Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Colors are Blush and Bashful...

If you know me well, you probably know that one of my very favorite movies is "Steel Magnolias," and if you know me REALLY well, you have probably watched it with me a few times, or at least heard me quote from it.  One of my favorite lines from the movie is between Sally Field's and Julia Roberts' characters as they're getting the hair and nails done at the local salon in preparation for the upcoming wedding:

Julia: My colors are blush and bashful
Sally: Your colors are pink and pink!
Julie: MY color as blush and bashful!  I have chosen two shades of pink, and one is MUCH deeper than the other!"

(NOTE: These lines must be read in a VERY thick southern drawl to come across in the proper way;-)

Well, tonight I went to Walgreen's in search of the perfect shade of pink nail polish, and just could not decide between two beautiful being "much deeper than the other":)  So, I decided to just get both and make my own concoction of the two.

***As a sidenote, painting my nails is a bit of a stress reliever, so I tend to paint them before big events are about to occur.

Well, Lucy wanted to get in on the girly fun tonight, so she asked Mommy to paint her nails, too.  The problem is that Lucy loves the end result, but she's not super crazy about the process it takes to get to those results.  And as silliy as this analogy may seem to many, it is so true of what we do so many times in our lives.  We desire that end result, but we often trudge through the wait and the difficulty and the uncertainty of the fruition of those desires.  But praise God that He is so very patient with us to guide us to His ultimate and perfect plan.

Two years ago, our family was in the midst of the adoption process.  Lucy had been praying for a baby brother and sister to join our family, so a very sweet friend had a precious gift made for me: a bird's nest necklace containing three pealrs, each pearl representing our daughter, and our hopeful son and daughter.  I have worn that necklace proudly many times, always being reminded of the hope we have in our Heavenly Father's perfect plan for our families. While it shouldn't catch us off guard when He bring those long awaited desires to fruition, I am so thankful with His patience regarding our often doubt as He continually is working, even when we can't see it or just refuse to really hope and look for it.  Well, just about nine months ago, He showed us He had brought Lucy's desire to fruition.  After years spent praying faithfully for a baby brother and sister, we were able to announce to her that God was answering her very specific prayer in a very specific way: Mommy was pregnant with a baby girl!  Our bird's nest necklace would no long seem off, but rather is was housing a pearl that would signify each of our precious God-given blessings.

It took the course of many years to complete that precious gifted necklace.  We never knew if we would be able to have one child, and then we were called to follow the beauty of adoption to find our son, and now the Lord has blessed our family with another child.  Our nest feels very full and so very blessed (not that we aren't willing to make room for any other "pearls" so if the Lord chooses) but if I'm being honest, it was a lot of waiting and a lot of heartache, and a lot of difficult not-so-fun days getting from point A to point B.  And just as Lucy hates to sit still while her nails have to dry and often regrets starting the process of painting her nails, and then many times refuses to wait long enough and smudges them everywhere, in the end she is always so happy with the result: pretty girly fingernails:)  I know nail polish may make for a silly analogy to some, but I was just reminded of the sweetness that comes when we wait. I'm so thankful for our patient God and His perfect plan!

Which brings me to the main purpose of this post.  I have spent this entire pregnancy hoping, praying, and planning for a VBAC.  I was a great candidate for one based on my last c-sectino, and everything has looked great up until the past few weeks.  My body is just not progressing like it needs to to be able to labor this baby, and as we have prayed through everything, we feel the Lord has told us that this is His way of protecting us from a dangerous delivery.  Yes, the percentages of something catastrophic happening is very small, but they are there for a reason, so my prayer has been that should me or my baby be at risk for having a vaginal delivery, the Lord would put a stop to it and make it overwhelming clear, and bless us with His protection.

And He did that today.

So today, April 26, 2014, we will head to the hospital to have our precious Baby Mustard See via C-section.  Is this the birth I've desperately wanted for my baby girl?  No, it is not.  But, more importantly, I have to ask this question: Is this the birth that GOD has planned for my baby girl?  Yes. it is.  He has gone before us and chosen this path for us, so I am choosing to trust in Him and to allow Him to let me THRIVE through this beautiful birth story He is giving to our precious baby mustard seed.  Her entire life began as the faithful prayers from a (then) 5 year old girl, and I so desire that her life to continue to be lived based on faith in our Heavenly Father.  And so, today, we step out on faith that this is HIS perfect path for our mustard seed, and we are so thankful for His clarity to us and for Him going before us in this.

We certainly covet your prayers as we enter into sugery--for a safe and healthy delivery with no complications; for a healthy baby; for an easy transition for Lucy and Gabriel; and for a quick recovery.  She will be arriving on April 26th in the afternoon!

She's just a few days past her due date, but she is the result of SO many nightly prayers and such a big desire to expand our family.  God is always good, but sometimes we have to wait so He can work within us to truly prepare us for the greatness that lies ahead of us through Him and for His glory.  I feel humbled and honored to be chosen to be baby mustard seed's mother, and just as I wait for my "blush and bashful" nails to dry, I am anxious awaiting the outcome of the beautiful birth story He has planned for this baby.  Please cover us in your prayers as you wait alongside of us this evening and tomorrow!

A sweet friend reminded me of this verse, and I am clinging to its promises this weekend:

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that pervails." Proverbs 19:21

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A New "Sister"!

We have been anxiously awaiting this day, April 23rd, 2014, for nine months now, knowing this is Baby Mustard Seed's due date.  But after the events that transpired in our home this evening, we realized that we've actually been awaiting this particular day for many years now.  Let me explain...

One of the things we have prayed over our children daily is for them to come to know Jesus at an early age.  Lucy has been asking questions for several months now about baptism, so we've been talking with her a lot about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and how baptism is an outward expression of that inward decision.  Her teachers at school, church, and AWANAS have been mentioning to us that she's been asking questions as well, and our children's minister (who is so awesome, by the way!) at church gave us a workbook to start going through with Lucy.  (Oh how thankful we are for so very many people who pour their lives into our children's lives!  Any of you who work with children, please don't ever doubt the impact that you are making!)  After DH's grandfather passed away, she began asking even more questions and talking more frequently about how she wanted to go to Heaven one day and wanted to make the decision to be a Christian.  So, we've had a lot of conversations with Lucy about this lately...

Well, this week, my mom planted some flowers and plants in our front yard (I did not receive her amazing green thumb at all, but I'm so thankful she shared her giftedness in that way with us this week--the front looks so pretty now!)  Since moving into our home, Lucy has called the little patch of dirt next to our mailbox her "garden," so my mom specifically planted some flowers there for Lucy to take care of.  Last night, we went to Target and her and her daddy found a special hello kitty watering can so she can take care of her flowers.  As I watched her taking care of them today, I was reminded of the beauty that flowers bring and all that they represent--as we water them and care for them, they GROW...just like as we care for our children and invest in them, we have the privilege of watching them grow and thrive. 

When I picked Lucy up from school today, she had this look of horrible disappointment on her face, and the first words out of her mouth to me were, "You didn't have baby sissy today?? But today's her due date!"  I told her, "I'm sorry, baby...I'm sad, too, because I really wanted her to come today.  But, I promise she'll be here soon!"  (She later proclaimed, "No she won't--you said you are going to be pregnant forever!"  haha!  "Well, yes, I did say that, but Mommy was just being dramatic and sarcastic. I promise she really is going to be here soon!"  She's always listening!  LOL:)  Well, we may not have gotten to welcome a new baby sister into our family on this long-awaited day, but we DID get to welcome a new "sister" into "THE family" this evening, because tonight, April 23rd 2014, Lucy accepted Jesus as her Saviour!  No, it was not the birth we had been anticipating would occur, but it was such a glrious RE-birth, and we could not be more thrilled to mark this special date down on our calendar.  A sweet friend has shared with me many times throughout my pregnancy how God already has the exact moment marked down that our Baby Mustard Seed will take her first breath, and I was reminded today that He also has had the exact day marked down that our Lucy would choose to follow Him.  So today may not be the "birthday" we thought we would be celebrating, but what an even greater gift to have a RE-birthday to celebrate, as our Lucy has made the choice to have new life in Christ.  I cannot think of anything greater that could happen on this day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Welcome Home...

There are so many people (many of you reading this post!) who walked closely beside us during our adoption process.  SO MANY PEOPLE played an integral part in helping us bring our son home, and we will never forget your outpouring of love and excitement and involvement.  You allowed God to use you to fulfill His plan for our still overwhelms me when I think of how the Lord worked to ensure that Gabriel could be our son, and I never want to take it for granted.  One of those families not only walked alongside us though--they were able to walk alongside us on our road while they were walking a very similar yet very different road themselves.

We pretty much started the adoption process at the same time as our friends Kendon, Kursten and their two children, Ian and Kinzlee, only they were doing an international adoption.  Kursten is actually the person who told us about Christian Homes and Family Services (the agency we used.)  I'll never forget sitting at a table with her in the fellowship hall at our church on New Year's Eve, excitedly discussing what the Lord was calling our families to do.  Over the next several months, we would share many conversations--some filled with excitement at completing a new step in our journeys, and others filled with discouragement at another hurdle along the path.  

As I struggled through emotions during the adoption process, Kursten allowed me to cry and vent, and when we arrived home with Gabriel, Kursten helped welcome home our family of four, even as she was waiting to be able to welcome home her own child. This entire family blessed us in so many ways, and The Lord truly blessed both our families by allowing us to experience such an amazing journey alongside one another...both that ended with two very precious boys: Gabriel and Parker. 

Sweet Parker is just 6 months older than Gabriel, but it was just 6 weeks ago that he finally got to come home to his family.  It was a VERY long process for them.  The night before they flew home, I found this book and just sobbed in the store as I read it pages. 
"Did you ever think that your wish might not come true?...Oh yes...I wished for you through many phone calls...and through mountains of paperwork.  I wished for you while I waited and waited...and waited.  Sometimes, I didn't hear any news about you for weeks or months.  But I held onto my wish tightly, like the string on a balloon." 

Here we are at the airport waiting to greet Parker and his family onto American soil! 

We went from welcoming Gabriel home, to waiting for Parker to get to come home, to getting to have Gabriel and Parker together! 
Our move from our last church to here was particularly difficult, because we had envisioned our boys getting to grow up together.  It may not look the way we had all envisioned it, (things rarely do though, right?) but in spite of a little bit of distance, I still am hopeful our boys will get to have a special relationship.  We recently got to have a play date together, and it was so sweet to see them playing together, and to get to visit with my precious friend as we are now both on the other end of our journeys. 

Parker--you are SO loved and so very wanted!  How thankful we are to have been a part of the start of God's amazing plan for your life!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Being intentional...

People often suggest you make time to have a date with your hubby before a baby arrives, since dates will be hard to come by afterwards.  DH and I were able to slip away recently for dinner together which was so nice, but he also suggested it might be good for Lucy and me to have a special "date" together, too.  Even though I often get special time with my kiddos in the afternoon when Lucy gets home from school, it's rare for her to have my undivided attention.  She doesn't really ask for it, but I know my daughter's primary love language seems to be quality time.  So, DH and I made it a priority to find a day that he could hang out with GP and I could spend just with Lucy, and I'm so thankful we did that!  It was such a special time to just spend with my precious baby girl!

I told her we could eat ANYwhere that she wanted to for lunch, and guess where she chose??  SUBWAY!  
(When we lived in our former town, we would eat there just about every Sunday after church.  There weren't a lot of options in our small town, but besides that, we knew the owners and it was an awesome Subway!)

The AWANA pinewood derby was coming up at church, so on our agenda for the day was a trip to Hobby Lobby to select paint colors, decals, etc. Lucy also had seen a commercial the night before for a "fun loom" and decided she really wanted to get one, so we went to THREE different craft stores that day in search of which one we thought was the best.  We decided you can't beat the original, so we opted for a rainbow loom.  She had been so excited about decorating her deby car, but after getting the rainbow loom, all she could talk about was getting home to make her first bracelet! 

So, the rainbow loom won out for that day's craft project, and we postponed the derby car decorating for another day.  It was so much fun working on it together!  She wanted a Hello Kitty car, so we went all out with a pink base coat, some sparkly paint details, and of course, Hello Kitty stickers.
We ended up with some space on the top and I asked her if she wanted to put a number in that spot, since race cars typically have numbers on them.  She enthusiastically told me she wanted the number 36 on there.  I was a bit puzzled and asked her why, and she said, "Because that's how old my Daddy is going to be this week."  Sweet girl--she loves her Daddy:)  And he did some final touches to the car and turned it in with her the day before the race.  She ended up winning 3rd prize for her design--she was so excited about it!
But back to our "mommy-daughter day"...

After our trip to the craft store, we went for one of Lucy's favorites--ICE CREAM!  Again, she wanted to include her Daddy and chose Spiderman ice cream:)  (She wouldn't have been in danger of having to share it with her Daddy though, because it had chocolate in it!;-)

When the day was said and done, we had been to NINE different places, including a trip to Wal-mart where Lucy's very pregnant momma ended up frozen in the middle of the shoe aisle with some sort of weird pain--literally thought for a good 10 minutes we were going to have to call DH to carry me out of the store.  I ended up in tears right there in the middle of Wal-Mart, while people walked by and just STARED at me!  Poor Lucy wasn't sure what to do either and told me later how she didn't like it when I cried because it made her feel like crying, too:(  She is such a sweet and sensitive soul.  She told me later how she didn't like crying in front of other people because sometimes they make fun of her and it hurts her feelings, so when she sees other people crying, she likes to find ways to make them feel better.  Seriously melted my heart!  We had many sweet moments that day together discussing various things and just getting to connect with each other.  I had recently been discussing with a friend how sometimes I feel like I'm losing that deep connection with her, because life is just so busy.  She encouraged me to be intentional with my time with my daughter, so that's what I've been trying to do.  It's really been amazing to have these sort of deep conversations with this little 6 year old girl that I have the blessing to call my daughter.  That mommy-daughter day was such a blessing and has spurred on many more intentional moments to connect with her, like this one pictured here...
If you have children, you have probably been the blessed recipient of a weed bouquet.  While often a gardener's biggest annoyance, weeds take on a whole new meaning when proudly handed to you by your child.  As Lucy excitedly presented her treasures to me, she said, "I picked these just for you, Mommy," and my heart melted.  But then she looked deeply into my eyes and asked, "Are they good enough?" and my heart SANK.  My eyes stared deeply back into hers and then I pulled her closely, "Oh baby, yes!  Of course they are!  Anything you do for Mommy is always SO much more than just 'good enough'." Her desire for approval has stuck closely to my heart ever since that day though...I'm reminded of my own insecurities, and how doesn't it seem that we are all constantly striving for approval?  We all want to know that we're good enough--that what we do is of some sort of value and that our life counts...that we are LOVED--don't we?  As a mother, I struggle so much with this--am I doing enough for my kids?  Is it good enough?  But Lucy's words reminded me that I'm not the only one seeking approval in this relationship--my children so desire to know that they matter and they are loved.  And oh, how very very much they matter, and how very loved they are, but how very much I need to be intentional in making sure that they know it!  Because when I take the time to stare deeply into their eyes and listen to them and love on them, my hope is that they will not only see how very much they matter to me, but that they will see how very much they matter to their Heavenly Father...  My greatest intentions as a mother never will measure up to be "good enough," because on my own, I can't be good enough.  But the recipient of these actions--Jesus--takes our offerings and receives them as a sacrifice of praise to Him, and it becomes something beautiful and so much more than enough.  He takes those weeds and makes them into the most fragrant and treasured of bouquets.  He stares deeply back into my questioning eyes and says, "Yes, my child, I love you."

And yes, Lucy, how much your mommy loves YOU!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy "14th" Birthday, DH!

It is a very special day in our household.

Without who this day signifies, my life as I know it would not exist in the same way.  I wouldn't be the wife I am or the momma I am, but even more than that, I wouldn't be the person that I am today.  But because of April 10, 1978, I would become exactly who God intended me to be at this stage in my life.  

Have you figured it out yet?  Yes, today is DH's birthday!!

I obviously didn't know him as this amazingly adorable little boy

but there's certainly still a hint of that hero-loving boy left in my handsome man I have the privilege to call husband.
And I'm always telling him it was a good thing that I DIDN'T meet him when he was a high schooler or early in his college days, because I would have fallen hopelessly head over heels for him, and he would have found me an incredibly annoying little girl!

(Truth be known, I think he may have had those thoughts anyway when we did meet one another on a fall September day in 2000, but thankfully he got over it eventually;-)

I have gotten to celebrate fourteen of this amazing man's birthdays with him, and since this year's happens to fall on "throwback thursday," I thought I would post 14 various pictures of this handsome hubby of mine from "back in the day":)

Since meeting DH, we have lived in Arkansas, Illinois, and Texas.  We have traveled to Oklahoma, Alabama, Indiana,  Missouri, California, Poland, England, and Canada.  (I'm probably leaving some places out, too...)

We've had the privilege of serving in five different churches together working in student ministry--from children, youth, to college students--and music ministry.

We've experienced so many joys and sorrows together, and through it all, God has reminded us of His faithfulness.  On days when I was about the lose my grip on Hope, DH has been there to remind me Who to look to and grab a hold of...and when I didn't have the strength to grab a hold of Him myself, he was right there beside me helping me to do so.

He has laughed with me, cried with me, held me close, but most importantly, always pointed me to our Heavenly Father.  He has shown JESUS to me!

I was only 20 years old when we got married, and I remember getting lots of questions about why I was getting married so young.  I truly believe with all my heart that while God has an amazing plan for each of us individually, He is able to more fully accomplish that plan for DH and me by placing us together.  We are a TEAM.

I love this man with all of my heart, not just because of the incredible love he shows to me, but because of the incredible love He shows to others, and even more, the ultimate love that He's committed his life to sharing with others--Jesus.

He is not only an amazing husband and my very best friend, but he is also the most incredible Daddy!  My daddy wasn't around a whole lot when I was growing up, and I feel the Lord has blessed me so much in getting to experience seeing a man who is truly involved in his children's lives.  The way our kids' faces light up when they see their Daddy says it all.
Any day now, we will be celebrating the arrival of our newest blessing, but for today, DH, we celebrate YOU! And we thank our Heavenly Father for you.  

Happy Birthday, DH!  You are LOVED!