A Look into Adoption from an 8th Grader's Perspective

Brooke is one of the most creative, articulate, wise, "old souls" I've ever know. She's graduating from 8th grade this month. Two years ago her family adopted a beautiful, sweet, boy from Korea. The past couple years haven't been the easiest like some adoptive families would like you to believe about their "happily ever after". In some of the clearest words with simple, creative visuals Brooke tells her story and the story of her family.

Her story is a must-watch if you're adopting, know someone who has, or are considering adoption. It tells the whole story, and the whole story is worth telling.

** NOTE: Brooke's family attends our church. I got to know her last year when she was in my student leadership group. We've known her mom for years; she was our social worker when we were adopting Judah and Addise. We love this family. They gave me permission to share.

A Review of Bread & Wine (better late than never)

A few months ago I was invited to read Shauna Niequist's newest book, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes. I jumped at the opportunity because 1) I adored (!!) her first two books, 2) I'm always looking for a good read outside of leadership and spiritual formation books, and 3) who doesn't love a free book?!? 

I've known Shauna from up close and from afar since circa 1998. We worked together and were in the same small group for a moment in time, but for the past decade I've admired and cheered her on from the West coast. I love the voice she's developed and the platform God's given her. I love women like her using their gifts in ways to make us all better.

I promised to review the book before it was officially released in mid-April. Oops. I wish it was because I've been consumed cooking myself through the recipes in the book, but it's merely life that delayed my review.

So, on to the official review. Let me be clear and frank with you about Bread & Wine: THIS IS HER BEST WORK TO DATE! To say I loved Bread & Wine would be an understatement. I gobbled up every word, disciplining myself to read slowly, savored in her carefully articulated words, chewed on the timeless truth told from everyday and exotic stories, and salivated the richness of those darn recipes. Perhaps the proof is that I intend to read it again and make every single recipe in this book. If that's not a commendation in the midst of this ridiculous season of my life, I don't know what is. You can order it here

As I read, a couple realities confronted me. To know me is to know that I am not oh-so domestic. I do not cook well; I throw meals together from the handful of "recipes" that are second nature to me. I do not bake; I buy my sweet treats. I'm not the most hospitable host. Our family motto is "mi casa es su casa", so make yourself at home when you take your shoes off at the door.

But through stories and Scripture and sensory experiences, Shauna casts a vision for life around the table - literally and figuratively - with those you love and those in need and those who need a safe space. I found myself compelled and challenged and called to extend the gift of hospitality, to be more mindful of who I invite into my life and space. My expectations are not unrealistic, but I appreciated these words, 

If you put in the time, the learning, the trying, the mess, and the failure, at the end you will have learned to feed yourself and the people you love, and that's a skill for life - like tennis or piano but yummier and far less expensive. I'm not talking about cooking as performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I'm talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crust and cruelty of the day. (from the "start where you are" chapter)

I will start from where I am. That's a good reminder for most everything.

Of course, many of Shauna's stories are from a life I will not live (summers on Lake Michigan, a childhood with extensive international travel, multiple vacations a year), but that's not the point. These are great stories. Stories of vision and a calling to live deeply in the life you've been given. Still there are so many common stories - of miscarriage, jeans that don't fit postpartum, celebrating your mom's 50th birthday, living in the tension of being working mom, and grieving through death. These stories I can relate to and the other stories are simply fun.

I'm called to love and togetherness and caring for my body and the world. This book shows me how to do that just a little more. Cheers.

Shauna doing her thing!

More on Shauna
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life--friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.

April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.

Tributes this Mother's Day

This day. This day is chock full of emotion. I get it.

  • Prior to 2007 :: Mother's Day was only to be celebrated because I am blessed with a most incredible mother and two amazing grandmas.
  • 2007-2008 :: We were in the thick of infertility treatments. I was aching to be a mom. Mother's Day plain sucked and I wanted to die in a hole.
  • 2009 :: Hope emerged as we began our adoption journey. I also spoke at our church that Sunday. (The message can be found HERE)
  • 2010 :: It was still just Brian and me.
  • 2011 :: Then there were 4 Diaz's. My first Mother's Day.
  • 2012 :: Then there were 5 Diaz's. Asher joined our family and actually came HOME from the NICU on Mother's Day. Well played, God.
  • 2013 :: Celebrating motherhood with 3 healthy children.

On this day, I recognize those women who have forever changed me as a woman and as a mom.

Mom, you truly have shown me how to mother because of your never-ending sacrifice and love for your children. You always have time for us. Constantly celebrate with us. Pray diligently for us. Faithfully correct us. And you still love our Dad. Thank you for loving me in such a way that mothering has come natural to me. I love you.

Grandma Getz, since I was a little girl, you've shown me that it's okay to be me and have applauded my gifts, strengths, and passions. I hope I make you proud. Grandma Neukomm, you've loved your family faithfully and diligently. Thank you for your committed love for us and our God.

My mother-in-law - Laura, you've given me the greatest gift - your son! He is the most upright, loyal, strong, dedicated, loving, and faithful man I've ever known. Thank you for your part in raising him to be the man he is to me and our children.

My sisters-in-law - Zobeida, Liz, Vivian, and Sarah Beth. You are all, sincerely, amazing mothers. 11 kids between the 5 of our families. I'm deeply grateful that my kids get to call you "aunt". I love you all.

The women who long to be called "mom" - SK, BSM, KPS to name a few. I see you today and pray with you. This is not the end.

To the working moms all around me - Rebecca, Jeanne, Kara, Julie, Hana, Tara, Mindy. The way you love your children and are obedient to your calling takes my breath away and pushes me. You help me believe I, too, can do this. You inspire me to kick down walls for our daughters.

To the adoptive/foster care momma's who fill me with hope and joy and compassion, especially Erin. You remind me I'm not crazy. You validate, instruct, and give grace to my "kiddos from hard places" and remind me that parenting them isn't "just like" parenting my bio son. You affirm the great calling that is adoption and love me on the good and hard days.

Finally, to the mothers who made me a mom - Judah and Addise's birth mothers. I weep when I think of the necessary sacrifice you made for your son and daughter. It is my greatest privilege and pleasure to mother Abebayehu and Tarike. They would make you proud and filled with joy. We love them as our own, no matter what. You have my greatest respect and affection.

And now, a few pictures of the wonders that make today a very, very good day...

I love how they love each other.

The ones who call me "mommy".
The sunglasses hide my tired eyes, my tears of gratitude, and the sparkle in my eyes that they bring to my life.
It really is unfair how cute my kids are. :)

Brian surprised me by taking us back to where 1-year ago we celebrated Mother's Day while Asher was in the NICU. This Mother's Day he partied with us.

Flowers from a friend who thanked me once again for giving that "real" Mother's Day talk 4 years ago.  A reminder that our whole stories are worth sharing. Always. And that sharing our pain really can become a platform for transformation.
Mother's Day 2012. Asher came home from the NICU!

2012 :: Leaving the hospital. The little nugget in the background is Asher.
One year later. Pure goodness.