Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Posted by jess at Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Monday, January 26, 2015
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Posted by jess at Wednesday, June 04, 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Posted by jess at Thursday, May 29, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
whew. i feel like i'm just now barely catching my breath for the first time this year.
like 2014 has held me underwater, like a weight around my ankle, pulling me under
as i frantically used up all my air struggling to the surface to try to gulp another breath.
that's what this year has felt like so far.
trying to come up for air just to gulp down another mouthful of water instead.
but now, i think it's finally safe to say i might have caught my breath. i hope i'm not stating that prematurely. i've come up for air and i hope to keep my head above water for a while now.
i might be making the first few months of the year sound worse than they were.
or maybe not. it's funny how seasons of life can knock you down like a wave, but while in the water you can find yourself floating and happy in the midst of it all.
that was the past few months. or maybe the last year, if I'm being honest.
the last year was hard, so hard in some ways.
so difficult, yet so completely good.
i cannot imagine our life pre-nyla, nor do i want to,
however, this past year has not been void of struggles. both externally and internally.
and the idea of more weeks, or years even, of this new normal of changing vomit-soaked sheets once, twice and even thrice a day and this not napping and screaming without end routine was almost too much to wrap my head around. and the idea of adding a third child to our family, although that's what we wanted, was beyond what my mind could even consider.
and it's funny, just when i felt like i was losing my mind and being swallowed up in self-pity and anger - that was the point when i let God loosen my grip on the idea of needing a healthy, perfect daughter to contemplate the future.
i gave up my right to nap time.
don't get me wrong, i love me some quiet down time during nap time, but i made a choice that whether i got a 20 minute break or a three hour break, my happiness was not dependent on the latter. my love of my children wasn't dependent on whether they gave me a break. and that's easier said than done. i could have a good day even if i cleaned up lots of vomit and my daughter screamed in lieu of sleeping.
let's face it, we are learning about our daughter and all the ways she is unlike our son.
all the things she reacts to differently than he did, her emotions, how she digests food even.
how she reacts to pain and frustration. it is just so completely different and in some ways so foreign to this heart of mine. and everything in me wants to hold my love over her head, over his head to be dangled like a treat - so they get it if they are good and i hold it back if they aren't.
but that's not how love works.
i can only love them because God loved me first and that's not the way God loves me.
he loves me. he just does.
when i rock my kids to sleep or let them scream it out.
whether i give grace or lose my temper.
he just loves me, and because of that, i'm learning to love like that too.
without threatening to withhold it, without using it as leverage, without demands.
so, in the midst of months of barfing and migraines and feeling like i'm drowning,
the Lord, pulled my head back up above the water.
and in the midst of my heart change, nyla has slowly begun to change too.
it's funny, soon after i gave up my right to nap times, she slowly began to sleep again.
and just when i stopped cussing under my breath as i wiped vomit out of curly hair and hardwood floors and sheets, she has begun to vomit less and less.
we've gone weeks, and daresay even months now without wiping vomit from lips and shirts and sheets.
i'm not saying there's a correlation, but i see the grace in it all.
and in the midst of the moments of where we felt like we were sinking, there were many moments in between, lungs full of air and breathing steadily, hopeful and ready for whatever's headed our way...
Posted by jess at Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Monday, November 25, 2013
i'm already thinking about nyla's first birthday.
not about a party or gifts, but of all the emotions that were encompassed in that week - almost a year ago - the week of her birth.
the day she was born - december 16, 2012 - i didn't even know she existed in this world,
that thought alone is enough to bowl me over and lose it.
i know some families miss so much more than a child's birth and first week of life - weeks, even years, but for us, the hours that fit into less than six full days felt long, so long.
our girl was born on a sunday and we came to know her on a wednesday.
we came to love her on that wednesday too.
not because we could see her, or smell her milk breath or touch her feather-soft black baby curls,
but because someone on the other end of the phone told us she was ours if we wanted her -
and oh - we wanted her.
from that moment on wednesday morning until the moment we first laid eyes on this tiny girl in a big carseat, dressed in red velvet and a white headband - we were obsessed with her.
that's the only way i can describe it. obsessed.
every thought i thought for the next three days was about her. what she was doing, how she looked, how much she would weigh in my arms.
i'm not exaggerating when i tell you that between wednesday morning's phone call and saturday morning i couldn't stomach more than a bite of food at every meal, more than a sip of coffee before nervous, excited, anxious jitters would consume my appetite, my mind, my entire body really.
sleeping pills were the only thing that helped me sleep those three nights when all i could do was stare at the one picture we'd been given of her - a closeup shot of her little face, fast asleep with a baby hat on.
but now, when i look at her, i don't see that baby everyday - i honestly don't even think about that week all that much anymore - now all i see is my daughter - my feisty, spunky, cuddly, emotional, stubborn beautiful daughter.
my brown-haired, brown-eyed, brown-skinned beauty and i barely remember the fact that i wasn't there on the day she was born, or on the day she was released from the hospital or there to rock her on her first night home, or to give her her first bottle.
i don't think about it much anymore, but today i do.
today, i remember and thank God for the firsts we do share. our first time hearing her name and seeing her picture on my phone. the first time we laid eyes on her in the flesh and the first time they handed her to me.
the first bottle i gave her in a columbus barnes and noble
and the first night she slept in our room.
there is so much to be thankful for amidst the loss that's also mingled with our gain. and it's thanksgiving week so now is as good a time as any to start remembering, right?
Posted by jess at Monday, November 25, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
last week most of my energy was spent frustrated, exhausted, angry, resentful, and just plain pooped.
Micah has hit a whole new level of insubordinate disobedience, rebellion, and anger. At some points last week i felt like i was being abused, all his emotional energy, frustration and anger was targeted at me. the yelling, hitting, screaming when not focused at his little sister, was spewed directly in my direction. It took all the energy i had not to explode right back at him during his outbursts. I admit i failed on more than one occasion. spankings were given, prayers were said, but day after day it all felt like one big ball of parental failure.
lunch with my mom and grandmother ended in me sitting with him outside the restaurant while they ate.
a bible study/playdate with a girlfriend was peppered by temper tantrums and tears.
by sunday i didn't even want to go to church. my energy - physical, emotional and spiritual felt zapped and drained. the well was dry, i felt empty to my toes. only in retrospect do i see that that is just the place God likes us. desperate, empty, pleading - no begging - for mercy, like the weakling in an unbalanced arm-wrestling match. that was me.
so despite wanting to stay in bed, buried in blankets we went.
and just like i should've expected both our kids were ridiculously crazy. nyla was trying to squirm out of my arms, only wanting to crawl on the ground, crying when i wouldn't let her roam free. micah wanted to stand "like his own" next to us but from experience he just wanted to find another miniature co-conspirator to his anarchy against sunday mornings. So in Curtis' arms he yelled and screamed to "get down" until he had no choice but to take him to the back. Eventually i was left there, in my seat, butt down on the chair while everyone else was standing and singing, and no doubt judging out lack of control with our mere two kids when many of them have oodles more, all well-behaved, singing along and honoring their mothers and fathers. (yeah, i know that's not what was actually happening, but it always feels like it doesn't it, when in fact, all the other parents of littles are probably in the same boat as us, thinking the same self-depricating thoughts as i) but either way, i was annoyed at my kids, annoyed at God for bringing us all the way to church to do this - discipline. crowd control. but definitely not worship. what was the point?
When we finally got both kids settled in their respective sunday school classes (the nursery for Nyla) we both breathed a sigh of relief. the sermon began by our friend jonathan, and it was good. on a passage i had never understood, so i read along and took notes.
not five minutes after it started i got a tap on my shoulder. Nyla was inconsolable in the nursery. i sighed. of course she was. as i was closing my bible to get up and get her, Curtis said, "you stay, i'll go get her." and so he did. and i stayed and listened.
the sermon was great, but it was something he said, almost unrelated to the passage but relevant to his application points at the end that hit me hardest. he said, "we've come to believe that we can't worship unless all our preverbal and preferential stars are aligned."
and then i was convicted. in that moment i knew my preferential stars were my kids. whether it be obeying, behaving, napping, being quiet, listening when i spoke, when they are none of those - even now and as i type and nyla cries - Jesus is calling me to worship despite all these seemingly out-of-my-control stars. when they aren't aligned but falling, and falling fast.
And then it was over. we got our two crazies and we went home, the sermon still swirling in my head.
Then a book i had ordered the week before came in the mail. It's called Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. this is what the first page said, it was merely part of the intro by Annie Keary (1825-1879):
"I think i find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hinderances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one's work. Then one can feel that perhaps one's true work - one's work for God - consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one's day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God. After such a hinderance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it."
then mere hours later i read this in a book Curtis is reading that i just happened to pick up later in the day:
"How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still long enough to learn from them [...] the seed of God's word won't grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet and calm."
-from Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung
Since Micah was born i haven't been a reader like i was pre-children, but this week God knew not only that I needed to read, but also what i needed to read. Case-in-point, like these verses in Colossians during my (helter-skelter) bible study with my friend Katie yesterday morning (while surrounded by our four kids, all 2.5 and under - hence the helter-skelter part):
It said: "May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light [...] continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..."
-Colossians 1: 11-12, 23
John Calvin said the human heart is "a thick forest of thorns," and i have found that to be true in me. over and over and over.
Elisabeth Elliot goes on to say:
"Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us [...] The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances."
Amen and amen.
"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure [...] The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance."
so maybe among the many thorns last week, a bud. i know it's not spring but it feels like somethings growing. and with growth, growing pains are inevitable, but definitely not a waste of time.
"It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work day - the part one can best offer to God."
Posted by jess at Thursday, October 10, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
at 3pm June 24, 2013 (yesterday) we met our lawyer, stepped into this little courtroom and waited for the judge to rule the finalization of Nyla's adoption.
the questions started off easy, are you Jessica Penick? yes. Is (this) your current address? yes. Is this your signature on this form? yes. Then the questions got a little less straight forward. Were you convinced or coerced in any way to adopt this child? no. do you realize that after today, nyla will be your legal daughter and any costs associated with her, including medical fees, will be your responsibility? absolutely.
after a few more questions the judge looked at Micah who was sitting on Curtis' lap and said, "You must be the big brother. What is your name?" to which micah nervously and shyly started biting on his fingers. We responded for the court record, "this is Micah David Penick." The judge then asked, "Micah, how do you like being a big brother?" It was at that moment that micah smiled, turned to Nyla and said, "I love Nyla!" It was the perfect response to what each of us was thinking and feeling. She is our daughter and has been since the moment we heard she was ours on December 19, 2012, three days after she was born.
After the judge was through with his questioning, our lawyer asked us a list of questions, mostly yes or no, for the record. It was an interesting, but also a surprisingly short hearing for how monumental it felt for us.
At the very end he pronounced that Nyla Grace Penick's adoption was officially final. She would be given a social security number (instead of an adoption ID number) and her original birth certificate would be sealed and she will be issued a new birth certificate that has our names on it under mother and father. How amazing is that. On paper (and in our hearts) it's as though she was biologically born to us. so awesome!
We then took photos with the judge, which you can see above. Our lawyer took the shots as Curtis made a passing joke about her photography fees costing $750 like her services did.
Then we left with our friends who came to support & celebrate with us and headed out in the blazing heat to celebrate with ice cream. then we said our goodbyes and headed back to Cleveland to start our new post-finalization life together.
And that my friends is the end of Nyla's adoption story. She is no longer our adopted daughter. She was adopted. Now she's just our daughter.
Posted by jess at Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
Posted by jess at Monday, May 20, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
a few Fridays ago we went to lunch with Nana (my grandma).
On the way there i told Micah that I wanted him to behave.
From the backseat he then asks, "behave means mommy?"
Instead of answering him I asked a question right back, as i've started to do a lot lately because his answers are both hilarious and usually spot on.
So i asked him what he thought behave meant:
He said, "don't be crazy, be happy."
Yup, that pretty much sums it up kid.
Posted by jess at Sunday, May 19, 2013
Posted by jess at Sunday, May 19, 2013