Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Photo by the amazing Brooke Photography
Here we go, it's November and this Mom's hustling holiday season is in full swing.  Our annual family photo session (with Brooke Photography of course) was amongst a last minute trip to California for a visit with Grandma, my brother-in-law's surprise 50th, Emily's 16th (complete with the Winter Jam concert accompanied by some of her good friends), a school potluck x 4 classrooms (OK it was October 31st but close enough), haircuts x 8 (lovin' Ms. Hannah!), dentist visit x 2 (I missed and had to reschedule twice, thank you Dr. Bobby!) a Jr. High Thanksgiving potluck, various stays at the 7th grade, a last minute trip to Phoenix toting girls for a coxswain (the person that tells the rowers what to do and where to go) clinic, designing the 2013 Schulze Family Christmas card and having it printed (at Costco) before the coupon ran out that night.  With all of this busyness, I have not had nor taken the time to truly contemplate what I am thankful for. I have to admit the rebel in me tends to steer clear of the daily Facebook thing.  I do enjoy reading the gratitude of my friends and family though.

Our BIG Day 5.7.94
With Thanksgiving literally two days away, it is probably time to magnify that grateful mindset of mine.  I could come up with lists upon lists of who and what all I appreciate in my life but time is short and I have one specific item, event, condition that I am truly blessed by, my marriage.  You see, as I have noted in a previous post, the Hubster and I are on the verge of 20 years of matrimony.  It isn't, though, the longevity of our relationship that impresses me.  I can't say this "China Anniversary" even represents "the beautiful, elegant and delicate(ness) of our love for one another over the past 20 years."  Certainly the two decades have not been filled with bliss, quite the contrary has been the rule during some seasons of our union.

What I am thankful for is the road God walked us down, the mountains we traversed, the valleys we rested in.  I am thankful for the lessons taught and learned, the battles fought and won, the fears experienced and overcome.  I am thankful for the moments we yelled at each other and made it through.  I am thankful for the countless tears shed that did not drown us.  I am thankful for the discord, the dishonesty, and the disrespect we both took part in that never disrupted the commitment we have to one another. Have we liked each other constantly throughout our relationship? No. Have we known God had a purpose for each hardship we were to experience? Yes.  Are we better off having engaged the fire together?  Do I really have to answer this?  Yes and yes.  

(cropped from) Brooke Photography again!
Each trial has not only strengthened our marriage but has also laid a foundation for our children to build their future relationships upon.  They have witnessed their parents go through the ugly to get to the beautiful. They have seen us lean upon our Lord as well as praise Him when times are difficult.  They have experienced the results of a husband and wife clinging to promises made many years prior.  They know that trust can be regained and that love prevails.  

Fun times together.
During one low point I was told deep within my soul that if I gave up on the Hubster he would never be the man God has intended him to be and he would never accomplish the tasks God has for him.  Once I had truly done that, we were able to wade through his "stuff" as well as get some sort of control over it.  What initially took me by surprise was, with his "stuff" hemmed in, my "stuff" became more visible.  As uncomfortable as it was, I was able to see my faults and weaknesses.  Then, together, we were and have been able to grow through mistakes I have made. I thank my Lord that Kevin, the  Hubster, has never, not once, given up on me.  The rewards received due to a marriage forged by trials and strengthened by God are the best gifts ever!

We LOVE Brooke Photography
What have I learned?  Other than the Hubster will stick with me through thick and thin, I have learned that I don't need to be in control.  I have learned that I can trust his decisions, even if I think he is 100% wrong at the time.  I have learned that I am wrong more often than I have previously realized.  I have learned  I can follow his lead just as God desires me to.  I have learned the Hubster wants to listen to me and take my opinions into consideration. I have learned that the he will do anything in his power to protect his family.  I have learned that no matter how scary life seems to be, as long as we are with each other and focused on the Lord, we can endure anything.  

I encourage my readers, with a few exceptions, to not give up on the spouse God has given you.  Looking at our challenges from a worldly standpoint, we would have had a strong case to end our union. Thankfully, Kevin and I believe we have a responsibility to honor the vows we have taken. The words we recited ending in "Til death do us part." are not misleading.  They were not conditionally based.  They are a reminder that things will get tough and together we can endure anything that God allows into our lives.

A peek at our family photo session with, who else but Brooke Photography

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's a Privilege

It happens to ALL parents.  If you have yet to experience this feeling and you have a child, I can guarantee you, junior is under the age of three.  Those of us without children, may have a special someone in our lives who invokes a similar emotion.  That shiver up your spine, or a cringe in your soul, can often be the result of just a few simple words, "Can I ask you a question?"  

As a mom of six, I have fielded a few doozies in my seventeen years of child rearing experience. Routinely though, the standards, "What's for dinner?", "What's it going to be like outside?" and "What are we doing today?" are multiplied as you can imagine.  So as to not lose my mind answering the same question over and over and over again, I have made an information board for my family to refer to.  Meals, day, date, weather, laundry and shower schedule, as well as the day's happenings are answered with the scrawl of a dry erase marker (as long as I don't forget).  When the majors are asked, I just point to the board.

Still questions persist. Thinking back, I have a few favorites...

"In other worlds, do red lights mean the same thing?"

"When are we going to see clouds, down low, with coyotes in them?"

"How does the sperm get to the egg?"  (OK, not my favorite but certainly memorable)

Then we have the conversation questions which usually begin with a misinterpretation of some sort.

Alize: "What's a cult?"
Mom: (with brows raised)  "What are you reading?"
Alize: "Little House on the Prairie"
Mom: (a tad befuddled)  "Bring it here. I want to see."
(Alize yields the book.)
Mom: (with a sense of relief) "Oh, it's a young horse."

Of course, Mom is the go-to-gal for ALL information.  The later we get in the day, though, my patience grows slim.  At some point during the past few years I had to declare all "What if..." questions banned after 7PM. They were making my brain hurt.

My answers?  I really try to be accurate with them.  As you can imagine though, I have used the "because I say so", "That is how God made it", "What if (insert child's name)?", "The last time I wore your shoes..."  Those oldie but goodie answers sure do come in handy at times.

Some of my kids are in unique situations, their questions are a little more challenging.  "Why don't I look like you?"  "What does my birth dad look like?"  "Where are my birth parents?"  Along with inquiries such as these are the underlying questions often connected to undesirable behaviors.  "Will they still love me if..."  "Will they still keep me if..."  "Will my consistent behavior receive a consistent response?"

This past week, just before bedtime, Allie came to me with heartfelt questions.  They were the kind where I had to separate my emotions and realize the response she was seeking in no way reflected on my mothering skills or upon how she felt about being a Schulze.  They were eliciting information about the essence of her existence.  My goal is always for my kids to love their birth parents because, when they do, they are loving on a part of themselves.  Due of this my answers need to be carefully constructed.

It all started with my daughter asking how much longer birth mom would be in prison.  Following my answer she enquired whether, after she was released, when birth mom was doing better, if she would go to live with her.  I told her, no, because she has been adopted by her Dad and I, she is a Schulze now and is an important part of our family.  She then told me she wants to live with her.  Now, Allie has been doing well in school and at home, so she's not in any trouble, therefore, no punishments have been doled out recently.  No, her inquiry is because she loves the biological attachment and the magical aura a birth mom can hold.  Me, I get down and dirty, my shine has become a bit tarnished, she knows my strengths as well as my faults.  So, I understand where she is coming from. Still, the "Why not?" question is not an easy one.

What comes next, I have experienced once before.  "If God knew what birth mom would do, and that I would be taken away, why would He even let me be born?"  I have never had my bio kids doubt the reason they exist.  This question has to be handled with extreme sensitivity.   "Mom and Dad can not make an Alize, she can not come from our bodies."  I answer.  "God needed birth mom and birth dad to make an Alize because He wanted a strong, sweet, creative, smart, beautiful, silly, caring girl that can only do things the way you do them."  I quickly follow with, "But, He wanted to protect her from the hardships her biological parents were experiencing as well as the choices they would make.  For that reason, God trusted Kevin and Cindy with this amazing little girl.  Why?  Because He knew they would love her forever and do their best to raise her to be an amazing young lady."

As these words flow from my lips, my heart breaks just a little for my sweet innocent girl.  Knowing the world is creeping in on her magical life makes my eyes tear and the beat of my heart heavy.  The turmoil she and her siblings endure are foreign to me and yet, I need to pause and nurture their broken hearts with scars that I can not see but only sense.  I need to step far outside of my selfishness and do what God has trusted only me to do, be Allie's mom.  It is a privilege that surely isn't easy, but definitely is good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Joe: What You See Is What You Get.

"My life is an open book." is a saying that pretty much applies in my case.  Not that the life I live is perfect in any way nor am I free and clear of embarrassing moments, much less poor decision making.  Accepting all of the beautiful and the ugly that I bring to this world helps me ou t of controlccept the situations that appear in my life. It also helps me to know my strengths and where I may need to lean on others a bit more.  The weaknesses are actually something I cherish, although sometimes reluctantly.  It is through those deficiencies that God often does His best work in me.  It is through my shortcomings that He tests my trust in Him.  Have you ever wondered, when met with a life changing moment, if you would rise to the call?  My children are used quite often to answer that question.  Each member of our family has a different chapter in my book that is ever changing and used to mature me emotionally as well as spiritually. 

The "Joe" chapter of our lives began rather abruptly.  While on his morning commute to work, and during his weekly phone call to the newest grandparent addition, the Hubster found out the baby had been born and was currently residing with the birth mom who was yet to be freed from her addiction.  Being foster parents, mandated reporters, and the adoptive parents of the baby's siblings, our hands were tied.  Legally, we had to make the call.  During our subsequent phone contact, I remember telling the Hubster, "We need to pray about this."  Although that was never accomplished together, I know our hearts were united with our Lord's as the day went on.

My job, going direct to the solution and contacting our recently relieved CPS case worker, skipping that toll free number all together.  As I relayed the current news, I found the words, "Keep us in mind." flowing effortlessly out of my mouth.  Her reply, "Are you sure?"  Our first meeting with this amazing social worker had occurred only eleven months prior.  Since that original contact she had been a key player in our recent adoption of Angel and Alize, which blessed her heart after knowing them for two and a half years.  For some reason, I don't think my affirmative answer surprised her much.

That is when the pacing in literal circles began.  While on the phone with a dear friend of mine I realized my most recent newborn was on her way to double digits that year.  "What do you need?" was heard over the receiver.  "Diapers?" was all I could think of as my mind continued to spin out of control.  As I remember, our day was up and down emotionally.  The Hubster was prepared to leave work as soon as the call would come in.  Which it did later in the afternoon and he soon came home.  We then needed to pick our older three from school.  Number four
had been hanging out with me all day as usual.  A crazy, exciting vibe was hovering around our family. Just thirteen months ago we had two kids and now, we were just about to receive number five.  

After a couple of false alarms and a drive-thru dinner we decided to keep our Wednesday schedule in tact. Once we had our minds set, we got the phone call.  Where would we like to meet and receive the five day old boy?  We were on our way to church, so why not there.  That was just where they would drop him off.  We like to say, Joe was delivered in the church parking lot.  We had a baby.  

Soon, in the church office, my sweet friend hauled in five Target bags filled with everything I would need.  As we emptied them, one item at a time, we were able to share this special moment with a couple other ladies.  Our impromptu shower was as sweet and as unexpected as the bundle I was blessed with just minutes prior.

Joe's inception into the Schulze family was an adventure.  His infancy was no less exciting.  Our newest member was quite vocal.  His song of choice was more like screaming, OK, it was screaming.  Our sweet baby would scream for anything and everything and not just a regular scream, it was a bone chilling, I understand why some people can't handle this, kind of scream.  Joe had been exposed to methamphetamine daily for at least the first five months of his pregnancy.  I am sure these screeches were the result of that cause.  

The next year we would bond as mother and son, spend time in courtrooms, with social workers, and at doctor's offices.  We would share visits with biological family as well as other adoptive families.  We would endure, spine tingling screams, sleepless nights, and the anxiety linked with adoption through the foster care system.  We would give this boy his first haircut at three months, watch him stand and then walk, and discover that sign language would minimize the shrieking greatly.  We would snuggle him, cuddle him, and fall in love with him.  After fifteen months in our care, Joe became a Schulze.

Now, as we grow closer to his seventh birthday I look at my son and see an articulate, charismatic, affectionate little guy.  I see an innate protective instinct that will assure the safety of many in his future.  I see his love for family, friends, and God.  I see his self confidence as well as his timidity.  I see a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step when he is enjoying life.  I see deep pain and sorrow when things go astray. He feels intensely and loves profoundly.  This boy lives life to it's extreme.  

Because of his living life on the so-called edge, I wonder about his prospective future.  I wonder about the possibilities.  I know that whatever he encounters, he will take it head on, with his whole heart.  There is not much grey area with my fifth child.  He either does or he doesn't, he either is or he isn't, he either will or he won't.  With Joe, what you see is what you get.