I was unable to find the direct source of this quote but we have all heard it. When someone cuts their hair like yours or chooses makeup because you do or does a fundraiser similar to yours or decorates their home in a similar fashion to yours, sometimes we are okay with it.... but sometimes we are not. Especially us women... We may think "well, she must be jealous" or "she is copying off me" or many similar thoughts. I am guilty of this occasionally....though rarely does anyone choose to imitate my hair, clothing, makeup or home decor. But would it not be great if we really felt flattered when someone imitated...or rather wouldn't it be great if someone wanted to imitate us not for our physical appearance but who we are on the inside....for who we are when no one's looking....
On Sunday at church, though not the main focus of the sermon, Ben (our pastor) said something that struck me.... "Is your life worth imitating?" Would someone, younger or older, at a different stage in life than you, look into your life at who you are and want to be like you? It struck me.... would someone look at me and say "Man, I would like to be Natalie Henderson. She is ____." Fill in the blank...
But what was in the blank. Sometimes in my "blank" you could say She IS cynical, sarcastic, short, negative, tired, closed off, curse (both in language and mood). While this is not who I am, it is possible when I am acting any of these ways to think that I am that way all of the time...What do I want to be....I want people to look into my life and say She IS open, real, kind-hearted, patient, loving, forgiving, gracious, a dedicated friend, ... all of that and so much more is both what I strive to be and strive to be thought of....
What is the reality? Well, reality is that we will mess up. I mess up. The gracious version of myself will judge... she will lose her patience and utter a curse word when work occasionally is overwhelming. I will be sarcastic more times than not.... My kind self may be short and closed off.
The beauty in our screw ups is this: Christ forgives us and invites us to move on.... He allows to continue to change each day into a better example of what His life was like.... to be an example of Him... to be worth imitating.
It scares me to think someone would want to imitate me but makes want to live a life worth imitating. Think of people you imitate or want to imitate. Why is that? I have several...I have the attending at work who is brilliant, confident and beautiful... I would okay being like her.... Or the friend with an always giving heart.... And there is always the person with great hair and makeup that I would be okay imitating...Wondering if someone would imitate me makes me wonder if I am living a life worth imitating. I would like to start living like this... as if someone may want to imitate me... I mean I can barely understand why someone would be my friend on some days much less choose to imitate me....
Today, January 16th, Tedi and I were driving home after seeing Beauty and the Beast in 3D...(he loves all Disney movies). I was flipping through radio stations and to avoid listening to LMFAO, I kept going and stopped on "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns. Instantly, Brooke and Richie popped into my mind... (Richie is JT's first cousin) This song was played last January at their son's funeral. Today would have been Eli's first birthday had he not left this world last January after an unexplainable brain bleed. I have watched them this past year and admire and respect their strength. They have made life changes to move beyond the daily grind to really do what they are called to do.... They have grown as people and shown so many of us how to really live. Despite their grief and loss, they have even shown us how to really give, to love, to keep going despite our circumstances. To read her blog in full, click HERE. I wanted to share today's blog post by Brooke. When you start complaining about the little silly things, think about this....
So today's the day I have been thinking about and dreading. It's Eli's 1st birthday. I don't know why but I think I kind of felt like I would have some sort of magic answer by now. That somehow I would understand it all by now. Well, the truth is, I don't. Sure I have been closer to the Lord throughout this last year than ever. Sure I have good days, blessings, and things to be thankful for. We have done some good things as a result of Eli's life and death. Despite all that, I am still a mom. A mom without her baby. I miss him. I want him. I don't want to be celebrating his birthday without him. I don't want to be explaining to Grant why we can't send birthday cake in the mail to Heaven. I want my little one year old. I want the cake, the candle and presents. I don't want to be taking a piece of cake to his gravesite. I want him to play in it and lick the icing off his fingers.
Yes I realize that these thoughts are not rational, they are normal, but not rational. I know he is having a much better birthday in Heaven than he could ever have here. I know that amazing things have come out of this tragedy and many peoples lives have been touched. For that I am so thankful. But I can't help it. I still want him. I want to know who he would be. I want to know if he would look like Grant. I want to know if he would act like his daddy or have brown curly hair like me. When I feel this way, I can only take comfort in knowing that God knows him completely. God knew him before he was born. He made him and He knows exactly what Eli is like.
I say this to remind anyone that might be reading and has lost someone, or going through something difficult; it is ok and normal to feel like you don't understand. To feel like you are hurt and angry. I want you to know that you can find comfort in God's promises. You just have to be looking for them. God has given me the promise of being with my son forever in Heaven. So for now, that has to be enough. And for now I am ok with just being a mom without her baby. For today on his birthday and every day and birthday to come, I will remember him. I will celebrate him. I will teach his brother and future siblings about the Lord so that one day we will all be together forever in Heaven. I will work diligently to finish my work here and serve the Lord until that day. Praise be to Him for the strength to survive the day and all the blessings He has given me.
Happy Birthday Eli. We miss you and love you very much. I hope you are having the most amazing birthday cake in Heaven.
I love good quotes... If you have ever gotten a card from me, they normally have a quote of some sort embedded within. Martin Luther King Jr. is the initiator of some of American history's best quotes. Below are some of my very favorites:
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
All of these are so true...so moving. They make you stop. They make you think. But today as I have strolled through Facebook reading quotes, I kept coming back to this one: "I have a dream.....that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers." It really struck me...or rather punched me in the stomach. I looked at the pictures of many of friends with their adopted black children holding hands with their white children....I looked at my own black son sitting in my living room, cuddling next to me on the couch watching King on the history channel.
And I realize that many of us in the adoption world, myself included, may rest on the laurels of "I have adopted a black kid" and stop there. We interact with other families who have adopted kids (as we should) but leave it there. Our churches are similar in color to us, as are our neighbors and schools and workplaces and our friends. Are we subconsciously looking over our shoulders at black people we don't know compared to white people on a city street? Do we openly pour ourselves into neighborhoods that don't look like us? Do we more easily judge a person based on their culture and color rather than "the content of their character"? I would like to think that I don't, but I know I am not always perfect. As a family, we are trying to improve this in the facets of our world... but I am still struck by our own self satisfaction on days like today when it really should be a day to say "We are trying, but we can do better."
Disclaimer: Please do not take this as "dis" on all of the facebook pictures out there. They are what prompted a heart change in me. I love some cute adoptive family pictures...which are no longer "adoptive" pics but rather family pictures. Also... I, as well as my family, are not above reproach and thus, I am as guilty and need of reminding as the next person.
Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated each year on January 7. To read more about it, click HERE. Last year, JT was working on his largest fundraiser of the year as he was this year. Last year, we went to Queen of Sheba, the local Ethiopian restaurant, with the Brown family and the Armstrong family. As you can see, last year, there were five kids. Since that time, the Browns have brought home their sons Elijah and Caleb from Ethiopia (after over two years of waiting) and they had baby Asher the old fashioned way.
This year's Ethiopian Christmas was much louder. We moved the party to the Armstrong house where Donna and Brittney prepared their wonderful Ethiopian dishes. I, on the other hand, am a cook in training... I stopped at Queen Sheba to purchase injera and kikwot. It was such a nice time with some of our favorite friends. I hope you enjoy some of these pictures.
Last year, 2011
This Year, 2012
baby Asher, Grace, Dawit (in the corner), Avery, Elijah holding
I don't always get home before dark. I spend most of my time caring for your kids (Your = everyone but mine). I clean their cuts, sew them, listen to their hearts beating, their lungs breathing...... I write notes about them and listen to all their adventures....all of this I love...I love my job. But today....today, I played with my boy. I spent about two hours at work this morning....playing with healthy babies in the newborn nursery, ran to a meeting, and came to start laundry. At lunch with my friend, I decided with great excitement that I would take Tedi to the park and he could play...I could "exercise" and play with him.
So in theory, I bee bop up to the parochial pre-school all ready to go. Then I realize I am in sneakers and yoga pants but still have on my work shirt and regular bra..... seriously, who does that? Me = hot mess. So then I get home and find out we need to fix a couple of dossier things... I get distracted. So at three o'clock, we finally arrived at Waterfront Park.
To kick up the exercise a notch, I thought "we can jog. Tedi likes to run. I know it has been awhile but I used to play sports" Well we successfully jogged.... and I realized something quite profound.... from this point forward, I will be staring at my son's back as we run. Even at five, he is out running me. Maybe I should be a little more dejected about it but I felt relieved....that he will be athletic and fit.... that I am exactly where I thought I was athletically (which does not mean much).
We finally get to the other playground. I can't quite enjoy it. I encourage Tedi to be tough and "Yes, you can climb the rock wall!" All while my mind is racing...."If he slips, he could get a concussion...or worse a brain bleed.. He could fracture his femur or arm or worse we could be in ICU... then what would my colleagues think. I would be that parent." And those thoughts were just at the rock wall. Don't worry, if I ever spend time with your kids, my mind is racing with the same thoughts....about what could go wrong next and as the doctor, what would my next step be.... I am not neurotic about much but this I am.
Then, I think that we should swing... Tedi is not interested... Yep, the ole arse doesn't quite fit... Maybe the Mary Kate Olsen version of myself hidden DEEP within me would... .not this mommy. I shamefully stand up and suggest a jog back to the car. This kid won't let you walk... It's like running is in his Ethiopian blood. Jog = sprint. Maybe someday this will bode well for him. Gotta love the kid... "Mommy, why do we walk. Let's just run" Me: "dear, we can't. Mommy can't breathe"
We get home from the park and I am preparing a talk for the medical students on "Circumcision in the newborn nursery" .... I don't really think anything about it.. It's everyday. Tedi walks up and says "Mommy, whose penis is that?" What do I do? Explain it and keep going...
I hope you have a great week. Don't be fooled. Most months are filled with 80 hour weeks with 30 hour shifts... Not this one... I will toast to a month of fat, healthy newborn babies and time with my own!
You must check out our BOTH HANDS PROJECT tab at the top of the screen. We have been approved to do a Both Hands project through Lifesong for Orphans and are now moving forward with it... hopefully on March 10, 2012, depending on my work schedule. I will post more about the details of this project later. However in the meantime, please read about the project on links above. Below is a picture of Tedi with Mildred, the widow we will be serving through our project!
We did it... notarized, signed, copied, turned in. It is in our agency's hands now. Ironically or not so ironic, we turned it in on Ethiopian Christmas. Now, we wait! Wait for it travel from Utah to Washington DC to Utah to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Wait the six to eight months are agency is stating as the referral wait time! But we are excited. We are happy to wait this time. I say that now...we will see in eight months. However, I read about all of these families waiting and waiting so eight months seems so short. We are so blessed to send it it in!
2011 was a good and bad year.... The year started with our cousins losing their son at only seven days old. This was followed by the deaths of JT's sweet little mamaw, my step grandmother, and my best friend of sixteen years' father. Despite the losses, it was also year of watching Tedi continuing to grow, choosing a career path, JT getting a promotion, and starting our second adoption. We are so very blessed. Enjoy the pictures!
We celebrated Ethiopian Christmas with Zoe Brown (who now has three brothers) as well as Gracie, Avery, and Dawit Armstrong at Queen of Sheba.
Our first big snow
This was a busy busy month with my vacation at work, birthday and other fun stuff!
We took a trip with my dad and his family to Gatlinburg, TN. Tedi loves his Granpa Kevin!
Once we got back, we drove to Indianapolis with our best friends, The Fox Family, where Tedi endured the Barbie exhibit and loved swimming.
JT even bathed and diapered Vivian.... that was an adventure
I turned 28... and enjoyed some sushi
We visited with the Gibsons at their home.... the cute red head is also a Natalie
Isn't he cute?
This was also a busy month with Easter, retreats and such.... and my husband thought he should make the national news with Barack Obama...
My Intern Retreat with work.
Dipping Easter Eggs
Rocking Adoption Shirts at Easter
We both worked a lot but were able to celebrate with our good friends, Jacqueline and Chris, on their wedding day.
We said good bye to our dear friend at work, Shivani (in the middle) who moved to Augusta.
We also visited with Daddy's mentor, Coach Meyer
We took a little road trip to see my family...
Swimming with Granny Sylvia and Harv
.....and visiting at Granpa Kevin's boat
We also celebrated ONE YEAR HOME!!!!!
We celebrated our 8th Anniversary and finally welcomed home the Brown brothers. Here we are at the zoo.
We celebrated Ethiopian New Year with the Hardman's and their daughter, Claire.
ALSO.... Tedi became a US CITIZEN!!!!!
....and played in a soccer league
Our first family trip to the beach and a Spider man Halloween...
Tedi's 5th Birthday, Snow Ball After Party and Thanksgiving made for another busy month....
Merry, Merry Christmas...... school programs, work parties and more!
What a great year! We are so very blessed..... Maybe next year we will be able to post a picture of a 4th Henderson!