Sunday, April 19, 2015

Team Pinchback

I didn't sleep but a wink. It wasn't just excitement; it was the remembering of all the moments that led us to this place - mine and his.

I spent years praying for babies that wouldn't come and a solid six months living under a suffocating cloud of defeat. It is the only time in my life that I let the pain win and allowed hope to walk out the door. I thank God for the people who didn't give up. The people who continued to pray and shoulder the burden when I couldn't.

I wouldn't go back to tell myself anything. The sharpened character that emerged from that fire is  a treasure that cannot be priced. God redeems. The enemy was successful in stealing my joy and purposeful in his pursuit, but he is no match for God's love or creativity.

I jumped out of bed without an alarm and, excitedly, rushed downstairs to get the boys up. LJ, uncharacteristically, popped out of bed and said, "Today is the big day!" As Sweet Boy climbed down his ladder and, sleepily, sat on my lap, the first tears flooded my eyes. God would have answered all of my prayers with one adoption. He would have satisfied my gut cry with one gift. Yet, my lap was heavy with my third.

More than me, this day was about him.

As we approached the courthouse, he looked up and said, "Mom, we've been here before, remember?" Yes. The past 15 months were booked solid with ridiculous red tape and multiple DNA tests.

For the first three months Sweet Boy lived with us, he held a bucket on his lap in the car because every other trip resulted in anxiety induced throw-up. He could barely speak without stutter and nearly every conversation was overtaken by tears. He didn't love; he didn't care. He was so fearful of not meeting our expectations that he self-disciplined and hit himself into submission. His story is so pervaded with neglect, I am astounded that he survived.

When it came to Sweet Boy's dark corner of the world, the enemy was near successful in destroying his life, but he is no match to God's power.

God redeems; he makes a home for the lonely (Psalm 98:6).

I had "Team Pinchback" tees made for our special day and my mom bought each of the boys a team hat with their individual adoption days inscribed on the side (Little Miss has a set waiting for her). Sweet Boy wasn't given his uniform until the official judgement, making that moment even more special!

Before the ceremony started, I stole a few minutes to tell my baby how proud I was to be his mom.

(Seriously cute - those dimples melt my heart!)

I may not have carried these babies in my belly, but my heart doesn't know the difference. I will never forget each moment the judge declared it in the best interest for them to forever be under my care.

Twenty-three people came alongside our family to cheer on our newly drafted member. What a gift each of them are and special thanks to my sweet friend, Casey, for helping us remember the day with pictures!

It is with so much joy that I introduce you to the sweetest boy I've ever met, our third born son - Francisco Jonathan Pinchback.

His new middle name honors the greatest spiritual influencer of our life and is profoundly appropriate as it means "Yahweh has Given".

God has entrusted this precious boy to our family and we will do our best to honor Him with our lives.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FF: Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Here it is! The first recipe that earned all stars from all four boys!

It's a slight cheat because this is actually a family favorite...but after Ben's submarine rating, again, last week, I asked him what I had to do to earn a full 10. He told me I had to make this.

So, here it is!

You'll look like you spent hours in the kitchen, but you and I will both know the truth.

Jalepeno Popper Chicken

We've been making this Cassie Craves recipe for a few years, now. Here are my tips. Make the bacon beforehand to speed up the process. I, usually, always have bacon cut up and on hand because we have salad with dinner a lot and who doesn't want bacon on their salad!?!

I mix Italian seasoned bread crumbs and Panko together for the crust and just pan fry the chicken over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side and then pop the chicken in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.

As long as you dump the seeds, the jalapeno is not too spicy. All the kids ate it inside the chicken, even the baby, without complaint.

This week, we paired our chicken with orange slices, salad, and biscuits.

You will NOT be disappointed!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Much More

The boys received a request for a play date the other day and it gave me a good laugh. Setting up such events never occurs to me because we are a play date. 10% of the kindergarten class lives in our house and they are the best of buddies.

Sweet Boy is doing so well. These pictures were taken at our favorite park, this weekend. Last year, he spent the first several trips sitting by me, unmoving, on the bench.

He was numb - too anxious to care - too troubled to try.

Now, I watch him run to the top and race down the slides. Sometimes he is too quick and skids down the rock wall, only to pick himself up and try it, again. Anyone watching would move on from the scene. He looks like every other boy...but I know the truth.

He is much more.

Our adoption finalization hearing is next Friday and it overwhelms my heart to think about handing this boy forever. We've known it from the start and he knows it, now, but hearing the judge say the words will open a new chapter to his story.

We will never erase the scars, but we will exchange his case number for a last name. The people that come into his life will stay. The home he grows in will be safe. The family that loves him will point to destiny.

In moments of such rich reward, I look back and thank God for every piece of the passage. The days of defeat, tears of frustration, and broken calls to heaven, sure up this victory in a way that blots the past and prompts me to ask, Lord, what now...or perhaps who?

It only takes but one breath of rest for our souls to surge to order, pick up the fight, and carry on.

Friday, April 3, 2015

FF: Roasted Chicken & Tex-Mex Potato Wedges

This week's Food Friday recipes are not new to our family, but rather staples that we've been making for some time. However, after eating the roasted chicken for the upteenth time, this week, I knew I had to share it with you!

Crispy Roasted Chicken
This chicken does take 90 minutes in the oven, but it's so easy, I don't even need the recipe anymore to make it! You will, likely, need the recipe the first time you make it, so head over to The Salty Kitchen.

Roast whole chicken in the oven 1.5 hours on 459

This week, I paired the chicken with these must-make Tex-Mex Potato Wedges! You can find the Potato Wedge recipe on the 3 Boys Unprocessed blog.

The chicken and wedges are pretty hearty, so I just, quickly, sauteed some broccoli and we called it a meal.

Ty chose to be hungry, but the rest of enjoyed it, thoroughly!

Monday, March 30, 2015

FAQ: Why tell our story?

This FAQ is probably better named FCG - the most frequent criticism given.

I do post comments from critics if they are tasteful and well intended, but all others get deleted. Most deleted comments usually have to do with the openness in which I tell our story.

I've been blogging for almost seven years and since the beginning, I have often been challenged with the level of detail I share about our kids...and, to be honest, I understand the concern. Critics think their stories belong to them (not me) and hate that the world has an opportunity to make judgements on my babies. They worry that my kids will grow to resent me or my blog and be embarrassed about the story I've written.

So...why do I do it?

That's easy to answer.

Transparency bridges chasms left in the wake of defeat, destruction, and discouragement. Pain is pain and though our stories may be different, our resolve is the same. The desperation that suffocates us in the darkness, the lies that sneak up through our toes, the sheer sadness over loss on any scale are the bits of life that hold significant power over our future.

If we stuff our emotions to the quietest corners of our heart and never let God's light expose our weakness, than we never have need of him...or each other.

Conversely, if we open our book to those around us, revealing the most intimate places, genuine connections can spark revolution...and not just in our story, but all the stories that surround us.

I tell our story at near full disclosure because it changes lives and gives the love of God legs.

I didn't love any of my children upon our first meeting. In fact, the last three, left me questioning my own ability and God's calling on my life for months. I have teetered between an unhealthy balance of love and anger toward Little Miss' parents, this past year, and have given in to more moments of personal devotion than I care to admit.

My writing rhythms to these raw points of connection and makes our story believable.

Without any doubt, I can say that God has commissioned my family to tell his story and give voice to the muted. It is a story of avocation, redemption and reconciliation, but resounding love is unfolded in every layer.

That's truly the message I hope I preach.

Love never fails.

All of our kids are unique with varied personalities, but one connecting cord runs through each of them. They are sensitive and, extremely, perceptive when it comes to need. They teach me how to listen every day.

Ben and I are not the start and end to our story. In fact, it's not our story at all.

Tyrus, LJ, Sweet Boy, Little Miss, and all others to come have been hand-picked to live out this part of God's perfect plan. The six of us are together because God is the owner of time. He knows that we are more effective together than apart. He has given each of us a generous gift that contributes to his mission.

Mine just happens to come in the form of brought-together words and someday, I (alone) will be accountable for how I used my talent.

That's why I write - why I tell this story.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Oh Baby

We'll pick up Food Friday, again, next week. Our week was too packed to fit it in!

In three weeks, I will FINALLY be able to, properly, introduce you to Sweet Boy. We received notification, this week, that his foster file has, officially, been closed, and we have legal guardianship! The only outstanding to-do is our adoption court hearing. It has been such a long year, I can't believe we made it to this point. 

Sweet Boy is so excited, he talks about going to court, nearly every day. Yesterday, when I picked him up from school I heard him telling a friend that he would be adopted in a couple weeks. His friend asked, "What does that mean?"

"It means I have a family forever - I get to be a Pinchback!"

His friend, simply, said, "Oh. Cool."

I am thankful that most kids have no understanding of what it means to be orphaned. His upcoming adoption day will be a great celebration for all of the people that have prayed and paved the way to his rich future. Not only will our closest friends and family be there, but so will his previous foster family, case workers, and therapist. It will be a great day.

Little Missy's case is at a standstill. I stopped asking questions. I am confident she will remain in our family, so I am choosing to be at peace with where we're at. It looks like her adoption won't be finalized for another year. It's frustrating for us, but she doesn't know the difference...and there are some outlying blessings in having constant connection with the agency.

I have been able to remain in contact with Sweet Boy and Missy's mom, which is really important to me, and we did our first sibling visit, this week, with their new baby brother. 

Because Sweet Boy's foster file is closed, he is not required to do the, monthly, visits that Missy is. I think, this summer, I will choose to tell the boys and let them come with us, but for now, it's more important that he attends school and sees his adoption through. He had such a difficult time defining family, I'm not ready for him to have to take on the complication of trying to understand why his new "brother" doesn't live with us.

I'm not sure how our future family will take shape, but I am confident that we're doing the best we can, right now, with the family we have. Baby brother's foster family knows that we are open to adopting him if he became available and (today) seems, equally, content with fostering and/or adopting him. Ben and I have made our intentions clear to the agency, but haven't had a chance to meet the foster family, yet. We will adopt baby brother if the foster family says, no, when the time comes, but we will not exercise our "first right" to adoption if his family wants him to stay. I know how long this process takes and, in the end, it's best for him not to move if it can be avoided. I have three children that moved multiple times and each move added to their brokenness in significant ways.

Regardless of where baby brother stays, we pray for his health and wholeness and hope that we will get the privilege of being influencers in his life. Remaining true to transparency, our hope is that the foster family will raise him. If God gives us say-so, we would like our future adoptions to be older children. Things don't often go according to our, we'll just have to wait and see what God has in store.

Prior to the visit, Ben's parting words were, "Please don't fall in love with that baby..." I enjoyed cuddling him and watching Missy's interactions, but there was no motherly instinct (not that I've ever had that upon first meeting). He was very calm and good natured - complete opposite of his sister.

Speaking of his sister, she had her tube surgery, yesterday. 

I fell in love with her a long time ago, but there was something about just us girls being together that flooded my heart. Little Miss is like me in a lot of ways. We have very little fear and are willing to try most things. We are confident, secure, and committed to follow-through (Ben might say "stubborn"). Watching her take on the hospital like she owned the place was hysterical. She didn't care that we had been up since three, she greeted every person that walked through the doors with a "hello"; she went from curtain to curtain in the pre-op room, rubbing backs and giving hugs. We were one of many families with littles having surgery that morning. 

Her constitution is so strong it seems supernatural.

While every other lovie, rightfully, clung to their mama, my baby was discovering new hallways and shaking hands with doctors. Watching her, affirmed in my heart why God chose me to be her mother.

She is going to change the world.

Her surgery went really well. The doctor said she had a lot of fluid in her ears and expects her hearing to improve, significantly. I am so thankful.

I am thankful that God continues to move and work in our family. 

We have so much to celebrate!

Friday, March 20, 2015

FF: Costco Chicken Bake

Apparently, this was a must-have option at Costco in the recent past, but was pulled from the deli menu for whatever reason. We did get a Costco membership, this year, once we realized how many beef sticks the boys were consuming, but stopping in the deli is not an option with one full cart of children and two of groceries.

All that to say, I chose this recipe from the picture...not previous experience.

Homemade Costco Chicken Bake Recipe 

Couldn't you just eat the picture? This Costco Chicken Bake recipe comes from Redefined Mom.

I paired it with a simple salad and fresh blackberries.

It got so-so reviews from the boys, but Ben and I loved it. These two liked the pre-dinner grapes and peppers better than what was served up, but they still get points for cuteness.

The crisp loaf with baked in Parmesan is well worth the try! Tell us what you think.