life. Camper calls are simple you fill out a piece of paper with a time and place and 2 counselors meet you there and take care of your kids. We used them early in the mornings so we could go on 6 mile mountain bike ride 2 mornings and when we did some of our ropes course. The counselors met us at the cabin and waited until the kids got up, then they got them dressed and took them to breakfast for us. It was GLORIOUS!

DATE NIGHT: Adam and I got 2 date nights during the week at camp. The kiddos once again were taken care of perfectly and had a blast one night at a pool party and the other night enjoying a carnival. The first night Adam and I attended at banquet with all the other couples and the second night we got to go have a picnic dinner then went dancing.

Lot's of pics to enjoy!

It was a fantastic week! Wanna join us next year???
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