Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In My Heart

 "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:19

  Please.  I do not in any way, shape or form compare myself to Mary or my son to Jesus.  I share that because there are a lot of moments, words, looks, touches, that I don't share.  I keep them in my heart.  They are sometimes too personal, to painful or too beautiful to share with anyone.  This verse always pops into my head when we are in one of those moments.  Truthfully, a lot of them are not worthy of sharing because they hurt or because I want to guard E's heart and mine.  But they are moments that are shaping this boy's story; I know with absolute certainty that this story is big.  It's what keeps me going, having this faith that God is using E to bring Him glory.
  On Etienne's birthday we kept it low key.  Uneventful on purpose.  He had a special "mommy and daddy date," and time with close family.  Other than that, we've been trying really hard to keep a strict schedule with a lot of intentional time for him alone with low stimuli.  It is helping everyone.  On his birthday, when I started seeing him spiral, I took him out of the playing, the cake and the festivities.  We headed to the tub and I could visibly see him just exhale.  Like his whole body let go of tension (which to him looks like yelling, crashing, bullying and obnoxiousness).  He stayed in the water until it got cold, humming and chatting.  As I wrapped him up in a towel, he asked for one more picture on his birthday.  This is the gift we got.  I will treasure this in my heart and ponder it on days that I can't get off the pantry floor.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Today we will have friends and strangers in our home.  There is a stain of unknown origin that mysteriously appeared in the living room, mismatched dishes (it's shabby chic!) on the table, and when guests use the toilet, they'll notice the newest drawing on the wall.  But if you look closely, that drawing is the letter 'L'.

Today I am on call.  I may or may not have to leave the festivities to welcome a babe into the world.
And my children will tell me (with seriousness)  not to drop the baby.  My husband will kiss me and wish me fun times.
Today the 5yo will most likely beat box something inappropriate about a nose being ripped off or bodily function.  His big brother will laugh so hard with his jack-o-lantern grin that he'll probably fall off the chair.  It will no doubt be loud and maybe a bit confusing to guests.  Those brothers won't notice because they'll be too busy in their own fun.

Today Molly will launch into a very long and detailed story; most likely about a girl or girls from other countries joining together to fix some huge problem.  Despite the length making it difficult to concentrate, her voice and her heart will be loud and clear throughout.
Today I will trip, fumble and spill my way around our crowded kitchen because my littlest chef, Zeke, will be my shadow.  He will definitely turner a mixer on or drop an egg on the floor as he "helps."  He'll be jabbering a mile a minute, grinning ear-to-ear and reminding each dinner guest that he cooked the food.
Today there will be probably be somethings(s) taken apart or broken.  At some point I will feel exasperated.  There will a lot of noise, indoor racing and/or crashing, nudity and organized chaos.
And I will remember the Thanksgiving when I thanked God that He had laid out this very unclear path of adoption for our family.  I will remember how my arms were just beginning to ache for my children not yet home.  I will remember that I couldn't comprehend what our life would look like or how little I truly understood the meaning of grace.
And I will be thankful.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


     Yesterday afternoon I had just arrived home.  Ryan and I were sitting, having a semi-stressful conversation on the edge of the bathtub, still in our work clothes.  Both of us were preoccupied and distracted.  Etienne walked in and leaned against the wall and watched us.  For a moment, he was quite and still.
     I told him, "Buddy, you are so handsome."
     He walked slowly up to his mama and daddy, leaned into us and wrapped his arms around our necks.  Then he stayed there, quiet and calm.  Geniune.  Real.  My eyes teared up.  My husband's too.
     A real hug and a moment that wasn't forced.  We didn't initiate it.  He didn't crash into us and he didn't do it because he was trying to manipulate us or get out of something.  As I type, I am crying for thankfulness.  Hugs are not taken for granted here.

"To give them beauty from ashes..." -Isaiah 61:3

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Blogger

     Hi my name is Molly and I am 9. When I was 6, I went to Rwanda to adopt my brothers Etienne and Zeke.  Being in the orphanage made me sad seeing how they had so much less than us.  I gave some of the kids little colorful stickers and they didn't know what to do with them.  I wished that I could give them yummy food and make their rooms a lot nicer.  I wish that they could get a family who would take good care of them.   Now, I want to go back and work at the orphanage because I can make life a little nicer and more fun while I am there.  Teaching them little games and telling them stories will show them that someone is thinking of them.  
     In the bible there are a few verses that say that you should not leave orphans in the dust and that we should care for them.  I agree.  Not all people can adopt but we can at least care for them.  
     My mom and dad are making me pay for the trip all by myself so you can see that I need a little help here.  They told me that if I wanted to go, I had to reserve a spot.  I wanted to prove to them that I could do it and I prayed about it.  Then I had a face painting booth at my school and my daddy's school football game.  It was pretty much successful.  I could reserve my spot.  But I still need help.
     To help me (and also to get a little something nice for you or someone else), here's how. Below are 2 links. One is to the Visiting Orphans page, where you can buy some nice products like jewelry or shirts.  It's easy! At the checkout, you can click on a button and select "Higgins-Rwanda 2013" and type in my name, Molly Higgins.  Or you can just donate everything you have to me under the donations button. 
      The other is to the Just Love Coffee page, where you can buy coffee from all over the world and $5 of each bag will go to my trip.  They are from other countries and are called free trade.  My mom always gets presents from this website and I love things from around the world so even if I hate the taste of coffee, I would still drink it!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

2 Steps Forward, 1 Leap Back

The Stride Rite, XX-Wide Etienne shoes
     Etienne figured out how to tie his shoes.  To every kid (and care giver) this is a big milestone, but for our boy, this was bigger, "epic" as Molly would say.  Most of the time, Etienne struggles with simple tasks like going to the restroom or remembering the sound of his letters; and he is brilliant, brilliant boy.  It's just that a lot of his wires, his emotions, his senses, they all get tangled up and so when he "gets" something, it is monumental.  And it's emotional.  For all of us.
     The shoe tying "light bulb" moment was surrounded by his crew.  Molly is kissing him and Blake is explaining "Etienne! You did it! And this is good attention!" (he has been trained well and it was all genuine joy that he expressed).
I was capturing it on film to hide my tears and Ryan just smiled.  He gets the credit on this one for patiently demonstrating the loop over and over.
     We also had a couple of days of "Way to Go!" behavior.  There was some listening, some hard work on letters and even helping another classmate out. In the kid's school, a "Way to Go!" card earned him a free kids meal at Applebees.  Our plan is a mommy and daddy date to Applebees just the three of us.
     I am thrilled. I am so proud of him.  Honestly, I am.  The battle I am having is a selfish one because I want that good behavior.  All the learning is such a blessing and huge progress.
     Thankful. Grateful.  Relieved.  Encouraged.  All words and emotions that I should feel.  And I do.  But this little human corner of my mama heart is still sad.  Sad that I can't get this.  Hurt that he looks me in the eye and he lies to me.  Sad that he finds tools and gadgets to damage and deconstruct; knowing full well it is me that will fix, clean and put everything back together again.  I pray over and over that I can love him the way my Heavenly Father loves me.  That I can continue to wake up and forgive and hug and snuggle and walk away when his words and his actions make me want to slap something or someone.
     God sustains me in the unconditional love that I am so privileged to see.  Molly checks in on E every day.    I found her secretly reading Adoptive Families magazine; an article entitled "Navigating the Older Child," with tears in her eyes.  She looked at me and said, "I wish we could have had E sooner."   Me too, sweet girl.
This love is real.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It IS Sorta Funny

     God has replenished my sense of humor again (my husband is thankful for this) which is good because some of the stuff that has gone down lately has absolutely required us to laugh.
     Remember our beloved Dr C the piano teacher?  Unfortunately, Dr C got a glimpse of why we choose not to take our entourage very many places.  On piano lesson days, Etienne gets Dr C all to himself.  45 minutes of individual, one-on-one, undivided attention.  This kid's dream.  Well this kid loves his Dr C.  He loves him so much that he locked himself into Dr C's bathroom for 12 minutes (as reported to Ryan at the end of the lesson), followed by 4 minutes of "shoe messing around," then 5 minutes of "sweatshirt struggles."  Ryan marched Etienne into the house after hearing this report but before I could hear about it, I could smell it.  The overwhelming smell of men's department store hit me in the kitchen as soon as they walked in from the garage.  Dr C's cologne.
     Ryan was too engrossed in the description of Etienne's lesson to notice the smell (also, Dr C is a classy, well dressed, well groomed guy, so I think his house just smells handsome).  I knew without asking.  Etienne has drenched himself in cologne.
     An hour later, Etienne and I waited patiently to apologize to Dr C.  Then he and I entered the bathroom.  Good heavens.  I know exactly what went down.  E thought, "I love Dr C, so I want to smell like him."  He began investigating and before he could stop himself, an entire bottle of cologne is in the Afro as well as the bathroom floor. Not to mention some medicated cream smeared on the toilet and shaving cream decorating the woodwork.  Ah. There is that instant gratification we are always battling.  As I sat scrubbing the floor, I had to giggle (not in front of E, mind you).  The nuns at Home of Hope had laughed and laughed at Ryan and me.  At the time I thought they were a bit rude but they knew just what we were getting ourselves in to.  
     We are $70 less since purchasing the Aramis cologne to replace the bottle that permeated off E for so many days.  Ryan had him raking leaves (he sobbed, muttering how unfair we are. Again, I worry the neighbors have surely called CPS by now), I pointed out every $70 toy in the Holiday Toys R Us catalog and the big kids had fun adding up all the things that equal $70. 
This= 2 XBOX 360 games or a skateboard + an Avengers outfit
     Lying in bed, Ryan and I began composing a list after this debacle.  I call it our EXTREME PARENTING EXPERIENCES.  It includes such moments as one of the kids driving the car into the side of the house (which Blake put to a stop just in time) and patching holes in the drywall after a "dance off."  I have included scrubbing Preperation H off the side of the piano teacher's toilet to this growing list.