Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Not Your Typical New Year's Resolution

I like celebrating New Year's.  I like making New Year's resolutions.  I think because I like new beginnings. Now at my age, I like to reflect back and take stock of my life.  2014 was a year of travel for me. I think March was the only month I didn't go away somewhere.   I traveled with family, with friends, with my parents and even once just with Zoe.  I saw new sights, I revisited old places and I experienced new things.  This is definitely a year to remember!  Back in 2012, I began this blog to mainly break out of my comfort zone and share what's going on in my head, open up about my mistakes, and to share teaching moments.  I called it "Your journey matters" and originally thought it would be more about my adoption journey.  I love the places I've been to, and funny enough I even enjoy the packing and unpacking. But the day to day journey is reality.  I've always struggled with what my purpose here on earth is.  How can God use me?  I usually think of big things.  Some big job He has for me. Something other than motherhood or being a homemaker.  It's a woman thing I guess.  Then I found myself peeking into 2015. Switzerland? Hawaii? No, the reality journey.  I read my devotion to find these words.

Marvel at the beauty of a life intertwined with My (Jesus) Presence.  Rejoice as we journey together in intimate communion.  Enjoy the adventure of finding yourself through losing yourself in Me.  

Whoa! Sadly, that's what I've been missing in 2014.  A more intimate communion with God.  Finding out what that looks like will likely take a few more blogs, but I'm pretty sure it means reading His word.  The Bible.  I teach it to kids at church, I teach it to Zoe and my older two kids and I've shared it with people who needed it.  But I lack the humble accounts with my Lord and Savior.  This is not to make me feel better, or a magic formula for a safe life.  It's what He asks of me.
So 2015 will be another journey for Bev Clode.  I'm ready to buckle up, look up from my phone and engage in other's lives.  I want to look out the window and marvel at where God will take me.  Maybe I blog about it or maybe keep it to myself.  Either way my prayer is that this time next year I will be changed.  Who's with me?
Happy New Year!

2015 Theme Verse;
John 15:4
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 

A Quote from Dr. Seuss;
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!” 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Button pressed moments

That button pressed moment! Come on, we all have them.  We don't wake up in the morning and say 'I'm going to be grumpy with my kids today'.  We all have good intentions (granted these little ones weren't the cause of our interrupted sleep) and we set out to be patient and loving (granted they woke up dry and you don't have to clean up anything right off the bat).  I'm kidding - a little.  We want to see those sleepy happy faces to put a smile on our face.  Seriously though, Zoe is one happy morning kid.  She announces when she's dry and she has been looking forward to waking to her 'book a day' event counting down to Christmas Day.  How can I be grumpy with her? Well, it happens.  This Saturday I wanted to squeeze in a few errands before her weekend swim lesson.  I was joyful when she asked for more fruit with her waffles.  I freely gave her a drink on command and I even had on cheery Christmas music.  She asked for more syrup and I was patient when she dripped on her pjs, and when blueberries fell to the floor.  Now it was my time.  I'm getting errands done.  Errand number 1; run into a store and return something.  Easy. No looking around (it's a small store) and we were early enough to beat the Christmas traffic.  I pull into the parking lot and my perceptive girl groans 'not shopping'! BUTTON PUSHED!  'Are you kidding me?', I snapped.  I go around to her door and clearly annoyed I say, 'get out and come with me'.  A young lady is also in the parking lot and glares at me.  Oh she overheard my raised voice.  You know the stare that judges your every parental decision.  I look back and fake smile. All is fine over here, thank you very much.  We walk into the store and Zoe knows not to touch or say anything.  We are literally three minutes and now I'm a little more joyfilled again.  Still feeling guilty though because Zoe isn't talking to me and she clearly doesn't know why I got angry with her.  Why do I do this daily? Its training and teaching and disciplining all day long.  It's not that I don't feel appreciated.  It's sometimes that I don't hear enough thank yous.  But I know now, having two teenagers, that you get those later in life.  I know I've been guilty of dishing out the judging stare at the mom that is snapping at her kids in a high pressure situation.  I just want to show grace in this moment.  I don't know what she's dealing with.  I don't know her daily struggles. I just walked into her 'button pressed moment' and I should leave it at that. Grace! A glance and a smile that says 'this moment too shall pass and it will all work out'.  Maybe being a seasoned mother now, these moments don't give me as much guilt as they did back when the other kids were little.  I still hate it when Dr. Jekyll comes out with little warning but at least with a cheerful 5 year old that just wants to hang with mom I can smile and count my blessings at the end of the day.  Christmas stress be gone.  I would love to say if we start our day with a prayer and reading of the Bible this won't happen.  Not true, however, when God's word is in our hearts it will pop up to remind ourselves for correction.  This little gem popped up two minutes after I finished jotting down my thoughts for this blog.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 50:4
The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Blues

I'm feeling a little guilty these days.  Ok, a lot guilty! I want school to start back today! Now, remember I was a homeschooling mom so my kids were with me all the time.  I don't remember feeling like this back then.  My kids talked a lot which can be exhausting and I don't remember TV being a summer option to pass the time.  They did have each other but I also recall Blaire never joining Jacob with his Lego creations and Jacob never dressing up Blaire's American Girl dolls so they must have learned how to play alone.  I know all kids are different but I'm 44!  It's young when I want it to be but with a toddler? Not so much.  I'm in a world with teens that drive, work and have extracurricular activities that keep them from being in the home more than two hours during my waking existence.  My days seem to last longer than 24 hours.  Is that even possible? As you can guess, I'm referring to my one and only, lovable little four year old.  Zoe is a laugh all day.  I picked her up from Princess Camp (yes, this is a thing) and she asked me what I did when I was all by myself.  I told her today I went to the bookstore and she says, "without me?"  Like I can't possibly do fun things without her.  She is such a lovable kid that I wish I could change my love language to words of affirmation or touch because that's all she dishing out to this mom.  Too soon to ask her for a gift to really show me love? I think I work better with a routine.  Let me rephrase that; I know I do but summer is the opposite of rigid and routine.  I could do without this laid back attitude the world has enforced during the months of June, July and August!  I have Zoe in two VBS programs and was elated to see another one pop up down the street.  That one is in the evening but I'll take it.   Yes, she's learning about God but I am the happiest mom dropping her off.  I used to loathe moms like me back in the day.  I was the VBS coordinator and all moms should do their duty and serve! LOL! Now this should make me feel guilty, right?  Convicted, maybe? Nope!  I got nothing.  Literally, nothing to give.  I'm tapped out.  So, I look forward to VBS, then a family camping trip, followed by two more weeks of VBS and a trip without kids then glorious Labor Day.  I can't tell you exactly how many days that is but I know we will be back to school shopping soon to make it feel sooner! Aww summer!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Mother's work is never done

I love to bird watch! There, I said it!  This shows my age and quite possibly gives away what I do with my time. I watch them build their nests, I watch them perch in their nests and I love how the male and female work tirelessly to feed their babies until they fly away all independent like. Now I'm feeling very insignificant.  Do I work that tirelessly for my family?
 We are entering a weekend where kids make you great cards and say endearing things about their mother.  I love it.  Sometimes it's forced (Scott has to remind them) and other times they are so candid.  I came across a letter the other day that was typed out and listed the jobs I do to make this child's life better.  Making lunches, doing their laundry, being their personal chauffeur.  Everything I really love doing. I've been a housewife for 22 years.  I always wanted to be a housewife that is industrious, disciplined, creative, and  I strive to be make our house comfortable.
 I glance out the window and watch these two robins swoop in to feed their babies.  This nest has been created and added to for about 5 years.  Both the dad and mom feed the babies about 35-40 times a day (I googled that) and they work together.  I have watched the babies in past years fly away for the first time and both parents feed them and stay close to make sure they are doing alright.
 I'm glad Mother's Day lands on a Sunday when Jacob is home from college and  I get to celebrate with all three of my children.  I love that they get along, love to try new things and have experienced a lot in their short lives.  I love getting a 'birds eye view' of their growth and happy to take care of their needs while they are living in my 'nest'.  This same weekend we are celebrating our 22nd anniversary and Scott's 44th birthday.  His mother, Margaret, got to celebrate Mother's Day in the hospital giving birth to her second child.  Although, Margaret isn't with us anymore I know she was a fantastic mother.  She raised such a great boy who respected his elders and became smart, responsible and grew to love God because of her influence.  A mother's love is a strong thing and I don't want to take it for granted.  I'm thankful I have the best job ever!
The robin mama is done feeding at the moment and now sitting on her babies, keeping them safe and warm.  Man, would I love to keep my babies home .... like forever!  Not!  I really do enjoy every stage my kids grow into.  I loved them at age two (the baby stage was not my favorite) at 6, at 10, even entering their sassy teen years.  I love them when they don't want to talk to me and welcome them when they do.  I can't wait to see them as parents one day and will enjoy being a grandma (like when I'm 60).  Parenting is hard work but so rewarding.  A shout out to my mom who gave me confidence and security in knowing who I am.  My mom made me tough and even though she wants me to slow down now in life, she always supported my athletic endeavors.  I want to be a Grandma like her who loves her 14 grand kids and says silly things and gets away with it.  Me at 80 folks.  But on this Mothers Day I must remember Zoe's birth mom.  I'm sure not a day goes by that she doesn't think of Zoe.  I owe her so much but I'm the one who gets to marvel at how much she has grown and learned.  I get to laugh at her knock knock jokes and beam as she wakes up dry without pull ups on in the morning.  It's an amazing gift to raise all three children and I don't want to take that for granted.  May Zoe's birth mom have peace about her decision and love on her other children who help her with daily life.
 The mama robin sits back down after another feeding.  She seems content and on guard for another day of protection.  In the book of Matthew, Jesus is talking about worrying and how it doesn't add any time to our life if we do it.  He reminds us about how much God cares for the birds.

 Matthew 6:26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

It has been thirty years since I've known Scott Clode, twenty-two years of being his wife, and almost 19 years of being a mom and  love overwhelms me right now.  How cool that we all have a purpose here on earth.  I want to take that attitude into all I do.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Drifting Off To My Happy Place

'Take me to my happy place' was the recurring theme throughout our 'experience' at the salon yesterday.  Usually going to the salon is relaxing.   I personally get my hair done in my neighbor's home salon and always have a very enjoyable time chatting and getting caught up.  Well, this wasn't for me and it was a new place I thought we could try to get Zoe's hair braided for vacation.  Up until now, I have washed and styled my daughter's hair.  I'm no expert.  Even with Blaire's hair I never learned to braid any fancy style.  Well, Zoe's hair is different.  I love reading about other friends on Facebook who are going through the same thing with their adopted children.  Success stories and shameless photos of the finished product is always encouraging.  However, the beautiful end result comes with sweat and tears.  I thought if I went to a salon and had someone who had experience with braiding African American hair we could be done with little pain.  Zoe cries at the mention of getting her hair done.  If I tell her it's bath time she always asks, 'and hair?' She's relieved when I reply that it's just a bath, no hair.  Yesterday, I had to take her braids out first before we got in the car and drove 25 mins away.  I could tell she didn't like this unknown destination and kept telling me she's scared.  (a break your heart moment right?) The young lady, ready to conquer the task, has been doing her siblings' hair since she was 12.  She wasn't overly talkative but with mom standing in front of Zoe, holding an iPad and feeding her snacks, we tried to bear through it.  The lady at the front desk interrupted us after 15 mins and told me if she continues to cry we will have to leave.  Stress factor #1.  This young girl started out doing the design I wanted (that was really simple) but ended up with 15 braids - and that was just the top part of her head!  Stress factor #2!  Doesn't she realize taking these braids out is just as stressful?  I was wishing to melt away to my happy place.  Someplace warm, of course.  A place where I have no responsibilities and certainly not a place where people are interrupting my peace.  Back to the salon, another lady comes over to try and console Zoe by telling her she needs to be a big girl and not cry.  More women kept trying to offer a better snack - like that's the issue. Yes, it distracted her for a second but only made me sweat more.  I wanted to walk out.   Have you ever been at the grocery store with young kids and they're crying and people walk by and offer their advice on why they are crying?  'Oh, it must be nap time'.  No, they are just having a temper tantrum because I told them no candy!  Another lady in the salon, told me she is stressing out!  Zoe is stressing out! (understatement)  Do you want to see stressing out?  How about the time when I first put Zoe in the bath.  She probably got washed down in a bucket with cold water outside of the orphanage.  No bathtubs there.  How about the time I got her to sit in the tub.  That was stressful.  When I watched a nanny braid her hair in the orphanage and even when we first got her home and we offered up TV and every piece of candy we had.  Nope!  Zoe's hair is thick and curly.  It's beautiful and I love it and I am learning with every hair wash and new style we try to ease up on the tangles.  I keep trying new products because there has to be a miracle cream and conditioner.  Zoe has come such a long way!  We celebrate one year on April 12.  Her Gotcha Day!  My next blog will list all the new challenges she has overcome and experiences this 4 year old has achieved in one short year.  But this hair thing is definitely a lifelong one.  I know she will grow up to appreciate her hair and what we go through (please God).
Three hours and 23 braids later we have the best hair style yet.  But I won't be rushing back.  I learned from this girl and bought a few tools to help me in the future.  This will have to continue to be a private experience so Zoe feels comfortable, so people don't see me sweat and to keep the cost down.  Everyone comments on how cute her fro looks when it's just full and she has a great bow or headband in.  And then every African American tells me, don't do it!  It dries out so quickly and more traumatic to brush out the next day.  Thankfully these hair styles last between 2-3 weeks so we all get a break.  Applaud moms with young children who spend a couple of hours on their girl's hair.   Drifting off to my happy place is fine but this is reality.  I'm not skilled but I try and trying to eliminate the tears - mostly mine.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Live in the moment you are in

I have been practicing yoga almost every week since October. I'm open-minded.  I've read Eat Pray Love. I don't give into bettering self and believing in 'a higher power'.  I personally give that  'higher power' a name and so I can think on such thoughts.  We typically attend church on Saturday nights so Sunday mornings are available to attend yoga.  Now, whatever ideas you have about yoga, until you actual go to a class and enjoy the instructor, you should give it another try.  "The word guru is composed of two Sanskrit syllables. The first means 'darkness', the second means 'light'. Out of darkness and into the light"   page 123 of Eat Pray Love. I know this is Hindu but again I relate the light to be Jesus. We are to put on Christ and take off ourselves. Matthew 5.  Today's class was so fitting.  I am currently listening to God as a recurring theme keeps popping up daily.  'Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.'
I don't get caught up in everything this instructor shares but today she says to the class 'live in the moment you are in now'.  I relate it to what God says in His word.

Matthew 6:34 (NIV) Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Then she says, "Don't concentrate on the music. It's a distraction and just look into yourself."  What? She does not know me one bit!  Music is everything to me.  It changes my thinking, my mood, my actions.  Music moves me to run, laugh, cry.  Every week I ask this instructor the name of a song she played so I can go straight to my itunes store and purchase it.  Today that song was Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson.  I'm sitting cross legged with my palms open and resting on my knees.  A posture I find myself sitting in more and more in my free time.  A posture my pastor just asked us to practice in his sermon last night.  A posture that says, 'God I surrender'.  Now one tear streams down my cheek and in the next 5 minutes I'm glad the room is dark and I'm in the front row and we are instructed to close our eyes.  It's just me and God in this moment and he gently reminds me of when He has carried me in my life.  He carried me through high school, through my 22 years of marriage, through my dad's cancer, through our adoption process, to name a few. He is faithful so why do I doubt?  All we can do is keep breathing.
Later in the class, while in child's pose, she plays Dare You To Move by Switchfoot.  I smile again and even lip sync to the song.  Again thankful for the darkened room and praising God a song about Salvation is playing on this fine Sunday morning.  Yoga is awesome! Then a final song comes on while in a 'sleeping' pose and it's country.  AHHH! I hate country with all my being but yoga is the opposite of hate and I pray to relax and NOT concentrate on the song.  I finally find myself relaxing and not worrying or thinking of anything. This hour did the trick.  I'm ready to take on the world again (for at least another week). The instructor talks about taking your practice into everyday life.  So when someone cuts you off in the parking lot don't give into anger and reciprocate the action. Breathe.  I finish a very satisfying hour and glad Scott joined me as he does most weeks.  I roll up my mat (yes I'm a real yogi and have my own mat) and leave to get Zoe from the child care center. I'm thrilled to see she ventured into the climbing maze with tunnels and slides.  This is new for her.  But when she looks into my eyes and hears me calling for her to come down she decides to go further away.  She climbs higher and stares at me.  Ooohhh! She doesn't know I'm not beyond climbing up to get her out myself.  I've been known to jump into germ invested ball pits, that used to amuse the kids at McDonald's, to retrieve my child a time or two. Breathe! She finally submits to my firm calling and instead of laying into her, I uncross my arms and tell her I'm so excited she tried something new.  I then had to insist she use the potty before we leave and she refused and my temperature begins to rise.  I know I'm reaping from a late night and the loss of the dreaded Daylight Savings hour.  She has the gall to ask for a cookie and I promptly say no and she cries. So I'm exiting the gym, passing by the once peaceful room I so enjoyed moments ago and go about my normal life.  God help me!  True story.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Raising kids

It was so great to hang out with all my kids yesterday.  Jacob and Blaire always get along and hearing Zoe squeal from the back seat, 'Are we at Jacob's school yet'?  just amazes me what has transpired in the last 10 months.  I remember back when we first introduced the idea of adoption to the kids.  They were settled with life as it was.  At the time, Jacob wasn't a fan of change, and so we were in the car talking about raising kids and I told him we were thinking about adoption.  I remember his reaction was, 'no, no, no'!  I told him to pray about it.  He was 13 and I knew he would.  We had just moved him from his old neighborhood and school that he was very comfortable in.  We moved churches as well and he seemed to always be in a new environment.  We prayerfully made all those moves and this was no exception.  Blaire just wanted a sister so she was on board. Two weeks later Jacob said he prayed and we should adopt.  Who knew at that time, across the globe, a little girl was born and her father had died around this time.  Her mother struggled to feed her kids and who knows who put the idea of relinquishing her rights in her head but I'm sure it wasn't an easy and quick decision by any means.  That same girl is upset with Jacob four hours later when we have to say goodbye and leave him at college. Today is just a quick lunch visit and she folds her arms in protest but kisses her brother and doesn't understand that he will be home for a break in 6 days.  It makes me cry to see the love that has formed between these two.  Even the look on Blaire's face when she comes home from school every day to get a hug from her new sister.  It doesn't seem so new anymore.  Its regular life in the Clode household.  I think back to some things I tried to instill in my kids growing up.
1. Home is a safe place.  There was no tolerance for sibling rivalry.  They were to respect one another and not call each other names.  'Stupid' was banned from our vocabulary to the point of when I read a book with that word in it I would say 'silly'.  It was hard for me to hear Scott read that same book and he didn't get the word change 'memo'.  LOL.  The kids are friends now and I believe Zoe feels safe here.  We can't control how people treat us in the world so I put up boundaries in our home.
2. God became apart of our everyday life.  I remember getting Jacob dressed for church on a Sunday morning in his suit and tie.  He was 6 years old and he yelled out he hated going to church and he didn't want to go.  My heart sank and I felt like I failed as a mother.  We decided that making him was the answer that day but we also didn't make church the only time he heard about God.  Our kids began to see that worshiping Jesus can be done around the dinner table, through our conversation, or in the car when we can sing to Him.  We began to see that our clothes and when we attended church wasn't the issue.  Prayerfully our kids got to see God work in their lives and I think our whole adoption story has changed their lives forever.
3. Our kids aren't the center of our family.  Let me explain.  I believe God has created marriage forever.  Scott and I were married for three years before Jacob came along.  Having a baby didn't come between Scott and I.  Literally, he didn't sleep between us in our bed.  He needed to respect Daddy and Mommy time and we left him with babysitters and went on vacation once in a while without him ( and Blaire when she came along).  I believe in kids seeing their parents be in control and not the other way around.  This was demonstrated to Zoe day 1.  She would flip out about a lot of things and of course we had to allow her time to feel acclimated and comfortable and safe.  But she never slept in our bed and I stood my ground on how she was treating all of us when she wanted her way.  To make her feel apart of this family I only knew to treat her like the others.  That's why I think she fits in so well. She officially was named Zoe Ayame Clode on Jan.7, 2014.  She goes to preschool, loves singing about Jesus, and loves hanging out with our family and friends.  She gets upset when she has to share her toys because she's four. She is a great eater and knows she has to stay in her seat in a restaurant.  She is learning to dress herself and make her bed.  I'm a mother of three and I'm so proud of all of them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

celebrating the little things

So it's February and I didn't even get a post written in January.  Wow! What have I been doing since I rang in the year 2014?  Well, if you are a mom of kids under 10 you understand what happened.  You got back into a routine that doesn't allow time for sitting down and recording the events of your life.  The ball dropped in New York on January 1 and it was like I heard a gun go off simultaneously in my head.  'And we're off ', someone yelled and I began running.  Back to preschool, packed for a trip, flew my parents and Zoe to Florida for 6 days, went to court to officially change Zoe's name, endured 7 snow days, attended a family birthday party in Canada and was privileged enough to get away for two days to scrapbook.  Oh ya, that's what I did in January.  Back up to a pretty significant event in Zoe's life - getting on a plane for the first time since we flew home from Ethiopia NINE MONTHS ago!  I cannot believe it has been that long.  Zoe got a zebra print, rolling suitcase for Christmas and we told her we were going to visit Aunt Cheryl in Florida and go on a plane.  Her expression changed and she ran out of the room.  Scott and I followed her and we found her crying on her bed.  Scott, the compassionate one, hugged her and asked her why she was crying.  We figured out that she was worried about me taking her on a plane.  The last time she remembers that big event was me taking her from her birthplace and bringing her 'home'.  Poor thing felt like we were taking her back to Ethiopia? After I hugged her and talked up the big trip to Florida she was fine.  And when I say fine, I mean she didn't get sad about it again. Even on the morning we left and drove an agonizing three hours to the airport through the worst snowy roads I've driven on and had a 'home alone' experience to get to our gate on time with two 80 year olds and a toddler, she didn't get upset again.  Take off and landing was an amazing experience (when mommy pulled out homemade banana muffins to snack on and games to play). Never a dull moment.  Throw in a momentous occasion on January 7th. Standing in court for 45 minutes to hear our name called and officially get paperwork for Zoe to be Zoe Ayame Clode.  Then one morning last week I received a CD I requested from the agency of all the pictures they had of Zoe in the time she was at the orphanage.  We looked at it together and she laughs.  We watch videos of her speaking another language and I think about when we can explain how this, how she, has changed our lives.  She's the reason I get my snow pants on and bundle up to play in our winter wonderland out back.  She's the reason I sing about 6 little ducks, and the itsy bitsy spider and shop at Gymboree more than any other store these days.  We celebrate dry pull ups in the morning and empty cereal bowls and when we can change her hair barrettes without fussing.  What will you celebrate today, this week, this month? Share with me.  Write it down. Stick it to your mirror.  Enjoy February 2014.
This is spoken so strongly to me in Hebrews 10:23-24 in the Message Bible
Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going.  He always keeps His word.  Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out...