Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Final thoughts for 2013

Its the day before I take down my Christmas Tree and this usually makes me a little sad.  A few mornings I've awakened early to sit in silence and stare at the lit up tree and marvel at this past year.  The tree had wrapped gifts under it just a few days ago and Zoe was about to embark on a new Christmas experience.  She had never unwrapped a gift with her name on it before.  Last year I recall being apart of purchasing a goat for her orphanage to eat a decent meal, brought to them by my friend Melissa who lived there (and was Zoe's guardian angel until we could bring her home.)  Zoe has experienced so much in just 8 months and has taken it all in stride. Even just in the last 30 days she has been on a snowmobile, visited Santa, made snow angels and snowmen, skated - and did amazing I might add.  She has discovered that candy canes are 'too hot' and that when the 'Forbes' family get together its very loud.  She received the first gift she asked for which was a piggy bank and has been a social butterfly at many parties and gatherings. One of my most special memories has been watching her experience our church Christmas service.  There was music and dancing (which caused her to hold her hands to her ears in protest) but when the candlelight part started, things calmed down and she needed two hands to hold her very own candle.  I lost it.  I cried like a baby and couldn't take my eyes off her.  She has her beautiful red and silver American Girl dress on.  Yes, she is an American girl.  She is sitting on a friend's lap and is so comfortable.  Not sure what she is taking in.  Not sure if she understands what all this represents.  My tears are full of joy.  I sit in church and the last 8 months blur through my mind.  I picture when we first met.  I picture her waking up next to me for the first time in Ethiopia.  I picture her eating pizza and hamburgers for the first time and speaking english as she repeated after me.  She can sing her alphabet, remember people's names, can write her own name and dress herself.  She's potty trained and healthy and she's safe with us! All this flashes through my mind in church.  The very place where I felt God nudge me to get on board to sign up to adopt.  He had Zoe picked out just for us before she was born.  God has a journey planned out for you and me.  Like a marathon, it's long, sometimes difficult but mostly exhilarating.  Christmas for me in 2013 was exhilarating.  I want to leave you with a quote from a very profound book - ya, because I read profound books.

Dr. Seuss - Oh, The Places You'll Go
Oh the places you'll go,
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So....get on your way!

The Clodes have climbed a mountain in 2013.  I am excited about ringing in 2014 and I may write about a few things going on.  Zoe is my new favorite topic.  I'll leave you with some good advice she left Scott with one day before he left the house.  She kissed him goodbye and yelled out the door; 'Bye Daddy, have a good day and don't pee your pants'.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Looking Through Zoe-Colored Glasses

The other day Scott told me that every time he sees Zoe it makes him smile.  I asked him if after 21 years of marriage I do that for him ...no, I didn't say that out loud but it made me consider if I have taken having this little four year old around for granted.  It has been 7 months since we brought Zoe to her new world and the holidays have been a blast.  We have photographed all her firsts; first snowfall, first Thanksgiving, and everything about Christmas is a first!  Two weeks ago we decided to bring Zoe to meet Santa at the mall on a lonely Friday night.  No line!  We told her about Santa and him bringing her presents on Christmas morning one minute before she laid eyes on the jolly old guy.  Her eyes lit up and because both Scott and I were living in the moment we don't have a video of it - I know how terrible.  However, as per usual, Zoe was very welcoming and friendly and sat on this Santa's lap like she had known him forever.  He looked into her eyes and asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  She was speechless and I informed him that this was Zoe's first Christmas.  His expression was precious and he asked where she was from.  He talked about toys and princesses and this was a language she already knew.  We got a picture package, of course, and Santa spoke to us some more while Zoe explored the make-shift North Pole.  There was no 'I wants' and she was given a stuffed penquin and skipped down the ramp.  I'm not sure what was going through her mind. Then the other day, while driving in the car, I broke my rule and turned on Christmas music a few days before December 1st.  Jingle Bell Rock came on and I looked over my shoulder and said, 'Zoe, this is the first time you have heard Jingle Bell Rock!' Then Elvis' Blue Christmas came on and I said, 'Zoe, this is the first time you are listening to Blue Christmas!'  Do you get that excited about Christmas anymore? We drive through the neighborhood and she sees houses lit up and cheers.  She was so fun to have around while we got out her first ornament to put on the tree and listen to my Hallmark musical animals over and over.  I got emotional when I took out her stocking with her name on it that I purchased two Christmas' ago.  We thought she was coming so much sooner.  I don't want to miss any new wonder with Zoe this year.  She can't wait to make a snowman and go sledding and skating.  I also don't want to shower her with so much that we forget to remember why we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus entered this world in a very lowly state.  In a humble stable yet the Son of God.  I sing Away in A Manger every night to Zoe now.  She is accepting to talk about Jesus.  She is learning about him at preschool and church and I hope she continues to wonder about Him.  I challenge you to see Christmas through Zoe-colored glasses.  What wonder does God want to show you this season and into the year 2014?  Merry Christmas!