Monday, December 31, 2012

...the weary world rejoiced

After Thanksgiving, I will tell you that my bar for the holiday season was so low, you could have just stepped over it.  I anticipated the month of December to be super stressful.
     God totally showed up.  We did things like the Jesse Tree and NOTHING WAS DESTROYED.  Huge.  I took Etienne on a date to a Christmas concert and we stayed for almost the whole show.  Ryan has been able to have the kids join his engineering students in building a robot; and to date no one has gotten hurt.  Molly has had friends over without being humiliated with nudity or inappropriate comments.  Some of our dearest friends Kat and Lonnell came all the way from San Jose for a visit and never once saw any of my boys naked, breaking something or hurting someone (not that these friends would have minded).  No one got lost or hit by a carriage when we went to The Plaza, Ryan and my old stomping ground.  Each Higgins and Holz family event we attended on time (European, that is) and we didn't even make early exits because we'd worn out our welcome (I think, don't burst my bubble if you heard otherwise).
     It has been by and large a season of joy.  My head keeps spinning "a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices" over and over again.  I can't tell you the depths of gratitude my heart feels to have such sacred, peaceful time.  I shared a few pics below.

Time with cousins far.

...and cousins near.

Time for creative mischief

Time with old friends in favorite places; the Country Club Plaza with Ryan's oldest, best friend, Adam and his wife (one of my favorites), Hillary.
Yes, we do the zoo all year round.  Enjoying time with our San Jose friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


     Tonight, as you sit cozy on your couch, maybe sending last minute Christmas cards or making lists of gifts still needed to be purchased, there is a mama out there missing her children.  Her arms ache because only one of her three babies can be home for Christmas.  I will let you read Keri's family story here.  I'm posting it because Seth and Quin have legally been adopted.  They belong to the Atland family but mountains need to move to get them out of Ghana and into their family.  Please read their story and pray.
     When we were adopting Etienne and Ezekiel, we had to enter Ethiopia because the US Embassy in Rwanda did not know how to process adoptions.  As we entered the Addis airport, we were immediately escorted to a tiny, glass room.  Ethiopian officials informed us that the never allowed Rwandans into their country and the only reason they weren't putting our children back on a plane, "alone," is because they were so young.  Then those cold hearted officials disappeared behind some closed doors and we waited.  We prayed.  We cried out to God.  No one from our adoption agency could contact us and no one from the Embassy knew we were there.  Locked in a room in an airport.  An hour and a half later, someone walked back through that door and without explanation shoo'd us out and into the chaos of Addis Ababa.  There were more frightening , impossible-by-man scenarios that unfolded in our time in Africa, bringing our boys home.  Mountains that moved without any reason other than a miracle.
     I share this because Keri needs to hear it.  I share because there are so many countless other parents waiting tonight, low on hope, hurting because the ways of the world keep them from their babies.  Because it is a season of miracles, of magic, of hope.  Tonight I am praying this mama feels hope; and praying that her babies know that God is holding them when she can't.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zeke has the Best One Liners

     I exited the cardio room at the Y, earphones still in, sweaty and distracted.  I noticed all the staff at the front desk glance up at me as I walked toward the children's room.  Some smiled and one of the trainers said "Your kid is sic" (no one is ill, this is hipster talk for "cool").  I smile and nod, a little confused, but whatever.  We don't live in a small town, but small enough that we are that family.  People remember us.
     As I entered the room to pick Zeke up, the woman working hopped up and met me at the door. "I have to tell you about a conversation Zeke had with another boy."  Oh. Here we go.
     Apparently another 4 year old (one who frequently gives me the stink eye) starting quizzing Zeke after I left the room.  The conversation started something along the lines of whether I was really his mom.  Normal trans racial stuff.  Par for our course.  Then he said to Zeke:
"Why do you have brown skin like that?"
     Zeke didn't miss a beat.  He didn't even glance up from his race cars.  He said:
"Because that is how God made me.  And when I grow up I will be a good man. A brown skinned man."
     The end.  Back to playing.  Enough of an answer for a 4 yo.  Well, those poor YMCA women aren't used to these kinds of heart-in-your throat conversations.  They were in tears.  It was kind of awesome for me to see their reactions at something so normal in our family, yet so remarkable to the rest of the world.  I easily forget how lucky blessed we are to have this life.  Not every mama gets to witness her preschooler teaching adults a thing or two about family. Life. Adoption. Grace.  You get the picture.  Now the girls at the Y do too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

That day.


  1. I am NOT a theologian
  2. I am a follower of Christ
  3. I am a mom
  4. I love a lot of non-believing, not-like-minded people (Good morning, "Kylie"!)
  5. My blog isn't  pretending to be a java loving, hipster adoption blog
     Friday was horrific.  There isn't an American (or a human) that will disagree.  We shed and still cry for the  children, the families and our own children and the future of humanity.  Here's the thing that my agnostic or atheist friends don't get: God was there.
     It's a huge can of worms.  The ageless argument for why God allows suffering.  I can't answer that.  I'm not all knowing and omnipotent.  But I can share what we told our entourage of hurting kiddos.
     Those kids, they weren't scared.  God was already there with them, protecting their eyes and their hearts from what was about to happen.  God is good and loving and just.  
     God did not create a spirit of fear ( 2Tim 1:7).  But who wouldn't be afraid, terrified, at a man with those weapons?  The kids and I opened up our bible yesterday and began reading of the countless times that God sent angels to minister to people.  He sent them ahead of Himself in the Old Testament (Joshua 5), He sent them to serve Jesus (Matt 4).   There are references to angels at least 135 times.  Don't get me wrong: I"m not referring to the '90s sitcoms, the crystals and rainbows kind of angels.  I'm talking biblical here.
     Angels are not God.  They are servants, messengers and worriers for Him.  They are also an image that my kiddos-and all children- can wrap their little brains around.  We made it clear that they are not God but they protect (think Daniel in the lion's den, that's what we did) and they serve.  So we talked about angels being what those children saw in their school that day.  We talked about maybe they saw Jesus too.  But they did not see or feel fear.  Because we know God to be merciful and loving.
     No of us wants to lie to our kids.  We have to give them the truth, but only what they need to know and no details, please.  Media is off.  Music is on.  Kids are in laps and arms and hugs and prayers.  We are crying together and we are talking about it now only when they initiate it.  Interestingly, E has seemed to allow it all in one ear and out the other.  We are fine with that.  Blake man has had many moments of tears and he has been praying for the shooter.  Zeke has speculated "what if..." but that has been replaced with images of angel soldiers slaying lions.  Miss Molly has been prayerful and consoling to others.  They are all doing exactly what I would guess them to do.  
     We always have joy.  This morning everyone raced to be the first ready to move the magnet on the Advent Calendar.  There were cheers for "Pom-Poms" on the oatmeal and a forecast for more snow.  And our life goes on because we have our hopes not in anything of this world but in the grace of the cross.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The THING About Hair.

     Last night my fab hubby and I spent literally over 30 minutes picking dead grass out of Etienne's hair.  That was AFTER I had scrubbed, conditioned and picked it out.  That was AFTER his teacher painstakingly picked out rocks and other playground debris.  When I say that thing is a vacuum, I don't joke!  And, yes, I have used a vacuum on his head before to get the sand or whatever out.  It sorta works but his hair has grown beyond that stage of using
     There are great resources out there for both of my boys' hair.  Sites like "chocolate hair, vanilla care" cater to families like ours.  Which I find helpful but sort of lame.  I really want to learn from the source.  So I email my black friends.  I ask at the barber shop.  I strike up conversations in the elevator.  The majority of the time, my inquiring mind is well received.  There is a lot of pride about hair and I can see that in Etienne.   Than there is that hygiene issue.  In my head I was thinking, as I pulled out a leaf, "this looks like a homeless child." I know, I crossed a line.  Darn it.
     So the easiest solution is to shave it all off, right?  Just go back to our every other week trip to the barber shop.  Keep it short and fresh.  The easiest solution isn't always right.  Here's why.

No one else can manage the Afro but me.

     I am not saying that to seek out praise.  In case you are just tuning in, my kid doesn't really find a lot of use for me.  Most of the time, he seeks out everyone but me.  But daddy doesn't know how to apply the right product or when.  His brothers like to pat the hair, but they are too rough with the pick.  This is a mama only category.  Also, the big hair gets him positive attention everywhere he goes.  He's already going to stand out a lot of the time in his life and I think that if this gives him a bit more of a confidence booster, than bring it.
      As of this morning, it took me 8 minutes to comb the hair out.  8 minutes of Mommy and E time.  That is why I am going to stop with the threatening ("if you make 'waves' in the bathroom again, the 'fro goes") and continue to scrub the tub of the debris after bath time each night.

Friday, December 7, 2012

OH, joy.

     We just finished ourJesse Tree for the day.  If you aren't familiar with the it, it's a daily devotion to prepare for Christmas.  We are making our ornaments (tedious, memorable) and it's a beautiful mess.  Today's devotion is about God promising Abram as many heirs as stars in the sky.  A lot of the Jesse Tree talks about God's promises throughout the bible leading up to Christmas.  The question today for the entourage was "What kinds of promises has God made to you?"  Zeke, standing on a chair, sparkly eyes glowing, looked at Ryan and me and said:
"God promised me that you will always be my mommy and daddy."
    Joy.  Tears in my eyes.  Sweet boy gets that he is forever home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Depression: a disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, and time spent sleeping; sometimes accompanied by dejection.

Heartbroken: overcome by sorrow.

     I have been asked, by someone(s) that love me, if I think I am depressed.  I pondered this thought, I didn't take offense or jump to conclusions.  I slept on it.  I prayed on it.  I know what depression is; I talk with women and I screen and I advocate for mental health for my mamas all the time.  I am not against this idea.  I just don't take it lightly.
     I sleep great (when babies aren't born or my kids aren't singing Christmas carols).  My weight hasn't fluctuated and I am maintaining my same diet and exercise.  I did have a stretch where I was easily distracted at work; but that could be because I was getting phone calls from the Principal...maybe.  I think a lot.  I pray more.  A friend said to me last week, "Why wouldn't you be depressed?"
     I love that she asked me this.  Truthfully, I have been low on hope lately.  I realized this as I was waiting in the carpool lane outside the kid's school last week.  Etienne walked past our car and he blew me a kiss.  My heart leapt; he blew me, his mama, a kiss!  As I smiled, I watched him continue to walk along the sidewalk.  Blowing kisses to every car.  That was a kick in the stomach.  I do feel like yelling "ITS BEEN 3 FREAKING YEARS!!!!"   How long won't he love me?  How long before he won't push my hand away when I try to hold it or stop lying to me about the littlest and biggest things? How long before it stops hurting?  When will he say "I love you too, Mama"?
     I decided in the car pool lane that I am heartbroken.  I feel like loving this boy carries the weight of all the orphans in the world.  I'm not a saint.  I cry 6 nights out of 7 (and I am married to this saint that keeps telling me "he doesn"t know what love is").  I'm so, so over the attached parenting model.  My feelings are hurt over and over at this little boy that still doesn't really buy this family thing.  I am heartbroken, but I am not depressed and I am not out of hope.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 1: 11-12
"In Him we were also chosen; having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity to the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory."
     This verse was part of the sermon on Sunday.  I listened as we prepared our hearts in Advent.  I walked out of worship a little less worn down.  As we went to pick E up from Sunday school, the teacher said the dreaded "Can I talk to you in private?"  The six year old used the word sexy and wanted help writing it.  Vomit in my mouth.  We listen to KLOVE for heaven's sake.  Gross, gross, gross.  I felt anger but I as we drove (Ryan making a list of consequences, me stewing), I realized I didn't care what the teacher thought about what kind of family we must be.  A little tiny piece of my brain was recognizing that he wanted to write something down (don't judge, I know its a disgusting, ugly word). Words and letters!  This is called hope.
     My hope isn't in attachment parenting.  It isn't in time (3 YEARS, PEOPLE, 3 YEARS!!!).  I don't have hope in bonding.  My hope isn't even in how patient I am or if he ever gets to the point where he loves me.  My hope is in that promise that began with the Israelites, the same hope that guided the shepherds and comforted Mary.  It absolutely stinks right now.  I am frustrated, tired and discouraged but my God's got this.  And this is why I "wouldn't" be depressed.