Monday, December 30, 2013

Mommy Meltdowns...

I'm so behind on posting some of the milestones in our family's life from the past few months, but that's just because we've been busy living, so that's a pretty great reason in my book:)  However, maybe I'll get caught up since today is a holiday and we're all having a lazy day hanging out in our jammies with family today.  In the meantime, here's a post I wrote a few days ago that I wanted to share with y'all... 

From December 30th, 2013:

This is one of those posts where I just feel the need to be really real/transparent, because I have a feeling I'm not alone in days like today...

Don't get me wrong-today was not a "bad" day at all.  I got to have lunch with my family-a family we never thought we would be able to have, but by God's graciousness He has expanded it and allowed DH to enter into his seventh year of being cancer free.  Maybe the weight of that responsibility was weighing heavily in the back of my mind as I took my three children-two in 
tow and one in utero-to brave the shopping crowds all afternoon for some last-minute Christmas gifts (nope-we aren't done celebrating yet!) and some much-needed grocery items.  Mind you, this is after Gabriel was up until 4 this morning (he's cutting a tooth) and due to today's outing he was missing out on a much-needed nap. (Which he found at the dinner table apparently!)
I found myself loading up on a big dose of mommy-guilt.  I was feeling guilty Gabriel was missing that much-needed nap; I was feeling guilty that Lucy was spending her Christmas vacation helping me instead of me doing something fun with her, and I was feeling guilty about feeling overwhelmed at the thought that soon there would be three little ones to cart around at a grocery that even possible?!  Here's the deal tho-Lucy and Gabriel were SO amazing all afternoon.  In spite of Gabriel having to be exhausted, and in spite of Lucy having to be kind of bored, they both were so obedient and pleasant and enjoyable and helpful pretty much all afternoon.  The problem tho?  Baby mustard seed wasn't behaving quite so well.  I spent most of the time on my feet feeling like I was about to fall to the floor-I felt nauseated, weak, exhausted, and the Braxton Hicks contractions were coming on so strongly.  I didn't even know if I had the energy to get my groceries put in the car I was so just physically drained.  I found myself crying in the car on the way home, feeling like I just needed time to stop for a moment.  After the most crazy Christmas season we've ever had, I think my pregnant body just kind of wanted to shut down on me and send me to bed for the next several days-no bags to pack, no presents to wrap, no events to plan, no programs to present...just a moment to stop for once from all of the craziness...but there wasn't time for that, and I knew it. (I should interject that I'm not complaining at all about everything that's gone on this past month-we have felt honored and blessed to be apart of it all!)  So I drove home, unloaded groceries (which Lucy eagerly helped with), got the kids a snack, and started putting things away, all the while needing to immediately start dinner and clean my floors before our dinner guests arrived.  Instead, I found myself sitting lifelessly at my dining room table in tears.  I thought the kids were playing together in the living room and eating a snack and not paying attention go me, but I forgot I have a very perceptive six-year-old, so I should have known better.  I had pulled out the vacuum cleaner, but as I got started on dinner and busy with laundry, the floors moved further and further down the list of possibilities...until my precious six-year-old comes up to me out of the blue and asks, 

"Can I vacuum the floor for you, Mommy?" 

Can you what??! Seriously? I told her that would be WONDERFUL!  And you know what?  Even with the patches of missed spots, it was the most beautiful looking vacuumed floor I've ever had.

Afterwards, I gave her the biggest hug and said, "thank you so much for helping mommy out today-you have no idea how much it means to me."  She replied, "I just wanted to do something to make you happy because you seemed sad...and I like to vacuum!  I want to vacuum for you every day now!"  Melted my heart...and broke it at the same time.  Just as I had been feeling so overwhelmed at the thought of soon having three children and wondering how I'd ever manage to be a good wife and mommy to everyone, there comes my daughter.  It was as if the Lord was whispering in my ear that everything was going to be ok.  But that guilty side wanted to yell at me, "How dare you let her see you struggle! You're supposed to have it all together; to be everything for everyone.  You're such a failure..."  And while I know that's a lie, it is so easy to believe it when you're physically and mentally give out.  But how precious is my Jesus to remind me that no, I don't have to do it all and that He always provides a way to see us through even the little details of life...and sometimes He does so through the form of a little six-year-old girl.
 As a momma, my greatest desire is for my children to see Jesus IN me, but today, my daughter showed Jesus TO me.  I truly am so humbled and blessed by my precious children.  God knew I needed encouragement as a momma today, and He brought me that through the actions and attitudes of the ones who have blessed me with that role.  Seven years ago, we didn't even know if we could ever have a family, and now here we are with seriously the two greatest kids I've ever known and another precious life on the way!

When I woke up this morning, the movie WALL-E was on, and this quote really stuck out to me: 

"I don't want to survive; I want to LIVE!"

So as we enter into a New Year, I want to remember to not get bogged down by life, just waiting for a moment to breathe, because I don't want to just survive, but to truly LIVE. I want to look for God in the mommy meltdowns of life, for what an opportunity to be lifted up to see life from an even more amazing perspective than I ever imagined, which is often through the eyes of a child. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013...

This week has been so jam-packed.  In some ways, that's a good thing, because it helped the time pass by quickly as we look forward to our big family vacation.  But in other ways, it's left me pretty drained physically and emotionally...

My Pa-Pa (my mom's dad) had surgery this week, and it appears they found several spots of cancer.  I really wanted to go spend some time with him since we are about to head out of town, so Gabriel and I loaded up on Tuesday morning and headed on an impromptu road trip to visit family.  On my way to their house, I stopped in my hometown to visit my Gibber (my dad's mom), but she was out running some errands so I had a little extra time to pass by.  It had been awhile since I had visited my daddy's grace, so I decided to take a few minutes to go by the cemetery.  I'm not sure that was the best idea for a hormonal pregnant woman, but I felt like I needed to go.  I'm always sad when I go out there, because I know he isn't there, so it just feels so empty and lonely staring at all of the headstones filling up the cemetery, and it just seems so wrong that my daddy's name is written on one of them.  As I drove towards my grandmother's house afterward, I noticed all of the halloween decorations filling up people's yards, and one in particular really stood out to me: these people had gone to town, but not in a way that was pleasing to my eyes at all.  Their entire yard was filled with cobwebs and coffins and skeletons.  It was so dreary and DEAD looking, and a question struck me:

Why do people take so much time and energy to celebrate death?

As a Christian, I live with a hope that I will experience LIFE after death.  Yet the idea of celebrating death as the end...I don't understand the draw towards that.  And I especially didn't understand it from the perspective of having just left the cemetery where, six years ago, we laid my Daddy to rest after he had died. It just seems to me like we often try to make light of death, and especially of anything that represents hell.  Have you ever noticed that when people talk about hell, they often make jokes about it?  I think we do that as a coping mechanism of dealing with something that seems unknown to us, or something that scares us.  Rather than treat it for what it really is, it's easier to try and make light of it...but no matter what we say or do, it doesn't change the reality of what is.  So, for me, halloween has nothing to do with ghosts and goblins and bloody makeup.  I just enjoy dressing my kids up in fun costumes and making fun family memories...and that's exactly what we did this year!

A nearby church was hosting a fall festival, so our family met up with some other families from our church and headed there.  The kids looked so sweet in their costumes, and we all had a lot of fun.  Lucy went as Snow White this year, and Gabriel went as Mickey Mouse.  The kids played in bounce houses, we ate kettle korn, played some fun carnival games, took photos, and went and visited at a friend's house afterward...and we might have had a fun size candy bar or two along the way:)  No scares, and so many sweet memories made:)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Star of the Week...

My sweet baby girl is turning SIX this week, and she happened to be chosen as the "star of the week" this week at school...Ok, actually, she got chosen to be star of the week LAST week, but we had one of "those" weeks, and her precious teacher told me not to sweat it and Lucy could just be the star again for this week and turn her things in this week instead.  I'm not sure why the project stressed me out so much...probably because Lucy was just SO very excited about it, and I was hoping her momma had the skills to help her out so her project lived up to the expectations she had dreamed up for it in her head.  Well, we finally finished everything up this evening, and I definitely had one very excited (almost) 6 year old on my hands!  

For this project, they are given a piece of posterboard (I think she got to pick the color--of course,  she chose PINK!) and they are supposed put pictures on it that tell all about themselves.  We chose some pictures that show some of the things Lucy loves the most, which ended up overwhelmingly involving family.  (I love that she feels family is the most important thing to her!)  I know you can't really see the photos up close, so I'll explain them to you:  
Lucy LOVES rainbows and drawing with sidewalk chalk, so we chose a picture of her jumping over a rainbow she had drawn on our driveway.  I penciled in block letters for her and she traced over everything and colored it all in.  If you notice the yellow drawing to the right of the exclamation point after her name, that is her picture of what a "light" looks like.  She wanted to be sure and include a light on her poster since she takes it very seriously that her name means "bringer of light.":)
Below that is a photo of her and DH at the Breakfast with Dads event they recently had at school.  Lucy LOVES going on special Daddy-Daughter Dates with her daddy!  She also likes to play around on her pink guitar, and I think she hope she can one day play like her Daddy.  It was cute to listen to her tell me what colors she wanted to use for different parts of the poster.  Any time she chose green, she would say, "because that's Daddy's favorite color."  She certainly has a special bond with her daddy, and I'm so thankful for how close they are.  He truly is the most amazing daddy I've ever known.
The next set of pictures shows Lucy trying on a pair of womens heels.  She loves playing dressup and especially enjoys getting into any of my "fancy" shoes.  She also has recently started helping me cook more and more.  I often ask her to help me in hopes that if she helps prepare the food, she might actually EAT it as well (she is SUCH a picky eater!)  My plan hasn't worked out too well, but she still really enjoys the cooking process, even if she isn't in love with the eating process.
The third row of pictures is of Lucy with her grandparents--Nonnie, Opie, and Gi-Gi.  She is so crazy about each of them!
And the last set of pictures shows Lucy with Daddy, me, and baby brother.  She was very adamant about her family being the thing she loved the most.  
It's interesting to me that this poster didn't include pictures of her with a favorite toy, although Lucy has never been one to be attached to toys much.  The things she enjoys most seem to be things that involve being with the people she loves, whether that be watching a movie together, going out to eat together, doing a fun activity together. etc.  Quality time is obviously important to her, and I want to remember that as I seek to show love to her in a way that will best speak to her.

The second part of Lucy's big project involed a box. She was to choose 5 items that represented who she is--hobbies she has, things she loves...basically anything that would help the class learn more about Lucy.  Included in those 5 items needed to be her favorite book.  It was SO hard for me to try and not push certain ones on her (the ones that I especially enjoy reading to her like "Petunia the Silly Goose" and "Cat, You Better Come Home.") but I really wanted this to be HER project.  I did give her some guidance of course as she sorted through her thoughts, but these are the things that SHE came up with, along with the reasons why she felt that they should be included in her 5 things:

First of all, she chose the book, "Where, Oh Where Is Huggle Buggle Bear?"

This is an ADORABLE book that my mom found for like $3 at Ross several years back.  It's one we have read over and over and over, and she never grows tired of it.  It's funny to me that she chose it as her favorite book as it is about a boy trying to find his favorite bear before bedtime, but its off finding all sorts of ways to lengthen the amount of time before he has to go to bed.  Sounds an AWFUL lot like someone else I know!;-)

Lucy was very adamant that this particular Hello Kitty be included in her box.  She is really into Hello Kitty right now, but this particular one is special to her because Nonnie and Opie brought it to her from their trip to Japan, which is where Lucy's "Aunt Bubba" lives.  Lucy has a very close relationship with DH's sister.

Another thing Lucy LOVES right now is Knock-Knock jokes, so I asked her if she might want us to make a book of knock-knock jokes to place in her box.  She LOVED the idea.  Since she's just in the early stages of reading and writing, I wrote out all of the jokes for her (I chose her favorites), but then had her draw a picture to go along with the jokes. I especially loved her picture of the "little old lady Who."  I kept telling her, "Honey, I don't understand where all the lady's hair is?" and she fianlly told me, "Mom, her hair is all up on the top of her head in a BUN."  hehee:) I love it!  I really think this particular item in her box says a lot about who Lucy is, because she loves to laugh and to make other people laugh.
Certainly something that defines a lot of who Lucy is would be that she's a big sister.  It's a role she prayed for for a very long time, and she truly takes it very seriously.  She absolutely loves her baby brother, and it's quite obvious that he adores her, too.  I was just telling someone today how Baby Mustard Seed is pretty much all her doing, because she has prayed so diligently for another sibling.  I am so thankful for the amazing faith my daughter has, especially at such a young age.

And lastly, Lucy placed her ladybug star nightlight in her box.  This was a gift given to her (from a very dear family to us who was extremely influential in our being able to adopt Gabriel) when Gabriel was born, and she has pretty much slept with it every single night since.  I think this is such a great item to be in her box since her name means bringer of light.

Oh Lucy, truly that is what you have done from the moment you entered our lives.  You have breathed light into your entire family's life, and we are so proud of the youth lady you are becoming.  Never stop shining as brightly as you do my precious one!  You aren't just the star of the week this week at school, but you truly have been a bright, shining star from the moment you were born!  Thank you for shining so brightly on our family!

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Letter to Gabriel...

My dear sweet Gabriel,

As I'm rocking you to sleep and your head is nuzzled underneath my I listen to the sweet babbles mixed in with words like "daddy" and "happy" you open your mouth wide to yawn and settle in for the evening...I can't help but wonder: do you know how very much you are loved? Do you know how very wanted you are? Do you know how your Heavenly Father has walked before you to bring you from your biryhmommy's womb to my arms?  I imagine at just 16 months old, these are not the things your mind contemplates...but when I see the way you smile at your daddy, and when I feel the way you lean in so tightly for me to hug you, and when I watch the way you respond to your birthmommy, a part of me feels that you do know to some extent. You know that you are loved, you know that you are wanted, and you know that your beautiful life has a purpose.  And just in case there is ever any doubt in your mind, know that I promise to never let you forget. Every day you will hear that Mommy and Daddy love you...and we will ever remind you of the selfless love your birthmom has for you, too...and we will always strive to point you to your Heavenly Father's great plan for your life. What a precious gift you are, my son, and what a blessing that I have been gifted with the responsibility to make sure that you do know how loved you are, how wanted you are, and how precious you are in His sight...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Willing to Heal...

I remember being on a long drive in my car one February day.  The kids were both napping, and no one else was really out on that stretch of highway at that time, so it was just me.  I'm not sure about any other mommas out there, but the Lord likes to meet with me in my minivan, and He did just that on that particular winter's day.  No, not just the season that day made it winter, for my life was in the midst of a winter season, too. Everything seemed so cold and dead at that point. I was mourning the loss of friendships, being treated coldly by people who once were so warm towards me, and I felt so alone from how I was being so horribly misunderstood.  You want to know what's so wonderful
about those seasons of loneliness in our lives though? When we have no one else in our earthly lives, we realize that all we really need is Jesus, and the more we get of Jesus, the more we want, and the more and more He shows up.  So there He was, right there with me in my minivan.  I shared with Him my hurt, my disappointment, and my confusion at what to do with these wounds I had been left with.  And these are the words He wrote so clearly on the depths of my soul in that moment...

"We are all wounded people. And wounds are not pretty. That's why we need a Healer who can make something beautiful out of what is so ugly."

I'm sure each of us has experienced wounds at many points in our lives.  Maybe your little brother took a bite out of your cheek after church one Sunday, or maybe you were doing crazy 8's on your bike and you fell over and fractured your rib, or maybe you got hit in the head with a pickle ball during PE class, and you have the scars to prove it from each incident (not that I would know anything about any of those types of injuries...*clears throat*;-). But most likely, when you think of whatever wounds you have endured, the physical ones aren't probably the ugliest scars you've had to work's the internal ones that have wounded your heart and often effected so many more areas in your life. It's the unkind word someone spoke to you in haste, or the utter betrayal from a close friend, or the abuse you were subject to.  Whatever the reason for the wound, wounds are never pretty.  And, just like a momma says to her child when they fall down, it seems like the world constantly says to us, "C'mon, dust yourself off and be brave and move on-you're going to be just fine." when in reality, the wound is still there, and you feel anything but fine.  There's a fine line between brushing off the wounds as if they never happened, and living a life consumed by your woundedness...and that's where our Heavenly Father shows up: right there in the middle of the hurt and the healing to provide us with a way to go from one end to the other.  The question is, though, are we willing to go through the healing process, because it's not as easy as just brushing off the hurt...

We had quite a scare this past week.  Lucy and another child accidentally ran into each other at Awana on Sunday evening.  The other child was older than Lucy, so when they hit, she kind of bounced off of him and fell...they think to the grass first, but she somehow ended up landing on a concrete grate. She showed some symptoms of a mild concussion (we aren't really sure if that's what it was or if she happened to come down with a tummy bug at the same time) and her poor lip and gums took quite a beating, not to mention her knee and arms and face.  We praise God she seems to be doing well now (it could have been sooo much worse than what it was) but the healing process has not been an easy one.  Each day her wounds tend to morph into a different shape or color, and even though we know it is a sign of healing, there are some moments that the injury looks worse now than it did when it first happened. And with each dab of peroxide, and each application of neosporin, and each change of bandage, we are met with the cries of our precious baby girl.  Wounds hurt-and not just when you first receive them, but also when you are in the midst of healing from them.  Lucy keeps saying to me, "It's okay Momma, you don't have to put medicine on it-I already have a bandaid on it."  Isn't that so like we are many times?  We just want to stick a bandaid over the problem, hoping if we can push it out of our sight that we will forget about it.  But no amount of covering our wounds, our hurt, will ever make it go away.  We need a healer, and healing isn't easy.

So as my precious daughter works through the pain of healing from a physical injury, I have to ask myself: how am I working on the process of healing from those inward injuries?  Am I holding tightly to my hurt and allowing it to turn into bitterness, or am I allowing my Healer to take me through the process of healing those inward wounds?  It's a daily struggle and a daily decision of dying to myself, and it's often not a very pretty one when you're in the midst of it.  But, Oh what beauty our Healer can make if we will allow Him to take us through the process.  Are you willing?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fifteen Months...

Fifteen months of the sweetest snuggles...the softest skin...the most life-changing smile...

Fifteen months of the most wonderful late night wake up calls...the most heart-wrenching cries for help...the most assertive ways of telling me he does or does not want his milk...

Fifteen months of sweeping my hand through the softest and most gorgeous dark hair and playing with the cutest ear lobes I've ever seen:)

Fifteen months of picking you up as you reach out for me and hold on tightly, not wanting me to let you go...

Fifteen months of rocking you at bedtime and patting your back as you fall to sleep in your crib...

Fifteen months of saying, "You are so very loved and so very wanted by so very many..."

Fifteen months of changing the diaper of the squirmiest boy I've ever known who is ever ready to experience life...

Fifteen months of watching you soak in every moment of life through those gorgeous dark eyes...

Fifteen months of watching your face light up when your daddy enters the room, and seeing the way only Sissy can make you smile...

Fifteen months of watching you learn and develop and grow...

Fifteen months of learning of every beautiful feature of this incredible baby boy...

Fifteen months of joy, tears, and incredible beauty...

Fifteen months made up of so many tiny moments--some difficult and challenging, but all of them precious and not taken for granted, because these fifteen months are not something I deserved; they were a gift given to me.  Because for fifteen months, I have had the privilege of being called "mommy," because fifteen months ago his mommy chose to give me that title.  I have experienced these 15 months because she has not. 

So as my precious son turns 15 months old tomorrow, I am filled with so many emotions, but at the top of them all is the most intense gratitude.  My life is forever changed because of's a sacrifice so great and so beyond my comprehension, and one I will never ever forget or ever cease to tell my precious boy of. 

And as I think of the sacrifice Gabriel's precious birthmother made, I can't help but think of the amazing sacrifice my Heavenly Daddy made for me.  He chose me to be His daughter.  It was not a title I could earn or that I remotely deserved, but yet it is one He so freely gave to me, even though at such an expense for Him.

So today I'm just feeling so thankful---thankful that I get to be the Daughter of my King, and that I get to be the mommy of my son...both undeserved titles that I cherish and am forever grateful for...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Faith of a Mustard Seed...

Have you noticed in the Bible how Jesus is always so eager to let the children come to him?  Unfortunately, our society often views children as an annoyance, but in reality, children were meant to be a blessing.  I'm always amazed at the BIG truths I learn from my two little blessings, the latest being from my Lucy-bug...

Before we adopted Gabriel, Lucy would pray daily for her baby brother AND sister.  She was convinced we would be adopting twins. So when we adopted Gabriel, she was so excited about having a brother, but she said, "I prayed for a sister, too tho, momma, so you're going to have a baby!"  I smiled at her confidence and said, "well, I don't know if that's possible honey, but you can pray and ask God for that.  He doesn't always answer our prayers exactly the way that we want Him to, but He always answers in the very best way." So, for over a year, Lucy has been praying for her baby sister.  She's even gone as far as TELLING people that I have a baby in my belly!  I've had to have a few conversations with her about this.  (Those of you who have struggled with infertility can understand how difficult it is to have people coming up to you congratulating you on a pregnancy that you don't have.) I tried to explain to her that mommy might not ever be able to have a baby in my belly, but she refused to believe it.  She would just say, "Momma, I KNOW you're going to have a baby in your belly," and I would just smile at her determination, but even more at her faith...  

When you've struggled for so long for something, it's easy to lose that faith.  I will admit that while being able to get pregnant is something that hasn't left my prayer journal pages for years, I had gotten to the point where I wasn't praying for it with very great expectation.  I think a part of that was a way of trying to protect myself from disappointment, but at the same time, I think the Lord had blessed me with a peace in His ultimate plan.  After going through the adoption process and seeing God's hand all over bringing Gabriel into our family, I was so comforted by the beauty of His perfect plan.  I know without a doubt that Gabriel is the baby we had longed to parent and had cried for and prayed for for so very long.  No biological child could ever have filled that void in our mommy and daddy and big sister hearts.  So I believe in this last year God has taught me a lot about trusting His very perfect plan.  That doesn't mean His plan is always easy for us, but I can say with full confidence that it is always best. So, my prayers began to shift, asking the Lord to give us the desire for what HIS plan is for our family...and on August 15, He showed us just what that was...

I'm pregnant!

We are in SHOCK, and we are so overwhelmed by God's kindness to allow us to expand our family.  When we told Lucy, she kept saying, "I just can't believe that God answered my prayer!"  I am so excited to see her faith grow and to see our family grow.  Gabriel will get to experience the joy of being a big brother, and DH and I will get to learn the balance of being outnumbered:-)

What's so cool about the whole thing is to see God's fingerprints covering all of the details.  Just one example: We have not had maternity coverage since we were pregnant with Lucy, and DH's new insurance just went into effect right before we got pregnant--which includes maternity coverage.

When we first learned of this pregnancy, our baby was the size of a mustard seed, and I cannot think of a more fitting analogy to make other than that.  In Matthew 17:20, we read this:

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Lucy has truly had faith the size of a mustard seed.  When she found out about this little one she exclaimed, "MOM!  This is Gabriel's TWIN that I prayed for!"  I just love that sweet little girl:) and I won't be at all surprised if our "baby mustard seed" turns out to be a girl.  After all, there's nothing quite as powerful as the faith of a small child...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Twas the Week Before Kindergarten...

We have had a week full of savoring every last bit of summer vacation.  I've actually been mourning the loss of summer.  I guess it's because we spent the first half of our summer preparing for a move, and the second half adjusting to said move.  So, once we finally started getting in a routine, it felt like summer should just be beginning, when in reality, it was time for it to end:(  We lived this last week up to the fullest though by enjoying some lazy and some crazy mornings, special outings, and fun times with friends.  It was definitely a great way to say goodbye to the summer and hello to the school year!

A morning at the park
We took Daddy to work and then headed to our neighborhood park with some friends.  (I guess it's not technically OUR neighborhood's park, but it's right across the street from us.)  It's an awesome park with a GREAT playground that's covered and full of lots of fun stuff.  Lucy enjoyed playing with Nathan and Noah, and Gabriel enjoyed munching on his cheerios, trying out the slide, and playing in the playground flooring stuff.  (Like my technical names for things?;-) 
Family Movie Night

We closed out both Monday and Tuesday evenings with a Family Movie Night Picnic.  It was DH's idea, and the kids loved it!  We sat out a big quilt in the living room floor and ate dinner together while we watched a movie, snuggled, and just enjoyed laughing and talking with one another.  On Monday we watched Disney's Robin Hood, and on Tuesday we watched Disney's The Sword in the Stone.

Tuesday was a lot of fun.  We had a nice, lazy morning followed by some fun at the mall with Gi-Gi.  Our big treat for that day was a trip to Build a Bear Workshop.  The kids both brought their own money and had a great time building their own stuffies.  Lucy absolutely LOVES all things My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so she was so excited to get to build her own Twilight Sparkle pony.  And while I know Gabriel is a bit young to really understand the whole build-a-bear experience, I've never seen a little boy love puppy dogs so much, so he was ALL smiles about his new puppy dog!  It was a bit of a crazy experience though because the FIRE ALARM got set off towards the end of our trip, so we had to leave their "buildings" in the store and exit until the mall had been given the all-clear.  I guess it was good practice to have before the school year starts as I'm sure she'll be experiencing plenty of practice fire drills.  (Oddly enough, I don't remember fire drills so much from when I was in elementary school--I lived in California at that time, so we had lots of practice Earthquake drills instead...)

Only Tuesday...and already tired!
Hawaiian Falls fun!
You can see that Lucy was EXHAUSTED after Tuesday's festivities...  And on Wednesday, that exhaustion definitely got passed on to Momma.  We originally had plans for Wednesday morning, but after several nights with little sleep and several jam-packed days, I just couldn't get around as planned.  So, we enjoyed another lazy morning at home before heading to the water park for the afternoon with friends. 
We are so blessed to be so close to a Christian-owned waterpark.  It's not so big that it's overwhelming for little kids, yet there is PLENTY there for everyone in the family to enjoy.  Gabriel loves floating along in the lazy river and the calm side of the wave pool, and Lucy could spend all day in the kids' area going down the different slides and getting water dumped on her by the big bucket.  By the time we got home, I had two very wiped out kiddos on my hands, and one AWFUL headache for myself, along with the start of a summer cold or something of the sort.  That being said, we decided to stay put for the evening.  Even an evening at home can be fun though...
Before bedtime, we went out on the driveway and played for a bit.  Lucy rode her bike, Gabriel rode in the wagon and played with some toys, and Lucy ended our Wednesday with a skating performance:)  I love all of the many faces of my Lucy--her silly faces, her joyful exclamations, her goofy poses, and her SMILE...that girls always knows how to make her momma smile, even when her momma isn't feeling so great.

Thursday was a non-stop day filled with friends, family, and the FUTURE...
excited to meet her science teacher
checking out the computer center
Lucy and her Kindergarten teacher
I had coffee with a sweet friends that morning while the kids played, and then DH's cousin dropped in for a visit.  We had lunch together and then Lucy and I got trims.  (As always, our hair thanks you, Cortne!:)  And then it was time for a trip into what the future holds for my bugaboo, which meant a trip to Lucy's new school for "Meet the Teacher" night!  Lucy has had a VERY difficult time adjusting to our move.  Everyone has been SO very sweet and welcoming to her here, and she's made some wonderful new friends, but Lucy has just had a really hard time understanding why we had to move and why she can't live in the only home and town she remembers.  Add to that a new school, and she is quite confused as to why everything had to change so suddenly.  Meet the Teacher night definitely was a good thing for her though--she really enjoyed meeting her teacher, seeing her classroom (her favorite center was the computer center of course!  She is definitely her daddy's daughter!) and she was especially excited about hearing that she will get to take SCIENCE.  (That definitely doesn't make her her momma's girl! LOL)  The next morning she announced that, "Since I've had some time to think about it now, I think I'm going to like my new school and I want to go there...even if Ellie won't be in class with me."  (Poor baby girl is missing her Hamlin friends SO very much.)  I think having had an introduction to her school on Thursday will make her first official day there on Monday SO much easier and exciting for her.

To close out our "summer o' fun" week, we had a SLEEPOVER with our very dear friends.  DH and Jason enjoyed some "guy gaming time" in the evenings as well as completing some handy-man projects around the house during the day (thank y'all...even for the extra hole in the wall;-); the older girls spent their time as usual fighting like sisters but laughing and hugging and making up as always; the babies stayed pretty close to their mommas but did try to hold hands during the play we went to on Friday night:); and the mommas got to start a fun knitting project!  We met up at the waterpark on Friday morning, attempted naps in the afternoon, and then headed to the church for a production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  The girls really enjoyed the play and talked about it all the next day and were excited to see the "Snow Queen" singing with the choir at church this morning. 

(Side note: That book is actually one of the reasons I love the name Lucy so much, and my own Lucy reminds me so much of that character.)

We closed our last moments of summer out with some bedtime stories, the last of which was "Petunia the Silly Goose."  This was a favorite of mine when I was a child, so I was so excited that Lucy specifically requested I read her "the duck book that you like, Mommy."  It's a PERFECT book to read the night before school begins, tooTowards the end, Petunia makes this discovery:
"It was not enough to carry wisdom under my wing.  I must put it in my mind and in my heart.  And to do that I must learn to read."

I told Lucy how excited I am that SHE is going to have the opportunity to continue learning how to read and to find ways to put the wisdom she is given to good use.  My prayer is that she will not just put earthly wisdom to use, but she will put to use the heavenly wisdom that is taught to her and she will gain more of an eternal perspective as she grows both mentally and physically this school year.  It's so hard for me to
believe my 8 pound 1 ounce baby girl is FIVE and heading off to SCHOOL!  Just as her name means, my prayer for her is that she will be a "bringer of light" everywhere that she goes, and I pray her education will help her see how God's light is truly involved in every aspect of life and learning if she will look for it...

Twas the night before kindergarten
and all through our home
Not a creature was stirring
not even the geckos.
The uniforms were hung by the closet with care
 With the anticipation of what Lucy would wear.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Kindergarten danced in their heads
and momma on her blog, and Daddy on his app
Were about to settle in for an end of summer nap
Sleep didn't come easy as anticipation was high
At the thought of how their baby could possibly be five
It happened so quick--in the blink of an eye
It caught us off guard and made it hard not to cry
But as we took a deep breath and choked back the tears
we thanked God for His plan for our daughter's school years.
The excitement was felt by one and all
at what God had in store for this new semester called fall.
So as we anticipate tomorrow's journey to school
of backpacks, and PE and learning the rules
We will hold to the truth that our God holds her hands
Through the easy, the tough, the fun and the sad
She's not really ours in the first place, you know
so off to kindergarten we will let her go...
But you will hear us exclaim, as we drive out of sight
We love you Lucy Shea, bringer of light!

Happy happy happy...

Uncle Si...or Michael?
No, this title is not referring to the return of Duck Dynasty  (Although isn't this a GREAT pic of DH?:)

It's about Gabriel's first word!!

at lunch with friends
About 3 weeks ago, he started saying "aw-BEE, aw-BEE..." over and over again, and we just could not figure out what he was saying.  I was at lunch with a friend about a week after that, and he was smiling and laughing at the table, and my friend says, "are you a happy boy?" And Gabriel responds with "aw-BEE!" I kind of stopped for a moment and looked at him and said, "happy?" And he responded again with, "aw-BEE!"  Of course, he has said the typical momma and dadda, and I'm pretty sure he's said some form of "Annabelle" (our beagle's name) as well. But, as far as his first regular word, happy it is!

I can't help but smile every time I hear him say it...but it's not just from the obvious joy he displays every time he says those two syllables.  As a mom, you want your kids to be happy, but as an adoptive mom, I think sometimes we worry more about that for different reasons.  So I just think it's such a precious little gift that Gabriel's first word is him proclaiming how happy (or, rather, "aw-BEE!") that he is.  My prayer for him is that he would grow to understand that true happiness is not based on circumstances, but based on the LORD, and that He will grow to know the JOY of the Lord.  Now that's something that would make this momma VERY "happy happy happy!"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stopping to smell the roses...

I read a blogpost recently about how prone we are to hurry through life.  I may be one of the world's worst at this-I feel like I am constantly moving from one thing on to the next...or more like I am rushing from one thing to the next.  It's hard for me to stay in the moment because I feel like I always need to anticipate (in my mind, prepare for) what's coming up next.  My daughter, on the other hand, likes to stop and smell the roses.  For a hurry-up person like myself, dawdling drives me CRAZY!  Many times a day you would hear me say to Lucy, "c'mon Lucy, hurry up...we're gonna be late."  And, as much as I hate to admit it, I would say this in a frustrated tone.  Now, that's not to say that Lucy doesn't need to learn to be obedient when she's asked to do things-she has a tendency to choose not to obey immediately, and delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.  However, there are other times when she is just caught up in the moment and soaking up everything that's around her.  She's wanting to stop and smell the roses, and I'm covering them in the dust from trying to run past them.  I guess I had always felt like I was doing the right thing by hurrying everyone along--we need to get things done and be places on time, right?  But after I read that article, I was literally almost in tears and felt so convicted.  I had been spending my days just trying to check things off of my list, and even if they're good things, they don't ever hold any meaning if you don't appreciate them, right?

Let me tell you, there are not many things that will humble you as quickly as apologizing to your child.  I told her how sorry I was for always trying to hurry her from one thing to the next and that I wanted to learn to enjoy life more like she does.  I asked her to work on being more obedient and told her that Momma would work on being more patient.

So yesterday, when we got to church, rather than my usual, "C'mon bug.  We need to go NOW; we're gonna be late..." I got the kids out of the car and just let her do her own thing.  Rather than me dragging her by the hand trying to rush her inside, I watched her twirl around the nursery parking sign, and I smiled.  Then I saw her leap over the parking block curb, and I slowed my walking pace down to enjoy watching her smile.  She said, "oh' I need to go pray in the garden!"  And instead of my usual response of, "Honey, we don't have time-we need to get inside!" I said, "ok, Lu-you go ahead" and I saw my baby girl run excitedly over to the prayer garden bench, bow her head, and say a prayer, and my heart filled with joy.  In just a matter of moments that I would normally rush through, I was able to stop and watch something beautiful unfold--a little girl soaking up as much of her surroundings as she could and loving every bit of it--from the easily looked-over signs, the often trampled over curb, to the beautiful and peaceful garden.  Each of those things I take for granted, but my daughter found something special, fun, and enjoyable in them all.  I couldn't help but stop for a moment and think, Wow.  What big lessons God teaches me through my little girl.  Oh how I want to love life like she does-to find contentment in the mundane, joy in the journey, and moments of reflection in the serene...and even the not-so-serene.  Lord, help me to be more like Lucy and learn to stop and smell the roses along the way...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Knowing You...

kisses for Daddy
I love watching how Gabriel's face lights up when he hears his daddy calling his name.  He gets this absolutely precious smile on his face and bounces up and down in excitement.  He knows his daddy's voice, and he loves to hear it!  

Knott's Berry Farm with Daddy (and Snoopy:)
My dad had a very distinctive voice, too.  Just a few weeks ago marked 6 years ago that he passed away.  I asked that people share their memories of him, and the responses brought such a big smile to my face and comfort to my heart.   One of my best friends wrote about how she would never forget how he would drawl out his Texas accent at the McDonald's drive-thru window when we lived in California.  My cousin commented on how no one could "sing" the school fight song like he could.  Several people commented on his one-of-a-kind laugh, and another friend recalled things he would say as he pestered the tellers at the bank.  Many memories were shared, but they all held something in common--my daddy had a distinctive voice that, once you heard, you just knew it belonged to him.

Daddy and me, senior recital 2000
Today would have been my daddy's 64th birthday.  We didn't get to take him out to lunch for his special day, but I certainly was thinking of him throughout the entire day, and as we had lunch with my brother and his family after church this morning, I couldn't help but wonder, just for a moment, what it would be like to have Daddy there with us to celebrate his special day and to hear all of the kids' sweet little voices sing happy birthday to their pappy.  It breaks my heart that they never got to hear his signature chuckle or listen to one of his stories or jokes... they never got to know him...not at least in the way I had always envisioned my children knowing my daddy.

Lucy = "Bringer of LIGHT"
At dinner this evening, someone asked us why we chose the name that we did for Lucy.  There are a few reasons for this, but one of them is that my dad really loved that name, and on one of our last phone conversations, I remember him saying, "Well, whatever you name her, I'm going to call her Lucy."  So, when he passed away before her birth, we decided our baby girl's name was definitely going to be Lucy, because I wanted her to have the name that her pappy knew her by.

But as much as I grieve over my kids not knowing my daddy, I grieve even more over the thought of if he didn't know Jesus.  I know that in Heaven, we are going to be completely focused on worshipping our Saviour, but in my human eyes, it's very hard for me to imagine Heaven without those I love most dearly here on this Earth.  And as a follower of Jesus--a KNOW-er of Jesus--it is my desire that others will come to know him, too.  One of my all time favorite worship songs is entitled "Knowing You," and when I found out I was getting to play the piano at church this morning, a specific arrangement of that song from an offertory book came to my mind.  As our guest preacher gave his sermon this morning, I knew it was no accident that the Lord had brought that song to the forefront of my mind.  The sermon today was from Matthew 7, and verses 21-23 say this: 

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

There truly is no greater thing in all of this world than to know Jesus, and what a privilege that our Creator not only allows us to know Him so deeply, but He longs for us to know Him!  As much as I long for my kids to have known my Daddy, I long even more for my children to know my Heavenly Daddy; "Oh to know the power of the risen Lord" as the song says.  I know it is ultimately their deicision, but I am committed to guiding them in the ways of the Lord, and I know the most influential way I can do that is by example.  So tonight my prayer is that I will fall more and more in love with my Jesus--to know Him more, so that I can make even Him more known.  I treasure the relationship I was blessed with in my earthly father, but nothing can compare to the relationship that has been ofered to me with my Heavenly Father.  Truly, there is no greater thing...

Thursday, July 4, 2013


So much has happened this past month--Lucy's dance recital, Father's Day, my birthday, Gabriel's birthday, buying our first home, MOVING...I have so much I have wanted to share, but just haven't really been able to pen my thoughts amidst everything going on.  So, stay tuned for some updates (including ADORABLE photos of GP smashing into his first chooclate cupcake at his party!)  For now though, I'll just start with the present...

I'm sitting here typing with red and blue painted nails and sporting my Old Navy flag tee (which is actually from 2011, but oh well;-) and listening to random fireworks going off somewhere nearby our new neighborhood.  As I checked FB throughout the day, I found my newsfeed full of updates regarding the 4th of July, many of them including a note of gratitude for the freedom so many have fought for us to have. And while the majority of my FB friends were posting of various family gatherings and fireworks shows, I was posting of updates of our unpacking process in our new home.  Oddly enough, when I opened up my journal today, it fell upon an entry I penned a few weeks back that had to do with both of those topics: freedom, and packing...

I have always been SO bad about over-packing. 

What if THIS happens, and I need THAT...

I want to be prepared for every situation that could possibly be thrown my way.  I want to feel in control.  Instead, most of the time I just end up feeling annoyed though--annoyed by the mound of stuff I'm having to lug around and dig through.  My baggage weighs me down, slows me down, and it can even bring me down.  (I'll never forget a trip we made to Chicago with the staff and wives at a church we served in.  We were all headed up or down on the escalator, and Steve and his bags  couldn't keep up, so instead, they went down, and they took Steve with them!)

It's safe to say I've experienced some overpacking in my personal life, too.  You try to take control of every little detail, but many times, depsite all of the preparation, the unexpected and unwanted still happens.  So what do you do when you've done everything in your power to control, only to discover that you still really aren't  in control?

You surrender.

Our old home--all packed up...
You remove all of your "weapons" and the things you've been lugging around "just in case," and you let someone else take control.  Someone who was already in control in the first place, whether you admitted to it or not.  And then beautiful things happen...  The arms that were loaded down with baggage are now free to embrace what's in front of them.  The feet that were moving so slowly trying to carry all of that stuff around are now able to run and dance.  The mind that was so busied and cluttered with thoughts of all of the what-ifs is now clear to focus on something, Someone, else.

We so often think of surrender as a form of imprisonment, but it's really the exact opposite--it's freedom.

One of my favorite definitions of surrender is this: To accept defeat.

And I think that's why we don't like it--because it makes us feel weak.  But in reality, that's exactly what we are.  I mean, after carrying around all of that stuff, aren't we tired?  Our pride tells us, Don't give up; you can do it!  But we only grow weaker as we continually realize that we can't do it...and thank the Lord, we don't have to!  In reality, defeat isn't weakness at all; it's recognizing strength in Christ.  It's FREEDOM!  And what's so amazing and unique to admitting our defeat and surrendering to Jesus is that we are able to open up the floodgates of freedom to our souls.

John 8:36 says this:
If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed.

The only way we can ever be free from our bondage is by laying it down.  Surrender to Jesus is where freedom is truly found, and for an over-packer like me, oh how thankful I am of that freedom!

(Well, OK, and maybe I will hang on to some lightweight Vera Bradley luggage for fashion's sake ;-)  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day 2013

I have to be honest...Father's Day always stings just a little bit.  It reminds me of one of the very last conversations I had with my Daddy.  DH and I were in our car, on our way to Springfield for lunch after church.  I had called to wish Daddy a happy Father's Day, and I remember him saying,  

"Didn't you have a birthday recently, too?"

Daddy was never very good about remembering to wish me a happy birthday or even remembering when my birthday actually was.  He only came to two of my piano recitals and a couple of drama performances.  There were many days I would go without seeing him because he worked from sunup until late into the evening pretty much every day of the week.  And even though it hurt not to have him there for things important to me, I knew my dad's way of showing love to me was by trying to provide for me and my family so that we WERE able to do those things we enjoyed.  I've been thankful that God has given me that perspective, because while I certainly have cried many tears over time missed with my Daddy, I've never doubted that he loved me.  I remember that Father's Day conversation 6 years ago well--he was asking me about how my pregnancy was going and if DH and I had picked out baby furniture yet.  I'm sure he gave his signature laugh (he had SUCH a great chuckle!) over something at some point in the conversation, too:)  Oh how I miss that laugh... and the other thing I miss, which is going to sound strange at first, is getting to buy him his yearly Father's Day card.  Each year I would go in search of the "perfect" card for him (which wasn't easy) and mail it to him, and when I would come home for a visit and go to his office, he would have them proudly displayed on his mantle.  So each year when Father's Day rolls around, I always tear up a bit when I go by the card asile.  I can't help but glance over the "Daddy from daughter" ones wondering which one I would have picked for him.  And then I stop and realize that even though it hurts so badly to not have him with me, I am blessed that there is another man in my life that I can celebrate on this day: Lucy and Gabriel's Daddy!

One of the things I love so much about my husband is the amazing Daddy that he is.  While he works hard to provide for our family, his job is not his number one priority.  In no way am I trying to be negative about my own daddy-I truly believe that he loved in the best way that he knew how to love, and I am so grateful that he was my daddy, but the things that I missed out so much with my daddy are things I am so thankful that my husband makes a priority with his family.  I love how Lucy begs to climb her Daddy's neck like a monkey as he goes to tuck her into bed; I love how Gabriel's face lights up when his Daddy enters the room; I love to watch the way DH loves, cherishes, and challenges our children.  He reminds them constantly of his love for them, and he encourages them at their levels to strive to be all God has for them to be in life.  He is SUCH an amazing Daddy, and I am SUCH a blessed woman to have him as the father to my children:)

So on this Father's Day, I honor two very special daddies in my life: I honor the man I was blessed to call MY daddy for 25 years, and I honor the man who has blessed my children's lives by being their daddy.  And the reason I honor them is not to try and put them on a lofty pedastool, but I honor them because they have each made an impact on my life that continually draws me closer to my HEAVENLY Father.  

You see, even though my daddy would probably tell you he didn't have a very personal walk with Christ, his life caused me to draw closer in MY personal walk with Christ as I daily would pour out my heart to the Lord to see my Daddy have that same desire to walk closely with Jesus.  I struggled in my faith after his death because I couldn't understand how my Daddy's death could be the answer to my years of prayer...but I was challenged in my walk that I serve a God that I can trust, even when life doesn't make sense, so through the questions, I chose to follow Him WITHOUT question...

And then there's my children's Daddy...while he isn't perfect (I always say his one fault is that he doesn't like chocolate;-), he maintains a daily walk with the Lord and allows Him to guide his steps and the steps of our family.  It is such a privlege to have him as the spiritual leader of our household, it is an honor to submit to his authority over our family, and it is a blessing to serve alongside of him as a wife, a parent, and a minister of the Gospel.  All of the things that I missed so much from my Daddy growing up are things that come so naturally to my husband.  In some ways, I feel like God purposely and graciously made DH to be that way so that I might experience those things that I missed out so much on from my own Daddy.

So today, I say thank you to my daddy and to my childern's daddy. Thank you so much for drawing me closer to my Heavenly Daddy.  Oh, how loved you are, and oh how blessed I am!
 Here's a link to a slideshow my brother put together and I performed and recorded the song for it...

Happy Father's Day everyone--never miss out on an opportunity to say how much you love the Dads in your life...