Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Prepping the kitchen for the flooring job . . .

Priming the walls - good-bye golden mustard!

Floor is levelled, primed and skimmed.

It's 7:30 a.m. and the flooring guy still hasn't called to give us
a specific time to expect him. But we're ready!

*Edited to add: the installer is supposed to be here
between 10:30 and 11 a.m.
The Boss has to work till 8 p.m. tonight.
And my whole family is coming for Easter dinner on Saturday.
Life is always an adventure with The Gang :)

For more Wordless Wednesday fun
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's All In Your Perspective

Overheard in the (now demo'd) kitchen while making lunches together yesterday:

Shaggy:  I am working on a project for World History. I have to research and write an essay on three people groups that have migrated.

Momma:  Are you going to write about the Irish? When they left Ireland in droves because of the potato famine and English grip of territorial land control?

Dr. D, lighting up and shouting out:  Oh! Wait, you can write about the Colts when they migrated from Baltimore.  Or, the Cardinals when they left Chicago.  Oooh, yeah. The Rams, when they picked up and moved out of St. Louis.

Shaggy:  Yeah. No. I don't think that's really what my WORLD HISTORY teacher had in mind.

I love having these two home all day with me!
If nothing else, we sure laugh together a lot.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Should Have Seen It Coming

The Boss got some unexpected, good news at work a few weeks ago. With the little "windfall" that the good news carried, we decided that it was time to finally replace our very messed up floor in the kitchen. About five years ago, for a quick and inexpensive fix, we laid adhesive tiles down over the existing floor. But in those five years, we've had a couple spills (heh, heh!), some leaky faucets, a jammed ice-maker which resulted in a leaking freezer, and lots and lots of regular everyday foot traffic. The kitchen, after all, is smack in the center of the house and bears the brunt of all the wear and tear that our Gang dishes out.

While I had The Boss in "re-do" mode, I suggested that this might be an excellent time to paint the kitchen. We'd planned to do it back in January, but things at work have been very fast-paced and high pressured for The Boss so it just kept sliding to the end of the "Honey Do" list - right down there with replacing that bathroom faucet that drips and drips and drips and drips . . . .  :)

So, this weekend, The Boss began demo'ing the kitchen floor, doing as much prep work as he could do with five kids running all around him at the same time.  While he was demo'ing, my creative wheels started spinning.  By Sunday morning, I was smokin' with ideas. I shared my favorite one with him, and by Sunday night, cabinets had been moved and counter-tops sawed off. (I never would have seen that coming, he's NEVER moved so quickly on a spontaneous change of plans for a home-improvement project!)

Then, when he was done working for the night and we'd finally crashed together on the couch to decompress, he looks over and says, "Are you sure you're going to be okay with moving that pantry into the hallway?" I should have seen it coming. He does that second-guessing thing in the early stages of almost every home project we undertake. In fact, the paint color we finally agreed upon is a direct result of his second-guessing. (In that particular instance, he was right. The light was funky the day we made the original choice.)

I should have seen it coming . . .

Why does he do that?! Lay that on me at 10:50 p.m?

So, guess what I spent most of last night and the early morning hours of today doing?

Yup. Re-arranging kitchen cabinets and pantry space in my head. In fact, in one of my crazy, dis-jointed dreams, my friend Comfy Denim was trying to make tea in my kitchen and she couldn't find the tea bags.

I haven't come up with a "GREAT" plan for how to re-arrange things and re-organize my kitchen. But now, you can bet that little else will be on my mind, straining my powers of strategy and analysis. All my energies will be focused toward optimizing efficiency and home management from the hub of our home.

I should have seen it coming. As I wandered around the kitchen Friday and Saturday, I kept wondering what all my GREAT! FANTASTIC! RE-DO ON THE CHEAP! ideas would mean to our daily routine and traffic patterns to move that big red pantry.

I kept coming back to how nicely it fit into the hallway corner. But then I'd wonder how I'd feel about stepping around the corner to get to all my cooking and baking supplies. 

Thinking about how nice and open and welcoming the workspace would feel with the shortened counters and re-arranged/re-purposed cabinets. But wondering how long I'd be able to tolerate the inconvenience of the hugely-altered footprint of the kitchen.

Thinking I can get used to anything eventually, that I am usually good with inconvenience, once it becomes part of my regular routine. But knowing that I have one or two particular Gang members that are really put off by change and worse, by inconvenience.

But the deed is done. The cabinets are moved. The counter has been sawed off. The change is irrevocable. There's no going back. My kitchen re-do is underway. As long as the coffepot remains in a highly central and accessible location, I guess we can get used to anything!

"Before" pics and "Afters" will be posted . . . .

Friday, March 26, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit Changes!

Those of us in the adoption community know very well the often difficult financial obligations of bringing home our kids. Whether domestic or international, building your family through adoption is NOT an inexpensive venture.  One of my favorite sites, Creating a Family, just posted some important tax information.  It's not information that's been talked about much in the news lately. But it seems that the Adoption Tax Credit has been revised.  AND made retro-active, too.

Go here for information that can help you sort out whether or not you are eligible for additional refunding.  It might take a few minutes of researching, but given the increase of up to one thousand dollars, I think it'll be worth your time!

Thanks Dawn, for keeping up with all the information like this that furthers the cause of adoption!  You rock!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I had all sorts of other interesting and introspective stuff to share today. But there's this great thing going around F@cebook that I had to share with you all.

Gathter the kids, grab the phone and put it on speaker for them. Just warn them to be absolutely quiet or the fun won't proceed!

Call the Nestle Crunch Hot line
at 1-800 295-0051.

When asked if you want to continue in English or Spanish, wait quietly for about 10 seconds. It will make you will smile.

I chose option 4. Then I went with option 7. I'm still smiling!

I'll be trying other options later . . . . cuz I'm really just a kid at heart. 'Specially when it comes to chocolate!

Thanks to Nestle Crunch for the giggles.
Whoever thought this up deserves a raise.
And a whole bunch of chocolate love!

*Edited to add: Keep trying if it's busy.
It's really worth the effort.
The giggles will last ya all morning long.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This perky little sign of spring means that

THIS sign of spring isn't far behind!

Yes, it's the week to put winter clothes away
and pull out the lighter, brighter apparel for spring.

It might just be me, but it seems that EVERY TIME
I jump headlong into this huge task
(Think two seasons worth of sorting for
7 gang members. Ummm, yeah.)
it gets too cold to actually WEAR any of the stuff!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Think I've Spoiled Him

This week, I've been really sick with a cold that morphed into a nasty upper respiratory infection. Coughing and hacking, fevers, ears full of fluid - the whole gamut.  So I was a little less than thrilled to get an email reminding me that I had offered to provide baked goods for the reception after LadyBug's Wind Ensemble Spring Concert.

But, with some help from The Boss, I got it together and provided a pretty tray of Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip cookies for the kids and their families to enjoy after the performance. I skipped this concert because I figured I'd probably sit in the lobby for most of it, coughing my fool head off. So I sent The Boss and Baby BlueEyes off to deliver LadyBug to the auditorium and the cookies to the cafeteria.

When The Boss got home, they were all full of news about the concert. Who squeaked their reeds, how hard the music was, how long the concert lasted, and the food. OH, THE FOOD.  Apparently, there was a ton of food spread out all over the reception area.

And The Boss could NOT get over the fact that our cookies, and two other trays were the only home-made foods in the whole spread.  Everything else was in a bag, a deli tray, or a bakery box. N@bisco and K**bler had a strong showing. Garish-colored frosting abounded.  He was shocked. He kept going on and on about the bags of cookies and the "fake icing" on the "over-sized" cupcakes (that were really "more like cakes than cupcakes!").  He really was utterly surprised by it all.

I still don't think he's over it this morning.  I think I've spoiled him.  Scratch that. I KNOW I've spoiled him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

At my house, we're doin'
The Wearin' Of The Green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day
to all ye who come by here!

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do You Know Who You Are?

Friday nights are Family Night around here. For the last two weeks, we hung out together watching

We have found a new family favorite!  The conversations it has generated have been priceless. My kids are asking about their ancestors, they are putting together our family history with what was going on in the world at the same time, and they are connecting with the things they learn in textbooks on a hugely personal level.  We've talked about racism, slavery, prejudice, hardship, perseverance and all kinds of other wonderful topics. The kids have asked when the next one is on and I even spent an hour hanging with Dr. D showing him a quick chart of what I know about all four of my grandparents' family lines.

Closely connected to the new NBC show, is a wonderful PBS gem I found called

It features Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and takes guests through little journeys of American history as they also discover their family stories and how they fit into the bigger story that America was building at that same time. It's a slightly more academic look at how America came to be, but certainly no less entertaining and captivating for THIS history buff! I recorded his appearance on Opr@h a couple weeks ago and finally got to watch it yesterday while I was laying around sick.  I found it IMMENSELY interesting that the officer who arrested Gates in last year's incident that led to the infamous "Beer Summit" shares a family name and geographic region with my grandfather's family. AND that both that officer AND Gates are distantly related via an ancient clan king in Ireland.  Mmmmmm, might we be related to America's foremost African American scholar?  Which, I guess would also mean that we were related to the officer, too. And you know what, I'm totally intrigued by either idea!

If you haven't seen these new shows, you really ought to check them out. Even if you don't care a lick about "where you came from" (which in my honest opinion would be a CRYING SHAME, almost a sacrilege!), I do think that you will find great inspiration in the stories of the strong, determined, self-sacrificing people who formed our nation. And maybe, just maybe, you'll come away from these shows with a greater appreciation for who you are and what your people have come through to make you who you are.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Silent Tears

Kay Bratt is giving away four copies of her soon-to-be-released second edition of Silent Tears. For anyone interested in international adoption, or stories of children who wait for families, or more specifically Chinese orphans, this book is a must read. I've read excerpts here and there and the book has been on my "wish list" for a long time now. I'm even more excited about reading it, now that I know that there are updates to some of the stories of individual children in the new edition.

It's not the easiest read, certainly, but lately I've been trying to challenge myself to read things that aren't easy to digest. Cover to cover, I know this will be one of the hardest books I've read concerning international adoption. But cover to cover, I also know that it's written with the intent to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. That alone makes it worth my time and effort. Head over and check it out for yourself.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Baby BlueEyes has a wonderful, wonderful teacher this year. He had her for the last half of last year and Shaggy had her for fifth grade back when we first moved to this town. She really had a unique opportunity to be part of our family's adoption journey to Li'l Empress because of  that overlap. Frequently Baby BlueEye's writing class does journal entries. So, she sent his journal home with him on Wednesday, knowing that I would love to read this one in particular. He's given me permission to share it here.
If I went to a summer vacation, it would be China. I would fly a plane to China. I would bring food and money for the poor people, and bring close and medican just in case I got sick. I would bring sheets, blakets, pilows, and dental stuff like toothbrushes and toothpaste, and face wash. I would adopt an other new little sister. I would go on trips to places like the empers house, and the soldiers tumes. I would visited the hand panted hallway. I would visited restrunts and star bucks coffee but I wouldn't get coffee. I would get cookies and a drink. I would get the first hug and kiss by my new little sister. I would want to name her Rose.

Melting. My heart is melting
in a big puddle right at his sweet little feet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Great Post to Share With You

My friend has written a really important post for parents. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Talking with friends, listening to others talking about it, and praying about what it means for My Gang. She says it well, and there's no need for me to reinvent the wheel.

Please, be sure to leave her a comment sharing your thoughts.  And DO NOT forget to follow the links she's included and read them also. If you are a parent seeking to raise up the younger generation of warriors in the Body of Christ, you really need to check it all out!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Plethora of Pink!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
While you are there, check out their new look
and their new features!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Voting Party Lines

Leaving the driveway, this conversation really happened. Or, should I say, really happens. Almost every time I have more than one of my little Gang members with me.

Me:  "Okay, music or no music?"

Gang Party #1:  (with great gusto) "MUSIC!"

Gang Party #2: (quietly) "No music, please."

Me:  "Okay. That was a tie. Mommy's the tie-breaker, so I say 'MUSIC!'"

Me:  "So, country, Christian, or Rock?" 

And yes, I really say "Rock" but what we listen to can HARDLY be categorized as Rock. It's more like Soft Pop. Soft Pop with D@wny dryer sheets thrown in for extra softness.

Gang Party #1:  (with even greater gusto) "COUNTRY!"

Gang Party #2:  (quietly again) "Christian, please."

Me:  "Okay. Well, Mommy's vote counts twice, so Country it is."

Random Gang Member, piping up from behind me:  "Why do we even vote? It turns out the same every time."

They take turns grumbling about the very predictable turn-out. That's the only random thing about this conversation. WHO is going to pipe up this time?  Ooooh, the suspense.

Me: "Well, that's cuz there's four of you and you always vote along the same party lines when I ask. One of you could try changing your vote once in a while."

Yeah. Like that would ever happen!

In my defense, sometimes I choose Christian. I try to take turns siding with the different parties. It helps keep the peace in the Gang Nation.

And sometimes, just to keep them on their toes, I turn on the jazz/classical station. Without even putting it to a vote. I'm edgy like that, you know.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Really Think You Ought To

It all started with Make Your Own Pizza Family Night. Mine was a gourmet style pizza: whole wheat crust with blended cheeses, broccoli, fresh mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  If you have never tried sun-dried tomatoes, I really think you ought to run out and get yourself a jar. I prefer the ones in olive oil to the dried ones, as they tend to be sweeter.  The rest of the Gang did some basic version of a traditional pizza, sans veggies.  I know, how boring is that?!


Shaggy suggested we search @ Dem*nd for "Cool Runnings" - that old Disney movie about the Olympic bob-sled team from Jamaica.  I'd never even wondered about it before, but if you've never seen it (and it's entirely likely that we are the only family on the planet that never had seen it before, from what I'm hearing), I really think you ought to run out and rent it for your family. It was funny, moving, motivational, and OLYMPIC all at once. I do believe it has moved into our Gang's List of Top Ten Movies.  (If we were to actually have an official list!)

Unfortunately, at the end of the movie, when The Boss was investigating just why the fridge circuit kept tripping off all afternoon and into the evening, he felt a drip or two on his head. When he looked up, he saw water collecting and bubbling the sheet rock of our kitchen ceiling.  Yeah. That's our FAVORITE thing to see at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. Apparently the toilet had clogged earlier in the day and then again later in the early evening. NOT that anyone bothered to mention that to The Boss. Who. Was. Working. From. HOME. All. Day.  ALLLLL Day.  If you've never cleaned up a bathroom floor with 1 inch of standing, cold, questionable water at 9 p.m. on a Friday night, I really think you ought to try it.  If you've never washed a load of smelly, soaked bath towels at 10 p.m. on a Friday night, I really think you ought to.

(One of the spots of damaged ceiling.
About 14" x 18" of damage, that we can see.)

With the crisis under control and the floors & baseboards cleaned, sanitized, and anti-bacterialized, we resumed the movie. If you've never eaten Edy's chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream after cleaning up a clogged toilet on a Friday night at 10 p.m., I really don't think you ought to try it. 

In retrospect, it might just have been the thing that put my over-active imagination and my germ/bacteria/cross-contamination phobias in full-out weird dream mode. It was not pretty inside my head at 2 a.m. I had to sleep in Saturday to re-coup some of the sleep loss. I really think you ought to try it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Age Appropriate

Yesterday, Li'l Empress played with an Occupational Therapist as part of the yearly evals by our county's Early Intervention service. It was the third or fourth evaluation in the last two weeks, between EI's different therapists and her regular audiology check-ups. I'm amazed at Li'l Empress' capacity to put up with the "performing monkey" stuff that comes with all these appointments lately!

After I finished up the interview portion of the evaluation, the OT got down on the floor with Li'l Empress to to put her through her paces. Gross motor skills, fine motor skills, spatial relations, the whole gamut was on full display. It was really fun to see how far she's come, as I remembered the various delays she had to work through when she first came home. As an observer, I feel good about the accuracy of the eval and the progress that I can see she's gained. Having it marked in "months" notation was helpful. There were a couple areas that we should more intentionally introduce and press, but the thing that struck me was the repeated emphasis on the milestone of potty training.

And by repeated, I mean, "Enough already, I know.
You think she should have started potty training months ago, I get it!"

Now, I've always taken a fairly laid-back approach to potty training with my older kids. A huge part of my approach is that I really would preferred that they be ready, that they own it, and that they feel a measure of success in their attempts. And selfishly, I don't mind admitting that I also know it's less work and frustration for all of us if they do achieve success early in the trying. So I don't mind waiting a bit.

For example, Baby BlueEyes was a month away from being three and I just knew he'd knock it out of the park if I tackled training while all the older sibs were still home for summer break. We made it a whole family event. I was right: he was "on it" - done, dry, and ready to go (mostly) on his own within a week or two. That little potty seat went everywhere with us. The older boys hoisted him up on their shoulders when he succeeded and had a special song they sang for him every time he got it right. It was fun for them all, as I was very generous with the M&M rewards. He earned a huge amount of confidence, and the boys felt pretty good about themselves and the role they played. Added bonus :)

When the OT told me that at 30 months, Li'l Empress was not yet "age appropriate" in the area of self-care and responsibility simply because she had not even attempted potty training, it took everything in me not to give my little spiel. I mean, I know this is her job, this is her life and she's immersed in developmental milestones and all. I greatly appreciate the OT's skills and knowledge. I do, really. But from a Momma's perspective, from the heart of one who knows her girl better than any evaluator could: can we have a little context please? Can we look at the whole picture of Li'l Empress' life and growth to today's singular moment of evaluation? Could we take a step back and recognize all that Li'l Empress has accomplished and all the areas in which she is scoring well above the "age appropriate" targets?

(PLEASE, it's not that the evaluator was suggesting a problem or wasn't appreciative of the "big picture of Li'l Empress' life - although she didn't really even ask about her delays or life experience to this point. I had to offer the information. Context. You get me? That's the point of this post. This is my thought process in the midst of the evaluation.)

So I did what any good Momma needs to do in a moment like that: I gave myself context. I know that every kid is different. All four of my older kids had vastly different potty training experiences and varying levels of success. Bigger than that, within our extended family there has been a wide range of ages, starts and re-starts, regressions, and successes. And even bigger than that, as my good friend M told me last night, many children who have been adopted have a wide range of responses to the readiness and the process of potty training.

That concept of context is a big one in parenting, isn't it? Truthfully, it's been bigger than ever since we jumped into the world of special needs adoption. It's why I've often said that I feel like I went back to school once we received Li'l Empress' referral back in July '08.

Understanding microtia, atresia, and unilateral hearing loss.
Researching secure attachment and healthy bonding.
Studying what a good listening environment really looks like.
Practicing how to improve our home to be that good listening environment.
And more, so much more!

All of this requires that I learn context. Occasionally, context feels as if it's purposely eluding me. Other times, I am confident that I'm really getting a grip on it manner that allows Li'l Empress to grow, even flourish. To step out in new skills and milestones with confidence. It's a balancing act that I'm sure moms of other special needs kids can well identify with. It requires a delicate balance of stepping out and holding steady. It requires a deep breath and that internal conversation of "it's okay - she's not there yet, but she's getting there." And "she's got all this other stuff she's overcome and surpassed for her age, this will come too." I gave myself context.

Yesterday, I had an evaluation, too. And I am proud to say that I think I am age appropriate in the parenting milestone of context.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This son of mine has to be the
least self-conscious kid I've ever
known. This was taken when he and his
friends were shooting funny videos
over the snowy weekend.

He told me, "You can have a lot more fun
when you aren't self-conscious."

He's a wise one, that boy.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One More Time . . .

this is your final weekly reminder . . .

The giveaway is still going on over at Wild Olive Tees. They have re-designed and re-released their Hope for Haiti shirt and 100% of the proceeds are going directly to Haiti relief efforts, via Eyes Wide Open International (click here).

So, head over to this post and get all the skinny on how to get one of these great tees for yourself. And while you are at it, join the contest fun and spread the word. The more shirts they SELL, the more money goes to the relief efforts!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Life and More Life

I had a pithy, snarky post all brewing up in my head to explain the drought between meaningful posts in recent weeks. But in the hours between my intellectual musings and craftings of strategic plays on words and my actual sitting to type said musings and craftings, it has all disappeared. Why, oh why can I NOT get fantastic brainstorms and high-brow humor running out of my brain and onto the keyboard at normal hours of the day? Why must it always start my synapses firing at 2:38 a.m., when I'm rolling The Boss over for the third time? Why must I lay in my bed at 4:23 a.m. cracking myself up when at 4:23 p.m. I was all but prostrate on the floor begging for some relief from the noise and the chaos of five kids and a schizo kitty?

I've been largely absent around here for the last couple weeks, I know. The death of our friend really created ripples and aftershocks that are still being felt. And will be for a long time, I'm sure. The chaos of interrupted routine due to snow, snow, more snow, and unexpected travel followed by more snow has confused us all. Did I mention we've gotten a lot of snow lately? Additionally, our church has been dealing with several losses of family members and sicknesses that require we stand together to care and support. Our own little Gang has been dealing with some things, ranging from The Boss's work atmosphere to a testing toddler. It's been a hard, long season. I'm not all that sorry to see February depart.

I try really hard to be a positive person, to have an outlook that says, "I am blessed. I have much for which I can and should give thanks." I enjoy looking for the things around me to celebrate. It's part of the reason I love the Olympics. I mean, in the dead of the winter, every four years, we get to unite as a nation to see amazing feats of courage and bravery and commitment. We get to see sportsmanship at its best, team work honed to perfection, and character tested and shown worthy.

It's no secret to those of you who know me (and who have been privileged to follow me on F@ceb**k during these games!) that I am a huge Men's Speed Skating fan. Specifically short track. Specifically Apolo Anton Ohno. Yes, I am fully aware of his obvious physical charms. I agree, he's very easy on the eyes. But that's really not why I love watching him skate. I'm sure it won't surprise any of you that I have voraciously done tons of reading on him and his teammates. As much as I can get away with. . . and still be a good Momma and good wife, that is. And everything that I've read just screams of his dedication, his single-minded focus, and his drive to follow his passion. You can SEE it when he's out there on the ice. He's strategic, he's intentional, and he's all about doing his personal best when tested. When viewed through that lens (the lens of what I've learned about him and about the sport), it's nothing short of inspirational. In fact, it reminds me much of the Apostle Paul. He, too, was strategic, intentional, and pressed to offer his best when tested. Please don't read what I am NOT saying. It's just that in this season of my life, I've been watching the Olympics with a different perspective.

I've been feeling tested lately. (NOT just by my adorable Li'l Empress, either!) Oh, I know, it's normal every day life stuff for the most part. But it's no less challenging to navigate. In fact, in my view, the fact that it's normal every day life stuff makes it sometimes all the more challenging. I mean, to choose to view it as a test, as a race to a medal, to race in a way that proves me worthy of the calling He has placed upon me is hard. Most of the culture around me tells me it's just life. It's not that hard. And if it is that hard, "it's just not supposed to be." As if I could or should choose to either ignore it or just accept it. Neither prospect really sits well with who I am. Who I know I am called to be.

Philippians 3:12-14 (TNIV)

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Some of it isn't every day life stuff. Some of it is stuff being revealed within me that, frankly, I find repulsive and ugly. New views of my selfishness. A peek into the utter gunk of unresolved anger. Far too intimate glimpses of unconfessed sin. None of it pretty. None of it pleasant. All of it covered. By His Grace. By His Sacrifice. Yet all of it needing to go now that it's been revealed. It's the training phase that no athlete really loves. But it's the hard work that is required. The proving that tests one's mettle. And gets one over that finish line after a messy, dirty, chaotic fight of life.

And I'm good with that. I mean, I'm good with it being rooted out, in terms of appreciating the end result. It's just the process and the journey that I'm not loving. It's painful. It's messy. But it's worth it. It's that gold-medal round of contest. THAT'S the real life that I'm shooting for. That's the finish line I'm clumsily skating toward. It's what I'm clinging to.

James 1:12 (The Message)

"Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life."