Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

Merry Christmas! I hope this letter finds you all doing well and enjoying the holidays. With the tight economy—both in our country and within the four walls of our house—we decided to forego Christmas cards this year. I still wanted to get in touch with everyone (and of course, make you all look at pictures of my adorable children), though, so here I am.

And since they are so darn adorable, let's start with the kids. Grace is 3 now, and just… indescribable! She is beautiful and fun and talkative and sassy and moody and all of the things that three-year-olds are. She loves princesses and reading and dancing (She started dance classes this year and loves them!) and singing. In addition to her dance class, she is also involved in AWANA (Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed), a kids' program at our church. It is hard to believe that she is getting old enough to be involved in things like that, but a lot of fun too.

Matt will be 2 in about 6 weeks, and he is getting more personality every MINUTE. He is constantly on the go—I don't think he even stops moving in his sleep! He is really into the Disney "Cars" stuff and Thomas the Tank Engine… but he also likes to wear his sister's dress-up stuff, too. (Yep, I have some pictures to use as blackmail when he is a teenager.) He is both rough-and-tumble and very sweet and loving—I love having a little boy!

Jon and I are doing well. His work is keeping him busy, and he recently joined a men's Bible study that has been a great addition for him. I am the coordinator of my MOPS group now, and it is a ministry that is very dear to my heart.

We continue to enjoy traveling, and this year had a chance to take some very memorable trips. In June we spent a week with Nana & Papa (Katy's parents) going on a bit of a patriotic trip—we started in Washington, DC, then went to the "Historic Triangle" (Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg) in Virginia. Then in October, Katy and the kids went with Gram (Jon's mom) to California for 10 days. Both of them were great getaways, and we look forward to more trips and more special times with the grandparents.

Overall, I have to say that 2008 has been… a year that we won't soon forget. If life is like a roller coaster, this was the Top Thrill Dragster of years. It was full of great opportunities… and great challenges as well. I won't bore you with all of the details, although I would love to talk more about it if you have the time! Suffice it to say that this year has really had our heads spinning at times. But above all, it has been a year full of God's faithfulness. Whether we are inching along or zooming full speed ahead, screaming with joy or gasping for breath, He is there. He is a great and mighty God, able to meet all of our needs, even when we don't know what they are.

As we look to 2009, to the changes in the economy, the White House, and even our own houses, I hope that God will be your companion on the ride of life as well. And this is my prayer for each of you:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

God bless!

Katy, Jon, Grace, and Matt

Merry Christmas!

Good morning! I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very merry Christmas. As you enjoy (and sometimes just tolerate) the family gatherings, gifts, meals, and other hustle & bustle, may the true meaning of Christmas occupy your hearts and minds. And tonight when the day is over and your kids are in bed and it is finally quiet, remember that night in Bethlehem when the King of kings lay quietly in a manger.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Permitting the Pain

It's been a while since I've written anything other than my adoption story. It is not for lack of material, believe me. God has given me plenty to write about in the past months, but I think I've been turning a blind eye to the lessons He's been teaching me. I finally decided to sit and listen to Him, and this is what is on my heart for today…

When I went through childbirth classes, our instructor admonished us over and over not to tense up during contractions. She encouraged us to relax during them, so that they could do what they were intended to do. Tensing up and fighting the pain only prevented the contractions from accomplishing their purpose. And the less effective they are, the more of them it takes to get the job done.

This all sounded fine when I was sitting in childbirth class 2 months before Grace was born. "Relax during contractions. Check," I thought as I went through my mental list. It was a much different story on June 2 when they actually hit. There is nothing about contractions that one could find relaxing. (Sorry, Erin, but it's true. J) I fought those contractions right up to the minute the epidural took effect! Aaaaahhhhh, now that was relief!

But 20 months later when I was back in the delivery room, something changed. I was not having an epidural this time (which is a whole separate story), but those contractions weren't any less painful. I did not, however, wish to endure any more of them than absolutely necessary. I remembered the advice of my instructor: "The more relaxed you are, the more effective they are. The more effective they are, the fewer it takes to get the job done." The contractions were painful, but they were purposeful, too. They helped me to bring my beautiful children into this world.

Recently, my spiritual life has been lacking something—me. As I have mentioned before on this blog, 2008 has been a very difficult year for me. Every time I got through one hardship, another came knocking at my door. I felt like the bear climbing over the mountain (You know, "The bear climbed over the mountain, the bear climbed over the mountain, the bear climbed over the mountain and what do you think he saw? He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain and what do you think he did? The bear climbed over the mountain…"), and I was exhausted. I finally told God, "Lord, I know that I have been growing closer and closer to You this year, and it has been really exciting. But the more I seek You, the more You test me and stretch me. I'm tired. I don't want to grow any more. I still love You, but I think I'm going to stop trying to seek You for a while."

And then life got miraculously easy. Because of course, walking away from God is always the answer to life's problems, right? Ha. On the contrary, I still had all of the same hardships to deal with, but now I was trying to handle them myself. I was fighting them, tensing up. And then one night, I remembered the instructor from my childbirth class. "The more relaxed you are, the more effective they are. The more effective they are, the fewer it takes to get the job done." God is working on me. He has a purpose for this pain. The more I fight it, the more I try to control it myself, the longer it's going to take to get the job done.

So I realized that it was time to stop my childish pouting, giving God the cold shoulder because I wasn't getting my way. And what was the result? I don't know yet. That was yesterday—I'm on day 2 of giving control back over to God. The pain is still there, but I'm permitting it to work in me, not fighting it. I know that God is in control and that there is something wonderful for me on the other side, if I allow Him to use this for His purpose.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 20

Over time, I had pretty much lost touch with Janet. At first we had e-mailed almost daily, then a few times a month, and then she got sick (I believe she has MS… but it could be something else… my memory is a little fuzzy on that…) and I didn't hear from her for several months. After that our contact was sporadic at best. Still friendly and welcome, but just less frequent. In fact, (if I remember correctly), when I e-mailed her to tell her that Matt was born, she said that she didn't even know I was pregnant! So yes, our relationship had definitely dwindled. She had been very happy to hear about Matt, though, and had sent me a nice e-mail with an update on her children (I believe that they had 6—some naturally and some through adoption—but it may be more…) and her husband, etc.

And that was the end of our correspondence for another 7 months, when I got an e-mail from her that absolutely blew me away. She began: "Dear Katy, I don't know how you are going to react to this email but I've decided that I should just go ahead and tell you what's happening." She went on to say that she and Frank had "reconnected" and realized that they were still very much in love. They were planning to be married sometime in the next year. She assured me that I was very special to her, that Frank was very happy to hear about my family, and that she hoped we could continue to stay in touch.

I was absolutely taken aback. Sure, it sounds romantic—they were separated 30 years ago by the death of their child, then reunited and found that they still loved each other. Except for a few important details… Like the fact that he cheated on her over and over and OVER when they were together the first time. That he left her the day of their child's funeral. That he had been married three times before he had lived with her, and then been married five more times after that! Oh, and here's one you don't want to forget: She's married with several children!

It took me a few weeks to e-mail her back. When I finally did, I was very honest with her. I told her that this whole situation made me very sad. It was sad to me that she would leave her husband of so many years for any man. It was especially sad for me that she would leave him for this man. And I also recognized that I had very little room to offer any opinion—after all, they were both grown adults, and as connected as our lives had been in some respects, I had never even met either of them! The absurdity of my family tree was really staring me in the face at that moment.

And then I told her that I didn't feel that we could keep in touch anymore. After all, she was going to be living with this man who had all but told me to get lost. And as much as she claimed he had changed, he had made no attempt to contact or know me in any way. And through his relationship with Janet, he obviously knew exactly where to find me, not to mention the fact that he had two grandchildren. And yet I'd heard nothing—no congratulations, no apology, nothing. It was just too much.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 19

Yes, I am still alive and well, folks. I know it seemed like I dropped off the face of the earth, but I promise that I am still here. No alien abduction, unless you count the three- and almost-two-year-old aliens in my house. ;-) The truth is that my absence can be attributed to two things: The continuation of the most drama-filled year of my life thus far, and my own reluctance to turn the page in my adoption story. We are about to embark on events that have transpired in the last 12 months, and honestly… It is very emotionally draining to go there! It's going to be good, though—so let's get on with it! J

Let me start by updating you all on what has happened with Jan since the time that I last wrote about. Once I realized how childish I had been toward Jan—whether to her face or just in my own heart—and how hard I had been trying to shove our relationship into some preformed mold, I was really able to let go of a lot of those things. My stress level, at least in regard to that relationship, plummeted. I was able to just really enjoy Jan for who she is, and enjoy our relationship for what it is. We now talk about once a month or once every other month, and we see each other a few times a year, and I really look forward to each interaction. And yes, I call her "Grandma Jan" to Gracie and Matt. And it is a wonderfully unique thing that they get to experience that most kids don't—having a whole extra grandma! J

Jan is a fun, intelligent person, and I have to say that in some ways I really like that our views don't always line up. It is very interesting to talk about the areas where we have differences and be able to intelligently discuss our points of view and gain a better understanding of where we both stand. And I truly mean where we BOTH stand—as much as I am better able to understand her thoughts and perspectives, talking to her about these issues also helps me to understand my own thoughts and feelings better as well. Have I already mentioned that I am really enjoying the new life this relationship has taken on?

It sounds like a great ending to the story, doesn't it? And it is—well, it's not an ending, really. It's still very much going on. But you know what I mean. J That part of my life is finally feeling settled and comfortable. My adoption story has worked itself out.

But then again… there's the issue of my birth father. The door had been closed quite firmly back in 2001 with his e-mail that basically said, "Thanks but no thanks. Don't ever contact me again." But then, on September 5, 2007, I got an e-mail from Janet—the woman who had helped me to find Frank—that threw that door wide open.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 18

Actually, life went on from there just fine for a couple of years. Jan and I e-mailed somewhat regularly, and we saw her and her friend once or twice a year. It worked out well for us all… And we didn't really talk about or even think about Frank much, which also worked out well. J

In the meantime, it's time for a little sidebar… Babies. Within the first year of marriage, I decided I was ready to have a child. Jon, though, very wisely thought that we should take some time to get adjusted to married life. But by the time we had been married for a year-and-a-half, I had worn him down… We were off of birth control and trying to get pregnant! Little did we know that God was on Jon's side—He felt we needed more "couple time" before throwing kids into the mix………. It took us almost two years to get pregnant.

Our journey into infertility was nothing compared to others I have known, and it is a whole separate story I could tell. For now, though, let me just say that God is so very good. While I can't say I would like to relive that time in my life, I look back and see His hand and His faithfulness through it all. I know that much of what I know about compassion I learned through that time. I know that my idea of who God is and my perception of trust were shaped during that time. I see amazing opportunities that Jon and I had—like a three-week trip to Europe, a two-week trip to Hawaii, and even building our house—that probably wouldn't have happened if we'd gotten pregnant in our timing instead of God's. All that and so much more… but I digress.

Finally, in mid-2004, we discovered through an exploratory surgery that my tubes were blocked. They were able to remove the blockage, and just a few short weeks later we were expecting our beautiful little Gracie. We were, of course, elated!!! From the moment we found out about her, Grace has been an unbelievable blessing.

Anyway, adding a new generation to the mix also added a new twist to this ever-evolving relationship. At first… well, to be honest, I was kind of angry about it—not about the pregnancy, but about trying to figure out how this whole situation was going to affect my children. I knew that Jan was looking forward to being a grandma alongside my mom and mother-in-law, but I wasn't sure that I wanted her to be one. I wasn't sure who she would be to my children, but I was quite sure that she wouldn't be "Grandma Jan" or anything like it.

I'm embarrassed to say that this lasted for a while—even after Grace was born. In fact, once Grace arrived, Jan made several trips up to visit, and I was always glad to see her… but at the same time I continued to have this inner struggle with the whole idea of how Jan fit into my family.

And then one day, it hit me: I was being completely unfair. I had set up completely unreasonable expectations and had dared her to live up to them. I had been adamant that I did not want her to be a mother to me, then expected her to act like one. I had pressured her to keep in contact more, then pushed her away when she did.

I'm not sure why I had been behaving like such a child. Maybe deep down I had felt some sadness or rejection over her giving me up for adoption, even though I have always been quite grateful to her—even before I knew who she was—for giving me to my family. Or maybe it was because it was such a unique situation, which made it difficult at times, and I just chose to blame her because I needed to place blame somewhere. Or maybe it was just plain a bad way to handle a relationship. Who knows! But it was suddenly very clear that I needed to change my way of thinking.

OK, so we had a unique relationship, one whose rules weren't easily defined by looking at society around us. So? Lots of people have unique relationships—step-parents, step-siblings, half-siblings, parents they see once a year (or once every five years or ten years or whatever), foster parents, etc, etc, etc. And the bottom line is, every relationship between two people, no matter how "common" it is, is unique because it involves two unique individuals. I had been trying so hard to find a defined role for our relationship that I hadn't just let it be.

It was time to take a deep breath and relax a little bit.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 17

I'd like to just stop for a minute and say thank you to each of you who commented and/or e-mailed me. I really appreciate your support and I am so glad that you're reading this! J You are absolutely right—I need to post more often, both on this topic and just in general. If I tried to write all of the things that are going on here, it would make your head spin. In fact, this morning in ABF (Sunday School) I was asked to share my high and low for the week (an activity that I initiated and led, by the way, so I have no one to blame but myself), and I could hardly narrow either of those down to just one thing, and ended my sharing time in tears! It's just been CRAZY. But I guess that means that God is giving me lots of experiences to write about, right??? So anyway, I promise to do better about writing more often. So now, here's your next look into my story………….

Jan had the unfortunate luck of being the second person to tell me to "respect her feelings." If I'd gotten her e-mail before Frank's, I probably wouldn't have said anything. But her e-mail was second, and I was fed up. I sent her a response that still gets me fired up, seven years later! I made it clear that, even though I am now an adult, I was the innocent child in this whole situation. I was tired of her and Frank acting like I was the one inconveniencing them when they were the ones who got themselves into this mess in the first place! Their awkward feelings were not my responsibility—and by the way, this whole situation was no bowl of cherries for me either. I finished by explaining that she was welcome to join us at my graduation party or not, but that she needed to realize that we would not rearrange our lives to keep from inconveniencing her. There would not be separate graduation parties or birthday parties for our future children. If she had a problem with being around my parents, she would have to miss those celebrations, as well as school programs, recitals, and maybe even things that Jon and I were involved in. It was her choice.

She chose to come to the party.

She actually sent me a nice apology. To be honest, I know that I was probably laying more on her than was really fair, and I think she understood why. But I think it was also important for me to figure out just how much she truly wanted to be a part of my life. From the time I had found out that she was my birth mom, she had been adamant that she wanted to have a close relationship… But then I would go weeks or even months without hearing from her. It was frustrating, and it was also very hard on the people-pleaser in me. Every time that she said she wanted to be closer, I thought it was my fault and that I wasn't doing enough, so I'd try harder to e-mail her and keep in touch, but still get little response. I was very stressed over a relationship that I didn't feel should be occupying so much of my worry. So I guess this was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I think it was a good release in a lot of ways.

So Jan came to the party, Frank obviously didn't J, and we all moved on. For a while.

I know this is a short one, but this seems like a good stopping point for today. But believe me, more is on the way!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 16

My poor heart was really working overtime that day—I probably took days off my life! It was pounding right out of my chest as we left Graeter's (the ice cream shop) and drove toward Frank's house.

We pulled up, and immediately noticed that the pick-up truck was gone. (God has always had a way of protecting me from myself. J) But we pressed on. We parked on the road across the street, and I used the back of one of Jon's business card to write a short note in case no one was home.

Jon wanted to go with me, but I asked him to wait in the truck. I needed to do this myself. So with shaking hands—well, OK, my whole body was shaking—I climbed out of the truck and made my way to his front door, silently praying that he wasn't really home.

He wasn't. But his wife was.

I had no idea if she knew who I was or why I was there, and if not, I wasn't sure I should be the one to explain it. So I just gave her the business card, asked her to give it to Frank, and left.

I didn't know what to expect at that point. I had already made one attempt at contact that had gone unanswered. I had left him my e-mail address on the business card, so I went home and waited. I didn't have to wait long.

A couple of days after our trip, I got an e-mail from Frank. If I had worried that we had somehow found the wrong guy, that was no longer an issue. I still have the e-mail somewhere, but I can sum it up pretty well for you without looking… It said, "Don't ever contact me again. If I change my mind, I'll find you." He said that he had never told his wife about me, and that I had caused some problems for him. He hadn't spoken to Jan since the day I was born, and didn't even know that I knew about her, let alone him—he hadn't ever expected to hear from me, and was quite happy to keep it that way.

I don't take rejection well. Here was a man I had never met, a man who knew I had been conceived but had no interest in caring for me even then, a man with whom I had no emotional connection of any kind, yet with one simple e-mail had completely shattered me. The nicest thing in the whole e-mail said, "Please respect my feelings about this and do not contact me again." Oh, and here's the best part… he started off the e-mail with, "Dear Kathy." He didn't even get my name right.

I was crushed.

Around this same time, my parents were planning a graduation party for me. Yes, I had finished school in December, but Heidelberg is a small college and only has graduation once per year, so my actual graduation wasn't until May of 2001. It wasn't anything big, just a little cookout for family at my mom and dad's. But it just so happened that Jan had e-mailed and said that she wanted to come visit, and one of the weekends she suggested was the same weekend as the party. I told her that would work out perfectly, so she could be there.

Let's just stop here and recap for a minute the amount of absolute insanity that was on my plate right at that moment. I had, of course, the normal life stresses that everyone has… I had just finished my senior year of college, moved home, gotten married, moved in with my new husband, and started a new job (which I already completely disliked). I didn't have any friends close by, and I was trying to find where I fit in my church, which had just been "Jon's church" up until we got married. Those things were stressful, but manageable. But then throw this into the mix: within the past year, my birth mom (who I was still in many ways getting to know) had confirmed to me she was gay, she had a girlfriend who I did not care for at all, I had sought out my biological father, found a dear woman to whom I had no real connection but was really starting to love, and then most recently, had been rejected by the man who I wasn't sure I was ready to meet anyway. It had been a big year.

And so we come back to the graduation party. I enjoy spending time with Jan, but as I mentioned, I did not like her partner at all, and I sometimes found it awkward to "hang out" with them. The party seemed like the perfect opportunity for Jan to be part of something that was important to me, and it would also give us something to do, so I didn't feel like I needed to find ways to entertain them during their visit.

Cue the next drama.

Jan responded with a big e-mail about how she was no longer comfortable to be around my parents. This may seem to make sense at first glance, given the fact that she is my biological parent and they are my "real" parents and I'm sure it all seems very awkward; but keep in mind that this came after 20 years of a relationship between them. Jan had not just been part of my life all that time, but part of theirs, too—and they had been part of hers. They didn't always agree with the choices she made, but they cared about her and had really developed a friendship in the midst of it all. And now she just didn't want to see them anymore. To this day I don't know why, really. I know that my parents feel the same way about homosexuality that I do, and I know that Jan is well aware of their feelings, too, so I am sure that this contributes to it… but in her e-mail, she assured me that it had nothing to do with her being gay. She said she would explain it at a future visit, but she never offered and, to be honest, I never asked. I have enough to worry about in my own life, I didn't want to get in the middle of something that wasn't mine to fret over.

Anyway, Jan ended her e-mail with something along the lines of… "Please respect my feelings about this." Sound familiar? It was the same thing that Frank had said in his e-mail.

I'd had enough.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 15

Janet really was, and continues to be, a blessing—a completely unexpected twist to this already complicated tale, but a welcome one. We became very close through our e-mails, in some ways closer than I was with Jan. I think so much of that was the lack of pressure. For one thing, our entire relationship was online, so there was no nervousness when we "met" or anything like that; and since we were such a surprise to each other, there were no expectations. It was a nice oasis in this whole mess!

I finished college in December of 2000, and then Jon and I were married in February of 2001. It was hectic and crazy, but it was wonderful. I moved home from Heidelberg, got through Christmas, spent the month of January working on last-minute wedding plans, got married, and went on a fantastic honeymoon. I then had another month of time to move in to Jon's house and get settled before launching my new career as a software engineer. I was on the fast-track to becoming a grown-up! J

Meanwhile, it became quite apparent that I wouldn't hear from Frank. I thought that I would be OK with that—after all, that's what I had decided when I sent my letter in the first place. I would drop it in the mail, and let God and the postal system take over from there. But then the "what ifs" started to pop up… What if he had moved and hadn't gotten the letter? What if it got lost in the mail somewhere? What if we had the wrong guy? What if he wanted to respond but was embarrassed by his role in the whole thing to start with? What if he had gotten the letter but lost it before he could respond???? So many questions!

And so it happened that in April we had a chance to visit some friends of ours in Columbus. Jon, as I said before, had graduated from Ohio State University, and enjoyed going back to his old stompin' grounds. And I love the city of Columbus—it's such a pretty area—and am always up for a weekend trip in that direction. J But this time, it was different. I spent the entire time thinking about Frank.

The area where he lived was very close to the part of the Ohio State campus where Jon had spent most of his time, and he was pretty familiar with the neighborhood. So at the end of the weekend we said good-bye to our friends, but we didn't head north. Instead we drove to the little town where Frank lived… and found his house. It was a small ranch… in a quiet neighborhood… a pick-up truck and a car were in the driveway…

We kept driving. I didn't want to stop—how could I just do that? Out of the blue? Just drop in, unannounced?

Jon's favorite ice cream place from his college days was right in that neighborhood, so we decided to get our minds off of things with a couple of scoops. J My heart was POUNDING, and I couldn't even enjoy my ice cream. I was so distracted… Every man who came in made me wonder: What if that's him??? What if we're sitting right next to each other and don't even know it? The picture I had of him was 20 years old—I had no idea what he might look like anymore. I couldn't focus on anything else.

So we decided: We would go back to Frank's house, and this time we were going to stop and meet him.

Update--more to follow

Hello, blog friends. I'm sorry I've been incommunicado--the kids and I are enjoying a wonderful vacation in southern California. And while I blogged quite a bit during my trip to Texas, this one has been different because, well, my kids are with me. That doesn't make for lots of quiet, introspective time! As an added obstacle, I've had limited Internet access... And let me tell you, I have new respect for the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's been a tough 10 days for me and my significant other--that is, my laptop. But we only have to make it to tomorrow night, when we'll be back in the comfort of our own home with our wireless Internet access.

Seriously, we are having an absolutely FABULOUS time. We are also very much looking forward to getting home to see Daddy, who wasn't able to join us on this trip. (It's a long story.) The highlight of our trip was a day spent in Disneyland--it was wonderful! I have over 200 pictures of that ONE DAY. Out. of. control.

Here are my favorites:

Jon couldn't make it on this trip, but I'm not corralling the kids alone--his mom is here with us! In fact, we are really here with her, not the other way around. She is a wonderful woman, and we're having a great time being here together.

What would a trip to Disneyland be without getting to meet Mickey Mouse??? Matt is absolutely ENTHRALLED with the Mouse--or "Mou", as he calls him. (That's "mouse" without the "s", if you're not fluent in toddler-ese.)

And the absolute highlight of the day: Meeting Cinderella!!! I really wish I had captured the look in Grace's eyes when she FIRST saw the Princess. I almost cried--she was just so beside herself. The entire trip would have been worthwhile just for that moment.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I am alive and well. I actually do have a couple of chapters of "Katy's Family Forest" ready to go, so I will try to get one of those up later today. In the meantime, I'm off to Legoland! Talk to you all soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A picture meme

I'm quite behind on my blogging. Courtney tagged me in a post four days ago, and I didn't even realize it until just now! But it sounded like fun, so I thought I would join in anyway. Better late than never, right? :-)

So here it is...

The Rules:

Go to your pictures, find the 4th file, then the 4th picture and post it. Tell the story behind the picture in your post. Then pick 4 people to tag.

The Picture:

The Story:
In February we took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge for a little family getaway. It was a lot of fun, but... they hated the water park! Yikes! Here is Matt enjoying a WONDERFUL game of hide & seek in the hotel room. :-)

Now I tag:

You're it!

Katy’s Family Forest, part 14

I was completely unprepared for Frank to be that close. Only two hours away. In Columbus. Our state's capital. Home to Ohio State University, Jon's alma mater. Oh, and coincidentally, only about 30-45 minutes from Jan, my birth mom. They hadn't seen each other or spoken in over 20 years, and they lived less than an hour apart!

I sat on that information for a while. I chewed on it. Now that I had found him… what should I do? What if he had been wondering about me all these years? What if he was waiting for me to contact him? What if he was praying that I didn't? What if he never thought of me at all? And what if, by some chance, we had the wrong guy? A little "Guess what! You're my dad!" letter to the wrong man could really wreak havoc!

Finally, in the middle of my last semester of college, amid finals and honors projects and wedding plans and roommate issues and everything else, I wrote him a letter. I told him who I was and where I was, that I wanted to contact him but needed nothing from him. I didn't need a family or money or… anything else. I just wanted to make contact. I found a recent picture to toss in, and with shaking hands, sent it off to Columbus.

I decided that I had fulfilled my birth-father-search obligation. I had sought him out, found his address, and made an attempt at contact. The ball was now in his court, and whatever he did or didn't do with it was up to him. I was done.

In the meantime, I was developing a wonderfully odd relationship with Janet, the woman who had helped me find him. She was helping me get to know a man I had always wondered about without having to go through the awkwardness of, you know, meeting him.

Through Janet I learned that Frank's wife at the time of his affair with my birth mom had been his third, and that he and that woman had a child just about a year older than me. They were divorced before he and Janet were together, and though he and Janet never married, they lived together for a time in California. They'd had a child together with a rare birth defect, and he had died when he was only a few days old. One could say that Frank didn't handle the loss of his child well—he left Janet the day of the funeral. Of course, he'd also had multiple affairs when they were together—she even caught him in bed with another woman just a few weeks before their child was born.

He sounded like a real peach.

The child they'd lost was actually the reason that Janet had been trying to contact him. She had remarried and now had several children with her husband—some biologically and some adopted—but one of their children had also been born with the same birth defect that her child with Frank had. This child had lived longer—until he was 14—but eventually succumbed to the illness. (I know you're curious, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the illness was.) Anyway, she now lived in Illinois and wanted both of her children buried together. She needed Frank's approval to move their son from California to Illinois. So she searched for him online, found him, then found us! By the way, he refused permission.

I was starting to wonder why I had even tried to contact him. It made the silent response to my letter a little easier to bear.

Through Janet I also got the only real look at Frank I'd ever had. She sent me a picture of him holding his daughter Kristen—the one who was just a year or so older than me—when she was about 3 years old. She also sent me an old slide of his parents, and told me a little bit about his family. They were from Pennsylvania… his dad had died years ago, and his mom was alive but suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. I believe he had a younger brother maybe, too…

Janet was a real God-send. It was wonderful to have this connection, and yet feel very protected from the harsh reality that seemed to be my birth father. And she was thrilled to feel that her child with Frank had another sibling, and welcomed me as part of their family. By e-mail I heard all about her husband, her children, her job… It really was like we were family, as though my lineage weren't complicated enough.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 13

Jan—let's call her Janet, to keep her straight from my birth mom J—quickly e-mailed Jon back to confirm that we were indeed talking about the same person. I'm still not sure how she was so confident. I'm telling you, we're not talking about a real unique name here, people. Anyway, Jon passed her e-mail on to me to handle as I saw fit. You see, I hadn't truly expected to find him. Before Jon had come across this messageboard, I had decided that I didn't want to invest the money in the investigator he had talked to. I didn't imagine in a million years that we would be able to contact him on our own. So now that the opportunity was right there in front of my face, I was no longer so sure I wanted to go forward with it. Jon assured me that he would leave the ball in my court.

But then, for some reason, he didn't. He felt obligated to respond to Janet's e-mail, and he told her why we were searching for Frank. It seems like such a minor detail now, so unimportant, but at the time I was absolutely devastated. This was a big step for me, and I wanted to take it in my way, on my time. Instead, he'd pushed me right down the staircase!

It was probably the shove that I needed, though. I now felt that I had no choice but to e-mail this woman about this man who I wasn't even sure I wanted to find. So I did. I told her who I was—probably reiterated a lot of the things Jon had already said—and explained why I was looking for Frank. I had no idea when I hit the "send" button what an integral part of my life she would become over the next several years.

Somewhere I still have that first e-mail that Janet sent me. I was in awe of how God had dropped her in our laps—I still am. Yes, she said again, we were talking about the same Frank… and she also knew who I was. She and Frank had had a relationship shortly after his relationship with my birth mom—but theirs had been… well, more "real", for lack of a better word. While I surmise that Frank's relationship with Jan had been a fling (and had definitely been an affair), he and Janet had been in a long-term, somewhat-committed (more on that later) relationship. One where they lived together and had a child together as a result of actually TRYING to get pregnant. She had known about Frank's affair with Jan and knew that they'd had a child who had been given up for adoption. And now here we were, 21 years later, "meeting" for the first time by the miracle of the internet.

And then I got it—Frank's address. I'm not sure if the message Jon had come across online was an old one, or if she had found him in the interim or what, but she now had his physical address. And she sent it to me.

And this man… the one who had lived in Colorado when I was born… who had lived in California when I was a child… who had traveled the world as a member of the Air Force… lived in Columbus, Ohio. Two hours away from me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Good morning! I just wanted to pop in and tell you how great things are going here in Grapevine. And it. is. AWESOME.

MOPS Convention is an experience that I just cannot describe. I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend a trip to Convention for all MOPS leaders. It gives such a new perspective on what MOPS really is--what the values and goals are, the value placed on making better moms, women, and leaders in the name of Jesus Christ. It is truly incredible.

A few of the more memorable speakers I have heard so far... Patrick Lencioni is the founder and president of a consulting group that has worked with Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and major universities--and he found that, even though all of the executives said that family was a higher priority than their business, they spent more time working on improving their business. So he developed some principles to help make family life a little less chaotic. I REALLY got a lot out of this one, and plan to buy the DVD to share with my husband.

Mike Miller works with Family Time, an organization committed to helping families institute intentional spiritual training in the home through regular family time. This was another fantastic session. I went in expecting it to be a sales pitch for their product, but instead it was a VERY well-done talk about not outsourcing our children's spiritual development to the church. That doesn't negate the need for church or the benefit of programs like AWANA, but those things still need to be demonstrated and taught in the home in order to really make a lasting impact. And he also took off the pressure that "family night" needs to be a huge 3-hour ordeal--just 10-15 minutes of uninterrupted fun time with a purpose can make such a difference! Mike travels all over and often speaks to groups of dads... I wish he were coming somewhere near us so that I could send my husband!

And Dr. Tim Kimmel spoke about Grace-Based Parenting, which really hit me right where I am. He again talked about the need to be directly involved in our children's spiritual training, and... oh my goodness, I feel like I can't even give you a synopsis of what he said--you just need to check him out for yourselves. He definitely had a lot of ideas that I want to implement in our home.

And I am VERY excited for today, because I get to hear the man who wrote the second-best book (next to the Bible ;-) ) that I have ever read: Erwin McManus. (The book that I'm talking about is Chasing Daylight.) He is addressing us all during the general session, and then I will also be going to his workshop afterward. THIS is the talk I have been waiting for the whole weekend! YAY!

So as you can tell, things are going well. I am missing my family and will be ready to go home tomorrow, but I think it's good for me to have a chance to miss them a little bit! :-)

The only downside is that I am not sleeping well or feeling very well. I don't think that I am getting sick, I think it's a combination of stress from some other things that are going on and my crazy hormones. If you get a chance to pray for me, especially as I travel tomorrow, I would appreciate that.

For now, though, I am off to enjoy two talks by a great man, some wonderful worship and quality time with other moms, and then a relaxing time by the pool!

See you all soon...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 12

As if entering my senior year of college, planning a wedding, and finding out that my biological mother was gay weren't enough… for some reason, that summer it became very important to Jon that I locate my biological father. To be fair, it's not like he was pushing me in a direction I didn't want to go—I had at some point told him that I felt I was ready to start searching for this man. When I had first found out the details of my adoption from my parents, knowing that Jan was my birth mom was enough. I didn't want to push any harder—I couldn't take any more! But now two years had gone by, my relationship with Jan was settling into its own unsteady rhythm, and I was becoming a stronger person. I felt that I could handle whatever lay behind that door.


In all honesty, when I told Jon that I was ready to search for my biological father—Frank—I just meant I was ready to spend a few minutes on the internet Googling him (Did we have Google back in 2000?) and then give up and say, "Well, at least we tried." But to Jon, this became a real mission.

So let's start with what Jan knew about him. It wasn't much. She knew his name (which is a very common one, both first and last), the state that he lived in when they met, that he was also in the Air Force, and that he was married at the time of their relationship. Her last direct contact with him was on the day that I was born, or maybe the day after, when she told him that she had given me up for adoption. She knew that he had lived in California at some point after that, but had no address or anything like that.

That was it. Wait—I believe we even knew his MIDDLE INITIAL. Yep, now THAT is a detail, folks! Seriously, it wasn't much to go on, and we weren't even sure where to start. Jon, a landlord who periodically has to track down tenants who chose to skip town without paying their rent, quickly thought to contact a man that he sometimes used to aid with finding such tenants. He agreed to help, but warned us that it could be expensive. He talked to us about some options to keep cost down… like he would print out a list of every man with that name in the right age range who had a military background, and then Jon and I could do further research on each person on the list to eliminate the wrong ones. Yikes!

I was ready to give up. I was reading the writing on the wall: Don't go down this road. But now that we had started, it was hard to stop. Especially for Jon. When he would get burned out at the office and need a break (He was a workaholic who often stayed at the office until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, only to return by 7:30 or 8:00.), he would search online for anything that might help.

And that's how we got our big break. He somehow came across a messageboard for people searching people who had been in the military. (Did ya follow that?) And do you know what he found? A message from a woman named Jan searching for a man named Frank (with the same last name as my birth father) who had been in the Air Force in the 70s and 80s. He knew that the woman was not my birth mom, but it seemed like more than a coincidence. He used her profile to contact her and explain what little we knew of my birth father (without disclosing why we were looking for him), and asked if it was possible that we were seeking the same person.

We were.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the Road Again

Greetings from the Akron-Canton Airport! I am officially on my way to Texas—and with it, freedom from all responsibility for the next FIVE DAYS. Freedom, people. I have no children with me, no dishes or laundry, no roles or obligations. I can do ANYTHING I WANT from now until Sunday. And I am choosing to blog with YOU. Now that's sayin' somethin'. I don't know what, but something.

As I sit here, alone with my thoughts and the other mid-week travelers who were thinkin' Arby's (I don't know why I've suddenly dropped my "g's" in my writing, but I'm havin' fun with it.), I am reflecting on my week. I won't lie to you, it's not been a good one. A lot has happened in the last few days, and this trip is MUCH needed. But God is good, and here are the lessons He has laid on my heart…

  • Forgiveness is not a dot, it's a line. Just two days ago I gave this advice to a friend. I had no idea at the time that it was about to become very applicable to my own life. Forgiveness is essential to any human relationship—we are, after all, human. But because we're human, forgiveness is often not a one-time decision. Our hurt feelings don't just turn off. New issues and thoughts come up, new hurts remind us of old ones, negative interactions with someone we care about can impact the way we relate in the future. Forgiveness may have to be given—at least inside our minds and hearts—again… and again… and again. It is a conscious choice to say, "I'm giving up my right to hurt you because you hurt me." And sometimes that choice has to be made multiple times, in biting our tongues, in not allowing our minds to dwell on past hurts or "what I should've saids" or things like that. (Don't get me wrong, there are times that issues need to be readdressed. But that's a separate issue from just hanging onto hurt.)
  • If you deal with the little leaks, you won't have big ones. I have shared before that I am a people pleaser. I don't like for people to be mad at me, to bring up things that are potentially uncomfortable or awkward. I don't like confrontation—but then again, who really does? But I have learned over the years that being upfront and honest in the short run can prevent a LOT of awkwardness and hurt feelings in the long run. Yes, there are times when we have to just let things go. But if something is bothering you and you are ignoring it, not letting it go, it will grow and grow and will eventually come out and be a MUCH bigger deal than if you handle it from the beginning. I would much rather someone be honest with me and hurt my feelings a little bit than allow something to fester and potentially destroy a relationship.
  • We all fall short. I mentioned it before: We are all human. We are all sinners. We are all fallible. Everyone in life will at some point let us down—our friends, our parents, our children, even our spouses. So if we are hurting because of one human relationship, why do we think that another human is the place to go for comfort and solace and support? Yes, I know, it is important to be able to talk through your feelings with someone… but why aren't we quicker to turn to the One who will never let us down? The One who is perfect, who is always there, who loves us and guides us and comforts us the way that no person ever can? If I want to teach my children to not follow in my people-pleasing footsteps, then they need to see me go to my knees in times of trouble, not to the phone.
  • We serve the same God. I heard the testimony of an amazing man named Stanley Tam over the weekend. I highly encourage you to check him out—he is unbelievable! The link I have given you is just one of many you will find if you Google him. ANYWAY, during his testimony he said that he had always admired a man named George Muller, who spent his life working with orphans. Muller would never ask anyone for money—if he had a need, he would shut himself in a room and pray for God to provide, and He always did. After sharing that tidbit, Stanley said, "Then I realized—I serve the same God that George Muller did. There's no reason I can't do the same thing." I'd never thought of it that way. The point is… it's not people who are great, it is GOD. We all have different roles in the body, but God can work just as powerfully in my life and your life as He does in Stanley Tam's or Billy Graham's or fill-in-the-blank-with-someone-whose-spiritual-walk-you-admire. It's not a matter of what you can do, but what you allow Him to do through you.
  • Following God's will does not mean life is easy. This is the crux of my friend Leigh-Ann's ministry, but it is something that I am still learning. God has opened some tremendous doors for me in the past year or so, and I have eagerly followed. I haven't always made every right decision along the way, but I truly believe my heart is pure before Him. And you know what? Sometimes I still fail. Sometimes others disagree. Sometimes I still get hurt and struggle and worry. And sometimes that is not in spite of following God, sometimes it's just a part of the journey.

So there's my heart this morning. Wow, God's really working on even more than I realized in me. Have you ever read Max Lucado's book On the Anvil? I think that's where I am right now. God's hammering away, and sometimes it hurts, but it's shaping me into who He would have me to be. Amen, Lord. Have Your way in me.

Well, I'm down to a mere 1 ½ hours before my flight, and I have a full 20 feet or so to walk to my gate, so I suppose I should rush right over there. J By the way, the Akron-Canton Airport has a really nice kids' play area full of Step 2 stuff! It's so cool, I almost wish my kids were here to play with it. Almost.

I'll be working on my next Family Forest post on my day o' travel, too, so you'll be hearing more from me soon.

God bless.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It’s Official.

I'm a sap. In the past, I always prided myself on being a "girly girl" without being a "drama queen." Oh, I had my moments, I'm sure—especially in those pre-teen and teenage years. But overall, I was never one to cry at movies or say tearful goodbyes or… things like that. I didn't even like to think about doing those kind of things. Shudder.

But that person moved out about the time that I got married, and she has been replaced by a sappy, emotional glob of a woman. Being a mom has only exacerbated this condition.

And so tonight, I give you a sappy tribute to my evening.

It was a rare—much too rare—girls' night out. Yes, I posted the last time I had a night out with my girlfriends, too. Sap, sap, sap. Tonight I had Praise Band practice at church, and a babysitter for the entire evening, so I arranged to meet two of my closest friends at Panera after practice. (An interesting side note… don't schedule an outing at Panera at 8:30. They close at 9:00. And they will vacuum all around you until you leave.) As we caught up and gabbed about our days and our kids and our hobbies and our kids' hobbies and our news and our victories and our struggles… it struck me that, at some point, we entered a new phase in our lives. And it's an exciting one.

These girls and I have been friends for about 7 years now—and they have known each other for much longer than that. We went through the "young married" stage together… and even though one already had kids when we became friends and has parenting issues that I haven't reached yet, we were (ARE) still "young parents" together (and her youngest is in between my two, so we're experiencing that baby/toddler/preschooler stuff together too)… we've had date nights and girls' nights and play dates and birthday parties and all sorts of different stages together. And now we're all embarking on a new stage in life… the stage where we're really figuring out who we are, why we're here, what we're doing with our lives.


One of us is considering getting her doctorate. One has a book coming out. And me… well, I don't have anything that notable to brag about, but I think I'm finally starting to hit the "sweet spot" of where God wants me in ministry. It's amazing. We've all got so much going on.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying, "We're busy." We've always been busy. That's just called life. But tonight I realized we're all growing up, realizing our potential, becoming real, actual adults. Scary. And exciting.

Friendships change as you grow up. I've always known that, but I kinda thought once you were an adult, your adult friendships would just stay the same. I'm finding that's not the case. They keep changing, because we keep changing. I've seen friendships come and go, even as an adult. I've seen friendships take off like a rocket and then fizzle out. I've seen some that fail to get off the ground. But the true test of friendship is adaptability. My friendships with these two girls haven't stayed the same over the past seven years, but they have stayed.

I know I'm all over the map tonight. If you're still reading this, treat yourself to a cookie. (And if you have an extra, can you send it my way? In addition to becoming a sap, I've also turned into a bit of an emotional eater…….) But I guess I've just been thinking a lot lately about the fact that I will be turning 30 next year. (Yes, I know, it is still TEN MONTHS away… but I'm a planner, what can I say???) I think it's easy, especially in our youth-oriented society, to feel like you're losing something when you leave your 20s behind. But I just don't think so. My focus is clearer than it ever has been, my wants are deeper, my friendships—though different and harder to fit in than they were in my pre-kid 20s—stronger. I'm entering a new phase in life, and I've got great company. Thanks, friends. I'm excited to embark on our separate journeys together.

Alright, I need to go do something less sappy now. Like eat.

Katy’s Family Forest, part 11

Oh my GOODNESS, it's been far too long since I picked up my story. I am so sorry. How do you all put up with me??? Well, here I am now, avoiding the laundry that is calling my name, ignoring the fact that I am taking three trips in the next month and haven't even started thinking about them, refusing to see the dust gathering on the furniture. I have a blog that demands attention! J

Well, I'm sure you don't want me to get off on a huge tangent here, so I'll try to keep this part of the story as brief as possible. I went to lunch that day with Jon, his half-brother, and my cousin. Needless to say, she and I didn't have any deep conversation about her relationship with her destructive boyfriend. But during that lunch… oh yeah, and another one a week later… I realized that I was not quite over my childhood crush on Jon. Between that and some mad matchmaking skills of my cousin, Jon and I went on our first date on January 29, 2000.

That date was followed by a second and a third and… well, you get the idea. J After several years of dating and wondering how I would know when I had met "the one", I realized just how easy it could be. Within two months we were talking about marriage, and Jon officially popped the question on May 20, 2000. We were married on February 17, 2001, and have been living happily ever after ever since! J

Anyway, while we were engaged, we went to visit Jan. I honestly don't remember when she first met him—but I'm pretty sure this visit wasn't the first time. I could be wrong, though. But either way, there we were, an awkward little foursome: me, Jon, Jan, and Roommate Pam. Whether or not it was the first time Jan had met my husband-to-be, it was definitely the first time I had visited her—she had always come to me. And one thing became very obvious very fast: it was a two-bedroom duplex where only one bedroom was being used.

Yes, I'd had my suspicions, but I don't think I really believed them—or maybe I just didn't really want to face them. But now there was no question. And it became even more evident the next day when Pam came to me and Jon and said, "There are some things that Jan wants to talk to Katy about privately. She's uncomfortable to say anything, but I don't mind telling you—she needs some time alone with you." So later that day the four of us went somewhere and decided for some reason that it was better to take two cars… so I rode with Jan and Jon rode with Pam.

And that was when we had the talk.

"I think it's important that you know… that I am gay," she told me.

"I know," I said.

"You know?"

Why do we always think we're better secret keepers than we are? I remember trying to keep things from my parents as a child and teenager… they always knew. I think Jan honestly believed that no one had any inkling of her orientation. But the signs were all there, and it didn't take a genius to put the pieces together.

Anyway, it was an odd conversation, and it was one that could have ended a fragile relationship, but it didn't. I was honest with Jan about my view of homosexuality, but I also assured her that I disapproved of her lifestyle and not of her as a person. I have any number of flaws and sinful struggles, and if someone chose to just label and view me as one of my struggles, they probably wouldn't waste their time on me. But I would hope that people chose to see beyond those flaws and love me anyway. That's how I feel about Jan. I continue to wrestle with her stance on homosexuality and her view of Christianity (and there will be more on that later…), but I also continue to love her. And ultimately, it was good to not wonder anymore. It was nice to have all of the facts out on the table, you know?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pictures (or not) and an award!

Happy Thursday! OK, so I'm not FULLY back into normal posting mode yet, but I'm getting there. After all, this is the SECOND post this week. Woo-hoo!

I promise, PROMISE to post another installment of "Katy's Family Forest" within the next week. In the meantime, I wanted to post some pics from the conference for you all, but that is proving to be more difficult than I thought. I made a slideshow on Photobucket, but can't figure out how to embed it... Anybody have any tips for me????

For now, though, I want to share an award that was given to me this week--my first blog award! YAY!!! Courtney generously bestowed this award upon my humble abode here on the World Wide Web. :-)

Thanks Courtney! It is now my job to pass the award on to 7 other bloggers. Goodness gracious, how do I do just 7??? So here goes...

1. Erin is such a dear friend, and her blog is lots of fun too. Check out the very first ultrasound picture of the baby in her belly!!! :-)

2. BooMama is hilarious and sweet and oh-so-southern. :-) Her blog has been one of my favorite finds.

3. Everything Mom--a fellow Ohioan! I enjoy reading her blog because so often I feel like we are living the same life!

4. Toddled Dredge--So right on for moms with little ones! (It's hard coming up with something unique to say about each of these........)

5. Simplifying Motherhood--Trish Berg's wonderful blog about mothering and life!

6. Rocks in my Dryer--A warm, funny, honest look into the life of the Dryer family. This blog is SO well-known in the blogosphere, and there's a reason! :-)

7. And last but DEFINITELY not least, Bring the Rain--absolutely my favorite blog out there. I occassionally (read, "almost always") get behind on my blog reader, but I NEVER miss one of Angie's posts. She is a wonderful servant of Christ, and is equally transparent in her highs and her lows, her struggles and the funny observations of her beautiful girls.

So to the seven listed, congrats and thank you! Enjoy your new award!

For the rest of you who are waiting for conference pics (and details) and the next part of my adoption story, they're coming--I promise! I'll work on them during naptime today--we have enough clean clothes to last us through the weekend, so laundry is definitely not a priority.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We are experiencing technical difficulties..

I have a whole post written out for you all, but Blogger isn't letting me post it for some reason... I need to walk away from it for a while, or my beloved laptop will bear the brunt of my anger with the Blogger Gnomes.

But there is more coming, I promise.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What IS normal, anyway?

Good morning, Internet Buddies! :-) I hope you are all having a great week. I am finally emerging from the fog after a whirlwind weekend.

The conference was absolutely fantastic, and I am so grateful that God chose to make me a part of it. Our speakers were wonderful, the worship was great, the vendor fair was the perfect addition, and the women there were awesome. It was such a huge blessing to see it all come together!

This afternoon I will upload the pictures off of my camera, and I will post some on here for you all.

I promise to be around more, and I look forward to reconnecting with you all! I'll talk to you soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sale, Sale, Sale!!!

Yes, this is about the conference! But this is great news!!!

Back-to-School Sale
Now through Friday, September 5, tickets to The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride: A Conference for Moms are only $20!!! (Regular price is $35.) This is a great value! If you have been waiting to register, now is the time. If you have a friend you'd like to invite, now is the time! Remember, this price is only good until Friday, so register now!

We are also offering fantastic group rates until Monday, September 8. Groups of 20 or more can get tickets for just $12.50 per person; groups of 50 or more can get tickets for just $10 per person! For more information, please visit the web site.

Thanks for your time, ladies. I hope to see you next weekend!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Update--Or, "Why I am a bad bloggy friend"

OK, I admit it. I am a very bad blogger right now! I fully intended to write two or three more posts last week--I have them riiiiiiight here. (I'm pointing to my head right now, you just can't see it.) But they never made it onto the blog.

So I feel I should be up-front with you... Until the conference is over (which is in less than TWO WEEKS now), I am not likely to post more than once a week, if that. After that, things will be much more normal, I promise. But right now I am streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessed.

Here's just a little sampler of what is happening: First and foremost is, of course, the conference. Not only am I busy with it beyond words, I'm also in need of much prayer for it. As I said in my last post, I am really trusting God for whatever happens, but it's not easy. I just really covet your prayers for this event and for me. This morning I have found myself repeatedly praying over Matthew 6:25-34, especially verse 27: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" I am praying that God will help me to be smart and diligent and effective in my preparations, and to trust Him with the outcome. Did I mention it's not easy?

And second, everything else. In addition to the conference, my MOPS group is also getting ready for a few publicity events AND the beginning of our MOPS year. And it's my first year leading the group. It's a very busy time.

I was in a car accident last week. Everyone is fine, but I was cited, and now I have the great joy of meeting with the insurance adjuster, getting estimates, and getting it fixed. I am supposed to meet with the adjuster tomorrow (at a garage), but now my "drivable" car won't start. Oh, and I have so much to do for the conference that I simply don't have two or three days to be "car-less" while it is fixed, either... Argh...

My dad is in the hospital. My mom took him in to the ER on Sunday with chest pains that went down his left arm. From what I gather, he did not have a heart attack but it IS heart-related. My dad has some stents in his heart, and they suspect that there is a problem with one of those. He should be having some tests done soon--but yesterday the machine broke, so they're not sure when.

But on the other hand, we had a wonderful weekend as a family. For the first time in over two years, my dear husband is starting to feel like he's not just treading water at work. He actually took off the entire weekend, which just doesn't happen in this house. In fact, I can't remember the last time he took off a "non-major" holiday. We spent a day at the beach, some time with my parents and his mom, and lots of time here at home with the kids. And Jon was so great about working diligently on laundry and dishes and straightening the house so that my week would get off to a good start, too. God has truly blessed me with him. :-)

So that's the basic update. There are other things, but these are the ones that I really wanted to share. I appreciate your prayers and look forward to being able to post more soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trust, revisited

It is theme week here at Katy's Mommy Musings. Yes, that means that I am actually going to attempt to write multiple meaningful posts in the same week! The key word here is "attempt"—the next several weeks are going to be quite hectic for me, and it's difficult to find time to sit down and write. But God has really laid some important things on my heart, and I want to share them with you.

It all started this morning when I sat down to create this post, and I kept getting off-track from the original point I wanted to make. As I typed, thoughts and conversations and events from my past few weeks kept coming to mind, and I realized that I have a lot to say on the topic. What topic is that? Trusting in God's goodness and sufficiency.

I wrote a post about trust a while ago… but apparently I've got a thick skull, and God has to keep pounding the same lesson into my brain. And since I have to review it, so do you. J

So here's what I originally sat down to say this morning: Our idea of God's goodness can sometimes be warped by our humanness. We equate goodness with happy endings, and that's just not always the case. We read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and we think that it was awesome that they trusted in God even though they didn't know whether or not He would save them—and then of course He did save them. God is good.

And then there are stories like John the Baptist's. He trusted God and followed His will, and then he was beheaded. Was John wrong about God's will? Did he somehow misread what he was supposed to be doing, so God allowed him to be killed? No. He was serving God in his life and his death. And God is good.

I've been thinking a lot about the moms' conference lately. (Ha! That's an understatement!) I've been telling myself and anyone else who will listen, "I trust God with this conference." It's become a bit of a mantra for me, something I chant without giving it a second thought. "I trust God with this conference." But what I really mean is, "I trust God to make this conference wildly successful." I'm realizing that those two statements aren't the same thing.

You see, the conference is not working out quite the way we had hoped. This fundraiser for our MOPS group is right now costing me… well, let's just say it's costing me. We need 150 attendees to break even, and as of today (less than 3 weeks before the event) we have 32.

I have spent a lot of time going over the past eight months, since I started planning this conference. Did I do something wrong? Did I not pray enough before I went ahead with the planning? Did I get off-track somewhere, making this conference about my glory instead of God's? OK, I'll be honest, I have struggled with that, but honestly—after much prayer and reflection—I completely and totally believe that God has led the planning of this conference.

And He has led the promotion and publicity and led every single registrant to register. And He will continue to do so. And maybe He'll choose to bring in another 200 new women on the day of the event and it'll be a roaring success.

And maybe He won't. Maybe I'll lose money on it. Maybe our break-out sessions will each have 5-10 people in them. Maybe half the people who have already registered won't even come.

And He'll still be good. It will still have been His event. I will still feel confident that I followed His leading. He will still use it for His glory.

God is good. In fact, "…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) Sometimes that happens in a way that makes sense to us, like saving three faithful servants from the fiery furnace. And sometimes He allows sacrifices to be made to better serve His purposes, for the good of all those who love Him.

Today I rest in knowing that God is good, no matter the circumstance. He sees a much bigger picture than I do, and I will trust Him, even if………

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

The kids and I just got back from the fair, and I was going to post one of those pics... but my camera is still in my car, and frankly I am just too lazy to go get it. So this is a photo from our vacation back in June that I've been wanting to share; it is Gracie wearing her "good listening ears." :-)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 10

So much of the next few years, Jan and I just spent time redefining our relationship. Who were we to each other, exactly? What were the expectations? The parameters? Honestly, we're still working on that.

After all, to Jan I have always been her daughter… but that's still a little bit weird for me. I mean, I have a mom (and a dad J) and it's not her. She was always a family friend, and someone who I really liked, but I felt no real connection to her, no familial love. It was difficult to just flip that switch. And I think we both struggled with how much we should expect to be in touch, how often we should see each other, that kind of thing. No real template exists for this kind of relationship, you know? We had no Robert's Rules of Order to follow, no Miss Manners to consult. So we muscled through, and though there were times that I was frustrated with her—and I'm sure vice versa—we managed. J

And now comes another sticky part to the story. Although most people who know me "in real life" know about this, I'm hesitant to put it out there on the blogosphere, because I know not everyone is going to have the same viewpoints and opinions that I do. That's OK. Please understand and respect that this is my story, and I am not trying to put anyone down, but just to tell the story from my perspective. OK, there's my disclaimer.

So a few months after Jan and I had "reconnected," I started to notice a pattern. Yes, Jan moved a lot, as I had mentioned before. But she also rarely lived alone. Most of the time that I had known her, she'd had a roommate—and not the same roommate, but a series of them. Honestly, this had never struck me as odd, that two single women might just want to share an apartment; but shortly after that first time she came to see me as my birth mom, she introduced me to her new roommate. Let's call her Pam.

The very first time that I met Pam, I knew. They weren't just roommates. And THAT is really when I started to think about the fact that Jan had lived with several women in the years that I had known her. Now that doesn't mean that every one of them was a girlfriend, but looking back I'm pretty sure that Pam wasn't the first one.

Still, I was only 19 and honestly had never known anyone who was gay, so I asked my parents if they thought that she was. They weren't sure either, but weren't ruling it out. I decided that at that particular point in time, Jan and I had enough to deal with, and I was going to leave well enough alone. It didn't take long for me to be certain, though. I could just tell every time I was around the two of them. Sometimes I could tell by the way they talked and laughed together, other times by the way that they fought; but each time they interacted, it wasn't just as women who shared an apartment to cut rent in half. Oh, and then there were the matching gold and diamond rings that they wore on their left hands. That too.

I could tell that Jan thought I didn't know, and I could tell she preferred it that way, so I still just chose to leave it alone. Still, it raised a lot of questions for me… I mean, obviously at some point she wasn't gay, so when did this happen? Why? How long ago? And yes (please remember, this is my story), I believe that homosexuality is a sin… So what did this mean for her salvation (as she was—and is—a professing Christian)? And how would it affect our relationship?

These are, by the way, questions I still ask myself. To this day I don't know all the answers.

In the meantime, my own personal life was getting back on track. After my big heartbreak the same summer I learned about Jan, I had a few more rough months… but then God really got ahold of my heart, and fortunately He's never let go. Things turned around dramatically sometime around Christmas of my sophomore year. I realized that I was weary of being so darn stubborn, and I just needed rest in His arms and His love—as hard as life as a Christian can be, it's so much easier to let God lead than to attempt to do it on your own.

Fortunately, this also seriously changed the type of guy I was looking for. Whew! (That was me breathing a sigh of relief for myself.) I had one semi-serious relationship with an old friend from Bible quizzing, but honestly that was over long before we broke it off. Still he was a decent, intelligent, nice, respectful guy—nothing like anyone I had dated for the two years prior.

And then while I was home for Christmas break in my junior year, I got a phone call from my aunt. Her youngest daughter—3 or 4 younger than me—was making some bad decisions in the boy arena, and my aunt asked if I would try to talk to her. Ha, like I had been a great role model. At least I could speak from experience! So I called and asked if I could take her out to lunch. She asked me if I would pick her up from work to go.

Julie was still in high school, but was also working… hmmm, now that I think about it, I can't quite figure out how that worked. Maybe she worked after school and during breaks or something, I don't remember. Anyway, her boss was a man named Jon. She had gotten the job because her sister was married to one of Jon's best friends, and her family had gotten to know Jon over the years… And by "her family" I mean both her immediate and her extended family. As in me. I had met Jon when I was only 12 (he was 17), and I had a HUGE crush on him. For YEARS. All through junior high and high school. The last time I'd seen him was when my cousin and his friend had gotten married—we were both in the wedding. I had a boyfriend at the time, and I cried the whole way home from the wedding, because I still had such a crush on Jon! My poor boyfriend had no idea what was going on. Poor kid.

No wait. I had seen him one time after that. Yikes, this is even worse. He was the owner of a teen club, and I went to it with Julie… just to see him. YEAH, like the fact that I was still young enough to be admitted to the teen club that he owned would be real impressive……. (By the way, he does not remember that night. Just as well. Not one of my shining moments.)

Anyway, that had been two or three years ago. Since the wedding, I had graduated from high school (valedictorian of my class), gone to college (with a huge scholarship!), excelled in all of my classes (the only girl in my particular field of study!), and was doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. I was not nervous in the least to see this guy I had drooled over for a good six years of my life, and I of course had no interest in him now. That, by the way, was my pep talk to myself on the way to Julie's office, where I was quite likely to run into Jon again.

I went in, anxious both about seeing him again and trying to have this serious talk with my cousin who I was quite certain didn't even want my advice. I didn't need to worry about the second one. She had known what was coming and decided to avoid it by playing off of my first anxiety… she invited Jon to come to lunch with us.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thank you!

A big old THANK YOU to Brooke Taylor and Trish Berg for plugging the Moms' Conference during their interview on the Fish this morning. They both also posted about it on their blogs--Trish's blog is Simplifying Motherhood, and Brooke spoke about Trish and the conference on The Mom Squad.

Thank you ladies! I look forward to seeing you both (and you--yes, YOU, the person reading this!) in September!

For more details about the Moms' Conference, go to

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 9

I think I was in a fog for the rest of the day, maybe the next several days. My mind was working overtime, putting together all of the pieces of my relationship with Jan over the years. I may have come to the conclusion that she was my birth mom before my parents told me, but that doesn't mean I was really able to wrap my mind around it right away!

The next morning I decided to call Jan and let her know that I had found out everything. Did I mention that Jan moved around a lot? The last time I had seen or talked to her was at my high school graduation, about a month before my 18th birthday. I am assuming that she backed off after that because she was giving me space—she probably figured that I would find out about her within a few days of turning 18, and she wanted me to be able to get in touch with her when I felt comfortable. I'm sure she didn't expect me to wait over a year to search her out.

Anyway, apparently in that time, she moved. The previous summer she'd lived with a roommate in Columbus, and we called that apartment first… only to find out that she had moved suddenly and not left a forwarding address or phone number. We had one other contact—the family Jan had lived with when she was pregnant with me. We called them, but they didn't know where she was either.

This was getting more complicated than I was ready to deal with.

And then… are you ready for this? The phone rang. Guess who.

Yep, I hadn't heard from Jan in over a year, and now, WHILE I WAS TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO CONTACT HER, she called. Out of the blue. She had no idea that we were trying to get in touch with her.

Honestly… I don't remember much about that first conversation. I know that I answered the phone. I know that I told her I knew she was my birth mom, and I know she was relieved. But that's really all I remember. I don't think we got into any great details that day, but we set up a time for her to come visit.

That is when we were really able to talk.

It's difficult to relay to you my full story without telling hers… but I really don't want to betray her privacy. So let me sum up a lot by saying… Jan didn't come from a stable background. She'd had a lot of struggles as a child and teenager, and she finally decided to join the Air Force. She felt that would give her some stability, some discipline.

And then she met him. Jan was a mechanic in the Air Force, and there was a crash involving aircraft from her base, so the Air Force sent an officer to investigate. The man who would become my birth father. I honestly don't know how much of a relationship they had—I know that she still says she was very much in love with him. I also know that he lived in a different state. And he was married. Not the makings of a healthy, committed relationship.

When Jan got pregnant with me, it was mandatory that she leave the Air Force—adultery is not allowed. My birth father would have been asked to leave as well, except that she wouldn't tell anyone who he was. So suddenly she was on her own again. She returned to Ohio, to a pastor and his family who had taken her in during her late teen years, and then decided to go to Bible college.

In the meantime, by the way, my birth father was not offering any help to her… until a friend of hers basically blackmailed him. She threatened to tell his commanding officer that he was the father, which as I said before would have ended his career in the Air Force. So he started paying for her medical bills—although he didn't know that she had insurance that was already covering that. (Remember way back when I said my parents had wanted to help with her expenses, but she didn't need it? And the judge said if they had given her any money, he would have taken the baby away? Yeah, God works in mysterious ways……….)

And that was really all she could tell me. She knew his name, where he was stationed when the two of them met, and… well, that was pretty much it. Not much to go on if I wanted to find him… but then again, at that point, I really didn't. Right then I already had enough on my plate.

We had a good evening of just catching up and exchanging memories and filling in some gaps. And we promised to be in touch more.

But believe me, the story is far from over.

Woo-hoo! I'm saucy! :-)

I've been listed as a "Saucy Blog" on The Secret is in the Sauce! Thanks!!! And welcome, SITStas. :-)

I will post more in a few hours, but right now my kids are down for naps, my house is a disaster, and my husband (who has been out of town for the weekend) will be home tonight! I'm a woman on a mission to get my house back in order!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Are you surviving motherhood? Check out Trish Berg!

My new friend, Trish Berg, is a wonderful author and speaker. She is also a featured speaker at the upcoming Moms' Conference I keep talking about. And now... you can hear her on the radio!

Trish will be interviewed by Dr. Kevin Lehman on "Focus on the Family" tomorrow and Friday (August 7 & 8). (Dr. Lehman was guest-hosting for Dr. Dobson.) Here in NE Ohio you can listen to the interview at 4 PM on 103.3, WCRF. For other air times, please visit Focus on the Family's web site.

AND Trish and fellow Moms' Conference speaker (our keynote speaker, no less! :-)) Brooke Taylor will be talking on 95.5 The Fish soon too! The interview is being taped tomorrow, and Brooke indicated that it will likely air on Friday. I will update this post if/when I have more details.

These are great opportunities to hear Trish and what she has to say about motherhood and Christmas (the topic of her newest book). I hope you'll check it out!

Wordless Wednesday

To follow-up on yesterday's Graduation post, here's my little Frankenstein...

Yeah, I know, I know, it doesn't look that bad. Now. And he doesn't seem too traumatized. Now. But it was my first ER trip--cut me some slack.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Well, today I graduated to the next level as a mom... I made my first Mommy ER Trip!

The day started like any other... The kids and I got up, got dressed, and had breakfast... we went to the gym... then I asked Gracie what she wanted to do today, and she said, "I want Nana." So we headed out to my parents' house.

We played there for the morning, the kids watched a little TV, and we had lunch. I wanted to get home for naptime (Often the kids will just nap there.) b/c I had TONS to do, both around the house and for the MOPS Conference. So I carried our stuff out to the car and started the engine (read "air-conditioning"), then went back in to help the kids clean up their toys and get them in the car.

And that's when it happened. I picked up a few toys and directed Matt to pick up a toy and carry it back to the toy room (my old bedroom). He turned around and ran out of the room, and then tripped... and fell right into a hallway linen closet... into the handle of the bottom drawer. I saw him fall but didn't realize he had hit the handle, but I HEARD his forehead hit, so I knew it was gonna hurt. But then when I picked him up............. oh my goodness. Let's just say I'm not a fan of head wounds.

So I asked my dad to put Gracie down for her nap, and my mom and I headed for the local ER--fortunately just 5 minutes away. It was not a fun ride. But by the time we got there, the crying had stopped, the bleeding had stopped, and Matt felt the need to personally greet every person in the ER. :-) He didn't look too injured at that point, and I was feeling like a fool for 1) bringing him in, and 2) calling Jon and making him worry enough to reschedule all of his afternoon appointments to come join us.

But when we did get taken back (about an hour later), they said that it was deep and oddly shaped, and they recommended stitches.

Have you ever had a small child get stitches? It was WAY worse than the original wound. First they wrap him up in a sheet, then they velcro him into this big board with flaps that wrap around him, and THEN a nurse holds his head still while the doctor does his business. And of course, his business involves a shot in Matt's head (which didn't work to numb him, by the way), irrigating the wound, and doing... something else, all BEFORE he actually does the stitching! OY!!!

It was not a fun experience. For any of us.

But a few minutes later, a nurse brought him a popsicle. We didn't hear any more crying for the rest of the day.

Until we went back to my parents' house, and he fell and hit the OTHER side of his head on something else. Geez. At least there was no blood this time--just a big black-and-blue welt.

Here's to life with a boy: Cheers!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Raisng money, one razor stroke at a time...

No, I'm not shaving my head... but someone else is. Nate over at Confessions of a CF Husband is attempting to raise $3,000 in one week for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If he succeeds, he is going to shave his head live on the Internet. While I don't have a particular desire to watch someone shave his head, it is a very worthy cause, and also one that hits close to home for him--his wife Tricia (who has Cystic Fibrosis, hence the name of the blog) has recently been diagnosed with Post-Transplant Lymphoma following a lung transplant (that was necessary due to her CF). If, by the way, you haven't checked out this blog before, this is only the tip of the ice burg for this family--you really have to read their blog to get the full understanding of all they have been through.

Anyway, I would really like to support Nate and his baldness-for-a-cause. :-) If you are interested in participating, check out his post about it.

Have a great weekend!