A View of Adoption from the ‘Brother’ Side

I’ve posted a number of things about our adoption of Max, some bumps in the road as we have pursued adoption, and experiences through adoption that have changed us.  Recently, one of Max’s brothers wrote about how adoption has impacted him.

Max, along with the siblings in his birth family, gained three brothers and a sister when he joined our family.  A few years later he welcomed a sister-in-law.  One of his brothers, Austin, is a student at Johnson University and shared how a class project on the book of Psalms brought to the surface how adoption has changed him.

This semester, I have had the opportunity to take a course at Johnson University that delves into the Psalms. During this course, we have discussed many different things, ranging from the structure of Hebrew poetry to the implementation of the Psalms in modern worship.

One thing that we focused on heavily was a paradigm proposed by Walter Bruggeman. Bruggeman claims that Psalms can be classified into three groups: Psalms of Orientation, Psalms of Disorientation, and Psalms of New Orientation…

Read the rest of his post on Austin’s blog, Vintage

Cheryl’s Blog Post About Valentines Day @DaytonMomsBlog

8-waysCheryl’s second post went live a couple of days ago on the Dayton Moms Blog just in time for Valentine’s Day.  She writes about 8 ideas for your kids on Valentine’s Day.

And it’s true!  Each year she does something for the kids on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a simple way to show love to your kids on a day when everyone is thinking about love.

Read the post or check out the ideas below.

For almost 10 years I was a single mom of two little boys. Instead of feeling sad or lonely on Valentine’s Day, I decided it was a great opportunity to show my boys how much I loved them and teach them how to show love to others. t became a tradition that I looked forward to. I thought that someday (many years away) when they had a special someone, they would benefit from this “training”. We started each Valentine’s Day off with a box of chocolates, and a card and then after school or our events for the day, ended our evening off with a delicious Italian dinner, equal to that of scene from Lady and the Tramp. Each year the boys looked forward to this and I was always on the lookout for another way to show them how much I love THEM. Here are a few ideas to add to your own list. Valentine’s Day may be silly to some, a greeting card holiday to others, however I always love the opportunity to tell my kids how much I love them.

  1. Prepare a candle lit dinner for your kids.
  2. Write your child a letter or a poem and tell them why you love them.
  3. Plan a scavenger hunt for your kids, ending with a box of chocolates.
  4. Make individual books on Shutterfly or another picture loving site for each child, listing what you love about them.
  5. Have a home-made card for your child to open up everyday leading up to Valentine’s Day- with a quality you love about them in each note.
  6. Buy a Valentine puzzle, put it together and write why you love your child on the back, take puzzle a part and give them a piece each day until complete.
  7. Spend some time at the dinner table or in the family room, pass out conversation heart candies and talk about what you love about each member of your family, you get a heart to munch on after each time you share.
  8. Have a Valentine picnic (in Ohio this is indoors), enjoy heart-shaped food and end the evening with a box of sweets.

What do you do to make Valentine’s Day fun for your kiddos?

Those Who Refresh Others Will Be Refreshed

I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in a memorial service for a dear lady from our church family a couple of weeks. She and her husband were active members for over 20 years and are well-liked and respected by people in our church and community.

During the service I simply shared some memories I had of this woman, how she influenced her family, impacted people around her and was involved in the life of our church. Mine was only one perspective on a life well lived and it was good to hear from others as they shared their memories.

As I was putting together my thoughts, a verse from Proverbs came to mind.  It is not a passage I’ve used at a funeral before nor have I heard it used by others.   As I looked up the verse and read the preceding verses, it fit very well.

The godly can look forward to a reward, while the wicked can expect only judgment. Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:23-25)

The woman we were remembering was one of refreshed others.  She served at our church.  She gave freely to her family and to those outside her family. She was known as a woman who loved and accepted kids.

…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed

The wisdom of Proverbs really came to light before and during the service.  As we give freely, we do refresh others and God, whether now or in the future, will refresh us.

…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed

Good challenge for the day.

Her First Post – The Blend @DaytonMomsBlog

Yesterday I shared that my wife is a contributing writer for Dayton Moms Blog. This morning her first post went live. It’s called The Blend. 

Enjoy!

The grocery store had kale on sale. 2 bunches for $1.00. I had to get some, there was a soup recipe that I wanted to try that needed kale. The soup was delicious. I still had one heaping bunch of kale in my fridge. Having heard of kale smoothies, and their amazing health benefits, I googled some recipes. I couldn’t imagine how this bitter and pepper vegetable would taste in a smoothie with coconut milk and blueberries, so the search continued for the perfect blend in a smoothie recipe.

About a decade ago, I found myself in a different blending dilemma. I needed to figure out how to blend some sweet, salty, bitter, peppery and even some bruised all into something delightful or at the very least palatable. 

I was divorced, with two little boys when I got out my blender. I needed to blend a broken man, two shattered teens and a bitter ex with my two wounded boys, a damaged heart(mine) and an absent ex. I began reading anything I could get my hands on about blending families, I was sure that I could read up on the topic and “fix” things in record time. The first book I read caused me to put the blender away. The Smart Step-Family by Ron L. Deal was a great book in my blending venture. Deal writes “The average stepfamily takes 5-7 years to form a family identity”. I read and reread that over and over again, 5-7 years to blend? I wanted to be blended NOW! The book provided me with great tools and practical guidelines to help in the blending of our families. So I took out my blender again and decided it was worth the effort and time.

The blending didn’t happen overnight. It was not as easy as throwing in some kale and blueberries and coconut milk and pressing puree. It took time, and I have learned that blending a family is sometimes like a pressure cooker, and not as easy as an Insta-pot. Ron Deal makes the analogy that blending families is more like using a crock pot, it is slow and takes time. I personally liked the idea of a blender, throw everything in and press a button and there you have it, easy clean up, easy to put away and manage.

I’ve just hit the 6 1/2 mark of The Blend. It has indeed become more of a crock pot experiment over the years. Our once salty teen has become a loving, giving affectionate person. Our peppery teen is now a warm and sweet adult. The most surprising is that bitter ex, is now a friend. The bruised have healed and are healthy and the absent is present. It has taken time, you can’t rush these things, even if you want to. 

The Blend has changed me. I learned to focus more on what was best for my kids and less about me and how I felt. I put myself and my needs aside to understand how the salty and the sweet and the bitter felt. I changed. I changed to help the blending. I looked for ways to compliment the salty and bitter and add to make things better than hide or mask the taste. I am far from putting the blender away. I have to continue to change the recipe to make our family identity taste the best it can. The recipe changes with weddings, adding children, college, jobs, children moving away and any other life changing events. So I keep the blender handy, I know that it really is more of a crock pot deal…….and given time, it smells and tasted delicious…..it’s just not catchy to say you are “crock-potting” a family.
Now where is that kale………

#BrackemyreBonanza

Sat Jul 16 2016 20-58-25 GMT-0400This was a pretty significant weekend in our family as our oldest child got married! It was a great weekend of family and friends coming together to celebrate the happy couple. They chose the hashtag #BrackemyreBonanza. I looked up the definition of “bonanza” and one definition is “a large amount of something desirable.” We did have a large amount of fun and celebration so the hashtag fit.

The groom is from Ohio and the bride is from New York, so the wedding drew people from several states including Oregon, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, New York, Illinois, Virginia and others. We were grateful for all those that came in and the relationships that were started due to this bonanza.

It’s always good to get families together, especially when it means we get to eat, laugh and even dance together. It was definitely a family affair as one dad gave the bride away, the other dad performed the wedding, the youngest sibling served as ring bearer, sisters were part of the bridal party and both sides of the family showed up in force.

We have many good memories of the weekend and can’t wait to see the moments the photographer captured. Here’s some pretty good candid shots from the day.

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Groom Dancing with his Grandmother

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Groom and His Sister

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Bride and Groom

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Little Brother & Ring Bearer

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Bride & Father before walking her down the aisle

Breaking the Silence with Brief Family Update

I realized as I looked at my dashboard for this site that I haven’t posted anything for 38 days.  I’m sure many of you were quite concerned by the absence so I thought I would break the silence with a quick update on family things.  Part of the reason for the absence of any activity is that we’ve had a number of transitions happening.  Three of our kids wrapped up the school year (two in college and one in high school), one of our kids got a new job and relocated and our two-year old just keeps us on the move.

Joe Gap

Joe started a new job June 6 with International Disaster Emergency Services in Noblesville, IN.  He will serve as the GAP Program Director for this ministry.  He was able to stay with a family for a few weeks while he got to know the area and last weekend we helped move him into his new apartment.  In just a couple of weeks he will be married and the two of them will get settled into live in the Hoosier state.

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Sydney is in the process of transferring schools.  The multiple surgeries to her knee are just not allowing her to endure the constant practice and work outs required to play at a D-I school.  She will be attending the University of Indianapolis and playing ball as a Greyhound.  So, we have a few more basketball games in our future – in Indiana! – and two of our kids will be near the same city.

God has continued to provide what is needed at just the right time and we look forward to seeing what He continues to do in the coming year.  Now, back to enjoying the summer after breaking the silence.