21 Wisley Family Updates

Our family has gone through a significant number of changes over the last few months. Short version: we discerned that the Lord was calling us to lay down full-time ministry for a season in order to completely pour into the three kiddos He blessed us with (in a six month time frame), and God opened a door for us to move back to Kentucky to be close to our families. All of this happened very quickly, but we are FINALLY feeling a little bit settled and getting accustomed to our new routine. I have had a number of friends ask for family updates, and I thought this might be the best place to provide those. I have more than enough content to be able to write several blog posts about each member of our family, each transition, etc., but I would have to interrupt my time sitting around eating bonbons and watching soap operas to do that (#stayathomemommisconceptions), so instead I thought I’d provide a quick list of updates for those who are interested. I wish I could say that there was some clever reason I picked the number 21, but alas, my scrambled egg mom brain feels largely devoid of creativity lately, so I must confess that the number 21 was a fairly meaningless choice based solely upon today’s date flashing in the lower right corner of my computer screen. Such is life. Nonetheless, I will attempt to summon up the meager fumes leftover from old creative juices of the past and try to be witty clever mildly interesting in my updates.

  1. Husband is still in training for his new position with the company, but is enjoying it and is excited for his store to open. The grand opening is expected to occur sometime in November.
  2. The kids started at their new school and are LOVING it. Ji has been placed for the first time in a mainstream classroom, and she is thriving beyond what we could have imagined. Thank you, Jesus!
  3. Baby C has a tooth. Other mamas out there, you know this is big news. Other breastfeeding mamas out there, pray for me.
  4. A friend inspired me to clean up my eating through the Whole 30 diet. Despite being scornful of dieting trends in the past, I was just so ready to get rid of the baby weight and increase my energy level. The verdict: in all honesty, after 52 days without added sugar, dairy, gluten, and some other stuff, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Guess I’m riding the bandwagon and eating my humble pie for previously being so disdainful of the Whole 30. Actually, humble pie probably has sugar…so I guess I’ll just eat humble lettuce or something.
  5. After lots of “church shopping” (something I hope to never have to do again), we found a church home. It feels amazing to be back in community again. God never meant for us to do life alone! We are so grateful for the way the Lord is already growing us through this body of believers.
  6. The kids are immensely enjoying making memories with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They get lots of one-on-one time with family members, and it’s a joy to watch their confidence grow as they begin to see and believe just how incredibly loved they are. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.
  7. JJ has made some wonderful Christian friends in the neighborhood, and we are slowly giving him more freedom. It has been challenging for this mama’s heart to let go and trust God as he navigates these new relationships and gets to enjoy being a little boy, but such a blessing to watch him flourish as experiences all these new things. Seeing him come home sweaty and dirty with bugs and rocks and skinned knees and all the stories is something that makes my heart soar.
  8. Ji had her sixth birthday in August, and her little family party was a smashing success! Our big crazy families got together at Gattitown and celebrated all day long. JiBaby got more presents than she knew what to do with, and is OBSESSED with her new makeup. I’ve always considered myself more of a tomboy, so God blessing me with this extreme girly-girl for a daughter just reminds me what a sense of humor He has. Our lives revolve around lipstick, poufy skirts, giant hairbows, nail polish, and all things pink and “so pwetty”. Lord, give me strength.
  9. Our good friends from Ohio visited us here in Kentucky with all their kids. Six kids and eight adults in the same house is fun and crazy, and we had an absolute ball. But I think we have all agreed that a vacation without kids would be delightful well-earned necessary  something worth considering.
  10. Husband, JJ, and I returned to Ohio a few weekends ago for a wedding we all had roles in. We had an amazing time during the weekend and were privileged to jump back in and serve with our Ohio church family, with both of us leading worship Sunday morning and Husband preaching Sunday night. Prior to the weekend, I had been nervous that serving would be painful for us, as our departure from ministry has been very hard to get used to. However, we enjoyed it more than I can explain. God gave us such a peace about where he has us, and the whole weekend was a balm to our souls in more ways than I can count. God is so good!
  11. GIANT PRAISE: While we were in Ohio, our house sold! Yay! Shout out to our amazing realtor Michelle for all her help!  NE Ohio residents, I highly recommend her. She is the real deal. If all goes as planned, we will be returning to Ohio next month to close on the house and pack up all our stuff. So thankful for God’s faithfulness in answering this prayer.
  12. Baby C is officially into EVERYTHING. He crawls at warp speed, and it literally takes him 0.3 milliseconds to get into all sorts of trouble. Among the things I have pulled/scraped/dug out of his mouth in the last month: a pistachio shell, a guitar pick, 326 pieces of paper towels, plastic wrappers, a bobby pin, a wad of Ji’s hair, 4 hair ties, a bread bag clip, a long piece of string, a piece of an eggshell, a bottle cap, numerous clothing price tags, and a fresh pile of dog poop. That last one really messed with me. I screamed, freaked the freak out, and scrubbed that kid’s mouth with a vengeance. I felt like the worst mom in the entire world till I googled it, primarily to make sure he wasn’t going to die of dysentery or the bubonic plague, and realized there were about 65 million more #badmomstories #mykidatedogpoop. Then I just felt like the worst mom in Kentucky. So that’s good.
  13. Husband and I finally decided it was time to stop talking about wanting to be more healthy and do something about it, so we joined a gym. I wish I could say that I now enjoy working out, and that the shiny new machines and high energy classes were exactly what I needed to make me love to exercise, but alas…I still mostly hate working out. However, the multitude of babysitters at our disposal=the loss of all my excuses, and the cost of a gym membership=all the guilt if I don’t use it, so I’m working out. Not enthusiastically…but I’m doing it. Yippee skippy. Hubs is loving it, though. Except when he accidentally goes into the weight lifting room where all the mega body builders go to dead lift 1,000 pounds and watch their gargantuan muscles bulge in the mirrors. Then, not so much.
  14. I’m certain that I’m way behind on the times here, but y’all…video baby monitors are game changers. We never got the chance to use ours in Ohio, but we finally hooked it up here, and two months later we are still oohing and ahhing over being able to stalk our child even when we are not home.Although it is significantly less fun when Husband is at work and I’m home trying to teach the little butterball to cry it out (cue the mom shaming, to which I say, he’s almost nine months old and I’m okay with it for fifteen minutes, and yes I’ve done the research, and no he is not going to be permanently traumatized, and sometimes it’s good for babies to learn they can survive without being Stage 5 Clingers). Anyways, inevitably, the moment Baby C starts to fuss, I get four rapid fire texts saying, The baby has been crying for 1.5 minutes…Are you going to get him? …Do you have the monitor alerts on? …Now he has been crying for 2 minutes. And then I’m over the magic of the video monitor.
  15. Because of our somewhat up-in-the-air living situation (we are staying with family while house hunting), we were unable to utilize the school bus system this year. Thus, I was introduced to the wonderful world of the carpool line. Two thoughts on this. (1) I need to repent of all the times I complained about having to be home in time to get my kids off the bus. Because that only took 37 seconds of my day. And the car pickup line takes 37 minutes…which feel like 37 hours when your baby screams in his car seat for all 37 of those minutes. Bless. (2) Not judging…but sincerely asking: How do some of these parents have enough extra time in their day to sit in line for an hour before school lets out just so they can be among the first ten people in line? It blows my mind! Coming from the chronically sometimes late mom who is always occasionally among the last ten cars in line, I assure you that I am only even aware of this phenomenon because I had to pick my kid up from school an hour early for a doctor’s appointment once. There were fifteen cars in line! I felt a brief moment of disbelief, which was quickly followed by denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance that I was always gonna be the mom in the back of the line, and that’s okay. We can’t all be good at everything.
  16. Ji has a number of issues that can make extracurricular activities a challenge, but Husband and I both felt that she needed an outlet. After some research, I gave her a few options, though I’m not sure why, because OF COURSE she picked Hip Hop Class, which she calls KidzBop class. She starts tomorrow. It’s going to be epic. I’m already planning weekly gifts for her teacher in hopes of bribing her into letting Ji stay in the class even if she doesn’t cooperate. Stay posted for videos.
  17. JJ started attending karate lessons with his uncle, who is a brown belt. He walks around all day showing me the four moves he’s learned. So far they are all just stances without any real action moves, but he is proud as a peacock. I think I only have about twelve more Wow, that looks great, buddy!s in me before I lose my ever-loving mind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Parenting is not for the faint of heart, friends.
  18. My phone decided to kick the bucket a couple of weeks ago, and Husband was all too eager to go pick out a new toy to replace it. When he brought back my new phone, I decided to finally follow through with something I had been wanting to do for awhile. I deleted Facebook from my phone. Although I kept my account open so that I can check it periodically on the computer, I do not miss having constant access to it at all. It has been so eye-opening to realize how much time I was wasting on it every day, and to recognize how often I checked FB out of mere boredom. Removing access to it on my phone has helped me be so much more present in my daily activities. I made a commitment to myself that every time I thought about checking FB, I would pray instead, and it has grown my prayer life in tremendous ways.
  19. Speaking of prayer life growing, I joined a women’s Bible study which is centered around Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God. Ladies, it is SO GOOD. So good. It is revolutionizing my walk with Jesus. Real talk…buy the book. You won’t regret it.
  20. Ji has become much more verbal and this has resulted in people trying to engage in more frequent conversations with her. Unfortunately, she has subsequently developed a new habit of dismissing people when she doesn’t want to talk to them. The other day, my dad was trying to talk to her about an activity she was doing. After a few one word answers, she finally looked at him and said, “Pop, go to Pop’s room!” In other words, scram. It’s seriously so funny, although we of course technically are obligated to teach her that this is a bit rude. But mostly we are so thankful to hear her vocabulary growing. She has come so far.
  21. When we were in the midst of the adoption process, one of the things our social worker kept telling us was how important it was for us to learn how to take care of our kids’ natural hair. Doing African-American hair is a totally different ballgame than what I am used to, and it has been quite the learning process. Right after we moved, JJ decided he was done with mom combing/picking out his hair every day, and asked for dreadlocks. For whatever reason I decided to take on this task myself. After lots of Youtube research and some advice from some other mamas of black kiddos, I bit the bullet and dove in. Five and a half hours and many, many tears later, he had a bunch of twisties all over his head that sorta kinda resembled dreadlocks. According to all the tutorials,this was normal, but I was still pretty nervous about how it would be perceived. While we were in Ohio, we stopped by JJ’s old barbershop. The owner and another barber, both African-American, immediately asked me who did his hair. Sweating, I owned up to it. The owner looked at me in surprise and said, “You did a good job!” Hallelujah! Best compliment of my life. I successfully created dreadlocks on my kid and got the black barbershop stamp of approval. I am officially adding to my resume under “Achievements”: 2016-Created passable dreadlocks. 

And that’s all for now, folks! This SAHM needs to get back to her bonbons and soaps…that is, if I have time after digging the junk out of my baby’s mouth and cleaning the sparkles and mascara out of my daughter’s hair.

Advertisements

Plans Unraveling

It’s funny how preconceived plans tend to unravel when real life hits. I’ve had predetermined plans about so many things, both large and small, and so many  of them have been changed, altered, or completely abandoned when reality arrived. God has a sense of humor, and I feel more thankful than ever that I was pushed as a young child to recite my dad’s mantra of Be Flexible, Be Patient over and over again 147 times a day like a robotic parrot. Somehow, at some point in my life, it became less of a meaningless, repetitive phrase that was forced upon me and more like a tightly gripped lifeline connected to my sanity. It has literally served as my inhale and exhale in moments in which the plans that I was *sure* would unfold in my life (ever so perfectly and effortlessly, I might add) were instead surrendered, all out of necessity, either willingly or kicking and screaming-ly. Among them were these:

  • I will homeschool all my children, right away, for their entire childhood
  • I will make my children eat fruits and vegetables at every meal (HA!)
  • I will do a Fun Project every day in the summer
  • I will make my children do thirty minutes of reading every day in the summer
  • I will write super meaningful blog posts documenting every event related to adoption, including bringing them home, finalization, and every trauma and celebration in between and after
  • I will never let my children have more than thirty minutes of screen time in a day
  • I will plan weekly fun “field trips” to entertain my children in the summer
  • I will purchase a family membership to the pool to ensure SO MUCH FUN for my children
  • I will join a gym to get into better shape as a Mama
  • I will make exciting and nutritious meal plans every week
  • I will be SuperMom, SuperWife, SuperMinistryLeader

Behold: all the plans. So well-intentioned. So noble. So well-thought out. Unfortunately, this naïve mama forgot to account for the unexpected while she was making all the plans. Like the fact that the adoption process can take away some of your choices about education, at least for awhile. Like adopting one child that hates to read (the thought physically hurts this die-hard reader), and another that doesn’t really need to try to conquer reading when we are still learning to pronounce the word “frog” in a way that doesn’t sound like a profanity . Like the fact that some special needs mean that fruits and vegetables are out of the question, and most days you are just happy that the kid ate goldfish, pizza, and gummy bears and hopefully got enough calories to survive. Like the reality that field trips to the zoo are awesome…unless sensory meltdowns (inevitably) ensue because you unwittingly go on the day when it’s free admission for the whole county and so of course the whole county DOES THE ZOO in loud, pushy, overstimulating and unsympathetic droves, and then nothing is awesome and  nobody has fun, not even the monkeys or the overfed giraffes. It is finding out that a summer spent at the pool is only fun if your children aren’t either (1) terrified to the point of catatonic paralysis by the thought of being in the water, or (2) ready to throw themselves with reckless abandon into the deep end the moment you let go of their hand, despite not knowing how to swim whatsoever.

The unexpected also includes getting pregnant two months before your long-awaited adopted children come home. It is unexpected when you find out you are one of those pregnant women who is ALWAYS nauseous and PERPETUALLY sleeping tired, so that when the kids arrive smack-dab in the middle of your first trimester, it’s pure survival mode and a whole lot of yes, you can have a sixth popsicle and sure, you can play your iPad for another hour because Mommy will puke if she moves and sorry, babe, but it’s cereal for dinner again and please pretend to be happy about it because otherwise I’ll have an emotional breakdown that I promise will rival our daughter’s zoo hysteria. The unexpected is finding that having time to blog is a big amusing joke and that there are some memories you’d sooner forget than document forever for all posterity to see.

But when you are learning to be flexible and sometimes patient (confession: this trait only shows its pretty face when I’ve had lots of coffee and Jesus time), you also learn that throwing out the preconceived plans is not always the worst thing. Sure, it can be painful for a bit, but there is also some serious relief and considerable freedom that accompany letting them go. And if you can learn to stop feeling the need to justify your changed plans to others AND to yourself, you might just realize that it’s okay to let yourself off the hook a bit and rest in that wonderful hammock of grace that was so lovingly stretched out for you by the One who actually knows all the plans. You will suddenly understand that the only thing worth planning on is to trust a Sovereign God who knows a lot more about your kids, their needs, you, and your needs than yours truly.

Letting go of all the other plans in favor of surrendering to His Ultimate Plan doesn’t mean the unexpected stops occurring. On the contrary, the unexpected is (forgive the bad pun) to be expected. But through the lens of grace and flexibility, the unexpected brings some pretty fantastic surprises. Like watching a little boy’s confidence shoot through the roof when he learns to ride a bike without training wheels in three days. Like seeing a little girl go from being mostly nonverbal to a happy little chatterbox in the span of a few months. Like finding out that public school teachers can be kind and loving and compassionate and invested in your child’s emotional well-being. Like learning that a projected lifelong heart condition has been healed (glory to God!) and no longer requires medication or treatment. Like finding out the baby who has been quite literally sucking the life out of you is a little brother for your son who so desperately wanted a boy. Like a hundred thousand laughs and happy tears and moments of sheer joy that you never knew you could experience this side of heaven. All things that were never written into all my carefully crafted plans.

But I wouldn’t change a single thing.

All Things New…

If I had to sum up life as we now know it in one word, the only one that truly fits is NEW. New experiences. New family taking shape. New roles in ministry. New emotions. New challenges. New fears. New everything.

New is scary. New means unknown. New means change. “Off with the old, on with the new”, you’ve heard it said. And so…new must mean, above all else, letting go of the past and opening yourself up to the future.

The future is scary. The future is unknown. The future means change. And I thank God for that. Even though change can make us apprehensive or even anxious, I am learning to welcome change. Change means making room for something better. Change means being stretched. Change can be hard and exhausting and painful…but oh so beautiful.

Praise God for making me new in so many ways. I’m so thankful I’m not who I used to be…ten years ago, ten months ago, ten days ago.

Praise God that new means allowing us the privilege to minister to people in deeper ways. New means reaching out and meeting more people and serving more often. New means watching my husband grow as a man, a leader, a teacher, a disciple, a disciple-maker.

Praise God that making all things new means creating a family in a unique way. New is taking a Mommy and Daddy with empty arms and love to share, and bringing them to a six year old boy full of kindness and sweetness and silliness, and the funniest little four year old fireball girl I’ve ever met.

Praise God that life is about to explode in a million new ways, with sleepless nights and parent-teacher conferences and wiping noses.

About a month ago, I was visiting our children in the state in which they currently reside, and our future son came running into the kitchen where I was talking with his foster mother. “Mommy!” he exclaimed. I patiently looked at his foster mom as she answered him. “Oh sorry! I was talking to my new mommy,” he explained.  She smiled at me with a knowing look in her eyes, and I, the new mommy, ran off with my new son. And I marveled that my life would never be the same again.

New life. New family. New forever. Praise God for new.