The Transformation

You all saw this post, right? Well, my hubby is a new man. It’s weird because he’s never had quite that bushy of a beard. I was, in all honesty, less than thrilled. When I was trying to figure out why I didn’t like the beard I came to one conclusion.

He’s too good looking. This is not to say good looking guys can’t have beards but it looks like he’s covering something up. He’s got just a beautiful mouth, and please, those eyes? So that’s what I figured out. My husband is just simply too pretty to have that hefty of a beard.

Now he’s shaved it, but this guy does nothing the “normal” way. He wanted to go out with a bang. So here we have the progression to a clean shaven face.

We start here,

then go here,

after which this would be the only obvious step,

and of course this has to be the grand finale. (Note, he purposely posed and smirked in such a way that we would have good mug shots should he turn psycho on me).

Isn’t he beeeeeeautiful?

Baseball Fun

The boys are playing coach pitch baseball this spring on the same team. It’s a team of 7 and 8-year-olds so, naturally, we assume Tariku will be just fine.

They had try-outs the last 2 Saturdays which was fun to watch. In between each throw or each at-bat Tariku turned to us and waved. Precious.

Just the brothers. Tariku’s ‘fro is super sweet.

All my little Cubs.

Dailah at try-outs.

See? Turned to me and smiled after he hit the first ball.

How is he 5?

and how has it been almost 2 years since we first met him? Those were the questions I was asking myself all day today. Sweet Tariku turned 5 today and was, in all honesty, probably the cutest birthday person I’ve ever seen.

Our tradition is to wake everyone but the birthday person and then sing “Happy Birthday” en route to the birthday person’s room. When we opened the door mid-verse Tariku was out of his bed, jumping up and down with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

He was so, so excited.

So we went to get the birthday donuts, where he got to pick for everyone. Oddly enough he picked chocolate for every single person, I’m guessing it was simply because he loves it so much he couldn’t possibly imagine anyone liking any other kind.

Then it was upstairs for a photo session.

After that it was off to school for the boys and to the Y for the ladies. I taught a class, had gotten a sub for my second class (thanks, Lisa!) so we went to birthday lunch (he chose Applebees-what is it with that place?)

Naps then lots of playing outside. We finished the night at Papa Frank and Mimi Terre’s where there was pizza (his favorite) cake, brownies and ice cream. Oh, and presents, of course!

Dailah with her “Don’t tell Tariku what his presents are, they’re a surprise!” face.

The small cake.

The brownie cake (what you guys don’t have multiple cakes for birthdays?)

And a few of the presents.

Of course we measured him, he’s grown 8 inches in less than 2 years. Can you imagine that?

I really am at a loss for words tonight. He makes my heart ache for so many reasons. Birthdays feel different for Tariku than they do for Trysten and Dailah, not because I feel differently for him but because it feels like someone is missing. And they are. On Tariku’s birthday I am constantly thinking of his birth family, wishing we could share this with them, wishing they could see this little guy who is turning into one of the most amazing kids I know. It’s just different.

But what’s not different is my love for him. That is so real, so visceral it surprises even me. I don’t know when it happened, when I started to do the things with him that I’ve always done with Trysten and Dailah. Things like taking in a long deep breath and soaking in their radiance while cuddling, grabbing his hand when he’s near and just memorizing every wrinkle and freckle. I don’t remember when I started to absentmindedly play with his hair and bathe him in my motherly love. I don’t know when it happened but it has and it feels good.

My boy loves having “Happy Birthday” sung to him, he loves (and excels) at every sport imaginable. He is slow to stand up for himself but fierce to protect people he loves. Tariku still will be the first to volunteer to help anyone and when I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he said it was his daddy coming home (Zach had been gone since Friday). What 5-year-old says that of his birthday?

To love this guy and be loved by him, I count it as one of the biggest blessings of my life. This God I’ve been talking to a lot lately, that God has given me grace I couldn’t imagine by planting Tariku in my life. Though I know there was profound loss in how we found each other, there has been profound love found through that loss. And I suppose that’s a part of grace.

And I suppose that’s love. I suppose his kind of love is the sweetest kind. Happy birthday my sweet, sweet Tariku.

“Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
-Romans 12:9

I’m a Do-er

This past week has been challenging on so many different levels. At the core of me, I know that I’m a do-er. I think I’m a good listener too but the people closest to me know that if they tell me something, I’m going to want to do something. I’m not good at listening, digesting and then sitting. And honestly, that’s all I’ve been able to do this week.

Sit on my hands and listen or read or think and pray.

Jody. Oh, how my heart is broken for her. I remember almost a year ago Jody, Amy, Cassie and I had been interviewed by someone at church about Water for Christmas and after that he wanted to interview us about adoption.

It started out innocently enough, asking the whys and the hows. Then it got kind of personal, asking how well (or not well) the church supported us. Jody was just sitting there watching and I just broke down in sobs, knowing I personally couldn’t have gotten through Tariku’s adoption with my faith and my spirit intact without her. Because she’s good at that stuff. She isn’t nearly as emotional as I am (imagine that), she’s levelheaded, she’s supportive, she justified my emotion when it was warranted and gave me a verbal slap in the face when that was also warranted. We laughed together and cried together, walked that road together (with much support from other friends as well).

And so this past week I just wanted to repay her for that and everything else she’s done for me. If you’re reading her blog (which you should because it’s amazing) you’ll know she’s stronger and more mature about the whole thing than most people could possibly imagine. I find myself in complete awe of her and her faith and her strength. How am I supposed to be a do-er when she’s do-ing so much already? She’s not sugar coating the truth, and even if you don’t know her I have no doubts you can feel the rawness of everything.

But this week for me, because of Jody and a few other things, I’ve turned to prayer more than I ever have in my life. For the first time I’ve seen prayer as something I can do. Imagine that!

And it’s brought me closer to the God of grace, of love and mercy. This God who has saved me, a woman who sins every single day, from complete devastation and disillusionment.

How humbling to be able to call God “father”, sometimes I wonder how that’s possible when I’m me and I know the sins I’ve thought, said and done.

Christians sometimes get a bad rap in the world, and sometimes it’s deserved. But I’ve found too that just assuredly as you can find someone who is the example of darkness calling themselves a “Christian” you can find more who are examples of light. I know so many people who have devoted their lives to Jesus who are the epitome of love, life and wonder in a world that isn’t always so.

And Jody’s one of those. One of those people who is an example of God’s love and mercy despite not necessarily seeing examples of that in her life right now. I can’t imagine how it’d be possible for her to be and to feel the way she is without knowing who holds her heart in His hands and who is the Author of her story.

If you’re in need of inspiration, go visit Jody. Show her your support in love and in prayer. That’s what I’m do-ing. I’m going to rally my blog readers around her as she’s done so often for me. That and pray, for her, for Andy, for their family. I hope you will too.