Saturday, January 18, 2020

Another Little Doll





When Stephen and I were dating we spoke of adoption.  We didn’t really know why, but the seed was planted in our hearts.

When we were newlyweds, we had an opportunity to host orphans in our home who were traveling through our city and singing at our church. We had two little girls who spent the night with us.  That night I fell in love with these little girls.  After they left and as the days went by I found myself praying for them.  God used these two little girls to water the seed that was planted in my heart.
Over time, Stephen and I began discussing adoption seriously.  I got pregnant with Anna-Kate and then a couple of years later with Caleb and we moved to Huntsville.
But God was doing a deep work in my heart.

After moving to Huntsville we started attending a new church. Our church hosted an evening dedicated to talking about adoption and foster care.  The seed that was planted was beginning to be watered.

We talked a lot in the coming days of what the Lord was doing in our hearts.  We knew we had been called to adopt, we just were not sure where to begin.

As the Lord often does, he placed us in a missional community (small group) in our church with a couple who was walking through the adoption process.  We went over to their house for dinner one night to talk about adoption and we left that evening knowing we wanted to use Lifeline Children’s Services as our agency.

A few months later, God brought another friend into my life. A friend who doesn’t live in the same town, but He connected our hearts in the pursuit of Him and adoption. In His infinite wisdom He knew I would need this friend for the days ahead. 

The longer I have known Christ, the more I see the ugliness of my sin. The more I see my sin, the more I understand my need for a Savior. That God would take me- a rebellious, undeserving, sinner as his daughter with the same rights and inheritance as His Son overwhelms me with gratitude. I have given God no reason to love me, but He does.  I have given Him no reason to redeem me, but He did. He reconciled me to Himself and restored me to be a part of His family.

The more we walk through this adoption process, the more I understand my own redemption story.

“It is important to realize we adopt not because we are rescuers. No. We adopt because we are rescued.” — David Platt

Right now there is an orphan who has no idea they have a father and mother on the other side of the world, pursuing them, working to come and get them. Not because of anything they have done because they are utterly unable to do so, but because we are pursuing them.  This is the heart of the gospel. 

The glorious reality of the Gospel is that we don’t become God’s children through our initiative or any invitation from us, but instead he works to bring us into his family. Ephesians 1 says before we were ever born, God was working to adopt us.  While we were lying alone in the depth of our sin, God was planning to save us. We have become a part of the family of God because of a love entirely beyond our control and completely beyond our imagination. The gospel does not begin with our pursuit of Christ, but with Christ’s pursuit of us.


Since we have announced we are adopting I’ve had several questions so I hope to answer those below. I am not an expert, and we are in the beginning stages of the adoption process, but if you have more questions I will be glad to direct you to someone who knows much more than I do.

Where are you adopting from? We are adopting from China.

How long does the process take? The process is about 12-18 months.  We began our process late last year, and we trust the timing is in the Lord’s hands.

Are you adopting a boy or a girl? We don’t know. We are open to both and are excited to see if we will have another son or another daughter.

How old will your child be? Once again, we don’t know.   

Thank you for following along in our adoption journey.  We covet your prayers as we continue on in our adoption journey.  


Friday, October 18, 2019

Anna-Kate is FIVE!

I say this every single year, but I cannot believe my girl is FIVE.  She is absolutely delightful to be around and I love who she is becoming.


Anna-Kate is caring and kind.  She tells her brother exactly what to do and when to do it.  She is loyal to her people. She is a girly girl and adventurous at the same time. It takes a while to win her over, but when you do you'll find she is a treasure.


My girl does not like to be the center of attention and is not a huge fan of parties. Because of this she requested we did not have a party and instead we did FIVE FUN THINGS FOR ANNA-KATE'S FIFTH BIRTHDAY!

It's always so fun to see the fun things she comes up with.

1. Camping Trip
2. Cupcakes at school for her class
3. Hang out with Nonna and Papa
4. Hang out with Grandma and Grandpa
5. Go eat lunch at Chicken Salad Chick

We made it happen.
The day we were supposed to take cupcakes to school to celebrate her birthday she woke up sick.  She was so sad she couldn't go to school.  I did my best to cheer her up and to help her to feel better, but daddy surprised her in the middle of the day by coming home and bringing her balloons.  She felt so loved and it instantly cheered her up.

She got to spend her weekend camping. We invited some dear friends to come along and they surprised her with matching PJ's with her and a friend which is basically Anna-Kate's love language.



She got to spend a few days at her Nonna and Papa's house, and had a total blast.  They did all the fun things, and then her grandma and grandpa came to our house to visit and we spent the weekend playing.

Her favorite place to eat is chicken salad chick so we went approximately 5 times during her birthday week and she loved every second of it.



We love our girl so much.  Happy Birthday Anna-Kate.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

A Few Things

I cannot believe summer has come to an end and we are back into the school year already. Summer seemed to fly by this year, but as someone who doesn't necessarily love summer, I am not sad about it.
I love a routine, schedules, and school supplies more than I probably should.

1) Anna-Kate started preschool this year.  Since we moved to Alabama, two years ago, she has been at home with me.  It was a sweet season but I was made to be a school mom. I love a car line and packing lunches and don't even get me started on the scholastic book club.  I love every bit of it.
2) Caleb did not start preschool this year and he is not happy about it.  He gets really mad every time we drop sister off at school and he is stuck with mom all day. I've had to step up my mom game a little bit but it has been fun to enjoy some one on one time with him. Its fun to watch their personalities develop over time.

3) AK has also started ballet this past week and I am loving every bit of being a dance mom.  She is flourishing in ballet and I love getting to spend time at the dance studio talking with friends while my girl dances her little heart out.

4) I read a book this summer that I cannot stop thinking about which basically means EVERYONE needs to read it.
I checked it out from our local library and COULD NOT put it down.  It is a true story of a young missionary in the jungles of New Guinea and her four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp. She constantly speaks of her faith and how she managed to make it through such hardship while keeping her eyes on Jesus. I highly recommend reading it. 

That's all for now. Happy Weekend. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Rejected

Yesterday I had two major rejections, one right after the other.
I felt like scum.
Anyone else ever feel that way?
I was having a great day with my two little ones and then all of the sudden BAM and BAM.
I felt that I wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t measure up. That everyone else was better than I was. A bit dramatic but that’s just how I roll.
At the beginning of every year I typically pick out a word of the year. A few years ago I declared the year to be “No fear, New Year” and I spent the year doing things I was afraid of. In 2017, I declared my word “expectant” because I was going to watch and see what God would do. The same year we moved to Huntsville, and we certainly saw God move. Last year, I declared my word “discipline”. I wanted to spend the year getting our home in order, and myself as well.
At the beginning of this year I couldn’t land on just a word. There was a phrase I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s found in Philippians 3. It says at the end of verse 8 , “that I may gain Christ and be found in Him”.
“THAT I MAY GAIN CHRIST AND BE FOUND IN HIM” PHILIPPIANS 3:8-9
As I was driving down the road this verse popped into my head. It was a quick reminder that my ability to produce and perform does not change the way the Lord feels about me. I can stand firm on the rock of my salvation which is unmovable. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to allow my feelings in the moment to dictate the truth God says about me. I began to recite scripture out loud with each verse with more fervor and believing it with everything I had.
“I am one of God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4
By the time I started reciting Psalm 103, both of my kids thought I was crazy, but I kept on anyway.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles…
Here’s the thing. The offense didn’t change. No one called me back and apologized or said they changed their mind, but my attitude changed.
I decided instead of wallowing in self pity and feeling sorry for myself over the next several days I would chose to stand on God’s promises.
I would encourage you that if you are going through a difficult season, or even a difficult day not to let your circumstances or emotions get the best of you. Stand on the truth of God’s word.
A few things that always help me when I’m struggling in a moment…
  • Memorizing scripture
Jeremiah 23:29 says, “Is my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
I’ve always heard it described as being similar to depositing money in the bank. You deposit scripture in your mind. It’s amazing how much comes to you at just the right moment when you need it. If you don’t know where to begin, start with Psalm 103, one of my personal favorites.
  • Singing hymns/worship songs
When I was struggling so much yesterday with my value, I turned on worship music and the kids and I both sang to the top of our lungs. It’s a good reminder that this world is not all about us and we PRAISE the ONE it is about.
  • Praying
I know this seems so obvious, but honestly I should have listed it first. Hebrews 4 tells us “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
  • Find your people.
There are some people who just encourage you in the faith. Hebrews 10:24 says, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”. The Lord was so faithful yesterday because right about the time this happened a friend texted and asked if we wanted to go grab dinner. God was so kind in his timing because these were just the people I needed to be around at the time I needed to be around them.
If you are in Christ you have the enormous blessing of knowing Him as your Savior and Lord and there is absolutely nothing better than that.
Because the book of Philippians has been pulling at my heart strings lately I leave you with this.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. ” Philippians 3:8

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Broken


We have spent a lot of time outdoors lately talking about the beautiful weather God made.  A few days ago we went on a scavenger hunt around our neighborhood.  We looked for red leaves, yellow leaves, orange leaves, brown leaves, pine cones and acorns.  As the kids were picking up the leaves Anna-Kate looked up at me and asked, “mommy, why are the leaves changing colors? 
I told her the leaves get less light each day and they stop making food to prepare for the winter. The Chlorophyll which is the green color breaks down the other colors in the leaves begin to show. Eventually the stems of the leaves will weaken and the leaves fall from the trees.  
My sweet girl looked up at me and said, “so they have to be broken to be beautiful?”
“Yes, sweet girl.  Yes. “
How I needed to hear those words in that moment. This isn’t some new idea or thought but it was the perfect reminder for me in the moment I needed to hear it. We are broken to be made beautiful. In this season, it seems everything is continually broken. Everything from hearts, relationships, families, sickness, our country, and the devastation I’ve seen in Hurricane Michael (more on this later). Our world is so incredibly broken. 
One thing I know as I’ve walked through brokenness and walked with others through brokenness is God is there in the midst of brokenness, in suffering. He draws His people to Himself.  He raises up His church. 
Isaiah 61:3 says, “to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” He brings beauty from ashes. 
There is an old Jewish tale about a student who asks a rabbi, “Why does the Torah say we lay these words upon our hearts? Why does it not say we lay these words in our hearts?” The rabbi replies, “Because God knows that our hearts are closed, so we lay the words upon our hearts. When our hearts break, the words fall in.”
Yesterday I was having lunch with one of my mentors.  I was telling her some areas I could use some wisdom right now.  Situations I don’t know how to handle.  We were talking about the importance of renewing your mind.  Reading scripture, memorizing scripture, meditating scripture, and here recently I have played the audio Bible in our home. We must put His word upon our heart so that it can go INTO our hearts. 
This is what I know.  Whatever is going on in our lives God’s truth heals it.  We have no free mind space, so we have to take negative thoughts and replace them with the truth.  If we are going to get through this thing and we will, we need to have the mind of Christ. That means we are taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. 
There is beauty in the ashes. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Anna-Kate is FOUR!

This past week we celebrated Anna-Kate’s 4th birthday.  It’s hard to believe my little girl is already four.  Anna-Kate brings so much joy to our lives.  She is kind, loving, loyal and has the biggest heart for others.  She is reserved but loves her people fiercely.  We love being her mommy and daddy.
She isn’t into big parties and asked me not to throw her one, so we decided to do 4 FUN THINGS FOR ANNA-KATE’S 4TH BIRTHDAY! It has been the most fun.
IMG_3165
We started her birthday morning off with donuts. We went to our favorite little donut shop and we told them it was her birthday. They were so kind to us and gave us free donuts.  She was so thrilled.
IMG_3160
IMG_3163
After we got donuts we headed to the gardens to meet some friends there.  AK had THE BEST time playing with her sweet friends and I’m so grateful for our Huntsville community who has loved on us so well over the past year.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch your girl be loved on and treasured by so many friends and it made this mama’s heart so happy.
IMG_3171IMG_3172 (1)
After we left the garden we were exhausted, so we came home and napped.  Right about the time the kids woke up from nap, daddy was home and brought our sweet girl some flowers and balloons.  She was thrilled. We let her pick where she wanted to eat dinner and she chose to go to Chick-fil-A.  When we got there Caleb started clapping his hands and saying “Yeah, home”, which tells me we might go a little bit too much.
After dinner we came home and let her open gifts from us and then we had cake.
10778351184_IMG_1116
10779283680_IMG_112410778557728_IMG_1125
She specifically requested a pink cake with princess plates and that’s exactly what we did.  Caleb had no idea what we were celebrating but he was there for it all.  Anna-Kate repeatedly told him to tell her happy birthday but he refused to oblige.
That night as I was putting her to sleep I read Psalm 139 over her and reflected on the day I got to meet her 4 years ago. I prayed that God would protect her and that she would come to know Him as her Lord, Savior and Father. I thanked God for how he created her in His image and was reminded of His perfect love.
The next morning, my best friend came into town with her sweet kids who also happens to be Anna-Kate’s best friend and we spent the day letting the kids play.  Naturally we all piled into one car and headed to Chick-fil-a for free babysitting lunch. After a few hours, and yes I said “a few” we headed back to our house so they could play the rest of the day.
One of the things Anna-Kate had requested for her birthday was a father/daughter camping trip.  I was invited to come along as well, but she told me I needed to find someone to watch Caleb. 🙂
Daddy and Anna-Kate headed off on their trip and she had the best time.  It might become a new tradition around here.
IMG_3189IMG_3190
We have had so much fun loving on our sweet girl and still have a little bit more celebrating to do with family, but it’s my hope that the love poured out on her, only shows her how much Jesus loves her and that she would be able to show His love to others.  Happy Birthday sweet girl.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent- 24 Days of Kindness

Every year I struggle with how to have a fun Christmas for our kids, but also keep Christ at the center.  If I’m going to be honest the last few years I’ve done a poor job trying to teach Anna-Kate the true meaning of Christmas. Last year, sweet little Caleb was born at the beginning of December and all I was trying to do at that point was survive Christmas.
This year I want our family to not just survive, but to THRIVE during this season.  I’ve been searching and praying about a way to teach my children that Christmas is not just about toys and I think I’ve finally found the perfect thing.
Starting December 1st we are going to start 24 days of kindness leading up to Christmas as a way of Advent.  I got the original idea here.  I loved the idea of doing a Kindness Advent so I went to work creating our own advent that a three year old can do.
I’m what you might call a “wanna-be crafty girl”.  I love crafts I’m just not very good at them. So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a cute little advent calendar that Anna-Kate could use everyday and wrote our act of kindness for everyday on them.  My plan is to let Anna-Kate open a drawer everyday and then we can do our act of kindness together.  Caleb gets a pass this year since he is only one, but next year my little people lover will do great.
When planning I had to keep in mind that some of the things we are planning to do need to happen on certain days. For example, our trash comes on Thursday which means we will leave a treat for our trash man on a Thursday morning.  You get the idea.
Some more ideas we are doing include:
Muffins to our pediatricians office
Take a treat to the salvation army bell ringer
Bring up a Neighbors trash can
Homemade cards to local nursing home
Donate canned goods to local food pantry
Make and leave bookmarks in the library
Food gift cards for the homeless
Take cookies to neighbors
Give away a bouquet of flowers
Return shopping carts from the parking lot
Leave a treat for our mail man
We are really excited about it this year. There are some really great Advent Studies out this year which you still have time to pick up if you want to. It’s such a busy time of year and it’s so important to carve out some time with Jesus to remember why we celebrate.  I’ve listed a few Advent studies below that I personally have and would recommend.
Advent Studies
She Reads Truth Advent Study Book
You can order it here!
This is the one I am doing this year and I must say the book is BEAUTIFUL.  Plus it has a free cross stitch pattern that I’m super excited about. They also have a companion book for your husband and your kids.
Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift
This one is also beautiful.  I’ve done this one the past two years and loved it.  I read The Greatest Gift and as a family we read Unwrapping the Greatest Gift at night together.  She also just came out with a new one with a pop up tree which I think the kids would love. You can order these here. 
The Donkey in the Living Room
This one is really cute and I love the book that goes along with it.  It’s a full nativity set for your kids and the book walks through the story of Jesus through the book.  It’s one of my favorites. You can find it on Amazon. 
Little People Nativity Set
I just got this set out today and the kids haven’t stopped playing with it.  It’s one of my favorites.  It doesn’t have an advent study to go along with it but I thought it was worth mentioning. I found mine in Lifeway but I think you can get one on Amazon as well. I have one extra one, so if anyone wants it just let me know and I’m happy to give it to you.
Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide
This is what we are doing this year and I’m really excited about it.  I love that I don’t have to buy anything to go along with it.  If you don’t already have the Jesus Storybook Bible I highly recommend you go buy one.  I cannot say enough good things about it.  I often find myself in tears while reading it to my children.  It’s absolutely beautiful. This year we are going to read our Jesus Storybook Bible with our Kindness Advent. Faith Gateway and Sally Lloyd Jones created a fantastic guide to walk through with your kids for Advent. It has beautiful pages to go along with it that you can print at home.  You can get them here. 
I have one goal this year, be present.  Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing, I am striving to just be fully present with the people God has put in front of me.  So often I get overwhelmed thinking about everything I have to do, but all God has called me to do is to say “yes” to whatever He has put in front of me every single day. Be present.
“Being in a hurry.  Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time.  It turns out I was throwing it away.”
-Ann Voskamp