Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lia and Alia (And a Favorite Day of My Life)

Yesterday we had a little piece of heaven in our home. I don't know if words can describe it, so I'm just going to post all of the pictures and show you.

But first, I feel like I need to give a brief update on what's been going on here:
  • Our Book Launch: Thank you SO much for your amazing support last month as we launched Motherhood Realized. We got to #27 in Amazon (out of more than a million books...I can hardly believe it), and we were able to hit #1 in Motherhood AND Parenting. Took my breath away. Eric and my children were the best cheerleaders. I pretty much stayed in my pajamas that whole week, but it was a dream come true!  (It took a few weeks for us to see if we were going to hit the NYT Bestsellers List, and we unfortunately never got on there, but I am totally okay with that. The NYT list would be such an honor, but it turns out that our status on Amazon helped us achieve the title of "Bestseller"--so that is beyond exciting.  And, really, what I care about most is that this book is strengthening mothers and making a difference in their lives (which it is...we're getting emails about it every day). So, yes, the book is launched. We are happy! And the world is starting to find out about Power of Moms.  
  • My Mom: Those of you who read this blog are honestly the most compassionate people in the world. Thank you for caring about my mother and for asking about how she is doing with her Alzheimer's. I have been able to have so many sweet experiences with her over the past month, and I wish I could sit down and record all of them. Life is moving quickly, and my writing time is so limited. Eric is helping me to get things organized so that this most important writing (that really fills me) can happen more often. But until then, I'm just squeezing it in where I can. If you could see the state of my house right now, you might wonder why I am even typing this.  :)
Here are a few pictures from our visit to see my mom right before Easter. My sister Page and three of her children were there, too!

All right, my little guy is getting a bit restless, so I'm going to get right on with this story about our "little piece of heaven" Saturday.

My 14-year-old, Alia, has a dear friend at school named Lia, who was adopted from China a year ago to an amazing family in our community.

Alia's birthday was in January, and I asked her if she wanted a party.  She responded that she wanted to wait a few months and, instead, put on a birthday party for Lia.  Although Lia had a nice family party for her first birthday here in the States, she had never had a party with friends, and Alia felt it was her privilege to do that for her.

So Saturday was the day...and Alia planned EVERYTHING.

She had sent out individualized, hand-written invitations two months in advance and coordinated with all of Lia's best friends to make sure they would be at our house at 11am sharp.

When Lia's mom texted us, saying they were about to arrive, a hush came over the group, and we waited with great anticipation:

See my daughter's face? (Alia is in the yellow sweater.) She was so excited:

I snapped this picture through our bathroom window. So sneaky, right?

Spencer and Ethan were in charge of opening the door for the "SURPRISE!"

And this is one of my favorite pictures that I have ever taken in my life. The exposure was set a little too bright on my camera, but do you know what? This is exactly how it felt when we opened the door. Like light was entering our house. Grace (who videotaped the whole thing from behind) said, "An angel was walking inside."

I caught this hug as Alia welcomed Lia to her party:

Look at these two girls. I'm pretty sure they knew each other before this life.

They started with a bunch of games at our dining room table:

Lia would have played Uno the whole time. She loves that game:

And then we served lunch. Alia cooked the whole thing herself (she'd planned the menu, made sure no one had any allergies, and even had the bowls and forks out). I just did the "dishing up."

Such cute butterfly jell-o pieces:

And since Lia loves the movie "Frozen," Alia had hung snowflakes from the ceiling:

And, of course, she'd prepared our typical balloons and streamers:

And she'd made Lia a cake--with a LEGO girl on top made by Ethan--to kind of look like Lia:

Here are all the girls before we sang:

And cute Lia was smiling so much that she couldn't blow out the candles, so Alia helped her:

We all had cake and ice cream (Eric was there to help dish it up):

Then they played, "Put the Nose on Olaf." (Lia didn't want to play, but she had a great time watching. She'd never even heard of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" before and thought that was the funniest thing.)

Grace sat with her arm around Lia throughout the whole game. They will be at school together next year, when Alia goes to high school and Grace gets to the middle school. Lia is right in between their grades.

Here's the final placement of the carrot noses:

 Then it was time to open presents:

Each girl got her gift from the table and sat down on the couch next to Lia.

Lia is just learning to read, so as she opened each card, she said, "Will you read this to me?"  I was choked up during that whole process--as I watched these young teenage girls reading sweet messages of love to Lia. I'm just including all of the pictures here because I couldn't choose between them:

Alia had decorated Lia's desk at school earlier this week and given her a present then,

but she also had these painted letters for Lia to hang in her bedroom:

There have been a few times in my life as a mother when my children have done something so beautiful that I couldn't even find the words to express the feelings of my heart. This was one of those times.

In our book, Deliberate Motherhood, I learned from one of our authors that the expression "Olé" came from an old tradition when people would see the Divine in a performance or in a work of art, and they would shout, Allah! Allah! Allah! (Which referred to God.) Over time, the shout was changed into Olé! Olé! Olé!

As I watched my daughter and her friends take care of Lia and create this special experience for her, I was overwhelmed by the Light of the Divine. It simply flooded our house.

I, personally, am so hesitant to invite people over.  I just typically don't feel very "put together." I'd been at a community service project all morning, and I hadn't had a chance to shower or do my hair. Our guest bathroom had the lid off the toilet tank because the black cylinder-thing in there needs to be pushed down each time the toilet is flushed, and we just haven't had a chance to get it fixed yet. Our plants on our front porch have died again, and we pretty much have weeds growing all over our front lawn.

But no one who came to Lia's party cared one bit about those things. 

It was pure love. Every bit of it.

Alia had even spent her own money on the party, and she kept the costs of the entire thing to about $20.  It was amazing to see how she had planned every single detail with such beauty and grace.

I wish I could write more. I wish I could capture more of this beautiful life that is swirling around me.

I need to record more in the coming weeks--because there is something so powerful and so special going on right now at this stage of my life, and I'm afraid if I don't write about it, I won't remember it.

But I think this is good for today. I'm just grateful I got to be a part of this and have the chance to feel so much love from our Creator.


  1. Wow, what a absolutely beautiful story! It made me happy to read; I loved the photos! Thank-you for sharing!

  2. I plan to read this to my children after school. Please tell Alia we appreciate her example.

  3. I don't think I have ever commented before, but I just had to tell you how this brought tears to my eyes!!! What a sweet daughter you have, and what sweet, sweet friends she has!! There are so many "unkind" girls out there, it is so wonderful to see a house full of them for Lia's party. Thank you for sharing this!!!!

  4. April,
    My daughter was very honored to have been a part of this beautiful day!! I have thinking about your families generosity and warmth that you have shown so many!! You family is truly a blessing to our community. I was in tears the day of the party and to read and see the pics, I'm in tears again!! Great job on raising such amazing children!! Much love to you!! God bless!!!

  5. What a beautiful daughter you have to be so focused outward and show so much love to another who needed it. She must have a pretty amazing Mama!

  6. Hi, I am Lia's oldest sister. My mom shared this post with me and I sat here and cried through the whole thing! I am beyond grateful that Lia had been welcomed so warmly into this sweet group of friends. Please tell your daughter thank you from me. My family and I live all the way on the other side of the country and I miss my adoptive siblings so very much. I can't express how much it means to me that they are being loved and celebrated in such a beautiful way. I can't wait until my daughters get home from school today so that I can share this with them. Thank you!

  7. I am Lia's aunt, and I just have to tell you how moved I am at the love and kindness shown to Lia. Your daughter and all those sweet girls are absolutely exceptional young women. Words fail me. I have two adopted daughters from China as well, and I know how much it means to have your daughter find a circle of friends to love and accept her, despite superficial differences. Blessings to your daughter. And blessings to you for raising such a fine young woman.

  8. so beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a precious powerful moment with us. My heart has grown and I am filled with God's spirit!

  9. April! I loved this so much. I was at the retreat over the weekend and, oh my goodness, did I fall in love with the awesome person you are. Your daughter is learning this awesomeness from you! You do so much good but the best work you are doing is TRULY within the walls of your own home. This post is a testament of that. The work you do there inspires and empowers me to do the same caliber of work in my own home. Thanks for being so willing to share the power that comes through the divine power of motherhood! So many lives have been touched and inspired.

  10. What a wonderful party! I have happy tears just reading about it!! What some great girls.

  11. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and support. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this experience.

  12. Your blog seems to bring tears to my eyes every time I read it! Thank you for sharing these inspiring, uplifting experiences!

  13. This is the sweetest thing ever! Every single photo of Lia's beaming face just touched my heart and made me smile too! Your daughter has a heart of gold. :)


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