Breathing Differently: it's hard because it mattered

Since we shared the news a few days ago about our move to Northern Indiana, I've been breathing different.   For one, I'm relieved our "secret" is out.

Some of my breaths are deep for sanity-sake. I'm taking deep breaths so my brain doesn't explode from all the details that need to be decided...seemingly RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. Stress is high at our house these days (mainly from me...I'm an 8 on the Enneagram!). Moving across country with 3 small kiddos is not for the faint of heart.

You should see my Evernote. I have note upon note. List upon list. Some with crazy ideas, others with checklists, most with something I will forget if I don't write it somewhere. 

If Asher asks one more time today if we are going to our new house today, I'll need to take a big, deep breath. :)

Some of my breaths are deep because I'm savoring the moments. This morning I had brunch with one of our prayer warriors. She winsomely insisted it was a "see ya in a while", not "goodbye", brunch. As I crossed off another bucket list restaurant from my "to do" list (Old Vine Cafe) and stared into Shevawn's ocean blue eyes, I savored the years we've spent together. And stared down the reality that moments like this are the beginning of "see ya in a while" meetings with people I love.

Sometimes I forget to breathe. In the frantic nature of moving 2,200 miles away from the life we've made here, I forget to pause and take a breath. I fear these next 5 weeks might evaporate in front of our eyes. I'm forgetting at times to savor the drives down certain streets or the ease of texting my West coast friends at 9pm PST. Last night Brian gently -and firmly - reminded me that not every decision needs to be made RIGHT. THIS MINUTE. And that I don't have to line up every duck and start packing boxes TODAY. We have some time. But when I forget to breathe, I forget that's true. The tyranny of the urgent is all over my life.

But I think all of my breaths reveal one primary truth: this move is hard for me.

It's hard because the past 11 years have mattered, more than I probably realize today. It's hard because I feel like I've grown up and grown into the woman - and mother! - I am today because of this place and these people we so love. It's hard because SoCal feels more like me, more like us, and more like home than any other place Brian and I have ever lived. Saying "yes" to a new journey also means saying "no" to our life here. Yes, it's right and it's hard.

Hard isn't bad. (Hard doesn't always mean good either.) But hard for me in this season is because this last season mattered. I won't run from hard, because hard things matter. Our soul can grow in the midst of hard. Hard presses out impurities and complacency and awakens newness. Hardness connects me with others who are also experiencing hard places, and that is very good. Hard pushes me into dependency on Jesus, which I need more than anything.

So, I'll keep breathing as best I can: deeply, savoring the moments. And I'll keep making lists so I can deal with my stress. I'll schedule one more appointment with my therapist. Brian and I will hang out with our gang late this Friday night for one of our "lasts". I'll go to as many of my favorite restaurants as I can. We'll go to the beach as often as possible. I'll sit face-to-face with those I love and soak in their words, their presence, the way their face looks when they smile and laugh at my silliness.

And I'll embrace the hard trusting that it will bring about the transformation I need. 

And I'll hug my friends a little tighter these next 5 weeks. It matters.

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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.

The Nitty Gritty of Adoption.

I've heard something like "you can be a hero once when you adopt, but from that point forward it's called parenting". Two and half years ago my husband and I adopted Judah (then 2.5) and Addise (then 11 months) from Ethiopia. Adopting never felt heroic. We don't believe we saved our kids from anything. Becoming their parents always felt like a gift, an obedience to a calling. These days it feels like parenting with as much obedience as we can muster on any given day.

Parenting adopted kids is no joke. Granted, parenting my biological 1 year old son is no joke either, but he hasn't come into our family with a host of deficits, needs, trauma, and core pain. Our biggies have and it manifests itself every day, whether we have the eyes to acknowledge it or now.

The nitty gritty truth of adoption is every aspect of adoption is painful, and will forever be painful. My sense is that "others" think after your adopted kids become a part of your forever family and you grit through those first blurry-eyed months of transition that your family is normal, just like regular families. It's not.

We just celebrated Mother's Day. It was over-the-top joyous for me, but there was a deep, unspoken, and unacknowledged ache in my heart as I remembered Judah and Addise's first mom. Every birthday is a reminder of what was given and then lost. Every time we're at the doctor and are asked questions about their history I have to shrug through my smile and I'm brought back to the unknown of my children's past.

We watched our "Meet-chya Day" video for the first time with our kids this past Mother's Day. Judah was eerily quiet and confused. He was entranced while watching the first moments when our family was introduced. I know he was trying to process what was going on. I anticipate his questions in the days ahead. 

Where are the pictures when I was a baby? Why were you crying, mama? Why was I wearing that girl shirt? Why was I born in Ethiopia? Is Addise my "real" sister? ... GULP.

A few months ago we had lunch at our local Ethiopian restaurant and our server, named Aster like our daughter's middle name, began asking questions to Judah in Amharic.

Aster: What's your name? Judah: My name is Judah

Aster: Is she your older sister or younger sister? Judah: She's my little sister

Aster: Do you want that to drink? Judah: Yes, I want the orange juice like them. 

Aster: Thank you for coming here today. Judah: Thank you.

In a state of utter shock, I asked Aster if he really understood her: "Of course. Once he knows Amharic, it's always in there." she nonchalantly replied. I could hardly process what was happening. My son lived in Ethiopia for 2 1/2 years and has been home for nearly the same amount of time. For nearly half his life he's barely heard Amharic. But it all rushed back to the surface.

It's different with our daughter. She doesn't have the conscious memories, she has visceral wounds. She's oddly clingy and frequently reverts back to baby-like behaviors. Recently, she's been fearful of us leaving her. Her reactions to discipline are disproportionate. These are the wounds she carries and we have the opportunity to help her heal through.

These reminders of their loss and trauma and past are all too often. Many days we just are doing our parenting/life thing and then a trigger will pop up from no where. Some days we feel like a normal family (whatever that is) and then reality smacks us across our face. And we are humbled at the privilege and responsibility of parenting our children in and through their whole story.

This is why I'm so excited about Idea Camp in September. Adoption is a privilege, a calling worth giving our life to but we need support and we need others to get it with us so we don't have to explain every single thing. Parenting is exhausting enough without having to educate the world.

I'm not sure I can attend/participate at Idea Camp Human Care this September (ya know, with the "3 kids 5 years and under" thing), but I certainly hope you can. These are good people. Smart people. Humble people. Active people who are as committed to listening and question-asking as they are to doing something. I trust founder/CEO, Charles Lee, and believe this conversation is important not just to the Church but to our lives. 

Find out more here: Or simply register here:


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.