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4.23.2015

Mornings on Boyce Lane: how to pause long enough to see Jesus in the routine


Make no mistake. 

Justin is a primary caregiver in this house. When you have kids with demanding physical needs, you don't have time to play house. No gender roles here, we just divide and conquer. 

I'm not a morning person, so Justin is the first to rise and starts feeding the kids. I get up shortly behind him, find the Kerig, and slowly open my eyes. I pick out the clothes, he gets dresses them and brushes their teeth. I make the lunches and sign permission slips, he takes out the trash. I wrestle Brooklyn into hair bows, and Justin changes the poops. We tag team the coats, shoes, and bus harnesses, and walk them out to the bus. 

Whew. 


We stand there, like June and Ward Cleaver, and wave goodbye to our sweet children.  Sometimes, we play and laugh on our way back to the house, our simple way of high-giving for another morning well done. He heads to work, and I start the day with Ellie. 

With so much work, it is easy to get in the routine of just getting it done. More mornings than I would like to admit, I just go through motions without even pausing.  
Without pausing to really appreciate, engage, or even acknowledge my family's presence. I am trying to change that. 

So lately, I've tried to make it a point to look everybody in the eye and say I love you. 


Good morning. 
I see you. 
I'm so glad you're here.

I've also tried to take time to savor the little moments.  When I pause as I sit at Jayden's feet, gently tying his shoes, I get a sweet reminder of how Jesus served.  How He washed his disciples feet. How He asks us to really pause for people that are naked, and hungry, thirsty, or sick. To see them, not just go through the motions. For many years, when I read that, I thought about people who are homeless, or in developing countries, but never my own children.  But now, I believe Jesus is talking about both. 


Why? Because my kids are naked. My kids are thirsty.  And, my kids are sick. More and more, I am starting to get glimpses of Jesus when I'm caring for my kids. He teaches me so many profound, and humbling things when I am fully engaged. I feel like I'm serving Him when I take care of my kids. 


You know when you put a coat on, and your sleeves get stuck up your jacket? 


Or when you're putting on your shoes and your sock isn't laying the right way? 

It's all those little things that I'm trying to really consider when getting my kids ready.  Let's get real, is not every morning.  Some mornings we are just happy that they are dressed and didn't miss the bus. But other mornings, my hands are becoming a little more gentle wiping off the banana on Brooklyn's face. A bit more pause to acknowledge Jayden before scraping his eye boogers away.


And, more and more, I am learning to serve Jesus and people, fully engaged, with a posture of pause.



Where do you need to pause?
What areas of your life need full engagement? 

I'd love to hear about them! 
@StefanieBoyce

4.17.2015

How to foster-to-adopt 3 kids in one day and still keep your sanity: A Guest Feature from Kathrina Montondo

Hello, Boyce Lane readers! 

I am so glad you stopped by today because I get the honor of introducing you to my dear friend, Kathrina. Kat and I have a lot in common. We love us some Marshall's, we were born type A, and we would admit we have to work at motherhood.  Which is why I adore her. She and her husband are first responders to pain and mess. They relentlessly pursue people with their love, and are teaching their children to do the same. They are hilarious, generous, loud, fun, and really the life of any party.  And because of their dynamic, go-get 'em attitude, it is no surprise that they are navigating "none to done" so well!  

I am forever grateful for Kathrina's friendship. It is an honor to be a part of her journey going from type A to plan B.




Kat writes:
First I have to start off by saying that I am completely jealous that I didn’t come up with the quippy saying “From Type A to Plan B”! If you happen to lean towards Type A (guilty!) and have ever been through heartache because life threw you a curveball, then Stef’s blog is like medicine for your soul (or lemon juice to a paper cut!). Stef and I are cut from the same cloth in life, so when she started blogging about her journey and embracing life when you thought you had it all figured out, I knew I had a soul friend I could count on. Stef is sort of my ‘Pain Pioneer’ who I first journeyed through all the yuck life had to offer, so when it was my turn to let my Type A die to my Plan B, I knew who I could count on. 

My name Kat Montondo and I have been married to my husband Micah since 2003. Our Plan B started in 2008 when I discovered I was pregnant even though we were not ready to start a family. Since it just sort of happened, it seemed like it was “God’s plan” for us to join the ranks of parenthood and bring on the babies! I remember doing what all expecting mothers do… researching the best “B” products (Bumbos, Boppies, Binkies, Blankies, etc), comparing my baby to the size of fruits and vegetables in the womb, and buying the most expensive prenatal vitamin because surely that had to be the best. Like any other expecting mother, I showed up giddy for my first ultrasound, and that’s when my journey started - miscarriage. I’ll never forget being wheeled into my D&C procedure and thinking to myself, “How did I get here? I didn’t even try to get pregnant, why a miscarriage?” 

Fast forward a few years of not being able to get pregnant on our own, going to fertility doctors, several fertility treatments later with no success, and having to look “Plan B” in the face. That’s when adoption seemed to be our next step. We have friends we do life with who have adopted children, so we were excited to get started! So there we were going through all the classes and getting our background checks done, but there was one thing I still kept in my control and that was that I wanted to adopt a baby from birth. I had heard all the scary foster-to-adopt stories enough to know it wasn't for me. Type A. 

And that’s when the real pain kicked in. Micah and I went through three failed infant adoptions. So there I was, the Type A woman with a creepy empty baby room in her house, saying out loud “Okay God, I thought miscarriage was my Plan B, then I thought fertility treatments were my plan B, then I thought adoption was my Plan B, NOW WHAT?!”

I should know better than to limit God and put parameters on His will for my life. 

Our phone rang two weeks later and it was a friend of ours who said,

“Hey! I know a couple who has these foster kids, ages 2, 3, and 4 who need a good home. You guys want three foster kids?” 

I’m not kidding. It went just like that. My immediate reaction was laughter, because who says yes to that (besides a couple on a TLC reality show)? And my second reaction was fear that I might actually be called to say yes, and embrace a totally different life than I pictured. Again. 

So let me back up and explain a little about myself and my husband because the last thing I want to convey is that I am some super human that thinks taking on three kids at once sounds like the perfect end to a story. I hate change, I think organization is the key to life, I love a schedule, I easily manipulate selfishness into the idea of “focusing on me” time, I make my bed daily, and I love going to TJ Maxx. Then there’s my husband Micah, who reminds me of Captain America. He is a fireman, lives for adventure and the unknown, loves a good challenge, likes being uncomfortable, and he willingly anticipates change. Annoying right? Saying yes to three children at once sounded like the world’s best roller coaster ride to him, while I'm standing at the gate trying not to puke and offering to stay back and hold everyone's belongings. When it came to me and my selfish desires, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around embracing a life I didn't picture it to be. There were so many times I pictured raising a child from birth, and it made me so uncomfortable to picture anything else. Adoption alone takes courage, but this sounded insane. What if these kids didn’t like me? What if I wasn't strong enough to handle their emotional needs? Could we afford it and where would we put them? Does TJ Maxx make cute bedding for toddlers?

After a LOT of prayer, tears and looking at their beautiful faces, we decided that our family was going to look different than we dreamed it would, and we were going to take a chance on what God believed was best for us; not what we dreamed it would be. In James 1:27 it says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” To be polluted by the world? Ouch. I am the queen of that. The reality is, we ALL know someone, or ARE someone, going through a life different than we pictured it would be. Some of it would make our high school/early 20s self say, “I’ll go through and experience WHAT?” But the truth is, friends, God calls us to live lives we NEVER expected or EVER planned. 

A few weeks ago I was watching a bunch of high school girls jokingly play the game of MASH. Remember that game? It tells you if you’re going to live in a mansion, how many kids you’re going to have, what kind of care you’re going to drive, how many bridesmaids you’ll have, etc. Anyway, I leaned over to them and said “remember girls, in the game of MASH there isn’t an option for adoption, having children with special needs, divorce, cancer, etc. Sometimes God calls us to live lives that make us squirm.”  After I crushed their dreams, I reminded them how lucky I was that my game of MASH didn’t play out like I planned, and all we can do is try our best to accept the authentic lives God hands us.

There are still days I am reminded that this life isn't easy and it still doesn't go as I planned. It creeps in when another adoption date is rescheduled or I'm listening to the courts talk about my children's past reminding me of a time I wasn't their mom. Or when my children accidently call me by my first name instead of 'mom.' On those days, all I can do is stand in my kitchen and sing Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus Take the Wheel” at the top of my lungs. Because if you don't laugh, you'll cry! But I’m so honored that our perfect and Holy Creator didn’t create me to live a “normal” life. The truth is, if He did, I would have taken it for granted. Even though it’s hard and uncomfortable and causes us pain, it makes us more interesting. I believe when we let go of Plan A and trust Him with Plan B, God smiles and says, “See, you did it. Thank you and I’m proud of you.”

Join with me... Jesus take the wheel! 

-Kathrina

4.15.2015

How to talk to your child about their friends with special needs: parttwo



Thanks for stopping by today! Last Wednesday, we started talking about a few phrases that are gaining traction around our house. These little phrases are helping us navigate conversations with Ellie about her brother and sister with special needs.  And my prayer, is that they help you navigate conversations with your children about their friends with special needs.  If you want to get caught up, you can read PART ONE here.



"What's Ellie's favorite color?"
YELLOW!

"What's Brooklyn's favorite color?"
POUP-LE!

Ellie and I were sorting laundry as we discussed colors.  It sure is fun having a little sidekick.  She will eagerly come to the back room and want to "help."  I hold up a shirt, and she will guess who it belongs to, then place it in that person's basket.  She really does a great job unless she gets a bit distracted and starts dancing with the laundry or burying herself in the enormous pile of clothes.

But on this day, I think we both learned a bit more than just our favorite colors.


"What's Jayden's favorite color?"
PAUSE.....
I DON'T KNOW.


She didn't know, so I told her to go ask him.
And when she came back, she let me know that Jayden didn't answer.


Insert second parenting moment.
Ok, so how do I navigate this one?

My first inclination was to tell Ellie that Jayden doesn't talk.  In fact, that is exactly what I said, but luckily, she didn't hear me me on my first attempt. 

I mean, we haven't heard a WORD from the boy in years so it seems like the right answer upon first glance.  But, after some quick thought, I realized a deeper truth.  Jayden and Brooklyn DO talk.

Brooklyn talks with her hands. When given two choices, Brooklyn can let you know her preference by grabbing the desired item.  And if she doesn't like it, she will also let you know with her hands!

Jayden talks with his eyes. If you give him choices, he can look at the one he wants.  They do it all the time with him at school.

So, I told Ellie, 

They CAN talk, 
they just use different body parts.

Reminds me so much of what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians and Romans.  He compares a group of Christ-followers to a body with many parts.  And, just like our family, we all communicate differently but need one another to work as one.

<<              >>

We went and got 2 shirts. One blue and one green. I told Ellie to hold them up to Jayden and ask him again, but this time, instead of using her ears to listen, use her eyes.  She watched Jayden closely as she held up the two shirts as she asked, "Jay-Jay, what's your favorite color?" 

"Mama, mama! Jay-Jay likes GREEN!!!"  





Let's continue the conversation:

"What do you say when your child asks about their friend with special needs?"
#SNkidconvos
@boycelane

4.08.2015

How to talk to your child about their friends with special needs: part one


She's starting to notice.

Ellie is finally at the age where she is starting to recognize that Jayden and Brooklyn do things differently.  And she is asking questions. Good questions.  The problem is, there's no parenting manual for these type of conversations. Quite frankly, we are making it up as we go. A lot of our friends ask us how to navigate these noticeable differences with their typically developing children as well, so here is the first of two phrases that are gaining traction on our house.

1. Do your best. 
Dinner is a messy time in the Boyce home. Jayden sits in a toddler feeding chair. Most of the time if food requires a spoon or fork, we just feed him. If it's finger food, we lay it out on the tray and he goes for it. About half ends up in his mouth, a quarter on the floor, and a quarter on himself.

This is Jayden's best.

Brooklyn has lost the ability in the last few months to use plasticware by herself.  She tears up her food, and eats with her fingers.  At times, she misses her mouth, so food ends up on the floor or all over her belly. And when she's done, she lets us know by throwing her plate.

This is Brooklyn's best.

The expectation for Ellie, on the other hand, is that she uses plasticware. We encourage her to not spill. "Don't make a mess," we instruct. And, she does a pretty good job for 2. 

Timeout. Can I be honest for a moment? When feeding my 8 year old, and getting food thrown at me by my 5 year old, my patience runs thin for Ellie spitting her milk.   Anyone else feel like it's always the straw that breaks the camel's back?

Time in. So one day during a meal, Ellie observed Brooklyn's "mess" and thought she would tell me about it. With the same look of disgust I give Ellie when addressing messes, she says, "oh no! Brooklyn's making a mess!" As the words came out of her mouth, I saw her body scoot away from Brooklyn. 

Oh boy.  Insert parenting moment. First, she's watching me and copying my behavior. Yikes. Second, what do I say? Brooklyn is making a mess by typical standards. Ellie is right. But, Brooklyn can't help it. So I say what I now know was the right response. (Thank you, Jesus).

I said, "Brooklyn is doing her best. And, Jayden is doing his best. And, you are doing your best. Your best is with a spoon, Brooklyn's best is with her fingers, and Jayden's best is with mom's help."

"Everyone's best is going to be different. And, that's ok. It doesn't mean you will always win. We can only try to do our best."

Your best is your best. It's not about comparing who's best is best, it's about celebrating one another.... And keeping our eyes on our own plate.



Let's continue the conversation:

"What do you say when your child asks about their friend with special needs?"
#SNkidconvos
@boycelane


Stop by next week for phrase 2: How we talk with Ellie about having nonverbal siblings.

4.03.2015

how to navigate pain


I just feel sad today.
My heart is a little bit heavier.

He gets it.
Jesus knows what it's like to anticipate the worst. 

The garden of Gethsemane is in some ways comforting to me. The fact He chose to feel pain gives Jesus street cred. in my book.  I mean, if Jesus would have died peacefully in His sleep, at 100, with His grandchildren singing His praises around him, I may hold a grudge about Sanfilippo.

But he didn't. He died a brutal death. Full of blood and pain. Alone. He was only 33.


He knew the painful day ahead of him. 
He could have stopped it.  
But He didn't. 
<<<<         >>>>

So in the midst of Good Friday Service prep at church, we got the news Jayden is struggling swallowing liquids.

It's like a little rain cloud has settled over my head.

Jayden will soon need a feeding tube. We see it coming. The swallow study is the first step in that direction. It's not the end of the world. We know a number of children with feeding tubes.  It just represents the next step. 


But Jesus sees it too. He knows what's coming

And today, I'm sad. I'm sad my Savior was tortured and died because of my rebellion. I'm sad that Jayden may need a swallow study. I wish I could take Jayden's pain and carry it myself.

My sweet Jayden.

I know I can't protect my children from the world, I can only point them to heaven.  And that truth makes me feel so out of control.

Maybe, in all the right ways.



Pain is pain. It isn't about comparing. It is about entering into one another's pain and helping carry the load. 


<<<<         >>>>

Jesus had every right to never enter into creation and endure human suffering. But He loved us too much not to. In some small way, maybe it's the same kinda love I have for Jayden.  Maybe it's the reason I wish I could take the pain away from him.

Jesus has gone before me. 

He's endured more than me. 
His character is consistent and His promises are true.
And the best part isn't that He suffered and died so I can relate to Him. It's better than that

The best part is He conquered the grave. 
That heaven is real. 
That He is who He says He is and did what He said He'd do. That this world isn't the end. 
That eternity is filled with restoration and beauty. 
That there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more suffering, no more pain, no more feeding tubes, and no more death. 

That Sunday is coming. 

4.01.2015

How to be comfortable in your own skin


Lately, I've been telling Ellie she's smart, or beautiful, or such a big girl. And she always responds in the same way. 

Even though she's my third, I'm still new to a lot of parenting experiences.  Like potty training, conversations, negotiations, a twin bed, and underwear. I am new to experiencing typical brain development.


I am finally a member of the "I-can-post-things-my-kid-says-on-facebook club." We call them, "Ellieisms." 


Like, when her nose is running she will say in a panic: "my nose blowing out!" 


Or she will gasp and point with one finger to the sky and say, "I have an idea!" 


Or she will put her hand on her ear and sweetly look up, "I hear someting! You hear that sound?!" 


And, "I'm really hun-ge. I need a nola (a.k.a. granola) bar. My tummy get bigger." 


And the best, "peeing!!" 


Conversations with a two year old are new, and beautiful, and fascinating.  I catch myself just overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. I definitely don't take it for granted.


She also loves to dress up. She loves to be a princess, a gymnast, or a ballerina. And every time I tell her, "you are such a beautiful fill-in-the-blank." And she always responds in the same way. 


When we are being silly, tickling, chasing, seeking, I will tell her she is so silly, or goofy, or call her a funny nickname. And she will always respond in the same way.

"No, mama. I Ellie Brynn Boyce."

And her consistent response reveals a fascinating truth. A truth that I too need to claim. A truth many of us need to rediscover. A child-like faith owning a God-sized truth. 


I am me. You are you. And He calls us by name. Not by how cute we are, not by what we do, not by how other people label us or by who we pretend to be. God just wants us.  


My thirties has ushered in more questions than answers. I started asking myself, "who am I?" "What do I want my life to be about?" And I think I have started to own some of those answers.  But, now that I know who I am, "Is who I am, enough?" "Am I ready to just be me?" 


So, how do we be comfortable in our own skin? 


Stop doubting.

Stop comparing.
Stop pretending.

Stop trying to control it all.


You are not your title at work. Or your title at home. You are not where you go to school or what you study. You aren't defined by how many kids you have, what they can do or not do, or how you got them. You are not your failures, or your successes. That is just how we and the world choose to define us.


But God simply defined us as His. 


Reminds me of that wonderful book by Max Lucado, You Are Special. Everyone is going around proud or ashamed of the labels they are wearing except one girl. Stickers don't stick on her. The bad ones or the good ones. I won't ruin the end of the book, but let's just say it's cause she has an audience of one. 


I wonder how long this innocence will last for Ellie. I wonder how long it will take for her to believe the labels others will give her, or the secret things she will tell herself. I wonder if she will spend her whole life trying to get back to the way she sees herself right now. 


I've never had to wonder about these things before.


That's the simple but profound beauty of Ellie. She loves herself just being Ellie. No more. No less. And not in a selfish or conceited way. She's just comfortable in her own skin and calls herself by name.


I think our Heavenly Father wants the same for us.





What are some of the lessons you are learning from your kids?
Let us know! #kidlessons @BoyceLane