Why I love my birthday…

I feel a little bit like a 2nd grader writing that title.

But, being born in December I have always had a stressful relationship with my birthday. I’ve even played with the idea of moving it 6 months so that I get presents twice a year, but that idea was a non starter.

I’ve spent my fair share of birthdays at Christmas parties, or taking final exams. I’ve gotten more than a few birthday/Christmas presents over the years. Combine these things with a childhood spent caring WAY too much what other people thought of me, and an obsession with being “cool” and it meant that most birthdays were a mix of both excitement…and disappointment.

For example…one year, my mom used those trick candles on my cake that you blow out and they re-light. I’m sure she thought they’d be funny…but they caused me so much anxiety that in a moment of panic I ended up spitting on my cake just to get them out. I was like 9 or 10 but I still remember that feeling…it felt like everyone was laughing at me for being so dumb that I couldn’t put them out…but also being mortified because I had ruined the cake for everyone.

While childhood birthdays were stressful, adult birthdays were a full on anxiety inducer. Suddenly I was far from home and no one was obligated to celebrate me on my special day. Should I tell people my birthday was coming? Would people plan something for me or should I? Did the people I called friends even love me enough to take time during finals week to acknowledge my birth? Would anyone buy me presents?

There was this one year my sweet cousin drove to campus to spend my birthday with me and make me feel special….which it totally did…and it was good she came up, because she ended up having to take me to the hospital where I would spend the next week fighting off a double kidney infection.

So yeah, the birthday and me have had a bit of a love hate relationship…and honestly while I don’t mind at all getting older…I had come to dread my birthdays a bit.

And then one year things changed.

On December 13th 2013 Ian and I sat in a courtroom and listened as Andrew’s dying mother surrendered her parental rights, making the way for us to adopt him. She was so sick at this point she couldn’t make it to the courthouse and she had to call in to make her statement. We listened over the speakerphone as she shared why she was making the choice, and why she had chosen us.

Less than a month later she had left this earth to be with her Savior.

I remember sitting in that courtroom…my mind swimming with thoughts of sadness and gratitude and an overwhelming sense that this woman was giving me not just my greatest birthday present ever…but the thing her heart treasured the most.

It was beautifully awful and the most painfully joyous thing to experience. To be trusted this much…with something so precious…but to know that loss was the thing paving the way for me to receive this gift.

4 years later we were sitting in the middle of the week that rocked our world. It had been a few days since we had found out about the pregnant young lady that wanted to know if we might adopt her baby, and we hadn’t shared anything with Andrew yet because we didn’t want to get him excited until we knew for sure. Then we got the text “I’m due the 17th.

4 days away

So last year on my birthday we told Andrew he might be a big brother…in 4 days. We spent the day getting fingerprints and background checks and filling out paperwork. We walked around Target staring at bottles and car seats and diapers unable to make any sort of decision we were so overwhelmed. We went to dinner with friends…most of which had no idea what was happening…and had quite, secret conversations with those that did.

Last year’s birthday was another jumble of emotions; excitement, joy, fear, uncertainty, grief. It was a day where I found myself deeply aware of the incredible calling placed on my life…to be mom, in the absence of mom.

This year, my birthday feels different. I’m not worried about how we’re going to celebrate, or who will show up. I don’t care about the gifts or the cake. I have just found myself reflecting on this life, on this family I’ve been given, on the children I’ve been entrusted with.

Before, I loved my birthday because of gifts and parties and things being all about me…but now I love my birthday because it’s this reminder that in an instant life can change. Grief can turn to joy, fear to peace, and loss to overwhelming blessing.

This year has been hard, and it’s easy to remember that, to remember the hard. But looking towards my birthday this year has brought me so much joy as I remember two of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

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How I lost my voice…and then got it back again

Hey friends, it’s been awhile. This year has been full of lots of changes and transitions, trials and pain, and for a while there I lost my voice.

I was still walking around talking to people in my outside voice, but inside there was silence. Usually there’s this story telling voice inside of me that processes through every blog I write… if I’m gonna be honest, it’s not just blogs, it’s in there helping me process everything. For days, or weeks sometimes, I just kind of tell the story to you guys in my mind until I have clear what it is I want to write out.

When the voice went silent, I don’t know if it’s that my mind was busy adjusting, processing, healing, surviving, and my voice got lost in the midst of all of that. Or, if when things got very real, and hard, and painful the voice ran away, but either way…it was gone.

It started with wanting to write and just not being able to put words to things, and then it felt like I’d been away so long that to share was awkward, and then finally it transitioned into a complacent acceptance of the silence.

Until this past Sunday…

A friend casually encouraged me to write again while having a passionate discussion about french-fries. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but with his words the voice had stirred inside of me.

I’ve been thinking about you all a lot since then; what you’d like to read and what I’d like to share. Then the voice started telling stories again, stories about how terrifying grocery stores are, and what it’s like renovating my home with my dad, and French fries!

But the first story is a special one; it’s all about my birthday. It’s the epic tale of a girl who spent her life fighting for her December birthday to be something special…and how it is now one of the most important and special days in her story.

Coming at you next Thursday…my birthday!

The Conclusion…for now

Ok, I’m back with the last bit of the story of how Ezra came to us…keep in mind it isn’t wrapped up all nice and neatly at the end…there are still things that are uncertain; legal documents that need signed, and a last name that needs changed, before he is fully ours in the eyes of the law…but, spoiler alert, he is already fully ours in our hearts…this is just the conclusion of our journey to one another…

“He’s here!” A strange voice spoke on the other end of the phone, she told me what hospital and that baby and birth mom were both doing great, and she would like us to come to the hospital. I got off the phone and looked at my dad and older son…we were packing up a pack-n-play at my aunts house which would serve as baby’s bed until we could get a basinet or crib…I don’t remember much after that point, I guess I drove home, waited for Ian to get there, called my mom I think…it’s all kind of a blur…I just kept thinking, “did she say he?”

When Ian got home we rushed to the hospital and made it there before she was even in her room. We went to a waiting area and I can not even describe the emotions and fear and anxiety flowing through me…and then I saw them…I won’t ever forget that moment. We were sitting in a waiting area…trying to decide just how long to wait before checking the room again to see if they were there…and then I saw a stretcher start to come down the other end of the hall followed by a baby in one of those weird plastic cribs they put babies in at the hospitals. As they got closer I saw it was birth mom. I stood up, exchanged a few words with her to see how she was and tell her we’d be to the room soon…and then I saw him.

 

He was perfection!

The first moment I saw him the desire to run over to him and touch him, to sweep him into my arms and kiss his face was so incredibly intense…but it was tempered by uncertainty and a desire to respect this young woman…so instead I watched him pass by with out touching him, sat back down, and waited until it was appropriate to join them in the room. The entire time I felt like my whole being…not just my heart…was just going to explode out of me.

When we finally got to the room there were other people there…a friend of hers and some teachers that had supported her through her pregnancy…I felt so awkward. But, they immediately greeted us at the parents and were so excited both for her and us and over this little baby boy. I spent that evening in awe of this young woman as she gushed over her little boy, telling him how beautiful and perfect he was, how much she loved him…and then asking us what we wanted to name him, telling us she’d already signed all the paperwork so we could stay at the hospital with him, asking us what we wanted on some medical decisions that needed to be made…I found myself in awe of how selflessly she was loving this little boy.

When we told her the name we liked, everyone in the room agreed…it was a good strong name, and it was perfect…baby boy became Ezra Dante.

I don’t know how to put the hospital experience into words really. I think I experienced a full range of human emotion during that time. The moment I held him I felt peace and wholeness…he fit and my arms didn’t ever want to let him go, it was like my arms missed him the minute he left them…the moments I had to leave him to spend time with birth mom my heart wanted to spin out of control into fear and anxiety…the first time a nurse left him with Ian and I and walked out of the room I found myself wondering if I really could do this…then I’d walk by the nurses station to ask a question and they’d refer to me as Ezra’s mom, or us as the adoptive parents and the joy would bubble up in my heart…but when the nurse came in and told me we would be going home in 2 hours I have to admit I got hit with a wave of overwhelming everything…fear birth mom would change her mind, anxiety that I didn’t know what to do, excitement and joy because soon I would be walking out of that hospital with my baby boy and taking him home!

It’s been a month and a half since we stood out front of that hospital and said goodbye to Ezra’s birth mom…crazy how something can feel like it just happened, but also feel so long ago…there were hugs and words of gratitude and so many tears. Then we put him in the car and brought him home for the first time ever.

There are still so many emotions…it’ll be 6 months before the adoption is finalized and he has our last name…which means that I find myself hit by waves of fear, anxiety, and doubt daily. But our hearts decided not to wait 6 months…we have completely fallen in love with this little guy…the newest Dizon!

There is so much more to the story…because so much of it hasn’t even been lived out yet…but this is where we end for now…Ezra in our home and in our hearts.

the Sun Ring

Guess what….I love jewelrymost of you are not surprised…But, really I do.

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Not because I make it, and not because I grew up and realized how pretty it was, but for my whole entirety of my life I have loved jewelry. Over the last couple of months I have been really analyzing why I love jewelry, why I enjoy making it and collecting it, and wearing it.

I don’t care really how expensive it is, or how fancy…at least not most of the time…because what I love about jewelry is it’s ability to evoke emotions, remind us of people, and stir up forgotten memories…it’s the stories jewelry tells.

In my life my most cherished pieces of jewelry are Ebenezer stones…if you have no idea what I’m talking about check out this post Faith>Fear

For the next couple of weeks I wanted to share with all of you some of the stories behind my favorite pieces. Some remind me of people, some evoke a memory of a place or a moment, then some I bought with the specific intent or purpose of reminding me of a season of my life, a truth of God that I was struggling with, or a pain that I was walking through.


Up first is the very first of my Ebenezer stones…the Sun Ring.

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At 23 I made the decision to not simply trust God with my soul, but with my whole life…. specifically I told Him that if He opened doors I would spend the rest of my life trusting Him and walking through them…the thing was, I was a drunk who found my worth in the way others valued me.
This meant I was daily fighting a war between living out what I knew to be true and good…God loved me, had purpose for my lie, had good plans for me, and I was so incredibly valuable, precious even…and what I felt…alone, insignificant, incredibly insecure, purposeless.
I would decide each day to live trusting the truth, I would tell myself these truths…and then, each day I would fail to trust, slide back into believing lies, and then wake up disappointed, discouraged, and condemned.
So, I decided on a trip to Mexico that what I needed was something physical to remind me of the spiritual decision I had made. It needed to be something I would see and something I would feel.
I remember the moment I saw it, the moment I slipped it on my finger and then held my hand out to examine it.
It was massive on my finger…it spans my entire first knuckle…It was big, and heavy, and it had a sun on it…a reminder that I had chosen to live a life that honors the Son…I would feel it, I would notice if it wasn’t there, I would smack it on things during the day and be reminded of my decision, of my desire…it was PERFECT!
For years I wore that ring, and it serve it’s purpose. At work I would be frustrated and angry and I’d walk quickly past a wall, smack my hand on the brick…I’m a little clumbsy…and remember to choose love, to choose patience.
Sometimes It would pinch my fingers at just the right moment, and when I wasn’t wearing it I felt like I was missing something. It’s presence constantly drew me back to remembering, it kept my mind on choosing love, choosing joy, choosing to trust…choosing to live like Jesus.

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I no longer wear it every day, but those days when I do pick it up and slip it on, I find myself reminded, not just of that moment, or of what it means…but of how I’ve grown, how I’ve changed. I am not the person I was when I bought it…drunk, depressed, alone, scared…love has changed me.
The sun ring no longer reminds me to choose love in the same way it did…before it was kind of a warning, like a silent siren that would go off and remind me I was getting off course…Now it’s a much more gentle reminder…like a soft touch on my shoulder…encouraging me to remember the beautiful change that comes from choosing love.