Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gratefulness and Proverbs 24:12

     Yesterday, I received my package from The Adopt Shoppe. The attention to detail that went into this packaging was beyond words. It was a true joy to unwrap after a busy {but fun} week.

     Anyway, The Adopt Shoppe held an Etsy sale earlier this week and I was lucky enough to snag one. If you're not aware of Kate, the creative mind behind The Adopt Shoppe, she makes precious necklaces and sells them on Etsy and sometimes Instagram. These little billboards for your heart sell like hotcakes. {Sidenote: Her Etsy shop is always empty until she holds these little sales.} For example, the sale started at 10PM (for me because we're EST) and by 10:01 everything was sold out. Like hotcakes. See? Here's my necklace I was able to put into my Etsy cart and pay for without it disappearing (which actually happens to people all the time!). 

     The little word pendant reads "grateful" which could definitely be applied in a myriad of ways to my life right now. But, of course, it was the perfect reminder for the very day I became its owner. Yesterday. Our oldest turns 5 next week and we're celebrating her birthday with family (today). Last night we did some last minute prepping and decided on "the cake." I've always made my kids' cakes. Always as in...since their 1st birthdays. I realize that our kiddos are young so I've only got 7 cakes under my belt, but it's been my "thing" to make these cakes. Until last night...when our soon-to-be birthday girl wanted a store-bought cake. Confession: I was a wreck. The request actually made my stomach upset. She picked out a sheet cake with blue frosting and nothing on top because she wanted to put Frozen figurines atop the buttercream frosted Meijer creation. *So not my thing.* But being grateful is putting my selfishness to the side and being grateful that our daughter doesn't expect grandiose things and is simply fulfilled by store-bought cakes. I am grateful. *And I got more sleep the night before a birthday party than ever before.* Gratefulness.

     As I unwrapped my TAS package and pulled out the necklace...there were also little scripture cards that Kate includes in each of her shipments. I read this particular one and tried to catch my breath a bit. It reads "Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we don't know what to do...God {who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls} knows that we know and holds us responsible to act. Proverbs 24:12

     Several months ago, Eric and I were driving to our twelve day ultrasound. This was not a new experience for us...we were embarking on our third round. As we turned off the expressway, and the hospital came into view, I began to cry. I felt so strongly that we were disobeying God's calling for our family. I shared my heart with Eric and we both agreed this would be the last trip we'd make. We prayed for His will and direction once again. A few weeks later, we felt clarity with a negative pregnancy test. Ironically, with this test, there came some hope. Again, we know people have been down much longer and harder roads than three rounds of infertility treatments. But adoption has always been on my heart...even before marriage. Three rounds was long enough. We didn't want to pretend anymore...we wanted to act. Sooooo last week, we spoke with our adoption consultant for the first time. She was WONDERFUL. We hung up the phone and had a little extra hop in our step. We're excited and hopeful and our eyes are opened to what He wants us to do.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joshua 1:9

     I figured it'd be a nice (adoption) break to post about our two sweet blessings the Lord has allowed us to be Mommy and Daddy to already. I'll start with our oldest.

     This precious girl will be FIVE in two is that possible? Five!? Most days, she is a true delight. Let's be honest...she's human...and a she's allowed to have days when she's not so bright and cheery. *I need to remember that.* But in all seriousness, this sweet girl has grown up so much in the last couple of months. More than anything, the Lord has grown her in the area of bravery. 

     In early August, there was an accident with one of our neighbors. In an instant, Eric and I had to get involved which meant we put our four-year old in charge of her younger brother. From the very first moment that we told her to be in charge, she took the task very seriously. I think she could tell the severity of the situation in both my voice and Eric's. She stood beside her brother at our front door...looking on at all the chaos that was unfolding. Never once did she cry. Never once did she ask what was happening. Never once did she leave her brother's side. 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

     Finally, after a few hours, things began to unwind and the neighborhood began to clear of emergency vehicles. Eric and I walked back inside our house tired and in shock. (My mom had come and taken the kids a little earlier. We called her when we knew it was gong to be a while before things cleared. We didn't want the kids to be alone and she lives close by.)

     As I opened the door, I noticed one of the kids' puzzles laying at the door. I didn't think much of it...our kids love puzzles so I assumed they were passing the time while Eric and I were running around outside. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I learned why the puzzle had actually been there. During the weeks following the accident, our little girl asked a lot of questions. A lot of questions.  And Eric and I continued to answer every single one. I think this was the best way that we could help her deal with things that she witnessed that day. Big things for a little girl.

     One day, on our drive home, she asked about the ambulance that pulled up to our house that day. She began to go into detail about everything that she saw the paramedics do. I was speechless at the depth of her memory. She continued to describe the scenario and also went into depth about what an ambulance looked like. Then she said, "Mom, he (her brother) didn't know what it was...he kept asking about it. So I got our puzzle to teach him about it!" Tears started to build up in my eyes. The puzzle I had stepped over that day was a vehicle puzzle. It had a dump truck, a cement mixer, a police car...and an ambulance. "I remembered that our puzzle had an ambulance, I got it to show him." How thankful I am...that on a day where things were happening in an instant, our little girl was calm and collected. She stood by her brother's side and walked him through questions of his own. 

"...Be strong and courageous...for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." He was with our daughter that day. He helped her to be strong. He helped her to be courageous. He helped her to be brave. Reflecting on all that happened that day still brings tears to my eyes. And more than anything, it makes me so thankful for how the Lord has grown our big girl. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sometimes I forget.

     This post is dedicated to forgetfulness. Do you ever forget things? I love how God speaks such BIG things into small moments (Have I said that before?!)...especially into moments of forgetfulness. And let me tell you, I have been forgetful a lot lately.

     Last Tuesday, I turned on my favorite Christian radio station and fought the cuties in the back seat for some adult air time. *I can only listen to the Brave story on CD so many days in a row. My kids have it memorized. And so do I.* 

     But the fight for air time was worth it because I am a music girl. Music is my jam. Get it? To further define this terrible pun: If I'm in a funk, I'll put a song on repeat to snap me out of it. Eric learned in our first year of marriage that if I disappeared after a hard day, he should check the garage...because there I'd be...sitting in the car...listening and probably crying to my song on repeat. I will also mention that music makes me do the dishes...which is pretty magical and I can be found singing ALLLLL the time in my classroom. See what I mean? I. love. music.

     Anyway, I love to start my day with a song. At this particular moment in the radio show, there was quite a bit of talking. The kiddos were getting a little anxious about all of the "talking" and kept asking for their story. I reminded them I was going to wait and see if one of our songs was going to come on..I needed a song. I've been feeling just a little overwhelmed and emotional with life lately so I shot up a quick arrow prayer. (as my Dad would call it). Lord, I need a song...let me know that You haven't forgotten me. I need a song to start my day. Well...I got a song...but it wasn't necessarily the song I was hoping would play. Maybe I should've been more specific in my prayer request. But then again, what a silly request?! Give me a song?! Who says that?! Sometimes I forget that my faith in Him cannot be measured by these moments. God cannot be defined by His answer to our arrow prayers.

     I went about my day as usual. Tuesdays just happen to be very long days for me. Sometimes I forget to focus on what's important during busy seasons of life...and Tuesdays are no exception. On Tuesdays (only until November) I work with a special after-school program. It starts at 4:30 and ends close to 9PM. I quickly left school that Tuesday and grabbed some fast food to scarf down in the parking lot. As I sat there, moping about not seeing my kids, and wondering what time Eric could pick them up from day song came on. This song. Glorious Unfolding. And in an instant, I became hopeful. You see, lately, I've been forgetful...but in that moment, I remembered. He has not forgotten about me and He knew I needed my song in this moment...not earlier.

     Sometimes I forget that I'm not in control...and last week was just another example of my forgetfulness. The house down the street from us just one day. Our house has been on the market for two and a half months. That may not seem like a long time (or maybe it does!), but when you've already put an offer on a new house and have had said offer accepted...two and a half months seems like an eternity. Eric and I began to make assumptions on how this house sold so quickly. We battled feelings of frustration and discouragement for a couple of days. Then two days later...God reminded us that HE is in control with an email from our realtor. Our agency was the one that ended up selling the house. Not the listing agency. That's a good thing...we're in the right place with the right agency. Now I remember.

     The list of things I've forgotten lately is long. It's filled with thoughts of inadequacies as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, and as a teacher. It's a list I can get so easily caught up in and use it to define my daily grind with too. But sometimes I forget that the devil is active and seeks out my fleshy weaknesses. Sometimes I forget that these inadequacies are not God's thoughts, but they can be the devil's try at breaking me down when I'm already weak. These times of forgetfulness happen when I'm not focusing on God.

    I don't like being forgetful. It's discouraging and hopeless. It makes my Tuesdays longer than they really yesterday, on a Tuesday...I chose to remember. I remembered that God is in control and I'm not. I remembered that even when I think He's forgotten me, He remembers me...always! I remembered that He has placed so many genuine and caring people in our life. The kind of people who send you an encouraging text and let you know that they're praying for you. The kind of people that lift you up when you need it most. God is never forgetful...and let me tell you...I am so thankful for that, friends.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Galations 6:9

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galations 6:9

     Saturday was one of those days where I felt His presence so, soo strongly. Did I say strongly? It was a day that started with early morning waffles and two sweethearts. Sticky syrup, sentimental prayers, and lots of little giggles. It was a day that started off well. It also became a day where I had the chance to sneak away to the store for some alone time. (Cue the Hallelujah chorus!) Groceries are a necessity every now and then, ya know? And sometimes, store trips are easier without little paws grabbing items off the shelf.

     While at the store, I received some news that was beyond exciting. At the same time, this news hardly kept discouragement at bay. Someone near and dear to my heart was expecting again. This is the second person that I know who is expecting. And I assure you...there is excitement. These are some of my closest friends. And children?! They are an absolute blessing! After all, they are the whole reason I started this blog. But exciting news for other people is still hard to take sometimes. It tends to stir up emotions I'm not proud I pray. I pray for joy instead of bitterness. I pray for blessings upon blessings upon blessings. "Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him." Psalm 127:3

    I pulled into the driveway, quite mopey and holding back tears. I made myself feel like an adult and got the mail. I noticed some "good" know, the no-bill kind of mail. I quickly flipped through the stack to find a pink package and two cards.

     The pink package...hmmm what did I order?! Eric is going to kill me. Oh wait. This was a pre-ordered item from late summer. Phew. It was a t-shirt I had ordered to help with an adoption fundraiser.

     First card...hmmm I looked at the return address. Yep. From Eric's sister. Birthday invites for our niece and nephew. They have birthdays just after our Sydney. Yikes...I don't have Sydney's invites out yet.

    Next card...hmmm I look at the return address. Dear friends of birthday parties...maybe a note of encouragement. We are blessed with an amazing support group at our church. It is not unlike our group to send out little "Hey, thinking about you!" notes from time to time.

     I stuck the mail underneath my arm and began to load up the mule my arms with grocery bags. I proceeded to stumble into the house, carefully lifted up my arm at such an angle so as to only drop the mail on the couch and not disrupt the weight and balance game I had going with my grocery bags. I unloaded about 300 bags into the house. I finally plopped down onto the couch for the "good" mail.

     Pink Refuse Small Love t-shirt. So excited to be a billboard for someone's heart and wear the reminder for myself. Do big. Love big. (Love that song by Jamie Grace)

     First card...birthday invites indeed...bowling and Build-a-bear...we can't wait! Our kids will have a blast...who am I kidding? So will their parents!

     Next card...I open the envelope and take out the card. Flowers on the front, but no words. I open the card thinking the words of encouragement will soothe my aching soul. But before I can read words, I see something else. I can only respond with tears. Niagara Falls tears. The kind of tears that make my husband drop what he is doing and come rushing over to see if I'm in pain. The kind of tears where my kiddos are brought to silence (rare) wondering if their mom is going to be OK. Three sets of arms put themselves around I cup my face, gasping for air. They wait...and wait...and wait. I fumble with the card and set it on Eric's lap. He opens it up and puts his head down...completely speechless.

    God had completely overwhelmed us with the contents of this card. With this card, the Lord held us tightly and let us know that there can be children in our future. He reminded us that in HIS time, He will bless us and reward our family. He showed us through the generosity of some of our dearest friends that where there are two or more gathered in His name, He is there also. He has not forgotten about us. The contents of this card were so unfathomable that honestly, there will not be a SINGLE day that goes by where I am not brought to tears by the generosity of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This card was the exact embrace that I (WE) needed on a hard day. The contents within this card have allowed us to jump in, friends. Right now! We are ready to JUMP and I've got quite the cannonball planned. EEK!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

There's always crying in baseball...

     That famous movie line "There's no crying in baseball" definitely doesn't ring true in my life...both metaphorically speaking and literally-speaking. I enjoyed playing sports in high school. In fact, I was a very competitive person, sometimes maybe a little TOO competitive. But being competitive didn't guard me from crying when frustrations came along. Whether it was volleyball, basketball, or softball...there were sometimes tears. And then there's life in general. I mean...I'm just a cryer. Ask my husband. Ask my sisters. Ask my Mom. I'm the type of person who cries in movies...especially kids' ones. I cry at all those special stories on ESPN. I cry when my friends are crying. I'm really quite good at crying. Can that be a spiritual gift?! Sometimes though...I wish I wasn't good at crying. I wish I didn't cry so. darn. easily.

     On Sunday, our pastor ended his sermon with some blank index cards. He asked each of us to write down a prayer or "thing" that we were going through in our lives. He wanted to remind us that we can give these things over to Him. You know...Let go and let God type of stuff. With our written prayers in hand, he invited us up to the front of the church to give these things over to God. One by one, members of our congregation went up with prayers and dropped them into a basket. Admittedly, I really wanted to co-write one with Eric. "I'll have what he's having" type of thing. I feel like a broken record sometimes with my heart's desire. Maybe I could move on to something else. Be something else. So I sat for a long time and watched other people go up and lay their prayers before God. Maybe I won't even write one. Then, I saw Eric writing. Ok, so we're not co-authoring this thing. I'm on my own. I peeked at what he was writing. Bless him. His prayer was about our neighbor who had been badly injured in a fire. And here I was..."thing"less before God because all I can think about is this ONE thing that consumes me. All the time as of late. And quite frankly, it seems selfish. It's all about me and what I want. So no. I'm not going to write it. But then again, I need to write it. I need God's help with this thing. It cannot consume me. I need HIM to consume me and take control of this thing. I can't be in control. So I covered up my index card and chicken-scratched my thing onto the index card. There. Fine. I wrote it. Eric and I got up and walked to the front of the church.

    Cue the crying, friends. I mean cryyyyyiiiinning. I barely made it to the basket before the tears set in. I was so overcome with emotions because like I said this "thing" is consuming my life. It's paralyzing me. Even as I'm writing this post, I might make this MacBook short out on me from a puddle of salty tears. But God isn't letting me move on from this thing. I don't think I'm supposed to move on. Last Wednesday, I sat in church at 7PM and listened to a dear friend share her heart. She was speaking about adoption. She and her husband had hit a few roadblocks and were trying to figure out if they were to have a family or not. She finally prayed to God to take away the overwhelming ache in her heart. She ached so much for a child and she cried out before Him..."Lord, if this isn't Your will...then please take this feeling away. I need to get rid of this feeling in my heart." Let me tell you...that ache she was praying about? It's the real deal. Trust me. I would love to feel full instead of empty. I would love to be content with where I am right now. After all, God has blessed Eric and I in so many ways. We have two beautiful children who give me joy every day. They also bring some other emotions too...but joy nonetheless. How selfish of me to want something more? How selfish of me to not be content with what He has given me? But still...there's this ache in my heart. There's a longing that I can't always describe or get over.
     My thing is to adopt and be a Mom again. And I wish I could snap my fingers and make this thing go away sometimes. Because this thing is hard. And it hurts. This thing is paralyzing. It has made me tearful more times than I can count in the last month. But instead of shoving this thing deep inside my heart...I need God to take this thing out. I need God to help me define this thing and name it. I need Him to help me commit to it and embrace it. Right now, I'm just trying to hide it and keep it a "thing." Will there be tears as we wade through the muddiness of this thing? You bet! And you know what...I'll be really good at that part. Remember that jump rope? Well it's that birthday chant again...and our September has come and gone's time to jump in. Tears here I come...I'm ready.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

God Told Me It Was For You

My dad called during the last week of August...he lives across the country so aside from a visit during the summer and around Christmas, we talk on the phone to keep up with one another. It was a typical conversation...he asked how school was going, how the kids were doing, how the house situation was going (we were trying to move)...the usual "catch up" topics. As our conversation began to near its end, he said "There was something I was going to tell you...but I can't remember what it was..." He assured me that when he thought of it, he would let me know. So we hung up.

Minutes later, my phone rang. It was my Dad again. "I remembered what it was." He proceeded to ask me if I had heard the song by Steven Curtis Champan called Glorious Unfolding. I had heard it on our Christian radio station many times. Then he asked me, "Have you listened to the lyrics?" To be honest, I really hadn't. Our kiddos tend to have favorites on KLOVE and so if one of their songs isn't on, we typically resort to good ole "kids' music" as my kiddos refer to it...CDs kept on hand ranging anywhere from Fisher-Price Sunday School Songs to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to Sofia the First. "Well listen to the first verse and the chorus," my dad said. I agreed to and we hung up. In case you haven't had a chance to "listen" to the lyrics...I've attached a link to the video below.

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
(lyrics found at

I listened...and immediately texted my dad that I had never paid attention to those lyrics before. And as I listened for the "first" time...I couldn't help but cry. It was exactly how I had felt for so long...and how encouraged I had been recently. My dad texted back "...God told me it was for you." I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit works on our behalf through the lives of others. The fact that our heartaches and worries can be laid upon the hearts of others that they may pray or encourage us in some For that, I am so grateful.

Here's the best part...I had just read a recent blog post THAT SAME DAY over at called Adoption Fundraising: Where Do We Start? In the post, Leah encouraged prospective adoptive families to start a blog to share their story with others. I have always loved writing so I was on board with this great suggestion. But I didn't know what to name the blog. I tried a couple blog names based on favorite scripture, but apparently many others had that same great idea. HA! After an hour or so...I tabled the idea and hoped for more direction. Enter: My Dad's text...and therefore, our blog name. What an encouragement we have in the lyrics of Steven Curtis Chapman's song. Our story is far from over...and there is so much more of our story yet to unfold.